The Bottleneck

The monk Ahiru was pairing with the bright young apprentice, Taipisuto. The apprentice was quite impressed with his customized editor and the speed at which he could type. Ahiru was not nearly as impressed. The screen was flickering in a way that made him more than just a bit nauseous.

“And what shall you do when you’re assigned to a clan and they use a different editor? How will you pair with them?”, asked Ahiru of the apprentice.

“I shall teach them the vastly superior ways of Emacs”, replied the apprentice matter of factly. “It allows us to type very quickly with almost no effort at all! How can anyone deny this?!”

Ahiru quashed his desire to strike the young man. He appreciated his confidence, but the young apprentice had a lesson to be learned. That night, Ahiru committed the worst of sins. He rebased the clan’s master branch, eradicating the work the apprentice and he had done that day and making it impossible to easily restore it from the apprentice’s local fork.

When the monk arrived the next morning, the apprentice was visibly distraught, his fingers flying over the keyboard in pure desperation.

“What’s wrong?” asked Ahiru, knowing full well what he had done.

“Our commits!”, cried the apprentice. “They’re gone! Someone committed the sin of all sins and rebased the master branch! We’ve lost an entire day’s work! Who can have done this?”, he moaned.

Null.“, said Ahiru. “We’ve simply lost the code. The work has not been lost.”

The apprentice just stared at the monk, not understanding the words he had just heard.

“90% of what we do is think about how to solve a problem, Taipisuto. The temple does not pay us to write code, they pay us to solve problems, and solve the problem we did.” Ahiru slid down into his seat next to the young man. “Now, let us re-implement the code. How long do you think it will take us?”

“It took us all day yesterday to write it…”, the apprentice bemoaned again. This time, Ahiru did not restrain himself and came down swiftly on the top of Taipisuto’s head with his staff.

“Type.”, said Ahiru.

Half an hour later, as the pair were checking the newly re-implemented code into the clan’s master branch, the apprentice was enlightened.

I’m a big fan of The Codeless Code and since they’ve not posted anything new in a while, I thought that I’d try my hand at their style of “programmer’s koan”. Following their lead, the story above is provided under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

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