I like cake! - Cakemail, Ninjas on Fire, and other Anecdotes
When I worked with Travis Illig (who is the origin of the term "Hanselminute," by the way) and Stuart Thompson at Corillian/CheckFree, we had a project manager who didn't totally "get" stuff.
What I mean is that we'd be in a meeting, perhaps a feature meeting or something, and we'd be firing on all cylinders. Everyone was working well together, communicating clearly, finishing each other's sentences, just an all around great day. Designs become clear, backlog items were created at a furious pace, and it was generally felt that everyone in the meeting "grokked" what we needed to do.
At this point this particular project manager, who had been quiet until this point, would ask something like
"Now, wait, are you saying that Java replaces XML?"
...and silence. Crickets. We were hearing English *words*, but not a cohesive sentence. After all that, the last hour of banging through stuff, he had not just a disconnect, but a total fundamental misunderstanding of some aspect of computers and systems design.
I don't remember who originally said it, it might have been me or Travis, but at some point after one of these uncomfortable moments, someone broke the silence with the non sequitur:
"I LIKE CAKE!"
...and the room exploded. From that point on, any time anyone in any meeting said something that was far enough off topic or sufficiently non-sequiturial, someone would declare "I LIKE CAKE!"
All off-topic email responses are now declared "Cakemail" as in, "Man, I got some Cakemail from Fred this morning. Made no sense." I still use this to this day and it still makes me smile.
Jesse asked me how I was doing yesterday and I replied "Ninjas on fire, man." Four years ago when Halo 2 was coming out it was described like this.
"Halo 2 is alot like Halo 1, except it's Halo 1 on fire going 120 miles per hour through a hospital zone chased by helicopters and ninjas. And the ninjas are all on fire too." -Jason Jones
For me and some of my compatriots, it also become a phrase that referred to our current workload, like:
"I'm being chased by ninjas."
"Are they on fire?"
"Oh, so it's Tuesday. You wait."
The short-hand just became "ninjas on fire, man" as a response to when you're totally overwhelmed with deadlines and work.
Open Thread: What anecdotes about life in Software Development do you have to share, Dear Reader? What short-hands or code-words have you developed?