Scott Hanselman

I like cake! - Cakemail, Ninjas on Fire, and other Anecdotes

August 06, 2008 Comment on this post [81] Posted in Musings
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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:


...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:

"How's work?"

"I'm being chased by ninjas."

"Are they on fire?"

"Not yet."

"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?

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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August 06, 2008 13:35
it's a classic Fr Jack quote (at about 01:11)
youtube link
August 06, 2008 13:43
Both anecdotes are classics Scott, thanks for sharing. Looking forward to seeing you at TechEd Australia, that's if I've manage to shake off the ninjas.
August 06, 2008 14:32
We asked a customer in which format were the movie files he wanted us to upload on our web servers. So he replied: "DVD... or JPEG".

So every time we have a discussion about file formats or import stuff, someone tells "DVD!" and the next one says "oooor... JPEG!"

August 06, 2008 14:53
Classic post, Scott. More like this, please!
August 06, 2008 15:25
hah! Not related to programming, but my girlfriend & I use "I like cheese!" in exactly the same style of circumstance.
August 06, 2008 15:46
In no way is this original thinking but... "wearing the red jersey" is our common euphemism for being handed a hopeless, doomed to die task - ideally with high visibility. In homage to the Star Trek security guys whose only purpose in life is to get killed.

"Scott will be wearing the red jersey on this one"

I think you're come back lines are usualy ...
"Yeah, and it's not even a speaking part" or "and my only line is 'Cap'n phasers don't work' "
August 06, 2008 16:37
I worked in a small open office area with three guys many years ago and one guy would leave his desk pretty much every day at 10am for over half an hour. When people asked where Bill was we would say he is on a CTC, or he is doing a CTC and people used to just say no prob can you tell him to call me etc. If anyone ever asked what is a CTC we just told them it was a thing he had to run and do each day and it was quite important. It of course stands for Company Time Crap. Not in very good taste I know but then you don't need to let anyone know what a CTC is. Man he was regular.

We also had a "cake" moment about 12 months ago when a salesman of "smart safes" (safes that read and count the money as the user inserts the notes) in the middle of a highly technical meeting between his tech and ourselves about how the smart safes would send the amounts back to our servers. He must of felt left out as he had been sitting silently for some time all of a sudden, with no prompting, announced "html stands for hypertext language" (yep shhh not correct) Yep we were surprised and almost burst out laughing however we had encounted this type of constructive input from this guy before so it was largely ignored until after the meeting and now whenever somebody mentions these "smart safes" somebody yells "html stands for hypertext language". mmm maybe you had to be there. Got go run and do a CTC now bye.

August 06, 2008 16:37
Right now... I have 20 ninjas on fire after me.

I got a demo in 1h30 and stuff are STARTING to work. I haven't even had time to bullet proof it.

Damn it... I hate short schedule. But my bad for misplanning my time.

But honestly... on our side... we don't have any anecdotes yet. That will come in time.
August 06, 2008 16:38
You know when you're sitting in a meeting and that one guy is up on his soap box. He continues to talk about a subject, but the first sentence was really the only sentence that added any value, if any. We throw out, "Tu No Sabes". Spanish for, "You don't know". Stops em' right in their tracks. One, they don't usually know what it means, two, when they do find out, they're stumped with what to say next. Helps get the meeting back on track.

We also say, Fall up the apples. Which translates to, "We're going out for a drink after work." Google Cockney Rhyming. "Apples and Pears" rhymes with "Falling down the stairs". Eventually became Falling up the apples.

Someone is a little dense, they are "A Garden Fence".

Lost in the conversation, "Kate Moss"
August 06, 2008 16:42
I'm a fan of breaking silences with "So how about that local sporting team?".

I've also managed to successfully get "Win" and "Fail" into common use around our office, particularly related to using "epic" as a prefix.

Another collegue went through a heavy Seinfield phase and has now successfully established "Gold Jerry" into the vocabulary of most developers.

And then there's the common use of annograms:
GLWT = Good Luck With That
HTFU = Harden The <something> Up
BLGF = Bad Luck, Get <something>ed
August 06, 2008 16:48
Our top insult when someone has made a blunder is "You company man!" trying to say it like Al Pacino does in his rant from Glengarry Glen Ross (2:21). It implies all the over-the-top vulgarity of the entire rant but is clean enough to be used in any situation :).
August 06, 2008 16:56
The cake is a lie!

I used to work for a start up company that was going to go big time in 18 to 24 months. It never did.. although about every 6 months the 18-24 months time frame was thrown out there again.

Now whenever we are on a project that seems impossible and we are starting to do estimates one of the first ones is always "18-24 months".. Actually, that group of friends uses it a lot for anything that is unlikely to happen.
August 06, 2008 17:06
We've been using a lot:
"Let's create a GUI interface using Visual Basic"
Since that CSI episode
August 06, 2008 17:07
This one is not technical, but still..

While studying in Australia, I was astonished over the habit of the people to lift their beers and say
"Cheers Big-Ears!"
apparently, the only applicable comeback was
"Same goes, Big-Nose!"

after spending way too much time trying to come up with a reply that involved some sort of greeting and a body part, a friend of mine just cut right through and said

"Whatever f*ckface!"

Although not especially nice nor office-friendly, I have found this little phrase to be somewhat of an ultimate comeback, there really is no graceful way to trump it. so the exchanges now went

A: "Cheers Big-Ears"
B: "Same Goes Big-Nose"
A: "Whatever F*ckface"
B: "...!"

they still do.

August 06, 2008 17:08
Krusty the Clown reference became one project's motto:
It's not just good. It's good enough!
August 06, 2008 17:14
The "Ninjas on Fire" quote reminds me of this: It's a running gag in the Dr. McNinja comic.
August 06, 2008 17:21
@Duane Newman

We've something very similar where I work, but it is two or three weeks here. If someone asks when something will be done, we say "two or three weeks."

One of the neverending projects has had an estimated completion date of two or three weeks... for the past three years.
August 06, 2008 17:21
Ours came from an internal error message we found in a DLL back in 2001 or later, when anyone was really going down the wrong track, someone would shout "Shut her down, Clancy, she's a pumpin' mud!"
August 06, 2008 17:36
August 06, 2008 17:37
Terry Tate, Office Linebacker:

"The pain train is comin'"
August 06, 2008 17:39
Also from "The Dilbert Principle"

"How long will this project take" "Somewhere between one day and one year."

The "estimate" is what we all use as the first response to the question. If you've read the book, it's even more funny.
August 06, 2008 17:41
Oh, and one more... Sorry 'bout hogging all the real estate, but this one's good.

"How's that new project" "Sand in the vaseline" You can do the math on that one.
August 06, 2008 17:49
I use to work at a huge law firm -- our favorite was the chewbacca defense when refering to a really stupid, baseless request that someone wanted to "fast track"

"They want printers on the Secretaries desks"

They print something like 10,000 pages in a few days, each (there was 10 of them), not cost effective

"They're um ...argument is they wouldn't have to get up from their desk"

This here is chewbacca. Now why would an 8 foot wookie live with a bunch of 2 foot ewoks? It does not. Make. Sense.
August 06, 2008 18:04
"Syntactic Carcinogen"

Obviously referring to the exact OPPOSITE of the "syntactic sugar" phrase that's all the rage with the kids these days.

Of course there's always the former teammates whose names were turned into either nouns or verbs:

"Wow, this code is really Johnson'd!!" (using a current teammate to protect the guilty)

Finally, simply the word "Done!!!" Refers to a young developer that would "finish" huge amounts of functionality in 15 minutes even when given copious amounts of direction about the complexity of the project. Of course, the inevitable result was hours or days of rework and hair-pulling-out by several other team members.
August 06, 2008 18:13
my current favorite is "ponyware".

This is software dreamed up by Requirements Analysts/Salespeople that will automate everything, read & respond to your email, make users smart and buy you a pony.
August 06, 2008 18:24
We have a client who is the stereotypical salesman who simply replies "yes" to any technical request about the product we develop for them. When pressed about it, he dismisses any objections with "We can make it happen. It's just software."

So, now "It's just software" is thrown up any time there's a rather large or unreasonable feature request...
August 06, 2008 18:36
oh ya, once i found an incorrect calculation of some very important financial data. The result was multiplied by 2 for no reason and the comment to go along it was "Multiply by 2 here. I don't know why, but it works and it's late and I'm tired! #*()&@"

So for a long time whenever there was an illogical statement i just responded with "just times it by 2!"

Also from some old source code, someone had an if/else statement that had comments under both sides of 'Do Nothing ...
If (this)
'do nothing
'do nothing
end if

So this would be repeated when talking about bad code.
August 06, 2008 18:53
I prefer "I like turtles" to "I like cake"
August 06, 2008 18:56
We had a manager (who liked to remind everyone that they were once a developer as well, so they really understood the technical side of things). That was questionable, but what really solidified the point was this conversation with the manager (just before the release date as we identified a potential subtle and nasty threading problem):

MGR: How are things looking?
DEV: We have a tricky problem.
MGR: What's the issue? I was a developer before, so I can understand the details.
DEV: We think that we have a race condition in this piece code.
MGR: An erase condition?
DEV: No, a race condition.
August 06, 2008 19:03
At one job I was working with several very sharp colleagues maintaining an old brittle code base. Everytime we tried to make changes in one part of the application, something in an entirely different part of the application would break (and of course since there were no automated tests, a lot of these breaks were found by customers after release). In an attempt to stabilize the codebase and maintain some optimism for the future, we planned two releases specifically for improving the code and making it easier to maintain. These releases were codenamed "MISL" ("Make It Suck Less!", pronounced "missile") and "ISLE" ("It will Suck Less Eventually!"). These codenames often appeared on whiteboards, and whenever someone asked what they stood for, we assured them that they were very important technical terms.

Unfortunately we never got management's support for these initiatives, which resulted in all of us updating our resumes. But we still use those phrases whenever faced with code that, to put it mildly, doesn't measure up to the highest quality standards.
August 06, 2008 19:15
At my company, we work with lots of different pieces of hardware and write code for them. At one point, a buddy of mine had questions about what the rules were for working with a given piece of hardware - this particular piece was way more complex than any others we've ever had to work with. Anyway, he told my boss he wanted to represent a lot of it in XML in order to make it easier to change what needs changing later when they upgraded the firmware on the hardware (we knew this was going to be happening soonish). He also told him he'd considered using UML to model the system in order to keep to a good, clean design and to keep down complexity. At this point, my boss got a chance to talk to the manufacturers of the hardware in order to ask them the questions that my buddy originally had.

When my boss came back, do you know what he told the guy? He said, "They said you don't need XML or UML for it. They said using structs is just fine." My buddy practically lost his mind at that point. The questions my boss was SUPPOSED to ask had nothing to do with how we were implementing the software. Rather, they had to do with more practical things such as, "Do they have a list of errors so that we can handle them appropriately?", or, "Has the error documentation not been made public yet?" And so on. The thing is, this boss is still a coder! He just has no idea what he's doing. He's been coding for 15+ years, and still doesn't have a clue what good programming is, either, if that tells you anything. We use his first name with "ed" on the end when someone does something silly.

My wife and I use the phrases, "I have legs" and "I like bread" as our non sequiturs of choice. They come from a really, really funny Eddy Izzard stand-up routine.
August 06, 2008 19:28
Here's a few:

We had a manager who thought everything we did only took "3 lines of code"... You knew you were in trouble when he came to your desk and asked "how hard would it be to <some large task>? I'm thinking just 3 lines of code."

We had one programmer who made the following statements that have become catch phrases around here.
"I debug my code in my head"
"My code never has bugs"

This same coder had a very high opinion of himself but was always doing things that made eveyone else's life difficult. He's no longer with us but we are still living with and paying for his code. Anytime an issue comes up that he was the source of - we call it J-res. Which is short for J Residue (His name started with J).

We like to play around with Acronyms for our programs. Our manager always caught us though. One time, however, he decided to name a new product himself. Much to his chagrin, the acronym was C.R.A.P. This led to a whole bunch of "what are you working on today". "I'm not working on CRAP".

We had a guy in marketing who sent out an email with the subject "Just an FTY..." We weren't sure if this was a typo or what, but it stuck and this is a common phrase now around here.

This led us to come up with our own "wrong phrases" or mixed metaphors that we would then drop into meetings to see if they would pass by unnoticed. Popular one's were:
"Six of one, baker's dozen another"
"We need to stop this before in snowballs into a can of worms" (stolen from the Dilbert Newsletter)
"It's like hunting fish in a barrel"
"I think you've beat that gift horse to death"
"It's a goat of another color"
"It's not rocket surgery" (accidental slip which brought the repsonse "well, it's not brain science either.")

August 06, 2008 19:28
Ah. Good times.

I think it was you that said "I LIKE CAKE" first, but I admit I latched on. (I've seen the Father Ted episode mentioned, above, but I think the match is just coincidence.) You have to say it with a sort of odd voice, the way Jerry Seinfeld did in that episode <a href=">The Voice</a> where he imagines his girlfriend's belly button speaking. The voice was really key in the delivery.

Tried to get a project to be code-named "Shaft." Figured it was perfect - when talking about it in public, you could tell people, "Shut yo' mouth!" Because, you know, they're "just talkin' 'bout Shaft." You get put on the project and you're "getting Shafted." Delivery to customers? They "got the Shaft." Somehow management wasn't too pleased with that so it never happened, but the team was all about it. :)
August 06, 2008 19:33
A while ago, I was heading up a project to rewrite our existing codebase, which had gotten pretty gnarly over the years. Ideas for the project code name were "Phoenix" and "Lazarus" and similar ideas of rebirth. My contribution was "SpockBomb" after the bomb that brings Spock back to life at the end of "Wrath of Khan" and beginning of "Search for Spock".

It stuck, and during development we'd refer to it as "Project Spockbomb" and the logo image on the site was Spock in "live-long-and-prosper" mode. The salespeople were not amused. :)
August 06, 2008 19:41
@David Nelson: At one of the companies where I used to work the running motto was "We suck less!"

At another company, we hired a new dev who lasted a short while, and every idea he had was described as, "It's pretty much going to revolutionize the way you think about ____________!" He also had bad gas and constantly made this annoying burp sound that was half held in that ended up sounding like a leaking air mattress. So after he was "asked" to leave, we combined these two quirks into the ultimate description for any new feature proposal:

"Psssshhhhhhhhhhht! It's pretty much going to revolutionize the way you think about __________!"
August 06, 2008 19:41
I used to work with a guy whose initials are DK. This guy never tested his code. If it compiled, then it was good and he committed it.

Soon after he left, the team started using "DKed" (pronounced decayed) to identify when someone committed code without testing. Usually, it was apologetic, like "Sorry, I DKed it."
August 06, 2008 19:42
My friend got a call from Microsoft, the guy asked what are doing?
My friend replied I work as an Architect. He immediately reply back "So you are good designing buildings?"

After that incident, whenever introduce to my friends to colleques and other friends, He is an architect but don't ask him to design the building....
August 06, 2008 19:44
My friend and I have a running joke anytime some does something stupid in code like using "internal" or "sealed" or not implementing setters because "we don't want other developers to break the code".

At this point we stop to ponder the statement, because there are three of us working on the project, including the guy who made the statement. Which one of us is going to break the code my inner voice asks?

We attribute the root cause of statements like these to Ryu, the sneaky ninja coder that taps into the source code and breaks things when no one is looking.

When reviewing code that makes developers bend over backwards to be productive, the term "F**king Ryu" is often muttered in disgust.
August 06, 2008 19:50
"Jazz Hands" was one we used when describing an overcomplicated process... or something we just didn't want to have to "convert into product manager speak." Like, "The user clicks this button, there's a little bit of jazz hands here, and the data gets written to the database table over there."
August 06, 2008 19:57
From "The Far Side", whenever someone says something that invites a harsh retort:

"Bummer of a birth mark, Hal".
August 06, 2008 20:04
Worked at a small shop where the boss did not like to test a lot, and we have an aggressive release schedule with adding new features constantly. As you can imagine, this often meant the customer got a broken product. Except replace often, with almost always. Complaining to him about it one day, and begging for a true release cycle, he said in earnest: "Let the users test"....

Flabbergasted I gave up on convincing him of the destructive path of his actions. This was after all a software package we were selling to customers for many thousands of dollars. Sometimes hundreds... Depended on how many "features" you wanted. Out of this nightmare the phrase: Never test, release often was born. Or:

August 06, 2008 20:05
A project was dubbed 'Christmas Puppy' because no one wanted it.

This might be a Scotland only joke though, as every Christmas the BBC would run commercials reminding us, the general public, that puppies were indeed, not just for Christmas.
August 06, 2008 20:26
On a projects that have very little chance of success, we tend to write

Don't Panic

on a large white board in the development area. (From Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)
August 06, 2008 20:41
We had something like Jazz Hands, only it was used to describe some really complicated piece of a design that was over simplified by the Marketing person who convinced management we had to have it. We called it PFM (Pure F-in Magic), and it was usually done when drawing on a whiteboard. "The user enters the value which is massed to the PFM which then stores the data in the database".

We also have a special web service we often include in our designs called the MadameCleoService, or sometimes the DionneWarrwickService. (It's meant to read the user's mind)
August 06, 2008 20:52
We had one feature that kept reappearing in our requirements list for a particular customer. We'd implement it and the customer would change their mind for whatever reason or opt not to enable this feature. So we'd turn the switch off (we soon learned to make it a configuration option to disable it, whether it was specifically required to be an option or not). Then for the next release, the same feature (of course with some new twist so we couldn't just enable the old version) would reappear. I can count at least 3 or 4 iterations of this, and we're currently doing it yet again.

I wanted to call it Dracula because it was the feature that wouldn't die but wasn't really alive either. I even had a logo with fangs and everything. Product wasn't amused.
August 06, 2008 20:58
A completely hilarious post. I've enjoyed all the comments. I can't stop laughing out loud (LOL'ing?) at the Jazz Hands comment. Hilarious.

August 06, 2008 21:03
Thanks for the laugh, Scott. We're glad to hear that you smile when you hear the word CakeMail, because for our team, CakeMail means something quite different. It's a white-label, multilingual, email marketing platform that, quite the opposite from your experience, allows our clients to make even better sense of their email marketing campaigns, through its easy-to-use and easy-to-access reporting interface. We came with the name because ou software is made in layers and can be covered any way you like, like a cake. Keep smiling, and come check us out - we have a tasty solution that's perfect for web developers and marketers -
August 06, 2008 21:12
I worked for a private software company that was run by the President of all Douche Bags. He was a penny-pinching ignoramus who insisted, despite our existence in the 21st century, the programming be written in synon... need I say more?

This extremely archaic way of doing things resulted in an absolute disaster whenever new releases came about. New fixes applied meant new bugs elsewhere, much like the previous comments I've read.

One of the head programmers was an arrogant prick who refused to believe his code was ever faulty. As a peon support guy at the time, I went into his office and let him know of a bug that I had found with the software. Despite several tests that I had run to prove my theory, his simply said
"No, it's not a bug. The code is good... it's good"

After going back to my desk to try a few more tests I returned to his office to announce that there was no way this wasn't a bug. Again he replied "No <my name>, THE CODE IS GOOD!"

stumped, i passed the problem on to my boss who quickly proved to the developer that the code was indeed not good.

So now whenever any of my friends discuss anything that is clearly a piece of sh*t, usually things I build at home, we have to comment - NO - THE CODE IS GOOD!
August 06, 2008 21:20
Q: How many ADD kids does it take to screw in a lightbulb?


"Helmet fire" is an actual term used by military pilots when too many things are going on at once, they feel like their brains are heating up and at some point their helmets catch fire. I use that one all the time.
August 06, 2008 22:32
I say [I like eggs] when someone says something that I don't know how to respond to . This become our [I like cake].
August 06, 2008 22:42
We did a project once for Boost Mobile as a client. Within a matter of hours of the project being announced, taglines from their ad campaigns were leaking into our everyday speech. "How's the task list coming along? became "Where you at, dawg?", and "I can jump in if their new list of requests is overwhelming" became "You got the whole city behind you."

Also, thanks to the something-awful emoticon set (which contains psyduck, a pokemon who gets more and more frustrated/confused/overwhelmed until his head explodes), under extreme circumstances "Psy!" was a perfectly valid status update.

Eventually entire conversations took places with stuff like this.
"Where you at, dawg?"
"You got the whole city behind you."

August 06, 2008 23:51
One day I was on the toilet thinking about a pesky problem with one of our applications. By wipe time, I came up with a simple yet brilliant solution that cured everything. From that day forward, us web developers cure most pesky issues by a small (yet effective) dosage of "throne thinking". It's funny how stepping away from the computer and handling your business can trigger witty thoughts.

This was a funny post, Scott! Perfect read for a Wednesday.
August 06, 2008 23:55
Cobol programmer here at work kept referring to "the long size". (long datatype)
August 07, 2008 0:12
"When in Rome..." - Ron Burgundy
August 07, 2008 0:55
Hahah. Loved the "ponyware". Reminded me of another term:
"Automagic" - Either 1. An unexplained phenomenon in code: "Between these two lines, my pointer is getting hosed. And I thought I didn't believe in automagic...", or 2. Features that wordlessly hide otherwise ugly details from a user that wouldn't understand them anyway: "So we just do some automagic and derive what the outgoing SMTP server should be. God forbid they have to understand that themselves."

"sweet glory" - In our office, we use this to refer to a demonstrable feature or unit of code that we are particularly proud of. Came from one developer shouting "sweet glory" after fixing a particularly heinous bug. Usually people use it as an excuse to brag about a chunk of code.
August 07, 2008 2:21
DSTB = Doesn't Suck Too Bad
August 07, 2008 2:40
Way back when, I was hired to help start a cable modem internet operation, during my first week on the job me and the other guy they hired were working on getting a customers network connected to ours, and he was working in there router. while configuring it he turned off the interface that he was using to talk to the router, leaving the it in a badly configured state. He turns to me and says "Oh <Explitive>, Get in the truck!". So for all the years we worked together there when ever one of us would do something really bad, like run a script that deletes 2500+ email accounts, One of us would say "Oh <Explitive>!" "What?" "Get in the truck!"
August 07, 2008 3:47
A coworker of mine, who pretty much lives in his office, eats on occasion. Rather than leave the comfort of his office, he went to Sams Club and bought a large box of Raisin Bran.. thus his office has become...

Cerealizble. :)
August 07, 2008 4:00
JTU - Joe/Jane Turkey User as in "any old JTU can figure out how to use that program".

KTA - Kitchen Table Amateur. Describes anyone who has read one book about development and somehow thinks that makes them an expert developer.
August 07, 2008 6:03
"I think you've beat that gift horse to death"

Ha! our local version is "I'll burn that bridge when I come to it"
August 07, 2008 6:46
We've been borrowing a saying from a Simpsons episode - Homer is testing new products and tries a diet pill that makes him blind. One researcher says "Who'll buy a pill that makes you blind?" and another researcher says "We'll let marketing worry about that." So when issues comes up that shouldn't be solved by developers we like to say "We'll let infrastructure worry about that."

Another one is "Don't Do What Donny Don't Does", also borrowed from a Simpsons episode. We had a contractor named Donny who wrote code that served as an example of what not to do. 2 years later and we're still finding issues! Also substitute Donny for other devs who have left behind horrible code.
August 07, 2008 6:53
One of my co-workers accidentally blended two idioms together, and said that he didn't want us to "screw ourselves into a corner". I started using it immediately, and it was a few weeks before he realized that I wasn't making fun of him.
August 07, 2008 7:16
One place I worked, any time we discussed deadlines we'd all agree that the feature in question would be finished by Tuesday. We made a point of never specifying the week, or indeed the decade, but there was no doubt that the feature would be done by some Tuesday.
August 07, 2008 16:03
"Chuck Norris-ing the code":
August 07, 2008 17:18
We had a project where managers could approve or reject resumes their employees posted (so those employees could be considered for proposals the company was working on). Long story short, if a resume was wrong, for some reason they submitted a helpdesk ticket to remove the resume rather than having their manager reject it. (Same effect)

We determined that the "Reject" button had a bad connotation. Around the dev team, it became known as the "It's not you, its me" button.
August 07, 2008 18:17
The funniest thing that ever happened to me at work occurred during a meeting between Corporate IT and the R&D department. One of the software packages we created for our project was titled the "Station PC". Unfortunately, the R&D person who was talking during the meeting was slightly new to the english language and everytime he said PC he pronounced it as "fece". After he said that one time, I lost it. I could not even look up from my chair because I was laughing so hard...
August 07, 2008 20:12

"Six of one, baker's dozen another"
"We need to stop this before in snowballs into a can of worms" (stolen from the Dilbert Newsletter)
"It's like hunting fish in a barrel"
"I think you've beat that gift horse to death"
"It's a goat of another color"
"It's not rocket surgery" (accidental slip which brought the repsonse "well, it's not brain science either.")

"I'll burn that bridge when I come to it"

These are all absolute gems, I was laughing embarrassingly loudly at my desk. One between me and my friends has always been "Well, you know what they say, three blind mice and all that". Classic nonsequiturs include "So, do you like... stuff?". There are also many, many Anchorman quotes, down to the smallest pieces from the script: "There's no way that's correct", "I dabble", and, very funny when out of context or among people not familiar with the convention, "A whale's vagina".
August 07, 2008 20:50
My friends and I use "It's FisherPrice" to describe anything that looks like it should do something but doesn't. Generally use this to describe something in a video game, an underpowered special ability, weapon, or unused game mechanic. You find a LOT of those in game betas and initial releases. I also use it on the job:

Manager: "How are the Customer order screens coming?"
Me: "Ready for a ux demo, but they're FisherPrice" ie: not hooked up to real data.
August 07, 2008 22:10
We've got a BA here that I've recently been saddled with. When going over a proposed DB layout with him he asked me why I was including an ID column.

I reply, "Thats the primary key." as patiently as I could.

Mr. "I've got programming development experience from the 80's so I'm just as good at this as you are but now I'm a BA" counters, "Whats a primary key?? Take it out, we don't need it."

August 07, 2008 22:26
Although I cannot remember the true origin of this phrase (probably way back in my Royal Navy days), I have been using the phrase "It's all part of life's rich tapestry" to refer to the inevitable curve-ball that a client throws you during a project that usually results in someone having to toss a number of weeks worth of effort... It has been quite the hit with my US team.
August 08, 2008 0:02
These are great. Only thing I can think of to contribute is PICNIC and PEBKAC.

Problem In Chair, Not In Computer
Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair

oldies, but goodies.
August 08, 2008 2:56
PICNIC and PEBKAC - we have other saying for this:

"It's an ID Ten T error" (ID10T) or "I think there's a nut loose on your keyboard'

Another saying we've been using a lot is VOLUNTOLD, as in "I've been voluntold to go to this meeting"
August 08, 2008 5:29
We had a tech guy that loved to go on and on about anything tech related. i dont recall specifically what he was going on this time, but it had something to do with "mpeg4" - but the only problem was that he stopped us as we were standing in the elevator heading up and he was in the lobby leaving. Well he kept talking and talking and eventualyl (other people waiting in the elevator with us) we had to let the door close. That didn't stop him and he kept going and going even as the door closed. We just laughed because the last word we heard was "mpeg4" so now that is how we say goodbye to each other (it also became his name for the rest of his time with the co.)
August 08, 2008 5:50
I worked with a guy from Jamaica who's came from a family that was a little bit into voodoo. Whenever we'd face a particularly difficult bug or tricky problem, he'd jokingly suggest that we sacrifice a chicken or a goat.

After a while, when one of those problems would come up, someone would say, "I don't know. This is really a tricky problem." Then someone else would follow up by just saying, "3 goats, I think. And a chicken."

To this day, I catch myself calling those tricky bugs "3 goat" problems.
August 09, 2008 0:41
In a job as a technical writer, another writer described when you're working full-speed to get things written for a tight deadline and incorporating last-minute developer changes that mean significant changes to the docs as "firebell mode".
August 09, 2008 0:58
The other day, a colleague of mine told me of a conversation he had with a girlfriend. They were looking for a phrase appropriate for when people aren't understanding each other. Their favorite, which became one of our favorites where I work, was:

"We're just not petting the same dog."

Another one that makes me chuckle comes from management's quest to be buzzword compliant. They are so desperate to have dashboards that they'll call just about anything a "dashboard"; even if it's only a navigation menu with a static background image that looks like a flow chart.

So whenever a sticky problem comes up, someone inevitably says, "I think it needs a dashboard. That'll solve all your problems."
August 09, 2008 2:04
Gah, I think openID might have hosed me on my first comment- let's try that again. (watch for double post now. ;))

Those were really good times and just reading this post made me laugh out loud again. I have to say that Corillian is still one of the best development gigs in my career, and working with both you and Travis was a blast. We had to do *something* to keep sane through those projects!

"I like cake!" really brings back some memories. I'm laughing just thinking about it. A myriad other in jokes to boot that I still carry around in my vernacular to this day.

"I can have that done in 10 hanselminutes..." (riiiiggghhtt!)

-- Stu

August 13, 2008 0:26
"I like cake" sounds something like something Donut (of RvB) would say.

About all I have to add is "interesting in the Chinese way", from the purported curse, "may you live in interesting times"
August 15, 2008 13:52
Hehe, nice stories; I can write a long list of funny things myself too, but I will add only one, that i find myself funny as hell. A new child was born, an winforms c# click once pilot project, poor specified and also with poor customer reply. Q: How do you want that? A: Yes ; The clasic client answer: right, just get it done... And we did, respected the milestone, added like a bunch of new features, and so on and so forth.
But at some point, when we were just sending the release document, he came and said, look we have the following situation, and in that situation you have to allow "incomplete ship". And ofc we ask whats "incomplete ship"? And, ofc the "yes" answer after, after which he started to explain.... and we were stunned, as almost every feature of the application would be affected by this, and he concluded, so no biggie right?
ofc not, took 10 minutes to implement a button with its functionality and 2 weeks of testing and bug fixing on a release version.. Overtime like hell, alot of coffee and smokes, the functionality just didn't wanted to get implemented without screwing everyting else. One morning though, when i got to work i found an email from the main dev. : check it out , I think we got it. Didn't think much about how it was done, we fixed the minor bugs we ended with, released it, deployed it, and then it struck me.. went to the dev and asked how did you do it, and he smiled, and showed me the code:

I always check for value a to be smaller that value b; if its bigger try catch and we display value b otherwise we always display a :D.
Presentation time: their main IT guy ofc asked how this was done, and i pointed to the funny little dev.:
A: "Actually this is a bit complicated to explain in a non technical approach, and it might take a long time for me to explain. Do you want me to explain it now?"
their answer was ofc: nope, we'll get at it later..
August 16, 2008 5:56
For my cousin Ben (now unfortunately deceased) and I, it was "I've got a light in a my closet." This was uttered by my sister, in a conversation having absolutely nothing to do with lighting or storage.
August 25, 2008 16:06
I used to work with a contractor who, when presented with a particularly difficult feature for a short-term projects, responded with "You want the moon on a stick!". It became a standard term of reference in the company for years, even though he left 6 months later.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.