Stupid Engineer Tricks

A RUNNING JOKE IN OUR shop — oh, decades ago, now — ran that success at operating a highly-precise and temperamental German machine depended on how you held your mouth. Or standing on one foot with the other held up stork-like. Or the phase of the moon. Or the sacrifice of a chicken to the gods of the loa.

But it WAS a joke. The truth was and is that real success depended on meticulous maintenance and setup of the machine.

Another joke, from my days doing peer tech support on Compuserve, was, telling people reporting buggy behavior of a program who could detail the step(s) that would reproduce the problem to, (in a conscious echo of the punch line from the old standup joke*), “Don’t Do That (DDT).”

Apple, apparently, didn’t get the memo about those being jokes.

* Went to the doctor — my arm hurts when I do this. I said, “Doc. My arm hurts when I do this.” Doc said, “Don’t do that.”

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