Blog about software development


The Tao of Programming

29 Aug 2016 - by 'Maurits van der Schee'

I've found a document on the web titled "The Tao of Programming" that contains IT wisdom. It was copied and translated by Geoffrey James who found it on a NASA website with URL "http://misspiggy.gsfc.nasa.gov/tao.html" (not responding anymore). Below you find my three favorite IT wisdoms from the document.

1. Development team wisdom

A manager went to the Master Programmer and showed him the requirements document for a new application. The manager asked the Master: "How long will it take to design this system if I assign five programmers to it?"

"It will take one year," said the Master promptly.

"But we need this system immediately or even sooner! How long will it take if I assign ten programmers to it?"

The Master Programmer frowned. "In that case, it will take two years."

"And what if I assign a hundred programmers to it?"

The Master Programmer shrugged. "Then the design will never be completed," he said.

2. IT trade show wisdom

There once was a man who went to a computer trade show. Each day as he entered, the man told the guard at the door:

"I am a great thief, renowned for my feats of shoplifting. Be forewarned, for this trade show shall not escape unplundered."

This speech disturbed the guard greatly, because there were millions of dollars of computer equipment inside, so he watched the man carefully. But the man merely wandered from booth to booth, humming quietly to himself.

When the man left, the guard took him aside and searched his clothes, but nothing was to be found.

On the next day of the trade show, the man returned and chided the guard, saying: "I escaped with a vast booty yesterday, but today will be even better." So the guard watched him ever more closely, but to no avail.

On the final day of the trade show, the guard could restrain his curiosity no longer. "Sir Thief," he said, "I am so perplexed, I cannot live in peace. Please enlighten me. What is it that you are stealing?"

The man smiled. "I am stealing ideas," he said.

3. Video game wisdom

A Master Programmer passed a novice programmer one day.

The Master noted the novice's preoccupation with a hand-held computer game.

"Excuse me," he said, "may I examine it?"

The novice bolted to attention and handed the device to the Master. "I see that the device claims to have three levels of play: Easy, Medium, and Hard," said the Master. "Yet every such device has another level of play, where the device seeks not to conquer the human, nor to be conquered by the human."

"Pray, Great Master," implored the novice, "how does one find this mysterious setting?"

The Master dropped the device to the ground and crushed it with his heel. Suddenly the novice was enlightened.


If you liked this, then you may want to check out the other wisdoms in the "The Tao of Programming".

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