WAY OT: programmer's sayings


Have been being nostalgic recently... During this, I remembered some of the humorous sayings and aphorisms vis programmers/programming. Was thinking some of youse would likely be able to remember far more of them than I did and could add to the list...? If not, these few might just bring a memory or two and perhaps a smile.

The three most dangerous things in the world are a programmer with a soldering iron, a hardware-type with a program patch, and a user with an idea.

Applications programming is a race between software engineers, who strive to produce idiot-proof programs, and the Universe which strives to produce bigger idiots;
So far the Universe is winning.

You can always tell a really good Idea by the enemies it makes.

Everything always takes twice as long and costs four times as much as you planned.

It's never the technical stuff that gets you in trouble. It's the personalties and the politics.

Living with a programmer is easy. All you need is the patience of a saint.

You can't do just one thing.

When you cannot meet a problem straight forward, you should come at it straight backwards.


Nothing to do with programmers - but WAY OT as well:

There are two rules:

1. Never divulge all information


There are 10 kind of programmers:

01. Those who know binary;

10. Those who don't.



"Managing programmers is like trying to herd cats"

"Beware of software weenies wielding screwdrivers"



All of you probably know the classic "Real Programmers don't Eat Quiche" already, but it contains a wealth of programmers sayings:




And then theres' this collection, too, FWIW.



One of our unofficial workplace signs reads:

"Give a man a program, and frustrate him for a day. Teach a man to program, and frustrate him for a lifetime."


How many programmers does it take to change a light bulb? Can't be done -- it's a hardware problem.

From the "if I had a dime for each time I heard this one" department:

"Well, I did made a few minor changes to [...], but it CAN'T be that!"

One of my bosses used to have the following on his whiteboard to greet people making development requests:

      - On Time
- Under Budget
- Documented
Choose any two of the above.

(The same boss -- back in mainframe days -- would call Operations when the system was down, and ask how many people were standing around the console. He'd multiply that number by 30 minutes for an estimate of total down-time.)

And a more generic saying:

Some things shouldn't be examined too closely.

Edited: 24 June 2008, 3:23 p.m.


If you ask a programmer how long whatever is doing will take, get his answer, multiply by three and switch to the next higher unit. This way, an hour translates to 3 days which is not too far off.


The Perfect Programmer


0x2B | ~0x2B



"Face down, nine-edge first. ;-)

[Alternative ending]

And the last bug in sight,

An ant passing by,

Saluted his tombstone,

And whispered, "Nice try."

Edited: 25 June 2008, 2:24 a.m.


Face down, nine-edge first

I don't get it. (Would someone please explain?)


"face down, nine edge first" is how you insert cards into a card reader

Edited: 26 June 2008, 12:32 p.m.


Thanks for that.

I actually worked with cards way back on an IBM mainframe at Boeing. Coming from the academic environment's time-share system (on an HP-1000, I believe), it was quite a shock.

What was nice was the solid, physical manifestation to be gained of one's work. You could pull together different subroutines (stacks bound with rubber bands) and create a new whole, all "by hand" -- programming had that much more of a traditional "craft" feel about it than mere magnetically-encoded bits & bytes out somewhere in storage.

(This is not to say that I want to return to using cards, however . . . )


In the olden days I was a systems engineer. We had some less than complimentary thoughts about programmers. We always believed that the programmers inserted "hero glitches" into their programs. When the systems didn't operate the properly the programmers could amaze the management with the speed with which they could find the "glitches".

Of course, there were also a lot, seemingly at times an unlimited number, of unintentional glitches. I was known among the programmers for expostulating "Hanson's Law" immediately after the correction of the latest "glitch"; namely

"In a program of any significant size there is always one more "glitch". They just get harder to find. So, keep looking for them!"


Two of my favorites:

Anything that is available is obsolete.

Never write anything twice.


Object oriented programmers only need two methods: create and scoop-up.


If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization.


Brook's Law:
Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.


Oooh! I remembered another (though it's not necessarily specific to programming):

If we'd wanted it tomorrow, we'd have asked for it tomorrow.

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