Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Programming Affects the Mind

I've long suspected that spending too long programming affects the way the mind works, and I've finally come across a quite-good example:-

My wife innocently asked me if our car boot was locked. Being a programmer, where accuracy and logic is paramount, my mind was instantly plunged into a spagetti of possible answers and their respective problems.

Our car's boot (trunk for Americans) can only be opened with a key or by using the lever by the side of the drivers seat. There is no button on the boot to open it if the car is unlocked, which it was. So was the boot actually unlocked? One possible answer is "no", since it couldn't be any more unlocked than it was. However, giving this answer implies that it was possible for her to go out and open the boot, but I'm not sure she knows about the lever (since she's not a driver) and she doesn't have a key, this wouldn't work. So is the answer "yes it is locked", since the boot cannot be opened directly? But this can't be correct, since it is openable without a key, which is presumably the definition of "locked". Is the correct answer "sort of"? No, not if you want to be helpful. Is the correct response to explain how the various boot locking mechanisms work or describe where the lever is? Probably not, since it would take too long.

In the end I just ummed and ahh'd and said I'd open it for her.

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