Saturday, October 28, 2006

Metaphores Rule

Just came back from a meeting. I'm having a cup of Joe. (Cup of Joe? Where did that come from?) I'm going over my notes. We techs use a lot of metaphores.

And you know what? Metaphores rule. Well, of course they really don't rule in the literal sense of "exercising authority or control over others" but they really rock. Well, not in the sense...never mind.

Metaphors create such vivid pictures that I can't help but see the image and "get it" mentally. In the Enterprise some of my associates are awesome at weaving metaphores throughout their sentenances. The other day one of my Enterprise buddies used them to illustrate the work-world madness. He had me in stitches. (Metaphorically: I split my sides laughing and had to get sutured).

Here are some of the latest I've collected in the past few weeks:

"We'll fix that in the next turn of the crank." The fix is iterative. In other words, this "turn of the crank" is not the final solution but just a single spin in the start process. Next time, the next turn of the crank, well add more stuff.

"I wasn't invited to the party." I'm not "in the know." I'm not with the "IN" crowd. I wasn't invited to the meetings. Any or all of these are meant by 'not invited to the party.'

"It's in the product family and it will be retired soon." Why do we software engineers refer to a software product as "family" when it's just bits and bytes on a spinning platter in some harddrive? But of course, if it's part of the family then we wouldn't "kill it" we'd "retire it." It's more humane that way. I've always wondered where retiring software goes? Does it sort of sit on the harddrive spindle and watch other software do work?

"I don't have the bandwidth now so ping me later." This is gearhead speech for "I'm too busy, get back to me." Bandwidth is how much data you can concurrently handle. If you are on overload, you can't handle any more stuff and the person will need to ask later. Or "ping" you in tech-speech. Pinging refers to what computers do before sending data. They send a small packet of information and see if they get a response from the target computer. In WWII, submarines used to send out a ping to detect another sub. The density of the returning signal could tell them if one was present. If so, they'd fire. Only this "pinging" is a friendly ping. No firing.

"That's a project big rock." This means that it's a major issue that has to be dealt with. Often used with reference to something that has to be removed before real progress can be made.

"I was thrown under the bus." Someone blamed you for the problem. They "stuck it to you." Often said just after a big meeting wherein the thrower blamed the throwee for the problem. It's an unpleasant experience. You can also "get thrown under the bus" without even knowing it. If you weren't at the meeting someone could still place the blame on you.

"Don't leave any cat tails swatting. Burry them or cut them off." Finish the job. Don't do it halfway. Could also refer to retiring software (see above) that wasn't retired, destroyed, or yanked from the production machines.

"He wears a tinfoil hat." He's paranoid. Someone who wears tinfoil on their heads believes that everyone is out to get them. The hats date back to a collection of geeks (before it was cool to be a geek) who wanted to protect themselves from mind readers, usually the government or aliens. Tinfoil was thought to prevent this.

"You're just squeezing the balloon." You're just masking a problem. This means that your solution is just transferring the problem to somewhere else. Just as pressing a sealed balloon at one end will cause the air to expand at the other, your proposed solution only causes another problem somewhere else.

Use more metaphores.

My parents bought me a sandbox. It was a quicksand box. I was an only child, eventually. -Stephen Wright