There is no such thing as The Computer Code

posted in: Science!, Tech | 1

Today, The Wisdomination proudly presents a guest writer – a friend of almost three decades, an accomplished nuclear physicist and, most recently, a programmer of industrial robots. All his experience with coding left him convinced there is no such thing.

Over to you, Curieus (not his real name):

TL;DR: Using the word “Code” on its own makes you look stupid. Adding any other word to it makes you look like the next Bill Gates.

You may want to stop using the word The Code when speaking even remotely about computers. When you do, you look like a politician talking about a fair tax system: a completely ignorant ass-head or, better, a plain fake, causing physical pain to your computer-literate counterparts. And we certainly wouldn’t want that, now, would we.

A brief introduction: every guild or field worth it’s existence has secret ways for its members to quickly and with confidence determine whether a person they are speaking to belongs to their ranks or, better, promises broad possibilities of, ahem, creative invoicing since she can only defend herself with a shield of thick banknotes. Doctors have their leet-latin, carmakers their ESPs and runflats, economists their EBITDAs. It’s a natural defense to go and try picking up some of the thrown stones and throw them back. And that is how The Code came to existence.

Because, you see, engineers, and computer engineers even more so, can get quite cunning in their ways. Just think about it – the banking system, the stock exchange, stuff two hundred years old with no apparent ability to move forward (except, of course, when there is bailout money around). You, and probably your children in few years as well, will try hard to survive a hangover on the same aspirin your parents took when they still knew how to party. Yet you seem to be forced to upgrade your car every three to ten years, your laptop every three to ten months and your smartphone every ten minutes or so. That’s how clever engineers can get.

And in all their cunning, they throw bait around just to see who’s the clever boy to go and try to trick them, only to trick the boy back big time. Who knows what OIBDA or Cephaloanal Inversion is without Wikipedia-ing it? (Off course everybody knows what Lupus is, but it’s never Lupus, right, Dr. House?) But everyone today wants their ABS turbocharged and at least Quad-Core GPRS. And the most evil of all these baits is The Computer Code.

Why evil? It’s very cleverly thought out – much more difficult to avoid than, say, Broadband Touchscreen. There are plenty of perfectly valid terms with the word ‘code’ in them. It’s very in and now and trendy and buzz and whatnot. It does actually mean something outside the scope of computer engineering. But lately it has sort of backfired: aside from giving the possibility to tell a friend from foe, it seems to have found delight in terrorizing the engineers and giving the foes a somewhat perverted pleasure at the same time.

So what’s the problem with The Code? Put simply, there are so many things called “code” that no one of them can ever be called The Code. So when you say something like ‘We need to apply our corporate visuals to all code’, it sounds as if the dress code is everything there is to _your_ job. ‘The artificial intelligence will be able to modify itself at all levels of code’ says that all you know about AI comes from your getting through all levels of the Prince of Persia one hundred years ago.

There’s a very simple trick that will cover your bullshit generating self with an image of respectable IT man if not the next Mark Zuckerberg himself. And the trick is a random other word or at least a bunch of other letter attached to the naughty word. That’s it! Really simple, right? Like all other computer stuff. The only thing they teach you at The Computer College is that you have to shut up about this one fact and for the rest of your life you are entitled to the best toys and similarly geek minded coworkers. So to give you some head start, here are some combinations you might try next Monday on your boss to get a promotion or at least a hefty raise:

Source code: Bingo! You are now entitled to the honorary doctorate of Sourcery (or coding, as others may call it).

HTML code: saying or writing this will make you look like a quarter inch smaller idiot than all those bragging about The Code. That is all you need to become the head of your department. Then you can circle endlessly around your subordinates’ cubicles shouting that there’s no such thing as HTML code (which would be the only correct thing you’ll ever say about computers).

Codebase: don’t ask me why, but once you utter the secret spell ‘All your codebase are belong to us’ to your insanely expensive consultant, he’ll magically understand one of your craziest requirements. This only works once per consultant, so use it wisely.

Machine code: Something like machine gun. Something of great power but you never ever want it mentioned anywhere near your conference room.

Opcode (or operation code): Computer counterpart to cubicle number or employee-ID. An identification number of a very simple thing which when used in huge numbers makes it possible for you to play angry birds in the comfort of your fancy manager chair.

So these are some simple tricks which may save your life or even your budget when talking to a computer person. But the best trick is never to use the word Code whatsoever. Clever sticking of the code to other words may make you look like Mr. IBM, but not uttering the C-word a single time will make you look like Steve The God Jobs himself. I promise.