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Newest risk to computer programmers

From: spt(at) (Simon Travaglia, Analyst/Programmer)
Newsgroups: rec.humor,comp.misc
Subject: Latest Discovered computer risk

A little before 11:13am on Wednesday the 8th of June 1994, Dennis Waters, a
programmer with a small software company in Hamilton, New Zealand, collapsed
in front of his terminal, head steaming.  By the time an emergency medical
team could reach him, he was dead.  His employer Brent Nosefinger, seeing
the corpse and the cryptic code on the VDU screen wisely called in CLRT -
The Computer Logic Response Team.

Within hours the team had analysed both the preliminary autopsy and the c
source code and confirmed Nosefinger's initial suspicion - Waters had died 
from a little known but highly dangerous mental upset, The Logic Block.

Dr Brian Analpeeper of CLRT explains-
"The logic block is one of the most dangerous conditions to confront people
whose mental processes form the basis of their work.  Most of us are familiar
with the concept of the writer's block, which although uncomfortable, poses no
direct threat to the wellbeing of the writer.  The logic block however, is far
more dangerous in that the mind enters a tightly bound logic-based loop with
little or no possibility of escape.  This loop could be similated by winding a
486 DX 32 to approximately 500 MHz with no heatsinking.  In a very short time
the brain resembles a poached egg, cooked in it's own juices (which  
 retains most of the flavour)."

In Waters case, the Logic Block trigger was believed to be a trivial compound
'if' statement in a 'for' loop.  Witnesses to the incident state that before
his collapse, Waters was repeatedly reciting the code that perplexed him in a
vain attempt to free himself of it's clutches.

Dr Analpeeper explains-
"Often the programmer will realise the mortal danger they are in and attempt to
stave off the inevitable by reciting the logic problem aloud in the hopes that
vocalising the problem will solve it.  Nothing could be further from the truth
of course - by the time the programmer gets to this stage, their capacity for
logical thought is almost nil."

Analpeeper continues -
"Sometimes, the programmer will attempt to avoid the problem completely by
deleting the offending code and starting again from scratch.  In some cases
this has been known to work, but in others the programmer has only delayed the
thoughts until some time when his or her mind is less occupied.  For instance,
it is not uncommon for the victim to be found dead at the wheel of their car 
in a traffic jam - passersby relating that they heard the victim utter
something like:
	`if NOT debug AND *NOT* interactive *OR* remote AND *NOT* tcpip...,
	 no hang on, if DEBUG *OR* interactive...'
before their deaths."

Analpeeper also notes that whilst the logic itself may be intraversable,
the victim may in fact be able to intuitively work out the solution.  He
gave an example of a mathematical problem involving three men at a hotel
and a missing dollar, which, after costing the lives of two reporters,
we decided not to include in this item.
"I just don't think about it at all." Analpeeper admitted  "I don't even 
try to work it out."

Solutions for this condition come slowly and only after painstaking and
meticulous research.  Dr Analpeeper concedes that his team have only
stopgap solutions for the problem, which we outline below.

Section A.   The Symptoms
	1.  The victim finds themselves repeating a program statement over
	    and over in their mind in an attempt to follow the program course.
	2.  The victim finds even the simplest logic operators incomprehensible
	3.  The victim will believe that the room is getting warmer.
	4.  Walls may appear to be closing in.
	5.  The victim may hear a sound not unlike that of water boiling.

Section B.   Treatment
	1.  Remove the offending code and passively attempt to forget it.
	2.  Think of the one song in the world that most annoys you because of
	    its triviality and inaneness and start humming it.  This ensures
	    that the moment your mind becomes unoccupied, the song (and not the
	    problem) will fill the gap.
		(Analpeeper suggests Susanne Vega's "Tom's Diner" as a suitable
		tune, with the following caveat:
		"Although the song will reduce the risk of a logic block
		 taking your life, it may have the side effect of making
		 you wish that it had.  That's the price you pay for life")

Section C.  Prevention.
	1.  Program simple code, with only one clause per statement
	2.  Don't try an understand anyone else's code
	3.  Remember the old adage "There's nothing so simple it can't be
		written in BASIC"

-- About the CLRT ---------------------------------------------------------
 The CLRT was set up in the early nineties with a brief to investigate computer
related health issues.    Dr  Analpeeper,  one of the founding members, relates
that  for  years  the  issues of the dangers of computing were neglected by the
medical industry at large, which eventually forced him and his collegues to act
When asked about the poor choice of acronyms Analpeeper stated: 'We wanted CERT
but that was already taken, so we settled for this.'

WARNING:   Some parts of the previous message may depict scenes of gratuitous
violence,  use  words your mother wouldn't approve of, cause cancer, refer to
you or persons you know in a derogatory manner, use bad grammar  or plead for
you to send your Pentax K1000 to:  Simon Travaglia, Information & Technology,
University of Waikato, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton, New Zealand.   It happens.
The actor who took the role of King Lear played the King as though he expected
 someone to play the ace.		- Eugene Field
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