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The System - a Tribute

Friday, September 21, 2007
Yesterday, we decommissioned a stats collection system that had been operating in one form or another for roughly 20 years. I commemorated the event with a little poetry:
The System
by Z

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a faint and green-and-white print-out of mem’ry stores,
While I sat there, doughnut-snacking, suddenly I heard tick-tacking,
As on key-caps gently hacking, hacking at the system's core,
"Tis some programmer," I muttered, "hacking at the system's core --
Only this, and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember late-night disconnecting members,
And each separate signed-off screenname made me wonder even more,
Eagerly, I scanned the day's log -- vainly tried to clear the brain fog,
From the many failures to log on and off the system's core,
Obfuscated, evermore.

And the tappa-tappa sounding of each keystroke felt a pounding
To me -- drumming on my head as with a knocker on a door,
So that now, to stop the thrumming in my brain, I sat there humming,
"Tis some programmer who's bumming lines from out the system's core,
Maybe Janet Hunter's bumming lines from out the system's core,
This it is, and nothing more."

Presently my head grew clearer, and I drew the print-out nearer,
"Korn," said I, "or Huntsman, would you mind not typing more?
For the fact is I was reading, and to you now I am pleading
Stop your typing! Oh, these bleeding stats make my eyes sore!"
Then I tossed the papers wildly, and they fell upon the floor,
Piles and piles of stats galore.

Then there fell an awkward silence from my momentary violence,
And my coworkers retreated, leaving me alone once more,
And I wished that I could count each error line, take that amount,
And use the total log lines as the basis for a score,
I would normalize these stats and so reduce this endless chore
To a simply tallied score.

Then each abby-disconnected session would be, thus detected,
Not rejected as some anecdotal evidential bore,
But the stats could now be trended! And my nightmare would be ended,
No more reading till the numbers bled from each and every pore,
We would let our new computers do the job, that's what they're for:
That's a goal worth shooting for.

PL/1 code then was ported, and my headache thus aborted.
Teams of compu-science people wrote in C, and Perl, and more,
Hell with malloc, and realloc, I am such a smarty-alec
I will rewrite Perl to use some better algorithmic lore,
Yes, I'll rewrite Perl to use a better algorithmic lore,
And upgrade it nevermore.

Bring on multisite and sttr -- while our bosses pace and mutter
'Cause our stock is in the gutter and our login failures soar,
We'll debate the daily cut-off -- is it when the system's shut off?
Is it better that we end the day at midnight, or at four?
Let's hope global mem'ry mapping will avoid a program core,
stats_exec runs evermore.

We must have been such haughty asses to create spaghetti masses
And morasses of procedures that an expert would abhor,
Late night sessions, caffeine chugging, TIH-Stats needs debugging!
Else the short priv 2 report will never make it out the door,
And the management will never know the abby logfail score,
And our jobs will be no more.

I have heard it said quite often that the last nail in the coffin
Was the constant watching for a crash and starting it once more,
But the truth is more elusive. Just: the system was abusive
To the programmers who tried to keep it running more and more
With the only time for upgrades 'tween the hours of three and four
We maintained it nevermore.

Now this code base we are quitting, and I'm guilty of omitting
All the years of toil and labor into which our hearts we poured.
But this tale has nearly ended, with the code at last ab-ended
In a final blaze of glory let the rusty boxes roar,
Let us raise our glasses, make a toast, and drink! 'Cause heretofore,
Stats is running nevermore.


  1. The Maharaja said...

    Now THAT took talent!

    11:39 AM  

  2. Mrs. B said...

    I love it. I think my favorite line is:

    stats_exec runs evermore.

    But couldn't you work in something about a raven? Come on now. :-)

    12:46 PM  

  3. Mrs. B said...

    "This is not the greatest song in the world - this is a tribute."

    7:37 PM  

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