FRIDAY FUNNY: Laughing Over Quantum Physics

This Friday Funny is an oldie but a goodie that comes from a great source, Peter SJF Bance. It’s the “when a tree falls in the woods” conundrum, but with an IT twist.

In his setup, Bance writes, “I’m still reminiscing and recapturing all those years when humor was clever, and people spent time writing jokes that ran to more than 256 characters. I received this one in 1997, already at least two years old by that point. It was allegedly from a real source (it was sent to me by someone working in MS at the time), but who can tell?”


Sent: 06 February 1997 17:17
Subject: Fwd: Quantum Physics…

*File Description: If a Computer Beeps and There is No One Around…*

An *actual* bug report (from a friend at Microsoft).

Bug # Status Title
5143 ACTIVE “Build done” signal makes no sound

============ ACTIVE – 01/30/95 – MIKEBLAS ====================

Visual C++ makes an audible signal when a build completes. When no developer is in the room, this signal doesn’t make a sound. To reproduce:

1) Start a build.
2) Leave the room.
3) Note that the chime does not make a sound.

We should find a way to make the build bell make a sound even if nobody is there to hear it.

This philosophical issue may need program management’s attention before being resolved.

============ ASSIGNED to MATTHEWT – 01/30/95 – SCOTF =========

Can we use the telepathy support in Win95 to contact whomever is logged into the machine doing the build? Maybe we should just detect when the developer is leaving the room and prompt for a phone number where s/he can be reached.

How about disabling leaving the room during a build?

============ RESOLVED – BY DESIGN – 01/31/95 – MATTHEWT ======
============ ACTIVE – 02/01/95 – MARKLAM =====================

Actually, we can’t do this either. The problem is that while you’re out of the room your build is neither finished nor unfinished. It stays in a state of flux until you return and collapse the quantum uncertainty by observing it.

Perhaps we could link the build finished event to a cat in a box?

============ ASSIGNED to HEISENBERG – 02/01/95 – MARKLAM =====
============ RESOLVED – NOT REPRO – 02/03/95 – HEISENBERG ====

I cannot repro this. I tried standing just outside my door and it made the beep. Do I have to go further from my office? Would the mailroom do?

============ ACTIVE – 02/03/95 – MIKEBLAS ====================

The relative position of the mailroom and your office are relatively uncertain to me, Doctor.

Please try again:

1) start a build
2) leave your office
3) go down the hall
4) wait until you don’t hear the beep
5) return to note that the build is done

I think this is how I first repro’ed the problem, but I can’t remember what I was doing to make it happen.

The idea of disabling leaving the room might be the best possible solution, I think. When a build starts, the IDE should pop up a message that says “There are no more Fritos” or “The kitchen has closed early” or “The bathroom is being cleaned” so the developer will not be tempted to get up and wander around.

With minimal rebuild in place, we should consider diversions that won’t take as long to remedy: “You’re expecting a phone call” or “Someone will stop by to see you soon.”

We need to think of messages that are easy to localize for VC++3.0J.

============ ASSIGNED to MIKEBLAS – 02/13/95 – MARKLAM =======

To do this we’ll need to avoid messages about the bathrooms and vending machines for external releases. Perhaps some customer research is needed to find out exactly *why* Visual C++ users leave their keyboards.

Some suggestions (including MB_ types)

Get a drink:
(i) You’re out of coffee
(i) You’re out of tea
(i)(i) YYoouuvv”ee hhaadd eennoouugghh

Get something to eat:
(?) You have no food, remember
/! You need to lose weight, fatso. Sit your ass down

Exercise etc:
(?) Did You Know – sunlight causes skin cancer
(i) With a Nordik Trak you can get a workout in front of your monitor.
Call for home delivery.
/! I didn’t mean that about your weight

See family:
(i) They already know you love them
/! They’ll only want money for something
/! Your in-laws have arrived

Call of nature:
This could be difficult. Consider supplying bed-pan or similar.

============ ASSIGNED to MIKEBLAS – 02/13/95 – MARKLAM =======
============ ASSIGNED to MIKEBLAS – 02/16/95 – HEISENBERG ====

I attempted to repro this once more:

I placed my machine in the forest at the edge of the campus. I started a ‘rebuild all’ and ran out of the forest towards my mailroom. My build normally takes three minutes. After five minutes I had not heard anything, so I returned to my machine. Unfortunately a tree had fallen on it. I had not heard that, either.


  1. This is good….
    Favorite part–
    Unfortunately a tree had fallen on it. I had not heard that, either.

  2. Ok, THAT was over my head, LOL. “I am not a smart man” spoken in a Forrest Gump voice. Thanks for the joke, I may have to reread it after I attend NASA training camp.

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