Holmes for the holidays

Since before the start of Thanksgiving I have been steadily hunting down a pernicious bug in my software. Finally, only this evening, I found it and fixed it. My sense of triumph and relief is probably all out of proportion to the situation, but there it is.

Usually it doesn’t take so long to find a bug. After a little poking and prodding, most bugs pretty much announce their cause loud and clear. But this one was different.

This one lasted for days, threatening to grow into my very own great white whale. Its origin was elusive, its symptoms inexplicable. Try as I might to lay a trap for it, to grab it by its metaphorical throat, things would mysteriously shift, and I would be left holding air.

Of course we must try to resist the tendency to anthropomorphize inanimate things, to imbue our own software bugs with some sort of crafty sentience. But I suspect that’s the way the human mind is wired.

In the end I fixed it by using the tried and true method so elegantly expressed by Sherlock Holmes himself: “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

One Response to “Holmes for the holidays”

  1. tcpx says:

    Oh, so many times this same idea help me find my very own bugs. Still, I often find it hard to surrender to it, embrace its inevitable truth and let go of my doubts concerning thus otherwise perfectly legitimate pieces of code.
    Ironically, we must accept we did a great job elsewhere – don’t be too hard on the ego – to get there.

    But once we drop it, everything comes clear !

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