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Case 115


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Reports of corrupted data had reached the ears of Java master Banzen. After reviewing the code base he summoned a certain monk to his office.

“You take great pains to avoid null-valued objects,” said the master. “You initialize all Strings to empty, and coerce nulls to empty when setting String-valued properties. Furthermore you store the properties of your Data Transfer Objects in primitives, causing null integer columns to be read as zeroes and null booleans to be read as false. Explain.”

The boy replied: “In my experience, our most common production error is the NullPointerException. I seek to minimize the occurences of this.”

Banzen thought a moment, then tossed a brass coin into his fireplace and covered it deep with glowing coals. “Fetch the coin with your bare fingers,” he said.

The monk attempted this feat three times, but each time he withdrew his empty, burned fingers in pain.

Banzen then grabbed the boy’s upper arm, sought a particular nerve, and pinched deeply. The pain stopped.

“Again,” ordered Banzen, still pressing on the nerve.

The monk repeated his efforts. He was pleased to discover that he could toss aside the coals with ease, but his pleasure turned to horror when he smelled and heard his own flesh sizzling. Quickly he withdrew his blistered, burned hand and dropped the coin onto the floor.

Banzen released the monk’s arm and left the room. The monk required no further correction, except learning to type left-handed.