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Case 41

Garbage

Java master Suku was investigating the software of a distant temple. On her monitor large swaths of text glowed not black but green, indicating that reams of code had been commented out.

“Curious,” said Suku. “I have opened a fine clock, and discovered orange rinds and fish bones.”

The head monk explained that the inactive code was no longer necessary, yet he had ordered his clan to leave it in place: for if it someday became desirable to restore the logic then the code could simply be uncommented, rather than wastefully written from scratch.

“Understandable,” nodded Suku.

The next day the monks assembled again for the Java master’s inspection. With concern they reported that the head monk could not be found. Suku gestured up into the rafters where the missing monk dangled from a strong rope, by the neck. A foul odor wafted downwards.

“Your head monk’s services are no longer necessary,” said Suku. “Yet let his corpse moulder above you from this day forward. After all, his methods may someday become desirable again, and it would be wasteful to train another monk from scratch.”

In her final report, Suku noted a swift change in the clan’s coding practices, and credited the good example set by the deceased head monk. We should consider his reinstatement, she wrote.