Many thanks to Tristan Morris for creating a beautiful illustrated hardcover print edition of the site

moderately geeky  moderately geeky

Case 157

Captive Audience

(Sorry, this page has not yet been translated into the requested language.)

Master Bawan awoke one day to find his wrists shackled together, and likewise his ankles. With great difficulty he struggled to his feet and began to hop to his door to seek aid, only to fall face-first onto his rug with a loud thud. Looking backwards he discovered that his shackles were themselves chained to his bedposts.

The master only lay upon the floor and sighed; for he had lived at the Temple many years, and such odd awakenings did not surprise him anymore.

It was then he noticed that a great wooden barrel had been placed at the foot of his bed. Squirming over to it, he found it filled to the very top with thousands upon thousands of keys.

Bawan had tried no more than a hundred when the old scribe Qi entered without knocking and seated himself besides the master.

“That appears tedious,” observed the scribe.

“It was at first,” agreed Bawan. “Then it became irritating, then frustrating. But as I awoke with a full bladder, it has now passed on to urgent.”

“Well, do not let me distract you,” said the scribe, producing a thick sheaf of paper. “I had only stopped by to discuss the design document you asked me to review. I must commend you on your level of detail: every requirement is captured here, as is every database table, column, and constraint; every screen mockup, use case, test case, and error case; every package, class and method; the services provided and the third-party libraries consumed, right down to the configuration parameters and instructions for deployment. Your table of contents alone is three pages long.”

“I strive to be thorough,” said the master, tossing aside another key.

“It is curious,” said the scribe, flipping through the pages. “Every paragraph will undoubtedly be useful to someone, but though I pored over your text for many hours I could not glean the simple overview of the system that I needed. Back and forth through the pages I went, unwilling to give up, for I was certain the fault lay with my own eyes. I felt... how would one put it...”

“Trapped?” suggested the master, pulling another key from the barrel.

“An excellent choice of words,” said Qi.

“I will prepare a suitable high-level design document for you, no more than a few pages with simple diagrams,” said Bawan, fighting the chains in an attempt to cross his legs as he jammed the next key into each of his locks without success.

“When it is convenient,” said the scribe with a bow. “It appears you have more pressing matters to attend to. And time, as always, is our enemy.”

With that the scribe went out.