When I was an aspiring software engineer at my first job at SGI in 1996, I asked my friend and mentor why a specific kernel debugger wasn’t working.
He gave me an answer, but even then my unwillingness to be satisfied with a curt answer was – well – annoying. He looked at me as I tried to get a more interesting answer than just – well the configuration didn’t work and realized that he needed to get on with his life than answer one more annoying question from this freshly minted new grad.
His response to my: well okay but really what was going what was the fundamental issue?
His answer was legendary:
Because some of the 1’s that should have been 1’s were 0’s and some of the 0’s that should have been 0’s were 1’s
I love the answer. It was a brush off, but at the same time was deeply insightful. At the end of the day the reason software doesn’t work can be reduced to a string of 1’s and 0’s that aren’t correct.
And many years later my son repeated this to me when I asked his mom why the database wasn’t working:
Apparently some sayings endure.