Month: October 2009

Houses of Cards

I have often heard of software systems being compared to a house of cards, meaning that they were poorly built and are ready to topple at any time. The system I am currently helping to maintain has from time to time also been labeled in that way, yet it always manages to go live with quite a few new functions, and apart from the odd all-nighter to fix a few last bugs, it works to the customers satisfaction. So while I was doing the washing up today, I noticed something. I am well known amongst family and ex-house mates for building what look like unstable piles of washed up dishes, as they dry. Yet I have never ever had a pile collapse on me. Never once have I lost it all. And remember, there are slippery suds involved in holding up these piles! As I thought a little more about it, it didn't take long to come to the simple conclusion that a pile of washing up is stronger than a house of cards. Cards are uniformly shaped and have no edges or surfaces which help to lock their neighbours in place.  Plates, dishes, cups, pans and cutlery on the other hand can be placed tactically so that they lock together forming a strong structure. Notice in the picture below that the heavy pan is placed at the top! It still looks ugly though. But as long as its just left to dry it will be safe. Just like our…

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