It’s strange how things can mean different things to different people depending on who is doing the talking and who is doing the listening.

For example, as I wrote many yonks ago in my What the English Say versus What the English Mean column:

Take the seemingly innocuous phrase, “Not bad,” for example. If someone said this to me in England, I’d take it to mean “That’s quite good” or “Well done.”. If I served a meal to some English guests, and one of them said “Not bad,” I would understand this to mean “I love it and I’ll be asking you for the recipe later.”

This is where you have to be so careful. If I were to go to an American friend’s house for supper and I carelessly said, “Not bad,” meaning “That’s very good,”, they would probably take it to mean “That’s rather poor,” which could easily put the damper on the evening. (As an aside, if an Englishman feels moved to amplify this statement along the lines of: “Not bad… not bad at all,” then this is the equivalent of him jumping up and down in giddy excitement and high fiving you.)

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The reason I mention this here is that a friend just sent me a What Programmers Say Versus What Programmers Mean translation guide that really hits the nail on the head.

A couple of these are really rather apposite, such as the two Perl Script items, for example. I’m afraid I can’t attribute this to any particular source. All my friend knows is that he found it somewhere on Facebook, which doesn’t give us much to go on, but I doff my cap to whoever created this in the first place.

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This reminds me of a couple of other things. The first is my EULA’s That Are Lost in Translation column. The other is the British sitcom The IT Crowd, which is currently available on Netflix. This revolves around the three staff members of a fictional company’s IT (Information Technology) department who dwell in a dingy, cluttered basement.

There are two technicians called Moss and Roy. Moss’s deep knowledge of technical topics is reflected in his extended, over-detailed suggestions coupled with his inability to deal with practical problems. By comparison, when people call for help, Roy’s typical way of handling practical problems  is to ask, “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” and “Is it definitely plugged in?” Surprisingly, this seems to solve 90% of the issues people are having with their systems.

The third member of the trio is Jen, who is technically inept. She appears in the first episode looking for a job and having an interview with the owner of the company. It turns out she wrote “Good with computers” on her resume thinking this would help her get an office position, but — as a result — she ends up being appointed the manager of the IT department. The funny thing is that at the end of the first episode when she finds herself alone in the office and the phone rings, you hear her say, “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”

Actually, all this reminds me of the scurrilous ways in which I’ve been treated by members of the programming and IT communities over the years (not that I’m bitter, you understand). How about you? Do you have any programmer and/or IT tales you’d care to scare?