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Computer Laws

Assorted Computer Quotes, Laws, Principals, Postulates, Theories, etc.

Also, top ten lists.



Computer quotes:

1. "There are 10 kinds of people: those who understand binary and those who don't." --- Unknown
2. "Programming is like sex. One mistake and you have to support it for the rest of your life." --- Michael Sinz
3. "Documentation is like sex: when it is good, it is very, very good; and when it is bad, it is better than nothing." --- Dick Brandon.
4. "A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kick boxing." Emo Philips
5. "Never Trust a computer you can't throw out a window" Steve Wozniak

Murphy's Law:

1. If anything can go wrong, it will.

2. If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the first one to go wrong.

3. If anything just cannot go wrong, it will anyway.

4. If you perceive that there are four possible ways in which something can go wrong, and circumvent these, then a fifth way, unprepared for, will promptly develop.

5. Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse.

6. If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.

7. Nature always sides with the hidden flaw.

8. Mother nature is a bitch.


O'Toole's commentary on Murphy's Laws:

Murphy was an optimist.


Addition to Murphy's Law:

In nature, nothing is ever right. Therefore, if everything is going right - something is wrong.


Troutman's Laws of Computer Programming:

1. Any running program is obsolete.

2. Any planned program costs more and takes longer.

3. Any useful program will have to be changed.

4. Any useless program will have to be documented.

5. The size of a program expands to fill all available memory.

6. The value of a program is inversely proportional to the weight of output.

7. The complexity of a program grows until it exceeds the capability of the maintainers.

8. Information necessitating a change in design is always conveyed to the implementers after the code is written. Corollary: Given a simple choice between one obviously right way and one obviously wrong way, it is often wiser to choose the wrong way, so as to expedite subsequent revision.

9. The more innocuous a modification appears, the more code it will require rewriting.

10. If a test installation functions perfectly, all subsequent systems will malfunction.

11. Not until a program has been in production for at least six months will the most harmful error be discovered.

12. Interchangeable modules won't.

13. Any system that relies on computer reliability is unreliable.

14. Any system that relies on human reliability is unreliable.

15. Investment in reliability increases until it exceeds the probable cost of errors, or until someone insists on getting some useful work done.

16. Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.

17. There's always one more bug.


Troutman's Programming Postulates:

1. If a test installation functions perfectly, all subsequent systems will malfunction.

2. Not until a program has been in production for at least six months will the most harmful error be discovered.

3. Job control cards that positively cannot be arranged in improper order will be.

4. Interchangeable tapes won't.

5. If the input editor has been designed to reject all bad input, an ingenious idiot will discover a method to get bad data past it.

6. Profanity is the one language all programmers know best.


Brooke's Law:

Adding manpower to the late software project makes it later.

If at first you don't succeed, transform your data set.


Laws of computer-dom according to Golub:

1. Fuzzy project objectives are used to avoid the embarrassment of estimating the corresponding costs.

2. A carelessly planned project takes three times longer to complete than expected; a carefully planned project takes only twice as long.

3. The effort required to correct course increases geometrically with time.

4. Project teams detest weekly progress reporting because it so vividly manifests their lack of progress.


Lubarsky's Law of Cybernetic Entomology:

There's always one more bug.


Shaw's Principle:

Build a system that even a fool can use, and only a fool will want to use it.


Weiler's Law:

Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it himself.


Stockmayer's Theorem:

If it looks easy, its tough. If it looks tough, its damn near impossible.


Gumperson's Law:

The probability of anything happening is in inverse ratio to its desirability.


Osborn's Law:

Variables won't; constants aren't.


Pierce's Law:

In any computer system, the machine will always misinterpret, misconstrue, misprint, or not evaluate any math or subroutines or fail to print any output on at least the first run through.


Corollary to Pierce's Law:

When a compiler accepts a program without error on the first run, the program will not yield the desired output.


Harvard's Law as applied to computers:

Under the most rigorously controlled conditions of pressure, temperature, volume, humidity, and other variables, the computer will do as it damn well pleases.


Sattinger's Law:

It works better if you plug it in.


Jenkinson's Law:

It won't work.


Finagle's Fourth Law:

Once a job is fouled up, anything done to improve it will only make it worse.


Featherkile's Rule:

Whatever you did, that's what you planned.


Flap's Law:

Any inanimate object, regardless of its position, configuration, or purpose, may be expected to perform at any time in a totally unexpected manner for reasons that are either entirely obscure or else completely mysterious.


Horner's Five Thumb Postulate:

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.


Cheop's Law:

Nothing ever gets built on schedule or within budget.


Rule of Accuracy:

When working toward the solution of a problem, it always helps if you know the answer.


Grosch's Law:

Computing power increases as the square of the cost.


Westheimer's Rule:

To estimate the time it takes to do a task; estimate the time you think it should take, multiply by two and change the unit of measure to the next highest unit. Thus, we allocate two days for a one hour task.


Gilb's Laws of Unreliability:

1. Computers are unreliable, but humans are even more unreliable.

2. Any system which depends on human reliability is unreliable.

3. Undetectable errors are infinite in variety, in contrast to detectable errors, which by definition are limited.

4. Investment in reliability will increase until it exceeds the probable cost of errors, or until someone insists on getting some useful work done.


Lets not forget Hendrickson's Law (but still computer related):

If a problem causes many meetings, the meetings eventually become more important than the problem.


Gray's Law of Programming:

'n + 1' trivial tasks are expected to be accomplished in the same time as 'n' trivial tasks.


Logg's Rebuttal to Gray's Law:

'n + 1' trivial tasks take twice as long as 'n' trivial tasks.


Ninety-Ninety Rule of Project Schedules:

The first 90% of the task takes 10% of the time, and the last 10% takes the other 90% of the time.


Weinberg's Second Law:

If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization.


Pat's Law:

Third time debugging is only the beginning...not a charm.



and finally...


Cole's Law:

Thinly sliced cabbage.


The difference between hardware and software:

"Those parts of the system that you can hit with a hammer are called hardware; those program instructions that you can only curse at are called software."

- Levitating Trains and Kamikaze Genes Technological Literacy for the 1990's


Top Ten Reasons a User Won't do Their Own Troubleshooting:

10. You're so much more computer literate than I am, Hence the title "Technical Support".

9. Computers don't like me.

8. The company pays Technicians to know this stuff.

7. I am afraid I will break the computer.

6. I won't look as stupid to the Tech if I just leave the thing alone, and don't mess with anything before I call.

5. What else does the Technical Support team have to do?

4. It would take 5 minutes if I did it myself, I get a 30 minute break if I ask a Tech.

3. Maybe I can go home early if the Tech can't figure it out.

2. I got this job because I know someone, not for my ability to think on my own.


And the # 1 reason a User won't do their own troubleshooting...

1. The Software say's "Technical Error".


Top Ten Signs you bought a bad computer:

10. Lower corner of screen has the words "Etch-a-sketch" on it.

9. It's celebrity spokesman is that "Hey Vern!" guy.

8. In order to start it you need some jumper cables and a friend's car.

7. It's slogan is "Pentium: redefining mathematics".

6. The "quick reference" manual is 120 pages long.

5. Whenever you turn it on, all the dogs in your neighborhood start howling.

4. The screen often displays the message, "Ain't it break time yet?"

3. The manual contains only one sentence: "Good Luck!"

2. The only chip inside is a Dorito.


And the # 1 sign you bought a bad computer...

1. You've decided that your computer is an excellent addition to your fabulous paperweight collection.


Computer related bumper stickers:

1. Life is a glitch in the universal program; death is just the programmer's way of debugging.It's an IBM; it's got an excuse.
2. IBM: The stupidity goes in when the name goes on.
3. Don't compute and drive; the life you save may be your own.
4. Any given program, when running, it is obsolete.
5. Kiss your keyboard goodbye!
6. Any given program costs more and takes longer.
7. If a program is useful, it will have to be changed.
8. If a program is useless, it will have to be documented.
9. CChheecckk yyoouurr dduupplleexx sswwiittcchh..
10. We are Microsoft. Resistance Is Futile. You Will Be Assimilated.
11. Back up my hard drive? How do you put it in reverse?
12. Who is General Failure and why is he reading my hard disk?
13. Local Area Network in Australia: the LAN down under.
14. Life would be easier if I had the source code.

25 Signs that you are on-line too much...

1. Tech Support calls "YOU" for help.

2. Someone at work tells you a joke and you say "LOL" out loud.

3. You find yourself trying to cock your head 90 degrees when you smile.

4. You have to get a 2nd phone line just so you can order pizza.

5. You bring a bag lunch and a cooler to the computer.

6. Your kids are eating cereal morning, noon, and night.

7. When looking at signs, you wonder why they are always "yelling" at you.

8. When at work, your boss constantly reminds you that the word "i" should be capitalized.

9. You end sentences with 3 (or more) periods while writing letters by hand.

10. You don't even notice anymore when someone has a typo.

11. You stop speaking in full sentences.

12. You no longer type with proper capitalization, punctuation, or complete sentences.

13. You stop typing whole words and use things like ppl, dunno and lemme.

14. You watch TV with the closed captioning turned on.

15. You double click your TV remote.

16. Your spouse now complains of you moving your fingers in your sleep instead of talking.

17. You dream in "text".

18. You have an identity crisis if someone is using a screen name close to your own.

19. You change your screen names so much that you have to look at your own profile to see who you are.

20. You type messages to people while you are on the phone with them at the same time.

21. You type faster than you think.

22. Three words: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

23. When someone asks, "What did you say?" you reply, "Scroll up!"

24. Your buddy list has over 100 people on it.

25. You have a vanity car tag with your screen name on it.

Computer humor and quotes:

Q: What's the difference between a car salesman and a computer salesman?
A: The car salesman can probably drive!

Computers will never replace good old-fashioned human stupidity.

"There is only one satisfying way to boot a computer." J. H. Goldfuss

My computer made a funny sound the other day. Of course, I've never heard it get thrown out a window before.

"The difference between e-mail and regular mail is that computers handle e-mail, and computers never decide to come to work one day and shoot all the other computers." Jamais Cascio

"Beware of computer programmers that carry screwdrivers." Leonard Brandwein



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R. Cal Westray, Jr.
Revised: January 29, 2009.

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