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Original song The Walrus and the Carpenter
Original artist Lewis Carroll
Filk author Karl Hansen

The User and the Programmer

'The code was running gleefully,
Running with all its might:
It did its best to allocate
All storage then in sight.
And this was fine because it was
The middle of the night.
The sysop hacked on sulkily,
Because she thought the code
Had got no business running there
Before a starting load --
"It's very crude, so then," she said,
"I'll just reset the mode."

The kernel tangled with a cron;
The system split in three.
You could not get an interrupt;
No IRQ was there to see.
The programs ran asynchronous
Replacing merrily.

The User and the Programmer
Were working on the LAN
They wept like anything to see
The strings of 'IF' and 'AND'
"If this were only formatted,"
They said, "it would be grand!"

"If Seven clerks with seven Macs
Grepped it for half a year,
Do you suppose," the User said,
"That they could edit clear?"
"I doubt it," said the Programmer,
And opened up a beer.

"O Sysops, come and rescue us!"
The User did repeat.
"I need a reload right away,
And run a rapid beat.
We cannot wait 'til more than four
There are some folks to meet."

The eldest Sysop looked at it.
But never a word he said:
The eldest Sysop waved his hand,
And shook his wizened head --
Meaning to say that he would just
Re-parse it using sed.

But four young Sysops hurried up,
All eager for the feat:
To hack into this tangled mess;
Their editors were sweet --
And this was odd because, you see,
They couldn't take the heat.

Four other Sysops followed them,
And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
And more and more and more --
Rephrasing hex to EBCDIC
And editing the core.

The User and the Programmer
Rerouted stdin,
They looped it through an ENIAC
Confused it with a bin:
And all the little Sysops could
No longer tar it in.

"The time has come," the User said,
"To talk of system stuff:
Of why the printer really tries
To quit when things get rough;
And when my program tries to run
The diskspace ain't enough."

"But wait a while," the Sysops cried,
"Before we try a cat;
For one of us replaced a bit
And blew away the FAT!"
"No hurry!" said the Programmer,
"I'll call my friend, Goldblatt."

"A wizard true," the User said,
"Is who we need to hire:
Someone with skill; with magic touch,
Will cause them to perspire --
Now if you're ready Sysops dear,
We can begin to fire."

"But not our jobs!" the Sysops cried,
Turning to Big Blue,
"After such code, why, that would be
A dismal thing to do!"
"The program's fine," the User said
"The problem's all in you.

"It was so kind of you to try
But you were just too bad!"
The Programmer said nothing but
"Forget it - they've been had:
I wish they were not quite so green --
I'm starting to get mad!"

"It seems a shame," the User said,
"To play them such a trick,
After we'd hosed the system so,
And made them type so quick!"
The Programmer said nothing but
"This hack is really slick!"

"I feel for them," the User said,
"I deeply sympathize."
With awk and cut he sorted out
Fields of the largest size.
Loading his inner CD-ROM
He fixed all that was awry.

"O Sysops," said the Programmer,
"It's been a long, long run!
Shall we be checking code again?"
But answer came there none --
And that was scarcely odd, because
They'd fired every one.'

by Karl L. Hansen
copyright Karl L. Hansen 1996

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