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Life’s little glitches

Scene I

Doctor’s waiting room. Electronic queueing system in place. My number – 184. 179 through 183 go by, ever so slowly. The next beep comes and I get up in anticipation, but the display shows nice round figures: 0000 in room 2. Nobody goes into room 2. Now, this is what happens when you’ve written too much buggy code and believe that Murphy’s Law runs the universe.

I’m convinced that was supposed to be my number; and one part of me starts thinking – OK, so they do say on the ticket “Number’s may not be shown in sequence” but 0000 is highly unlikely. Nevertheless, I can’t respectably go when 185 comes since I’ll be politely told to wait my turn and that it may not be in sequence. And then I start to think – OK maybe by 187, I’ll go and complain, or should I wait till 190?

The other part of me is thinking – I’m pretty sure the code would have returned a pointer to the next number; and for some reason a null pointer was returned which didn’t fail but just returned zero. Aah, maybe then all the numbers from then on will be zero, and then I won’t have to wait all that long.

The next number called was mine, and I went right in. Never found out why the 0000 came up.

Scene II

Welcome tea for the undergraduate program in Computational Biology in SoC, NUS. Only a few people registered with this programme so far, so they’ve decided to give an informal talk (with food). Some graduate students have been asked to be on display to encourage or warn the unsuspecting public of the effects of research. After a quick introduction, the students are asked to introduce themselves. And it goes something like this:

I’m ABC, and I’m really interested in Data Mining.

I’m DEF, a freshman undergraduate and my interests lie in the area of Computer Graphics and Artificial Intelligence.

I’m GHI, 1st year and I’m really looking forward to doing good work in Machine Learning for Intelligent Systems.


I’m LMN, 3rd year undergraduate, and I work in biology with Prof X.

I’m OPQ, 1st year PhD, and I’m studying for my QE and looking for a research topic


I’m XYZ, 2nd year PhD. (Awkward silence) Oh, and I’m working in, uh, systems.

And finally, my turn. “I’m Anshul, I’ve been here forever, and I’m really interested in the food getting cold behind us right now.”


Fortunately, that last just happened in my head. Old survival instinct. But close.

One Comment

  1. antrix wrote:

    LOL.. you should’ve said it out loud. People here take themselves too seriously, I think :)

    As for the numbers mystery, it is not a completely automated system. They can punch in arbitrary numbers & hit ‘Send’ or whatever. I suspect someone hit ‘Send’ or whatever without punching a number first.

    Wednesday, August 23, 2006 at 10:29 am | Permalink

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