Saturday, June 7, 2008

Why "The Powell Triangle"?

Someone at my last job - with Concentric - is responsible for the name of this blog. Or at least, they made the name up in response to something I am still capable of, and I've kept it around.

I have a knack for causing things of just about any sort to fail in mysterious and unreproducable ways. At work this would generally happen when I was using some bit of software that was working perfectly for everyone else. I'd do something perfectly normal and not at all dangerous but which would result in something going gloriously wrong.

With the evidence sitting on my screen I would go find whoever was responsible for the software in question and show them the mess. Almost without exception I'd hear words like: "I've never seen that before" or "No one's ever made it do that." Whoever it was would stand there gawking for a minute or two longer and then ask me to reproduce it while they watched.

And here it gets interesting. Some large percentage of the time, whatever happened would not happen again when the individual who could fix - or at least understand - it was present. If they wandered off, I'd often be able to recreate the issue on my own, but not while they were looking over my shoulder. Personally, I think the universe has a sick sense of humor.

In any event, my ability to break software that was tested and working through normal use was well enough known that someone - probably my boss, David - decided that I was the center of the "Powell Triangle" - a place where things that otherwise worked normally would fail unexpectedly. Somewhat akin to ships and planes mysteriously vanishing in a similarly named chunk of ocean.

It's a good name, so I've used it here. It may be me that founders upon my own words, or it may be the reader, cursing me in the process, but I hope it's interesting and occasionally amusing.

But now, I have a lot of Saturday chores to get to. sigh. I'll post again on Sunday or Monday.