323: Ballmer Peak
Title text: Apple uses automated schnapps IVs.
Steve Ballmer is a key figure of Microsoft (and its CEO since 2000), which employs a lot of programmers. He is known for energetic outbursts and outlandish (drunken?) behavior in public (videos of which tend to go viral).
The curve in the comic states that, while generally decreasing with drunkenness (BAC; blood alcohol concentration), the skill of a programmer gets terrific with just the right level. The peak has been named after Steve Ballmer, presumably because it depicts a relationship between drunkenness and competence that Ballmer, in his state of seemingly constant intoxication, would fit well.
Programmers sometimes have a reputation for heavy drinking habits. Hackfests and programmer conferences tend to offer copious amounts of alcohol. The comic suggests a reason, but it is turned into a sideways jab at Windows ME (a version of Microsoft Windows widely criticized for its bugs and general lack of usability) as Cueball uses it as an example of what badly controlled alcohol intake leads to.
- [A graph with "programming skill" on the X-axis and "blood alcohol concentration" on the Y one.]
- [Cueball is making a presentation with the graph.]
- Cueball: Called the Ballmer Peak, it was discovered by Microsoft in the 80's. The cause is unknown but somehow a B.A.C between 0.129% and 0.138% confers superhuman programming ability.
- Cueball: However, it's a delicate effect requiring careful calibration – you can't just give a team of coders a year's supply of whiskey and tell them to get cracking.
- Spectator: ...Has that ever happened?
- Cueball: Remember Windows ME?
- Spectator: I knew it!
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