1695: Code Quality 2
|Code Quality 2|
Title text: It's like you tried to define a formal grammar based on fragments of a raw database dump from the QuickBooks file of a company that's about to collapse in an accounting scandal.
| This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: first edits|
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The comic is a continuation of 1513: Code Quality, in which we see Ponytail being introduced to the source code Cueball has written, and where he is warning her that he is self-taught so his code probably won't be written the way she is used to. She then continues to describe poetically the total mess of a code she encounters, using references to recipes created by corporate lawyers or the transcript of a couple arguing at IKEA.
The third panel continues Ponytail's rant, this time referencing naval weather forecasts, avian interference and indentation. A weather forecast is a complex, multidimensional array of data used in predicting or assessing the atmospheric conditions of a geographical area over a set time. One such example of a "naval weather forecast" may be this one, which would generally be unreadable to an untrained individual. Transcribing it would be a long and typing-intensive process which could result in an even more unreadable product, further complicated by a woodpecker (a bird noted for its rapid successive pecking motions) "hammering" (pecking) the Shift key on the keyboard, which would result in many letters being randomly capitalized. Indentation is the practice of shifting a section of text further from the starting margin, which in coding is typically used to organize functions and statements, but if done "randomly" would only serve to scramble the code hierarchy.
The fourth panel references famous poet E. E. Cummings and user name suggestions. E. E. Cummings was noted for his "unusual" style of poetry which combined words and phrases in ways that were atypical for English speech, resulting in constructs that might easily confuse someone who doesn't natively speak the language. Websites that offer membership often also require that users create a pseudonym (known as a "username") for use in tracking/authenticating their actions on the site, as well as identifying them to the site's community. Many of these sites also require usernames be unique. On popular sites, many common words, phrases and names have already been reserved by users, so when signing up for them many people run into situations where the name they want has already been taken. On many sites where this happens, the site may suggest alternate usernames, usually based on the one that was entered to begin with. For example, if the username "Hedgeclipper" is already reserved, the site may recommend "Hedgeclipper1234" or "H3dg3clipp3r" instead, depending on the algorithm behind the suggestions. An E. E. Cummings poem written entirely out of these semi-random suggestions would make the resulting poem even more "unusual" than his work is already considered.
The last panel's metaphor involves Markov chaining, chat-bots (presumably), bus schedules and potential gross vehicular negligence. Applied Markov chaining is a process used in many computer algorithms that try to simulate real-world concepts such as speech simulation and decisions-making. Its inherent randomness also makes it a candidate for unpredictable things such as stock market analysis and speech recognition. Bus schedules are often complicated and full of notation, and are notorious for confusing people who are not used to reading them. Chat-bots using applied Markov chains to recognize and respond to speech/text rely on the input being clear and well-organized in plain language. "Feeding" bus schedules to such a bot would likely result in the returns being complete gibberish and unreadable. The issue is further complicated when Ponytail suggests that the schedules are from a city where "the buses crash constantly", which would be horrifying if it happened so regularly that the schedules actually took crashes into account. Even more horrifying would be the further unpredictability of the output of the chat-bot from such unpredictable input.
Cueball finally comments that "...it runs fine for now" which indicates he knows the code has problems but it reluctant to fix them because it's more-or-less serving its function. Ponytail quips back that "So does a burning bus", which is technically true, but the "for now" part implies that disaster and injury could result at any moment, as would likely happen on a burning bus.
Side view of Ponytail sitting at a computer in all five panels.
First panel, tall vertical.
Ponytail: Ugh, I hate reading your code.
Offscreen: I know, I know.
Second panel is wider, shows her in an office chair.
Third panel zooms in and shows just her head.
Ponytail: It looks like someone transcribed a naval weather forecast while woodpeckers hammered their shift keys, then randomly indented it.
Fourth panel, similar to second, though slightly narrower.
Ponytail: It's like an e e cummings poem written using only the usernames a website suggests when the one you want is taken.
Fifth panel zooms in, shows her head and the screen.
Ponytail: This looks like the output of a Markov bot that's been fed bus timetables from a city where the buses crash constantly.
Offscreen: Whatever, it runs fine for now.
Ponytail: So does a burning bus.
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