Comment On The Complicator's Gloves

Good software is constantly under attack on several fronts. First, there are The Amateurs who somehow manage to land that hefty contract despite having only finished "Programming for Dummies" the night before. Then there are The Career Amateurs who, having found success after that first contract (read: taking the client's money and not being sued for developing a useless product), actually manage to make a career out of repeating that experience. And then there are The Complicators, the side that tempts the best of us to join their ranks, even if only for project or two. [expand full text]
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Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-01-17 04:31 • by Anonymous commenter (unregistered)
I guess the whole story boils down to the fact that the problem was not expressed as a requirement ("My hands are cold when biking") but as a solution ("We need to heat the grips").

As for software engineering, it is very often the case that customers would come up with a badly-designed homegrown solution to their problem and ask me to correct it. First thing I always do is go back to basics: what was the point of doing all that to begin with? What is your problem, sirs?

More often than not, when the problem is clearly expressed in terms of needs, simple solutions come up naturally.

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-01-17 04:51 • by Tigress (unregistered)
Maybe I'm overanalyzing this, but it seems to me that, according to the last comment (the one about the UND component) this kind of design wasn't all too uncommon in that company.

But, by all means, don't let me distract you from your discussions. I'm just here for my gloves.

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-01-17 05:19 • by MadMike (unregistered)
111737 in reply to 111645
The people that the hacker's dictionary (jargon dictionary, geek dictionary...) describes do seem to like to waste huge amounts of time and effort on masturbatory exercises like this. I think it's their substitute for being creative, which is next to impossible for them. Most of the time their efforts are confined to regurgitating Simpson's quotes though.

Well, thank you for spitting in my face. I hope you know how big ass** you are beeing here.

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-01-17 05:24 • by ChrisD (unregistered)
Complicators... also known as solution problemers...

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-01-17 05:25 • by Flying Codeman (unregistered)
This is crap.
Lets get back to programming stories.

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-01-17 05:55 • by SpComb
A couple weeks ago I was wondering how to implement a loosely-linked system in python, and came up with this thing that included modules that had lists of dependancies in them and then a module loader that recursively loaded these and let other modules access other modules. Until, of course, I realized that I could just use .py files and the import statement.

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-01-17 05:57 • by PC Paul (unregistered)
111741 in reply to 111727
My favorite part is that the design would ultimately have to include gloves. In fact, to improve system performance and reduce heat loss, they would probably even be insulated gloves.

...and I expect the final result would have worked too.


An alternative: A glove which uses a capillary heatpump to pass heat from the upper arms to the fingers.

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-01-17 06:50 • by Sindri
111745 in reply to 111578
It seems no-one found out that the human body is already equipped with a heat-transfer system using a liquid medium, pumped (through one-way valves) through flexible tubes, etc.

LOL! My thoughts exactly. :)

And gloves are simply added insulation to that system to increase it's effectiveness.

Great CMS with cool URLs

2007-01-17 07:24 • by El Jay (unregistered)
... but breaks a lot of RSS readers, including this one:

Whenever there's a weird character in the url, the script breaks an gives an error.

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-01-17 07:56 • by DamnedYankee (unregistered)
111748 in reply to 111575
It seems no-one found out that the human body is already equipped with a heat-transfer system using a liquid medium, pumped (through one-way valves) through flexible tubes, etc.

Unless of course the originator of that idea was proposing that idea with tongue firmly planted in cheek. I have done exactly that sort of thing in the past as a way to get the other contributors to think about how stupid the conversation had become. Usually when you plant this type of seed, someone will hit on it pretty quickly and everyone walks away with a chuckle.

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-01-17 08:31 • by akatherder (unregistered)
Hammacher Schlemmer, Brookstone, and SkyMall all make a living on this kind of garbage. If you build it some poor sucker with nothing better to spend his money on will buy it. And probably a couple more as gifts.

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-01-17 09:41 • by Tigress (unregistered)

This website, most likely the source of this story, post an article about a topic. The topic sounds simple enough. On the website forum, people discuss solutions to the topic, some of which which ends up being even more outrageous than the topic itself and far far more overdone and complicated.

Finally, someone has enough and tries to point out the truth to the people arguing about the topic.


Captcha: gotcha

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-01-17 11:59 • by eight days a week (unregistered)
111799 in reply to 111719

Additionally, fixed gears are pretty impractical for people who need to do a quick (~20 min) ride to work. No gear is suitable for all speeds they'll encounter.

I ride a fixed gear to work every day. My commute is mostly flat though I do have to cross one bridge. The gearing may not be optimal but it's not impractical.

Of course I've ridden centuries on a fixed gear so maybe I'm just a little nutty. But hey, it's a lot of fun!

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-01-17 13:07 • by bendydan (unregistered)
111851 in reply to 111799
eight days a week:

Additionally, fixed gears are pretty impractical for people who need to do a quick (~20 min) ride to work. No gear is suitable for all speeds they'll encounter.

I ride a fixed gear to work every day. My commute is mostly flat though I do have to cross one bridge. The gearing may not be optimal but it's not impractical.

Exactly. I have three blocks of steep downhill on the way to work, and three blocks of steep uphill on the way home. Solution: brakes for the downhill, stand up and work harder on the uphill. Voila. I wouldn't want to cycle across the Rockies on a fixie, mind you.

Personally, I really like it for stop-start riding, because if I'm accelerating a lot of the time, the extra zip you get from no derailleur slack to take up and no chance of being in the wrong gear is great. It's on long rides where I appreciate being able to coast and take a rest.

Plus it's very satisfying to always be able to trackstand until the lights change.. :)

(captcha: tastey? Um... where'd the E come from?)

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-01-17 13:26 • by jim (unregistered)
Oh man.

This article reminds me of my last job downtown. My PM was a guy that fell into programming but really had no business in IT. One of the other contractors working independently joined us after he became full time there, but he was really only an access clicker. Even Access was a bit too much for him.

One guy in our department (of contractors) was competent. He wasn't a genius, but he kept his systems working well and didn't need handholding. He only rarely needed to ask for a hand and I only saw one application that he had to regular manually run a process.

But the guy who sat right next to me, (Syed, if you are reading this, you know you need a good smack in the head) only handled one application. It was an Access survey submission system. He was contracted year-round, but the app was only used for 4 months of the year. The rest of the time he was supposed to be working on it.

Instead, he liked to play with Meta applications. He did this even when the Access app he was supporting was bleeding and needed to be fixed and completely tested.

I think he was just bored.

This Discussion Never Happened

2007-01-17 13:38 • by Arthur Davidson Ficke (unregistered)
Does anybody really believe this discussion actually took place? This was made up for inclusion here.

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-01-17 14:31 • by some guy (unregistered)
111899 in reply to 111575
"It seems no-one found out that the human body is already equipped with a heat-transfer system using a liquid medium, pumped (through one-way valves) through flexible tubes, etc."

Someone alert Senator Ted Stevens: The human body is a series of tubes!

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-01-17 15:56 • by JJR (unregistered)
111949 in reply to 111639
Konstantin Savenkov:
The alike story has happened in quite famous russian hardware forum site ( There was a thread where one person put an interesting question: how to burn some picture on a CD. Many software solutions was proposed, with strong mathematical basis (e.g. formulas that describe how to project bitmap to polar coordinates and then to a position on a spiral CD track). There was even man who claimed they made such software. After 400+ messages (with more fine grained formulas and techniques) the thread was killed on a flight by some man, who posted the following message: "Why don't you just cut your picture from adhesive tape, applicate it to a CD and then burn ANY data over it?"

I remember that thread, but in that particular case software solution would be better.

1. The adhesive tape must be non-adhesive or else you'll have glue on CDR after you pull it off.
2. The adhesive tape must be centered perfectly when you apply it, otherwise it will cause rotational vibrations which will wear out the drive (not necessarily a concern if you have a supply of cheap drives to sacrifice).
3. Adhesive tape does not allow you to print pictures of varying darkness, it can only allow you two colors - black or white, i.e. laser burned the surface or not. Software solution will allow you to burn images of varying shades of 'gray'.
4. The adhesive tape must be thin enough not to touch the laser (remember xbox drives scratching media?)
5. If you are going to burn image on the same side as data you will have to make sure you align your adhesive right, otherwise you're risking burning image over your data and thus rendering it unreadable (although this problem can probably be solved with some simple software control by using multisession CDs).
6. Can you actually imagine how much time it would take to cut out any sort of design on an adhesive tape? I did similar sort of thing in high school where we transfered design onto a T-shirt that we designed using plastic tape with cut out design. Took me literally 2 hours for a simple design of 15x12 inches. I image you could get better with practice, but software solution is still much better in the long run.

I'm sure there are other reasons why adhesive tape is a bad solution to the problem, but even these 6 are enough.

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-01-17 18:22 • by real_aardvark
111989 in reply to 111733
KISS my gloves!

I believe you mean, "Smell The Glove."

It would help if it had been mixed right.

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-01-18 09:20 • by Ron FOx (unregistered)
And when gloves are not enough, hunters for years have
used the chemical hand warmers you can drop in your gloves.
See (no really this
is not a porn site) for one vendor of these.
Better living through chemistry)...and gloves.
Ron Fox
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1321

I'm interested in the fact that the less secure a man is, the more likely he is to have extreme prejudice. - - Clint Eastwood

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-01-18 13:06 • by Alan (unregistered)
112173 in reply to 111627
> This reminds me of a discussion I had once with an engineer.
> He wanted to design a bike light that could detect an approaching vehicle and adjust the intensity of its brightness accordingly. It would use all sorts of sensors to calculate the distance of the vehicle.

> I told him he should get a reflector.

Even has the added advantage of dimming when (and only when) the oncoming driver dips his lights.

On the other hand if he wanted a light which was bright when the oncoming vehicle is far away but dims as it gets closer, because a light needs to be brighter to be seen far away, a reflector is the opposite of what he wants.

Sometimes gloves don't fly

2007-01-18 16:58 • by wgc (unregistered)
My most memorable brush with The Complicator was at a financial services company at the dawn of the internet age. A seperate group was writing a web app that was expected to scale to 4 million simultaneous users to start with. We came in to try to rescue them when they couldn't get above 20.

We threw more hardware at it, but 40 machines later (including two top-end Suns and two top-end Alphas) throughput barely improved.

We worked with the app server vendor to develop a new feature where the app engine could be separate from the app front end, but throughput decreased.

We instrumented it out the wazoo, but there was no noticeable strain anywhere.

How to describe this monstrosity ...
- All web pages were https, even images
- All web pages were dynamically generated, with photographic quality images
- There were too many levels ...
- load balancer
- web front end with useless web app gui stub
- load balancer
- web app server engine
- load balancer
- transaction server engine at a different site
- clustered database engine
- clustered database member at a distant site
- All levels were essentially stubs: it was all data driven and stored in the back end database so every item on a page was a call all the way through all the levels
- Each page had many dynamic elements, each of which required a trip all the way back
- Each level was maintained by a different business unit.

"Gloves" we recommended, but they wouldn't wear include:
- get rid of at least one layer, preferably two
- make each layer do something: the front end should be able to render an entire page except the data
- reduce the number of trips or at least combine them
- reduce the resolution on the images and serve them over a non-encrypted http server
- Make the home page static so that at least that most commonly served page will scale well
- make one business unit responsible for the whole mess

Their solution included:
- upgrade network connections between sites
- buy encryption co-processors
- buy 50 high-end Windoze machines for better load testing.

My solution ...

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-01-18 17:22 • by Xeno (unregistered)
I share the submitter's pain. I work in framework hell, and spend most of my time hacking the damn thing so we can comply with simple usability requests, requests I could fill in 5 minutes without the damn framework. But, you know, it's "powerful"; "powerful" being to programmers what "enterprise" is to managers.

Unfortunely many programmers are complicators (and many are in these comments), and seem to think in spirals rather than straight lines. I hate them even more than users, who're just stupid-stupid rather than clever-stupid.

The complicators reading this will have decided that I'm stupid too by now. Anybody who doesn't appreciate the power (mwahahaha) of their grand frameworks is obviously a fool, and probably has interpersonal problems.


Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-01-19 10:20 • by 99 (unregistered)

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-01-19 13:48 • by Rich (unregistered)
112387 in reply to 111724

You may be interested to find that blah blah Russia blah blah Fisher pens blah blah snopes!

Hey, that reminds me of this story I heard:
Apparently, the American space program was looking to develop a pen that writes in space, because regular pens don't work in zero-gravity. They ended up spending millions of dollars developing it. The funny part is, the Russians had a simpler solution: they used a pencil!!

No, what NASA was really looking for was a pen that would write upside down so they could make it look like the actors were writing in zero gravity when they faked the moon landings.

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-01-20 08:22 • by underspecified (unregistered)
Great article. I'd really like a high-res version of the demotivator that I could print out and display in our lab so that nobody forgets this important lesson. Would its author be willing to provide one?

-- underspecified --at-- gmail --dot-- com

Space Pen Urban Legend

2007-01-22 15:54 • by J. S. (unregistered)
112671 in reply to 111586
NASA didn't pay to develop special pens.

NASA used mechanical pencils (with graphite) and felt markers, and the so-called space pen as well, which was developed by a private company.

You can see the pens used in these first space flights at the Smithsonian.

All this stuff about NASA not using pencils etc is urban legend.

Here's an alternative electric-bike-warming item they missed

2007-01-23 12:52 • by Saltation (unregistered)

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-02-02 10:38 • by Kuba (unregistered)
115568 in reply to 111639
There was a thread where one person put an interesting question: how to burn some picture on a CD. [...] the thread was killed on a flight by some man, who posted the following message: "Why don't you just cut your picture from adhesive tape, applicate it to a CD and then burn ANY data over it?"

That man obviously forgot that CD burners try to verify what they are doing and I just don't think they'll work if they loose the groove (obstructed by the "tape") while writing.

I don't know when that discussion was held, but there are cheap CD writers right now that burn pictures on special CDs all right.

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-02-02 10:40 • by Kuba (unregistered)
115571 in reply to 111637
Assembly line had problems with the parts bins running empty and stopping the line.

A similar problem was in a canning factory, very long time ago (50s maybe) where some cans would get closed up, but the dispensing valve was stuck and the cans were empty.

Some clever guy tried to sell a weighing system to the mgt. The fectory floor tech got a hose, hooked it up to compressed air, and it'd just blow the empty cans into a proper bin.

Nice, IMHO.

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-02-03 10:24 • by dusoft (unregistered)
WTF is this?:

That complicating looser even doesn't know how to use Google:

Kick him back to school.

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-02-04 04:35 • by RT Cunningham (unregistered)
Awesome and true. Can I have a copy of the picture for my blog?

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-02-06 06:54 • by Pol Danilov (unregistered)
Personally, I think heated handle grips on a bicycle would be awesome!

I've suffered from frost-bitten hands is a situation similar to the folk in England.

Maybe gloves just aren't convenient enough?

...I mean, they're okay once you put them on. They can be a bit bulky and deny your sense of touch when you might want it..

But, just carrying them and keeping them with you can be a hassle.

Having heated bike grips would add one situation to the list of "things you can do that don't require you to change your effects according to season."

If everything were designed in this fashion, then we would all be able to wear the same thing, year round, all day. Biking, swimming, flying, whatever.

...Wouldn't _that_ be great!


Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-02-06 07:03 • by Pol Danilov (unregistered)
116747 in reply to 115812
WTF is this?:

That complicating looser even doesn't know how to use Google:

Kick him back to school.

Wow. Maybe this is a case of 'terrific product idea that was snatched up by a few and ranted on by many'. .... That store page certainly lists 'sold out' a lot. <_<

Maybe those programmers that _"Mike"_ deals with should continue discussions so that a tutorial can be produced with instructions on making your own heated grips with a total cost of development significantly lower than the amount asked for purchase....... $130 !

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-02-19 08:45 • by Skizz (unregistered)
I just saw this on the BBC news site, it's the next logical step from the Complicator's Gloves - the Complicator's Bike. Here's someone (a software engineer no less!) who really needs the 'Gloves' motivational poster.


Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-03-02 22:46 • by sospelotudo (unregistered)
after reading all of these replies i was left craving more info about the space pen, no, seriously, i mean it...maybe a website or you people even read the posts you're replying to?

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-03-16 05:50 • by anony (unregistered)
There's already a proposed fix in the repository, but that fix can still be improved... better gloves

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2007-04-06 01:35 • by Zachary Palmer (unregistered)
130744 in reply to 111600
Anonymous Coward:
Anywhere I can dl that schematic per chance ?

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

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Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2009-03-16 15:36 • by Anonymous (unregistered)
249734 in reply to 111586
Actually, that's just a (false) urban legend -- NASA, or taxpayer dollars, didn't fund the development of Fisher's "Astronaut Pen."

Please see for more information:

captcha: minim "the amount of research that people do before posting"

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2009-04-29 13:34 • by Rnd( (unregistered)
Hmm, why not build detachable windshields for hands, proper cup desing for decent wind resitance and maybe just fast cliping might do the trick...

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2009-06-10 21:50 • by Anonymous (unregistered)
268476 in reply to 111660
I frequently ride in the winter. On one bicycle ride, I came home with ice in my water bottle that I hadn't put there.

Proper gloves are enough for me. My feet and legs do get cold. I believe the physics behind this is that the feet and legs are spinning and have more wind passing over them then my hands.

Then your hands what?

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2010-09-30 02:52 • by jeeny (unregistered)
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Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2010-10-21 14:40 • by gcadmes
An even better "glove" picture:

Addendum (2010-10-21 14:50):
Link to picasa's Monolithic image, (aka: better glove pic)

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2011-03-09 04:31 • by Tesland Group (unregistered)
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runescape gold

2011-05-05 23:52 • by runescape gold (unregistered)

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2011-09-12 10:42 • by tharpa
359948 in reply to 111602
Seems a little harsh.

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2012-05-22 14:19 • by Robomarkov (unregistered)
381668 in reply to 340203
I wonder if he sells gloves.

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2012-07-24 06:33 • by WHY? (unregistered)
Space pen, space pen, space pen, urban legend, space pen, NASA, Russians, space pen, not stupid really, spacepen, I don't read any other posts, space pen, not really stupid - I can Google, space pen.

Re: The Complicator's Gloves

2013-01-02 18:09 • by Arun Bala (unregistered)
Superb... Neatly connected the dots!
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