Today felt like a good day to share a story, so without any further ado, here's an entertaining one that was submitted anonymously ...

Working in the datacenter of a large client with many thousands of employees, you hear some strange things. On a fairly dull weekday afternoon, I was sitting working away at a bunch of KVM screens and happened to overhear the conversation of the two people working at the console next to mine.

The younger of the two guys was one of the programmers responsible for supporting a SQL Server / ASP.NET application, while the older chap was a systems management fellow brought in to help troubleshoot a problem in the application. The younger chap insisted that the problem couldn't possibly lie with his application; he knew that it was definitely related to the backend, far, far behind the depths of the database servers and into the bowels of the organization's infrastructure.

The systems management tried to guide the young programmer through the steps one would normally take in debugging a web application: turning off friendly error messages in IE, checking what the web server was sending back to the client, reading event logs, and so on. But the programmer would have none of this. He scoffed and reminded his colleague that not only did he know all this "systems stuff", but he had been doing SQL and ASP.NET programming for ages and knows when he see something wrong.

They continued for another hour or so, with the programmer often commenting on how much of a waste all this "senseless debugging stuff" was and how he really had better things to do than fix a problem that had absolutely nothing to do with his application. As they both stared at the output of a SQL query tracing tool, the programmer saw a query and has an "aha" moment --


That's it! I've never seen *that* before, proclaimed the programmer

The systems management chap, slightly confused, asked what it was that the programmer had seen.

Look -- select *top five* record code -- I've never seen *top five* before, that must be it! Your logging tools must be adding that in there, causing the app to crash.

I had to briskly walk out and restrain myself bursting out into laughter. The fellow on the other side of me wasn't so lucky and let out few chuckles. Somehow, the systems management guy held his own and continued on debugging the application.

At this point, the programmer was a bit more open to delving into his code, so he and the systems chap finally opened up the offending code. The systems guy pointed out the problem right away: you shouldn't be using curly braces within your SQL queries like that; you need to use regular parenthesis.

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