For nearly two years, **Hank T.** tried his best to avoid the CEE system. He even made an effort to not know what CEE stood for (though he was pretty sure it was Customer *something* Engagement). But alas, the inevitable happened and he was finally tasked with fixing a bug in CEE.

Years ago, the CEE system was created by a developer who lived by *The One Rule*: there are no rules, not even *The One Rule*. And not surprisingly, his code showed for it. To investigate the bug he was assigned to fix -- Customer Versions aren't sorting properly -- Hank dove in to CustomerClass.vb, one of the thousands of VisualBasic.NET code files that made up the application.

Public Function Is_Customer_Version(ByVal Customer_Version_p As CV) As Boolean begin() Return Customer_Version = Customer_Version_p End Function 'Is_Customer_Version Public ReadOnly Property Customer_Version() As CV Get begin() Return My_Customer_Version.Customer_Version End Get End Property 'Customer_Version '-- OBSOLETE, use (Is_)Customer_Version Public ReadOnly Property CustomerVersion() As CV Get begin() Return Customer_Version End Get End Property 'CustomerVersion

It didn't seem *all* that bad. The call to begin(), however, piqued his curiosity. Hank opened up the file that defined the method, syntax.vb:

Public Sub block() End Sub Public Sub begin() End Sub Public Sub end_block() End Sub Public Sub none() End Sub '--------------------------------------------------------------------- '--------------------------------------------------------------------- '-- Abort program '--------------------------------------------------------------------- '--------------------------------------------------------------------- Public Sub exit_main() begin() End End Sub Public Function false_(ByVal ParameterName As String) As Boolean begin() Return False End Function Public Function true_(ByVal ParameterName As String) As Boolean begin() Return True End Function Public Function Boolean_Val(ByVal n As Integer) As Boolean begin() Return n <> 0 End Function Public Function Array_Length(ByVal Length As Integer) As Integer begin() Return Length - 1 End Function 'Array_Length Public Function abs(ByVal value As Long) As Long begin() Return Math.Abs(value) End Function Public Function abs(ByVal value As Integer) As Integer begin() Return Math.Abs(value) End Function Public Function abs(ByVal value As Single) As Single begin() Return Math.Abs(value) End Function Public Function abs(ByVal value As Double) As Double begin() Return Math.Abs(value) End Function Public Function abs(ByVal value As Decimal) As Decimal begin() Return Math.Abs(value) End Function Public Function remainder(ByVal a As Long, ByVal b As Long) As Long begin() Return a Mod b End Function Public Function remainder(ByVal a As Integer, ByVal b As Integer) As Integer begin() Return a Mod b End Function Public Function remainder(ByVal a As Single, ByVal b As Single) As Single begin() Return a Mod b End Function

The insanity continued, redefining much of Math and the basic arithmetic operators. Further down in the file, Hank spotted the in_() set of methods...

Public Function in_(ByVal v As Long, ByVal p1 As Long) As Boolean begin() Return v = p1 End Function 'in_(1) Public Function in_(ByVal v As Long, ByVal p1 As Long, ByVal p2 As Long) As Boolean begin() Return v = p1 OrElse v = p2 End Function 'in_(2) Public Function in_(ByVal v As Long, ByVal p1 As Long, ByVal p2 As Long, _ ByVal p3 As Long) As Boolean begin() Return v = p1 OrElse v = p2 OrElse v = p3 End Function 'in_(3) Public Function in_(ByVal v As Long, ByVal p1 As Long, ByVal p2 As Long, _ ByVal p3 As Long, ByVal p4 As Long) As Boolean begin() Return v = p1 OrElse v = p2 OrElse v = p3 OrElse v = p4 End Function 'in_(4) -- snip -- Public Function in_(ByVal v As Long, ByVal p1 As Long, ByVal p2 As Long, _ ByVal p3 As Long, ByVal p4 As Long, ByVal p5 As Long, _ ... ByVal p18 As Long, ByVal p19 As Long, ByVal p20 As Long _ ) As Boolean begin() Return v = p1 OrElse v = p2 OrElse v = p3 ... OrElse v = p20 End Function 'in_(20)

More accurately, they were the *Long* set of _in() methods. There were twenty overloads each for String, Double, Char, and Decimal.

Although this was just the beginning of syntax.vb, Hank decided it best for his sanity to just fix the bug. Though he suspected that the ECC system was yet another tentacle of the great Codethulhu, he knew that, by the time he'd verify that, he would already be insane.