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Read. Suffer. Try to Enjoy.

The A Div Chronicles : Episode 2 - The Mysterious Case Of The Missing Scroll Bar

Back in RAIT, we had to submit ‘code projects’ for certain subjects every semester, in groups of 5-6. The projects required infrastructure like a decent PC to code on, and a printer to print the code and results, to be attached in the ‘journals’. Scavenging a PC was easy enough, but circa 1999, owning a printer was a big deal. Being able to afford ink cartridges was an even bigger one.

One guy, the alpha male, used to fish out a senior’s project, memorize the screens, and then explain the flow to the rest of the group. The same guy would arrange for an original set of printouts, and the rest of the group would faithfully get it Xeroxed, and that was that.

Once upon a particularly impoverished time, it so happened that a certain group could not get hold of a set of printouts. So, what’s the next best thing? The alpha male took a quick decision, and drew the screens with good old pencil and scale. After all, it’s the thought that counts and all that sort of thing. The project was a ‘Hotel Management System’. The rest of the pack faithfully reproduced the sketches page for page. The alpha male had drawn scroll bars on all the screens, save the last one. But of course, no one noticed, nor cared. Everybody’s last screen was sans scroll-bar.

First up was a demo of the system to the profs. The alpha male had a workaround for that too. The entire project was on a floppy disk. The project consisted of a solitary VB screen, with a couple of buttons to launch the app. The sleaze-ball had written code to pop up a text-box with an imperious ‘system error’ message when the main button was clicked. So when launched, he convinced the profs that the floppy had got corrupted, “something’s just not right” and he would do a demo later. “In the meanwhile, could you sign the journals please?”
Not only that, he had pasted gibberish in the form of comments in the code, to puff up the size on disk to a respectable 800KB.

Now the prof was very impressed with the first screen. He started signing all the journals. Dallu’s turn was last. The prof stopped at the last page, the ‘Receipt Module’. The only question he asked was…
“Why doesn’t your last page have a scroll-bar?”
It was then that the whole group realized that they had actually drawn scroll-bars.
(“Accha, who scroll-bars tha kya? Sahi…”)

The sheer genius and timing of the question had everybody sweating. Of all the questions in the universe, this HAD to be the one.
Dallu, calm as a coma (to borrow a phrase from Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels) replied,
“Sir, this is a Hotel Management System. This screen is used to generate receipts for the customers. The customer is given a printout of the receipt once he completes his stay. Now why do we need scroll-bars on a receipt? They would look real ugly. So we’ve done away with them…”

The prof , with the daylights impressed out of him,
“You’re right. Good thinking.”

Tomorrow would thus be yet another day...

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1:15 PM, September 10, 2005
Blogger dhruv said...


3:23 PM, October 13, 2007
Anonymous Manpreet said...

fantastic one..    

10:06 PM, September 06, 2008
Anonymous udayan said...

Clearly this Dallu guy ( i read the earlier episode as well ) is sheer genius :-))

Cool as a cucumber and sharp as a hawk ... potent combo !!!    

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