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saint niklaus

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it's a computer christmas


'Twas the night before deadline and all through the house
Each programmer was typing or flailing her mouse.

The modules were queued for the compiler with care
in hopes that Saint Niklaus soon would be there.

My procedures were nested, all BEGINS matched their ENDS
The WHILEs and the FORs all with their indents.

When all of a sudden there arose such a clatter
I was afraid that the hard drive had just crashed a platter.

Away with the windows, I shut down each task
Flipped open the drive door, turned the power off fast.

The whirr of the hard drive wound down painfully slow,
And I hoped there were backups all ready to go.

When what should my bloodshot eyes see on a chair,
But a miniature Cray and eight disks of software,

With a little old programmer, so structured and quick
I knew in a nanosecond it must be Saint Nik.

More rapid than Cybers his cursors displayed,
As he typed and he pointed and called them rude names.

Now, Crasher! now, Spooler! now, Compiler and Linker!
On, Edit! on, Q-bert! on Debugger and Lister!

To the tops of the files, to see what they call!
We'll delete a line, delete a line, delete most of them all!

I sat back in terror, knowing not what he planned,
Whatever programs he carried, I knew they weren't canned.

So up to the window-tops the cursors they drew,
With his Cray full of RAM--and Saint Niklaus too.

And then in a twinkling he grabbed my keyboard,
Yanking it so far he straightened its coiled cord.

I lept back in shock as he switched on the power,
Right next to the turbo light on the front of the tower.

The memory passed, each meg, one by one,
The computer booted up, all ready to run.

A bundle of disks he whipped out of his pack,
Each labeled with care with notes scribbled in black.

His forehead did wrinkle, his eyes narrow and hard,
He flipped through each disk like a dealer each card.

His mouth was pursed in what looked like a frown
As he paged through my code, then gestured 'thumbs down.'

A mug of stale coffee he grasped, hand clutched like a ball,
And gulped the stuff down, non-dairy creamer and all.

Now he thrust in a disk, right in the drive slot,
Labeled Editor/debugger/compiler/hotshot.

And then in a flash, he created a path,
I dared not object, lest I face his wrath.

He filled half my disk, with one .EXE file,
Then started it up, typing one-finger style.

Windows erupted, eighty files did he edit,
He typed his code faster than I could have read it.

His hands were a blur, his fingers were humming,
And in just fifteen seconds, our program was running.

He spoke not one word, stowed his disks in his pocket,
Then raced to his Cray, just as fast as a rocket.

He reached down and tugged that tiny Cray's circuit breaker,
And then they did vanish, half a millisecond later.

But I heard him explain as he disappeared from sight,
"Don't expect documentation before late Thursday night!"
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