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Now you have n problems.
February 26, 2013 10:25 AM   Subscribe

"Some people, when confronted with a problem, think 'I know, I'll use %s' Now they have %d problems." How many variations on this joke do you know?
posted by ecmendenhall to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
"Regular Expressions" is the first context in which I encountered this joke.
posted by DWRoelands at 10:26 AM on February 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I first encountered it as a more motivational/inspirational message -- "Some people, when they have a problem, get upset. Now they have two problems."
posted by Rock Steady at 10:31 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've heard it about both XML and regular expressions.

Some people, when confronted with a problem, think "I know, I'll use binary". Now they have 10 problems.

AFAIK, that's original. You are welcome to it.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 10:31 AM on February 26, 2013 [15 favorites]


RE and threads are the two I have heard
posted by thelonius at 10:32 AM on February 26, 2013


XKCD did a similar one just recently.
posted by samsara at 10:34 AM on February 26, 2013


A recent spillover into the military is "I know, I'll go to the IG*/EO**/Chaplain***/Open Door****..."

* -- Inspector General (historically the Wrecker of Careers, All and Sundry -- regardless of who started a complaint, everyone who was touched by an IG investigation was tainted; less so nowadays but still has that aura).
** -- Equal Opportunity (in the Army at least, this is an advisory position with not nearly the power that privates think it has).
*** -- See Equal Opportunity, plus you have to deal with someone who is likely not of your exact denomination.
**** -- Every commander has an "Open Door Policy," which means that you can theoretically go to him or her and complain about any damn thing. The response is almost invariably "Did you talk to your first-line supervisor? Your second-line supervisor? Everyone else between you and my office? Why the hell not, troublemaker?"
posted by Etrigan at 10:34 AM on February 26, 2013


“I know, I’ll use Regular Expressions.” Now they have two problems.
“I know, I’ll use Java.” Now they have a ProblemFactory.
Now they have “I know, I’ll use Threads.” interleaved problems.
“I know, I’ll use LISP.” Now their problem is recursive.
“I know, I’ll write my own LISP.” Now they are Paul Graham.
“I know, I’ll use Haskell.” Now their problem is entirely academic.
“I know, I’ll use Erlang.” Now their problems are distributed.
“I know, I’ll use Scala.” Now they have problem traits.
“I know, I’ll use Python.” Now they import solution and have a beer.
“I know, I’ll use MySQL.” Now their problem is a single point of failure.
“I know, I’ll use MongoDB.” Now their problems are Web Scale.
“I know, I’ll use Crowdsourcing.” Now it’s your problem.
-- source
posted by katrielalex at 10:36 AM on February 26, 2013 [24 favorites]


In fact there's even a twoproblems.com!
posted by katrielalex at 10:38 AM on February 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


Ah, yes. Originals welcome! I think my best was "some people, when confronted with a problem, think 'I know, I'll write a lexer, a grammar, and a parser.' Now they have four problems.
posted by ecmendenhall at 10:39 AM on February 26, 2013


"I know, I'll use threads. Now have they problems two."
posted by deadmessenger at 10:39 AM on February 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


I had a problem so I thought to use Java. Now I have a ProblemFactory.
posted by jjwiseman at 10:43 AM on February 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Not an exact version of the pun but funny nonetheless.

There are only two problems in software development. Cache invalidation, Naming things... and off-by-one errors.

More true to the joke:

I had a problem so I used AOP, now I can't find my problem.
posted by Wysawyg at 10:47 AM on February 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I know, I'll write an abstraction layer". Now they have a problem they can't see.
"I know, I'll make it user configurable". Now they have one problem per configuration state.
"I know, I'll use Swing". Now they have a problem, a ProblemLayoutManager, a ProblemLayoutManagerConfiguration, and a ProblemLayoutManagerConfigurationFactory.
posted by pont at 10:59 AM on February 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


"I don't have any problems, but I think I want to do a signed/unsigned cast." Now they have 4,294,967,295 problems.
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 11:15 AM on February 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Some people, when confronted with a problem, think "I know, I'll use binary". Now they have 10 problems.

Alas, not original.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 11:20 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Some people, when confronted with a problem, think "I know, I'll use mutexes". Now they
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 11:22 AM on February 26, 2013 [12 favorites]


There's some good research into the origin of this saying (spoiler: JWZ was not the first to say it) at http://regex.info/blog/2006-09-15/247
posted by zempf at 1:30 PM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


David Tilbrook*? Now there's a name that deserves more than a random "he credits a “D. Tilbrook” for it". I'd be surprised if a quick search through the source or man pages of a typical Linux or BSD distro didn't find his name quite a few times.

Although the cite in zempf's link puts the phrase back as far as 1988, the first use in print appears to be this conference paper by Tilbrook in 1989 (p7 footnotes). It's unclear whether he's citing himself or someone else. He looks to be on LinkedIn and Google+; maybe someone could contact him & ask?

(* not to be confused with the Australian electronics and audio guru of the same name…)
posted by Pinback at 3:57 PM on February 26, 2013


Some people, when confronted with a problem say, "I know. I'll use Banach-Tarski!" Now they have two problems.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 7:20 PM on April 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


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