blog, editorial

Bugs & Features

I’ve been thinking about bugs and features for four straight months.

Software devs have hated the metaphor since the birth of the internet. It’s too extreme; often bug reports are mislabeled as feature requests that need tweaking, or vice versa, and engineers don’t like prioritizing one over the other when needing to fix a program. I want to play with the concept regardless.

The simplest way to describe the difference is this: a bug is when a program is not working as intended, and a feature is when a user wants something from the program that does not exist within it.

In other words, a bug is ordering a beer and getting coffee. A feature request is ordering a beer at Starbucks.

“We don’t serve beer, sir. This is Starbucks.”

The customer understands he is in a coffee shop, but wants the coffee shop to also serve beer.

Another example: you upload a color photograph to Instagram, but it renders in black and white on your profile. That’s a bug. Wanting to upload a photograph to Instagram from your computer, however, is a feature that does not exist: the program is designed to only work through your phone.

For some of us, this is frustrating. We see features as bugs: we want to order coffee at the bar, like the Italians, because a place designed to serve beverages should also serve coffee. Coffee is a beverage, for Pete’s sake!  We want to upload to Instagram straight from our computers instead of emailing ourselves the image, saving it on our phone, then going through the app. To some of us, the features we want out of our programs (digital or not) seem like bugs.

I think this mentality extends into our personal lives and blockades our happiness.

This year was tough on everyone. We lost a lot of beloved artists. We lost a lot of political momentum. Apart from the Cubbies taking the Series and the Queen turning 90, this year was a tough pill to swallow. But I’m here to tell you that, although it feels like a bug, all of this is just a feature.

It’s how it goes. History tells us that. Art tells us that even better.

Ants (literal bugs) at a picnic is part of the picnic experience: it’s a feature of picnics. It comes with the brie and baguette, wicker-basket package.

I hear a lot of complaining. I’ve said many times that it brings me down. I don’t think that we have any room to bicker, even when it feels like we do. Even when your roommate eats all of your cracker jacks. Even when your bus blows a flat tire. I see a lot of my friends succumbing to cyclical nervous breakdowns and self-destructive routines because they are convinced the world’s dominos are stacked against them. I don’t think this is true.

I think it’s a matter of recognizing bugs versus features.

Athletes are very good at this.  Your three-hundred pound nose tackle, “The Fridge”, knows how to manage bugs and features.  The Fridge doesn’t go back to the huddle every down yelling about #53’s fingers in his eyeballs.  The Fridge just wants to eat the quarterback’s knees. He knows that it’s the center’s job to keep him hungry, that the offensive line is a feature, that, in his own words, “it’s just football, coach.”

Similarly, marathoners don’t quit running because of the hills after mile 15. Even if they didn’t look at the course map, they knew it was going to get tough. You won’t hear marathoners complaining about the hills, calling them bugs.

It’s a simple principal when it comes to the physical stuff, but I think we could all be a little better by keeping the perspective in tact with the intangible things. Fights with your lover aren’t bugs in your relationship. Working late hours during midterms aren’t bugs of your career. Going to your grandfather’s funeral isn’t a detour in the trajectory of your life: it’s as much a feature as dying itself. Your professors, your parents, your higher-ups, this year: these things aren’t out to get you. These are features of existing in this world.

Maybe the most charming post I read about bugs and features from a software developer concludes with the idea that it’s all a matter of little details. That the issues, be them bugs or features, are still just issues. It’s hardly worth distinguishing between them because you have to fix them anyway.

I like this idea, but it’s only useful once you understand the difference. The past four months have been a lesson in working with bugs and features, and in either case, I’ve had a problem to solve: How do I manage this challenge? I’ve learned this: bugs don’t deserve any of your energy, while feature requests demand all of it.

In other words, if you want to eat better, do not complain that ice cream exists, because Klondikes are bugs! If you want to eat better, you must spend every waking minute fantasizing about baby carrots. You must build your castle around the beet. You must salivate at the thought of a pea.

If you want to be a better lover, a better friend, an air pilot, a librarian, an early bird, a night owl, a city slicker, or a new resident in the next state over: squash the bugs. Put your shoes on and jump on the crunchy cockroaches.

Heading into the new year, consider your resolutions through the lens of the software developers, through the yin yang of bugs and features. Go forth and eat peas and eat hills and eat knees.

The Fridge believes in you!

 

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blog, poem

Radiogirl

You are rad.

Rad like a palindrome, rad like frayed scarves.

Like a Wilhelm scream ripping through the hollow undertow.

Rad like the loudest symphony, like the first chair violin.

You got a goddamn good name and I like saying it in the tub. You got a schedule of shit to do. You got a paycheck coming in.

You are rad and lovely and firm, in that order, like a cabin in the woods.

Lovely like buttermilk, firm like Arnie’s bicep. A butt tucked into gray sweats tapered at the ankle. Black nikes, a little scuff.

A couple of middle fingers up, for your insecurities, for the ticket stuffed into your passenger side door.

A hazy voice floating through the atmosphere, falling on a microphone, into the radio waves, onto my canned headphone eardrums, like silky smoke from a tan candle.

Let me kiss your lip like butter, my goodness, let me show you off to momma. Let me show you to the thirsty desert, to a linoleum grocery store. Let me grab your hand and pinch your hip and piss you off just right.

“It comes with cheese?” a quick chuckle from your chest, “a little cheese on top,” and the waiter nods and grins.

You don’t interrupt.

You swing a red leather bag and glide through the snowy city streets. You tip three quarters at the deli and hug the owner Jim who gives me a hard time. I play along. You seem to own the room, everywhere you go, you take the whole place over. The boring couple in the booth stops to stare. Their spoons hovering over tomato soup and cornbread, spilling a little, splashing onto their napkin bibs.

I follow in your breezy wake.

You spin the key, the deadbolt pops. You throw your coat onto the couch and put an album on.  Something funky from the 80’s. I kick my shoes off and tumble into your living room. We drank too much, I think. Your cheeks smudge my glasses. It’s midnight.

“Where should I write to you?”

“Here. The mailman comes on Thursdays.”

“Do you check your mail?”

“Sometimes.”

I squint to see the lights outside. You nudge.

“Leave it on the radio.”

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Uncategorized

The Social Network

Yep.  It’s the blog about Facebook.  What a hipster I am.

To preface, I feel the urge to brag about my current relationship with Cat Petroccia, something that was Facebook news earlier this month. And some people are itchin’ to hear the story, so here comes my condensed version of The Notebook (except we’re not old…yet). Catherine is the cat’s pajamas, the bees’ knees (yep, PLURAL bees). She’s the Black to my Jack, a quickly learned mutual idol between the both of us. We met in Ferrara, as part of my study abroad program in Italy. I’ve never hit it off as fast as I hit it off with Petrocc’. Those grand-slam-over-the-wall-good-night-sleep-tight-ballpark-emptying-walk-off-in-the-bottom-of-the-ninth-kinda-butterflies, baby! Ain’t this sappy? Since our stint overseas, we decided to show the world of our early twenties love online, something coined nowadays as making it ‘Facebook official’. And since then, all I can say is that I’ve been completely enamored by the best relationship to date. Cat don’t care if I talk to other girls. Cat don’t care if I don’t call her all the time. Cat don’t need no man to make her happy, but she sure as hell enjoys one that does. But you know what the best part of it all is?

Our relationship is entirely staged.

If I’ve yet to give you a reason to despise me, this is it. I accept my ass-hole antics that probably lowered your trust in me, all part of a social experiment that I felt like participating in just to prove some gaudy point about Facebook. Fuck you, Sam! But before I justify myself, I’d like you to hear from my soon to be ex-fake-long-distance-girlfriend. Please welcome the Leaky Faucet’s first guest writer, Kitty Purrtrocia.

Let me start by saying I have never been in a relationship; I’m extremely ugly and annoying and boys run away from me. Just kidding, I’m gorgeous and hilarious-I have just never found someone who I thought was worth shacking up with. ANYWAY, this faux relationship I have been in for the past four weeks has been my first relationship ever, but Facebook made it seem as real as could be.

Samuel and I started to ‘date’ on February 29 (mhmm, Leap Day) and were set to break up on April 1 (mhmm, April Fools, fools). We decided to be in this Facebook relationship and were excited to see how others would react to our new relationship. What jerks, right? So we edited our Facebooks and within a few clicks, I was in a long distance relationship with the talented, handsome yet quirky boy that is Samuel. Well, Samuel’s Facebook friends really took our relationship to heart; liking it, commenting and stalking my page to see who the fuck this New Jersey girlfriend was. On my Facebook page, a few people liked the change, but mostly Samuel and my mutual friends commented on the status since they knew it was fake.

I’m going to be honest, part of the reason I wanted to be in this fake relationship was to make another boy jealous. This someone, let’s call him Romeo (pshh) and I have been really good friends and recently hooked up a couple times which is awesome but scary because when you actually like someone and start to connect physically, you start to ask questions like “what is this?” or “where is this going?”. When Samuel asked me to be his Facebook girlfriend I was like YES, perfect-something I can throw at Romeo that would make him jealous and influence that “want what you can’t have” mentality. I’M AN IDIOT. I was waiting for Romeo to send me a text about my new boyfriend like “who’s your new boyfriend, huh?!?!” or “wait, I like you! Why are you dating this loser?”. But I got nothin. NOTHIN. Now my relationship with Samuel was making me paranoid- did Romeo actually not care? Was he relieved that I was in a relationship so now we didn’t have to talk about our “feelings” for each other? Damn you, Samuel, this Facebook relationship is making ME crazy. Maybe Romeo was smart enough to NOT believe what was on Facebook. Oh, Romeo.

Someone I work with asked me the other day, “Do you have a boyfriend?” And because I actually do NOT have a boyfriend, I replied with a huge “NO.” with a touch of my “fuck love” attitude. But then I realized, on my Facebook, I DO have a boyfriend and if you don’t know me that well, you’re probably using my Facebook page as a way to “get to know me”. Social media makes it really hard for people to hide their lives. There are some ways to keep your social media profiles discreet, but a lot of people decide to put it all out there. And people usually believe everything they see on Facebook. Apparently when you’re in a real relationship with someone, it’s officially “official” when the relationship is on Facebook. What the hell? Why do we need to expose our intimate relationships on the internet to the world (seriously, the WORLD)?

Facebook relationships are silly and I think if you’re in a real relationship you should enjoy being happy with your cute boyfriend or girlfriend and not care about what it says on your Facebook page. Maybe I just should have said that at the beginning so you didn’t have to read my rant and stupid boy problems.
Nah.

xo,
Kitty

Boom.

So what the fuck, Sam? Why throw yourself into an artificial situation, only to be falsely viewed and bombarded with questions that would merit legitimate answers? People’s lives are at stake, man, and you think this is just a game!

Let’s break it down:

Motive One (to enter into a fake facebook relationship): Attention.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll proudly say it again: I love my internet attention. I’m a constant self-promoter and avidly use social networks to get my work seen. So when the thought of doing something drastic like dating somebody presented itself to me, I knew I would stir up the gossip pot. Sam, who’s the new girl? Sam, we just talked and you didn’t mention anything to me about a lover! Sam, props on the new ladyfriend! All of that attention I got the first week was entertaining, but something inside of me felt sick. I suppose I’d best describe it as deception, as living a lie. I was bullshitting everybody, and they bought it. Of course that only means that I have a lot of trust in my friendships (and I hope that this doesn’t ruin things), but deep inside I worry about the boy who cried wolf. I got what I sought, but it didn’t feel right.

Motive Two (in the deceit of my internet friends): The Wedding Band Theory.

You know the scene: The 30-something single, independent woman finds herself sitting at a barstool, chatting to an equally independent and attractive male while sipping a Gin & Tonic. The conversation is full of sparks. Yet, she keeps finding her attention drawn away from her partner’s eyes towards the ring finger of the married man eating dinner at a nearby table. She finds her urges doing the same. Cat alluded to this above: the ‘you can’t touch this’ mentality. Somewhere inside me was a voice telling me that if I wanted girl attention, I’d have to create a conversation piece in which ‘Juliette’ could safely reveal her feelings to me without expecting a confession in return. Like being exempt from the dangerous land of emotions. I was waiting for the female attention. It never came.

Motive Three (in the solidification of my egotistical doom):
Testing the Waters.

In acting upon my desires to fulfill this experiment, I swore oath to live the life of a taken man for the entire month of March. Yes, I had to throw away the Cassanova lifestyle I was leading in the sacrifice of social science, a brutal challenge for a Don like myself. But I survived. And in that, I learned a lot. For example: if an actual relationship were to present itself to me, I would want to be ready. Part of being ready is understanding just exactly how much difference there is between living a single life and nurturing a healthy relationship. No more this, no more that kinda thing. I wouldn’t want to fuck up the potential because my heart was elsewhere, be it in my independence or in my creative endeavors. I would want to be ready to make that transition, and the past month was a test drive of that mindset. And in the end, this is the only motive that proved positive for my life. I was more confident with the idea of being taken (even if I technically was single, even though I wasn’t. It’s a mess).  I didn’t find myself fantasizing about imaginary romances with the stranger on the bus. I stopped being so infatuated with the idea of spontaneous love, the kinda shit you only see in RomComs. I was just more myself.
And that was cool.

Insomma. I’ll end tonight’s ramblings with two completely honest paragraphs. Cat, you are actually the coolest. And you know that. My homegirl, sister-love. I suppose it was a bit spontaneous that you Facebook-chatted me the night that this idea was building in my brain. But really, you’re the only ragazza with whom I’d have wanted to fake a relationship. I hope this doesn’t change our friendship. It probably will. Guys and girls can never be just friends. See When Harry Met Sally. Just kidding, they totally can. We totally will.  Love you, girl.

To come full-circle on my hipster-ness, I conclude with one biased criticism of the alternate reality that we have accepted called Facebook. It’s a social construct. If anything, I’ve learned that we have the power to create ourselves like never before. I choose my profile pictures. I choose who can see them. I lead people on a predetermined path in their judgment of me. I have the power to become who I want, first on the internet, then transport that persona into real life. Secondly, Cat said something along the lines of:  ‘I think Facebook influences the way people perceive things’. I think so too. What used to be reflected from real life has been reversed; news comes from Facebook to the real world. I learn things about people that I never would have thought to ask. It’s quite voyeur. But it all depends on whose hands are manipulating these powers. I use Facebook to keep in touch with all of my friends around the world. It’s a borderless reality that is fufilling when the distance is too great. Truly, I use the social network to be social. But there’s a dark side, too. And I think we all know the evil potential of being deeply bound to everybody around you.

Ten points for Zuckerberg.

Anyway, April fools bitches. My prank lasted a month. And it’s probably true that I Punk’d myself harder than any of you guys. But it was entertaining, and I’m glad it happened. I found some more social awareness. I also had a reason to write.  And in the spirit of today, I will celebrate a mildly effective joke.

Unless all of this is bullshit, and Cat and I are actually together. (Theme to ‘The X-Files’) 

-Sammy G

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