Far out in a big building at the end of a long and narrow corridor resides a not too ventilated room with a view to a bunch of other not too ventilated rooms.

Sitting in this room is an utterly insignificant and quite replaceable little software developer who truly believes that the fact that software will always contain bugs is a law of nature planned by God herself to keep the income of that developer and the rest of his species safe for eternity.

This developer and a significant number of his colleagues have – or rather had – a problem, which was this: most of them were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of them were largely concerned with giving developers a piece of paper who promised them a great deal of money if their top managers will succeed in convincing the rest of the world that they know what they are doing. Most of the time, however, this didn’t make the developer too happy, because he couldn’t figure out how this could possibly be done.

And so the problem remained.

And then, one Thursday, nearly 1262296800 seconds after UNIX Epoch, another developer sitting in a slightly better ventilated room suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how software could be made better. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to reboot his machine every day.

Sadly, however, before she could finish writing her idea, her fancy word processor obediently followed nature’s law, leaving her staring at a blinking cursor at the top left corner of a page filled with strange looking characters. No one has heard about her since.

This is not her story.

It is also not the story of the word processor to which we owe our jobs, nor the story of the developer who wrote it who still swears it worked perfectly on his machine.

It is the story of a book, a book called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Software Development. Some say, it was written at about the same time God decided that software developers would never be left out of work. Millions of software developers around the world know it by heart, but despite its success, its author still has to write software for his living because it was published under a Creative Commons license. This was probably the reason the book was such a success in the first place. This, and of course the fact that it has the words DON’T PANIC – JUST REBOOT inscribed in large Courier font on its cover.


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