Programming by Any Means Necessary



I’ve been a part of a lot of projects while working under weird circumstances.  Build a completely new stage for a show overnight by 10am?  Done it.  Rip out an entire broadcast news camera setup and replace it with robotic cameras in four hours?  Cakewalk.   Make up a commercial on the fly while shooting on a frozen lake with Santa Claus in -21 degrees?  Easy.

Ken“This is the last take, right?”   “Just one more Ken, just one more.”

Being in the entertainment industry we get more than our fair share of weird situations.  But the one that stands out recently happened on the Black Jack App last week.

BJ Logo

This thing.  It’s a book for your iPad.  It’s awesome.

There are four of us working on the app right now and we’re all busy.  Getting all the developers together into one room took about 40 days to wrangle.  We had reschedules, last-minute bailouts and even a trip to the hospital for acute abdominal hemorrhaging.


Why, O why did I get the BK Triple Whopper?

 But at long last, we all got together.  We had a nice dinner, sat down in our chairs ‘round the ol’ app-making table to hash out all the remaining issues with the app and…blackout.  Total darkness.  Pitch black.


It was so dark even Vin Diesel was scared.

I run upstairs and check the breakers.  Nothing.  Check the rest of the house.  All dead.  Run outside the check the neighborhood.  The entire development is lights-out.   It’s like a satellite picture of North Korea at night.  The entire township is so black it would leave fingerprints on charcoal.  It’s so black—


So here’s the problem:  we’re all there to work.  And rescheduling is not an option.  So this is it.  There’s no lights.  There’s no power.  The solution?   Well, let’s go all Little House on the Prairie on this biznitch and get some beeswax & string working for us!   We’re programming by candlelight!!

Candlelight HelmetI have seen the way, and the way is the antler-lamp.

So here we are, the four of us, sitting in the dark, digging through creative problem-solving, iOS menu interfaces, UI layers, binary trees, responsive user input and conditional code paths, all in the warm glow of a half-dozen Yankee Candles.  And when you mix that aroma of Apple Nut Butter with Seagull Wind plus a little Cranberry Chutney you can start to trip out a little.


         “…then the pixies come out and crawl up your fingers and whisper a Push Notification in your ear…”

We hunkered down at the table for the next several hours; nobody missed a beat, nobody griped, nobody complained, everybody just buckled down and got to work.  It’s amazing to work with a crew like that.  When you’ve got a team constructing 21st Century software by 6th Century technology, you know you’re working with good people.