Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mutant Marsupials Take Up Arms Against Australian Air Force

So I'm sitting here trying to think of something witty to set as my status this morning and get my brain kickstarted, when I receive the following email from a colleague to do that very thing. The amazing part is it is both funny and relevant to work - you don't see that much.


The reuse of some object-oriented code has caused tactical headaches for
Australia's armed forces.
As virtual reality simulators assume larger roles in helicopter combat
training, programmers have gone to great lengths to increase the realism of
their scenarios, including detailed landscapes and - in the case of the
Northern Territory's Operation Phoenix - herds of kangaroo's (since
disturbed animals might well give away a helicopter's position).

The head of the Defense Science & Technology Organizations Land
Operations/Simulation division reportedly instructed Developers to model the
local marsupials' movements and reactions to helicopters. Being efficient
programmers They just re-appropriated some code originally used to model
infantry detachment reactions under the same stimuli, changed the mapped
icon from a soldier to a kangaroo, and increased the figures' speed of

Eager to demonstrate their flying skills for some visiting American pilots,
the hotshot Aussies "buzzed"
the virtual kangaroos in low flight during a simulation. The kangaroos
scattered, as predicted, and the visiting Americans nodded appreciatively.
then did a double-take as the kangaroos reappeared from behind a hill and
launched a barrage of Stinger missiles as the hapless helicopter.
(Apparently, the programmers had forgotten to remove that part of the
infantry coding.)

The lesson?

Objects are defined with certain attributes, and any new object defined in
terms of an old one inherits all the attributes.
The embarrassed programmers had learned to be careful when reusing
object-oriented code, and the Yanks left With a new found respect for
Australian wildlife..

Simulator supervisors report that pilots from that point onward have
strictly avoided kangaroos, just as they were meant to.