Curiousity is a Necessary Quality

Last week, I was in Eindhoven, in the Netherlands. I arrived Sunday afternoon, and my host took me to the Van Abbemuseum, a museum of contemporary art. It was great.I geeked out in the elevator, however. We started at the top floor and went down to the bottom. The elevator had musical accompaniment. A high-pitched voice started at the top and went down to a lower-pitched voice as we descended the floors. I thought this was great, and when I couldn’t hear a break in recording between floors, I decided we’d try a few more combinations. (Luckily, my host had a great sense of humor and wasn’t upset by this 🙂

We tried a few more combinations of starting at different floors and going up and down so I could reverse engineer the algorithm. I think I understood it. (I’m not sufficiently literate with music description to describe it, sorry.)

This kind of curiosity is necessary for developers and testers. I suspect that what we label geekiness is more often curiosity.

3 Replies to “Curiousity is a Necessary Quality”

  1. Blind NASA scientist uses similar to enable blind teenagers attending his summer space camp to track trajectories of rockets they design, build, launch.
    Would be great to discover other applications now that you’ve got the algorithm figured out.

  2. When I developed software, I’d sometimes put calls that would output different musical chords or phrases to let me know where the code was. Sometimes the screen would be obscured, so I couldn’t print a debugging message, or it’d flash by too quickly. So I’d code an arpeggio in the key of A, the first 4 notes to Beethoven’s 5th, etc. (I definitely had to remember to take those out before shipping!)
    This would let me know if the execution ever made it to key parts I was expecting. Years later, though, I had to choose a different note besides C#.

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