School of Computing

The Ups Song

The Ups Song

Here's "Just One More Hack" - The "ups song" in mp3 format - just right click on the link and select "Save": Just One More Hack

The Impetus

My first job in the University Kent was working for a small group of programmers, known as The Kent Koftware Tools Group. Our enviable task was to embrace the new technology that was emerging at the time - computer workstations with a mouse and pixel-addressable screen - to create software with a novel, interesting, and powerful user interface. This was initially on ICL Perqs and later on the first Sun Workstations.

A friend and colleague of mine, Mark Russell, was working on a new debugger. He'd been working on ups (for that was its name) for quite some time, but he'd never got around to releasing it. There was always a new feature, some new functionality that absolutely had to be added before it could be released to the world. After a while this started getting silly, and so for a laugh I wrote a song entitled "Just One More Hack and I'll Put It on the Net" to see if I could chivvy him along.

The Song

It worked, and within a few months ups was released to the world. The song itself did well in its own small way. I placed a low-quality mono ulaw encoded copy of the song onto a well-known FTP site (this was before mp3 was popular, and before the Web was invented :-) and from there it propagated around the world. Later, it even found its way on to the rare and collectable (grin) CD "MUSENET 1992" - a collection of songs written and performed by Usenet Artists. Here's a quote (originally from me) on that page:

``Just One More Hack [and then I'll put it on the net]'' - Mark Wheadon

This song was originally written to shame Mark Russell, the author of the ``ups'' debugger, into releasing ups to the world. For a couple of years he had been adding extra features, and ups was constantly in a state of needing ``just one more hack'' before it could be released.

When I asked him recently if the song made any difference he replied ``Difference? The whole reason for sending the bloody thing out was to stop you humming that tune!''

The song even made it into some ups distributions (in the lib directory :-), and is mentioned at the ups sourceforge site.

Strangely, years on, I was part of a formal job interview panel here at the Computing Laboratory of the University of Kent at Canterbury, when one of the interviewees - on hearing my name, and in mid interview - sang me a couple lines of the "ups song" - which was a surreal experience.

As I still get requests for a copy of this song from time to time, and so far as I know it isn't available elsewhere, I've placed a link to an mp3 file of the song at both ends of this page. After all, it's not every day someone writes a song about a debugger :-)

The Means

The song was recorded, pretty much live, using an old Teac 4-track, which allowed me to record up to four tracks onto a conventional audio cassette, at double speed, using both "sides" of the tape at once, and listen to the other three tracks whilst doing so.

I say, "pretty much live" because it's difficult to do a fully live recording when you're doing all four of the parts :-)

The Lyrics

In case you can't quite hear the beautifully enunciated lyrics (grin), here they are in glorious ASCII:

Well, I've written a debugger and it suits me just fine
it'll chase away your problems, turn your water into wine
it's got so many features, in fact it's bloody clever
if it can't solve your problem then your problem probably never can be solved
so you might as well pack it on in,
coz it's the best debugger that there's ever been.

It's got everything you wanted, everything you desire it'll handle fancy structures, set your soul on fire it'll indirect through pointers, and catch a falling star and if you ask it nicely it'll pop off to the bar and tell your friends how to solve the problems they're in, coz it's the best debugger that there's ever been.

So if you've got a nasty problem and your data structure's bent and your pointer's in a tangle with your structure elements if you're losing all your memory coz your allocator leaks and your girl's getting nasty coz she's not seen you for weeks then stoke up Mark's debugger and you know it'll win, coz it's the best debugger that there's ever been....

The Download

Here's "Just One More Hack" in mp3 format - just right click on the link and select "Save".

Just One More Hack

School of Computing, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NF

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Last Updated: 20/08/2009