Geeks With Blogs
George Clingerman

Early on in my role as a noob father/husband, I bought a car. Two of them to be exact. When we first got married, my wife and I had one car. It was two door and a lease, but we now had a new baby. If you've ever struggled with getting a baby in and out of a two door car over and over again, you immediately recognize why we might have been interested in exploring our options for something different. If you had a two door car, a new baby and still don't recognize why, then congratulations on your career as a masochistic contortionist.

Being new to the car buying process we did what any logical person would do. We went to a place that sold cars. Lots of them. The process seemed pretty straightforward. I basically just wanted to get rid of the lease and car that I had and to then buy two cars. Any two cars. One at least with four doors and I wanted to end up without about the same payment as my lease. Straightforward right?

Well, it was an all day process. Lots of fun with a screaming baby. We finally did find two older cars hidden on the lot and we finally got some papers signed and left paying just $10 more a month than I was for my lease. I was happy. My wife was happy. Even the baby seemed happy. Life was good.

Then I got a call.

The dealership wanted me to come back in the next day. I needed to sign some paperwork for them to finish up some things with the bank. No big deal, I hopped in my new (but older) car and drove on in. I chatted with the super friendly guy in his office. Talked about how happy I was. He said what a pleasure it was to do busy with me. I smiled and nodded while thinking to myself, of course it's a pleasure, I'm full of pleasure, but thanks for stating the obvious. We were all happy. I signed his silly little paper and went on my happy merry little way.

Then I got a call.

The dealership wanted me to come back in the next day. Seems we have a very serious problem they needed to discuss with me. Now I was losing some of my happy. I mean, I know I'm a pleasure to be around, but I couldn't have the dealership calling me all the time just wanting to hang out. But, being the nice guy I am, I went in anyway just to keep them happy. Well, when I get there all smiles, they sat me down and started off with an opening line that would most likely grab anyone's attention.

"You owe us $3,000."

Yes, much to my shock, they were insisting that I pay them more money for the cars that I had bought. It appears there was a discrepancy, or so they tell me, with what my leased car was actually worth so when it was all said and done, I owed them a bit more money. I of course leapt up and exclaimed, "but we had a deal!". Then they showed me the paper I had signed. That paper, I had merrily put my name on while chatting in such a pleasurable manner. You see, when you read the paper, it stated that I, the buyer, understood that the price I paid for my vehicles wasn't set in stone in any way shape or form and that I understood that the price for my vehicles and my payment may adjust. Yeah, they had totally blindsided me with that. I had signed a paper that I hadn't really understood, I just knew that by signing it, I was finishing up the deal to get my car. So from my point of view, it was all working.

I see the same thing happen with code all the time. A lot of times I see developers (including myself), search the internet for a particular problem they're stumped on. Then they see it, this holy grail solution posted by Joe Schmoe who they know is an amazing coder, well, because he's on teh Internets and he's posted code. It's obvious he's smart because he has a solution for something they hadn't figured out. So they copy the code, paste it into their project, make a few tweaks and move on. Driving away in their new (but old) car whistling a merry little tune. But do they REALLY understand what they just signed? By putting THAT code into a production product, they are singing a paper saying, yeah, I understand what this code does. I've tested it, I'm familiar with it. I understand it's strengths, it's weaknesses and why it was written the way it was and why it works. Do you really mean that? Do you really know what you signed?

I know for myself, I try to keep that fresh in my head. Everyone is bound to want to use some code they found somewhere. There's no point in re-inventing the wheel. Projects get rushed, you've been stuck on trying to figure out a problem for hours, days, weeks. The code you find seems like it was sent from above. Just be cautious. Review it harder than you would your own code. Test it more thoroughly. Get a buddy to look it over. Just make sure you take the time to understand what you're signing.

Oh, and I've never bought a car from a dealership again.

Posted on Thursday, September 13, 2007 10:37 AM | Back to top

Comments on this post: Do you understand what you are signing?

# re: Do you understand what you are signing?
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Great read!
Left by Keith Rull on Sep 13, 2007 2:03 PM

# re: Do you understand what you are signing?
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And before you even start trying to understand the code you found on the intertubes examine the license (and its consequences for your project) of said code.
Left by Björn on Sep 13, 2007 11:01 PM

# re: Do you understand what you are signing?
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Hi, Just thought I would comment and say neat theme, did you design it for yourself?
Looks superb!
Left by muay thai on Mar 05, 2012 3:47 AM

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