Dyslexic programmer responsible for Cascade

Combat Zone — By LeSounden DeFury on October 15, 2010 1:55 PM

Collins Memorial Library has been notorious for technological issues: printers constantly fail, all computers mysteriously reboot at 10 p.m. every night, and so on. It seems as if there is always one thing screwy with the technology. But last week, it was discovered that all the technological failures were caused by a computer programmer with severe dyslexia who constantly entered code incorrectly.

Brenda Flarfstein, a 33 year-old systems programmer for Technology Services, admitted to suffering from “Ohwano” dyslexia—a form of the learning disability dyslexia where the person writes and types backwards. Due to Ohwano dyslexia, Flarfstein, a Jewish single-mother of none (0), would enter binary code backwards. Binary code is a system of 0’s and 1’s that is used to code and program computers. Binary is a digital systemization of Morse code, which was invented in 1812 by Samuel Morse to communicate over long distances and make it even easier to steal land from American Indians. It also appears in green at the end of movies in The Matrix trilogy.

“Demasha os leef I [I feel so ashamed],” said Flarfstein in an interview via email. “yrarbil eht ni smelborp eht rof elbisonpser ylelos ma I. oga gnol siht dettimda evah dluohs I [I should have admitted this long ago. I am solely responsible for the problems in the library].”
To save space, Flarfstein’s answers from now on will only appear as translated.

How a dyslexic computer programmer not only got a job but held it since 2004 is a twisted tale that begins with the creation of the Cascade website.

“[I was supposed to enter code to update the school’s Firewall],” Flarfstein said. “[but when I pressed ‘Enter’ for the final time, but what should have been the first time, this whole crazy website spontaneously appeared and asked to confirm my address. It then gave me a financial statement, telling me how much I owed the school.]”

Scared she would be fired for screwing up her first assignment, Flarfstein blamed the creation on a co-worker who promptly got promoted.
For 6 years Flarfstein worked under the radar, entering binary code for the library. She rarely wrote emails to coworkers or superiors and when she did, she’d write them in palindromes. A mass email Flarfstein sent out but forgot to palindromize alerted her superiors to the fact that there was a person with Ohwano dyslexia in the technology services.

“It was an email written entirely backwards,” said Gary Blumpkuss, the head of Technolgy Services and Flarfstein’s boss. “And it was asking for contributions to an Ohwano dyslexia charity drive. My cousin’s cat has Ohwano, so I knew right away what was going on. Everything clicked—the constant computer crashes, the lack of spyware protection, the palindrome emails.”

Blumpkuss expressed regret that Flarfstein had to be let off and wishes her luck on her future endeavors. As for the library, they reported that technology related complaints have dropped since Flarfstein’s departure from 212 to a mere 195.

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