Mistakenly Matlabed


I sat in front of the two large displays for my computer thinking about what I had just written in the MatLab script. It was a simple enough typo, just a single letter, easy to fix. I was curious though, I wondered if what I had written would work. I had learned most of what I knew about Matlab from experimenting with it, usually not afraid to just try stuff. I held down Control and let my finger hover over the Enter key. “It won’t work anyway,” I said to myself, “There is no way Matlab can do something like THAT.”

Echoing in my head, I could hear the words Dr. Galen, who we all called Dr. Doug. He had taught our MatLab class several years before. The man had been very fond of saying “Just try stuff, you’d be surprised at some of the things MatLab can do…”

That was both an encouragement and a counter argument to let my finger push down on the large key with the crooked arrow on it. It probably wouldn’t work, I mean, how could it? But if it did, the effects could be catastrophic. It was killing me to know if it would work, though.

I sat like that, staring at that one word, transformed in meaning and intent so greatly by that one wrong letter, I wasn’t even sure how it happened, the “N” and the “S” keys being so far apart.

“What if it just applies to the figures I have open,” I wondered, that would be nice, a tricky little tool to file away for some future project. That would make the most sense if it DID work, I had been trying to write “Close all” which, of course closes all the open figures, but what if, in this case, it applied to everything? What if it applied to what the word “all” usually meant?

I couldn’t take that chance, I couldn’t fathom the unspeakable things I would have to deal with if I suddenly cloned everything. I changed the “n” back to an “s”, my sense of adventure no longer what it used to be, then repressed the control and pushed the enter button, evaluating the cell.

It didn’t work, the Matlab command line told me in angry red letters that I had an unbalanced or unexpected parenthesis somewhere.


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