on the gripping hand
= O =
one-banana problem n.
At mainframe shops, where the
computers have operators for routine administrivia, the programmers
and hardware people tend to look down on the operators and claim
that a trained monkey could do their job. It is frequently
observed that the incentives that would be offered said monkeys can
be used as a scale to describe the difficulty of a task. A
one-banana problem is simple; hence, "It's only a one-banana job
at the most; what's taking them so long?"
At IBM, folklore divides the world into one-, two-, and
three-banana problems. Other cultures have different hierarchies
and may divide them more finely; at ICL, for example, five grapes
(a bunch) equals a banana. Their upper limit for the in-house
sysapes is said to be two bananas and three grapes (another
source claims it's three bananas and one grape, but observes
"However, this is subject to local variations, cosmic rays and
ISO"). At a complication level any higher than that, one asks the
manufacturers to send someone around to check things.
See also Infinite-Monkey Theorem.
--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.