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Mutant Marsupials Take Up Arms Against Australian Air Force.

The reuse of some object-oriented code has caused tactical
headaches for Australia's armed forces. As virtual reality
simulators assume larger roles in helicopter combat training,
programmers have gone to great lengths to increase the realism
of their scenarios, including detailed landscapes
and in the case of the Northern Territory's Operation
Phoenix herds of kangaroos (since disturbed animals might
well give away a helicopter's position).

The head of the Defense Science & Technology
Organization's Land Operations/Simulation division reportedly
instructed developers to model the local marsupials' movements
and reactions to helicopters.  Being efficient
programmers, they just re-appropriated some code
originally used to model infantry detachment reactions under the
same stimuli, changed the mapped icon from a soldier to a
kangaroo, and increased the figures' speed of movement.

Eager to demonstrate their flying skills for some visiting
American pilots, the hotshot Aussies "buzzed" the virtual
kangaroos in low flight during a simulation. The kangaroos
scattered, as predicted, and the visiting Americans
nodded appreciatively... then did a double-take as the
kangaroos reappeared from behind a hill and launched a barrage
of Stinger missiles at the hapless helicopter. (Apparently the
programmers had forgotten to remove that part of the infantry

The lesson? Objects are defined with certain attributes,
and any new object defined in terms of an old one inherits all
the attributes.  The embarrassed programmers had learned to be
careful when reusing object-oriented code, and
the Yanks left with a newfound respect for Australian

Simulator supervisors report that pilots from that point
onward have strictly avoided kangaroos, just as they were meant

* From June 15, 1999 Defense Science and Technology
Organization Lecture Series, Melbourne, Australia, and
staff reports.
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