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updated 5/10/2013 12:49:24 PM ET 2013-05-10T16:49:24

NEW YORK — Programming is no easy task. When a single misplaced comma can break your whole program, it's enough to drive just about anyone to drink. Now, to prevent drunken coding — or encourage it — there's GitDown.

The name of this witty software tool is a play on the phrase “get down,” and the software Git, an open-source program used for managing coding projects.

Git keeps track of any changes and additions to a program's source files. Instead of making changes in real time, programmers have to “commit” changes via a submission process.

But maybe you tend to crack open a brew while coding. Maybe you've had to spend long hours undoing the mistakes made by intoxicated programmers.

GitDown adds an extra safeguard to coding: Before you can commit changes to code, you have to pass a breathalyzer test.

At a presentation at the NY Tech Meetup on May 7, held here in New York University's Manhattan campus   , programmers Alexandra Qin and Geoffrey Litt demonstrated GitDown, an add-on for Git that requires programmers to pass a breathalyzer test before they can commit changes to code.

"I'm sorry, Dave, I can't let you do that…You're too drunk," the screen will say if you have a blood-alcohol level of 0.05 percent or more, in a snarky reference to the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey."

This is GitDown's Normal Mode. There's also Krunk Mode, in which you can commit changes only if your blood-alcohol level is higher than 0.05 percent. Then there's Ball(m)er Mode, a triple pun on the slang word “baller”; famously erratic Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer; and a comic by ex-programmer and artist of the Web comic "XKCD" Randall Munroe.

In a comic entitled " Ballmer Peak," Monroe suggested that programming skills peak when a person has a blood-alcohol level of between 0.13 percent and 0.15 percent.  Accordingly, GitDown's Ball(m)er Mode will allow programmers to commit changes to code only if their blood-alcohol level falls in this supposed top-performance range.

Needless to say, GitDown was very popular at the NY Tech Meetup. It's also easy to implement in your own work environments.  Qin and Litt made the script freely available from GitHub, a site that hosts Git-related projects. The breathalyzer attachment used in GitDown, called GfxHax DrinkShield, is an easily modifiable device that connects to a simple circuit board called an Arduino.

GitDown was developed at hackNY 2013, a “hackathon” competition in which teams of programmers have 24 hours to design and create a prototype for a new idea and then demo their creation to their peers.

GitDown won first place at the hackathon. How do you think the creators celebrated?

Email jscharr@technewsdaily.comor follow her@JillScharr. Follow us@TechNewsDaily, onFacebookor on Google+.

© 2012 TechNewsDaily

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