Archive for the 'Humour' Category

A Marvellous, Amazing, Exciting Ink Shopping Experience

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

At least I expect that is what HP has prepared for me. Hewlett Packard keep giving me this annoying nag popup window urging me to install a “simple, smart utility” that “uses the Internet to help you find, compare and repurchase genuine HP supplies” for my specific printer.

HP Printer Ink Shopping

At first glance that does not sound very exciting, but look it is 4.9MB. 4.9MB! - It must be some sort of interactive, fully immersive 3D shopping experience that would put the old boo.com to shame. To require a 4.9MB download, plus an internet connection, I bet they have figured out a way to let you be hundreds of kilometres away and yet still sniff the ink and get paper cuts from paper specially selected for “your specific printer”. I’ll bet you can virtually bathe in Vivera ink and feel it squish between your toes.

I can hardly wait to try it, but I think I am going to try putting it off for a few days longer, so that anticipation will help me to truly savour the experience. Besides, I am a bit busy today, and figure I really should wait until I have half a day to properly devote to the delicious, invigorating ink repurchasing extravaganza that awaits me.

Well funded web2.0 one day, blurry clip art the next.

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

Here is a postscript to a failed and forgotten Web2.0 venture.

The summary for a story about botnets was decorated with blurry clipart that seemed familiar to me.
From theage.com.au March 21, 2008

Talk about “rooster one day, feather duster the next”. The the logo from officepirates.com is now relegated to blurry clipart status. Although as I said back then, that venture elected to skip over the rooster stage, and take a more “turkey one day, feather duster the next” trajectory.

My Proudest Achievement: A Downloadable Certificate from eBay

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

eBay amuses me. They sent me a message the other day telling me that in recognition for my sterling efforts in buying other people’s junk and sometimes selling my own junk I could download a certificate. The message said “We’re cheering you on every day” and “We hope you’ll download your Turquoise Star Certificate and display it proudly.”

Presumably, there must be people out there who feel special when they get a form letter or the geniuses that populate big company marketing departments would not send them out all the time, right?

Here’s their message:

Congratulations! You’ve achieved a feedback rating of 100! With a Turquoise Star beside your user name, you are an active and well-established member of the eBay community.

We want to thank you for helping make eBay, The World’s Online Marketplace™, a safe and vibrant place to trade. Your success is our success. We’re cheering you on every day.

We hope you’ll download your Turquoise Star Certificate and display it proudly. You’ve certainly earned it! (You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you don’t have it, get it here.)

Again, congratulations on your success, and keep shooting for the stars!

Meg Whitman
President and CEO, eBay Inc.

Here’s my reply:

Dear eBay,

I recently got a message in my eBay messages signed “Meg Whitman President and CEO, eBay Inc.” congratulating me on getting feedback rating of 100 and being given a turquoise star.

It said “We hope you’ll download your Turquoise Star Certificate and display it proudly.” Naturally, I was very pleased to see this. After all, it is not every day that the CEO of a major internet company personally sends me a message, and not every day I get a certificate to proudly display behind my desk.

Naturally, the first thing I did was bid on a certificate frame in an eBay auction so I would have somewhere to display it proudly as instructed. (Item number 200119977791)

However, after admiring it on my wall for a while I started having nagging doubts. I realised that the message from Meg (I hope she does not mind me calling her Meg, after all, she is sending me messages) does not include my name. It probably was not personally sent by her at all.

Worse yet, my certificate does not have my name on it either. If one of my coworkers steals it, they could easily pretend that they were awarded a Turquoise Star Achievement Award rather than me. Surely eBay has access to the kind of advanced technology required to insert a custom name into a PDF file?

My state of mind only went downhill from there. I realized that anybody can go to http://pages.ebay.com/awards/StarAwardTurquoise.pdf (the URL Meg kindly sent me) and print out a Turquoise Star Achievement Award of their own. The high esteem that my coworkers were holding me in because of my Turquoise Star Achievement Award could be diluted at any moment by somebody else printing an award they did not earn.

The final slap in the face was when I realized that just by guessing file names, I could download better awards.
http://pages.ebay.com/awards/StarAwardPurple.pdf
http://pages.ebay.com/awards/StarAwardGreen.pdf

How am I supposed to take pride in my award when I know that anybody else could simply print out a better one? My coworkers respect and admiration for me could evaporate instantly when somebody else figures out these URLs and prints a better Achievement Award than mine.

Do you think Meg would be happy if her MBA from Harvard Business School was suddenly rendered valueless by a link allowing anybody to print out a DBA from Harvard’s web site?

The seller of the certificate frame does not specify a return policy, so I don’t know if they will accept disillusionment with the award contained in the frame as a valid reason for a refund.

Luke Welling
Turquoise Star Achievement Award holder

Of course, eBay being eBay it is hard to tell if my message went to a person or to a very small script. I did get a reply. They promised to investigate whether the email really came from eBay or whether it was a phishing message.

And, of course USPS being USPS, the frame I ordered on eBay was smashed before it reached me.

Glory is such a fleeting thing.

Self Esteem and O’Reilly Animals

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

Listening to James Reinders talk about Intel Open Sourcing their Threading Building Blocks got me thinking about O’Reilly animals.

James seemed kind of underwhelmed at being assigned a canary.

Intel Threading Building Blocks: Outfitting C++ for Multi-core Processor Parallelism

To be honest, I can see why. As mascots go, canaries are not an A-list animal. If half the other mascots would eat yours, and the other half could accidentally step on it and kill it, then you have not been well served.

Sure, there are only so many A-list animals to go around. It is not so surprising that the lions, tigers, elephants are already taken, but B-list can be fine too. Perl has adopted the camel with an enthusiasm far beyond what camels are used to. Hugh and Dave got a good one for their PHP and MySQL book. The platypus is a great animal for PHP. Sure, it looks like it was put together out of parts of other animals, but it is reasonably attractive, and has the kind of street cred you get from being poisonous.

But really, a canary? A scallop? A sand dollar? A moth? A beetle? It is hard to find glamour or prestige in mollusks and other invertebrates that that spend their short lives munching on decomposing waste.

I wonder if many of the people who get an invertebrate or a puny vertebrate ever write a second book for the same publisher, or if they quietly slink away and hide their book inside a Harry Potter dust jacket.

I ♥ register_globals

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

I am aware that there are some things so shocking that you are not supposed to say them in polite company “Hitler had some good ideas”, “Tori Spelling is really pretty” or “I think I look really good in a beret” are all ideas so confronting that they are best kept to yourself regardless of how strongly you believe them.

I have a similarly shocking sentiment that I feel I have to share.

I really like register_globals in PHP.

There, I’ve said it. I can go away and order my I register_globals shirt now.

I (heart) register_globals

Sure, choosing to mingle untrusted user data and internal variables is a bad idea. Sure, if you are too lazy to initialise important variables with a starting value it gives you one extra way to shoot yourself in the foot. Sure, polluting global scope with form variables is going to be a mess in a larger app.

There remains something to be said for simple, elegant, readable ways to shoot yourself in the foot. PHP, like any reasonably complete programming language provides a whole host of other ways, so removing one is not particularly useful.

I used to teach PHP to beginners as a first programming language. I have introduced a few thousand complete novices to programming via PHP.

With register_globals on, this example is a short step from the “Hello World!” example:

<?php
if($name)
{
 echo "Hello $name";
}
else
{
 echo
  '<form>
   Enter your name: <input type="text" name="name">
   <input type="submit">
  </form>';
}
?>

It flows nicely from a “Hello World!” example. It can introduce variables and control structure if you did not provide an even softer introduction to them. It can be turned into an example with a practical use without making the code more complex.

This version may not look very different to you:

<?php
if($_REQUEST['name'])
{
 echo "Hello {$_REQUEST['name']}";
}
else
{
 echo
  '<form>
   Enter your name: <input type="text" name="name">
   <input type="submit">
  </form>';
}
?>

To an experienced eye, the two versions are almost identical. The second requires a little more typing, but nothing to get excited over.

To a complete beginner though, the second is a couple of large leaps away from the first. To understand the second version, somebody has to understand arrays, and PHP string interpolation. Both of these are important topics that they will have to come to in their first few hours of programming, but without register_globals, they stand in the way of even the most trivial dynamic examples.

I miss being able to assume register_globals as default behaviour. It made the initial learning curve far less steep. It made little examples cleaner and more readable. Like most safety measures, it does not really protect people who are determined to get themselves into trouble anyway. People who don’t understand the reasons behind it just run extract() or some code of their own to pull incoming variables out anyway. The user submitted comments in the manual used to be full of sample code for doing exactly that.

Oh, but just a side note to all beret wearing white supremacist Tori spelling fans, just because I am willing to speak up for one unpopular cause does not mean I am interested in yours. Sorry.

Every Blog Should Have at Least One Post With Erotic in The Title

Sunday, March 4th, 2007

I love seeing what people type into search engines. You might need to work at a search engine, or subscribe to some sort of search intelligence service to see the true depth and breadth of what your fellow man is searching the internet for, but if you have some risqué terms in your blog you will get a small taste test if you have any sort of analytics running.

Since I put up my Java Programmers Are The Erotic Furries of Programming hierarchy, my referrer logs have been amusing me a great deal. I can’t help but think that people coming from a google search for “erotic” are in for a letdown when they get here. But some make me wonder even more.

The reason I had to write this post was because I just snorted coffee over my laptop after finding somebody searched for “javascript for furries”. Although some other phrases are intriguing, “geek monkeys”, “erotic java” and “erotic nerds”, did not induce an involuntary snort.

I am tempted to start including deliberate weirdy bait in posts, just so I can see if people are out there searching for “hot girls in hot tinfoil hats” or “Is it wrong to want to have sex with my cousin if she is also my sister”, but taking the randomness out of if would probably spoil the fun.

I have to credit anybody who made it here searching for “erotic” with being dedicated to the cause though. According to Google Webmaster Tools, a page on my site is the 156th result Google presents for that search. Having clicked through 15 pages of results to find this, I really hope some of the other nearby results were more suitable. Though I think dedication is a fine trait in a pervert. I have no time for those fair weather perverts who would have stopped after the 10th page of results.

For future reference, this is a Java Programmer:
Java Programmer
(from: http://faq.javaranch.com/view?ActiveStaff)

This is a furry.
Furries
(from http://pressedfur.coolfreepages.com/press/sex2k/ [NSFW])

While I will grant you that there are some striking similarities between the two groups, I think given practice you will learn to look for the subtle differences that set them apart and be able to differentiate the two groups.

BombOrNot.com

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007

In the wake of the Boston Aqua Teen Hunger Force bomb scare, I find this site much funnier than previously.

http://www.bombornot.com/

Java Programmers are the Erotic Furries of Programming

Thursday, August 3rd, 2006

Inspired by the Brunching Shuttlecocks’ Geek Hierarchy and Penguin Pete’s How to totally fake being a geek, I thought the hierarchy of programmers needed documenting.

Programmer Hierarchy

Programmer Hierarchy PDF

Update:
Most traffic to this page is from reddit
It also made the frontpage on digg

Combustible Dells

Thursday, June 29th, 2006

I thought it was funny to see Greenpeace congratulating Dell for agreeing to phase out “all types of brominated flame retardents” in the same week as The Inquirer published photos of a Dell laptop exploding fairly spectacularly.

According to Greenpeace, most computer users are willing to pay extra for a “greener” computer. I wonder if they are willing to pay extra for a computer that does not burst into flames too?

Dell Configurator

OfficePirates.com - Calling all slackers

Wednesday, March 1st, 2006

OfficePirates.com is an interesting venture*. They are aimed specifically at the 21-34 year old, male, office worker who hates his job and spends more time surfing the web than working demographic. Did you know that was a demographic? Now I will admit it is not quite like one of those job ads you sometimes read that say “To be considered, the applicant should have between 4.3 and 4.32 years C++ experience, like french fry sandwiches and be named Bob,” but it still seems fairly specific to me.

Of course, in time honoured Web 2.0 style, viral marketing is a big part of the plan. Their hordes of office slackers are, as we speak, supposed to be emailing each other to say “Have you seen the Girls in Bras video? It is hilarious.”

There are a few small problems with the plan though, the video is not hilarious, and the people behind it seem to have only passing familiarity with some standard internet practices. For example, the comment field in their blog looks like this whenever I look at it:

Closed?

Did you used to think the internet operated 24 hours a day? So did I. I am not even sure what time zone that 9-6 is in, but apparently there is only one.

Some of their stuff is quite good. I liked Half day man, and they have money and a marketing budget behind them so being initially a bit thin on content will presumably be easy to solve, but it is hard to run a major website when you don’t seem to understand the genre conventions and when parts of your technology suck. I hate the Flash video player they are using. It does not cache content, so if your connection struggles you can’t pause and wait for the download to catch up. You just have to watch it stutter.

I also keep seeing [an error occurred while processing this directive]. What is that? A server side include error message, or an early version of ASP error message? How very Web 1.0.

* and I am not only saying that because I own lots of their stock on Alexadex, or because they have a really cool logo

Update: OfficePirates.com was shut down on September 1 after failing to find an audience. Personally, I only noticed six months later because I had a broken link.