Archive for the ‘comedy’ Category

Bill Maher

August 20th, 2007

bill_maher.jpgBill Maher is an atypical comic in that he's a public person as well. He isn't trying to play the part of a comic, and nothing more, or to play several discrete roles, and that's it. He's rather open to be engaged on anything. On his show he invites people whom apparently he respects a lot, but sometimes it really gets into a heated argument, they don't shy away from it. There is a lot of authenticity about him, less theater. And rather than a performer, he's more just about talking his mind.

So by that he is a rather well rounded character, which I think helps him as a stand-up. And above all, he's very good at telling a story. And that's what he does on stage too, he tells stories in a very relaxed and natural way, it really doesn't seem scripted. They are funny, but they aren't really sound bites either, they aren't manufactured to be funny word-for-word, it's the content that counts. And that's a different way of telling a joke than comics usually do, because they put every effort into wording it best. And they do that because they don't have the wealth of material that Maher does, or at least it appears so. He can easily go off on a little tangent, be funny, then return to where he was and continue with ease. He has that kind of coherence and clarity that not many people have.

But the funniest thing about him is that he's not really trying to be funny on purpose. The stories he tells are funny, but they aren't really jokes, they are just stories, presumably true most of them too. He's not really playing for laughs, it seems, because what he has to say is funny enough. And that's pretty confusing, cause you can't quite figure out how it works.

whyfirefoxisblocked: adorable muppets

August 17th, 2007

If you're looking for a good laugh, look no further. :D

So what's funny about it?

Many site owners therefore install scripts that prevent people using ad blocking software from accessing their site.

Many? :howler: I've never seen this page before. If "many" were doing this, then surely at some point I would have noticed it.

Secondly, he kills his own argument already in the second paragraph.

Blocking FireFox is the only alternative. Demographics have shown that not only are FireFox users a somewhat small percentage of the internet, they actually are even smaller in terms of online spending, therefore blocking FireFox seems to have only minimal financial drawbacks, whereas ending resource theft has tremendous financial rewards for honest, hard-working website owners and developers..

So if you block all Firefox users from accessing a website, that only has minimal financial drawbacks. That would necessarily imply that Firefox users running Adblock would also be a minimal financial drawback, since the browser is a somewhat small percentage of the market. So it's not even a problem, is it? :D

But the central argument here is a morality tale. Appealing to our sense of decency and all that, by telling us that we're crooks. :cap: That's right, we're stealing from honest, hard-working website owners and developers. I love those implications btw, apparently every non-developer is lazy and dishonest. :D

But then he says..

Netscape users can simply set their browser to IE mode to continue to enjoy the site that sent you here. FireFox users can use Internet Explorer, Opera or Netscape (in IE mode) to access it. FireFox users also have the option of using the IE Tab plug-in which uses the IE rendering engine to display pages, but also disables the Ad Block Plus plug-in.

Careful, of course, to not mention that any Firefox extension that allows you to switch your User Agent string will also allow you to enjoy the site just like Netscape (in IE mode). :D (In fact, quite a few Firefox users run in IE mode by default, purely because some idiotic sites block non-IE browsers.)

The guy would also be a bit more convincing about his denouncements of The Firefox Cult and Firefox Fanboys if his website (btw I can load it just fine in Firefox :P ) didn't look like some sort of shrine to a certain monopolistic company we know. He even copied the layout and the font (isn't that stealing btw?) :D He also has a page comparing browsers, where shockingly IE is the editor's pick. :D

I agree zealots are annoying and cults are dangerous, but Firefox is hardly the most dangerous cult out there. It's mostly about freedom from a certain company and control of your own computer. That's hardly the most evil plot ever.

Stealing what exactly?

I love this stealing argument. It's the same argument the RIAA uses to complain about their record sales. "If people would buy more records, we would have more money, and so since they aren't, that means they steal from us." Isn't it wonderful to claim profits based on projected income? Or better yet, *desired* income.

The fact is that Firefox is a community driven project, and the features it has, much more so the extensions it has, is a reflection of what people actually want. As opposed to a company telling them what they can have. The tv parallel is actually a very good one. If people had the option not to watch commercials, many of the garbage tv stations would be wiped out. Their whole existence is an excuse to mediocrity, because noone would actually pay for that content if they had to.

This may be a controversial view in the world of people who think they should be controlled by companies, but giving people the right to choose what they want to see is actually sort of the way it's supposed to be in a free society. Then they can decide for themselves if your content is something that a) they will only take for free or b) are actually willing to pay for.

Another thing is that Ad Block wouldn't be so popular if web companies didn't allow their websites to become the ad infested crap (even if the content is decent) that they are. A lot of sites are unbearable without (also often with) Ad Block and it's the one extension I definitely would hate to lose the most.

But but but what about these thousands of honest, hard-working website owners and developers? Well, do you weep over SCO going bust? (Should be any day now.) Lots of companies, no scratch that, most companies are started on a business model that isn't sustainable. So then the plan is that companies that control our technology will enforce ads so that we can keep these other bad companies afloat.

While we're on the subject.. If you've been here before you may have noticed that I slapped on Google Adsense recently just to see if it would make any sort of difference. I wonder if that's some sort of double standard, but on the other hand for those who are willing to look at ads, I'm letting them. :D I never see it myself cause I use Ad Block, and I'm guessing almost all my visitors are too. :D

keeping you up-to-date with the latest

October 17th, 2006

Then you get on the plane. Pilot's always gotta come on the PA system. Give you his whole thing of what he's gonna do. "And here's how I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna take it up to twenny thousand. Then I'm gonna make a left by Chicago. Then I'm gonna go south by ..." We're all back there going... "yeah, fine". "You know, just do whatever you gotta do, I don't know what the hell is going on here. Just end up where it says on the ticket, okay? Can you do that?" Do I bother him telling him what I'm doing, knocking on the cockpit door "I'm having the peanuts now".

The legendary air travel routine by Jerry Seinfeld. Why do I bring it up? Consider this.

I got We got a letter from the post office today. It was addressed to "Inhabitants of this address". What about? Glad you asked.

TGP Post from today on is called TNT Post.

Then they go on to explain how they are changing their company logo from using red and white to using orange and white. Yes, it really makes you sit up and take notice, doesn't it? They also assure us that we will continue receiving mail as heretofore - their service is not changing.

For those of us still a little frazzled by this unexpected development, they bundle a little brochure with a nice new orange letterhead and lots of pictures of mailmen and mail trucks in the sparkling, new orange color. Not only that, a prepaid envelope, as they say "This one time you mail for free". I suppose if one were to hoard these letters, a greater amount of these free envelopes may actually be worth something in postage savings. Then again, I mail about 2 letters a year.

But it's good to be up-to-date. In other news, the sun will set tonight as scheduled.

coding tips to memorize

September 1st, 2006

I stumbled upon the magnificent How To Write Unmaintainable Code by Roedy Green the other day and it really is something else. There are lots of humorous essays on bad coding, but this level of detail is so far unmatched in anything I've seen before. The whole this is pretty long, but here are some gems for you to savor...

Using names from other languages...

Use foreign language dictionaries as a source for variable names. For example, use the German punkt for point. Maintenance coders, without your firm grasp of German, will enjoy the multicultural experience of deciphering the meaning.

Using names from mathematics...

Choose variable names that masquerade as mathematical operators, e.g.:
openParen = (slash + asterix) / equals;

Using downright creative names...

Choose variable names with irrelevant emotional connotation. e.g.:
marypoppins = (superman + starship) / god;
This confuses the reader because they have difficulty disassociating the emotional connotations of the words from the logic they're trying to think about.

Using misleading names...

Make sure that every method does a little bit more (or less) than its name suggests. As a simple example, a method named isValid(x)
should as a side effect convert x to binary and store the result in a database.

Well, you get the idea... one last zinger for the road...

When implementing a very complicated algorithm, use the classic software engineering principles of doing a sound design before beginning coding. Write an extremely detailed design document that describes each step in a very complicated algorithm. The more detailed this document is, the better.

In fact, the design doc should break the algorithm down into a hierarchy of structured steps, described in a hierarchy of auto-numbered individual paragraphs in the document. Use headings at least 5 deep. Make sure that when you are done, you have broken the structure down so completely that there are over 500 such auto-numbered paragraphs. For example, one paragraph might be(this is a real example) - Display all impacts for activity where selected mitigations can apply (short pseudocode omitted).

then... (and this is the kicker) when you write the code, for each of these paragraphs you write a corresponding global function named:


Do not document these functions. After all, that's what the design document is for!

This entry basically adds nothing, but with the examples you've seen here you should now be eager to read the full story, it's worth it! :cool:

a confession

August 5th, 2006

I have a confession to make. I did something unspeakable today. No, I didn't eat meat, I'm afraid it's much worse than that. I killed a plant. Actually I didn't kill it, that would at least be the humane plantane thing to do under the Geneva Convention. Instead, I... tortured it. Not because I needed information, just to... make it look better. You see, there is this rosebush in the garden that has branched out far beyond its designated area, it's been attempting to annex part of the terrace. So in a mad rage, I grabbed the first weapon I could find, a pair of garden clippers, and went to work on it in a way that would make a serial killer proud. Once I was done, the magnitude of it all overwhelmed me. I broke down on the terrace and wept like a child at all the plant cells that had lost their lives.

I'm expecting SWAT at any moment and I'm sure PETA will hold a nude protest outside my house as well. Meanwhile I'll be in my room playing Counter Strike while I think about what I did.