· The World
 · · Humor

Rolling-mill Oops · The world being what it is, feels like a little humor is in order. Here’s a story from my misspent youth, when I was a co-op student at a steel mill and had a Very Bad Day ...
LAMP, Rearranged · It started innocently enough; someone mailed the internal bloggers’ list saying “We’ve got this Beyond LAMP article on SDN, might be good blog fodder.” Which constituted an opportunity for geeks to have fun with acronyms ...
Family Moment · The back porch door was open and our adorable little almost-two-year-old, all golden curls and pink dimples, was wandering in and out. One time as she was coming in, I noticed Marlowe the cat was sort of hovering around her; then the air was full of female shrieks: “She’s got a dead rat!” And so she did, holding it up all eager to please, while Marlowe looked confused and irritated. A fair-sized one too, with a good five inches of dangling tail. A few seconds later, she was just as confused and irritated as Marlowe, for the same reason, and the corpse was headed for disposal ...
Tab Sweep — The World · Today we have music, China, head counts, terrorism, and telemarketers ...
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Starving in Vegas · Under what circumstances should you burn a System-Wide upgrade certificate to get breakfast? ...
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Shorter Potter · People who’ve read Harry Potter and the Battle of Hogwarts Deathly Hallows will probably enjoy Potterdammerung. Those who haven’t: stay away, spoilers from end to end. Not to mention coarse language, emo jokes, and a dim view of Harry’s intelligence.
One of Everything · On the Internet I mean. And actually that should be at least one. In connection with a project I’m working on, I was thinking about monkey noises and, what do you know, welcome to the world of Primate Vocalizations. My fave is Dian Fossey’s gorilla hooting and Colobus abyssinicus: Male roar.
Project Orange Box · The announcement compares it to our Project BlackBox: “Lower power, smaller form factor, less expensive, more thermally efficient, more environmentally friendly (fully biodegradable), organic, and simple architecture.” There’s a photo gallery; I particularly like the I/O Panel.
The First Joke · We were driving somewhere and, apropos of nothing, the seven-year-old in the back seat said “I know a joke. Want to hear it?” He’s never made this offer before and, not expecting much, we told him to go ahead. Here it is: Some muffins were cooking in the oven. One muffin said to the next: ”Wow, it’s hot in here.“ The second said ”Gack! A talking muffin!“ Well, OK then.
“You Looked Better on Myspace” · Spotted on a young woman’s T-shirt on a Big Island street.
Vibrator Repairs · Recently my Mom and I found ourselves driving around in an industrial subdivision of Burnaby when we ran across this, which I think is worth reproducing ...
UCI · What happened was, the new cat went in for that little operation to ensure that he will be the Last of the Marlowes, and the vet offered us the option of either the ear-tattoo or implanted-microchip for permanent identification, recommending the microchip as more reliable (tattoos fade). This Microchip is I gather some sort of RFID technology, and as of now, Marlowe has a permanent unique identifier. I feel a new URI scheme coming on: just call little Marlowe pet:cat:982009102637565. My head is buzzing: Resource Description of Felines... POAF... cat semantics! The future awaits. [Update: It’s not that easy; I should have known, as I’ve often quoted Phil Karlton’s wise saying “There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things”. Including pets. (Thanks to Joe Pallas for the link.)]
A Damn Fine Cup of Coffee · A latte actually, at Brazza, on Lonsdale Road, in North Vancouver. Pictured, with a funny coffee story ...
No Niagara! · Kraigus Shmeggus (hey, he made it up, not me), explains why sysadmins should stay away from Niagaras, and offers additional wisdom on the perfidiousness of professors.
Security Hell · Tap, tap, tap, pause... “hmph”. Tap, tap, tap, pause... "grmph". [Ten minutes pass.] Tap, tap, tap, pause... “Hellfire.” Tap, tap, tap, pause... “Crap.” [Ten more minutes.] Tap, tap, tap, pause... “<multiple expletives deleted>.” Tap, tap, tap, pause... loud splat sound as the yellow-stickies pad impacts the far office wall. The cats, sensing trouble, have left the room. Is this the sound of: Trying to book a flight to somewhere attractive using points? Multi-threaded software being debugged? An attempt to write WSDL by hand? Solving a really nasty Myst-series puzzle? None of the above. Those sounds would be me trying to pick a new Sun LDAP password that meets the incredibly-stiff requirements of our new (SarbOx-driven, they say) security policy. The dictionary they check includes variant spellings of the names of little towns in the Lebanese mountains! I asked Lauren: “How am I going to remember this?” She said: “Go pick up that that yellow-stickies pad you threw across the room, write it down on one, and put it somewhere safe. Bruce Schneier says that’s OK.” While I generally approve of forcing people to avoid easily-stolen passwords, I do worry a little that these hard-to-guess things can also be hard to type, and perhaps thus vulnerable to prying eyes. But anyhow, if you were thinking of writing a program to guess anyone’s password here at Sun, well forget about it. [Update: I got a bunch of suggestions on how to deal with this, some of them good.] ...
WS-Stardate 2005.10 · “How’s the WS-* field strength, Mr. Spock?”
“Steady at 783; sub-optimal, but manageable.”
“My intuition tells me something’s wrong.”
“All right, I’ll run a deep scan, but...”
“Captain! I’m getting a weird reading from three specs in the Security sector; it looks like...” [A weird shaft of brilliant purple light stabs through the bridge, frying the red-shirted ensign where he sits.]
“Mr. Spock! What was that?”
“Checking, Captain; those WS-warbirds are SecureConversation, Trust, and SecurityPolicy. They’ve been there for years, but somehow they’re different... aaaah. They’re deploying an OASIS-TC standardization field!”
“But that’s a friendly tactic, Spock.”
“No, Captain, they’re modulating the field with a locked-down charter device; the TC has to just approve them the way they are.”
“That’s fiendish!”
“And extremely illogical, Captain.”
[Suddenly the bridge rocks and the lights flicker.] “Engineering! Scotty! What’s happening?”
“Cap’n, I dinna understand it, they’re growing!”
“How can that be... Spock?”
“He’s right, Captain, they’re using the superseded-spec maneuver.”
“Scotty, do we have the bandwidth?”
“I dunno Cap’n, SecureConversation’s been superseded from 17 to 31 pages, and Trust from 41 to 68.”
“My God, they’re growing like cancer. Scotty, I need more bandwidth!”
“We’re doin’ our best, Cap’n... Aaaaaaaaagh!
“Report, Scotty!”
“Cap’n, cap’n, it’s SecurityPolicy, curse it... lurking at 13 pages since 2002 without a peep, but there’s a supersede; it’s up to 90. Cap’n... she canna take any more. She’s gonna blow!

Ultra and Wildlife · When I got back from Ontario, there was a message that my Ultra 20 had showed up at the Sun office; since I was too jetlagged and burned-out to think very much, I drove the half-hour to the burbs to pick it up. Back home, I was horsing the box—it ain’t light—up the back stairs, and sometime during the last week, a really major spider had built a really major web across them, which I knocked down with my face; the big fat hairy brown arachnid landed on my shoulder and seemed to think that this was a good place to sit and reel in the remnants; I swear I could feel him tugging at the shreds stuck to my nose. I, uh, have issues with spiders. I’m happy to report that both workstation and spider survived. Then I stepped on the dead rat my darling little cat had left on the back porch as a coming-home present. I’ll write some about this computer, but it’s all gotta be uphill from here.
Out of Memory · There’s this old saying “You shouldn’t kick a man when he’s down”, but I’ve always thought it unsound. Obviously, normally you oughtn’t kick a man, but let us consider a hypothetical situation in which kicking is called for. There’s no better time than when he’s already down: less work to achieve foot contact, easy access to whichever part needs kicking, and the man will have real difficulty in kicking you back. What has this to do with “out of memory”? Well, in this case I felt like kicking some software, and the same principle applies ...
The Middle East for Geeks · There aren’t that many people who know what what the Bourne Shell is, care about Middle Eastern politics, and have a sense of humor. But if you’re one of them, don’t miss this version of The War on Terror.
Suede Bray Luthor · OK, maybe I’m not 100% comfy with the subtext, but this thing is damn funny. Here are some of the names it generated for me: “Treacherous Bray Squeeze”, “Silver Tongue Tim Sweetness”, “Suede Bray Luthor”, “Silver Tongue T. Glide”, “Snake Eyes Bray Sneed”, “G. Digital Bray Quick”, “Papa Tim Smooth”. Via Doc Searls.
Sunfunny · When we launched this blogging thang, I hadn’t actually expected much entertainment value. But when you get a couple thousand smart people holding forth, I guess on average some of them will turn out to be funny. Recent examples would include anything Tim Caynes writes (and no, I have no idea what he’s talking about either) and Jeff Kesselman on Sex at IBM and Sun (nothing to do with sex, unfortunately). But you really gotta respect someone who can be funny about RMI exceptions (well, mostly the picture).
Text Encoding Progress · It’s good to see the IETF showing forward motion on the vital issues around how to store text efficiently; check out the brand-new RFC4042 on UTF-9 and UTF-18. Good stuff.
Ërüdïtïön · There’s exhaustive research and scholarly publishing, and then there’s pop culture, and sometimes they meet in ëcstätïc trïümph. Oh my goodness gracious, Jon Udell has built a wonderful monument of mëtä-schölärshïp on this base.
Mystery Object · Here is an uncaptioned illustration of a mystery object. Test your erudition ...
author · Dad
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