Fun stuff

Jokes, humor, entertainment, and other fun stuff.

March 28, 2010

Pranks of the past

As April Fool’s Day approaches, it may be amusing to review pranks of the past.

May 12, 2009

Star Trek companions

Hat tip to Linda Barlow for a long list of allusions and references in the recent Star Trek movie, including the comment thread.

Meanwhile, this is as good a time as any to offer lyrics and music/video for the classic Leslie Fish filk song “Banned from Argo.”

Our proper, cool first officer was drugged with something green
And hauled into an alley, where he suffered things obscene
He sobered up in sickbay and he’s none the worse for wear
Except he’s somehow taught the bridge computer how to swear

Actually, this version has better sound and image quality, but the video part doesn’t speak to me.


August 18, 2008

High-energy physics considered by means of a rap video

CERN brought us the World Wide Web, which no matter what else it ever does leaves it on the plus side of the ledger. (Unless, of course, it creates black holes that destroy the planet, but that seems thankfully unlikely.) The Web led to blogs and YouTube. And now things have come full circle, as Jason Perlow has blogged a YouTube video that explains CERN’s main new venture — the much discussed Large Hadron Collider — in the form of a rap video.

It’s pretty funny and actually somewhat informative. Check it out.

Meanwhile, another video has time-lapse photography showing the building of the Large Hadron Collider. I actually only watched from about the 7:30 to 8:00 marks, but that part was pretty cool.

July 28, 2008

We’re staying out on vacation another week

Contrary to what I previously said, I did not come back to Acton this weekend.  Instead, Linda and I are staying on Grand Cayman for another week, and hoping nobody else I follow gets acquired.  Here’s a taste of why.

July 11, 2008

Babycare dos and don’ts

There’s no tech angle here.  Just a funny set of cartoons.

Happy summer Friday.  I leave on vacation tomorrow.

April 1, 2008

My favorite April Fool’s web page so far this year

Fun and quick, if you know anything about MMO or even other computer RPGs.

My favorite part is the “Epic Quest Arc“, or maybe:

Much Much More!

Six New Skills!
• Oppressive Yolk
• Hot Wings
• Eggcellent Assault
• Scramble
• Poach
• Batter
New Features!
• New Instrument: Drumstick!
• New Trait: Nuggets of Wisdom
• New Fellowship Skill: A Pox Upon You
• New PvMP Rank: Colonel
• Universal Cook Recipe: “Tastes Like…”
• One-shot Cook Recipe: Yourself!

Note: Chickens are a recurring comedic theme in Magic:The Gathering, and this also isn’t the first time they’ve surfaced in LOTRO.

September 20, 2007

Software Auf Probe

We all know insulting wordplay such as “Windoze,” deserved or otherwise. (Personally, I prefer the more subtle “Intel giveth and Microsoft taketh away.”) I just learned one in German, however, that I’m guessing is less familiar to English-speaking readers. “Software auf Probe” translates, roughly, as “Software in test.” Any resemblances to long SAP adoption cycles are purely intentional. 🙂

June 9, 2007

Guild Wars game notes

I had the opportunity to interview Mike O’Brien and Pat Wyatt, founders and lead developers for ArenaNet, makers of Guild Wars. This led to two lengthy posts on the technology of Guild Wars (overview) and the database technology of Guild Wars. Those were really, as the titles suggest, tech-focused. This post, by way of contrast, is just to share interesting game-related tidbits with fellow Guild Wars players. I came away with three key notes:

  1. Don’t hold your breath for an auction house. (The reasons are spelled out near the end of the database post.)

  2. Cartographer titles really are calculated based on what fraction of the total possible pixels you’ve opened up, of course with a few grace percentage points so that you don’t need to really open EVERYTHING to get the 100% title. It’s that simple. (And it makes sense. They store the character’s map anyway; there’s little effort in also noting its size.)

  3. Persistence (non-instancing) isn’t as hard as they thought, and they didn’t think it would be all that hard anyway. So in Guild Wars 2 they will have “more sense of a world,” even as there are also plenty of instanced areas ala the current Guild Wars.

There also is tons of cool stuff in the tech posts, and I hope you have a chance to look at them!

June 9, 2007

The technology of Guild Wars (overview)

Being an analyst has its perks, the main one being that you get to have some really interesting conversations. And so I recently had the chance to interview Mike O’Brien and Pat Wyatt, two of the founders and lead programmers for ArenaNet, makers of the Guild Wars MMORPG (Massively MultiPlayer Online Role-Playing Game).

If you play games of this sort, it’s surely obvious to you why you should care. But if you don’t, maybe you should be interested anyway. After all, Guild Wars is a graphics-intensive SaaS offering that easily supports 100,000 simultaneous users, while managing a gig or so of fat client even over dial-up speeds. Every user is a potential hacker, whether for fun or actual real-world cash profit, although we didn’t actually talk about security very much. And ArenaNet provides all this on a relatively shoestring budget; in particular, Guild Wars subscription fees are precisely $0.

Read more

May 13, 2006

Burning issues in an analyst’s life

Below is an actual email I sent to my Computerworld editor, the incomparable Tommy Peterson.

So anyway, I visited Intersystems today, at the insistance of PR lady Rita Shoor, even though it seemed a phone call would have sufficed. Notwithstanding that this was a relatively longstanding meeting, Linda scheduled a dinner for us in Cambridge with my stepdaughter, which is basically good, because Intersystems is in Cambridge, but forgot about my meeting, and wound up scheduling the dinner for 9:30. Rescheduling ensued, but when I drove to Intersystems for a 2:30 meeting, it was still in flux. I was in an odd state anyway driving to the meeting, because I was already rather tired (my sleep schedule oddities), but psyched from having FINALLY posted the white paper online that represented my biggest writing project in almost a decade (because of the number of sponsors).

Despite several wrong turns at the tricky address of 1 Memorial Drive, I arrived in plenty of time, or even a bit early. I’d worn my hooded leather jacket due to the rain, but since I was in a parking garage, I decided to leave it in the car. “What can possibly go wrong that would make me need this jacket, I thought, except for a fire and building evacuation? And how likely is that??”

So I go upstairs to the meeting (after walking fruitlessly up many flights of stairs and then back down, in an error that seems common among newcomers to the building). But all is good, and there’s a very pleasant start to the meeting (as well there should be, given the GREAT column I wrote about them last year). Before long, however — you guessed it, there’s a fire alarm. After much noise and disruption, it turns out that it’s a REAL fire, and we evacuate, through the smell of smoke, that is stronger on the lower floors.

So I’m outside in a cold drizzle in my shirtsleeves. After a few minutes of stoic schmoozing, I’m reunited with the meeting folks, including Rita Shoor clomping over in 5 inch heels (her estimate) with somebody holding an umbrella over her. At my urgent suggestion, we decamp to continue the meeting in a restaurant, and they select the nearest one (with Rita commenting along the way about said heels). We’re evidently the first people to have this brilliant idea, and continue the meeting in quiet. But soon a flood of people has the same idea, and the place has techies hanging from the rafters, noisily. We continue the meeting over the din, but with some interruptions. We learn there had been a notice of substantial time before the fire department would let people back in (hence the exodus across the street). We further learn that the apparent cause of the evacuation is a fire in a red Toyota parked in the garage underneath the building, which concerns me, because I indeed arrived in a red Toyota. However, it is clarified that this car was on a different level of the garage than mine, and I relax, and we continue to discuss the glories of Ensemble.

A little while later a young man dashes in, wet from the rain, and inquires whether Curt Monash is present. I learn that one part of the prior information had been wrong; the fire had NOT been on a different level of the garage than the one I’d been parked on. In fact, it is my car that had burned up. More precisely, the engine compartment was burned, the sprinklers had suppressed it, the fire department had staved in the windows, everything was soaked, and the car was almost certainly totalled.

And that, Tommy, is why although you will get a column before I leave on my flight Monday, it may not be as long BEFORE Monday as you had requested, and as I had originally intended.

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