Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

Interstellar Cybersquatting (Humor)

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

The inhabitants of one or more of the planets orbiting Trappist-1:

  1. Are unaware the name of their system is Trappist-1
  2. Are unaware their domain,, has been registered by an interstellar cybersquatter.

Some days it doesn’t pay to read interstellar news!


At 25% of the speed of light, that’s approximately 156 years one way or 312 round trip, allowing three years for pleadings to be drafted, so 315 years before litigation over the cybersquatting to begin.

Is anyone looking for particles entangled with particles at Trappist-1?

Might not be able to visit but a conference call perhaps? 😉

The Best And Worst Data Stories Of 2016

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

The Best And Worst Data Stories Of 2016 by Walt Hickey.

From the post:

It’s time once again to dole out FiveThirtyEight’s Data Awards, our annual (OK, we’ve done it once before) chance to honor those who did remarkably good stuff with data, to shame those who did remarkably bad stuff with data, and to acknowledge the key numbers that help describe what went down over the past year. As always, these are based on the considered analysis of an esteemed panel of judges, by which I mean that I pestered people around the FiveThirtyEight offices until they gave me some suggestions.

I had to list this under both data science and humor. 😉

What “…bad stuff with data…” stories do you know and how will you avoid being listed in 2017? (Assuming there is another listing.)

I suspect we learn more from data fail stories than ones that report success.



The best of Lower Case 2016 (CJR)

Saturday, December 31st, 2016

The best of Lower Case 2016

From the post:

IF WE HAD TO PICK ONE CJR tradition in particular that has survived and thrived in the digital age, it’s The Lower Case, our weekly look at unfortunate, cringe-worthy, or ironic headlines.

It turns out headlines can be just as awkward and occasionally inappropriate on digital stories and social-media posts, even though these days we have to catch them before a sneaky editor covers up the evidence (alas, there’s no more paper trail). Luckily, our readers continue to help us out, delivering screenshots of Lower Case offenders to our inbox at

The editors who wrote these headlines probably would prefer a do-over, but they should take heart: All of us can all learn from headlines gone wrong, and hopefully enjoy a chuckle in the process. Here are some highlights from 2016, including classics from the archives:
…(emphasis in original)

A column you defend to friends by saying: “I read other parts of the CJR too!”



The Course of Science

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

No doubt you will recognize “other” scientists in this description:


Select the image to get a larger and legible view.

I should point out that “facts” and “truth” have been debated recently in the news media without a Jesuit in sight. So, science isn’t the only area with “iffy” processes and results.

Posted by AlessondraSpringmann on Twitter.

Geek Jeopardy – Display Random Man Page

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

While writing up Julia Evans’ Things to learn about Linux, I thought it would be cool to display random man pages.

Which resulted in this one-liner in an executable file (man-random, invoke ./man-random):

man $(ls /usr/share/man/man* | shuf -n1 | cut -d. -f1)

As written, it displays a random page from the directories man1 – man8.

If you replace /man* with /man1/, you will only get results for man1 (the usual default).

All of which made me think of Geek Jeopardy!

Can you name this commands from their first paragraph descriptions? (omit their names)

  • remove sections from each line of files
  • pattern scanning and processing language
  • stream editor for filtering and transforming text
  • generate random permutations
  • filter reverse line feeds from input
  • dump files in octal and other formats

Looks easy now, but after a few glasses of holiday cheer? With spectators? Ready to try another man page section?



  • cut: remove sections from each line of files
  • awk: pattern scanning and processing language
  • sed: stream editor for filtering and transforming text
  • shuf: generate random permutations
  • col: filter reverse line feeds from input
  • od: dump files in octal and other formats

PS: I changed the wildcard in the fourth suggested solution from “?” to “*” to arrive at my solution. (Ubuntu 14.04)

Phishing John Podesta

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

Reconstructions of the phishing email and Google login were posted to Twitter. I make no warranty as to their accuracy and/or resemblance to what may or may not have been seen by John Podesta.



(selecting the images will display a larger version)

Recognition Warning: A phishing email sent to you will have your name, not John Podesta, in the email. The alleged Google login page will have your image and your name.

If you get the fake Google password page for John Podesta, that is a poor phishing attempt.

If you would fall for this phishing attempt addressed to you (or John Podesta):

Turn off your computer. Unplug your computer (to avoid accidentally starting it).

Inform your employer you require a position that does not involve computers.

Thanks for making the internet safer for your employer and everyone else!

George Carlin’s Seven Dirty Words in Podesta Emails – Discovered 981 Unindexed Documents

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

While taking a break from serious crunching of the Podesta emails I discovered 981 unindexed documents at Wikileaks!

Try searching for Carlin’s seven dirty words at The Podesta Emails:

  • shit – 44
  • piss – 19
  • fuck – 13
  • cunt – 0
  • cocksucker – 0
  • motherfucker – 0 (?)
  • tits – 0

I have a ? after “motherfucker” because working with the raw files I show one (1) hit for “motherfucker” and one (1) hit for “motherfucking.” Separate emails.

For “motherfucker,” American Sniper–the movie, responded to by Chris Hedges – To: Podesta@Law.Georgetown.Edu

For “motherfucking,” H4A News Clips 5.31.15 – From/To:

“Motherfucker” and “motherfucking” occur in text attachments to emails, which Wikileaks does not search.

If you do a blank search for file attachments, Wikileaks reports there are 2427 file attachments.

Searching the Podesta emails at Wikileaks excludes the contents of 2427 files from your search results.

How significant is that?

Hmmm, 302 pdf, 501 docx, 167 doc, 12 xls, 9 xlsx – 981 documents excluded from your searches at Wikileaks.

For 9,011 emails, as of AM today, my local.

How comfortable are you with not searching those 981 documents? (Or additional documents that may follow?)

Self-Destruct Smart Phone Feature

Saturday, September 10th, 2016

The Samsung Galaxy 7 Note offer a self-destruct feature may defeat even quantum computers. It melts itself.

Like most new features, it’s erratic and difficult to invoke reliably. The 35 known cases don’t establish a pattern of how to make the Galaxy 7 Note explode on-demand, an essential characteristic for a self-destruct feature.

Having discovered this feature accidentally, one expects Samsung to offer the self-destruct feature on a standard Galaxy 8. Pricing has yet to be determined.


From the post:


PS: The self-destruct UI should be two-buttons. Say on/off plus phone. Something easy to remember and perform as you are being seized.

Frinkaic (Simpsons)

Saturday, August 20th, 2016


From the webpage:

Frinkiac has nearly 3 million Simpsons screencaps so get to searching for crying out glayvin!

With a link to Morbotron as well.

Once you recover, consider reading: Introducing Frinkiac, The Simpsons Search Engine Built by Rackers by Abe Selig.

Where you aren’t trying to boil the ocean with search, the results can be pretty damned amazing.

Nomination For #1 Impediment To IT Reform

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

I saw this on Twitter and nominate it as the #1 impediment to IT reform. In government or private industry (in case you think there is a difference).


Your nominations?

iTunes Prohibits Development of WMDs

Monday, August 1st, 2016


I feel certain that if I were planning on developing a weapon of mass destruction, a device that could only be used to cause widespread death and suffering, fear of violating the iTunes EULA would end my efforts in that direction.

Would be WMD developing tyrants should take fair warning to stay off of iTunes. Apple lawyers will gobble you up!

The Apple EULA.

Threats Against Democracy – Try Threats Against “Innocent” Users

Monday, August 1st, 2016

After posting about truth telling being a threat to democracy, in the eyes of some, I encountered: Facebook Phishing Scam Using Pornographic Images to Steal Login Data, which reads in part:

There is no way to stop cyber criminals from stealing login credentials of innocent social media users — Recently, one of the HackRead’s writers found a Facebook phishing scam targeting users and stealing their login data. What makes this phishing scam dangerous is the fact that apparently non of the phishing filters have detected any wrongdoing with the links used in this campaign.

Cyber criminals behind this scam have three motives one is to steal users’ login credentials, the second is to get some likes on their Facebook page and third is to profit financially. It starts with scammers posting a link in the comments section of several Facebook groups with a large thumbnail of a nude girl but to make it look like a legit link scammers also mention that video already got hundreds of comments, shares plus thousands of views. The description on the link goes something like this ”groups teen-girl-japannese-18-[retracted]–010 Click HERE to view video recorded 2.381 Likes, 749 Comments, 9.185 Views, 571 Share.”

Now there’s a serious security issue!

Taking advantage of users who are surfing Facebook for porn.

Talk about fishing (sorry) in the shallow end of the security pool.

Hard to say what other access could be leveraged using Facebook logins of such users.

Nuclear launch computers, remote admin at NSA, White House switchboard, free pizza line at Papa Johns. I take that back, Papa Johns probably has better OpSec than the others I mentioned. (That’s sarcasm for all the literalists in the crowd.)

Phishing With Pornography would make a great book title but I don’t know what sort of animal(s) should go on the cover. (Something from National Lampoon perhaps?)


PS: If you think this indicates I have little sympathy for victims of pornography-based phishing schemes, take a point for your house.

How-To Get Published In Scientific American

Friday, July 29th, 2016

Summarize the obvious:


“There are hackers, hackers I say that are breaking into computer systems!”

If the near omnipresence of hackers in all information systems surprises you, may I suggest that you join a survivalist community at your earliest opportunity?

The rest of the post summarizes the conclusion-rich but fact-poor popular opinions of US security contractors whose Magic-8 ball pointed towards Russia for this latest hacking incident.

Skip this article if you are looking for “scientific” content in Scientific American.

Ferengi Rules of Acquisition

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

Ferengi Rules of Acquisition

From the webpage:

The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition are a collection of two hundred and eighty-five sayings that form the basis of Ferengi philosophy.

The jury verdict against Oracle and in favor of HP for $3 billion reminded me of rule #8:

“Small print leads to large risk.”

You would think Ellison could recite them from memory by now. 😉

Scientists reportedly close to finding a use for LinkedIn

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Scientists reportedly close to finding a use for LinkedIn

Following a four-year multinational, interdisciplinary, cross-disciplinary study involving social scientists, computer scientists, algorithm developers, statisticians, mathematicians, programmers, engineers and clairvoyants, reports are circulating that there may be a breakthrough in the search for a use for the LinkedIn social network website.

“We don’t want to get people’s hopes up too much”, said Prof. Don Key of Stanford West University, “but we feel we are nearly there”.

“We have partnered with IBM and have used several hundred racks of their BlueGene/Q platform for the past four years and the results will almost certainly be out by next Friday”, said Prof. Key.


One serious use of LinkedIn is to collect images for your facial recognition cameras.

LinkedIn is one of the many “leaky” public sources of data. Even without breaching its security.

You can find stories similar to this one at: The allium.

PS: I just saw this news scrolling across the screen: “Study confirms the wicked get 63% less rest.”

May’s fake news quiz (FirstDraft News)

Friday, June 10th, 2016

May’s fake news quiz

Best played on smart phones, in a group, at a bar.

Hilarity will ensue!


Hacker puppets explain why malware and popups are still a thing online

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

>Hacker puppets explain why malware and popups are still a thing online by Cory Doctorow.

This may not improve security at your office but at least it is an entertaining lesson on cybersecurity.

The intern memorizing the name of their anti-virus software is insufficient.

For virus notifications of any kind:

  1. Close browser
  2. Run your anti-virus software

Do not depend on names in notifications.

People who will lie about “anti-virus” warnings will also lie about software names.

For all virus warnings, run your anti-virus software. If true, your software will find them again.

iPad Security – Just Brick It! Just Brick It!

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016


Apple has released a new method for securing your iPad, brick it!

Darren Pauli reports in Apple’s iOS updates brick iPads the brick your iPad upgrade process is 100% effective at securing iPads, at least until restored by users and/or Apple support is contacted.

Office of Personnel Management managers have expressed interest in iPad bricking in light of its most recent IT security fiasco. The cost of upgrading to iPads, suitable for bricking, is unknown.

A Linguistic Divide: Cow Tipping vs. Fly-tipping

Monday, May 16th, 2016

When I read Private landowners face increasing costs and fines as fly-tipping reaches one million cases a year, I immediately thought of the urban legend of cow tipping.

Stories about cow tipping usually involve intoxicated people who attempt to push over, “tip,” a sleeping cow onto its side.

Before you verify for yourself that such deeds are urban legends, be aware that cows are quite large, often accompanied by bulls and always owned by people who take exception to drunks molesting their cattle at night. You have been warned.

When the story mentioned England and Wales, the idea of “fly-tipping” made a little more sense but not the increased costs and fines.

Who cares if drunk English/Welshmen want to tip over flies or not?

It does sound very British doesn’t it?

In any event, reading further revealed the unfortunate usage of “fly-tipping,” to mean “illegal dumping.”

Why the British have departed from the mainstream usage of “illegal dumping” to use “fly-tipping” isn’t clear.

But, if you are making a list of ill-advised synonyms, be sure to add “fly-tipping” to your list.

Moderate Rebels ™

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

By the U.S. Dept. of Fear.


FYI, why sailing from Australia to join ISIS is a bad idea:


I keep expecting either governments or terrorists to up their game but so far, no joy.

Is that intentional?

With an unknown number of terrorists about, governments can justify their terrorism budgets. Ineffectual and counter-productive government strategies to fight terrorism, writes terrorist recruitment literature for them.

Could it be that governments need terrorists and terrorists need governments?

Saving Time With Automation (Regex for USTR?)

Friday, April 29th, 2016

Some humor to get started on a beautiful Friday (near Atlanta, GA.). Your local conditions may vary!


Speaking of automation, does anyone have a regex for United States Trade Representative, USTR, or named staff of the USTR?

It could be used in filters that pipe USTR comments, emails, webpages, reports, etc., to /dev/null.

Pointers anyone?

Seriously, Who’s Gonna Find It?

Monday, April 25th, 2016


Graphic whimsy via Bruce Sterling,

Are your information requirements met by finding something or by finding the right thing?

Clojure Code Sample Appears to VBA team

Thursday, April 14th, 2016


The caption as reported at: Classic Programmer Paintings reads:

“Consultant shows Clojure code sample to VBA team”, Rembrandt, Oil on canvas, 1635

Whether shown by a consultant or being written on the wall by a disembodied hand, I suspect the impact would be the same. 😉

There is a Bosch triplet at Classic Programmer Paintings.

I was about to lament the lack of high-resolution Bosch images but then discovered Extraordinary Interactive Hi-Res Exhibit of Bosch’s ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’ by Christopher Jobson.

As Jobson comments:

This is the internet we were promised.


If At First You Don’t Deceive, Try, Try…

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

Kremlin Falls for Its Own Fake Satellite Imagery by Ian Robertson.

From the post:

The Turkish downing of the Russian SU-24 jet last November saw a predictable series of statements from each side claiming complete innocence and blaming the other entirely. Social media was a key battleground for both sides—the Turkish and Russian governments, along with their supporters—as each tried to establish a dominant narrative explanation for what had just happened.

In the midst of the online competition, a little-observed, funhouse mirror of an online hoax was brilliantly perpetrated, one with consequences likely exceeding the expectation of the hoaxster. The Russian Ministry of Defense was duped by a fake image that Russian state media itself had circulated more than a year earlier, as a way to deny Moscow’s involvement in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

A great read about a failed attempt at deception that when used by others, deceives the original source.

Another illustration why it is important to verify images. 😉

Dormant Cyber Pathogen – Warning Labels

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

A well-known search engine this morning failed to find warning labels for “dormant cyber pathogen.”

To help you with labeling your phone, I am re-posting these images from Twitter:

Posted by Rob Graham.


Posted by davi.


An insane member of you-have-no-rights community claims that the San Bernardino cellphone may contain “dormant cyber pathogen(s)” and so Apple must prove it does not in order to defeat the order to hack the phone.

Demanding proof of a negative is absurd enough, but adding an object that exists only in the mind of a madman captures the essence of the state’s position in this case.

Your rights, all of them, are subordinate to the whims, caprices and possibly diseased imaginations of local law enforcement officials.

Looking forward to these images or variants as stickers for cellphones in conference swag.

Stupid Patent of the Month: Phoenix Licensing Trolls Marketers

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Stupid Patent of the Month: Phoenix Licensing Trolls Marketers by Daniel Nazer.

From the post:

This month, we feature another yet another patent that takes an ordinary business practice and does it on a computer. Our winner is US Patent No. 8,738,435, titled “Method and apparatus for presenting personalized content relating to offered products and services.” As you might guess from its title, the patent claims the idea of sending a personalized marketing message using a computer.

Claim 1 of the patent is representative (the claims are supposed to describe the boundaries of the invention). It claims a “method of generating a set of personalized communications … with a computer system.” The steps are described at an extremely high level of abstraction, including things such as “accessing a computer-accessible storage medium” using “identifying content to distinguish each person from other persons.” The patent plainly proposes using ordinary computers to achieve this task. In fact, the “preferred embodiment of the apparatus” is illustrated in Figure 1 and includes fascinating, non-obvious details like a “display,” a “keyboard,” and a “mouse or pointing device.”

The Stupid Patent series was introduced in Introducing EFF’s Stupid Patent of the Month (July 31, 2014).

Help the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EEF) by licensing these posts for leather binding along with the referenced patents for presentation to the patent counsel of your choice.

Imagine all the happy hours of reading your recipient will enjoy with such a volume!

A Chart of Hope

Thursday, February 25th, 2016


Between the looming enslavement of programmers by the FBI, U.S. presidential candidates competing for how much they hate foreigners/segments of the U.S. population, not to mention poor media reporting on the same, it’s hard to find good news to report.

But, today, thanks to a Facebook post by Simon St. Laurent (of O’Reilly fame), I can point you to:

Chart of the Century: Chocolate Consumption Makes You Smarter by Kevin Drum, which is based on: Chocolate intake is associated with better cognitive function: The Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study by Georgina E. Crichton, Merrill F. Elias, and Ala’a Alkerwi.

Pack chocolate at all times.

NSFW: Million to One Shot, Doc

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

Million to One Shot, Doc – All the things that get stuck. by Nathan Yau.

Nathan downloaded emergency room data from 2009 to 2014 and filtered the data to reveal:

…an estimated 17,968 emergency room visits for foreign bodies stuck in a rectum. About three-quarters of patients were male, and as you might expect, many of the foreign bodies were sex toys. But, perhaps unexpectedly, about 60 percent of those foreign bodies were not sex toys.

Nathan has created a click-through visualization of objects and ER doctor comments.

I offer this as a counter-example to the claim that all business data has value. 😉

You probably should forward the link to your home computer.


PS: Is anyone working on a cross-cultural comparison on such data?

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Game – 30th Anniversary Edition

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Game – 30th Anniversary Edition

From the webpage:

A word of warning

The game will kill you frequently. It’s a bit mean like that.

If in doubt, before you make a move, please save your game by typing “Save” then enter. You can then restore your game by typing “Restore” then enter. This should make it slightly less annoying getting killed all the time as you can go back to where you were before it happened.

You’ll need to be signed in for this to work. You can sign in or register by clicking the BBCiD icon next to the BBC logo in the top navigation bar. Signing in will also allow you to tweet about your achievements, and to add a display name so you can get onto the high score tables.

Take fair warning, you can lose hours if not days playing this game.

The graphics may help orient yourself in the various locations. That was missing in the original game.

If you maintain focus on the screen, you can use your keyboard for data entry.

Graphics are way better now but how do you compare the game play to current games?


More details:

About the game

Game Technical FAQ

How to play

Alert the ASPCA: Roo Bombs

Friday, January 29th, 2016

I was surprised to see major news outlets with variations on this headline: Teen Accused of ISIS Plot to Bomb Cops Using Kangaroo: Reports.

In On the Beach, Aussies didn’t seem this imaginative.

Spoiler space:

“We may die so let’s kill ourselves.”

A big jump in imagination skills from suicide when fearing death to using or fearing a kangaroo as a means of terrorist activity.

Either the Aussies were inaccurately portrayed in On the Beach or their development of imagination skills has been off the charts in the past sixty or so years.

From the post:

“The conversation continues with Besim detailing what he did that day and they have a general discussion around animals and wildlife in Australia including a suggestion that a kangaroo could be packed with C4 explosive, painted with the [ISIS] symbol and set loose on police officers,” the prosecution summary said, according to the ABC.

I can’t read that summary without either laughing out loud or at least smiling.

Even a clueless Westerner such as myself can imagine the difficulty of painting anything on tame animal, much less a kangaroo. Roos, so far as I know, don’t have political affiliations and would object to being painted on general principles.

Moreover, how do you “set [a kangaroo] loose on police officers”?

Training one would be a real challenge for an ADD afflicted generation. Tossing a rock is the typical level of planning and execution one can expect.

Perhaps stabbing/shooting but then you have to remember to bring a weapon. Happens but not common.

It isn’t hard to imagine some stoner saying they want to develop an attack Roo and then laughing their asses off but for the authorities to take it seriously demonstrates a decided lack of humor.

What if Besim had proposed teaching thousands of budgies common children’s names, coating them with LSD to be released as part Anzac Day celebrations? Free budgies and a little something extra for the holiday.

Oops! Are the Australian police going to come knocking on my door?

The only effective weapon against government bed-wetters selling fear of terrorism is mockery.

Conjure up competing absurdities for every reported terrorist arrest + absurdity!

Sure, there will be office disputes at holiday parties but that’s hardly terrorism, unless you want to mis-label it so. We have funeral shootings in Atlanta. Hardly terrorism.

Not to mention a recent snow event killed more US citizens than ISIS has. That wasn’t labeled terrorism. Although, I suppose the Islamic State could claim, along with Pat Robertson, control of the weather and take credit for it.

BTW, if anyone gives you a free budgie, be sure to wash it and your hands carefully. 😉

PS: So you will know a potential Roo bomb when you see one (minus the ISIS symbol):