Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

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):


Successful Cyber War OPS As Of 2016.01.05 – (But Fear Based Marketing Works)

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

From the text just below the interactive map:

This map lists all unclassified Cyber Squirrel Operations that have been released to the public that we have been able to confirm. There are many more executed ops than displayed on this map however, those ops remain classified.

You can select by squirrel or other animal, year, even month and the map shows successful cyber operations.

Squirrels are in the lead with 623 successes, versus one success by the United States (Stuxnet).

Be careful who you show this map.

Any sane person will laugh and agree that squirrels are a larger danger to the U.S. power grid than any fantasized terrorist.

On the other hand, non-laughing people are making money from speaking engagements, consultations, government contracts, etc., all premised on fear of terrorists attacking the U.S. power grid.

People who laugh at the Cyber Squirrel 1 map, not so much.

They say it is the lizard part of your brain that controls “…fight, flight, feeding, fear, freezing-up, and fornication.

That accords with my view that if we aren’t talking about fear, greed or sex, then we aren’t talking about marketing.

Are you willing to promote world views and uses of technology (think big data) that you know are in fact false or useless? At least in the current fear of terrorists mode, its nearly a guarantee to a payday.

Or are you looking for work from employers who realizes if you are willing to lie in order to gain a contract or consulting gig, you are very willing to lie to them as well?

Your call.

PS: You can get CyberSquirrel1 Unit Patches, 5 for $5.00, but if you put them on your laptop, you may have to leave it at home, depending upon the client.

Playboy Exposed [Complete Archive]

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

Playboy Exposed by Univision’s Data Visualization Unit.

From the post:

The first time Pamela Anderson got naked for a Playboy cover, with a straw hat covering her inner thighs, she was barely 22 years old. It was 1989 and the magazine was starting to favor displaying young blondes on its covers.

On Friday, December 11, 2015, a quarter century later, the popular American model, now 48, graced the historical last nude edition of the magazine, which lost the battle for undress and decided to cover up its women in order to survive.

Univision Noticias analyzed all the covers published in the US, starting with Playboy’s first issue in December 1953, to study the cover models’ physical attributes: hair and skin color, height, age and body measurements. With these statistics, a model of the prototype woman for each decade emerged. It can be viewed in this interactive special.

I’ve heard people say they bought Playboy magazine for the short stories but this is my first time to hear of someone just looking at the covers. 😉

The possibilities for analysis of Playboy and its contents are nearly endless.

Consider the history of “party jokes” or “Playboy Advisor,” not to mention the cartoons in every issue.

I did check the Playboy Store but wasn’t about to find a DVD set with all the issues.

You can subscribe to Playboy Archive for $8.00 a month and access every issue from the first issue to the current one.

I don’t have a subscription so I not sure how you would do the OCR to capture the jokes.

Going Viral in 2016

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

How To Go Viral: Lessons From The Most Shared Content of 2015 by Steve Rayson.

I offer this as at least as amusing as it may be useful.

The topic element of a viral post is said to include:

Trending topic (e.g. Zombies), Health & fitness, Cats & Dogs, Babies, Long Life, Love

Hard to get any of those in with technical blog but I could try:

TM’s produce healthy and fit ED-free 90 year-old bi-sexuals with dogs & cats as pets who love all non-Zombies.

That’s 115 characters if you are counting.

Produce random variations on that until I find one that goes viral. 😉

But, I have never cared for click-bait or false advertising. Personally I find it insulting when marketers falsify research.

I may have to document some of those cases in 2016. There is no shortage of it.

None of my tweets may go viral in 2016 but Steve’s post will make it more likely they will be re-tweeted.

Feel free to re-use my suggested tweet as I am fairly certain that “…healthy and fit ED-free 90 year-old bi-sexuals…” is in the public domain.

Five Key Phases of Software Development – Ambiguity

Saturday, December 26th, 2015


It isn’t clear to me if the answer is wrong because:

  • Failure to follow instructions: No description followed the five (5) stages.
  • Five stages as listed were incorrect?

A popular alternative answer to the same question:


I have heard rumors and exhortations about requirements and documentation/testing but their incidence in practice is said to be low to non-existent.

As far as “designing” the program, isn’t bargaining what “agile programming” is all about? Showing users the latest mis-understanding of their desires and arguing it is in fact better than their original requests? Sounds like bargaining to me.

Anger may be a bit brief for “code the program” but after having lost arguments with users and told to make the UI a particular, less than best way, isn’t anger a fair description?

Acceptance is a no-brainer for “operate and maintain the system.” If no one is actively trying to change the system, what other name would you have for that state?

On the whole, it was failure to follow instructions and supply a description of each stage that lead to the answer being marked as incorrect. 😉

However, should you ever take the same exam, may I suggest that you give the popular alternative, although mythic, answer to such a question.

Like everyone else, software professions don’t appreciate their myths being questioned or disputed.

I first saw the test results in a tweet by Elena Williams.

Regular Expression Crossword Puzzle

Friday, December 25th, 2015

Regular Expression Crossword Puzzle by Greg Grothaus.

From the post:

If you know regular expressions, you might find this to be geek fun. A friend of mine posted this, without a solution, but once I started working it, it seemed put together well enough it was likely solvable. Eventually I did solve it, but not before coding up a web interface for verifying my solution and rotating the puzzle in the browser, which I recommend using if you are going to try this out. Or just print it out.

It’s actually quite impressive of a puzzle in it’s own right. It must have taken a lot of work to create.


The image is a link to the interactive version with the rules.

Other regex crossword puzzle resources:

RegHex – An alternative web interface to help solve the MIT hexagonal regular expression puzzle.

Regex Cross­word – Starting with a tutorial, the site offers 9 levels/types of games, concluding with five (5) hexagonal ones (only a few blocks on the first one and increasingly complex).

Regex Crosswords by Nikola Terziev – Generates regex crosswords, only squares at the moment.

In case you need help with some of the regex puzzles, you can try: Awesome Regex – A collection of regex resources.

If you are really adventuresome, try Constraint Reasoning Over Strings (2003) by Keith Golden and Wanlin Pang.


This paper discusses an approach to representing and reasoning about constraints over strings. We discuss how many string domains can often be concisely represented using regular languages, and how constraints over strings, and domain operations on sets of strings, can be carried out using this representation.

Each regex clue you add is a constraint on all the intersecting cells. Your first regex clue is unbounded, but every clue after that has a constraint. Wait, that’s not right! Constraints arise only when cells governed by different regexes intersect.

Anyone interested in going beyond hexagons and/or 2 dimensions?

I first saw this in a tweet by Alexis Lloyd.

76 Viral Images From 2015 That Were Totally Fake

Thursday, December 24th, 2015

76 Viral Images From 2015 That Were Totally Fake by Matt Novak.

From the post:

We debunked dozens of fake photos this year, covering everything from Charles Manson’s baby photos to John Lennon’s skateboarding skills, and everything in between. It was another busy year for anyone spreading fake images on the internet.

Below, we have 76 photos that you may have seen floating around the internet in 2015. Some are deliberate photoshops created by people who want to deceive. Others are just images that got mixed up in this big, weird game of Telephone we call the internet.

If you get to the bottom of the list and you’re hungry for even more fakes, check out last year’s round-up.

Very amusing when viewed on a large screen TV! And, you may be helping family and friends avoid being taken in by the same or similar images in 2016.

Did you fall for any of these images in 2015?

EBCDIC to ASCII Conversion (Holiday Puzzler)

Monday, December 21st, 2015

EBCDIC to ASCII Conversion

From the webpage:

Last month, Gene Amdahl, an IBM fellow who was the chief architect of the legendary IBM 360 system, died at age 92.

In memory of his work, this month’s challenge focuses on the IBM-360 character set (EBCDIC):

Find a formula to convert the 52 EBCDIC letters into ASCII using no more than 4 operators.

See IBM Knowledge Center for the ASCII and EBCDIC character sets.

Supply your answer as a mathematical expression. For example, one can switch from lower-case ASCII to uppercase ASCII (and vice versa) using a single operation: f(x)=x xor 32.

Update (09/12):
You can use any reasonable operation (even trigonometric functions).

Update (13/12):
Use at most 4 operations, not 4 operations types. For example, the function x-floor((x>>4)*7.65-29), which correctly converts the upper case letters, uses five operation (2 subtractions, shift, multiplication, floor).

We will post the names of those who submit a correct, original solution! If you don’t want your name posted then please include such a statement in your submission!

We invite visitors to our website to submit an elegant solution. Send your submission to the

After you have exhausted arguing about religion, politics and sports teams, consider debating the best way to convert from EBCDIC to ASCII.

That should get your blood pumping!


‘*Star Wars Spoiler*’ Security

Sunday, December 20th, 2015

ISIS Secures Comms By Putting ‘*Star Wars Spoiler*’ Before Every Message.

From the post:

The Islamic State has developed a new, incredibly effective way to safeguard their communications, according to intelligence sources. By putting the phrase “Star Wars Spoiler” in message headers, the group has essentially eliminated any chance of their messages being read by United States intelligence services even if they are intercepted.

“It’s been three days since any of us have had any intelligence at all on ISIS maneuvers and plans,” Capt. Mark Newman, Army intelligence officer, said in an interview. “We’re trying to put people who have seen the movie on the rotator out to the sandbox, but that’s pretty much making everyone lie about whether or not they’d seen Episode VII.”

Reporters have been unable to see any of the classified intelligence reports, not because Edward Snowden didn’t leak them, but because much of the staff has not seen Episode VII yet either. The ISIS Twitter account, however, was more difficult to avoid looking at.

More effective than former Queen Hillary’s position that wishes trump (sorry) known principles of cryptography:

It doesn’t do anybody any good if terrorists can move toward encrypted communication that no law enforcement agency can break into before or after. There must be some way. I don’t know enough about the technology, Martha, to be able to say what it is, but I have a lot of confidence in our tech experts. (Last Democrat sham debate of 2015)

At a minimum, that’s dishonest and at maximum, delusional. Stalin was the same way about genetics you recall.

If Hillary can lie to herself and the American public about encryption, ask yourself what else is she willing to lie about?

Fixing Bugs In Production

Monday, December 14th, 2015

MΛHDI posted this to twitter and it is too good not to share:

Amusing now but what happens when the illusion of “static data” disappears and economic activity data is streamed from every transaction point?

Your code and analysis will need to specify the time boundaries of the data that underlie your analysis. Depending on the level of your analysis, it may quickly become outdated as new data streams in for further analysis.

To do the level of surveillance that law enforcement longs for in the San Bernardino attack, you would need real time sales transaction data for the last 5 years, plus bank records and “see something say something” reports on 322+ million citizens of the United States.

Now imagine fixing bugs in that production code, when arrest and detention, if not more severe consequences await.

For Linguists on Your Holiday List

Saturday, December 12th, 2015

Hey Linguists!—Get Them to Get You a Copy of The Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics.

From the website:

Hey Linguists! Do you know why it is better to give than to receive? Because giving requires a lot more work! You have to know what someone likes, what someone wants, who someone is, to get them a proper, thoughtful gift. That sounds like a lot of work.

No, wait. That’s not right. It’s actually more work to be the recipient—if you are going to do it right. You can’t just trust people to know what you like, what you want, who you are.

You could try to help your loved ones understand a linguist’s needs and wants and desires—but you’d have to give them a mini course on historical, computational, and forensic linguistics first. Instead, you can assure them that SpecGram has the right gift for you—a gift you, their favorite linguist, will treasure for years to come: The Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics.

So drop some subtle or not-so-subtle hints and help your loved ones do the right thing this holiday season: gift you with this hilarious compendium of linguistic sense and nonsense.

If you need to convince your friends and family that they can’t find you a proper gift on their own, send them one of the images below, and try to explain to them why it amuses you. That’ll show ’em! (More will be added through the rest of 2015, just in case your friends and family are a little thick.)

• If guilt is more your style, check out 2013’s Sad Holiday Linguists.

• If semi-positive reinforcement is your thing, check out 2014’s Because You Can’t Do Everything You Want for Your Favorite Linguist.

Disclaimer: I haven’t proofed the diagrams against the sources cited. Rely on them at your own risk. 😉

There are others but the Hey Semioticians! reminded me of John Sowa (sorry John):


The greatest mistake across all disciplines is taking ourselves (and our positions) far too seriously.


12 Habits = 12 Steps = 12 Days of Christmas?

Friday, December 11th, 2015

If your phone isn’t lite up by every imaginable charity, from the worthy to the “I didn’t know that was a problem” kind, please post a reply with your secret.

For those of you without an answer to that question, see Matt Bors and These 12 Habits Are Absolutely Slaughtering Your Productivity if you need discussion topics for the office party or elsewhere.

For some habits, you should take into account how much sharing is too much sharing, depending upon your audience and whether you have the power to hire or fire them.


Apple Watches Lowers Your IQ – Still Want One For Christmas?

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Philip Elmer-DeWitt reports Apple Watch Owners Glance at Their Wrists 60 to 80 Times a Day.

The vast majority of those uses are not to check the time.

The reports Philip summarizes say that interactions last only a few seconds but how long does it take to break your train of thought?

Which reminded me of Vanessa Loder‘s post: Why Multi-Tasking Is Worse Than Marijuana For Your IQ.

From Vanessa’s post:

What makes you more stupid – smoking marijuana, emailing while talking on the phone or losing a night’s sleep?

Researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London studied 1,100 workers at a British company and found that multitasking with electronic media caused a greater decrease in IQ than smoking pot or losing a night’s sleep.

For those of you in Colorado, this means you should put down your phone and pick up your pipe! In all seriousness, in today’s tech heavy world, the temptation to multi-task is higher than it’s ever been. And this has become a major issue. We don’t focus and we do too many things at once. We also aren’t efficient or effective when we stay seated too long.

If a colleague gives you an Apple Watch for Christmas, be very wary.

Apple is likely to complain that my meta-comparison isn’t the same as a controlled study and I have to admit, it’s not.

If Apple wants to get one hundred people together for about a month, with enough weed, beer, snack food, PS4s, plus Apple Watches, my meta-analysis can be put to the test.

The Consumer Safety Commission should sponsor that type of testing.

Imagine, being a professional stoner. 😉

Need a Bigoted, Racist Uncle for Holiday Meal?

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

I don’t know why uncles are always singled out as being racist and bigoted when difficult holiday meals are discussed but they are.

It is Thanksgiving” in the United States the fourth Thursday in November, to mark beginning of the first and only known case where immigrants took over a country and butchered almost all of its inhabitants.

The idea came to late for a marketable product this year, but would you be interested in an app that substitutes for having a bigoted, racist uncle for a holiday meal?

You know that all 1.6 billion comments on Reddit are available for download. (October 2007 to May 2015, + updates)

Some design issues for an app by Thanksgiving next year:

  • List of topics? Top 20? Top 50? Search?
  • Number of comments for each topic?
  • Generated voice?
  • Random or timed delivery?
  • Choose a side?
  • Other features?

It will be as close to having a bigoted, racist aunt/uncle of your own at the table as technically possible.

All suggestions and comments welcome!

PS: No “trigger” warnings.

Committee Work (humor, maybe)

Friday, November 20th, 2015

Code Monkey Hate Bug tweets:

Is it inevitable that committee designs end up looking like this?

It isn’t statistically inevitable that committee designs have this result.

However, the history of the U.S. Congress indicates the odds of a different outcome are extremely low.

Unpronounceable — why can’t people give bioinformatics tools sensible names?

Monday, November 16th, 2015

Unpronounceable — why can’t people give bioinformatics tools sensible names? by Keith Bardnam.

From the post:

Okay, so many of you know that I have a bit of an issue with bioinformatics tools with names that are formed from very tenuous acronyms or initialisms. I’ve handed out many JABBA awards for cases of ‘Just Another Bogus Bioinformatics Acronym’. But now there is another blight on the landscape of bioinformatics nomenclature…that of unpronounceable names.

If you develop bioinformatics tools, you would hopefully want to promote those tools to others. This could be in a formal publication, or at a conference presentation, or even over a cup of coffee with a colleague. In all of these situations, you would hope that the name of your bioinformatics tool should be memorable. One way of making it memorable is to make it pronounceable. Surely, that’s not asking that much? And yet…

The examples Keith recites are quite amusing and you can find more at the JABBA awards.

He also includes some helpful advice on naming:

There is a lot of bioinformatics software in this world. If you choose to add to this ever growing software catalog, then it will be in your interest to make your software easy to discover and easy to promote. For your own sake, and for the sake of any potential users of your software, I strongly urge you to ask yourself the following five questions:

  1. Is the name memorable?
  2. Does the name have one obvious pronunciation?
  3. Could I easily spell the name out to a journalist over the phone?
  4. Is the name of my database tool free from any needless mixed capitalization?
  5. Have I considered whether my software name is based on such a tenuous acronym or intialism that it will probably end up receiving a JABBA award?

To which I would add:

6. Have you searched the name in popular Internet search engines?

I read a fair amount of computer news and little is more annoying that to search for new “name” only to find it has 10 million “hits.” Any relevant to the new usage are buried somewhere in the long set of results.

Two word names do better and three even better than two. That is if you want people to find your project, paper, software.

If not, then by all means use one of the most popular child name lists. You will know where to find your work, but the rest of us won’t.

We Put 700 Red Dots On A Map

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

We Put 700 Red Dots On A Map


Some statistics can be so unbelievable, or deal with concepts so vast, that it’s impossible to wrap our heads around them. The human mind can only do so much to visualize an abstract idea, and often misses much of its impact in the translation. Sometimes you just need to step back and take a good, long look for yourself.

That’s why we just put 700 red dots on a map.

The dots don’t represent anything in particular, nor is their number and placement indicative of any kind of data. But when you’re looking at them, all spread out on a map of the United States like that—it’s hard not to be a little blown away.


PS: Also follow ClickHole on Twitter.

Governments will still comfort the comfortable, afflict the afflicted and lie to the rest of us about their activities, but this may keep you from becoming a humorless fanatic.

The benefits of being a humorous fanatic aren’t clear but surely it is better than being humorless.

I first saw this in a tweet by Matt Boggie.