Sunday, August 20, 2006

A Cockatoo joke...

I'm still working on my "why threads are bad" rant, but in the meantime, here's a joke with a Parrot in it...

One day, a Cockatoo walks into an antique shop. The owner walks over and says to the Cockatoo:

"Hello there, can I help you with anything?"

The Cockatoo points his wing at a chair, and says to the shopkeeper:

"What can you tell me about this chair?"

The shopkeeper smiles at the bird, and launches into his best sales speech:

"I must say, you've got an eye for exceptional furniture. This chair is executed in the Lous XIV style, we estimate the manufacturing date to be around 1880, and the fantastic patina of the wood shows that it's been exceptionally well cared-for..."

The Cockatoo interrupts the sales pitch, and says:

"Yes, yes, that is all well and good, but what I really wanted to know is -

how does it taste?"

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Now they have two problems...

Today, I'm going to write a bit about programming. But first, a short detour into the wonderful world of USENET, and the adaptability of certain quotes to any situation...

There's a fairly well known quote (among programmers, at least), that goes like this:

Some people, when confronted with a problem, think "I know, I'll use regular expressions." Now they have two problems.

-- Jamie Zawinski

Jamie posted this to USENET back in 1997, and people have been quoting it ever since. I did some more searching, and I found an earlier variation, with citations going back as far 1988. Yes, Google Groups does have (some) USENET postings going back nearly 20 years. The older version is this:

Whenever faced with a problem, some people say `Lets use AWK.'
Now, they have two problems."

-- D. Tilbrook

Cool, so this is apparently one of those all-purpose jokes, much like any ethnic joke. Actually, that could be pretty interesting:

Whenever faced with a problem, some people say "Lets have the American do it." Now, they have two problems.

-- M. Bessey

Wow, that's comedy gold! Okay, maybe not. But it leads nicely into the topic I actually wanted to talk about:


Mark's list of the Top Four programming technologies that fit into the "now they have two problems" template:
(in no particular order)

1. Threads
2. XML
3. Singleton objects
4. Regular Expressions

The common theme here is that these are all useful techniques, but are often misused by well-meaning programmers. I've seen more grief caused by misapplication of these technologies than anything else in my career. I'm going to write up a couple of quick rants on each of these subjects. This will be good for two reasons:

1. It gives me something to write about for the next couple of days.
2. I can vent a little about some particularly irritating instances of these things that I've seen.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Like an out-take from The Birds

Continuing the "Wildlife Adventures in Suburbia" theme from the last post...

As I was driving up to my house Sunday evening, I noticed about a half-dozen or so little Sparrow-looking birds pecking at the sidewalk at the end of my driveway. I thought "that's a little odd, I wonder what they're eating?". As I was gathering up my stuff out of the car, I saw that another ten or so were perched on the fence around my front yard. Curiouser and curiouser...

I went around to the back of the Jeep, got my groceries, and turned towards the house, only to see that there were dozens and dozens of these birds perched on my fence and the gutters of the house, and just hopping around on the roof. at this point, I'm starting to get a bit freaked out. I've seen small groups of birds around the house before, but nothing like this.

Just as the "I feel like I'm in a Hitchcock movie" vibe really started to take hold, one of my neighbors drove by in a rather loud Ford Bronco. Apparently the birds didn't like either the sound or the look of the thing, so they all took off at once - from the street, off my fence and roof, and from the neighbor's yard, where I hadn't noticed that they were also congregating.

In total, probably a hundred of these tiny little birds took off from the ground, coalesced into a swirling cloud, and headed out to Santa Clara, presumably on a mission to freak someone else out.