The Burning Man in five minutes

This is one hell of a time-lapse: it documents the rise and fall the Burning Man temporary city that springs up in the Black Rock Desert every year.

Langton Laboratories set up a camera on a nearby mountainside and let it run for five weeks and then condensed the snaps into a five minute reel.

This was actually quite a technological challenge: to power a camera continuously over five weeks and also upload gigabytes of images wirelessly.

The burn itself begins just after 3:45.

Someone is a little toolbar crazy

The web debugger's song

(sung to the tune of 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall)

99 bugs in the programming code,
99 programming bugs,
Rewrite the code
Refresh and reload,
100 bugs in the programming code

Steve Jobs - the Internet has voted

Just weeks after his death, and Steve Jobs is still leaving a wake from his passing. In just 12 hours after he died, the Twittosphere was filled with 2.5 million tweets. Then came over 6,000 blogs and news articles, the vast majority testifying to his greatness.

And then came the inevitable backlash, on reddit, on imgur, on facebook, that Steve Jobs was, after all, just a man, just a capitalist, and his lasting legacy is a bunch of electronic toys.

So which is it? According to the Internet, it's not even close. If you Google for matching results, you find a massive disparity:

Search termMatching pages
Steve Jobs rules238,000,000
Steve Jobs drools4,800,000
Steve Jobs sucks7,260,000
Steve Jobs is evil79,000,000
Steve Jobs is kind228,000,000
Steve Jobs created183,000,000
Steve Jobs destroyed13,000,000
Steve Jobs was a woman277,000,000
Steve Jobs was a man515,000,000
Steve Jobs was a monster4,000,000
Steve Jobs was a god195,000,000

Why should I use a tab width of four spaces?

There is only one reason I can think of:
var foo = 'duh',
    fee = 'der',
    fuu = 'dur';
You'll note this only applies to javascript ...

The iBoob is here!


as told by:

Groupon just keeps getting it heaped on

Some think we're in the sunset phase of the online coupon industry. But I think it's the sunrise phase. Meaning that everyone is waking up to the notion that it's all too good to be true.

First, we're all getting a little tired of 55% off coupons for manicures. There seems to be a bit of  dearth of deals that have actual value.

Second, we're starting to find out that these deals aren't such great deals after all. In fact, a study has come out to show that at least 11% of Groupon coupons are crap.

It turns out that in local services, there is a high incidence of deals offered through Groupon that turn out to be more expensive than services offered by their competitors. In other words, the vendor jacks up his rates, then discounts them to appear like he's giving a great deal. But the user of the coupon could have easily got an equal or better deal by simply checking the prices of local competitors.

Although it's not surprising that you would eventually see this kind of false advertising by vendors who realize they can get away with it, it's disappointing that Groupon doesn't warn us about it. It's not illegal, but it at least has the appearance of being unethical.

Groupon is starting to look a bit like Netflix. They both have big guns. They both have the squarely aimed at their own feet.

A chronicle of the types of bugs found in programming

The Beatle: a bug found by the CEO. Therefore, it's bigger than Jesus.

Bugfoot: a bug that cannot be reproduced and has only been sighted by a single person.

Counterbug: A defensive move useful for code reviews. If someone reviewing your code presents you with a bug that’s your fault, you counter with a counterbug: a bug caused by the reviewer.

Dinkrement: A counter placed in the middle of complex code, with no explanation of what it is or why it is there. All it does is increment itself. And you have no idea what to do with it.

Heisenbug: The Heisenbug Uncertainty Principle states that the more you know where a bug is to be found, the less you know about how to fix it. The more you know about how to fix a bug, he less you know about where it occurs.

Hindenbug: A catastrophic bug that causes the entire database to burst into flame and crash to the earth

Shrug Report: A bug ticket filed by an idiot who notes that something is broken, but doesn't say how to duplicate the issue, doesn't fully describe what went wrong, and doesn't describe the expected behavior. Also know as a Bug Dicket. Usually contains the phrase "doesn’t work."

Around the world in 62 seconds

The magic of time lapse photography takes you on a flight around the world in the International Space Station as it orbits our planet at night. This movie begins over the Pacific Ocean and continues down past Vancouver Island to Antarctica.

Where do all my deleted characters go?

QUESTION: When I delete words on my Word document, where do they go?

ANSWER: There is a debate in the scientific and religious community over this.

Some maintain that all words must be judged. Good words go to heaven and bad words go to hell. Pronouns and adjectives go to limbo where they must be used in sentences about puppies and rainbows before they are admitted to heaven.

Some maintain that there is no afterlife for deleted words. Instead, they are returned back to this world rearranged as new words. Depending on how virtuous the sentence is, they will either appear as lines for characters in Broadway musicals, or as captions for the dirty pictures in fuck books. Numbers, if they are used in mathematically correct equations, will return as higher prime numbers, while those in incorrect equations are returned as price tags at Wal Mart.

Atheists, on the other hand, claim that words simply disappear. They believe that words only exists as long as they are visible on the screen and, once deleted, stop existing.

Agnostics are unsure and unwilling to commit to one belief or another. Every so often, however, they will check the trash, just in case.

Steve Jobs leaves a fashion legacy

Everyone hold tight and prepare the flood of hip programmers and web designers sporting black turtlenecks.

The same shirt that Steve Jobs always seemed to wear has now become a very hot item. The maker of the turtleneck, can't keep them in the stores any more. In fact, they Minnesota based company reports that their sales have doubled since the death of Jobs.

The turtleneck retails for $175. A black shirt. $175. Nerd fashion at its highest.

A primer for some obscure computer technology terms

Camelcase: Anything referencing an animal is intrinsically humorous. But this one is a double threat because it's ominously close to being vulgar, and can be a crackup when someone misspeaks at a team meeting. I worked with a developer once who could barely contain himself in conversation when someone dropped the C bomb.
Fred: I think we should be less careless about all lower case vs Camelcase variables.
Him: Heh. Camelcase.
Fred: Camelcase. Yes. Camelcase.
Him: Heh.
Fred: It's not the same thing asCameltoe.
Him: Heh. You said Cameltoe.
Closure: what you will never get with a javascript programmer who argues that it is going to be the future of the Internet. See also dotNetheads.

Delegation Pattern: the tendency to ask the junior developer to do the work instead
Destructor: far less fun than it sounds

Autocorrect: Doesn't.

GUI: What your computer becomes after you spill your coffee on it.

Keyboard: Standard tool used to generate computer errors.

Mouse: Advanced input device to allow more rapid generation of computer errors.

Magic Numbers: So named because if you run into one of these whilst debugging, POOF, there goes the rest of the morning.
OOP: What you will eventually say (OOPs, shouldn't have hired him) if you hire anyone whose resume scatters this acronym liberally on their r

State-of-the-art: Someone else's computer.

Obsolete: Your computer

Microsecond - The time it takes for your state-of-the-art computer to become obsolete.

System Update - An automated method of to allow the trashing of all of your software at once

YAGNI and LACY: You Ain't Gonna Need It, and Losers Always Criticize You

Key First World Problem: the banning of anonymous Trolls

All hail Gayle Flakenthal, who has put a voice to what we have all been thinking: something has to be done about those damned trolls. Especially the nerds.

In a Washington Times, “Internet trolls, Anonymity and the First Amendment,” she says that “the time has come to limit the ability of people to remain anonymous” online. The reason: anonymous identities allow trolls to act with impunity, and clog up comments with annoying comments. Commenters have polluted the Internet “with false accusations and name-calling attacks.” For that reason, newspapers should ban anonymous comments.

I say, bravo. It's about time someone said that name calling is a terrible perversion of the first amendment.

I know what the bleeding hearts may say[1]:”This argument is not only inaccurate, it's also dangerous: online anonymity, while allowing trolls to act with impunity, also protects a range of people, from Syrian dissidents to small-town LGBT activists and plenty of others in between.”

What a load of tripe. Did Gandhi make his protests under the user name britishOutOfIndia? Of course not[2]. Did Socrates pose his questions as an anonymous user of a public forum? I think not[3]. They faced down their critics with a steely glare.

This is the first world. We don’t need the protection of anonymity any more. We have lawyers. And we know they work because they sure charge a lot for their services. Why should the civility of online comments be corrupted all for the sake of cowtowing to the odd third-world citizen in a basement, calling his government silly names? And how do we even know he isn’t just trolling himself? It’s just too risky.

Luckily, many newspapers have already banned anonymous comments, and "civility" is often cited as  the justification in discussions. So there is some light at the end of the tunnel. I agree that there may be a small-town schoolteacher who fears persecution for her political views to her local community but wants to give a voice online. But freedom of speech means that you have an obligation to stand up and state your name. The same goes for the the gay teenager who wants to talk about it online but isn’t quite ready to come out. Too bad: the first amendment wasn’t put there to help you stay in the closet. It was there to allow us to have civil comments at the end of articles.

Some may argue[4], “The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech, and anonymity, and the Supreme Court has made these same arguments about safety and anonymity for decades. In 1960, the Court explicitly upheld a speaker’s right to remain anonymous.”

My response to that is: Really? Would you want a cell  phone that was seven years old? Then why do you want to your opinion on free speech to be based on a court ruling that is fifty years old? Those judges are now dead. They probably weren’t taking into account that they were giving vocal power to nerds.

Of course, there may be other ways to deal with trolls that don’t go as far as banning anonymous users. I have heard that there has been some experimentation with “moderating” comments. This cutting edge technology involves a editor or some appointed person who is responsible for monitoring comments in a forum. That person would then be allowed to “review” comments and then “remove” comments that are inflammatory or libelous.

While that may work for many savvy Internet sites, there are many who are not used to such newfangled technology. Better we should just shut everything down.

[1] And they did, actually. Specifically, the Electronic Frontier Foundation. But I think they may be trolls.
[2] There was no Internet
[3] Again, same reason.
[4] And they did. Those Electronic Frontier Foundation just don’t give up, do they?