Saturday, May 19, 2018

Lawn Mower Review

21 in. Variable Speed 4-in-1 Gas Walk Behind Self Propelled Lawn Mower

I love this lawnmore it's so reliable. Just remember the seat gets a little warm and it's not the fastest riding lawnmore.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Facebook 1890: A Steampunk Interlude (part 1)

[Wrote a bare outline for this in 2011. Filling it in now.]
Narrator               The year: 1894. The city: San Francisco.
Thaddeus             I have upgraded our service, dearest daughter. We now have information transmission at the rate of 60 characters every second. At this speed, the alphabet can be transmitted in well under a second, and an entire book in an hour. Huzzah! Now this should help you with your studies!
Isabella                 Of what use is such impractically voluminous bandwidth, father?
Thaddeus             Undoubtedly we shall not only use this capacity to its fullest, but there will come a time when we will actually expect more.
Isabella                 Oh silly father, you're such a dreamer.  I do worry, though.  Such celerity! It seems more than the human mind can comprehend. Is it safe for words to travel faster than they may be read upon a page?
Thaddeus             Safe? Well, the lowercase letters seldom encounter problems, but I have read report of uppercase letters snagging upon themselves to cause congestion and on occasion, a service outage.
Isabella                 Hmm... at times your paternal humor inclines itself more toward irritation than amusement.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Early VC Stories

The year: 15,000 BC. Argg Associates, a VC-funded startup with a perfect business plan. Their hot IP: The Wheel.

They had a working prototype. Not only a wheel, but a cart, axles, bone cotter pins, deerskin covers, tie downs, and full suspension made from bent wood. Marketing called it the Argg Gazelle. Buzz was generated.

Unfortunately, the promised return in necklaces, hides and pottery never came. People looked at this unfathomable creation, scratched their heads, and bought things they could relate to.

The team at Argg was working on a precursor to ball bearings when their lead engineer Bob (still a popular name) was eaten by a bear. Then their VC food ran out. The awesome prototype was torn apart for firewood that winter.

Fast forward a few thousand years. A wealthy farmer had to move a lot of shit (sorry, manure) and all the young guys were off fighting another tribe. The farmer saw some kids rolling a log around and had an idea. What if...

It was a terrible wheel. It was rough, uneven and it kept sliding around because it wasn't on an axle. He called it "Poop Roller" and people got it. "I can move poop with this." It really caught on.

No lesson here. Just a story.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

McCourtney Road Video Game

Finally! The drama of driving on McCourtney Road is now available on your cell phone, personal computer or gaming console. Following classic First Person Driver format, you get to select from all the characters you know and love from your own endless and/or terrifying journeys on McCourtney Road:
  • Retired Christian Chamomile Tea Imbiber
  • Rodeo Pickup Truck Testosterone Boy
  • I Obey The Speed Limit, And Then Some Mom
  • High Tech Beamer Driving Starbucks Drinking My Time Is So Valuable Every-Second-I-Waste-Behind-You-Is-Like-A-Diamond-Falling-Into-The-Toilet Toxic Rage Guy
  • Marijuana Does Not Affect My Judgment, And Bob Marley Is Technically A Religion Dude
  • I'm In A Trash Truck And I Just Can't Go Over 15 MPH So You Will Not Make Your Appointment Today Because I Am Punishing The World Embittered Sanitation Worker
  • Curves Are Meant To Be Cut Efficiency Expert
  • Just Look At Those Mountains! Taking It All In Couple
  • Feels Like The Interstate To Me Autobahn Guy
  • Chose Today To Learn To Drive Girl
  • Just Because I Have Thirty Peace Bumper Stickers Doesn't Mean I'm A Pushover / Late For Yoga Lady
  • Prepper Guy in Hummer
  • Humming Gal in Prius
  • Everyone Driving Behind Me Must Be Following Me Paranoid Cabin Dweller Guy
  • Beer Is My Lifestyle Guy
  • Winery Tour Couple
  • Whiskey Tour Couple
  • Is It Dark Out Or Am I Wearing Sunglasses Grandmother
  • Does The Road Suddenly End In A Cliff Around The Next Bend? I’ll Drive As Though It Does Grandfather
  • Finally I Can Use My Cell Phone Gal
  • Torque Addled Motocross Bike With No Muffler I Can Outrun Any Cop Car Meth Shipment Delivery Guy
  • Genial And Courteous Tattoo Shop Owning Biker Beard Man
  • Hey, Are Those Horses?
What happens when you put RCCTI in front of RPTTB?  What if you sandwich BIML between them? Watch the sparks fly!

Master these classic moves and strategies:
  • Oh no you don’t, I’m pulling over to the side
  • Maybe if I pull right up to your bumper you’ll go faster
  • The closer you get, the slower I go
  • The slower you go, the closer I get
  • I'm going to slam on my brakes randomly to get you to back off
  • I’m going to silently mouth the ways I will torture you when we get to the highway
  • I don’t think the screen door will fall off the back of my truck because I used dental floss
  • What in the world did that guy use to tie down his screen door?
  • I'll leadfoot it on the gas pedal to get out of my driveway in front of you then slow down to a snail-like cruising speed
  • Your left turn signal is on. So you want me to pass you on the left now?
  • It’s a choo choo train and I’m the engine!
  • Oh sorry, too close -- I'll slow down to give you some breathing room (Version 1.0 only)
And so many others!

Don’t forget to in-app purchase a Wild Card:
  • Spousal Conflict
  • Triple Espresso 
  • Black Ice
  • Wasp
  • Dog stung by Wasp

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Home Gene-Editing Means Softer, Shinier Hair!

by Harold O. Endtimes

Imagine: editing your own genes in the comfort of your bathroom before any personal event in order to change your hair color and texture, with a viral delivery mechanism that reproduces itself in your body, doubling its population every hour to ensure fast, fast results!

"It's a recipe for disaster!" exclaimed Amber Brittany, Director of Marketing for Applied Bioforce, a division of Garnier under contract with the Pentagon.

Bruce Derry-Aire, Lead Hair Weapons Scientist, hurriedly clarified, "By that we mean the disaster of Morning Problem Hair! Our new gene-editing kit makes it disappear, and I mean completely.  Can you say Thrilling?"

"No, seriously, it will kill everyone around you!" shrieked Amber, with slightly more urgency, almost as though she were trying to communicate something important.

Bruce again jumped in to clear up the confusion. "By that we mean you'll kill it at your next event! The excitement around our new home gene-editing beauty kit will spread like wildfire!"

Amber started winking frantically. She was then carried from the room by two men in military uniforms. Bruce ran after her with a large syringe. What an exit!

Garnier certainly loves to play with the media at these promotional events. A great time was had by all, and the food was fantastic. We here at UI Nerd feel that the unique properties of this technology promise an end to all of mankind's hair worries.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

From the Scrolls of Faiths That Never Caught On

A rough translation from fragments of Codex B, Scroll 15:

"Hi, I'm ʘǂ!, god of impatience, revered for the [experience] known as 'bitter.' Everyone thought the initial version was a shade too [metallic?]. I was brought in for fine-tuning, and you know the rest.

"Bitter was a hit!

"It's used in many different realities, and not just as a taste. You can thank me for that. Seriously, you should thank me now, or who knows what might happen to all that squash you're growing."

Saturday, May 5, 2018

An imprecise recounting of events at the gallery in the style of Mark Twain

Met Claude and Dick at the gallery. For some reason they had decided to be “on time," arriving before 10:30 AM, rather than observing “dinner party rules” and showing up 25 minutes late, i.e. the convention I follow for most appointments. However, I was not disposed to fault them for boorishness. I had been busy chatting with an old chum I had not seen since high school. She was on the prowl for a good man, and her other candidates had died or their wives had not.

We took down the glass patio furniture counter and emptied the storage room. By “we” I of course mean “they,” since I had to take a break from what had been an exceedingly arduous drive to the gallery. My companion on the trip would not shut up, blathering incessantly about his various plans, how he was always right and other people were always wrong, and how if he were not here, everything would fall apart. I think you know the type I mean. By “companion” I am referring to my own mind.

At one point I asked Dick and Claude to pause their recreational box moving and help with a legitimate task: assembling my desk. I was able to direct their efforts from a nearby chair. Now while I do my utmost to avoid speaking ill of my fellow man, I am obliged to share that these two do not work well with others. They were unable to comprehend even the simplest and clearest requests, which necessitated the raising of my voice. The furtive glances between them did not go unnoticed. I am sharing this in case you have the misfortune of asking either of these malcontent grousers to handle a modicum of your labor.

Once I had finished loading the truck by proxy of the aforementioned grumblers, said grumblers departed.

“Time to fix the gallery!” I thought. "The well-meaning boobs who run this operation do not understand the Business as I do." I proceeded to strip the walls and move everything into storage to create a minimalist SoHo atmosphere. Now, in the vacancy, customers would be undistracted and free to focus on their purchases. As proof of the genius of the idea, several eager buyers entered and stopped in their tracks, wearing stunned expressions of the "kicked by a mule" variety, then departed suddenly. (No doubt their newly-clarified noggins had reminded them of a purchase they had neglected to make at another store. I could see a powerful validation of the concept in their rapid exeunt.)

Unfortunately, a glance over to the improperly managed storage room revealed it to be overflowing with wreckage and chaos. Experienced businessmen understand that a tranquil mind is a prerequisite for a salesman to sell, and this situation imposed itself upon my serenity unacceptably. I left a note in the log book: "Clean up Storage Rm, Heathens!"

Seeking calm, I allocated funds from the petty cash box up front and headed next door for a lunch in the relaxed, health-affirming style of the French. (Those who know me even briefly learn of my dislike for haste, for Efficiency risks Expediency.)

I returned at 2:10 to unlock the door and welcome the waiting throngs. “Throng” is apparently a Balinese word for “furniture buyer,” because the few present all headed to the Asian Import shop next door, and nary a soul entered our little establishment.

At 2:20 two women made their entrance. Both were blessed with many of the finer gifts of womanhood. I carefully noted these gifts with an artist’s eye, in keeping with the spirit of the gallery, then greeted them with a kindly leer and friendly furrowed brow. Alas, attentive customer service is no longer appreciated in this day and age, for they quickly turned and scurried out.

I realized my oversight: I had neglected to remove the hand-painted grandfather clock from the space. Surely it had spooked them. I tossed the malefactor into the storage room. And not to worry, the sound of breaking glass gave comfort that its landing had been cushioned.

No more customers arrived, so I closed the shop at 2:30.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Nutritional Supplements for the Extremely Paranoid

Like many people, you take vitamin and mineral supplements, and you don't want them contaminated with colorants like titanium dioxide or caustic additives like ascorbic acid. Unlike most people, you worry about it a lot.

Let Organic Complex Distributors give you what you truly want: peace of mind. OCD nutritional supplements are completely free of additives, and are without question the safest products on the market. While not technically a vitamin or mineral, they contain no cereal fillers, no questionable GMO algal extracts, and absolutely no retinol, which can cause skin irritation.

You don't have to worry about PCB's because we don't use Alaskan salmon, Arctic-sourced krill or triple filtered cod liver oil. We realized that these sources are simply not safe enough.

It doesn't stop there. We don't use dangerous androgen-inhibiting plastics or glass bottles that leach heavy metals. And because paper is saturated with dioxins and aluminum foil will give you Alzheimer's, you won't see these dangerous materials in our product.

We even fret about things you haven't become obsessed with yet. What about that horrible "pill factory air" in those other vendor's bottles? And hey, is that wad of cotton organic? It really doesn't matter, because it could still give you Morgellons Disease.

Are you starting to see why our product is the only one you should trust? Our "Piece of Mind" brand supplements provide 100% guaranteed peace of mind because that's all you get. Nothing else. And nobody sells nothing like we do.

Not happy? Return the unused portion to us for a full refund.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Amazon Reviews #2

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1

Customer Review
3.0 out of 5 stars

leaden angst wrapped in fur and amber contact lenses

As a man without anything even approximating a social life, when I sit down to watch a sexy vampire flick with a mason jar of chardonnay, a plate of low-sodium fat-free water crackers, and two boxes of moisturizing tissues, I expect more than leaden angst wrapped in fur and amber contact lenses.

Perhaps this should be renamed to Twilight: Breaking Hymn (did I spell that correctly? *cough*). Sort of like those naughty love ballads sung by wandering minstrels. You know the ones? They go on verse after verse with some fairly broad metaphors:

The moon through yonder window did break, and its light in and out of the window did shine, all night long, until the bird cried out in the morning, 'coo! coo!'

If you think that's hot, then you'll thrill to the glacial pacing of this epic nuptial that remains frozen in time, like Edward's icy and tumescent love for Bella.

Friday, January 27, 2012

30 Seconds of Ads for 30 Seconds of Video

I landed a contract from an advertising company. It was an interesting job and they were paying good money. The weekend after I was hired, I was watching a broadcast of a four hour event that I cared about, only to have it interrupted every 15 minutes by 30 seconds of the most obnoxious advertising imaginable.

When I looked at the HTML, I saw that the advertising was delivered by the very company I was now working for. A clear message. I left the following Monday and never invoiced them.

So today I went to use a web e-mail service and there was a funny little video about a weatherman who had an on-air rant. I clicked it and 30 seconds of advertisements were queued up. I clicked away.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How to Make Money From Your Blog: Part 2

OK, truth be told, the EzKode thing mentioned in the previous post isn't really working out for us. By way of example, one of our subscribers in La Jolla was erroneously billed $8,080.80 (which, curiously, happens to be a common RGB color code used in web page borders... but that's probably not relevant).

Let's not dwell in the past. Technology moves quickly. Today we announce support for smartphone payments! Yes, you can now use your mobile phone to remove money from your checking account. And that's part two of How to Make Money From Your Blog!

Just aim your mobile phone at this QR code and wait until you receive a call from us.

(If you see a rabbit, our system is busy.
Please continue to wait.)
Any Lithuanian Telecom phone equipped with the Eastern European mobile e-commerce standard PushCart will work.

Hmm... did you say you don't happen to own a Lithuanian Telecom phone? Don't worry, you can get one here:

We have an overwhelming inventory of compatible models:
Blackberry Bramble
Blackberry Demise
Blackberry Passé
Fisher-Price GiggleHertz aka Baby's First Phone!
LG LUG Series (includes the liftable LUGgage Tablet, the unusually affordable sLUG, and the room-warming pLUG It In Phone Workstation)
Motorola Drain
Motorola Tox
Motorola Vexia
Samsung Burn Notice
Samsung Galaxy S9 (Gabon and Equatorial Guinea models only)
Samsung iClone
Samsung Litigia
Samsung Versionist 1.5, 2.0, 2.2, 2.33, and 7
Apple iPhone 0.9 Beta
Apple iPhone 4 (must be jailbroken with Twelve Golden Dragon Song of the Red Fruit patch)
Apple Solid Block of Platinum (not an actual phone but nobody will say anything if you talk into it)
Nokia Sangria
Nokia Diaria
Nokia Imodia A-Dia
Nokia Taste
Microsoft Acquired Taste
Microsoft Anachron SharpWatch
Microsoft Crash (with KB39589329235, KB9538396511, and KB384743754 hotfixes)
Microsoft Exchange 2007 Handheld Server (with optional third-party plugin)
Microsoft LicenseToCall (for Small Medium-Sized to Medium Small-Sized Businesses with 23 to 37 Employees)
Microsoft PrietaryPro/PrietaryPro Professional
Microsoft PayPerWait
Microsoft Zune for Talking
Microsoft Ohshitwejustannounceditanditsalreadyobsolete
Microsoft Noproblemwecanalwayssellittoouremployees
十二金龍 Twelve Golden Dragon Strange Flavor Phone Call

Have you ordered your "new" phone? Great!  You'll see that we already turned it on, along with the camera and microphone, using PushCart's ICU Technology. We have also verified your credit limit using the Near Field Communication chip in your credit card. Someone will be calling you shortly to discuss investment opportunities and How to Make Money From Your Blog!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

How to Make Money From Your Blog: Part 1

Watch carefully as I show you step one of How to Make Money From Your Blog!

As a courtesy I am providing a free copy of How to Make Money From Your Blog! on the fee-per-download service I run called

Did you catch that? Huh? Huh?

There's more: a free, previously completely secret, never-before-revealed power-blogger technique. Keep reading!

I cut a deal with the EzKode people to pay me to promote their unique document ID system. You may have read about them in connection with a hacking scandal a few years ago. Well, they are under new management, they have fixed their technology, and they are so desperate to rebuild their base they are willing to pay you to use it!

To obtain your EzKode KikBak payment, all you need to do is tell your readers that in order to download their free document, they'll need to copy & paste an EzKode which has been dynamically generated just for them. These things expire in five minutes, adding extra pressure for them to make a decision.

I've pasted an actual EzKode into the blog below to show you what they look like:

Time remaining: 47
# Beta preview release. Not for production use.
<!-- Product Manager said we needed a nicer gray box around the ezkode so I put the script to draw it in the ezkode itself. #bangin Then he says it would be a security risk, but he's just a PRD jockey who doesn't understand code. Remove this from code generator in release b...
Kwestion script exception: comment buffer overrun!
Twelve Golden Dragon 十二金龍 Best Quality Rootkit! Relax, everything OK! This supposed to be here!!
{checking}'#9z$af2#3w3ceich is why I asked her what she saw in him. She gives me this really nasty look and says I spend too much time on my damned blog and would it kill me to go outside and get some sun. Then she starts complaining about my milk allergy and how bad the

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Shoes in the Workplace

At my old company, as long as you were wearing a loincloth and had bathed recently, you were considered part of the team. The new company seems to have a higher standard.

Repeatedly at my new job I have noticed people evaluating my shoes right after making eye contact. And I think the shoe evaluation may be more important than the eye contact. When I wore the sneakers shown below, their eyes lingered a bit too long.

It was as though some brain misfire had shut down their eyeballs for a moment. A profound shift occurred in their heads. It was like they suddenly realized that the person they were talking to was actually a store mannequin. Their eyes were frozen in place, and not a very nice place. My shoes resided there. Internally, they had gone to a quiet room, had a quick nervous breakdown, and then resumed the conversation.

I could feel them fighting the urge to reach for their wallets to make sure they were still solvent. Bare feet would have been better.

So the next day, I upgraded to these:

The marketing gal who saw those practically gagged as she walked by. I was dismissed so quickly I felt as though she had slapped me for good measure. The wind from the speed of her departure rustled papers. "How dare you bring those shoes into this company!" She didn't say it out loud, but there was no need to. I was wearing taxidermy.

I did not require a third lesson. Clearly I was not following the accepted practices of this company, and needed to fit in, stat. I immediately purchased a pair of the most expensive Testoni calf leather oxfords available:

This purchase meant that my wife's kitchen remodel and my daughter's Christmas would get scaled back significantly, but gotta keep dad employed, right?

It was a complete disaster. The instant I walked into engineering, people were staring at my feet. The mix of disappointment and contempt was palpable. I had crossed an unspoken line. I quickly turned around and ran back over to marketing. Marketing gal was there.

When she saw my shoes, her face lifted in a sublime expression of approval that gave me hope I had finally found a home, only to have everything fall to pieces when she looked a little higher and saw the $11 Puritan chinos from Walmart. What a rookie mistake! Panicking, confused, I left the building and went to my car.

I sat there paralyzed. What to do? Casual shoes, one side thinks I'm worthless. Nice shoes, the other side thinks I'm putting on airs. If I... Hey, wait a sec! Other side... putting on airs... that's it! This is an "Upstairs, Downstairs" arrangement. That was the old BBC drama about class division.

I mean, I've known all along that engineering does not associate with sales and marketing. This is the situation at most companies, but there is usually some pretense involved. "Your sort of fellow is always welcome here! Now hurry along before I call security." I just thought it was more about "different job responsibilities" and being "customer facing."

Now I understand. Those are euphemisms, and at this company they are simply too busy to bother with them, so it's more like, "Eewwww!!! HR is over there. Ick!"  Sales and marketing live upstairs and engineering lives downstairs.

The United States has always had its class structure and apparently only an ever-dwindling subset of middle class native-borns don't yet comprehend that. There is some latitude in the U.S. to choose your station, but once you've chosen, you'd better play your role properly.

Thanks to newfound perspective, my footwear dilemma has been resolved. This is what I wore yesterday:

I received a standing ovation when I walked into engineering. There was even a sense of hushed admiration from the marketing people when I stopped by HR. It's good to know your place.

Ya... so this has been another pointless, lesson-free dramatization about the irrelevant. I didn't actually buy Testonis. 
The only true part of this is that I was wearing sneakers in the sales area and a woman looked at my shoes and almost passed out.
My best guess is that when she saw me, the combination of technical charisma, carefree grooming, scholar's build and boxer's intellect created a heady impression that said, "Here is a man so wealthy he doesn't care what the world thinks of him." Tantalized, she went for the shoes, only to have her hopes popped like a balloon at the termination of my shanks.

Sales and marketing. It's like another country over there. There should be a little customs desk and a changing area in those departments so you can make the transition properly.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Amazon Reviews

Thomas Kinkade: 25 Years of Light

Customer Review
5.0 out of 5 stars

More than hobbit villages on acid... so much more!

Many people dismiss Kinkade, putting him in the same artistic space as Hummel figurines. However, I maintain his true affiliations are with Lord of the Rings and Yellow Submarine. He moonlights for the DMT Nexus, like some unacknowledged master illustrator of the mushroom experience. Subversive consciousness-expanding art disguised for mass consumption, where each page is a portal to alternate reality! The best part: you will be absolutely safe hanging a Kinkade calendar on your corporate office wall. Let them sneer. You know the secret.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lucid PowerPoint #2: Protect Your Artwork

Stealing artwork for use in a presentation is bad.

Let's consider an example. Do you know who this character is?

That's right, you don't know, because it's Carl, a character I created just for this series of posts on effective presentations, a character in no way associated with any currently syndicated comic strip with complicated licensing rules.

I made sure to add distinctive features to protect against copyright infringement. For example, the orange power shirt. Notice that there's absolutely no hair above his ears. And he's always carrying that cup of pomegranate juice.

You can use the same techniques to protect your artwork. If you're really worried, take a cue from stock image sites and add some anti-piracy lines:

What do you do if people like your character and use it in their presentations despite the flagrant illegality? If you include a standard copyright warning on the first and last pages of your presentation, they'll at least have fair warning:
Citizens of the Empire, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and the Watercolor Torte Fundibulum (WTF) are all here to protect you and to keep the U.S. economy functioning in some form. Take advantage of them. The RIAA has recommended that everyone be sued preemptively out of respect for all music and art. People who exploit your artist's artwork in the public arena of the meeting room without paying you, and very indirectly your syndicated artist, every last fraction of a cent that is rightfully yours simply because they like and respect said work are thieves and belong in the courtroom to protect the economy as previously mentioned. Add to Cart

Monday, November 14, 2011

Are User Experience Designers All Morons?

Q: Vidad, sometimes I think the UX Designers who roll through this place are all morons. Do you think that's true or am I imagining things?

A: Well, would you ask someone at a used car dealership whether their salespeople were only in it for the money? Before you answer, let me remind you that of course you wouldn't, because you understand that their personal mission statement is to get you remarkable value in previously-owned transportation. That's why you're there. It's exactly the same situation when your company hires a UX person.

In short, of course they're morons. That's not meant to be hurtful. Really I only mean it in the professional sense. They sort of have to be. Smart people cannot see problems with the same ease as someone who is easily confused by simple things. It's a savant gift.

Thanks to the conjunction of a privileged upbringing, traumatic stress from the rigors of art school, and the excessive consumption of substances normally avoided even by the tribal shaman, certain individuals can become preoccupied with matters so utterly inconsequential that they are practically invisible to everyone else. Psychiatrists are aware of the affliction but have never bothered to give it a name since it is generally considered harmless and only some of them starve to death.

A transformative event occurred one day in early 1996, when one of these very special persons (most of whom were at the time doing street theatre or selling glow-in-the-dark hula hoops at Koh Phangan full moon parties) discovered that a large dysfunctional corporation would actually pay him for the service of pointing out the obvious. This rapidly led to what is now known as the Summer of Cashing In. Overnight, behavior that in other fields would be considered a stroke symptom had become an asset, a "constantly fresh perspective."

Over the years we became conditioned by the new reality, and today are no longer flabbergasted to hear this type of gibberish in the workplace:
  • "The issue with your website is that you aren't using Semantic Color Mapping. By selectively adding thin bands of fluorescent color to communicate... um... wow, those paragraphs are kind of shaped like Jerry Garcia's beard... so uh... your customers... what were we talking about? No problem, my webinar explains it all. Here's your bill."
  • "Oh, I see the problem. The issue is that you are causing Semantic Color Blindness through the over-application of thin bands of fluorescent colors. Here's your bill."
  • "When you press the doorbell, it should ring. Here's your bill."
So the next time a UX Designer pipes up in a meeting with painful inanity, console yourself with the knowledge that forty years ago someone like this would have been miming invisible boxes on the street corner.

Behind the Scenes at the Balgoni Fresh Mozzarella Cheese Commercial

Director Frederico Brontolare is steaming. "No, Bridget, we've been over this already! You have to put the cheese in your mouth before you say that! BEFORE, OK??"

In the next take, the attractive actress lifts the cheese into her mouth and exclaims, "Mmm, Bal...kkaahk," before coughing the slice back across the table.

"Frederico, how am I supposed to say that line with a big slice of cheese in my mouth?"

"Having something in your mouth has never stopped you from talking before," he mutters.

It's three o'clock in the afternoon and the shoot is not going well. After repeated takes, the scene is finally in the can.

Frederico is still concerned. "The next scene is the American businessman, and this guy is like a piece of cardboard with a fashion photo on it. To watch him, you'd think he'd never eaten anything before today."

"Mmm, Balgoni!" says the actor.

"Did you see that? He had all the enthusiasm of someone filling out an itemized tax return.

"Everyone here is just too good looking for something this complicated," sighs Brontolare.

In the News: Global Threat From Invasive Species

Invasive Species DNA Found in 100% of Locations Tested

This is probably in your house
Scientists tracking the spread of invasive species have identified an alarming threat to the global ecosystem. Unlike other invasive species such as Asian Carp, Soybean Rust, or Zebra Mussels, this threat is truly global, risking world-wide environmental collapse.

"The DNA from these things seems to be everywhere we go," said an anonymous United Nations Environmental Program Director.

"We're finding the indicators in 100% of all samples, even in the most remote and pristine areas. What's scary is that this organism disrupts the food chain, causing extreme devastation. It can turn pristine natural habitats into deserts in a matter of decades."

The species, a type of primate, has spread to all corners of the earth.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

In the News: Outsourcing Courtesy

Customer support call centers used to be a thorny problem for most companies. They were expensive, and only a handful of Americans from the midwest had the knack for it. Then someone had an epiphany: provide high quality, low cost support by employing well-educated Indian professionals, already fluent in English, and skilled in responding politely to almost any form of grievous personal insult.

The unfortunate side effect of this change is that an entire nation now sees the United States as a giant strip mall infested with perpetually pissed off whiners who exist only to complain about the trivial.

"Based on my experience, they seem to be an unusually stupid people," said Amrit Desai, eight year veteran of the customer service front lines. "I used to admire the U.S., but that has changed. Now whenever I am searching for a metaphor to express my displeasure at a bad smell, or when someone is acting especially childish, I invariably make a comparison to an irate city dweller who can't turn on their espresso maker, or to some pampered suburbanite with a lost credit card."

"Callers seem to think I am the embodiment of the company they are calling in all its imperfection. However, I am just an employee of said company. Most of my friends would understand such a distinction and behave accordingly."

"You know, when I travel or interact with others, I consider myself an ambassador from my country to the world. It seems this concept is not known to all Americans."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Terms of Concern in Software Job Listings

When a realtor says "commuter's dream," that means "located directly under the interstate highway." Similarly, software job postings in 2011 have their own language.

Senior Web Architect

Date: 2011-10-25, 10:30AM PST
Reply to:

Get to know how our company operates by interviewing over a two day period with our entire engineering team. Tell us in detail how you would design a production e-commerce web site. We'll throw plenty of tough questions at you, almost as though you were consulting for us for free.

Mobile App Game Designer

Date: 2011-10-25, 11:23AM PST
Reply to:

You'll be creating the next killer app from our one-man office in Milpitas, located in parking space C34 in front of the Starbucks with good WiFi. No telecommuting. Duties include mentoring the new offshore team between midnight and 2 am by walking them through a working prototype, and hourly cellphone conference calls with each of the twelve directors and their assorted VPs. Experience placating nervous investors a plus. Six week contract position, with a standard 20 million dollar liability clause.

Startup Opportunity

Date: 2011-10-25, 12:41PM PST
Reply to:

Do you have a persistent and insatiable thirst for excellence? Are you constantly raising the bar of passion? Then this may be the hot startup opportunity you've been waiting for!

We're still in stealth mode, but what we can tell you is that we're going to replace the web browser with something even better: the Kweb browser. What we can't tell you is when we're going to ship. We've been at it since 1997, and our founder's enigmatic vision for the project has grown more monumental and utopian with every passing year. We even created our own alternative to JavaScript called Kwestion, based on the most unusual features of Lisp, Perl and Tcl. Now that the sixth development team has left, we're primed to take off.

Are you ready to stand on the edge of possibility before jumping off into the realm of pure imagination? Are you the Kwestion-able developer who can put us where we need to go?

Code Shredder

Date: 2011-10-25, 2:38PM PST
Reply to:

Get stoked, grab your board and shmob on over to our sick, incoherent 24-hour work party in the balmy Nevada desert. Experience what Wired magazine said was " Dante would envision... burning... man... for coders."

Excellent benefits include an in-house laundry. New hires get 100 points to mana in the company store upon completion of two week indoctrination retreat.

User Experience Handler

Date: 2011-10-25, 7:13PM PST
Reply to:

Join the team at Cialio, the hot new social networking site for small countries. We're looking for a User Experience/User Interface Designer with a great eye and an ACTIVE SECRET level security clearance.

The right candidate should have experience in the following: mockups, information architecture, cutting edge 3D graphics algorithm optimization for GPUs, on-demand battlefield CNC manufacturing, mission critical satellite-based aircraft control systems, real-time global weather modeling using massively parallel networked supercomputers, some exposure to quantum computing theory, and Photoshop.

Nice to haves: editing encrypted machine language byte streams upside down in a harness hanging from a helicopter flying through conflict zones, and Adobe Illustrator.

Must have an active social life and be outdoorsy with a wonderfully wry sense of humor. We are NOT looking for a robot... well, not for this position anyway.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Fight Childhood Obesity The Natural Way: With Fear

Suburban children rarely encounter hungry wild animals. This means they don't run enough, and they can become slow and chubby. You can make up for this lack of exercise through proven weight loss techniques such as scary bedtime stories. Anxiety and fear will help your child shed extra pounds without the hassle of living in a wildlife sanctuary.
"Children, today we are going to learn about the dangerous killer animals that lurk all around us. You weren't told about them in order to protect you."
"Inflates itself with air, floats up from the ocean into the sky and then descends into back yards, looking for small household pets to eat. When pets are not available, it has been known to gobble up girls wearing Disney princess dresses."
Tire Snake"Wraps itself around the tires of small bicycles. Careless children who do not see the snake get on their bike and are typically swallowed whole."
"Usually found in Safeway stores, these insects create brightly colored hives out of cereal box cardboard. Normally only parents can spot them. Grabby children who reach up to take cereal without permission risk hundreds of painful stings."
Video Game Tarantula"This ravenous spider has migrated from Central America in shipments of video game consoles. When a child spends more than an hour playing video games and no longer responds to calls to do homework or eat dinner, the creature will slowly... crawl... over.... What follows is simply too gruesome to tell you."
Mattress Piranhas
"In some areas of the country, there is something so terrifying that... look, they've never been found where we live, so don't worry... well, not yet anyway... um... so, in some areas of the country, mattresses can become infested with tiny, savage, razor-toothed piranha fish. These have mutated due to the flame retardents and other chemicals in the mattress, and no longer need moisture. However, when a child wets the bed, they burst through the thin covering of the mattress. Imagine mom and dad's reaction in the morning when all they find are bones! It's quite traumatic for them.

"Many people do not realize that mattress piranhas were bred by a man who was trying to protect children from the terrible scourge of ceiling locusts, but that's another story."
"Good night, my dears. Don't let the bed bugs bite!"

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Knock Knock Joke

Knock knock!
Who's there?
The depressed U.S. economy.
The depressed U.S. economy who?
Just kidding! We're here to repossess the car.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sample user guide from my new "Dealing with the Physical World" service

Every day, tragically, people walk into the very doors that should have allowed them passage. Too frequently the victim is blamed.

The problem is simple. Some of us have been conditioned to expect that doors will always swing open.  
Three doors opened automatically today when I was shopping, so therefore my car door should...  **oomph**
It's an easy mistake to make. The modern mind, already burdened with the multitasking overhead of texting and refreshment quaffing, isn't designed to cope with the additional contextual dissonance of an antiquated manual door with its convoluted "twist-and-push" paradigm (or maybe it's "push-and-twist" -- who has time to memorize all the variations).

If you are nodding your head, saying something like "yes... that's it exactly" as people are turning to look at you (because they can hear your "thinking voice"), then print out this handy guide and stick it on all your doors, especially the glass ones.

(From a camera user guide.)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Renovation for the Clueless

Working with contractors requires a bit of common sense and experience. I wish there was a contractor who specialized in talking to people lacking those qualities. Of course, I don't mean myself.

Something like this...
At Renovation for the Clueless, we work with people who don't have the critical real world skills required to remodel a home.

Worried you might be such a person? You can stop worrying because it's clear to everyone else that you are. It's OK! We're here to help. Unlike those other contractors who disappear and don't return your calls, we'll not only tell you why it's a bad idea to put a swimming pool on your roof, we'll also continue to talk to you as though you were normal.
Q: Why should I work with you instead of another contractor who specializes in dumb people?
A: Those firms only appear to cater to the wisdom-impaired by wearing insincere smiles and speaking slowly.
Q: What's the catch?
A: Money of course! But let's be honest, it's not like you'll actually notice the modest premium we charge.
Q: I like to add and remove items on my work order faster than cards at a casino table. I also like to pepper you with hundreds of e-mails that "clarify my intent" and "brainstorm new ideas" rather than put those ideas in a work order. Is that OK?
A: That's why we hired life coach Judy Blumquist. She'll teach you how to organize your thoughts and present them in an orderly manner. It's fun to be coherent!
Q: I usually assume my ideas are magically reproduced in your head simply by thinking them. Is that possible?
A: Let former Rochester Institute of Mental Health therapist Mike Goldstein help you figure it out with questions like, "Do you think it's possible?"
Q: We don't understand that the pictures in magazines are from houses belonging to very wealthy people with an Italian designer who lives on the premises. We'd like our glorified double-wide to look like that. Can you help us?
A: You do realize that the structure you refer to as your "home" would have to be disassembled and then completely rebuilt in a different neighborhood using materials like platinum and bumble bee fur? Right??? (Oops... sorry, even we slip up sometimes.)
Q: Hey, you guys seem to be handy with tools. If I can't find a hammer, I'll use a pair of pliers, but they don't seem to work as well. Any suggestions?
A: Consider our 24-hour Dealing with the Physical World Hotline. For an affordable monthly fee, we'll show you why pliers will never work as well as a hammer. We'll also help you create a place for your hammer so you can find it next time, sell you a new one, and explain why you don't use nails to fix a broken dish.