RIP Stanislaw Lem


I spent many fine hours reading The Cyberiad, The Star Diaries, Memoirs Found in a Bathtub, and his other wonderful books. (My advice: Don’t bother with Solaris unless you really like Lem, but the aforementioned books are really good).

They probably…

Somebody needs to sponsor the FBI with a few thousand web mail accounts or something. MSN? Google? These poor fuckers need help. Link.

Why does it take “until the end of the year” to give out a couple thousand accounts? What do they do, have a two-inch stack of paperwork for each one? Print out the incoming mail and stuff it into agent inboxes?

On the other hand, of course we want an efficient FBI…


A bit of relief (maybe) for folks who know they’re smart (and are), but choke during the job interview. Link.

“Alpha children wear grey They work much harder than we do, because they’re so frightfully clever. I’m really awfuly glad I’m a Beta…” — Huxley

C++ again

A fun, quick article on interviewing C++ candidates. Link.

I used to have three questions that I called “the great levellers.”

1. What’s a virtual function? Everybody should know this. A few people didn’t (hey, nobody’s phone screen is perfect, I guess).

2. What’s an abstract base class? Again, a pretty basic question that I still got some wild answers to.

3. What’s a virtual base class? Answers to this range from “it’s an abstract base class” to “it’s a class you can call from main” to “I don’t know.”

Oddly enough, I preferred people to say “I don’t know” to #3 than to start relating their wild adventure storming towers of multiply inherited classes (“There we were, kilobytes from our base pointer and lost in a lair of mix-ins with nary a vtable pointer in sight, when we stumbled into the lair of the dreaded Thread Unsafe Static. It sloooowly raised its gnarled heads and regarded us with hungry eyes. ‘Race,’ it said, ‘I’ll race you to the exit.’, and we ran…”)

Dr. Sthuess

Ahh. This explains a lot (from Red Fish, Blue Fish)


What ancient evil could Cthark be? How big will he grow before he calls the rest of the Old Ones over to help celebrate the kids’ birthday?

“Gosh, thanks, Nyarlathotep, I always wanted my own sub-species servant race to help with my homework on underspacial geometries and the playground bullies.”

A Start-up Memory

It’s like 2AM. Everyone is tired. Things almost work. That sucks, because you almost get to go home, right?

“Let’s have some music,” someone says.

We’re in cubicals. The space we’re in is a top floor, nearly a loft, very airy, with good echoes. It’s dark, people are working under monitor glow. Other nights we’ve played Quake, or nerfed each other, or brought our motorcycles indoors and dared each other to start them up in the CEO’s office. Tonight is a quieter let’s-get-this-thing-done night. Tappity tap click night.

I put a CD in my player and turn the volume up high, way high, I-don’t-care-about-the-speakers high.

There’s a short pause, then the first couple of chords come out.

“Oh yeah, good choice” says the Programming God over in the next cube. And things are almost okay for maybe fourty minutes.

Toddler Scale of Cleanup

1. Large toys (easily movable).
2. Effluvia, various orifices. Readily identifiable and cleanable. No problem.
3. Shredded paper (tissue, towels, extracted signatures of priceless books).
4. Small toys that multiply and move under your feet and onto stairs when your back is turned.
5. Cheerios and other foods that disappear into corners and sprout.
6. Meatballs and other solid food, mostly intact after landing and rolling under something else. These generally self-mummify and are no trouble until found weeks after the meal.
7. Non-shredded glossy ads from magazines. Acts as a frictionless surface (hilarious when encountered by the cat, less so when it’s your fundament on the floor).
8. Applesauce and other semi-solid (but still substantially throw-able) food, found much later after it has set and cured.
9. Toys, pointy-side-up, in the dark.

… and …

10. Sticky rice. Sticks to floor and socks tenaciously socks for weeks, utterly impossible to vacuum, forms a glue when you try to remove with towel.