[i got a bit tired of the WoW grind, so I cranked up Quake for a while.  Memories surfaced – quite some time ago I took this from a usenet posting and applied considerable editorial license to it… original text by winkler@henry.com]

Quake is devoid of clutter. Just sitting here at my computer desk makes me realize how universal clutter is. You sit around and a mess will follow. Now, bear with me, the Ogres, Knights, Shamblers, etc, in Quake don’t do much until you show up but sit around. So, where the hell’s the clutter?

I’ve yet to see a empty can of soda, ashtray full of butts, or mcdonald’s wrapper strewn about. What the hell do those wee beasties do when you’re not around? Apparently nothing but wait for you. This isn’t very realistic. Everyone gets bored after doing nothing for a while.

I can just see it now, in Quake II, you walk into a room and there’s a grunt and his dog playing fetch. Two ogres are cheating a zombie at poker in a corner. The shambler is passed-out again. A Vor is muttering high treason over paperwork at a desk (“Quality of the latest pineapples,” he writes, “is substandard at best.” He really wants to write something else).

You load your shotgun and suddenly you’re the center of attention. The shambler goes “whazzat?” and he and two zombies start blasting away at you while another zombie atarts grabbing at everyone else’s chips. The grunt picks up his gun and absentmindedly throws the stick over his shoulder in to the lava pit, which the dog obediently tries to fetch. The ogres both go scrambling for their gernades and chainsaws, which for the life of them they can’t seem to get started. One of them trips and lands on an ammox box, which explodes; Ogre Number Two thinks this is the height of humor and doubles up in laughter just as you gib him.

The cowardly Vor bugs out into the next corridor, screaming into his walkie-talkie for air support, and for the troops to “Lay down a suppressing fire! And I want good groupings on those kills!”

Quake doesn’t allow you to strip naked. Think of the confusion this would produce during a fire-fight. Three guys are blasting away at each other when along comes a buck-naked guy with a gun. Everyone stops in amazement and panic. Maybe he’s crazy. Bad crazy. They don’t know what to think. Then the naked guy gibs them all.

There should be monster droppings everywhere. The levels aren’t all that big, and there are between 30-70 monsters on each. They’ve been there for a while before you came, so we can either deduce that these monsters have no excretory needs, or that ID WAS SLACKING!

The right decision at the right time…

Pivotal moments in computing, where a minor design change would have changed things for the better.

1. LF rather than CRLF in MSDOS text files (decades of “is this a text file or a binary file?”)

2. ‘-‘ rather than ‘/’ as standard MSDOS command option switch (so we can use ‘/’ in path names)

3. 256 byte paragraph size in 808x processor (instead of 16 bytes, 16MB address space for early OSs). [16K would have been LOTS better]

4. Built-in string / dynamic char[] data type in C (NOT limited to 255 characters like Pascal [barf])

5. Collection classes in the first release of C++

6. Standardize Unicode in 1975 or so. Early, anyway

7. LISP-like syntax for SQL (easily parsable). Non-broken fixed-size data types.  Flexible variable-sized data.  Hardly rocket science.

8. XML committee struck by lightning. “Huh. Maybe s-expressions will do the job after all.”

9. X.509 committee disappears mysteriously. “I guess we need something simple now.”

10. [late 70s] “You know, maybe SMTP needs some security, I think junk mail might be a problem someday.  Let’s add some authentication.”


them’s awful funny-lookin’ mushrooms

In keeping with the recent Supreme Court decision to disallow a student sign with “Bong Hits for Jesus” on it, I offer the following alternate phrases. 

Drop Acid with Allah
Pop Bennies for Buddha
Snort Crack and see Christ!
Do Downers with Dionysus
Eightballs for Enkidu
Freebees for Frida
Ganja Good Enough for God
Heroin for Hercules!
Idiot Pills for Imhotep
J for Jesus (cleverly ambiguous)
Ketamine for Krishna
LSD for Loki
Methadone for Moses
Needles for Nefertiti
O.D. with Odin
PCP for Poseiden
Quaff Quaaludes with Quetzequatal
Rushes for Ramadan
Speedballs for Shiva
Tie off with Thoth
Uppers for Urdu
Do Vitamin Q with Vishnu
Whippets for Walla-Walla
XTC for Xenu
Yellowjackets for Yaweh
Get Zonked with Zeus

something has to pay the bills

Huh, one of my favorite authors, Martha Wells, turns out to be writing Stargate Atlantis books.

My knee-jerk reaction to mainstream or semi-mainstream authors writing books “for shows” instead of on their own is usually “yuck.”  Then I remember some non-yuck, definitely worthwhile stuff written for the various SF universes, including –

John M. Ford, Star Trek, How Much for Just the Planet?  [Hilarious, well worth tracking down]

Larry Niven, Star Trek Log (the animated half-hour series), The Soft Weapon (after a short story of the same name).

James Blish, lots of script adaptations of the original Star Trek.

Greg Bear, lots of books in the Star Wars universe [which normally I can’t stand]

I’m sure there are other fine examples.  (Note that the Serenity script adaptation was a miserable piece of poo.  They should have had Bujold or Varley or even – God help me – Ellison pen the damned thing).


laptop people

Help!  I’m surrounded by the laptop people!  If the wireless were to go down suddenly would they simply go rock still, poised to type when packets started flowing again, or would they shake their heads, look up with unglazed eyes, realize that it’s a nice day outside, and fix the router?


The toddler observes: “That’s not a volcano, because I’m a baby!



I was going to make one of my more awful puns about the composition of the planet-like object Eris, now estimated to be nearly 30% larger than Pluto (link).

But saying “All hail Eris!” isn’t possible, because they think it has a significant amount of rocky material; it’s not just a big ball of ice.


I was leaving work today, and carrying two books.  In one hand, a copy of Advanced Perl Programming, and in the other, a book on Haskell.

The person I passed in the hallway noticed, and laughed.  “It’s a good thing you have those well separated.”

I guess you have to be a complete geek to get any humor out of that.  It’s been that kind of week.


On Monday I sat next to someone who played Crackdown all the way through.  In like six hours.  I’ve barely been able to clobber the first three or four bosses.  I am humbled and awed.

Better off not backing up

Don’t do this: (a) have older backup software installed, (b) upgrade to the newest version of the backup software, which involves (c) uninstalling the older software first and (d) an interim reboot, resulting in an impressively nonfunctional, unrepairable OS.

You know it’s not going well when your backup software commits suicide.

*spends half a day reinstalling everything*  I really do miss Macs some days.