Monday, December 31, 2007

How to make a dog puke

Gentle reader,

The following is a quick story about what happened after my dog accidentally ate something that it shouldn't have. Maybe it will help someone else some day.

So, my 12-year-old dog was supposed to have gotten some medicine following an operation on its ear, and I (ahem) accidentally gave it two of wife's old anti-inflammatory pills, carefully wrapped in a piece of Kraft American "cheese"... Don't ask. I was having a bad day. Following the advice of the poison control center (which they billed my credit card $55 for) I did the following:

1) I made a trip to Walgreens to buy some hydrogen peroxide, 3%.
2) Mixed about 3 tablespoons of the hydrogen peroxide with something that I knew the dog would enjoy eating - vanilla ice cream.
3) Put down a bowl containing this mixture for the dog. The dog thought it was a great treat and lapped up the mixture, hehe.
4) About 5 minutes! What a mess.
5) It was VERY IMPORTANT to be around for the actual puking event. After a dog pukes, it will often try to override its stomach by re-eating whatever came out. I had to make sure I cleaned it up before that could happen. Gotta be quicker and smarter than the dog!
6) Patted myself on the back.
7) Try remember to NOT give the dog incorrect medication again!

I am happy to report that Rover (name changed to protect the innocent) is back to his usual good health and is happily eating out of the cat litter box again. Litter on the nose is a dead giveaway.

Time for today's quote...

Your every decision conspires to make this moment happen.
-Christi Philpott

Until the next time, gentle reader, I remain,

Your friend,

Buford Twain

PS - Happy New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Crazy World of Web Development Needs-a-Fixin'

Gentle reader,

Allow me to put on my propeller-tipped hat as a software engineer and go off on a short rant.

It is 15 years after the invention of the WWW.

Let's take a quick gander at the hip-to-be-square IT scene, as it applies to web-development.

I have to say, we are not quite at the point where robots have taken over the world.
However, we sure do have all sorts of crazy-assed technology.

Let's see...

On the client side (and by that I mean the stuff that is displayed by your very own web browser) we have goofy HTML, wet-and-wild javascript, annoying Ajax, insipid CSS, freaky flash and (thankfully almost extinct) Java applets. We also have lots of different browsers such as still-cool-yet-slowly-becoming-bloated-and-unstable Firefox, much-maligned-and-rightly-so Internet Explorer, obscure Opera, stupidly-named-Safari and even-more-stupidly-named-and-french-accented "Navigateur-Orange".

On the server side, we have a veritable cornucopia of complex languages and frameworks.
Let's see: There's curmudgeonly Java (it must be curmudgeonly, I use it) and its bewildering array of associated development frameworks such as Spring and Struts. There's insanely-hard-to-read Perl. There's whitespace-significant (gasp! horror!) Python with its accompanying strangely-named frameworks Zope and Django. There's an over-hyped-python-clone called Ruby with perhaps the most hyped framework of all, Rails.
Then there's lowly, sad and amateurish PHP. And I mustn't forget (though I try), evil empire Microsoft's ASP.Net (admit it, Mr. Gates, the idea for .Net was so stolen from Java).

To the uninitiated web-development virgin, that must seem like an absolute zoo of technologies.
But trust me, I have actually listed only a very tiny subset of what is actually available to
Joe- and Jane-aspiring-web-developer (in the spirit of honesty, it's almost always Joe, actually).
And I didn't even mention verbose XML and silly XSLT yet.

So, what have we accomplished with all of these technologies? What pinnacle of knowledge have we succeeded in ascending? Well, we have created an array of complicated and mostly-overlapping technologies, all of which, on the server side at least, pretty much do the same damn thing. Yet each of which happens to require its own (sometimes steep) learning curve.

As we all know, being readers of blogs and users of facebook and eBay and craigslist,
the web is not really about launching the space shuttle, managing a nuclear power station, doing brain surgery or finding the Higgs particle, is it? No. For heaven's sake, the web is used for a few simple things.

Let's see...

1) selling baubles


2) exchanging a little bit of basic information

Notwithstanding, for some bizarre reason, it is getting MORE COMPLICATED EVERY YEAR to figure out how to get some very basic stuff done. Why, oh why, must the world of web software development be so fragmented and complicated? Is it any wonder that I have a hard time teaching this stuff to my kids in the hope that they will get excited by it and thereby gain the skills to make a decent living (despite virulent outsourcing and other corporate-initiated evil)?

If nothing else (and believe me, there is else), it is costing us time and money.

It shouldn't have to be this way. Seriously.

So here is a heartfelt request to anyone involved in creating new technology for the world-wide-web:

PLEASE, can SOMEONE make things a little bit simpler, instead of even more complicated?

That would so make my year.

Today's quote:

The main challenge of computer science is how not to get lost in the complexities of [your] own making.
-Edsger Dijsktra

Until the next time, gentle reader, I remain,

Your friend,

-Buford Twain

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Dog Butt Jesus

You have to squint, but He is definitely there...

Monday, December 3, 2007

The humans are dead by Flight of the Conchords

I don't have much to add to this, just watch the clip. Added bonus: awesome binary solo at the end.
The singer on the left could easily get a 2nd job as Stephen Hawking's voice synthesizer.