Category Archives: Talk

Talk about politics, society, science, computers, internet, psychology, and philosophy.

PEBCAK and other ways to blame the user…

User ErrorIn IT-support jargon the expression “PEBCAK” (meaning “Problem Exists Between Chair and Keyboard”) is used to blame the user of the system for any computer related problems they are experiencing while using said system – since they are located “between the chair and the keyboard” in most usual situations…

PEBCAK can be found long before the program reaches the end user

I had a fun thought about the expression PEBCAK. Given my many years in IT development I have observed two things:

  1. Few programmers write their programs without sitting on a chair in front of a keyboard…
  2. PEBCAK is just as likely to start way before the software reaches the end user.

Unrecoverable System ErrorIf you think the Project Cartoon is a gross exaggeration (you are probably an ordinary, unsuspecting computer user, and a victim :P…) I have to inform you, it’s not… The sad truth is that programmers have never been in control of systems, and even the most stable and dependable systems have flaws.

Even NASA has PEBCAK

Did you know that up until 2007 the space shuttles never flew missions over the new year… why? Because their computer systems, programmed in the 70ies, had no stable support for year changes…

Searching to find my source on the above statement only produces two slashdot articles with links to, now non-existing, articles on CNN and Reuters. (Although I just came across this fact a couple of months ago, so either the conspiracy is recent, or my Googling skills are decreasing…) Anyway, here’s the slashdot links:

I’m not going to search for pacemaker system errors or similar, but I can guess the mitigating circumstances are that you’re not in space when the problem occurs and might actually get into the hospital in time…

If you like to read more about programmer initiated system errors (and errors initiated by IT projects) you should check out The Daily WTF.

Life is a trial with errors…

“Life is a trial with errors…”

…so the best thing you can do is to learn to live with the trials and errors and then it doesn’t matter that there are trials and errors… because you’re still living life 😀

Oh, and yes… that quote is a bit funnier than just a simple “live life by trial and error”. I couldn’t help myself so I was funny and made life into a trial with errors… but my message is still valid!

If it’s not important that life is hard, then life being hard wont keep you from living it to the fullest extent in which you are able under your circumstances.

It’s your life! No one can take that from you unless they commit a heinous crime. If you’re alive, you have a life… it’s that simple.

 

41 Active Visitors from ISS – The sharpest minds read Talkwards!

41 active visitors from International Space Station
Fresh off Google Analytics: 41 active visitors from International Space Station

See for yourselves on the right. (You may have to click on the image to read it… unless you have super vision?)

41 visitors from ISS (The International Space Station)!

Now, given my usual visit stats… this means a majority of my visitors come from ISS! Woh! So, only the worlds sharpest minds read my blog.

But wait?! How many people are there up there actually? 41 active visitors… that must be one crowded control room!

Checking the net tells me there’s only 6 people up there… guys! did you start an ISP?!

Another nagging problem is… the big fat zero up in the top left side of the image…

Can this be a bug? Nah! The zero must be the bug and I am sure those six astronauts are like super smart and obviously they have several browsers going at once… I mean, they need to get all articles quick? Right?

So, Hi to you ISS personnel up there! I hope you enjoy my blog! 😀

Oh, if you’re wondering how all this happened, it’s hardly the most amazing thing to happen today:

April fools! 🙂

Sherlock Holmes times two

The TV shows Elementary, and Sherlock are two TV shows depicting Sherlock Holmes.

Elementary

Elementary (2012), based USA and created by Robert Doherty premiered Sep 27, 2012. It takes place in New York, where Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) is struggling with a heroin addiction with the assistance of Dr. Joan Watson (Lucy Liu), an ex surgeon and a sober companion, whose task, assigned by Holmes’ father, it is to live-in with Holmes in order to keep him sober.

Sherlock

Sherlock (2010), based in UK, created by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, premiered Aug 30, 2010. It takes place in New York, and portrays Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) relation to his brother Mycroft (Mark Gatiss), as well as his friendship with Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman), recovering from an injury he has sustained while in military service in Afghanistan (interesting how, more than a hundred years later, Great Britain is still messing around in Afghanistan…)

Continue reading Sherlock Holmes times two

ISO 8601, or not…

They always have great alt texts as well: ISO 8601 was published on 06/05/88 and most recently amended on 12/01/04.
XKCD – nerd humor at its best!

I think Sweden adopted ISO 8601 sometime around when it came. Before that we would write dates as day/month-year (that would be discouraged format number 11 on the image to  the right).

Then came along Internet Information Server (IIS) invented by an American firm you might now, called Microsoft. In the US where Microsoft lives, dates are written using discouraged format number 1, or perhaps 2, unless it’s 3 or 4, I never manage to keep track.

Most of the time it’s possible to just ignore the highly illogical way of mixing up days and months and years in the US way of writing things. ISO 8601 goes from larger to smaller, the old Swedish way went from smaller to larger, the US way goes from uh… large to smallest, to largest…

However, a project I was involved in a couple of months ago used some form of standard date widget in IIS (Internet Information Server, Microsoft’s Web Server) that used discouraged format number 1 above.

Now for the fun part. In my humble and naïve mind this should be a question of just setting a language setting somewhere in the web server to get it right. Apparently it wasn’t (!?) Instead everyone was running with the totally confusing US-dates. The budget did not have room for making the change, and it seemed everyone humbly adopted… after all, there was a “date browser” that could be opened pressing a button (first time it took a minute to open, but then it was business as usual). I’m guessing they used that function to get their dates, or perhaps I’m just an old fossil that doesn’t adopt well.

So the punchline (unless the previous sentence wasn’t punchline enough for you…): yeah standard until some guy comes along and wants it otherwise, and this guy has all the power… then it’s a (quote-unquote) “standard” and not a standard any more.

 

Ubuntu Satanic Edition

Ubuntu Satanic Edition, with hellfires...
Ubuntu Satanic Edition, By Daniel F. Pigatto

If you feel like your Ubuntu is way to benevolent, you can always go Satanic.

Of course, I thought this was the edition I had installed, given Unity’s behavior, and the fact that my raid-devices are dropping like flies (they passed a badblocks scan, and as far as I can tell they are working again), but alas, perhaps I need more goat blood, hell fires and ritual chants?

The versioning of Ubuntu SE is less time constrained. Instead of using the year and date, like Ubuntu does, the numbering is simple: 666.8, for instance is the version number of “Undead Legion”, followed by 666.9 “Microsoft Massacre”, and 666.10 “Necrophiliac Necromancer”.

On the plus side, I may be able to scare my computer into submission by burning a CD of satanic edition…

OK, seriously. I fear Ubuntu Satanic Edition may be way too old to do anything with… (um although upon closer examination, they seem to have a news item from 27th of uhh January, 2012… that’s a year ago…) but on the other hand… Isn’t the current edition way too satanic? I think I could get a break from all the unholy shit going on if I installed this one with goat heads, flames and blood and everything else that belongs!

Another way to go would be Ubuntu Christian Edition, but unfortunately, I do not think Jesus will be downloading it any time soon…

BoRG 13 billion light years away: Invasion possibly canceled!

BORG Collective
BORG Collective, By Eddi van W.

The BoRG are 13 billion light years away! Hope is not lost!

I found this information while I was browsing the astronomy pages on Wikipedia (more common than my geek factor can really tolerate, but still) and I came across a list (see below) of the most distant astronomical objects (notice object 8 – with a red frame?).

As far as I can tell from the list, the “BoRG-58” (shown with red frame) is somewhere between 13 and 13.025 Gly away (that’s billions of light years). I’ve understood the “z” stands for red shift, however, part from that, I’m just guessing here.

List of the most distant astronomical objects, where "BoRG-58" (a Protocluster candidate) has a distance of z≅8 (approx some 13Gly)
List of the most distant astronomical objects, source Wikipedia

Anyhow, we need not fear! There are no direct risk of getting across the BoRG in our lifetime… assimilation has been cancelled… the BoRG are so far away it’s silly… I mean travelling at warp 9.9 it would take them 13.4 million years to get here… But since they travel at transwarp speeds I can only assume they’d be here far sooner… (Frantic Googling did not yield a good calculation for transwarp speeds… I’m guessing the federation doesn’t know them – transwarp speeds that is – and I’d have to guess… further that it would have to be BoRG transwarp speeds as well… any transwarp speed would not do here!)

Ah well… life is full of uncertainty… Perhaps we’ll be assimilated in time for the next ice age?

But wait… BoRG-58?! Where the hell are the other 57 BoRGs? Shit! DAmn! CraP!

Update from my doctor:

  1. They are called “BORG” not “BoRG”
  2. They do not exist
  3. You always get like this when you live life with your imagination dialled all the way up to “too vivid to handle”!
  4. Eat your meds and call me in the morning…

Update 2:

Mom, this is a joke! Calm down!

I know the BORG is not really for real… At least I think they’re not really for real… did anyone came across any BORG? I may have… I especially remember one girlfriend…

OK, never mind that…