Cyrus Smith lays a sick burn on Captain Nemo in Jules Verne’s “The Mysterious Island”

I’ve been reading Jules Verne’s L’île mystérieuse (The Mysterious Island.) It’s about a bunch of Civil War prisoners who escape in a balloon, find themselves marooned on a desert island, and by a slow application of engineering principles build up food, shelter, defense, and eventually a working telegraph system. Oh, and it has Captain Nemo….


Microsoft etiquette: calendar appointments when going out of office

A common convention within Microsoft when going out of office is to create two calendar appointments in Outlook: An appointment which allows people who are trying to schedule a meeting with you to know that you’re out of office at the time Attendees: just you Show As: Out of Office An informational appointment which allows…


Even if someone’s signaling right, they still have the right of way

I was driving to work this morning and I had an experience which vindicated my paranoia, and may even have passed it on to someone else. I was heading East on NE 80th St approaching 140th Ave NE in Redmond. This is a two-way stop; drivers on 140th have the right of way and do not stop….


Translating Ada Lovelace – mathematical science is an instrument

Lady Augusta Ada, Countess of Lovelace is credited with being the first computer programmer. The short version: her associate Charles Babbage gave a lecture on his Analytical Engine in Italy; an Italian engineer wrote up a report on his lecture, in French; Lady Ada then translated the report into English, and added her own notes….


Rules for making change

It happens a million times a day.  Somebody pays cash for something and gets change.  But there are rules, and Raymond’s friend seems to like to break those rules.  Luckily for Raymond’s friend, one of the rules is the customer is always right… or as Mr. Krabs would say, the money is always right.  This…


Forcing Windows to install on a single partition

If you’re installing Windows via a boot DVD, and you choose Custom, you have the option to rearrange partitions.  I like use this to have each drive be one big partition. Windows 7 wants to set aside a 100 MB partition for something-or-other.  I’m sure there’s a very good reason for this but I am…


Tweaks I make every time I install Windows

As preparation for moving one of my machines from Vista to Windows 7, I’m compiling a list of all the little tweaks I like to make to machines that I use a lot: Boot from the Windows DVD.  Delete all partitions; make each hard drive one big partition.  (Hmm… apparently Windows 7 really wants a…


The more experience I get the more I like to try new things

There is a general pattern in professional people.  We start out idealistic and adventurous, and as disasters inevitably accumulate we become more circumspect and pessimistic. (Pre-emptive snarky response: “you say that like it’s a bad thing.”) While pessimism is invaluable to a tester, it should be tempered with a just sense of hubris.  Larry Wall’s…


If you see a fact, try to see it as intuitively as possible

Insight is a tricky thing.  To a certain degree people are born with it (or without it) – but if you are gifted with a measure of it, you can develop it (as though it were a muscle) by working at it. The late mathematician George Pólya had a number of helpful problem-solving mottos, one…