2014 mid-year link clearance

Another round of the semi-annual link clearance.

James Mickens section

January 2014: This World of Ours

I have seen a video called “Gigantic Martian Insect Party,” and I have seen another video called “Gigantic Martian Insect Party 2: Don’t Tell Mom,” and I hated both videos, but this did not stop me from directing the sequel “Gigantic Martian Insect Party Into Darkness.”

March 2014: To Wash It All Away

Clearing the cache to fix a Web browser is like when your dad was driving you to kindergarten, and the car started to smoke, and he tried to fix the car by banging on the hood three times and then asking you if you could still smell the carbon monoxide, and you said, “Yeah, its better,” because you didn’t want to expose your dad as a fraud, and then both of you rode to school in silence as you struggled to remain conscious.

And a recorded presentation: Computers are a Sadness, I am the Cure, which is hilarious because it's true, especially his final security recommendation.

Comments (18)
  1. 12BitSlab says:

    Raymond, thanks for the links.  The one re: keyboard ghosting was very interesting.  Is ghosting the reason that CTRL/ALT/DEL was the combination used in Windows?

  2. Erik F says:

    CAD was used in DOS to reboot, and I'm pretty sure that Windows NT simply reused the key combination because it was guaranteed not to be used by any normal program. Obligatory Wikipedia link: en.wikipedia.org/…/Control-Alt-Delete

  3. nathan_works says:

    Ah, so glad to see more James Mickens

  4. Gabe says:

    I think it's a bit ironic that, having read the entire thesis of "To Wash It All Away", I find the only part that isn't true is the passage about browser caches. Whenever I have a problem that defies all other attempts at debugging, clearing the browser cache tends to reliably work.

    But maybe he's talking about clearing a cache to fix a problem on somebody else's web site, and not the one you're developing.

  5. Dave says:

    I think "pork pig" (porpoise) should be "pork fish", according to the link it goes to.

    [Fixed. Thanks. -Raymond]
  6. Dave Bacher says:

    On modern.ie, even better than the IE virtual machine images is the new developer channel.

    If you've not checked that out, you should.

  7. Double Dutch says:

    Aardvark seems more tribute to the Dutch (or Afrikaans) way with words than the English.

    I have had to put the Mickens browser piece on hold until I can freely laugh and cry without drawing undue attention.

  8. Mark says:

    That Hampton, FL link reminds me of Linndale, OH. It's a village of 179 people just outside of Cleveland that manages to fund approximately 80% of its $1,000,000/year budget with speeding tickets on a 422 yard (yes, as in 1266 feet) stretch of I-71 that runs through it. The segment of roadway within the village limits is so small, village police officers actually have to leave their own jurisdiction to enter and exit the highway.

    Even with the abolishment of their mayor's court by Ohio state legislation last year, the village plans to continue patrolling and issuing citations as they always have.

  9. Rick C says:

    I've been through Hampton, FL, once or twice.  It's just south of Starke, which is ALSO a speed trap, only there, the speed limit drops from 65 to 55, and then to 35 for about a mile, and everybody goes through at exactly 35mph, under the watchful eye of a bunch of cops just waiting for someone to accidentally go 36.

    Someone put up a billboard a bit north of Starke, saying it's a speedtrap…so the town put up a billboard north of the first one, saying "Starke is not a speed trap. We care about your safety."

    There is no good reason to travel US-301 unless you're actually going to one of the small towns near it–it's narrow and runs through a bunch of little towns, which slows it down…and of course there's the two speed traps.  Take an interstate instead–they're MUCH faster.

  10. Rick C says:

    This reminded me of a story I heard a couple weeks ago about another speedtrap town; I think this one's in California.  9 police officers covering a 12-block "town".  They like to cite people for having an "obstructed view"–basically if you have anything hanging from your rear-view mirror, they'll ticket you a couple hundred bucks in the name of "safety."  Reason TV, now that I think of it, had the story about it: http://www.youtube.com/watch.  The video's a couple of minutes long and shows a map of the town.  The best part is the reporter asking the chief of police why he's got something hanging off his OWN rear-view mirror.

  11. alegr1 says:


    Unfortunately, Mr Mickens mentions that "To Wash It All Away" is his last column. That's a shame; it was a real treat.

  12. GWO says:

    It amuses me intensely that the Latin name for the Timber Rattlesnake is "Crotalus horridus."

  13. Paul Coddington says:

    I wonder if keyboard ghosting is the reason why some Windows applications, such as Word, often switch spontaneously from insert mode to overwrite mode in the middle of typing something?

  14. JJJ says:

    No matter how hard I fought to have my thesis as plain-english and readable as possible, my advisor would routinely tell me to stick in words like "methodologies" and replace "use" with "utilize".  My thesis title was like 2 lines of an obtuse mix of academic jargon, but thankfully at least this was before the "Title: Subtitle" trend.

    If I had to give it the lol my thesis treatment, it'd simply be "If you want your program to be fast, make sure your processors always have work to do".

  15. Kim says:

    Lots of those animal names have the same meaning in Swedish as in German too. :)

    For example:

    racoon – tvättbjörn (wash bear)

    porcupine – piggsvin (spike pig)

    tortoise – sköldpadda (shield toad)

    squid/octopus – bläckfisk (ink fish)

    The more you think about them the stranger they start sounding…

  16. John Elliott says:

    I found ghosting amusing when I was documenting the behaviour of the Amstrad PC1512 keyboard; there were various positions in the key matrix with no key, but I could make them produce scancodes by pressing the right three keys that did exist. So NumLock + Scroll Lock + Keypad Enter caused the otherwise nonexistent scancode 0x73 to be generated, and so on.

  17. Jeffrey Bosboom says:

    Obligatory xkcd for the aardvark story: https://xkcd.com/978/

  18. Jeffrey Bosboom says:

    Obligatory xkcd for the aardvark story: https://xkcd.com/978/

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