If programming languages were literary genres...

Posted on 24 June 2011 in Funny, Programming

From a conversation at the pub this evening with Jonathan and Glenn...

  • JavaScript would be science fiction. Easy to get into, and while there's an incredible amount of crap out there, there are also many gems that, carefully considered, will completely change your outlook.
  • C and C++ would be "literary" fiction. Somewhat old-fashioned, occasionally brilliant, but frequently clunky and never quite as good as its devotees and creators like to think it is...
  • LISP and Scheme would be obscure branches of poetry; densely packed with information, a few words express something that would take that would take tens of thousands to express in other languages. But only a few dozen people in the world would understand it.

...and somewhere around there, we ran out of steam. Java as corporate mission statements? Not quite... VBA as newspaper cartoons? Hmm. COBOL as... God only knows. And we couldn't even place Python.

Anyone got any ideas?

And the same to you too, Google!

Posted on 23 December 2010 in Funny

While we're on the subject of rude words... I hope that Google aren't showing this kind of CAPTCHA to french people...

Google enculecr CAPTCHA

"Your Support Request has been submitted to the Support Request"

Posted on 8 September 2010 in Funny

I've been trying to cancel Resolver's Yahoo! Search Marketing account over the last day or so; it's not generating enough traffic to be worthwhile. The cancellation process is a little buggy.

First off, there's no "Cancel account" option that I can see on the page itself. Fair enough, I can understand why adding that has not been their top priority, though it would be nice to have. There is a "Customer support" link, however, which allows you to enter various kinds of "enquiries", including "Account administration" ones. So yesterday I used that to send a message asking for my account to be cancelled. It went through, though the acknowledgement page had slightly odd text (which I've used as the title of this post).

Today I received a response, which is a pretty decent turnaround time for customer service at a large company. It was well-worded and polite, with the normal "sorry to see you go" kind of thing. The only odd bit was was this:

If you wish to cancel your account, simply email us mentioning 'please cancel my 
account' and we will be happy to cancel your account out for you.

Um, OK. So I enter a support request asking them to cancel my account, and they send me an email asking me to send them an email asking them to cancel the account. Well, that's odd, but perhaps it's some kind of primitive security check, a way of making sure that I can send and receive email from the address linked to the account. So, I sent the email.

I just received an automated message from them, which said:

To ensure the security of our advertisers' account information, we now require all 
advertiser inquires [sic] to be submitted through our Support Request Form, a link 
to which is found at the bottom of nearly all pages within your account.

Right. So, to recap, I entered a support request asking them to cancel my account. They replied by sending me an email asking me to send them an email asking them to cancel my account. I sent them the email, and was instructed to send a support request, thus neatly closing the loop.

I think someone at Yahoo is a Kafka fan.

Generating political news using NLTK

Posted on 4 May 2010 in Funny, Politics, Programming, Python, Resolver Systems

It's election week here in the UK; on Thursday, we'll be going to the polls to choose our next government. At Resolver Systems, thanks to energy and inventiveness of our PR guys over at Chameleon, we've been doing a bunch of things related to this, including some analysis for the New Statesman that required us to index vast quantities of tweets and newspaper articles.

Last week I was looking at the results of this indexing, and was reminded of the fun I had playing with NLTK back in February. NLTK is the Python Natural Language Toolkit; as you'd expect, it has a lot of clever stuff for parsing and interpreting text. More unexpectedly (at least for me), it has the ability to take some input text, analyse it, and then generate more text in the same style. Here's something based on the Book of Genesis:

In the selfsame day entered Noah , and asses , flocks , and Maachah . And Joseph said unto him , Abrah and he asses , and told all these things are against me . And Jacob told Rachel that he hearkened not unto you . And Sarah said , I had seen the face of the air ; for he hath broken my covenant between God and every thing that creepeth upon the man : And Eber lived after he begat Salah four hundred and thirty years , and took of every sort shalt thou be come thither .

It was the work of a moment to knock together some code that would read in all of the newspaper articles that we'd tagged as being about a particular subject, run them through a Beautiful Soup-based parser to pull out the article text, and feed that into NLTK, then to dump the results into a Wordpress blog (after a little manual polishing for readability).

[ Read more ]

New splogging technique?

Posted on 4 November 2009 in Blogging, Funny

I'm sure everyone has encountered the kind of spam blog where they're scraping posts from someone reasonably well-known -- presumably via RSS -- and presenting the results as their own, normally with a million Google ads on the sidebar.

Here's a new (to me) twist on that. I spotted two new incoming links to my WebGL blog. One was a (very brief) mention in a roundup from Dion Almaer on Ajaxian, an Ajax community site. The other was on "tutorials4html.com".

Let's compare Dion's introductory sentences:

A lot of great news is coming in via Twitter. I make a lot of Ajax comments under @dalmaer and wanted to give you a roundup on the month of October via Tweets. Always interesting to take a glance at the month. What do you think?

...with that of the intriguingly-named "admin" on tutorials4html.com:

A aggregation of enthusiastic programme is reaching in via Twitter. I attain a aggregation of Ajax comments low @dalmaer and desired to provide you a roundup on the period of Oct via Tweets. Always engrossing to verify a spring at the month. What do you think?

Well, yes. It certainly is always engrossing to verify a spring at the month. Couldn't agree more.

What impresses me, though, is that they've clearly automated this. There's no way a paraphrase that bad could have been written by hand (or if there is, I never want to meet its author) so presumably they have some kind of program doing it. Maybe they run it through Google translate a few times?

hExcel -- A Hexagonal Spreadsheet

Posted on 6 August 2009 in Funny

A funny idea from secretGeek...

Praying that this isn't a hoax...

Posted on 19 February 2009 in Funny

In Variety:

Will Clark is set to direct "Pride and Predator," which veers from the traditional period costume drama when an alien crash lands and begins to butcher the mannered protags, who suddenly have more than marriage and inheritance to worry about.

Spam subject line of the day

Posted on 22 January 2009 in Funny

"IT consultant of perfect love making art" -- Alisander Dawson

Best. Video. Ever.

Posted on 20 November 2008 in Funny, Memes, Quick links, Robotics

Cats and robots. What more does a meme need?

A Thinking Ape's Critique of Trans-Simianism

Posted on 11 June 2008 in Funny

Crazy, out-there stuff:

Klomp's primary argument rests on what he calls the 'Quickening,' an imagined point somewhere in the future when the advancement of 'culture' occurs so rapidly that its pace will far exceed that of biological evolution. In his own words,

"There will come a time when within a single generation we will develop one or possibly even two new ideas.... Current advancements in the 'bow' and 'arrow' industries suggest an exponential trend in the expansion of our technological capacities. We are able to perform hunts in a fraction of the time it took our ancestors, thus freeing up valuable time to 'think' of new ideas. In the post-simian world, we may develop into a species that is not only intellectually superior to our current state, but capable of feats beyond the comprehension of a contemporary simian."

Pardon this author for not holding his breath.