The Old New Thing

I just have a plain standard-issue guest chair

Whereas Larry started with a standard office layout and added a fancy-dancy desk chair, I have opted to modify the standard office layout by removing items. First, I got rid of the corner piece, which is a colossal waste of space due to its sheer size. All that space behind the keyboard and monitor serves only to collect dust. Out it goes...

The etymology of the word “traffic light”

Some languages are very creative with their term for those red/green thingies that control (or at least try to control) the flow of vehicular traffic. Swedish proves the least surprising in this respect (from a US English point of view), using the same term as US English. South African English is the funniest with their "robot". (It makes ...

When was the last time you formatted a floppy disk?

For some reason, I was reminded of the people who pooh-poohed Windows 95 because it didn't format floppy disks smoothly. Who spends all day formatting floppy disks? Even in 1995, when you bought a box of floppy disks, they came pre-formatted...

Content owners need to review the designer art, too

The Washington State Association of County Auditors have a web site explaining steps people need to take to ensure their vote is counted properly. Unfortunately, the auditors didn't review what the web design team came up with, because their page on how to mark your ballot is illustrated with a cute graphic with a check-mark. Too bad the ...

The psychology of naming your internal distribution lists

One problem that I'm sure everybody has run into is what I'm going to call the "comp.unix.wizards" problem. People who have a problem with unix are looking for someone who can help them, and given the choice between a general questions group and a wizard group, they're obviously going to choose the wizards because that's where the smart people...

Hiding from the police? Try knitting a sweater

Well, okay, it didn't work. But it was an interesting technique. Police Find Hit & Run Suspect Knitting At Curbside January 29, 2003 (Miami Beach) — Several elderly patients were injured Tuesday afternoon after a car that witnesses say was traveling more than 100 mph slammed into the van in which they were riding. Police ...

Why was GlobalWire called GlobalWire?

John Elliott wondered why the GlobalWire function was called GlobalWire. First, some background for those who never had to write 16-bit Windows programs. The GlobalWire function was similar to the 16-bit GlobalLock function, except that it had the bonus feature of relocating the memory to the lowest available linear address. You used this ...

Take it easy on the automatic retries

When I saw a discussion of how to simulate retry via try/catch, using as inspiration a Ruby function that retried a network operation three times before finally giving up, I felt the need to caution against automatic retry. Your natural inclination when faced with a failure that has a good chance of being caused by a transient condition is ...
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