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  • Michael Krakovskiy 9:11 am on May 22, 2006 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Barnes & Noble Union Square, Bob Terwilliger, Canadian art, Cape Feare, , Eastern Europe, , , , , Newscorp headquarters, Sideshow Bob, , The Simpsons Archive, Zaum   

    Quotin’ 

    I am currently reading Douglas Coupland’s latest book, “Jpod” and absolutely loving it. My favorite quote so far:

    “Here’s my theory about meetings and life: the three things you can’t fake are erections, competence and creativity. That’s why meetings become toxic–they put uncreative people in a situation in which they have to be something they can never be. And the more effort they put into concealing their inabilities, the more toxic the meeting becomes. One of the most common creativity-faking tactics is when somebody put their hands in the prayer position and conceals their mouth while they nod at you and say, “Hmmmmm. Interesting.” If pressed, they’ll add, “I’ll have to get back to you on that.” Then they don’t say anything else”.

    By the way, according to his website, on 14th of June 2006 at 7 pm, Coupland is going to be at Barnes & Noble Union Square, apparently promoting “Jpod.”

    One of the running themes in the book is the never ending references to the Simpsons cartoons. By my estimation, probably good third of my posts have an Simpsons quote. And you know what, I feel rather pathetic while watching old episodes I stumble upon obscure references that are not even documented in very, very obsessive snpp.com.

    Here are two latest ones that I found. I’ll let you guess, and then announce the right answer. My hope is that some of you are at least as nerdy as I am for knowing this.

    What is the significance of Bob Terwilliger’s prisoner number, 1211 in episode [9F22] Cape Feare? (this one’s is too easy for some of my friends :)

    Answer: Newscorp headquarters are located at 1211 Avenue of the Americas

    In episode 9F19 Krusty Gets Kancelled what is “Eastern Europe’s favorite cat-and-mouse team” based on?

    Answer: They are based on Kazimir Malevich-designed costumes for a futurist opera “Victory Over the Sun”. This 1913 opera was written in Zaum, an artificial avant-garde language, similar to glossolalia or “speaking in tongues”. And I thought that Malevich only drew black squares

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 11:00 am on January 30, 2004 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bug, Bug tracking system, Canadian art, , , , , Epistolary novels, Fuck, G. Pascal Zachary, John Coltraine, , Microserfs, miserable antisocial software, , , , QA engineer, , , , software engineer, Starship Troopers, , ,   

    The Fug 

    I think of my life as one long developing and debugging session. I try to improve my software and hardware, fight bloat, load more data in my databases, find new algorithms for doing things. And of course my life is full of little bugs, inefficiencies, crashes and weird behavior. Instead of making coding my way of life I try to make my way of life be more like coding.

    There are three classics of the genre of the heroic computer geek saga. First there’s Tracy Kidder’s “The Soul Of a New Machine“. Second is Douglas Coupland’s “Microserfs“. Third is G. Pascal Zachary’s Show-Stopper!. Pascal’s first name which he hides behind the initial “G” is Gregg. Yep, Gregg.

    Now I would like to add another book to the list. It’s Ellen Ullman’s “The Bug“.

    To describe what these books are about I need to borrow a name of Cordwainer Smith’s short story – The Burning of the Brain. Or Harlan Ellison’s I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream. Those are the things that come to mind when I think about the heroes of these books.

    Also comes to mind the episode of NYPD Blue where a doctor tells detective Simone that there is a possibility that the LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Device) balloon pump might start “chewing up” his body. A poor choice of a metaphor in that case, but a very good one to describe what happens to the bodies and minds of the heroes of these books, be they real life superhuman engineers like Dave Cutler and Steve Wallach or more human but fictional protagonists of “Microserfs” and “The Bug”.

    “The Bug” has three main characters. A tester on her way of breaking out from the cocoon of useless liberal arts degree holder and becoming a QA engineer not only in title but in life; a miserable antisocial software engineer in a fight of his life; and a software bug called The Jester.

    At work I use Joel Spolsky’s most excellent bug tracking application called FogBugz. My project manager started calling especially nasty bugs “fugs”. Well, The Jester is a “fug” to the power of 10. To get the feeling of vertigo, the sense of spiraling into an abyss that “The Bug” invokes, i suggest listening to a piece titled “Spiral” on John Coltraine’s famous “Giant Steps”.

    And here’s my favorite quote from the book:
    “Look, Levin. Programming starts out like it’s going to be architecture–all black lines on white paper, theoretical and abstract and spatial and up-in-the-head. Then, right around the time you have to get something fucking working, it has this nasty tendency to turn into plumbing.
    “No, no. Lemme think,” Harry interrupted himself. “It’s more like you’re hired as a plumber to work in an old house full of ancient, leaky pipes laid out by some long-gone plumbers who were even weirder than you are. Most of the time you spend scratching your head and thinking: Why the fuck did they do that?”
    “Why the fuck did they?” Ethan said.
    Which appeared to amuse Harry to no end. “Oh, you know,” he went on, laughing hoarsely, “they didn’t understand whatever the fuck had come before them, and they just had to get something working in some ridiculous time. Hey, software is just a shitload of pipe fitting you do to get something the hell working. Me,” he said, holding up his chewed, nail-torn hands as if for evidence, “I’m just a plumber.” “

     
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