The British Poultry Authority

One of my numerous heroes, David Cutler, among other things in his office at Digital, had a sign supposedly from “The British Poultry Authority” which asked “Is Your Cock Plump Enough?”. I’ve read about it in one of my favorite books about Microsoft – “Showstopper“.

That kind of reminded me about a story somebody told me about a tour guide in Riga, who could not understand why all the American tourists laughed when she said something about “a cock on the spire”. In the Soviet Union everybody learned British English.

A couple of food packages from my recent trip to the supermarket:

The Temporary Tattoo of Wysdom

is (not entirely voluntarily) cleaning out junk out of her drawers. There are heaps of dot com era promotional junk that she accumulated from conventions.

* webclients.net : Your Portal to Profit – mini postits
* dsainc.com – golf tees
* iSmell Digital Scent Technology : – a sticker with a skunk. If I remember correctly they actually had a working model of smell-o-vision. I put the sticker on our toilet seat cover.
* WebLoad / radview.com – bouncy ball. Interestingly, bouncy balls are somewhat of cult item at Microsoft.
* Wysdom.com – temporary tattoo
* web 2 mobile – temporary tatoo
* yo.com – business card (cheap bastards)

I think all of them except iSmell are still in business (well, their websites are still up).

I wonder if the temporary dot com tattoos will ever become collectible…

And now, are you ready for a challenge? If you know who wrote this (looking up on the web doesn’t count), assign yourself 313 deadprogrammer points™ .

I need a temporary dog
For a temporary job
On a temporary place
Like Earth!

After hearing of the reason for my choice of the number of points to award said that I am “so full of myself”. She’s right, ya know.

What Do You Want to Drink Today?

I was always fascinated (yeah, yeah, I am easily fascinated) with project code names. There are lots of interesting stories connected with project names.

For instance, in the olden times Apple code named Power Macintosh 7100 “Sagan” in honor of Dr. Carl Sagan. He sued them for the use of his name. Apple developers renamed the project “BHA”. Which everybody knew stood for “Butt-Head Astronomer”. [by the way, I don’t know what the whole “Millions and millions” thing is about. I’ve never seen the show.]

Anyhoo, when I have some free time I will try to make a huge database of software, hardware project and military campaign name database. Oh, and server names. Those are a barrel of fun.

I searched for, but never found a list of all Microsoft project names. Tahoe, Longhorn, Chicago. I can never keep those straight.

One Microsoft project name in particular taught me something. One of the Pocket PC OS versions was code named “Talisker”. I did not know what “Talisker” was. I looked it up on the web, and then decided to try it. That’s how I got introduced to single malt scotch. And Talisker is still one of my favorites. :)

Book Matters

You know, how come livejournal posts have a “Music:” field but no “Reading:” field? That’s just unfair.

What am I reading now? Two books. “Bad Boy Ballmer: The Man Who Rules Microsoft ” and “The Book on the Bookshelf” (thanks ) . Wait, no three books. I am also reading “Out of Their Minds: The Lives and Discoveries of 15 Great Computer Scientists

I’ve just finished “Startup: A Silicon Valley Adventure” and “Barbarians Led by Bill Gates: Microsoft from the Inside ” (thanks ). Good, good stuff.

“Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire” , “Pour Your Heart into It : How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time” and “Proudly Serving My Corporate Masters: What I Learned in Ten Years As a Microsoft Programmer” are on their way. Mmmmmm.

You know what, I have not even read that much science fiction lately. And I haven’t read anything in Russian lately.

One exception though. The last book in Russian that I’ve read was «ÐšÐ«Ð¡Ð¬» by Tatyana Tolstaya. Ha, it’s translated as “The Slynx“. On preorder. Gotta get it.

Checked today what’s new in NESFA press – they republish good old science fiction. “Dimensions of Sheckley:The Short Novels of Robert Sheckley”. Still no Kuttner anthology. Too bad.

Taking it to a higher level

Mysterious Microsoft level system – somewhat demystified.

You could say I am obsessed with hierarchies. Well, I am not. But hierarchies and lists are pretty common themes in my journal.

One hierarchy I don’t understand very well is the Microsoft system or levels. In the book “Barbarians Led By Gates” the system is partially explained. They say that developers are rated on a scale from 10 to 15, 13 being a group lead and 15 being an equivalent of a VP. It seems to have changed since the book was written, because is level 62.

Hmm, can’t find any info on that online. Maybe other books about Microsoft will have a better explanation.

Nobbin or Boffin? Scratching My Noggin.

“Microsoft MCSEs are bogus boffins, say Canadian engineers”.
I like the word “boffin”. I learned it from “Junkyard Wars” (which wacky Brits call “Scrapheap Challenge”). Heh heh. Boffin. At first I thought it was of those monsters from an old game “Digger”. But no, they were called Nobbin and Hobbin.

Kind of like Pacman ghosts are called Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde.

Oh yeah, did you know that Hoser engineers are really, really cool? They even have this special iron ring which they get in a so called Kipling Ceremony or The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer. I can see how they can get pissed of at the E in MCSE.

Microsoft Tabula Rasa.

Chairman Bill is launching Tablet PC right now.
He got fatter since the last time I have seen him.
Looks like they’ve learned everything the could from the failures of Grid, Pen Windows, Newton, Palm, Softbook and Nuvomedia. Maybe this is it, the tablet is here.. I am getting one.

Stroking the Genius

Right now am pretty much obsessed with books about rise and fall of tech companies.

These are the most memorable books I’ve read this past year:
Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution
Insanely Great: The Life and Times of Macintosh, the Computer That Changed Everything
Dealers of Lightning: Xerox Parc and the Dawn of the Computer Age
Show-Stopper!: The Breakneck Race to Create Windows Nt and the Next Generation at Microsoft
The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison: Inside Oracle Corporation: God Doesn’t Think He’s Larry Ellison
High Stakes, No Prisoners : A Winner’s Tale of Greed and Glory in the Internet Wars
The Soul of a New Machine
The Supermen: The Story of Seymour Cray and the Technical Wizards Behind the Supercomputer

Awesome, awesome stuff. I should find time to write some reviews.

I purchased all of these books used (except “Soul of a New Machine” which I just _had_ to have at the time). Some were cheap, others surprisingly expensive. For instance my copy of “Hackers” set me back $30 or $40 because it was out of print at the time. A new edition came out very soon thereafter. Interestingly enough the same thing happened with “Alan Turing: The Enigma“. “The Supermen” was the most expensive at $50. I am still hunting for acceptably priced “The Legend of Amdahl“.

I just finished reading “Defying Gravity: The Making of Newton“. It was very good.

Right now I am reading “Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed“, which is orgasmically [spellchecker suggested “orgasmic ally” heh heh] good.

I really want to buy one of those highlighter scanners made by C-Pen so that I can keep notes for my livejournal as I read.

C-Pen’s slogan is “Stroke of Genius”. Beavis and Butthead would have a field day with them :)

From I bet you didn’t know this department

Ctrl-alt-del, the three finger salute has an official name. It’s SAS or “Secure Attention Sequence”.
I learned that from Microsoft’s Tablet PC site.

C1. A Tablet PC without an attached keyboard must support a single, dedicated, non-overloaded hardware mechanism for generating the Secure Attention Sequence (SAS), also known as "CTRL+ALT+DEL" or "CAD."
C2. If the SAS button is implemented as a Human Interface Device (HID), the HID-compliant button driver must provide a keyboard collection to report the SAS event.