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  • Michael Krakovskiy 12:14 am on August 11, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Internet Explorer 6, , Microsoft Commerce Server, , , perl, ,   

    Surf Naked 

    I had to clean out my in laws’ Windows laptop this weekend, and this was my first major contact with Windows in weeks, outside of testing IE6 quirks on Parallels. The horror that is Sharepoint is only a distant memory. Even more distant (and not as unpleasant) memory of MS Commerce Server surfaced recently.

    I received this shirt as a gift from Microsoft developers, some of whom actually wrote major parts of Commerce Server and Site Server when I visited Redmond. They were very competent, knowledgeable and sociable. I remember being surprised by seeing a lot of Perl books in one office, and being told that for parsing log files even the mighty Beast of Redmond relied on Perl.

    I did not get to see Lake Bill or the Microsoft museum, but I did have a Blibbet Burger at the cafeteria. My favorite piece of swag was this polo shirt which I almost completely wore out. It is about to completely disintegrate, so I decided to scan the logo from it.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 5:55 pm on September 29, 2006 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Bangladesh, , , , Conservation reliant species, EDGE Species, Extinction, , High-level programming languages, , , Javan Rhinoceros, , O'Reilly Media, perl, , Python, , Sebastopol, , ,   

    O’Reilly Book Covers 

    Joel Spolsky wrote about an interesting limitation that he encountered when choosing a cover design for his book:

    “And although they would not put a doggie on the cover of my book as I requested, because a certain other book publisher threatens to sue his competitors when they put anything animal like within 90 feet of their covers, their graphic designer worked overtime to create underground cover art called “User Interface Design for Doggies” complete with three golden retrievers, which they framed and sent to me. All in all a classy operation and highly recommended if you’re thinking of writing a computer book.”

    The publisher is, of course, O’Reilly Media. The are famous for publishing computer programming books with engravings of animals on the covers. Like any programmer’s, my bookshelf holds a pretty sizable zoo of these critters. The question that always comes to mind is what guides the selection – how the publisher decides which animal to match with which technology. Here’s what O’Reilly editors say:

    “Our look is the result of reader comments, our own experimentation, and feedback from distribution channels. Distinctive covers complement our distinctive approach to technical topics, breathing personality and life into potentially dry subjects.”

    Well, with some books it’s clear – a spider for a webmaster book and a python for a Python book, for instance. But why does the Perl book have a camel? Wouldn’t an oyster make a lot more sense?

    Update: Joe Grossberg commented that camel was chosen “because Perl uses camelCase for capitalizing variables”. John (website or last name not included) said that “camel was picked for Perl because of the quip that it was a ‘horse designed by a committee'”. I like John’s version much better :)

    Joe also started a Wikipedia article on the subject.

    One of the more understandable conventions is using Javan animals on Java-related books. For instance, the Java book has a Javan tiger and the JavaScript book has a Javan rhino.

    O’Reilly colophons rarely give too much insight into why that particular animal was chosen for the cover, but sometimes you might read between the lines:

    “Like the crustaceans after which they are named, crab spiders walk sideways or backwards. They feed on bees and other pollenizing insects, often laying in wait for them by hiding on flowers.”

    “Both male and female pythons retain vestiges of their ancestral hind legs. The male python uses these vestiges, or spurs, when courting a female”

    “Folklore has long held that the horn of the rhinoceros possesses magical and aphrodisiacal powers, and that humans who gain possession of the horns will gain those powers, also.”

    “Tigers are the largest of all cats, weighing up to 660 pounds and with a body length of up to 9 feet. They are solitary animals, and, unlike lions, hunt alone.

    There are some tigers, however, who have developed a taste for human flesh. This is a particularly bad problem in an area of India and Bangladesh called the Sunderbans.”

    The ironic thing is, Javan tigers are extinct and there are only about 100 Javan rhinos remaining. Is that a dig at these languages?

    One of the most ironic, yet clearly unintentional choices was that of a stingray for the cover of ASP.NET in a Nutshell.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 12:58 am on August 29, 2006 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , perl, , , , stupid poll software,   

    A new poll 

    I played around a little with Advanced Poll, a free perl script that is automatically installed by Dreamhost, only to realize that it’s not particularly advanced. You can’t even have a dropdown-stlyle multiple choice question! Also, I could not find a way to make it work in an RSS feed. Then I installed a Democracity plugin for WordPress, which, while a bit easier to work with, is even more limited in features. Do you, my loyal readers have any suggestions or do I need to write the stupid poll software myself?

    Meanwhile, the current poll is a pretty simple question. Go vote.

     
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