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SMBC - I'm quirky!

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New comic!

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toddgrotenhuis
16 hours ago
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Indianapolis
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Dumb's The Word

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Thank-you-word-cloud

Brent's latest software project contained a story for adding a word-cloud to a PDF report that was already being generated on a production server using Java. Instead of being handled by Brent's in-house team, the requirement was assigned—against Brent's wishes—to overseas developers whom the company had recently contracted to "add more horsepower" to things.

Being fairly technical, the product manager found an example word-cloud library, linked to it in the ticket, and commented, "The output should look something like this."

A month passed. Then, Brent reported into work one morning to find a new ticket in JIRA listed as blocking the word-cloud ticket. Its title was Having trouble launching Internet Explorer from Selenium on Linux servers (works fine locally on my Windows development machine).

Brent's confusion left him paralyzed for a few moments. Then he realized, this was probably just a testing ticket that'd somehow gotten linked to the story by accident. To make sure, he called up Bobby, his counterpart from the contracting firm, who'd been the one to file the ticket.

"It's not a mistake," Bobby explained. "The story really is blocked."

"OK, so, you're really trying to launch Internet Explorer on the production app server?" Brent asked. "You realize IE's not installed on that server, right? What do you need it for?"

"It's integral to the implementation I came up with," Bobby replied.

Brent was afraid to ask. "How?"

"I couldn't find a native Java word-cloud library, so this is what I have to do to fulfill the specifications," Bobby said. "First, I take the PDF report data and serialize it to JSON. Then, I import Selenium into the production codebase. Then, I generate an HTML page and a Selenium script. Once Selenium is started, the script launches Internet Explorer and opens the HTML page. Once the HTML page loads, Selenium captures a screenshot of it. With Java, the screenshot is opened, cropped, and then embedded into the PDF report."

Brent was stunned speechless.

"I got this to work on my local machine, but then I tried to test on a server and hit the error," Bobby continued.

That's what you were doing all month? Brent marveled. "Uh, OK ... listen, the implementation you just described is unacceptable. I don't see why we can't keep it within Java. We're coming up on our deadline."

Brent's eyes strayed toward the calendar tacked to his cubicle wall, showing him how few empty squares he had left to deal with this. He took a deep breath, composed himself, then donned his project manager hat to do the managerly thing.

"Leave this alone for now, all right? I'm going to speak with some of my developers and let you know what we decide to do from here."

"OK," Bobby replied.

Once off the call, Brent opened up Outlook and fired off a meeting request for the earliest possible time. A short while later, he looked upon his assembled developers within a dimly lit conference room, half of whom were more interested in their laptops than in the minor crisis Brent related to them.

"What can we do about this on short notice?" he begged. "Is there a native Java library that can generate word-clouds?"

No amount of Internet-hunting turned up anything useful. Brent tugged at his collar. He'd been hoping Bobby had been wrong about that, and that a solution would only require a download and a few lines of code.

"All right. How hard would it be to code our own implementation?" Brent asked.

Cheryl, who'd been typing furiously all meeting, finally let up on the keyboard and shoved away from the table. "Here, I just finished."

As it turned out, her keyboard exercise had not been in the service of bashing trolls in comment threads. Everyone gathered to peek over her shoulder at the PDF-embedded word-cloud it'd taken her minutes to code and generate, an accomplishment that'd eluded their contractors for a whole month.

"Meeting adjourned!" Brent cried in triumph.

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wreichard
3 days ago
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Cheryls hold the world together.
Earth
wmorrell
3 days ago
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Mic drop, Cheryl. đź‘Ź
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jsonstein
1 day ago
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the Cheryls of the world are what keep us going
43.128462,-77.614463
jepler
3 days ago
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'Cheryl, who'd been typing furiously all meeting, finally let up on the keyboard and shoved away from the table. "Here, I just finished."'
Earth, Sol system, Western spiral arm
glenn
2 days ago
Sadly, having cleaned up what offshore teams have built, this story is completely accurate
jepler
2 days ago
the team doesn't have to be offshore....!
glenn
2 days ago
That is for sure! But I think I'm batting a 1000 where any project I see that involves offshore is royally borked

Theft Quadrants

3 Comments and 7 Shares
TinyURL was the most popular link shortener for long enough that it made it into a lot of printed publications. I wonder what year the domain will finally lapse and get picked up by a porn site.
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kleer001
3 days ago
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I've always hated url shortening. The only thing worse is unwieldy urls. Anything more than 100 characters for human readable or so is nuts I think
Covarr
4 days ago
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I guess the real question is how bad would it be if you could illegally download a car?
Moses Lake, WA
Cthulhux
4 days ago
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You can't "steal" launch codes, damnit.
Fledermausland
Lythimus
4 days ago
I once knew someone who swore you could catch wi-fi packets to analyze with a trash bag.
Cthulhux
4 days ago
You could. If it's a really thick and large trash back made of lead.
wffurr
4 days ago
Why not? Isn't that what "the football" is?
zippy72
4 days ago
We do know that they used to be 0000-0000.

Upping our insult game

4 Comments and 13 Shares

Carmen Fought observes that "Fellow citizens, we have to up our insult game. The Scots are making us look like wankers. ‪#‎mangledapricothellbeast‬".

Certainly the Scots have taught us a wide varietyof new words and insult phrasesin response to Donald Trump's tweet about Brexit.

And so on…

Given Mr. Trump's role in pushing the envelope of American political insults, many will consider this to be karmic justice. It's getting picked up on the backstreets of the internet, and may have some of the same impact on his future that "lyin' Ted" and "liddle Marco" had on the careers of his previous opponents.

There were also apparently some more subtle forms of communication associated with his trip:

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skorgu
1 day ago
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"incompressible jizztrumpet" makes me giggle uncontrollably every time.
glenn
3 days ago
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tiny fingered, Cheeto-faced, ferret wearing shitgibbon
Waterloo, Canada
mgeraci
2 days ago
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New York, NY
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gangsterofboats
3 days ago
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Because this *totally* proves that Trump is wrong. /s
jlvanderzwan
3 days ago
It disproves the old claim that only Republicans know how to sling insults
dukeofwulf
1 day ago
Astute observation, gangster. In fact, there are PLENTY of detailed takedowns of both Brexit and Trump's response to it out there, including the Scalzi post immediately below (assuming that you're viewing this on the "People Have Spoken" feed). This is more of a "laughing so we can stop crying" sort of post.
dukeofwulf
1 day ago
I'm also partial to this one: http://gawker.com/1782555070
jepler
3 days ago
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you polyester cockwomble
Earth, Sol system, Western spiral arm

A Few Thoughts Post-Brexit

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In no particular order, as I’m writing them off the top of my head:

1. So, the pound has crashed to a 30 year low, trading was halted on the Japanese stock market, other markets are plunging, David Cameron is resigning, Scotland wants another independence referendum, Sinn Fein is pushing for Irish reunification, Nigel Farage went on TV and said, basically, “Hey, remember when we said we were gonna put that EU money into our health service? We lied,” and the EU is saying to the UK, you want out, fine, but let’s make this quick. Yup, welcome to Brexit!

2.If you want an inside view of this mess, I suggest Charlie Stross’ take on it. His opening line is “Okay, so the idiots did it; they broke the UK,” which as far as I can see is entirely accurate.

3. From the outside, I wish I could say it looks totally unfathomable, but it doesn’t, because, hello, Donald Trump is the GOP nominee for president over here. The same bigoted, emotional, don’t-need-to-know-facts impulses that powered the Brexit vote to 52% put Trump into general presidential race. The irony is that some of these UK voters are apparently surprised that they carried the day. News folk over in the UK are now telling us that a fair number of people who voted “Leave” didn’t really think it was going to happen, so what was the harm in voting for it. Cornwall, which voted to leave, is now saying the UK government must replace its EU subsidies. Good luck with that, Cornwall. Maybe get in line behind the NHS for that money.

It should be noted that all the horrible things that are currently happening because of Brexit were called by the very experts that Michael Gove asserted, correctly, alas, that voters were tired of. This  of, which does seem to suggest that perhaps, for future reference, experts might be listened to from time to time. Also that a protest vote is still a vote, and as Nader voters learned (or, sadly, didn’t), you shouldn’t protest vote if you’re not willing to live with the implications of your protest, the implications, having been outlined to you by, you know, experts. protest.

(This is where a few Nader voters spin up and whine that nuh-uh, they totally didn’t throw the election to Bush. Dudes, sit the fuck down, already.)

4. To make this about the US for a moment: Could the same bigoted, emotional, don’t-need-to-know-facts impulses that pulled Brexit over the line actually put Trump into the White House? They could, sure! It’s not likely, because a) the Democratic advantage in the Electoral College, b) Trump to date running the most incompetent general campaign in the modern history of US politics, but there still are relevant are lessons to be learned from Brexit. First and foremost, that it won because the people who voted for it the most were exactly Trump’s demographic here in the US: Older white folks from economically shaky areas — and they turned out in force, voting in substantially higher numbers than, say, the younger UK voters, who were overwhelmingly for remaining, but who didn’t vote anywhere near the numbers of older voters.

Which is the second thing, of course: folks, when it comes to politics, if you don’t vote, what you think kinda means dick. Here in the US, the people who love Trump are gonna show up on election day. 100% sure of that prediction. We know they will because they already did. And you can say, yes, but there’s not enough of them overall, and I will say to you, fuck you and your complacent ass, I want him to lose in a goddamn landslide. I want him electorally nuked from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure. Everyone needs to vote. It’s really that important.

With that said, it should be noted that Trump is currently blathering that he thinks that the Brexit, which is plunging the British economy into a trench and giving the global economy a haircut, is perfectly fabulous. He literally just said that he thinks Brexit is great because the pound dropping means more people will come to his golf course, which I think is the 21st century’s gold standard entry in the “fiddling while Rome burns” sweepstakes. So  And maybe, perhaps, the combination of economic implosion and Trump’s smug wanking about it will be the thing that convinces any fiscal conservative still holding out on Clinton to pinch their nose and vote for her in November, because she’s not in fact a raging cauldron of economic stupidity? November. Maybe? But probably not? We’ll see.

So yeah: Trump could take it. Brexit shows us how. Don’t get cocky. And vote, for fuck’s sake.

5. To get personal for a moment, over on Twitter I was asked whether or not, as an American, Brexit was actually going to have an impact on my life. Yes, it surely does! For one thing, I sell books in the UK, through my UK publishers (Gollancz and Tor UK), and I get paid in pound sterling, which is currently being punched in the throat, in terms of exchange rate. For another, the UK economy is likely to plunge into a recession, which will make it harder to sell books there, so that’s not great either. I also sell in other territories around the world, particularly in Europe, and Brexit is a destabilizing force there, which is likely not good for me. And of course the US economy is itself likely to get some buffeting from it, too.

But wait, there’s more! I like many Americans have retirement stock investments, which look to take a 2008-sized pummel. I should also note that 2008’s global recession was pretty terrible for publishing, the field I’m in, and writers in particular got it high and hard, so if things go south in general, that also makes things more difficult for folks in my field.

So, yes, directly and indirectly, Brexit is going to have an impact on my life, as an American and also as a working writer. Thanks, UK.

The good news for me, such as it is, is that last year I signed long-term publishing contracts with Tor (for printed/electronic books) and Audible (for audio). Those contracts basically act as an economic hedge  buffer for me, which is a thing I entirely intended them to be when I signed them — not against Brexit, to be clear, but against general instability in the publishing world. But they work for Brexit, too, as well as any knock-on economic fallout that might come from it. So, yay, go me and my fundamentally fiscally conservative nature.

6. But let’s be honest, if the world economy goes to shit, my contracts aren’t going to save me any more than they’re going to save anyone else, they’ll just slightly delay my fall into the abyss. The best case scenario at this point is merely that the UK is screwed for a while, and the rest of the global economy routes around it. The worst case scenario is, well, a bit grimmer, economically and otherwise. I’m hoping for the best case scenario (sorry, UK). I’ll be financially planning for other things.

(However, people in the US, etc — please do not panic about your retirement accounts just yet, unless you are, in fact, just about to retire. The whole point of retirement accounts is you sock money away in them and then let them do their thing. There will be ups and downs. This is a down. There will, hopefully, be more ups to come.)

To my friends in the UK who have to deal with this directly: My sympathies. May the pain be relatively brief. You can come camp out on my lawn if you need to. To my friends in the US: Fucking vote in November, already.


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wmorrell
4 days ago
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Vote.
pfctdayelise
3 days ago
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Melbourne, Australia
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jsonstein
1 day ago
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yup
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JimB
2 days ago
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Learn from this USA. Don't get caught by the liars with the big hair.
acdha
4 days ago
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QFT: “folks, when it comes to politics, if you don’t vote, what you think kinda means dick. Here in the US, the people who love Trump are gonna show up on election day. 100% sure of that prediction. We know they will because they already did. And you can say, yes, but there’s not enough of them overall, and I will say to you, fuck you and your complacent ass, I want him to lose in a goddamn landslide. I want him electorally nuked from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure. Everyone needs to vote. It’s really that important.”
Washington, DC
jepler
4 days ago
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As a USAian I irrationally worry that brexit is a bellweather for the donald's possible success in november.
Earth, Sol system, Western spiral arm

"Tomorrow belongs to me"

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Okay, so the idiots did it; they broke the UK.

This is a book launch month and I should really be blogging about "The Nightmare Stacks" but British politics has just entered a nightmarish alignment and we're in CASE NIGHTMARE TWEED territory. So book-related business as usual will resume tomorrow, after I've vented.

The Brexit referendum was initially a red herring; a proxy struggle for control of the Conservative Party, with Boris Johnson suddenly turning his coat to march in front of the Leave campaign because it offered his best -- arguably his only -- chance of winkling David Cameron out of Downing Street before his scheduled retirement in 2020, by which time Boris would be 59 (and by British standards too old to be a first-term Prime Minister).

But in the process of squabbling over their own party the euroskeptic Conservatives opened the door to the goose-stepping hate-filled morons of the extreme right. The results include the first assassination of an MP -- unconnected with the Irish independence struggle -- in nearly two centuries, an upsurge in racist attacks on minorities and the disabled, and finally a demented protest vote by the elderly (voters under 25 broke 75% for remain; the over-60s voted over 66% for leave).

I'm not patting myself on the back for calling out the consequences. Sterling has tanked to its lowest level in 31 years, the stock market has crashed by 10% already, and we're likely to see international repercussions as all the sovereign wealth funds that had invested in the London property market see 30% wiped off their investments in a matter of days. Longer term, this may well be the beginning of the end for the UK as a nation. (Watch who's standing on the sidelines praising the result: Donald Trump, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Marine le Pen -- a who's who of international fascismus.) The EU was the guarantor of the Good Friday peace agreement in Northern Ireland: the Northern Ireland peace process must thus be presumed to be broken, and it's anybody's guess what happens next. Scotland voted by a 62%/38% margin to remain in the EU and is being dragged out against its will; we are already seeing the first moves towards a second Independence referendum, and on the basis of pre-Brexit opinion polls it looks highly likely that Scotland will vote for independence within the EU. (When asked how they'd vote on an independence referendum if the UK had voted to leave the EU, Scottish voter intentions registered a 6% swing towards independence -- a hypothetical that would deliver an absolute majority.) The enabling legislation for IndyRef 2 is apparently already being drafted in Holyrood, and the Scottish government, despite being an SNP minority group, can count on an absolute parliamentary majority in moving for another referendum because the Scottish Green Party will vote with them (being officially for independence); it's likely that in 2-5 years Scotland will have split from the UK and applied to re-admission to the EU. As for Northern Ireland there will be urgent negotiations for some sort of federal arrangement with the Republic that allows them to retain EU access (the Republic of Ireland being an EU member and Northern Ireland having voted to remain in the EU by a significant margin).

What happens to England and Wales now?

Short version: economic turmoil caused by the uncertainty. An upswing in right-wing xenophobia as the utterly odious crypto-fascist Nigel Farage makes hay while the Sun shines on his project. Divorce negotiations ...the Brexiters have been selling a lie; that they'd get a no-fault divorce and keep the house. Reality is somewhat less convenient and Brussels has no alternative but to play hardball if it is to deter other loosely-bound members from following England's example. Most likely England will end up losing the house, the CD collection, and the cat and having to sleep in the car. For example, the biggest chunk of the UK economy today is the banking sector, and London is the global number one market for euro-denominated derivatives trading. But London, as a non-euro zone market, is only allowed to trade in euros because it's the capital of an EU member state. A London that is out in the cold will lose that business. Expect much of the British financial sector to decamp to Frankfurt, Paris, and Brussels. And there will be other ghastly economic consequences; if the UK is allowed to get a it's no-fault divorce, when why should Greece put up with the Troika's demands?

This is only just beginning, but I think it's safe to say we're back in the Scottish Political Singularity, with a disturbing undercurrent of violent jingoistic xenophobia down south -- the Scottish divorce from Englandshire won't be uncontested or fault-free either -- and meanwhile the smirking fascist in the corner is hoisting his pint glass and humming "tomorrow belongs to me."

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wreichard
4 days ago
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This will go down as one of history's most egregious mistakes, when otherwise intelligent people gave up a spot as world leaders in order to give some robber barons a little extra pocket money.
Earth
vitormazzi
4 days ago
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Brasil
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wmorrell
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acdha
4 days ago
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“Watch who's standing on the sidelines praising the result: Donald Trump, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Marine le Pen -- a who's who of international fascismus”
Washington, DC
JimB
2 days ago
Look who's on the inside looking dejected - the liars Boris Johnson and Michael Gove and Nigel Farage. Even they didn't actually think it was going to happen, they just thought they'd create a big enough protest. Now they ae worried as the concerns the remain campaign highlighted are already coming to pass.
Courtney
4 days ago
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"the biggest chunk of the UK economy today is the banking sector, and London is the global number one market for euro-denominated derivatives trading. But London, as a non-euro zone market, is only allowed to trade in euros because it's the capital of an EU member state. A London that is out in the cold will lose that business."
Portland, OR
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