You are all weirdos.
Sounds easy enough, right? I can safely say that yes, I am smarter than a 5th grader. Most of the questions are laughably simple, but there are undoubtedly the 'wtf' questions.
For example, tonights episode had a question: "What stage is a butterfly in right before it becomes a butterfly (it was worded better, I promise):
Immediately, my mind said "PUPA!". I of course knew the answer was right, but that worried me a bit. I got to thinking... "wait, why did I know that so quickly?".
The answer, of course, is that extensive time in US elementary school is spent on learning things like this. I then started thinking "When the hell has this knowledge ever been useful to me?". Answer: never.
Next question: "When the hell will this knowledge ever be useful to me?"
Probable answer: never.
Next question: "What kind of careers are there where this kind of knowledge is needed?"
Answer: I guess entomology. I can't really think of any more than that.
How many entomologists are there in this world? Perhaps less than 100,000, would be my guess. I obviously can't say for sure, but there's got to be less than a million or so.
Regardless, this is some pretty specialized information that is really only useful to a limited subset of the population as a whole, so it's really confusing as to why it's even remotely important for an elementary school to teach.
That got me thinking though, why aren't the more important details of life taught in school. I'd love to see school exam questions like this:
Bob got married at 21 and has 3 kids. He has $30k in school loans, and he just bought a brand new Escalade at 7% interest for 5 years. He has an adjustable-rate 50-year mortgage on a $300k house, and last month he spent $10k on a new 50" plasma tv, Blu-ray player, PS3, and surround sound system. He put it all on a 21% APR credit card, which he pays off the minimum of each month. How fucked is Bob?
What do you want to be when you grow up?
A) Astronaut (0.00000657142857% chance)
B) Pro Football Player (0.00002857142857% chance)
C) Rock Star (0.00007142857143% chance)
D) Corporate Desk Jockey (40% chance)
E) Wal*Mart Clerk (59% chance)
So I'm eating chicken and barbecue sauce. It's Kraft Honey Hickory Barbecue sauce. It tastes ok, maybe a bit too salty though, but then again, what isn't these days?
One thing that struck me though is the big letters on the label. It said "NEW LOOK, SAME GREAT TASTE!". I started thinking about who came up with that. Is it someone job to sit around all day and come up with slogans for BBQ sauce bottles?
My company outsources stuff like that to a marketing firm, who came up with the brilliant slogan "Moving At The Speed Of Business" for us. It was pretty embarrassing when we found out that it had been trademarked by UPS for around a decade. But not to worry, they came up with something equally ridiculous.
Now, I imagine Kraft, with revenues in excess of $30,000,000,000, probably has its own marketing department that comes up with this stuff. So it's probably someone's full-time job to continuously come up with these little slogans for anything that Kraft decides to put on a label. Perhaps there's even a committee for these things. Who knows. All I know is that someone, somewhere, got paid to come up with it.
Now this got me thinking about the circumstances that gave rise to this slogan. They might be sitting in a conference room one day, with a conversation that resembles this:
Guy 1: You know, sales of our Barbecue Sauce division are down 2% this quarter. Hunt's BBQ bottles just received a major branding upgrade last quarter, we think this is the reason why.
Guy 2: Why don't we give our bottles a new look as well, then? We could use some new tri-color schemes that are all the rage with sports jerseys these days.
Guy 1: That's a great idea, Johnson! Let's get on it!
Woman 1: But wait a minute. If we change the colors of our bottles, will our customers get confused? I can just imagine Sally Sixpack strolling down the Kraft aisle at the grocery store, and seeing the new labels... she might wonder if we've changed the recipe at all.
Guy 1: You make an excellent point, Sandra. We should come up with some phrase or slogan in friendly language that comforts the customer and lets them know that they're buying the same great Kraft product that they've always bought in the past. Make it something like "New look, same great taste!", but not quite as stupid.
Guy 2: Excellent!
Woman 1: Marvelous!
Does anyone seriously remember what the labels of their barbecue sauce bottles look like, and could possibly be confused if they change?
Software Engineering is the art of showing your boss how to do something the right way, without making his idea seem stupid.
Ego's are very real. Step on one, and even if you're right, you're probably not going to get anywhere with that person. Most of my proposals now consist of:
While we could do it that way, this way would give us these additional benefits:
* nicely enumerated list of benefits,
* most important ones at the top,
* since people tend to ignore bullet points near the middle and bottom
But some things, no matter how compelling an argument you make, will always go ignored. Such as recommending against using an AJAX-enabled web application to do the work of a heavy-duty forms application.
Honestly I'm not sure why I even had to send in a check, since they have no problem electronically debiting my checking account every month for my payments. I guess it's their subtle way of discouraging people from paying off loans early. I even had to call them for the address to send it to, they won't give that information out online.
In retrospect, a 5-year auto loan was a bit overkill, but I'm still glad I got it, because there were a few times in 2005 that I was really strapped for cash and wouldn't have been able to make the monthly payment if I had gotten a shorter-term loan.
I'm deciding whether or not I should pay off my school loan now. It's a low interest rate, but I can afford to pay it off now, and I kind of like the idea of being able to say "Hey, I'm debt free!".
One of my near-term goals (less than 2 years) is to buy a house. Before I paid off my car, I had enough to put down about 25% of a mortgage, but the prospect of making two major payments per month (house+car) wasn't a good idea in my mind. My goal before going into home ownership is to be debt-free though.
Got my credit report done, first time in 2 years. Credit rating went up 170 points, but it's still got room to grow. The only disappointing part is that even with my new and improved™ credit rating, it looks like the interest rates for car/home loans are still going to be higher than what I would have gotten 2 years ago.
Since the subprime market is currently in the process of imploding, interest rates are rising as the banks try to compensate for the fact that no one is buying all of those homes they foreclosed on. It's pretty annoying.
I briefly played with the thought of avoiding a mortgage altogether and simply saving up enough to buy a whole house, but at this point, this seems a bit unrealistic. It would take me at least 5 years (okay, if I get my raise next month for the promotion I just got, I can cut it down to 3.5 years, but hey, let's not count on money that I don't have yet, mmmkay?). Of course, this is all assuming nothing unforeseen happens.
I would have to start investing if I were to do that... and I'm not sure that's my boat. I hate risk. Everything I do is calculated and as riskless as I can manage. I mean, I took out a 5-year car loan when I could have payed it off in 2 years, just in case something bad happened.
I guess I could find a low risk investment somewhere, but at that point, why not just get a mortgage? The inflation rate will assure that the value of the mortgage will steadily go down over time, and I doubt a low-risk investment will provide enough of a payoff to be that much more beneficial over a mortgage.
I guess I've got time to figure out my plan though.
It's damned stressful, and unfortunately, my Wii isn't helping much.
You see, it's just so damn fun to play.
Back when I was a kid, I could play games like Kings Quest 4 for hours at a time. A Link to the Past, Super Metroid, Wolfenstein, Doom, Heretic, Hexen, TIE Fighter, Dark Forces, Dungeons of Kroz, Warcraft, Warcraft 2, Starcraft, Zork and it's many sequels, etc. They all took up countless hours of my life.
Then, slowly, over time, I just began to lose interest in video games. I think Half Life was the last game I played completely through without getting bored and resorting to FAQs or trainers just to finish the storyline.
Civ 4? Boring after an hour or so. Used cheats to create a massive army of tanks to conquer the whole world.
Half Life 2? Played an hour of it, got bored, never bothered to go back yet.
Medieval 2: Total War? Played 2 hours, got bored, used cheats to get unlimited money, conquered 50% of Europe and got even more bored, and quit.
GTA3: I think I lasted a week before I gave into using cheats, and then just rocketed the police in one gigantic orgy of destruction.
I don't know what happened, but games have gotten so insanely large and complex that it's just not fun playing them anymore.
I bought a Wii because everyone at work highly recommended it. I work with people who don't really play games, so if they were recommending it, that really said something to me. So I grabbed it and Zelda, and have been playing it on-and-off for the past few weeks.
So far I've only had to look up one thing in a FAQ (where to find the 4th monkey in the first dungeon), and I've been able to do everything else without needing any help whatsoever.
In fact the game is so absorbing that it's becoming a problem. See last night I got home from work around 9pm, and I was exhausted, so I just popped Zelda in and started playing. 3 hours later, I realised it was midnight and I had to get to work in a few hours, and I really needed to go to sleep. Oops.
I think a large part of it is the controller design. Previously, you had to hold your hands in front of you for long periods of time, and this had a tendency to make your hands cramp up after a while. But with the Wii, you don't get that. You have the wiimote in your right hand, and you can hold the nunchuck over in your left, and it's far more comfortable than a regular game controller. I think without the "your hand is cramping, maybe you should stop playing" impulse being sent, it greatly increases the amount of immersion you have in the world.
Anyway, I highly recommend Zelda. I haven't been this into a game in 10 years.
As for the people who say it looks bad: I'd like to have some of the crack you're on, please. It looks absolutely gorgeous.
A year later, I realised how idiotic it all was and went back to using systems that I didn't have to fight in order to use. This is 10 years ago, now, so I'm sure Linux has made *some* improvements in the meantime, but honestly, the community as a whole really annoyed me. Every time you asked any of them a question about how to do something, it was 9 times out of 10 responded with "Read the fucking manual, noob."
First off, no need to be rude. Secondly, man-pages are horrendous to read.
Anyway, there's very little chance I'll be going back to the whole "open source" community any time soon. But time to time, I'll keep tabs on them to see if things are getting better.
Unfortunately, they aren't. There's a big hubbub over GPLv3 now, the newest version of the GPL. Richard "what the hell is a razor" Stallman is hyping this new license as the ultimate in freedom, and it will prevent that evil thing called "tivoization".
Now, what, pray tell, is "tivoization"? It's really rather simple.
The Tivo machine uses linux and some GPL'ed code on it. The GPL states that if you modify code and distribute it, you must distribute your modifications. Well, being a good little company, Tivo did just that. You are free to download the Tivo linux code, right from their site.
So everything is great, right? Tivo took from the open source community, and provided their hard work back.
Except... the open source people are pissed off. In no less than 3 slashdot threads this week, there were scores of comments about how Tivo is evil and stealing from the open source community. At this point I got confused, and decided to look into why these people hate Tivo.
Well, the issue is this: Tivo has a chip in hardware that checks to see if the tivo binaries matches a precomputed CRC, to assure that the code has not been tampered with. Obviously, this is a very reasonable thing. Now that devices are becoming increasingly networked, it would be downright irresponsible to let embedded device code be modified with viruses and whatnot.
But no, that's evil, according to the open sores people. Tivo stole their freedom and profited from it, according to slashbots everywhere. So, because of this, the GPL people decided that they need to step in and introduce a new license, which states that now not only do they have to distribute the modified source code, but they cannot prohibit the source code from being modified on the devices that it runs on as well. This isn't just a bad idea. This is a monumentally irresponsible idea. Tivo will get sued out of existence by the media companies who are upset that the DRM is now easily hackable. Tivo boxes everywhere will be hacked and put into botnets that do nothing but spam you all day long.
You idiots are pissed off because Tivo won't let you play with their machines, so you're going to change a license around and try to screw them over. I want to know what the hell you're smoking. How can you possibly have that small of a grasp on reality that you think that this is a good idea?
It's funny, because these are the same people ranting every day on slashdot about how orwellian our society has become, yet they're the ones who are convinced that the GPL is the epitome of "freedom". You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
Here's a choice selection of highly retarded, highly moderated, and highly hilarious comments on slashdot:
We'd like some companies to stop using Free Software: the companies that can't comply with the license in both letter and spirit, and insist on engineering loopholes - be they in hardware (Tivo) or in law (Novell-Microsoft). Those companies work to de-motivate the developers of the software that they are using, who contributed their software on a share-and-share-alike basis and expect that to be respected. We would do better without them.
I think this is great. I'm sorry they built their work on the backs of other people who have always clearly stated their intentions with regards to the use of their software. The lack of this in GPLv2 is a HOLE. A HOLE which, of course, should be fixed.
If they disagree with the fundamental goal of the GPL, to free software so people CAN tinker with it, then they should have chosen a different set of software to build their product on.
This means that when TiVO decided to use GPL-licenced software, yet lock their hardware in a manner that denied the user some of these freedoms, they knew they were using a loophole, and thus acting in bad faith. They can try to play the victim all they want now that the loophole is being closed, but informed people will have no sympathy for them. They should have seen this coming from day 1.
Hmm, well, the whole purpose of the GPL is to discourage leeches and encourage co-operation. Nobody forced Tivo et al to mooch off GPL code. They are free to either re-invent it all, or to become honest players.
He who keeps taking our ball and goes home with it, has to play alone or bring the ball back...
They've gotten a free ride for a long time, and not contributed anything back, and now they might not get to use some of the free stuff that comes out in the future.
It must really suck to be them.
If they don't like it, then don't use.
If using freely obtained software (with the associated licenses) is hurting their business, then they should just start spending some money hiring developers and making their own fully proprietary software. You can't have your free beer and drink it too.
This one was moderated +4 "Insightful":
Too bad !
Tivo users suffer under their current GPLv2 abuse. Their rights are unjustly stolen from them, exploiting a circumstance hard to imagine in 1991 when the GPLv2 was published. Tivo knows this full well. Now is time to clean up their act (before GPLv3 would be best) or else they await a just upcommance.
Seems to me that (just like Tivo's) your dislike for the GPL comes only because you don't really want give back where you take.
Dear God. How stupid can people be?
Oh this is hilarious:
Change is unlikely to cease once GPLv3 is released. If new threats to users' freedom develop, we will have to develop GPL version 4. It is important to make sure that programs will have no trouble upgrading to GPLv4 when the time comes.
One way to do this is to release a program under "GPL version 3 or any later version".
-Richard "What the fuck is a razor" Stallman
Right. So you're trying to get your legions of drones to license their software under a license that doesn't even exist yet?!! Only a complete moron would think this is a good idea.