2008 Batman, Meet 1966 Batman

The Adam West Batman, hurling his batarang

In case you haven’t seen it, here’s the latest trailer for The Dark Knight, the upcoming Batman movie with Christian Bale in the title role and Heath Ledger as the Joker:

Better still, here’s a trailer that mashes up the audio from the trailer above with scenes from the 1966 Batman movie, in which Adam West plays the title role. It’s camp-licious!



“Now, While Rails is Weak, We Must Strike!”

Rebel pilot briefing from “Star Wars: A New Hope”, with some Rails-specific changes made to the display of the Death Star

If you’ve been following the usual programmer and tech new sites, you’ve probably read (or at least heard of) Zed Shaw’s rant, titled Rails is a Ghetto. If you haven’t read it yet, go there now, give it a quick read and come back. I can wait.

High-spirited stuff, isn’t it? As you might expect, there have been a number of interesting responses to Zed’s polemic, but only one made me laugh out loud — it’s this entry in Jesse Stay’s blog:

Ruby on Rails is weak right now, it’s breaking apart from the inside. Now is the time for the Perl community to show its strength and unite in an effort to make Perl once again the most used platform on the web!

Perhaps it’s time for Larry Wall to update his maxim about the great virtues of a programmer: it should now be laziness, impatience, hubris and revenge fantasies.


The Star Wars Holiday Special

So Bad, Even George Lucas Wants Nothing to Do With It!

Even as an eleven-year-old back in 1978, I knew as soon as voice-over went…

with special guest stars…Beatrice Arthur! Art Carney! Diahann Carroll! The Jefferson Starship! Harvey Korman!

…that something was about to go terribly, terribly wrong with the Star Wars Holiday Special, a show so terribly bad that even George “I’m no longer qualified to tell good from bad” Lucas has disavowed any involvement with it, no matter how minor.

Now, thanks to the miracle of Google Video, you too can enjoy the so-bad-it’s-goodness of the Star Wars Holiday Special, either in the tiny window below or on its Google Video page at a larger size. After watching it, Episode I: The Phantom Menace seems like The Godfather in comparison. At least Phantom Menace had the decency to not include a scene featuring Bea Arthur doing a Broadway number and dancing with Greedo.

Click here to watch a larger version.

The Five-Minute Version

If you can’t bear to watch all two soul-crushing hours of the Star Wars Holiday Special, you’re in luck: some kind sould has created an edit that sums it up nicely in five minutes. It spares you a lot of painfully bad wookie pantomime…

Click here to see the video on its YouTube page.


  • Wikipedia page for the Star Wars Holiday Special
  • Stomp Tokyo’s review: “Like so many of the films we end up watching, The Star Wars Holiday Special is a curiosity best left to extremely hard-core fans and to the corners of history. No matter how appealing it sounds to begin with, we guarantee this viewing experience can bring you little but pain. Fast forward to the animated sequence (let the Force be your guide) and turn the VCR off immediately after it ends. Trust in these words: you’ll hate the rest of the special, and hate leads to the Dark Side.”
  • “Arrrrggghhhhh! Why am I watching this?”
  • “I don’t care how many public claims he’s made about wanting this holiday special wiped off the face of the planet, I still have a hunch that George Lucas watches it every night, masturbating furiously as he cackles like a madman. Oh you knew what you were doing Georgie boy… and just because you made sure your name didn’t appear in the credits doesn’t mean you’re not still responsible for it. Come on George! It’s time for you to let the world see that twisted stepson known as “The Star Wars Holiday Special” whom you’ve had locked in the attic all these years. After all, if you can show the world “The Phantom Menace” with no shame, I see no reason why you can’t give this special the same treatment.”
  • The Unknown Movies: “Though I was really pained by many moments of this terrible special, I must admit that several hours later I found myself laughing out loud, remembering some especially horrible moments. As I write this, it is 24 hours since I’ve seen the special, and I am still laughing out loud at times as I write, even remembering some of the material that while watching almost made me scream in agony. So I guess in an indirect way, I did get some entertainment value out of it.”
  • “If you want to beautiful childhood memories to disappear, if you want to brag about how much Star Wars stinks and this shows it, if you want to take your mind off how happy your life is and want to wallow in misery for a couple of hours, please see this. Hell, please see it anyway, if you can find a bootleg, because it’s probably the most messed up thing you could ever watch around the holidays other than your aunt hit on your older brother. I’ll be washing this movie off me for weeks.”

Pythagorean Pick-Up [Updated]

Don’t you wish stuff like this actually happened?

Comic showing guy picking up a girl using the Pythagorean Theorem
Click the comic to see it on its original page.
Comic courtesy of Miss Fipi Lele.

You get bonus bragging rights if you spotted the missing precondition.



I’ve been tied up with all sorts of work- and life-related things, hence the lack of posts over the last few days.

By way of apology, allow me to offer the so-bad-it’s-good nerd TV show from the 1980s, Automan! Loosely based on the movie Tron and driven by the then-new interest in personal computers (this was the age of the original IBM PC and the Apple ][). It had all the earmarks of a cheesy Glen A. Larson production, plus all the technobabble of that era and made the old Buck Rogers series look like hard sci-fi by comparison.

Click here to see the video at full size.


Geekery Meets Pop Culture

A Different Kind of “Code Smell”

First, let’s look at a new ad for Axe body spray…

Axe body spray ad featuring fake code
Image courtesy of Miss Fipi Lele.

I think the suggestion in the ad goes double if you start pointing out what’s wrong with the code (“you == understand.this? get as an object name? Couldn’t they have hired a real programmer to write the ad copy?”).

359 is the new 555

Fictitious phone numbers on many TV shows and movies begin with the number 555, which I presume is to avoid the legal hassles that arise when people try to call those numbers (I remember that a number of people whose phone numbers were actually 867-5309 had their phones ringing day and night when Tommy Tutone’s song Jenny became a hit).

The people behind the TV show CSI: Miami probably wanted to avoid similar legal trouble in an episode where an IP address was shown onscreen. I don’t think I’d go to the trouble of portscanning some IP address I’d seen on a fiction TV show, but somewhere, out there, someone just might. Hence their invention of an IP address whose first “octet” is 359. It’s IPv4.5!

IP address displayed on a screen on the TV show “CSI”: 359.33.9.234

And finally, here’s a graphic that I whipped up for an article with links to recent articles on version control on the Tucows Developer Blog:



Shipping Container Geekery

Enterprise Computing in a Shipping Container

The idea of setting up a computing center in a shipping container isn’t new. Sun has Project Blackbox, “a prototype of the world’s first virtualized datacenter–built into a shipping container and optimized to deliver extreme energy, space, and performance efficiencies”. The idea is create a computing center that you could move anywhere in the world with relative ease:

A “Project Blackbox” container with its doors open, revealing the computing center inside.

If you’ve ever watch ships loading and unloading, you’ll know that nobody handles cargo containers gingerly. A shipping container full of computer equipment would have to be able to withstand a fair bit of abuse, and it looks as though the Blackbox container can take it — here’s a video of one in a simulated earthquake of a 6.7 magnitude on the Richter scale:

Sun’s not the only company working the the concept. Google have patented a similar idea. One major difference is that while Sun’s container-based datacenter would be a self-contained computing cluster, Google would treat their containers as very large rackmounts, where a container could operate on its own or as part of a cluster of other computing containers. Robert Cringely has some interesting speculation on the way Google might use these datacenters.

1337 H4X0RZ in a Shipping Container

Invisigoth from the “X-Files” episode “Kill Switch” — a skinny pale blonde woman, dressed in black, wearing way too much makeup.
“Invisigoth” from the X-Files episode Kill Switch

The idea of setting up a non-enterprise computing center in a shipping container isn’t new, either. Kill Switch, one of the X-Files episodes written by William Gibson, featured a hacker who went by the handle “Invisigoth” who lived and did her work in a shipping container.

The episode also featured a down-market version of a computing cluster in a shipping container: an old trailer, packed with computers, sitting in a remote field and connected to the internet through a T1 line, which was an even bigger deal back in 1998.

A Cafe in a Shipping Container

Where there are computer programmers, there must also be caffeine. Consider the fact that the nerd store ThinkGeek has a whole section devoted to the substance. One of my favorite sayings was adapted from a line in mathematician Paul Erdos’ biography, The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: “A programmer is a machine for converting caffeine into software.”

It logically follows that if there are computing centers in shipping containers, there should also be some kind of caffeine dispensers in shipping containers as well. Here come artist Adam Kalkin and fancy-pants coffee vendor Illy to the rescue:

Shipping container that converts into an Illy Cafe.

Here’s an excerpt from Illy’s news release:

For the 52nd International Art Exhibition in Venice illycaffè is partnering with the Fondazione La Biennale di Venezia for the fourth time.

At the Biennale illy will provide art-lovers and coffee connoisseurs a beautiful space to relax, reflect and enjoy a perfect cup of espresso. Visitors to illymind, the rest and refreshment area founded by illy in 2003, will be introduced to the Push Button House which opens like a flower and transforms from a compact container into a fully furnished and functional space with the push of a button. View video.

After the preview at Art Basel Miami Beach, the Push Button House, a work designed by American artist-architect Adam Kalkin and redesigned for the presence of illycaffè at the 52nd International Art Exhibition, arrives for the first time in Europe.

Kalkin is known for designing comfortable spaces and placing them in unusual contexts. Visitors to the Push Button House will experience the artist’s ability to transform industrial materials into a domestic masterpiece, beautifully contrasting between the indoor and outdoor worlds, while enjoying complimentary illy espresso for a complete authentic Italian experience. The entire work was created from recyclable materials.

If I had the money, I’d take one of these things wherever I went.