Those easily offended beware!
I'm _trying_ to give a damn!
Life is sexually transmitted … and fatal.
Sunday, 01 January 2012

“Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage’s whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.” – Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead, 1943.


The Root of all Evil
“So, you think that money is the root of all evil. Have you ever asked what is the root of all money?” – (Francisco’s Money Speech in “Atlas Shrugged”)

Saturday, 17 December 2011

A Day Off from Surly
We're going to take a day off from surly, today. A lot of people don't really get the whole “surly” thing. They think I'm being an asshole. They don't understand that my viewpoint is closer to that of parent. Reality sucks. Life ain’t fair. Someone in your life needs to be a hard case, or you’re going to spend a lot of your life pining about shit that just is. You can’t change it. I can’t change it. Maybe your favorite diety could change it, but that’s about it.

And some people get it. Actually, most people get it. Despite the disgusting mess portrayed in the media, news and “entertainment”. In spite of them, perhaps.

And, so, thanks to Associated Press, I can offer up the following anecdote. One I believe to be much more in sync with the reality of the average person than the morbidity presented by the media.

Anonymous Donors Pay Off Kmart Layaway Accounts.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Feedback Loops
OK, folks, this is really, and by this, I mean really simple. So simple, the guys on the “short bus” get it:

If you measure for something, you will get it!
I make this statement particularly with regards to metric systems used to judge the efficacy of business processes, the “productivity” of knowledge workers, and similar situations.

Net-net, when you create a metrics system for a process, you are creating a feedback loop. Just like the feedback loops in physical circuits, the procedural feedback loop you create with metrics will amplify some signals and dampen others. The metrics you choose will determine which signals get amplified and which get dampened.

So choose your metrics carefully. A finely tuned feedback system will optimize the metrics incorporated into the system. You better be sure that your metrics identify the process elements that are really relevant to your business.

Monday, 12 December 2011

How Sad Are You?
There's a web site out there called “wikiHow”. It aggregates “How To” articles on a wide variety of topics. Earlier today, it offered up the article How to Give Passive Aggressive Gifts for Christmas . I'm not quite sure what to think of that. On the one hand, it's pretty damned lame to resort to passive-aggressive bullshit to accomplish your goals, but it's even lamer to not even recognize that's a hyphenated expression. And, really, how lame do you have to be to require instruction on that topic?

Tuesday, 06 December 2011

My drinking buddy and I were throwing back a few beers yesterday at the local pub. I noticed two old drunks sitting across the bar from us. I pointed them out to my buddy, commenting “That'll be us in ten years”. He replied, “That's a mirror, you dipshit!”.

Thursday, 01 December 2011

Fucking Stupid
“I used to be fucking stupid, then we broke up.”
Seen on a bumper sticker at

Friday, 11 November 2011

This is "Occupy Wall Street"
This video gives a wonderful insight into the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. If it were just the occasional OWS idiot that gave an interview like this one, I'd figure that the media was “cherry picking” their idiots. But every interview I've seen with one of these assholes is like this. The stuff they publish is even worse. Based on the evidence they themselves promulgate, they appear to me to be a bunch of stupid, self-centered, lazy, shit bags.

Wednesday, 09 November 2011

Ignorance & Stupidity
I just thought that this quotation deserved highlighting:

Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an asshole.

Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

Wednesday, 02 November 2011

If you're one of the many “Occupy Wall Street”–style protestors that covers their face, then you are either

  1. A criminal hiding amongst the righteous, or
  2. A fucking loser and a coward.
Just what the Hell are you so afraid of? That someone, somewhere, might identify you as a liberal, neo-socialist idiot? Another moron who has never held down a job beyond fast food slopper? An upright zombie with just barely enough active neurons to keep their heart beating?

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Air Gaps, People, Air Gaps!
We keep seeing these news stories about crackers (not hackers) breaking into the networks of companies and governments and getting away with nuclear secrets, military hardware and technology secrets, and such like.

I'm trying to figure out why? Why is this possible? Why are systems with top secret information in them connected to the global Internet in any fashion whatsoever? Generations of infosec professionals understand “air gaps”.

Once known as red-black network architectures, the basic idea revolves around never providing a data connection between a secure network and any insecure and/or unsecured networks. Some implementations require a specific physical distance between any componenets of the two networks. For example, the policy might literally require six or more feet of physical separation between electonic components of the secure (black) network and any electronic equipment reachable over the insecure/unsecured (red) network, including the physical wires of the networks.

Yes, this can be an inconvenient arrangement. It drastically increases the effort required to move data between the two networks. That's the whole point! The problem is that it makes it just as difficult for the “good guys” to move information from from the red network to the black as for the “bad guys” to get data from the black network to the red. Information can still make the jump in either direction, but it requires a lot more effort, and physical access.

And I'd guess that inconvience lies at the root of the problem. The inconvenience ends up being considered as a greater problem than the risk of disclosure of the “secure” information.

The Mossberg Model 500 “Chainsaw” (Item Number 50460).

Monday, 24 October 2011

Ummmm, yeppers!
I don't know where this originates. If someone will let me know I'll add appropriate attribution. It does, however, summarize the “Surly Outlook” pretty darned well:

Friday, 21 October 2011

Thanks to Richard Hunter for posting this on Facebook, and especially thanks to Mr. Never Give Up for producing it in the first place:

Hitler Lives?
Holy Crap! Maybe he didn't die in Berlin in '45! :-)

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The Ignorant ...
... led by the insipid.

Conspiracy Theories
I knew I wasn't the only one … from

That's almost as much fun as Parking Fun!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Requiescat in pace, Dan Wheldon

The IndyCar race this weekend produced one of the most horrific racing accidents in a long time. Tragically, a great young driver, Dan Wheldon, lost his life as a result of the crash. In a way, the worst part of the situation was that Dan was caught up in a mess someone else produced. He was two or three rows of cars back from the initial contact.

Unfortunately, accidents are inevitable in an environment of cars going over two hundred miles an hour. In this case, the tight confines of the track and the closeness of the cars to each other exacerbated the problem. It happens in much less restricted environments, too, though. Just ask Felipe Massa (use any Internet search engine with the phrase "Felipe Massa crash"). Luckily, you can ask Felipe. He took a suspension spring from another car in the helmet at high speed. His helment manufacturer saved his life.

Or Swede Savage back in the 1973 Indy 500, or Ayrton Senna in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. They both suffered mechanical failures on their cars at high speed. They both paid with their lives.

And it’s not just the pros that have to worry about it. I have flagged amateur and pro races since 2003 and raced as an amateur since 2004. I've seen more than one friend die due to injuries from an on-track incident. I've seen some die on-track of unrelated medical causes, and start the incident.

The point here is that there's a great tendency when these things happen to lament. And we should lament the truncation of a promising life, a young life. Our thoughts and prayers should go with those left behind. It is, after all, a tragedy.

But we should not lament the manner in which they died. They died doing what they love. Would that we should all be so lucky.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

… nothing but trash …

“Money with them is nothing but trash when it is to come out of the people. But it is the one great thing for which most of them are striving, and many of them sacrifice honor, integrity, and justice to obtain it.” – Davy Crocket, referring to politicians in general and the US Congress in particular, as published in The Life of Colonel David Crocket by Edward Sylvester Ellis.

Violation of Trespassers

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Friday, 14 October 2011

Trying this thing again ...
Well, if you can comprehend the calendar, you can tell that I haven't exactly set an exemplary record in keeping this 'blog up to date for the last couple of years. I could waste some effort corraling excuses, and there are plenty of wild ones running around, waiting for the rope that pulls them into the corral. But that really would be a waste of time, since the bottom line is that I've got myself into more than my surfeit of innate laziness allows me to keep up with.

But I'm going to try again. I realized yesterday that a good amount of the stuff I've been posting to Facebook would fit right in here. So I'm going to try to remember to post that stuff here, and link to it from Facebook in an attempt to rejuvenate Surly Doug.

Thursday, 31 December 2009

The Rule of Upper Limits
If you have to ask what the limit is, you're probably doing it wrong.

Control 2010
The Register has a particularly disturbing view of the potential for the forthcoming decade: Welcome to the out-of-control decade

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Hanlon’s Razor

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

Monday, 17 August 2009

No 'I' in 'Team'

There’s no I in team, but there’s a U in cunt.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Software Development 101
These days, there seem to be a lot of development, software development, blogs running around the internet. Well, I've been developing software professionally since around 1981, so it seems like I might have a thing or two to contribute to the topic. Or maybe not. I guess that's for you to judge.

The topic admits, and merits, a lot of discussion, especially when you start as far above the ground as a term like Software Engineering. That's like the million foot view. You've heard of the 50,000 foot view? Well, this is like twenty times higher.

Frankly, I hate that term. I do not believe that software engineering exists, as a discipline, much less a research topic. Software development, as pursued in the early twenty-first century, is not engineering. At least not for most values of the term engineering.

If you ask a mechanical engineer or civil engineer to design a physical structure in a certain location for a certain purpose, they know, a priori, that a finite number of physical structures, built using a finite number of physical materials, will yield a usable structure that will not fall in on the assembled masses and destroy them, and will suit the requested purpose to within some acceptable delta.

Software development has in no way reached such cohesive heights, and will not for the foreseeable future. We simply understand too little of the solution domain. We don't even really understand the whirlpool of thought from which the solution domain emerges.

Presented with a request analogous to build the Golden Gate Bridge, the early-twenty-first-century software developer has no choice but to design from First Principles. Bricks, we wished we had bricks. We've got clay and water and straw. And very little concept of stress and force and wind shear and stuff like that. Iron ore and only the vaguest possible notions of how to transform it into steel, or why we might want to do so.

We're reduced to the state of civil engineers in the time of the Holy Roman Empire. We have no theoretical foundation upon which to base our judgement. We subsist with merely anecdotal evidence: that design fell down after two years, the other design survived decades. It seems like a good idea to emulate the latter, rather than the former. That's not engineering.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

The Gettysburg Address – In PowerPoint Slides
Peter Norvig presents a hilarious on one side, and depressing on the other, look at Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in PowerPoint Slides! The depressing part is how effectively it illustrates the trivialization of topics that so often happens when converted into slides for presentation. Instead of cogent ideas, effectively expressed, most devolve into a sort of idea byte mush. The cocepts end up so thoroughly sliced and diced that they effectively become meaningless.


From the web comic strip xkcd:

Monday, 23 March 2009


funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Friday, 20 March 2009

Back on 1 SEP 07, I posted a list of quotations drawn from another of my web sites. Among them was a quotation from Jed Babbit, former Undersecretary of Defense. Mr. Babbit made the comment in response to a press query about going to war in Iraq (1990-1991) without support or overflight clearance from France. I originally provided what I found out tonight to be an abbreviated form of the quotation:

[G]oing to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion.
I learned tonight that a fuller quote, and one more appropriate, goes like this:
[G]oing to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion. You just leave a lot of useless noisy baggage behind.
Overall, much more apropos, in my opinion.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Harlan Ellison Gets It

Harlan Ellison gets it. I’ve been faced with the same argument repeatedly when some tight-fisted narcissistic piece of shit wants to steal my photos to promote their product. Even if they have a single hair on their ass and contact me first, they want it for free.

It's just a photo I could've taken.


Don’t get me wrong. I give away usage rights to my photos all the time. I spend a lot of my photographic creative capital at the (automobile) race track. I regularly give my photos, sometimes prints but often full resolution digital images, to the competitors and their families to celebrate a good finish, a good day, a milestone met. I give my photos even more often to the local Sports Car Club of America region (the Atlanta Region.) They use them on their web site and in ads to promote both the region and amateur road racing. I directly gain from their promotional success, so it's in my best interest, from my perspective, to pay back the amateur racing community that way.

Then, here comes Monster Mega Amateur Road Racer magazine, and they want to use it on their web site, and their promotional materials. They want to promote their for-profit enterprise with the fruits of my creative capital. They want to enhance the circulation of their magazine and the value of a column inch of ad space therein. And they have the gall to call me greedy because I want to be paid for my efforts, skills, knowledge, vision, and luck. And they get all pissy when I tell them to shove it up their ass.

So, that shows you what sort of folks they are … they’re narcissist thieves … so self-involved that they don’t even realize they're perpetrating thievery.

Tuesday, 08 July 2008

No More Flickr
I've destroyed my Flickr account. I knew people could access my photos through the Flickr API, but I had, wrongly, assumed that Flickr was capable of writing an API that would satisfy their agreement with me, as photographer, as well as their agreement with the developers using the Flickr API. I was wrong. Terribly wrong. And to add insult to injury, Flickr seems not to mind at all. That being the case, I feel I have no choice but to remove all my materials from Flickr and not put any more on their service.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Douche, Turd Sandwich

Shit. Once again, our choice at the polls devolves to

  1. Douchebag
  2. Turd Sandwich
And the mainstream political parties wonder why we don't give a flying fuck about them. Well, you idiot fucking douchebags, if you actually gave a shit about what we thought then we might be willing to support your candidates, even while still knowing that you're disgusting fucking douchebags. Frankly, I think at least some of the Founding Fathers would think we're a bunch of pussies for tolerating this bullshit instead of exercising our voting rights, first, and the rest of the Bill of Rights as necessary.

Endowment Life Member, National Rifle Association


You know, it's become dreadfully apparent that I'm as dense as the depleted uranium in a M1A1 tank's AP rounds. All these people are chomping at the bit to get out there and vote for Barack Obama. I just don't get it. The man has virtually no track record on anything. He hasn't been in federal government long enough to have a track record in his drawers, much less his voting record.

To boot, what we do know about him may be even scarier than what we don't know about him. A rather unusual turn of events, but the ascension of BO to the leading light in the 2008 Democratic Party must be described, also, as a rather unusual turn of events. Much to the consternation of Princess Clinton.

We're talking about a man who selected as his mentors dyed-in-the-wool 1950's era Communists. A man whose wife couldn't find it in her self to be proud to be an American until her hubby was doing well in the primary elections. A man who spent 20 years in the church of one of the most virulent racists who's not a member of the KKK, electively. He may not have known Jeremiah Wright was a disgusting piece of shit when he joined the church, but if he couldn't figure it out in 20 years then do we really want his fucking finger on the fucking button that could fucking turn every fucking one of us into a fucking wind of fucking neutrons? What kind of fucking idiots are you fucking people?

Altruism, Part II

In retrospect, altruism may, ironically enough, be the single most selfish act a human can perform.

Thursday, 19 June 2008


Give a man fire and he will be warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he will be warm for the rest of his life.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Surly Accelerometer

I’m an amateur automobile road racer running with the SCCA. A lot of us amateur racers are running on pretty thin budgets. Some of us, like me, are running on basically nonexistent budgets. One of the the questions that keeps coming up in this crowd is how to do useful data acquisition without spending a boatload of money. In particular, how to measure angular acceleration as it relates to cornering grip. Well, this guy has a particularly Surly suggestion. He calls it the “Thunk and Scream Meter”. You can probably guess where this is going …

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Darwin 2007
Well, it's that time of year again. The 2007 Darwin Awards have been announced and posted on their web site. Now that’s surly!

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

If You Love Wealth …

From Samuel Adams, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America:

If you love wealth more than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, depart from us in peace. We ask not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains rest lightly upon you and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.

If You Can Read This

If you can read this, thank a teacher.

If you can read this in English, thank a SOLDIER!

Saturday, 01 September 2007

Just some quotations I've run across that seemed appropriately Surly.

If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you always got. — W. Edwards Deming
Hanging one scoundrel, it appears, does not deter the next. Well, what of it? The first one is at least disposed of. — H. L. Mencken
Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of Jackals by Jackasses. — H. L. Mencken
We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart. — H. L. Mencken
Demagogue: One who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots. — H. L. Mencken
The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work. — Unknown
A graceful taunt is worth a thousand insults. — Louis Nizer
I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure. — Clarence Darrow
I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it. — Mark Twain
Hey, pal. What has two thumbs and doesn't give a crap? Me. Bob Kelso. — Bob Kelso character on TV sitcom "Scrubs"
Stupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education, or by legislation. Stupidity is not a sin, the victim can't help being stupid. But stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death, there is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity. — Robert Heinlein
You don't throw a pirhana into the kiddie pool and hang around to watch the bubbles. — Jimmy James character on “News Radio” TV show
Give a man a fire and you keep him warm for a night. Set him on fire and you keep him warm for the rest of his life. — Unknown
The world is run by idiots because they're more efficient than hamsters. — Unknown
The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds. — Unknown
Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity. — Robert Heinlein, "Logic of Empire"
Maybe I should tie the long hair on your head to the shorth air on your ass and kick you down the street. — Hank Hill
Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion. — Jed Babbit (Former US Under-secretary of Defense)
The optimist thinks this is the most perfect of all worlds; the pessimist fears he is right. — J. Robert Oppenheimer
Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me, either. In fact, just leave me alone. — Unknown
It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others. — Unknown
If you lend someone $20, and never see that person again, it was probably worth it. — Unknown
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. — Thomas Jefferson
You cannot apply a technological solution to a sociological problem. — Edwards' Law

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Why Should I Change (Reprise)

Well, a lot of you probably already recoginzed it, but I finally confirmed the origin of the quotation in Why Should I Change, He’s the One Who Sucks … it’ from the movie Office Space. One of the all-time great movies.

Proportions, What’s That?

You know, the US has lost all sense of proportionality. It’s been going on for a long time, but it’s really getting out of hand … as if it wasn’t already.

The print edition of USA Today issue for Monday, 30 July, 2007, had on the front page an article headlined Disabled worker cases at a record. This article describes the ludicrous waits that have become normal for workers appealing denial of their disability claims to the Social Security Administration. On the top of page 3, occupying about two-thirds of the “above the fold” area, is another article about deaths at railroad crossings.

In the former article, they describe waits for disability claim appeals that run from seventeen months to thirty-one months, depending on location. In the latter, they bemoan that about one person per day dies at a railroad crossing in the US.

The former article notes that sixty-five percent of disability claims are initially denied. Of those sixty-five percent, sixty-two percent are subsequently approved on appeal … for a total of over forty percent of the original claims. It also notes that due to the delays in the appeals process, compounded by the initial denial rate, no small number of people die while waiting for their disability claim appeal to run its course, two-thirds of the time resulting in a reversal of the original denial.

The latter article spends a lot of time whining about the 368 deaths in 2006 that occurred at railroad crossings. It doesn't mention the fraction of those deaths directly attributable to the vast stupidity of the drivers and pedestrians killed. Now, I would never claim that all of those killed took the eternal dirt nap due to their own stupidity, but I'd surely like to know the fraction. Because my experience and the news reports that I've seen make it seem like it’s a pretty large fraction of those 368.

But we’ve got some special interests that have a hair up their ass about one person per day dying at railroad crossings. I’d venture to guess that at least 250 of those people died because they’re fucking S-T-U-P-I-D.

But where are those same whiny assholes when some poor bastard dies penniless, and gets planted in a pauper’s grave, waiting for the SSA appeals process to rectify a decision that often had more to do with bureaucratic incompetence than the merits of the claim?

It’s just stupid.

These are the same idiots who whine incessantly about the death rate on the nation’s highways while they write the check for the next car payment for the brand new 300 horsepower sportscar they gave their sixteen-year-old child. Who will probably go out within a few weeks and contribute to the death of their passengers or some poor innocent bastard trying to get to work to feed their kids … again due to the stupidity of the child in question.

So, while I feel deeply for the families and relatives of the 368, I really have to wonder if those whiny idiots can actually ever get their heads out of their asses and see the forest for the trees.


Wednesday, 18 July 2007


My brother and I were talking on the phone last night. We’d both received “invitations” from a mutual acquaintance to help with some task that requires “four men” but is “no big deal”. We have been wracking our brains, but the acquaintance was cagier than usual and didn’t give us much to go on. So we started speculating on what it could be.

Lots of ideas came to mind, each more distasteful than the last. When we finally hit on the most terrifying option of all: they might want us to make up a foursome in golf!


The only redeeming value of this possibility would be that we’d have an entire bag full of implements we could use to escape the depravity.

My brother reckoned that a driver (wood) would be the best. I think a pitching or sand wedge would be best. That way, with the sharp angles on the wedge, you’d be most likely to be able to kill yourself before incapacitating yourself.

I mean. How much would it suck to try to bludgeon yourself to death only to incapacitate yourself before you could complete the job? You're lying there, on the ground, gurgling like an improperly maintained drip coffee maker with an upper respiratory infection, and your fucking right side is incapacitated. How the hell is a right-hander supposed to deliver himself the coup de grace with a dysfunctional right arm?

So, there you are. You’ve almost turned yourself into a vegetable, but your arm went into the shitter while you still had just enough cognition left to recognize your miserable state for the rest of your fucking miserable life. And you can’t even give yourself the one more whack upside the head it would take blissfully to submerge into a discognitive state.

All you can do is lie there. Toss out the occasional gurgle or wheeze. Stare at the intended implement of your doom, naturally lying just out of your grasp. Grasp just exactly how much it’s gonna suck to spend the next forty or so years contemplating the complete fucking mess you just made of your own escape from the terror that is golf.

Monday, 02 July 2007

Sucks And Blows
It’s got a lot in common with a jet engine … it sucks … and it blows.

Knowing You'd Kill Me ...

Knowing you’d kill me somehow makes my life worthwhile.
Hot Lips Houlihan character on M*A*S*H to Frank Burns character.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Gun Shirts
A friend just clued me in to the folks at and I found they had some I really like. Especially the ones about guns. See them here.

Among that set, I think my favorite has to be:

Alcohol, Tobacco, & Firearms should be a convenience store, not a government agency.

Friday, 08 June 2007

Why Should I Change, He's the One Who Sucks

“I don't know why people can't pronounce my name. It’s simple – Nah-E-Nahnahjar. Nainanajar.”
“Well at least your name isn't Michael Bolton.”
“There is nothing wrong with that name.”
“No, there was nothing wrong with that name, until I was in 7th grade and that no talent ass clown started winning Grammies.”
“You could go by Mike.”
“Why should I change? He”s the one who sucks.”

I don't know where that quotation originates, but I ran across it today reading other stuff on the Web. I felt like it was appropriately Surly for this venue.

Monday, 19 March 2007

US PTO, Again
Well, I was really hoping to be able to leave the US Patent & Trademark Office (US PTO) alone for a while. In retrospect, I guess I have. It may seem like only yesterday that I penned PTO Has Got To Go, but it was more than six months back. Amazingly enough, things have gotten, if anything, even stupider [sic] than they were then!

It appears that on 11 April 2006, the US PTO, in its infinite (?!) wisdom, issued US Patent number 7,028,023 to one Ming-Jen Wang, who thereupon assigned it to LSI Logic Corporation. The law firm of Cochran Freund & Young LLP entered US Patent application number 10,260,471 on 26 September 2002 to kick the process for this Patent. John Breene provided primary examination and Cheryl Lewis acted as Mr. Breene's assistant in the examination.

This application describes a technique of adding extra pointers to the records stored in a linked list, so that the list might be traversed in any of several different orders. It's a good idea. One that hundreds of software developers have had over the last forty or fifty years. One so well known that it's an integral part of dozens of equally well known algorithms, including several variants of the B-Tree data structure.

In fact, it's so well know that it's described in exquisite detail in Donald Knuth's seminal The Art of Computer Programming series of volumes, first published in the 1970's or before. These volumes represent probably the seminal work in practical computer science.

However, it's obvious that no copies of them reside within any reasonable distance of US Patent Examiner Mr. John Breen, or Assistant Cheryl Lewis. Notwithstanding the fact that they're tasked with examining patent applications for software entities, they obviously have only a passing acquaintance with the most basic parts of the written and oral histories of software development.

The law firm of Cochran Freund & Young LLP entered the application for this patent, as noted above. Their web site describes them as “hav[ing] educational degrees and experience in engineering, electronics, chemistry, biochemistry, physics, computer hardware and software, and mechanics”. It further indicates that they provide “world class intellectual property services”. They, also, apparently remain blissfully unaware of the existence of Donald Knuth and his tomes.

The Patent Storm records refer to SEVEN previous patents:

  • 5,263,160: Issued 16 November 1993: Augmented doubly-linked list search and management method … [references 5,043,885]: This is your basic, run of the mill linked list, with a couple of trivial performance optimizations.
  • 5,446,889: Issued 29 August 1995: Computer-based methods for determining the head of a linked list. Oh my God! This is nothing more than walking backwards through a list until you hit the head node!
  • 5,644,784: Issued 1 July 1997: Linear list based DMA control structure. Johnny implements a linked list in silicon!
  • 5,671,406: Issued 23 September, 1997: Data structure enhancements for in-place sorting of a singly-linked list. A pretty basic implementation of singly-linked list insertion and removal, wrapped in a pretty simplistic insertion sort. Which is a pretty damned piss poor sort method anyway, being O(n2). That means that if you double the size of the list, the time it takes to sort quadruples. Any decent algorithm, that a pro would actually use in their production code, ought to be able to manage O( n log( n ) ).
  • 5,893,162: Issued 6 April 1999: Method and apparatus for allocation and management of shared memory with data in memory as multiple linked lists. Only six days late. That's pretty damned for a federal bureaucracy. Johnny implements a linked list in silicon, reprise.
  • 5,905,990: Issued 18 May 1999: File system viewpath mechanism. Johnny uses linked lists to implement a file system. Good lord, how many file systems have there been that didn't use linked lists at some point?
  • 5,950,191: Issued 7 September 1999: Method and system for assigning an item in a linked list using an auxiliary array. The actual predecssor to the misbegotten patent we started with. This is a linked list with a single set of parallel index values, so you can only have one alternate order, rather than several.
I didn't have the stomach, or frankly the huevos to dig any deeper into the history of patenting linked lists. The stuff above I found in about twenty minutes. If I hadn't been synopsizing and putting it into this article, I could've gotten through it in five minutes.

The bottom line is that over at least the last fifteen years or so, the US PTO has issued quite a wad of patents on a data structure that is so ingrained into most Comp Sci grads, and most of the rest of the programmer corps, that they don't even need their brain to write the code. They've written it so many times that their hands and spine can spew out the code without intervention by their brains. They don't have to anymore, though, because damned near every programmer's support library, including the standard libraries for most of the major (and minor) languages include them natively.

These patents effictively ban every commercial program offered for sale or developed and used internally, anywhere in the US, by anyone, at any time, for any purpose. All for using one of the most basic constructions, one of the most pervasive idioms, in the programming community.


Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Parking Fun

I'm sure you've seen it as much as I have. Especially around the Christmas holidays and especially at malls. Those pinheads that drive around the parking lot for half an hour to find a parking space that's twenty feet closer to the door than the six that they just drove by.

I think it's unprintably hilarious that they're that unprintably lazy. I mean, just how lazy do you have to be to screw around that much to avoid walking an extra twenty feet?

So one Christmas shopping day a few years ago, I'd done my bit to support the economy and was leaving the mall. Unfortunately, I'd forgotten where I parked. So I was wandering around the parking lot trying to remember where I left my rolling trash heap. After a few minutes, I noticed that I'd grown a mechanical tail, made up of drivers hoping to grab the spot I'm about to leave, and the people they're holding up in the parking lot by being assholes.

At that moment, it occurred to me Hey! There's some fun to be had here! So I saved my store logo shopping bags and a few small empty boxes for later mall parking lot hijinks.

Now, when I'm feeling in need of a lift during the holidays, I just drag out the old shopping bags and empty boxes and head for the busiest local mall. I park out at the end of the lot, take my bags, and wander the parking lot like I'm looking for my car to leave.

It's amazing how quickly I accumulate a following, and just how persistent some of those dunderheads are. I had one guy follow me around almost the entire mall parking lot for half an hour! He got angrier and angrier as I didn't find my car and leave. By the end I would not have been surprised to see his eyes pop out from the insane blood pressure he must have been experiencing.

I just laughed and laughed. You're getting angry because you're a lazy asshole. Riiiiiight. I did stay prepared to take cover behind the parked cars, though!


All altruism is, at its root, selfish. Discuss.

Thursday, 02 November 2006

What an Asshole
C/C++: John Kerry == Asshole
COBOL: set JohnKerry to Asshole
well, you get the idea. Halp us Jon Carry - we r stuck hear n irak Kudos to the photographer and the subjects and all of their colleagues, who are all probably out there in Iraq defending us even as I type this, and even as John Kerry gave us a little taste of how he really views the men and women that serve this country in the armed forces.

Thursday, 07 September 2006

Taking Candy From a Baby

Do you have to be a narcissist asshole to be an artist? Now, obviously, that's not true of all artists, but it sure seems to be true of far too many self described "artists". Whether it's the unabashed, uncompromising narcissistic smugness of George Clooney and the rest of the so-called "Hollywood crowd", or it's a shithead like the one described in the article Taking candy from a baby. [see links below]

Reading Ms. Greenberg's comments as quoted in the article, I get a very strong impression that she's (a) completely out of touch with the rest of society, (b) convinced she's the only one who "feels", and, (c) a complete, indignantly self-involved asshole.

I was trying to make images that made you feel something, because we are so inundated with images in our culture that oftentimes people don't feel anything.
Oh, and (d) actually an unfeeling asshole if the pictures of misery with which "we are so inundated" every day don't make her feel anything, but these stupid "taking candy from babies" stunt photos do.

She calls it art. I ask you, what the hell is artistic about taking small children into a photography studio, intentionally antagonizing them by giving them candy and then taking it away, just so you can photograph their anguished expressions?

Unlike some overwrought simpletons out there, I don't have any problem with her doing these stunt photos. To equate this sort of thing with child abuse takes an unimaginable lack of perception and scale.

From the article it sounds like the parents of these kids are quite satisfied with the pay the kids received. And the parents, obviously, approved of the photos and the technique used to get them. But to call it art? That puts her in the same class of imbecile as that moron that put a crucifix into a jar of piss and called it art.

Maybe she's even worse. The crucifix in piss guy only seemed to want his fifteen minutes of fame. This ignoramus seems to think she's making some grand social commentary.

The photographer Jill Greenberg intended her images of sobbing babies to be a metaphorical commentary on what she sees as the evils of the Bush administration and the dangerous influence of the evangelical religious right. … I thought it would be interesting to do a series of powerful images that had these political titles.
In this case, the only grand commentary being made revolves around the incredible emptiness between her ears. Hey, maybe we've just discovered the only perfect vacuum in the universe!


Tuesday, 05 September 2006

You're Kidding, Right?

Congress consumed by politics, opines an Associated Press (AP) headline today.

Well no shit!? You've got to be kidding! No effin' shit! Damn. I'd never never have expected that!

Now I see the what the bias in the media really is: stupidity. Huge, dizzying, stupefying piles of stupidity. Or maybe cupidity. But a wise person once suggested to me, and it's stood me in good stead for a long time, not to posit malice when stupidity is a sufficient explanation for whatever apparent evil has me confused.

It could be cupidity. But the stupidity thing is sort of the Occam's Razor of differentiating evil and stupidity. In the immortal words of Albert Einstein, Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.

Of course, ol' Bert is supposed also to have said [o]nly two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. Obviously a man with a fine-tuned sense of people.

So, to get back to where we started, stupidity. And the media. It occurs to me that among the current crop of media hacks, there must run a vein of stupidity unparalleled in human history. With the possible exception of the one running through Scientologists.

I mean, come on. These people get paid to observe and report on current events and politics and people and all of those other sociological sorts of things, and they're so obtuse that it surprises them that, OH MY GOD!, politics politicizes things! Holy shit!

These people must be singularly detached from, or ignorant of, well, just about everything, I guess. It should've been obvious to anyone with two active neurons to rub together and an even basic ability to observe. It's not like this is something new. I guess they don't have to read Julius Caesar in school anymore. Or history.

But this is quickly going to cover ground already handled in Good Morning, Your Highness, so I'll stop now.

Stupid. Just effin' stupid.


Tuesday, 29 August 2006

Now, That Cat Looks Like Hitler
Hitler Cat


PTO Has Got To Go
<Graham Champan>
Now stop that! Stop that sketch! Much too silly!
Get off! Go on, now! The lot of you!
</Graham Champan>

The patent situation in the United States has simply gotten too damned absurd for words. I have to wonder if I'm asleep, in the middle of a nightmare in which I play the leading role in some sort of horrifyingly stupid farce. But that would be entirely too much to hope for, I guess.

I have to wonder, though, if anyone over at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) actually left the building in the last twenty years? Do these people live in isolation someplace like the Congressional Bunker from the Cold War? Are they savants of some sort?

Yesterday afternoon, Associated Press released an article titled Patent fight rattles academic computing. In this article, they report that the USPTO awarded a patent to Blackboard, Inc., protecting the idea of making a Web-based educational institution work like a bricks-and-mortar school. Things like logging in to the institution and then progressing through different classes and such, the way a human in a physical school would. In other words, mimicing the real world in a virtual one.

As I write this, the front page of the USPTO web site contains an article titled USPTO Releases For Public Comment DRAFT Five-Year Roadmap for Continued World Leadership in IP Protection and Policy. The subtitle is "High Quality, Timely U.S. Patent and Trademark Reviews Head List of Objectives for Fostering American Innovation and Competitiveness".

Well, assuming they really want to "Foster American Innovation and Competitiveness", they're going about it in a really strange way. How the hell can anyone think that awarding a patent for something this bloody obvious in any way protects or promotes "Innovation and Competitiveness"? What the hell happened to the "novelty" and "non-obviousness" requirements for awarding a patent. Are the patent examiners really so out of touch with reality that they consider mimicing the physical world in a virtual one to be "novel", "original", or "non-obvious"? Do they even know what the words "novel" and "original" and "non-obvious" mean?

U, S, P, T, O
Those idiots have got to go!

If the "One Click" patent, and a devilish litany of stupid, absurd, or pointlessly obvious patents since, didn't convince you that the USPTO has some serious problems, then this one surely should. At least the Amazon "One Click" patent wasn't quite as obvious as mimicing the real world in a virtual one. How anyone, much less a patent examiner, could find that mimicing the real world in a virtual one has any novelty or "non-obviousness" whatsoever is way beyond my apparently limited capabilities to understand.

So, get on the horn to your so-called "Duly Elected Representatives" (DERs) and let them know just how stupid and absurd this situation has become. Let them know that you object not only to stupid, unoriginal patents like this one and "One Click", and all of the so-called "Business Methods" patents that the USPTO has gone so wild over the last few years. Let them know that you expect them to hold the USPTO accountable to improve the situation, and that you'll hold them accountable for any such improvment, or lack thereov, when the next election rolls around.


Tuesday, 08 August 2006

Frozen Dead Dog
And in today's news: "Woman Finds Frozen Dog In Her Refrigerator". OK, can't really pass up reading this one. Of course, I'm left wondering how many live frozen dogs are out there.

Another news item indicates that there may be hope for the human race yet: "You Know Anyone Who Needs An 'Anti-Stupid' Pill?" If this works, quickly enough ... well it'll never be quickly enough to prevent a lot of us from a life of despair at the "Stupid Ether" in which we humans live.

I hope they're ready: "Bengals Fans Can Call 'Jerk' Hotline". From the article:

Cincinnati Bengals fans annoyed by bad behavior in the stands can now report it by cell phone. The hot line number should be easy to remember --- (513) 381-JERK. ... Fans using too much foul language will get a warning from stadium security ... could be ejected and have their season tickets and personal seat licenses taken away.
I sure hope they've laid on enough telephone equipment and lines to handle that load.

And just to reinforce the "Stupidity Factor", we have "Cops Gripe About Wacky 911 Calls". My favorite quotation from the story is "It's hard to remember the standouts because there's so many stupid things we get."


Monday, 31 July 2006

Good Morning, Your Highness
You know, it's pretty damned ironic that in our (USA) society, the job of politician has transformed from a distasteful duty, undertaken only with great reflection and no small effort to bolster ones public image prior to engaging in such filth, into a career path. Reading the writings of the Founding Fathers, it appears they expected that men of means would serve as elected representatives for short periods of time, from a sense of duty, rather than any ambition to hold office. They expected that only men of means would have the financial wherewithall to be able to financially absorb time in public service without personal financial ruin. They found the job to be distasteful, and could not imagine a society in which the vocation of "politician" was held in any higher esteem than that of "street sweeper". Frankly, it seems quite plausible that, were we able to convince them of it, they should choose to stay with King George and the Empire rather than suffer the unutterable foolishness we now endure. One more good argument for a time machine, I suppose.

Whenever a man cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct. — Thomas Jefferson, 1743-1826

Politicians never accuse you of "greed" for wanting other people's money, only for wanting to keep your own money. — Joseph Sobran

The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. — H. L. Mencken

If you love wealth more than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, depart from us in peace. We ask not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains rest lightly upon you and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen. — Samuel Adams

We can afford to differ on the currency, the tariff, and foreign policy; but we cannot afford to differ on the question of honesty if we expect our republic permanently to endure … Honesty is not so much a credit as an absolute prerequisite to efficient service to the public. Unless a man is honest, we have no right to keep him in public life; it matters not how brilliant his capacity … The weakling and the coward cannot be saved by honesty alone; but without honesty, the brave and able man is merely a civic wild beast who should be hunted down by every lover of righteousness. … No man who is corrupt, no man who condones corruption in others, can possibly do his duty by the community. … "Liar" is just as ugly a word as "thief", because it implies the presence of just as ugly a sin in one case as in the other. If a man lies under oath or procures the lie of another under oath, if he perjures himself or suborns perjury, he is guilty under the statute law. … Under the higher law, under the great law of morality and righteousness, he is precisely as guilty if, instead of lying in a court, he lies in a newspaper or on the stump; and in all probability, the evil effects of his conduct are infinitely more widespread and more pernicious. — Teddy Roosevelt (on May 12, 1900, while he was still governor of New York)

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's great civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency, from dependency back to bondage. — Alexander Tyler, writing about the fall of the Athenian Republic in his 1770 book, Cycle of Democracy

Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

A deep respect for Law requires intense skepticism toward every law. — Unknown

Why do I have to get the kind of government they deserve? — Anonymous Internet post

The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws. — Tacitus

Cthulhu for President! Why vote for a lesser Evil? — Anonymous Internet post

Friday, 21 July 2006

Researching The Obvious
As I read the news Sunday morning, I ran across the following article headline: Desire Controls What We See, Study Finds. Well, with a headline like that, how can you avoid reading the article? So I jump into the article and I pretty much find what I expect. For example, this gem:

There is an age old hypothesis in psychology that a person’s wishes, hopes and desires can influence what they see, said David Dunning, Cornell University psychologist and co-author of the study. This theory had lay dormant for about 40 years, though, without any supporting evidence.
Now, I’m not the smartest guy on the face of the Earth, but this one just strikes me as so self evident I can’t believe (a) that anyone contests it, (b) there’s much (any) need to actually test it, (c) it provides any practical insight into human psychology beyond that given by accepting the anecdotal evidence, and (d) they could find anyone to fund this study in the first place.

I mean, come on. If you need to test this one, do you also need to test the hypothesis about people liking sex? Just how obvious does something need to be to just be accepted and not wasting money on it? I’m a firm believer in the Scientific Method, but human psychology isn’t terribly amenable to it’s ministrations, anyway.

Especially when you get into the meat of the article and examine the tests they used in the study. The tests all involve value judgements (“is X good”), rather than judgements of fact (“is X red”). Actual people, who live in a society rather than a psychology lab, have realized the truth of this effect for a long time. It seems pretty damned obvious when you’re talking about subjective judgements like is that a smile or a smirk.

Of course what you want to see will influence the way you interpret what you see. Just like the fact that a truly unbiased report can never be given by a human. No matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, your interpretation of events, facts, sensory data, will always be colored by your prior experiences, your knowledge, even your mood. So why on earth would it be any different with desire?

I have to wonder how much money they spent on this study. I also must wonder how much of it was extorted from taxpayers.

Ironically, the next story on Yahoo! News was UFOs: True Believers and Truth Seekers Conference Begins. And that story linked to Duped and Clueless: How Easily We Fool Ourselves. The connections among these articles are left as an exercise for the reader.

And, just to pour a little fuel on the fire, this morning I found on Yahoo! News another gem: "It's not what you said .." (see links below). This article discusses

… a paper in the Journal of Memory and Language that reported on a group of experiments said to provide the first evidence of “analog acoustic expression” – people unconsciously modulating their voices in ways that provide an additional channel of expression understood by others.
I guess these guys must live in complete isolation, never interacting with other human beings. Even two year olds understand this concept, and mothers sure as hell understand it, at least implicitly. Just listen to a toddler’s mother trying to get the child to stop doing something.

It seems like while we’re working on trying to get kids in school back “into” science and math, maybe we ought to pair them up with some of these bozos doing this stupid research. They sure need some additional interaction with actual people, not their hermit-like large craniumed colleagues, but real, actual people.


Saturday, 15 July 2006

Quit Whining, Dick Breath
This story is kinda old, but I’m just getting this blog started, and this item really pissed me off. At the end of the 2005 season for the Indy Racing League, driver Paul Tracy [warning: Paul’s stupid site has music running in the background] was complaining about the weight advantage Danica Patrick [warning: even dumber, this site has the music, too, plus it’s all Flash bullshit, no non-flash site, except the store of course] enjoys on the track.

Danica is about 5’ 2” tall and 100 pounds, sopping wet. Paul, on the other hand, is seven or eight inches taller and at least ninety pounds heavier. There’s no question about it, Danica does enjoy an on-track advantage due to her weight.

Under IRL rules, the minimum weight for the car applies to the car sans driver. So both have cars with the same static weight, but in race trim, with driver on board, Paul's car is almost 100 pounds heavier. That doesn’t sound like much, but it translates directly into lap time.

So, there’s absolutely no doubt that Paul's basic assertion is true. On the other hand, as far as I can recall, it has always been true in the IRL rules. So why does Paul suddenly get upset about it when Danica comes on the scene? Is it because she actually competes for the win, rather than loping around the middle of the field?

So I’m sitting there, listening to him whine about it on SpeedTV, and the more he goes on about it the more it pisses me off. He knew the rules going in. Nobody changed them in midstream. Small male drivers have the same advantage. So, Paul, if it really is the weight that bothers you, if you’re really dedicated, really a hardcore professional, you’ll have your legs amputated and replaced with carbon fiber prostheses. Alex Zanardi has already proven it can be done.

Friday, 14 July 2006

As you can see, I have just begun building the SurlyDoug weblog. My plan is to start out small and add features incrementally so that I can begin delivering commentaries even before the “paint is dry”, or even purchased. Please bear with me while I get the foundations in place and begin to populate the site with actual content.

In the future, I may add the ability for readers to leave comments on the articles, but I need to work out some issues before doing that. I might never enable comment posting, but I’d like to and I’ll work to try to find a way to do it.

So, what “actual content” can you expect to find here in the future? Commentary. Some might call it “spleen venting”. Usually about people. Usually people being obtuse, neurotic, or otherwise compromising their best decision making capability. Or maybe they’re just stupid. Whatever. I focus on human behavior because it provides much rich opportunity for the sort of acerbic, insensitive, sometimes vulgar rants I so enjoy making. Rampant insensitivity. Political correctness be damned. And not a small dose of A Modest Proposal thrown in for good measure. Hopefully some of you out there will find it interesting or funny or scary enough to come back and read some more later.

The name “Surly Doug” came about in the local pub when hanging around drinking beer with some friends. We tend to have wide ranging discussions, leavened with the lighter fare typical of barroom conversations. In these discussions, I tended to express things in ways that were less than sensitive or politically correct or even tactful. On top of that, I’m one of those people who has an opinion on almost any topic. And the things I don't have an opinion on, I can still make up a rant. Anyway, in the middle of one of these barside discussions, one of my compatriots called me “Surly Doug”, and it stuck.

Thursday, 13 July 2006

I have tried to implement this ’blog in such a way that any browser can successfully render it legibly in virtually all common circumstances, and that it will conform to the sizes you have set for text. To that end, I have provided several “Themes” that you can choose to give different “looks” for the pages. The menu bar on the left of the pages provides links to these “Themes” so that you can try them out.

The pages also specify sizes as percentages. For example, the width of a cell in a table might be specified as “15%” rather than “150px” (150 pixels). This allows the pages to adapt more cleanly to differing screen resolutions, user-selected fonts, window sizes, and the like.

Finally, the pages request specific typefaces, but also provide reasonable alternatives for users that do not have those typefaces installed. If none of the requested typefaces exist on your machine, the browser will render the pages using the default typefaces you set for your browser. The following sections discuss the typefaces in more detail.

The place that this site design may cause you trouble is with the colors. At the moment, the styling of this site forces the text and background colors into a specific palette. If you have problems with color perception, this might interfere with your ability to use the site. To reduce the effect of this, I provide several different themes for the site that you can select dynamically. Hopefully one of them will suit your needs if the default one doesn’t. In particular, try the “Circa 1993” (low tech) version.

1. Headline Typeface

The ’blog uses a typeface named “Impact” for its logo, headings, and titles, as a first preference. If “Impact” is not available, the blog will try to use “Arial Black”. If neither of these is available, it will use the default sans serif font configured for your browser.

Designed in 1965 by Geoffrey Lee for the Stephenson Blake type foundry, “Impact” is a very heavy, almost black sans serif typeface. Its strongly condensed glyphs have more contrast between thick strokes and thin than many typefaces. Useless as a body typeface, it can provide dramatic impact when used for headings, even though most catalogs classify it as a “fantasy” typeface.

Unfortunately, “Impact” is a commercial typeface that is not freely distributable. On the other hand, it is a very common typeface on both Windows and Mac platforms, and fairly common on Unix-based platforms.

At one time, Microsoft distributed a licensed TrueType version of this typeface as part of its Microsoft Core Fonts. They also included it with numerous versions of Word™ and other products. Though they do not freely distribute this typeface anymore, it is available widely on the Internet. It also featured in the core system fonts of some versions of Apple’s Mac OS. Furthermore, nearly every major type foundry, and quite a few others, provide interpretations of “Impact” that are virtually indistinguishable from each other. The original Microsoft “Core Fonts” files are available free on SourceForge in the Core Fonts project. With a bit of searching, free knockoffs can be found, too.

With its inclusion in various Microsoft and Apple products, “Impact” became one of only a few “fantasy” typefaces commonly available on both platforms. This led to an abundant overuse of the typeface, to the extent that many designers consider it trite and hackneyed. While in many circumstances this would be considered a negative, “trite and hackneyed” fit right in with the Weltanschauung around here. :-)

Microsoft distributes the “Arial Black” typeface as part of several products, like Microsoft Word™ and Publisher. It is a bit hard to come by if you do not own one of these products. Microsoft originally commissioned development of the “Arial” typeface as part of the Core Fonts effort. Though they did not make the “black” version of the typeface available as part of the Core Fonts package, presumably they had it developed at the same time.

2. Body Text Typeface

Microsoft’s “Comic Sans MS” typeface supplies first preference for the display of body text. As with “Impact”, Microsoft freely distributed “Comic Sans MS” as part of the Core Fonts package, which they have subsequently discontinued. It has been included in several versions of Windows™ as well as several other products, so it is available on a large percentage of systems. If you do not have this typeface, it is available from SourceForge as noted above. “Comic Sans MS” provides a very clean and readable facsimile of handwriting.

Vincent Connare designed “Comic Sans” to replace “Times New Roman” in the “voice balloons” used in the Microsoft Bob product. [The full story] It turned out to work well for a much wider variety of purposes, and eventually became one of the system fonts included with every copy of Microsoft’s Windows™.

The second choice typeface is another member of the Core Fonts package from Microsoft, “Trebuchet”, also designed by Vincent Connare at Microsoft. You can get a copy at SourceForge, as noted above. Microsoft’s contracted development of this font specifically for the Core Fonts package, as they did for “Comic Sans MS”.

Should neither of these fonts be available, the browser will render the pages using the default sans serif font configured for your browser.

3. Themes

I have tried to make the default theme usable on as many systems as possible by coding the pages carefully. That said, they do use (X)HTML 4.01 and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Alternate themes provide choices that require less technology from the browser, or provide additional functions, like the RSS feed (see below). If your environment is resource constrained, or you use an “old school” browser, or you just prefer to do your Web browsing in “low technology” mode to conserve bandwidth, one of these alternate themes might suit your purposes better than the defualt one.

3.1. RSS

Since Really Simple Synidcation (RSS) feeds use XML as their lingua franca, generating the proper output results naturally from the ?ML capabilities of the Blosxom weblog engine. The RSS “Theme” implements this support for the RSS protocol using those capabilities.

3.2. Index

The Index Theme offers a condensed “list view” of the posts. When you click on one of the posts in the index, the default presentation applies.

3.3. Circa 1993

This Theme provides a “low technological impact” alternative for those with text- or console-based browsers, or who prefer to eschew glitz to conserve bandwidth.

3. Computer Stuff

Version 2.0 of the Blosxom weblog engine provides the motive force behind the ’blog. This ’blog uses the following plugins for the Blosxom weblog engine:

Provides the full names of months and days of the week instead of the default three letter names (e.g., “Monday” and “January” instead of “Mon” and “Jan”).

In the default theme, this site makes use of HTML 4 and CSS, and requests non-standard fonts. The RSS theme provides XML-based Really Simple Syndication protocol support.

Pair Networks provides the hosting services for the SurlyDoug ’blog and PairNIC provides domain registration services.

All text, layout, and photographs within this site are copyright © 2000-2011,, unless otherwise specified, and all rights are reserved. The non-photographic graphics on this site, however, have been collected from a variety of sources, and they remain the property of those sources, and all rights are reserved to those owners.