Two more reasons Ruby beats Perl: Chuck Norris and Chuck Norris

I was thinking of all the various Norrisisms on the web (“Chuck Noriss’s tears cure cancer. If only he would ever cry…” and such), and realized that Chuck Norris would prefer ruby to perl. Two of my own very clever*** quotes are below, and after reading them I think even the most die-hard perl programmer will have no choice but to convert.

* “Clever” by the Webster 1913 definition of “well-shaped; handsome”. They are sexy, even if not funny.

The ruby versions:

Chuck Norris doesn’t strip strings – when they see him, they get so excited they just strip themselves.
If Chuck Norris raises an exception, it takes two programmers, four paramedics, and at least one Chinese Healer to rescue it.

The perl versions:

Chuck Norris doesn’t trim strings – when they see him, they trim themselves out of fear.
When Chuck Norris found out perl couldn’t deal with exceptions nicely, he roundhouse kicked it. Twice. That’s why perl is so ugly.

Note how much less scared and ugly I made ruby sound.

Ebay finally gives in!

Attention, nerds! If you are horribly wronged, do not simply accept your mistreatment. Sure, in high school we learned that survival depended upon rolling up into a ball and feigning death to protect ourselves from the jocks, but those days are behind (some of) us!

I finally got to the point that I threatened legal action against ebay for banning my account (see my “Boycott Ebay”: article for more information). I told them essentially they had wrongfully banned me, and if I didn’t get a real response soon I’d simply take legal action for unfair business practices. I also hinted that banning people for legitimate items might allow for a class action lawsuit – they’re quite familiar with class action lawsuits, so maybe this was enough to put the fear of God into them.

In any case, they sent an email that they reinstated my account and relisted my previously-removed items. There was no “Oh #$@%! Sorry, looks like we made a mistake!” I would have liked that. But the admission that my account should be reinstated was good enough.

Hooray for me!

If any of you nerds are treated poorly, follow my example and threaten legal action. It’s good and good for you. Just keep in mind that you have to actually be in the right for this to work. You won’t get anywhere trying to sue your boss for telling you that Captain Kirk was cooler than Captain Pickard. Not only would no judge take that case, but your boss would be right.

(Note: some people will claim that ebay simply changed their mind on the policy in question, but we all know it was my threat of legal action that made them do it)

Boycott Ebay!

I use Magic the Gathering Online as a source of supplemental income. I am not “poor”, but with a wife, two kids, and a lot of medical bills for one child, my income is stretched extremely thin. Every month we might be able to save $20-40 for future emergencies. So when I found that I could make $20-40 extra in any given month via MtGO, I jumped at the chance – that’s doubling our current disposable income!

As many people are aware, ebay has decided to stop allowing sales of “digital items” in which the seller does not own the rights to the items in question, or is not authorized to trade those items. As an avid player of Magic the Gathering Online, I made sure Wizards of the Coast does indeed allow such transactions. WotC’s website even has a forum for conducting trades with other players, for cash or other in-game items. Their “code of conduct” states that the player is allowed to trade digital goods. I did my homework.

I was warned to no longer list digital items from this game, and my auctions were deleted. I sent several emails back and forth explaining that WotC allows MtGO properties to be traded (they even offer a forum on their site for this specific purpose). The responses were always the same – don’t list digital goods you aren’t authorized to list. Eventually they flat out told me they were no longer listening to my emails, at which point I told them that I would continue listing auctions until a written policy stated I could not do this.

Interestingly, it was only after this final email from me, in which I was excessively blunt and probably a bit rude, that they banned me. The ban appears to have happened within an hour or two of my final email, which seems pretty suspicious to me. They say they’ll lift the ban within seven days (assuming I fill out a form and jump through a bunch of hoops), but I don’t see the point – they’ll just continue to bully me in order to prove a point or something.

I’m keeping a record of the email that’s been happening, and I hope that even though my blog is very small that I can get some support. Check out the emails if you’re interested: “”:

And check these guys out: “”:


I seem to suffer from some rarely-heard-of form of insomnia in which I generally sleep well, but sometimes can’t fall asleep for hours. And when I fall asleep, I usually sleep well, but only if I don’t go to sleep too early.

Tonight I fell asleep putting Alex (my son) to bed, and that was around 8pm. I woke up just before 1am, and haven’t been able to sleep since then.

The worst part of this almost nonexistent disorder is that sleeping medication doesn’t work either… I tried some of that hardcore stuff you need a prescription for (Ambien or Lunesta, can’t recall which). That stuff seems like it would be great if one feels that he isn’t bumping into walls or falling on his ass often enough – it’s definitely got the “impair motor functions” bit down pat. But it just didn’t make me sleep any better than normal.

Why is that the worst part, you ask? Well, simple. For a sleep disorder that strikes randomly, there would be little fear of growing dependent on (or even gaining a tolerance to) the sleep meds. So in my situation, they ought to be a fracking lifesaver!

On the plus side, this means I have a bit of extra time to work on Bloodsport Coliseum before I stop being able to function for the day!

h6. Yes, I said “fracking”. I have heard rumor that kids as young as 10 hit my blog (in fact I think they’re my main demographic), and as much as I like to corrupt minors, I prefer to do it in more interesting ways. So expect more Battlestar Galactica swearing over Real World swearing from now on.

More poker…

Guess I forgot the point of my poker post. I wanted to brag it up that I took 14th place in a $5.50 tournament in which 850+ people entered. I was all proud. Now that I’m getting beat left and right, this message doesn’t make me feel as superior as it was supposed to.


I’m a big fan of Poker. I freely admit that this is because of the “World Poker Tour”: I mean, I always like the idea of poker, but I wasn’t exposed to Texas Hold ’em until the WPT popped up. And it wasn’t until I looked into Hold ’em that I realized the joys of 7-card stud and Omaha.

So a few years back I caught the WPT and laughed at how absurd it was to televise something as boring as poker. I mean, watching a bunch of people on TV playing cards! How lame is that?

Within about 10 minutes I was hooked. Go figure. For some reason I really can’t explain, I find it as tense as a good football game. I’ll never be one of those idiots who call poker a real sport, but it’s certainly more of a spectator “sport” than I would ever have guessed.

So anyway, I play on “Ultimate Bet”: right now. (No, that link isn’t an affiliate link or anything) I generally am not very good, so when I feel like wasting money on poker it’s usually because I need something to occupy my time, and I blow my money on the penny tables so I can have fun for a while before going broke.

UltimateBet is one of the smaller poker sites, with less than 20k people on during peak hours (Compare to PokerStars or PartyPoker at 50k+), but their support staff is very good: * I once had a problem they couldn’t figure out (‘#’ couldn’t be part of a password, so my password kept getting randomly reset) and they gave me 500 “Ultimate Points”. These points are worth about $1 per 250, so it was nothing incredible, but it was definitely a nice gesture. * A few weeks ago I went to take advantage of their 100% deposit bonus, but my card was declined (some banks consider “gaming” purchases to be unacceptable). Within minutes, a rep called me and told me how to use “NETeller”: to do an instant payment. But what’s more, UltimateBet covered the normal fee (usually 8.9% I think) so I could get the money to them ASAP.

Obviously a big poker site can afford to do these sorts of things, but when I played on other big sites, I was never given any kind of personal service like that. PokerStars may or may not cover the NETeller fee, but they certainly never mentioned it to me when I first used them. PartyPoker definitely doesn’t care about customer satisfaction. After having some kind of account problem with them, they responded to my support request with a FAQ that had nothing to do with my issue! For a poker site with so many people and so little rewards, I was amazed. They didn’t offer any kind of compensation, but that wasn’t nearly as big a problem to me as their unwillingness to even address my issue.

So for budding poker players out there, you’ll find far more variety of players on PokerStars and PartyPoker. But UltimateBet is far more customer-oriented.

Email/IM bad for communication?

I keep reading news articles about the inferior nature of email, instant messaging, web forums, and other forms of non-verbal communications. I have finally found the source of one of these articles and have found some very interesting details out.

The news article I’m referencing is “Your Emails Aren’t As Funny As You Think”:, which is based on the research in “Egocentrism over E-Mail”: The research study is mentioned in various places throughout the internet, but I need to stay focused if I want to tear both the research and the article apart.

The general belief I’ve gotten from the research is that when you’re communicating verbally, you can read body language and hear tone and voice inflection to get a better idea of the true meaning of the message – sarcasm, annoyance, flirtiness, humor, etc. In email, for instance, there is no body language and no tone to be read.

h2. The flaws in the research study

I have found that the study has made some decent points, but seems to very specifically avoid certain aspects of email communication that would likely have helped show email in a better light.

First off, I’m not talking about study 5 here. This is a study where they took preselected Jack Handey quotes from Saturday Night Live to see how often people’s humor meshed with somebody else’s, when the message was shown in video vs. email. I’m just not sure the point of the study when the humor is not from the actual person. I don’t think anybody will question that humor is better spoken by a practiced comedian than sent in email by an anonymous stranger, so if that’s all they meant to prove, I think they wasted their time.

h3. Most of the studies relied on pre-written text

Studies 1, 2, and 4 had people deliver a certain sentence word for word. These were to be delivered in a certain tone: sarcastic, serious, angry joking, maybe a couple others. These sentences were not divulged (I think that without these sentences, it’s very difficult to determine the validity of the tests), so I can’t comment on how useful they may have been… but think about this: if the sentence is “Your mother is such a bitch for making you pay for your own car”, it’s totally ambiguous whether the speaker/emailer is being sarcastic if all you do is read the text. If I were trying to say that sarcastically, I would probably start off with “Oh yeah, your mother is just such a bitch…” and end with “God forbid….”. Maybe even laugh.

With vocal inflections, I can certainly make my meaning clearer no matter the full text I read. But in email, we rely on things like context to make a message’s intent more clear. Even in normal vocal conversation, we change our message to indicate a different tone, though it’s not nearly as necessary.

The problem I have with these three studies is that the email group of the studies wasn’t allowed to modify the message in any way. No bolding, italicizing, capitalization, smilies, or laughter (LOL, ROFL, hehe, etc) could be added. This, in my opinion, makes for very fallible results. Look at the next section for more details….

h3. Email and IM communications most certainly can have a tone.

As I just said: there are things like bolding text, italicising text, CAPITALIZING text, and using smilies (:D, :), =), ;), :-P, etc.) to get the point across about your intent. Read the following two sentences:

I think the direction our company is headed is absolutely correct, and I’m glad to be a part of it. I won’t be looking for a new job anytime soon.

I think the direction our company is headed is absolutely correct, and I’m GLAD to be a part of it. I won’t be looking for a new job anytime soon ;).

It’s not crystal clear, but the second sentence has a different tone than the first, and will give people a better chance of “getting” the real message (“I hate the direction we’re going, and I’ve already posted my resume to”).

Now consider that some email programs (and most forums and IM clients) even have graphic smilies for showing even more specific emotions. Add an eye-rolling smilie () to that prior message, and I doubt many people will mistake the tone.

The interesting thing to note here is that the study admits that smilies (referred to as “emoticons”) might help send the right tone, but they claim that won’t make much difference.

The way they “prove” this conclusion: * Some smilies are ambiguous, such as “;-)”. Is that a happy response? Flirty? A “just kidding” response? ** This is true, but the same is true of real life! If somebody says “I like that shirt” and winks, I won’t know if they’re being friendly-but-wierd, flirty, or just kidding. * A “follow-up” study was done that allowed emoticons, and found that overconfidence wasn’t affected between the emoticon-users and non-emoticon-users. ** Um… what emoticons were used? What tones were available? What size was the group? In other words, without showing specifics about that follow-up study, how can you use it to dispute emoticons? ** Along the same lines, what was found in that study? Overconfidence may not have changed between the groups, but did accuracy change? If accuracy went up, the level of overconfidence may well not have changed, but that would very nicely prove my point about email tone!

h3. Emailing strangers will lead to more misinterpreted messages than emailing friends or even coworkers.

Study 3 “proves” my above statement incorrect. But you see, here’s where I get into context again. Familiarity is all fine and dandy, but if users can’t bold, italicize, use smilies, or otherwise convey context, then you’re not testing their ability to communicate!

In email, if I’m sarcastic, I’ll add a smilie or “p’shaw, whatev” or something. In fact, to different people my sarcasm will be different. To a good friend, I can say “Oh dude that is totally so like awesome man! I’m so stoked about it, sign me up, brotha!” My friend will know I’m being sarcastic because I don’t normally IM/Email like that. My father, on the other hand, whom I speak to more formally, won’t know how to interpret that message.

Surrounding context is even more important in my opinion. Read on…

h3. The overall conversation’s context isn’t even evaluated!

Context is incredibly important. If I’m asked to convey anger in a single sentence, I don’t know how I’d do it in a reliable way, other than “I’m really angry” (and note that this too can be interpreted many ways depending on context). Measuring the results of effective communication based on a single sentence is simply measuring the wrong thing. They’re seeing how well people can convey an emotion in a single, context-free instance. They then use those results to claim that email is inferior to verbal communication, even though in normal communication, a huge amount of interpretation is based on the context of the conversation.

If my wife and I have been joking around and she suddenly says, “You’re such a jerk!” I’ll know she’s joking, even if her tone would suggest otherwise. The same sentence, spoken similarly, could mean anger, hurt, frustration, or nothing at all. All depending on the surrounding conversation.

h3. The study is flawed by the nature that the participants knew what was being studied!

This may be a controversial statement, but I believe it’s true. Let me explain. If I yell out “You ASSHOLE! I’ll kill you!” in the meanest voice I can muster, and your options for my tone are: angry, sad, sarcastic, or joking, you’ll probably pick angry. If you know me well enough, though, you’ll know that in real conversation, if I yell that out, I’m joking. So if you and I know we’re being tested for tone, I’ll speak the way I expect the average person will understand me, and not the way I would speak in a normal conversation. In fact, I’ll likely exaggerate my speech (sarcasm: “OOOOHHHHH I’M SOOOOOOOOOOOO EXCITED”) to “get the test right”.

In a normal conversation, my angry tone is barely different than my serious tone. I don’t yell; I rarely even swear (out of anger, at least). If you had to interpret a real tone from a real conversation, you would not have nearly as easy a time, and friends and family would have a huge advantage over strangers.

My point is that the experiment should have measured tone in a different way. The speakers/emailers could have been told to create a message as if it were to various family members or friends, for a specific scenario. After typing it up and speaking/emailing, they would have been asked to rate each the overall tone of the message. It could have been presented as some study in effective communication. The recipient of the message would be asked various questions, some related to the study, most not. How well did they get their point across? Was it too wordy? Too brief? Etcetera.

h3. The Implications section of the study is flawed

So we’ve got, in my opinion, some flawed results. The idea that we communicate in a way that is egocentric makes plenty of sense, but most of the other conclusions I’ve seen are, at the very least, misguided. But the final section blows me away.

The claim is that other forms of nonverbal communication are going to be as bad as, or worse than, email. They explicitly include instant messaging.

I’m convinced this study was done by people who view email as a necessary evil, and not by people who “get” it. Their conclusions would suggest this much, but this section really convinces me. Instant message programs like AIM, Yahoo, and MSN all have some very animated smilies for conveying tone. As shown above, the eyerolling animated icon can do wonders for a message. Now imagine dozens of these, all available in one or two clicks. For those of us who like to type, these animated emoticons are even easier to put in a message.

Look at the variety of emoticons in most IM programs and tell me you can’t effectively convey sad vs. angry vs. sarcastic vs. serious. Hell, I could run a study using Yahoo Messenger where people only get to use one icon to convey those four emotions, and guarantee better results than this study….

h2. Gripes about the news

The news article that references the study is flawed as well. The one I’ve referenced above draws conclusions that aren’t in the study – they go from the SNL Jack Handey jokes losing funniness in email to the conclusion that emails you don’t find funny are inherently flawed.

This sentence is just the beginning: “According to a recent study by a trio of business scholars, people think their emails are twice as funny as they really are.” The study is talking about going from a comedian reading of a very specific joke to a FLAT EMAIL. Jokes forwarded around the internet may not be funny to a lot of people, but they tend to circulate well because they’re the kind of humor that doesn’t need to be heard! Jack Handey quotes most definitely gain a lot from their reader.

What’s more, people rated a flat reading of certain jokes at a higher level than the recipients (for instance, I rate a certain quote at 7, but the person I send it to rates that one lower because they like a different one better), showing us that flat reading -> flat reading loses something! Study 5 (the one about humor and Jack Handey) taught us that people have vastly different tastes in humor. Any given person choosing the 5 funniest Jack Handey quotes, even in text-only form, will find that, on average, other people don’t find those 5 to be the funniest! WTF does that have to do with this news article’s conclusion?

Then this article specifically mentions “Photoshopped celeb pics” and “a hilarious clip of a napping cat” as problematic emails addressed by this study. But pictures don’t fall into the boundary of email communication problems! Again, WTF?!? When (and why) did the author think to jump from email communication problems to pictures that he doesn’t find funny? How the hell do those even relate?

Then he goes as far as to say the study is “a much-needed slap in the face to the forward-frenzied emailers out there”. Whereas the study drew a lot of incorrect conclusions, and tested the wrong data, it was at least paying attention to something, and did have a lot of research behind it. The author of this article, David Silverberg, apparently didn’t even READ the damn study! He probably heard about it, wanted to make himself look clever, and chose to revel in his complete ignorance rather than actually research the facts.

As much as I disliked the lack of proper scientific method in the study, this article (and others like it) makes me sick! How can we trust any journalists anymore, when so many of them just recycle other people’s data? And fuck if they can’t even do that right!

h2. Conclusions

Email is almost certainly inferior to verbal communication. But c’mon people, let’s measure the right data next time! And Mr. Silverberg, please try doing the tiniest iota of research before you write again. Might save you from coming across as an ignorant, lazy twit. Oh wait, too late for that….

Friday the 13th: the series!

Do you remember watching Friday the 13th on TV as a kid? Not the movies, the “TV show!”: Of course not, nobody does! But all the same, I’ve just re-remembered it and thought I’d share with all my loyal readers! So mom & dad, here you go:

It was totally rad! Which is to say, it was a moderately interesting idea turned lame due to bad writing and acting. But all the same, I did like a lot of episodes. Then again, I was like 12 when it was on the air, so that doesn’t necessarily mean much. And if you think I’m a geek today, man, you should have seen me back then…

So here’s the basic idea – These three people have discovered that an evil family member (uncle to the two cousins, Ryan and Micki, and I’m not sure who he was to the old dude, Jack Marshak) has been selling cursed antiques. Generally speaking, any given item will give the user some kind of crazy special power for the price of killing somebody. There were lots of variations, but I remember most episodes being that way.

Part what made this show truly special was the absurdities of some of the plots: * Wheelchair episode ** Girl gets harassed by a bunch of guys, and apparently near-raped. ** She runs away and is hit by a car, paralyzed. ** She gets this magic wheelchair (s/magic/cursed), and is able to leave her body to get revenge on her aggressors. ** As she kills each person involved, she gains more mobility. Screw “The Scooter Store”:! ** I think the moral of the story was that murder is bad, even if it happens to bad people. Or something. * Snow globe episode ** Satan captures our three heroes inside… a… snowglobe. WTF? ** He uses damned souls of their friends to lure them in, though I can’t recall exactly how that happens. ** One of the damned friends decides she can’t go through with the betrayal. So she somehow manages to help the trio get a car. ** They drive the car through the edge of the snowglobe, crashing out back to the real world again… ** Satan put them into a breakable container, and left a car there that was in running condition. I think this episode really showcased how stupid Satan really is. * Leather Jacket of Invisibility ** This one’s crazy-awesome – a cursed jacket turns the wearer invisible when they kill people and wipe the blood on the jacket! ** The main plot escapes me at the moment, but I remember they stopped the killer by faking a murder. That is, they let the killer stab one of the main characters, but the dude was wearing a fake pack of blood on his chest that stopped the knife while making him appear dead. This ploy somehow caught the killer offguard even though he was still holding the knife he used to kill people, and let the heroes stop him.

The other really great thing about the show was the intro. First, we get to hear what I recall as cool, creepy music. In all honesty, I was pretty geeky so the intro probably sucked… but we got to see a cymbal-playing monkey!

Then there was the cast. Three names (the three main characters of course), two of which I don’t remember (Ryan and Jack’s characters). Micki, I remember – she was billed simply as “Robey”. I always found that funny, and more so today, because she’s some nobody who really never made it big. Trying to make herself into one of those stars with just one name…. It’s just so pathetic and yet so funny.

Chips with a KICK

I’ve tasted pain before, but never quite like this.

I rinse with Listerine. Most notably, the “Yellow Death” flavor (I think some people refer to it as “Original”). To me, that’s always seemed pretty hot. Leave it in your mouth longer than the recommended 30-60 seconds, and you’re liable to start crying like a schoolgirl. For real fun, go for 2 minutes, then rinse your mouth with hot water. Now that is painful.

Back to the story – Blair’s Death Rain Habanero chips make Listerine feel like a cool breeze on a hot summer day.

A friend from work brought these babies in and was offering them around. I tried one and found it a bit spicy, but no big deal. So I grabbed a couple more pretty quick. Funny twist… it seems that habaneros are the kind of spicy that takes about a minute to really hit. I guess God thought they’d be funnier that way or something.

Being a “man”, I felt it was my obligation not to show my pain, and eat some more when they were offered. By the end of my 10-chip run, I’d drank around a liter of water and couldn’t quite speak normally. When it was suggested I eat the crumbs at the bottom, my mind screamed at me to “duck and cover” (the neurons weren’t firing quite right, so they must’ve just latched onto whatever warning message they could find). Naturally, I instead casually acquiesced. I’m such a man.

So I ate what could only be described as a concentrated version of agony. I didn’t even flinch. Not once. Of course, once I left for the privacy of the bathroom I wept uncontrollably. Oh well.

This article might help explain how dangerous the chips really are.

Cold Mint Listerine

Funny story. You’ll all laugh.

Today I brought a bottle of Cool Mint Listerine to work. One of those travel-sized bottles. You know, for when I eat at work and my breath is bad and I can’t score with all my hottie coworkers.

Well, I put the bottle in my lunch box so I wouldn’t forget to bring it to work. Then I put my lunch box in the fridge, having forgotten to take the bottle out once I arrived. Then I opened my lunch box just now, and found that I had a bottle of cool Cool Mint Listerine.

So I have this bottle of cool Cool Mint Listerine. Hilarious!! Haha! Right?

JESUS NO. It pisses me off, even. It’s so stupid, I end up feeling like I’m in an episode of “Friends”. Uh oh! Chandler put his god damn Cool Mint Listerine in the fridge! And that fucking laugh track grating on my nerves, firing off every few seconds to make sure we know how much fun we ought to be having. And then Joey pipes up with “Hey, so is it like… Cold Mint Listerine now?” Laugh Track. Stupid expression from Chandler. Laugh track. “Okay, then.” Laugh track. Jennifer Anniston wishing she could act. Laugh Track.

The worst part is, it would be funnier than the typical episode.

I can’t decide if I’d rather forget that “Friends” ever existed, or just kill the producers.