Category Archives: books

License agreement as literature

George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm (August, 1945) has 29,966 words.

Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451 (October, 1953) has 46,118 words.

Apple’s  “Apple Developer Program License Agreement” (June, 2017) has 42,993 words.

In terms of plot, setting, and character, the license agreement is no match for either of the former two works. But all three could be classed as dystopian.

Visual BASIC in Romanian

What do you do if you need a quick reference to Visual BASIC and the only available reference is in Romanian? Let us consider this logically:

First off, you do not wonder, “Why is there a Visual BASIC manual in Romanian sitting on my desk? I can neither read nor write Romanian.” This is obviously the wrong question, as the person putting it on the desk was probably thinking, “Oh, a Visual BASIC book. I don’t do Visual BASIC, so I’ll give it to someone who might be able to use it.”

Second, you do not think: “But I don’t program in Visual BASIC.” This is silly. If you know how to program at all, everyone thinks, “Oh, yes, that guy [“guy” is gender neutral in this case] is a programmer.” It doesn’t make any difference what the programming language might be. It could be COBOL, FORTRAN, BASIC, Snobol, Algol, Pascal, Ada, APL, PL/1, Swift, or, apparently, Romanian. Which isn’t a programming language at all.

What really happened: something broke. I didn’t create the broken thing. I don’t know Visual BASIC, but nobody who knew Visual BASIC was handy. There was a Visual BASIC book lying around, albeit in Romanian. Fun fact: Visual BASIC, and almost all other programming languages, is based on English.

In short: by simply ignoring the explanatory text and looking at several pages of code, I found the problem, and blackmailed someone else into fixing it.

Visual BASIC for Windows, written in Romanian.
Visual BASIC for Windows, written in Romanian.

I probably won’t press my luck and try this again.

Tattered Cover: a bookstore

Tattered Cover is a bookstore in Denver, Colorado. A real, brick-and-mortar (or possibly reinforced concrete and drywall) store selling physical books made of paper and cloth. It isn’t part of some huge corporate conglomerate, with ties into publishing companies and multimedia giants, but an independent bookstore.

How independent? Tattered Cover fought against provisions of the Patriot Act that allowed for seizure of book purchase records without a warrant or hearing. Prior to that, Tattered Cover had defended First Amendment rights in challenges by Colorado law enforcement groups seeking to broadly define obscenity, or to tie book purchases to illegal drug operations.

Eat. Sleep. Read.
Eat. Sleep. Read. It must work, as this shelf is supposed to be devoted to overstock, but it is clearly empty.

Tattered Cover’s commitment to the tried and true values of democracy and physical books also extends to plumbing:

Tattered Cover men's restroom urinals
Tattered Cover has some brand-new plumbing that has an old-fashioned look.

You just don’t see plumbing like this in men’s rooms any more. The plumbing is new; where did they even find it?

Digital scrapbook II

“Lines of Equal Latitude and Longitude,”

This is a cultural artifact of how we draw maps, but still interesting.

President Obama using a MacBook Pro to answer citizen questions on Twtter. Note the use of a wireless broadband modem plugged into the side:

No, I don’t have any idea what the crop marks or Pantone dots are supposed to indicate. I suspect this was intended as something that could be incorporated into other media, presumably with cropping.
The cables coming out of the side are to a VGA adapter, suggesting that, while he is typing on the MacBook and the video is presumably showing up on the MacBook screen, it is also being ported to either a video projector or a larger screen out of camera range. The guy in the background has an iPad and accompanying Apple wireless keyboard.
Modern day alphabet for children, taught iconicity:
My daughter had a “play table” that taught her Japanese characters. It didn’t look at all like this.
Brampton Guardian (Canada) demonstrating the joys of bad layout:
Though, to be honest, the creature on the left does look suspect.