An English teacher was explaining to his students the concept of gender association in the English
language. He stated how hurricanes at one time were given feminine names and how ships and planes were usually referred
to as "she." A student with raised hand asked: "What gender is a computer?" The teacher wasn't
certain which it was, so he divided the class into two groups, males in one, females in the other, and asked them to
decide if a computer should be masculine or feminine. Both groups were asked to give four reasons for their
The boys decided that computers should definitely be referred to in the feminine gender because:
Q. How many software engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
Q. Why did the computer programmer dress as Santa Claus on Halloween?
The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from one generation to the next, says that when you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount. But in modern business (and education and government) heavy investment or other considerations may encourage other strategies:
In Japan, they have replaced the impersonal and unhelpful Microsoft error messages with Haiku poetry messages. Haiku poetry has strict construction rules - each poem has only 17 syllables; 5 syllables in the first, 7 in the second, 5 in the third. They are used to communicate a timeless message, often achieving a wistful, yearning and powerful insight through extreme brevity.
The essence of Zen:
Your file was so big.
The Web site you seek
You step in the stream,
Out of memory.
Three things are certain:
Windows NT crash'd.
First snow, then silence.
With searching comes loss
Chaos reigns within.
Stay the patient course.
Having been erased,
A crash reduces
Yesterday it work'd.
The Tao that is seen
An Unusual Telephone Service Call
This story was related by Pat Routledge of Winnepeg, ONT about an unusual telephone service call he
handled while living in England.
System Error 63.2b - Faulty Operator at Keyboard
"Hello. Tech Support, may I help you?"
Ohm's Law (simplified): Power conducts - absolute power conducts absolutely.
All the world is an analog stage ... and digital circuits play only bit parts.
Teaching Math in 1950:
Teaching Math in 1960:
Teaching Math in 1970 (a.k.a. "new math"):
Teaching Math in 1980:
Teaching Math in 1990:
There's never time to do it right, but there's always time to do it over.
Make all the improvements you want to - just don't change anything.
If at first you don't succeed, lower your standards and change the rules.
Those who say it cannot be done should never interfere with those actually doing it.
Learn from other's mistakes - you'll never have time to make them all yourself.
It's not what you know - it's what they think you know.
Be careful what you ask for - you might get it.
When all else fails, read the directions.
The six stages of project development:
Yet another chapter from "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, Computers are from Hell."
Dave eagerly rushed to work even though it was still early on a Monday morning. This was the day his old
computer and keyboard would be replaced by a microphone and the new artificially intelligent HAL 8999. At last, a
computer that thinks like people and truly understands them.
"HAL, your screen is lovely no matter what colors you choose."
A thermodynamics professor had written a take-home exam for his graduate students. It had one question: "Is hell exothermic or endothermic? Support your answer with a proof." Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law or some variant. One student, however wrote the following: First, we postulate that if souls exist, then they must have some mass. If they do, then a mole of souls can also have a mass. So, at what rate are souls moving into hell and at what rate are souls leaving? I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for souls entering hell, lets look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Some of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to hell. Since there are more than one of these religions and people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all people and all souls go to hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change in volume in hell. Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in hell to stay the same, the ratio of the mass of souls and volume needs to stay constant. So, if hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter hell, then the temperature and pressure in hell will increase until all hell breaks loose. Of course, if hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in hell, than the temperature and pressure will drop until hell freezes over. The student got an A on the exam.
People who work in the fields of science and technology are not like other people. This can be frustrating to the non technical people who have to deal with them. The secret to coping with technology-oriented people is to understand their motivations. This chapter will teach you everything you need to know. I learned their customs and mannerisms by observing them, much the way Jane Goodall learned about the great apes, but without the hassle of grooming. Engineering is so trendy these days that everybody wants to be one. The word "engineer" is greatly overused. If there's somebody in your life that you think is trying to pass as an engineer, give him this test to discern the truth.
ENGINEER IDENTIFICATION TEST
You walk into a room and notice that a picture is hanging crooked. You...
The correct answer is "C" but partial credit can be given to anybody who writes, "It depends" in the margin of the test or simply blames the whole stupid thing on "Marketing."
Engineers have different objectives when it comes to social interaction. "Normal" people expect to accomplish several unrealistic things from social interaction:
In contrast to "normal" people, engineers have rational objectives for social interactions:
FASCINATION WITH GADGETS
To the engineer, all matter in the universe can be placed into one of two categories: (1) things that need to be fixed, and (2) things that will need to be fixed after you've had a few minutes to play with them. Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily available, they will create their own problems. Normal people don't understand this concept; they believe that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Engineers believe that if it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet. No engineer looks at a television remote control without wondering what it would take to turn it into a stun gun. No engineer can take a shower without wondering if some sort of Teflon coating would make showering unnecessary. To the engineer, the world is a toy box full of sub-optimized and feature-poor toys.
FASHION AND APPEARANCE
Clothes are the lowest priority for an engineer, assuming the basic thresholds for temperature and decency have been satisfied. If no appendages are freezing or sticking together, and if no genitalia or mammary glands are swinging around in plain view, then the objective of clothing has been met. Anything else is a waste.
LOVE OF "STAR TREK"
Engineers love all of the "Star Trek" television shows and movies. It's a small wonder, since the engineers on the starship Enterprise are portrayed as heroes, occasionally even having sex with aliens. This is much more glamorous than the real life of an engineer, which consists of hiding from the universe and having sex without the participation of other life forms.
DATING AND SOCIAL LIFE
Dating is never easy for engineers. A normal person will employ various indirect and duplicitous methods to create a false impression of attractiveness. Engineers are incapable of placing appearance above function. Fortunately, engineers have an ace in the hole. They are widely recognized as superior marriage material: intelligent, dependable, employed, honest, and handy around the house. While it's true that many normal people would prefer not to date an engineer, most normal people harbor an intense desire to mate with them, thus producing engineer-like children who will have high-paying jobs long before losing their virginity. Male engineers reach their peak of sexual attractiveness later than normal men, becoming irresistible erotic dynamos in their mid thirties to late forties. Just look at these examples of sexually irresistible men in technical professions:
Female engineers become irresistible at the age of consent and remain that way until about thirty minutes after their clinical death. Longer if it's a warm day.
Engineers are always honest in matters of technology and human relationships. That's why it's a good idea to keep engineers away from customers, romantic interests, and other people who can't handle the truth. Engineers sometimes bend the truth to avoid work. They say things that sound like lies but technically are not because nobody could be expected to believe them. A partial list of engineer lies is listed below.
Engineers are notoriously frugal. This is not because of cheapness or mean spirit; it is simply because every spending situation is simply a problem in optimization, that is, "How can I escape this situation while retaining the greatest amount of cash?"
POWERS OF CONCENTRATION
If there is one trait that best defines an engineer it is the ability to concentrate on one subject to the complete exclusion of everything else in the environment. This sometimes causes engineers to be pronounced dead prematurely. Some funeral homes in high-tech areas have started checking resumes before processing the bodies. Anybody with a degree in electrical engineering or experience in computer programming is propped up in the lounge for a few days just to see if he or she snaps out of it.
Engineers hate risk. They try to eliminate it whenever they can. This is understandable, given that when an engineer makes one little mistake, the media will treat it like it's a big deal or something.
EXAMPLES OF BAD PRESS FOR ENGINEERS
The risk/reward calculation for engineers looks something like this:
Being practical people, engineers evaluate this balance of risks and rewards and decide that risk is not a good thing. The best way to avoid risk is by advising that any activity is technically impossible for reasons that are far too complicated to explain. If that approach is not sufficient to halt a project, then the engineer will fall back to a second line of defense: "It's technically possible but it will cost too much."
Ego-wise, two things are important to engineers:
The fastest way to get an engineer to solve a problem is to declare that the problem is unsolvable. No engineer can walk away from an unsolvable problem until it's solved. No illness or distraction is sufficient to get the engineer off the case. These types of challenges quickly become personal -- a battle between the engineer and the laws of nature. Engineers will go without food and hygiene for days to solve a problem. (Other times just because they forgot.) And when they succeed in solving the problem they will experience an ego rush that is better than sex--and I'm including the kind of sex where other people are involved. Nothing is more threatening to the engineer than the suggestion that somebody has more technical skill. Normal people sometimes use that knowledge as a lever to extract more work from the engineer. When an engineer says that something can't be done (a code phrase that means it's not fun to do), some clever normal people have learned to glance at the engineer with a look of compassion and pity and say something along these lines: "I'll ask Bob to figure it out. He knows how to solve difficult technical problems." At that point it is a good idea for the normal person to not stand between the engineer and the problem. The engineer will set upon the problem like a starved Chihuahua on a pork chop.
YOU MIGHT BE AN ENGINEER IF...
Applying some simple algebra to some trite phrases and clichés, a new understanding of the secret to wealth and success is obtained as follows:
Knowledge is Power
So, substituting algebraic equations for these time worn bits of wisdom, we get:
Now, do a few simple substitutions:
Substituting W/T for P in equation (1) yields: K = W/T (4)
Substitute M for T in equation (4) yielding: K = W/M (5).
Expanding back into English, we get:
Solving for Money yields: M = W/K (6)
Money equals Work over Knowledge.
From equation (6) we see that Money approaches infinity as Knowledge approaches 0, regardless of the Work done.
Solving for Work yields: W = M K (7)
Work equals Money times Knowledge
From equation (7) we see that Work approaches 0 as Knowledge approaches 0.
Working out the socioeconomic implications of this breakthrough is left as an exercise for the reader.
The graduate with a Science degree asks, "Why does it work?"
Engineers think that equations approximate the real world.
A Mathematician, a Biologist and a Physicist are sitting in a street cafe, watching people going in and
coming out of the house on the other side of the street. First they see two people going into the house. Time passes.
After a while they notice three persons coming out of the house.
Three engineering students were gathered together discussing the possible designers of the human body. One said, "It was a mechanical engineer. Just look at all the joints." Another said, "No, it was an electrical engineer. The nervous system has many thousands of electrical connections." The last said, "Actually it was a civil engineer. Who else would run a toxic waste pipeline through a recreational area?"
An engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician are shown a pasture with a herd of sheep, and told to put them inside the smallest possible amount of fence. The engineer is first. He herds the sheep into a circle and then puts the fence around them, declaring, "A circle will use the least fence for a given area, so this is the best solution." The physicist is next. She creates a circular fence of infinite radius around the sheep, and then draws the fence tight around the herd, declaring, "This will give the smallest circular fence around the herd." The mathematician is last. After giving the problem a little thought, he puts a small fence around himself and then declares, "I define myself to be on the outside!"
An engineer, a mathematician, and a physicist went to the races one Saturday and laid their money down. Commiserating in the bar after the race, the engineer says, "I don't understand why I lost all my money. I measured all the horses and calculated their strength and mechanical advantage and figured out how fast they could run..." The physicist interrupted him: "...but you didn't take individual variations into account. I did a statistical analysis of their previous performances and bet on the horses with the highest probability of winning..." "...so if you're so hot why are you broke?" asked the engineer. But before the argument can grow, the mathematician takes out his pipe and they get a glimpse of his well-fattened wallet. Obviously here was a man who knows something about horses. They both demanded to know his secret. "Well," he says, between puffs on the pipe, "first I assumed all the horses were identical and spherical..."
It's well known that a falling cat always lands on its feet, and dropped bread always lands buttered-side down. These irresistible forces of nature can be harnessed to produce a free, abundant supply of energy. Simply strap a slice of bread (buttered-side up) on a cat's back, and drop the cat. The breaded cat will hover forever, spinning furiously in response to these competing forces.
It's been said that if all the economists in the country were laid end-to-end, they wouldn't reach a conclusion. Here is a straightforward mathematical formula for inflation. We know that:
Taking the square root of both sides we get:
Repeat square root as necessary
We start with a simple equation:
Multiply both sides by a:
Subtract b² from both sides:
Drop (a-b) term from both sides:
Since a=b, substitute a for b:
if a=1, then 1+1=1