DIY geek jokes on tea/ coffee mugs: Mug<T> arrives

Mug of teaOne of my weaknesses in life is a love of (well really a need for) a constant feed of tea throughout the day. As such, the mug from which I drink that tea is important to me: it needs to be big (saves on too many trips to the kitchen) and I like it to be personal to me in some way. Around a year ago, the Daily WTF website started selling a big mug carrying their logo. It was perfect and thus started my geek mug collection.  Soon after I received a free .NET Rocks mug in lieu of an email I’d sent to the show. It was the same large size as the Daily WTF mug. I don’t think the email every got read out, though I’ve missed some shows in the last year, so may have missed it. My mug collection stood at two, and there it remained for the next year.

Recently I came across the website of the company that I think makes both the the mugs I have: They offer a great way of designing your own one-off mugs. For some time I’ve wanted a mug I’d seen with Cup<T> (which reads as “cup of T” – it’s a generics thing) and this seemed the ideal way of getting one. I could even “fix” it to a more pedantic Mug<T>. There was one problem: Zazzle UK charge a hefty fee in Britain for their mugs and worse, they charge a piss-taking amount for postage. They are great if you live in the USA, as they charge less than £10 if you don’t mind slow delivery. Here though, they wanted a minimum of £7 just to deliver the thing, on top of the £13 for the mug itself. £20 for a mug with a seriously geeky joke on it? I tried contacting Zazzle to point out how insane their postage charges were, and got a generic “thanks for your enquiry about our new P&P prices” response. I doubt a human had even bothered to read my email, so no joy there. So the idea died a death.

A couple of weeks back, I mentioned the matter on Twitter, and as a result, I got a recommendation for a cheaper – much much cheaper, ie nearly half Zazzle’s price – company here in Britain that could also do such mugs for just £11 including P&P. A special thanks to @Graham White for finding the company- Focus Prints – for me by the way, as I’d failed to find them myself. So I whipped up the simple graphic I needed:

Mug with CSS is Awesome upon it. Visual joke.

The problem is, whoever came up with this idea gets money every time someone buys the mug from Zazzle. As zazzle are way too expensive, I’ll not use them. I have no way of paying the copyright owner if I get it made elsewhere. I’ve yet to resolve this ethical conundrum.

Apple on apple: what you get when you cross an Apple fan boy with an orchard of apples

Demonstrating that the devotion of Apple fan boys to all things Apple, one japanese fanboy has achieved the ultimate in devotion: Apple branded apples.

Apple branded apples
Apple branded apples

The orchard owner apparently stuck various Apple stickers on his fruit whilst they were still green and unripe. The sun then rippened the fruit, save for the covered bits. When harvested, and the stickers were removed, he had himself a box of fruit bearing the Apple (and iPod) logos:

Box of Apple-branded apples
Box of Apple-branded apples

I guess this proves there really is no limit to the madness of the Apple fanboy…

ReMix 2008 Day 1

Last year, at Mix UK, the keynote was a truly dull affair, focusing on telling us about things that had been public knowledge for weeks, if not months. Scott Guthery’s part of this year’s keynote was unfortunately more of the same. It was all about .NET related technologies that were released weeks ago, with some vague “coming soon”, “next few weeks” etc comments regarding the release of Silverlight 2. Interestingly though, Scott did later on in the day imply – and its completely my fault if this is wrong – that a release candidate is due out this month, with the release to follow in October.

Bill Buxton’s half of the Key Note was a real breath of fresh air. Whilst I’m not completely convinced by the case he put forward, he came across as a man who was passionate about things because they were great, not because they were the latest Microsoft thing. When the head of R&D at Microsoft tells you that he loves the iPod, Google and the Wii, you really do need to sit up and listen. He basically argued that to survive, companies these days need to heavily invest in design and that they need to design for the experience, not just design the product.

With my sceptic’s hat on, I have to say that Bill’s speech did at times sound a bit like design is this year’s innovation. In recent years, companies have jumped on the innovation bandwagon, creating Innovation Manager posts, claiming they are innovative companies etc. This year, it seems that suddenly we all now need directors of design/ chief design officers.

With my sceptic’s hat removed, I have to confess that I bought a copy of Bill’s book, Sketching User Experiences, and fully plan to shove it under the noses of Enigma’s management when I’ve read it.

UPDATE: it turns out that even with my sceptics hat on, my views on Bill were good compared with others. Take a read of this very well written counterpoint to my take on the keynote. Thanks to Jon Paul Davies for linking to this article and so drawing my attention to his piece.

Of today’s sessions, the one that really stood out was on Virtual Earth. As the latest version has been delayed, those of us that attended the session had to sign a non-disclosure agreement regarding what we were shown. I obviously can’t say what was in it therefore, but I will say that the release – when it comes – contains some really nice new features.

One “what a small world” occurence for me today was discovering that a good friend and close neighbour, Matt Tompsett, was working at ReMix doing the radio trunking (which basically means he programmed up some weird looking hardware that controls fancy multi-channel walk talkies). Also, I need to give a shout out to Adeniyi Ibironke. He occasionally reads my blog and sought me out to introduce himself. Whilst many of the folk that read this blog and current and former colleagues, there are a few strangers that read it too. It was therefore really great to meet one of those strangers in “real life” therefore.

The highlight of the day for me though was definitely the Ready Steady Talk event. I as expecting to talk to a fe dozen people in a small room. Instead I as on stage in the main hall at lunchtime, with hundreds of people around, doing my five minute talk. I messed up bits of it, but did well enough to get through to the final tomorrow.

Mono team to Microsoft: build Moonlight desklet support into Silverlight

As you may be aware, the Mono team and Novell are creating a version of Silverlight for Linux called Moonlight. As part of that process, the Mono team added a “hack” that enables Silverlight apps to run on a Linux desktop, calling them Moonlight desklets. Miguel de Icaza, who heads up the Mono project blogged about them last year. It looks likely though that unless Microsoft adds its backing to desklets, they will remain a Linux-only hack, rather than a major Moonlight feature.

A few days ago, Miguel posted an update on the progress of developing desklets, and added a call to Microsoft to support these desklets in Silverlight. Apparently the Moonlight team do not plan on porting desklets across to the Mac and Windows, as it is a non-trivial task. I suspect that Microsoft will respond in time (though their focus at the moment must be on getting Silverlight 2 ready for an August release.) If they do not respond, then Flash obviously maintains one big advantage over Silverlight, namely AIR.

class WindowsVista extends WindowsXP implements Nothing

I just noticed the following on our noticeboard at work. Die-hard Windows fanboys will no doubt think it pathetic, but everyone else – me included – will likely think it amusing, if not hilarious. Enjoy…

I don’t know who wrote the original. If I find out, then I’ll update the post to add an acknowledgement.

Ook# makes a monkey out of Obfuscated C

I was listening to the latest .NET Rocks! podcast this morning. The guest was Ted Neward, and he was discussing modern programming languages. He made the comment that there was even a .NET language written for the Librarian and other orangutans called Ook#. This sent me on a search of Google and a surreal voyage of discovery into languages that make the Obfuscated C Contest seem like a stroll in the park.

The C language is infamous for its support of really nasty unreadable code and the Obfuscated C Contest is a mostly annual competition to see who can come up with the “best” examples. One such is a less than conventional “Hello World” solution:

Some years back though, the language Brainfuck was created by Urban Müller that put such efforts to shame. The Brainfuck “Hello World” solution is:

The line breaks are just for neatness on this blog BTW. They are entirely optional within the language and have no significance. The entire language has just eight operators and cannot be expanded:

These eight commands were then translated into Orangutan to give the following eight commands that make up the Ook! programming language:

A “typical” example is a program that prints “Ook!”, and it looks like this:

Both Brainfuck and Ook! have been converted to .NET languages (Brainfuck.NET and Ook# respectively) by Lawrence Pit. You can download the source code for the compilers, along with some examples, from here.

The best April Fools

April FoolYesterday saw the usual flurry of April Fools, both real and virtual. The two best in my view were:

Flying penguins by the BBC

Richard Branson announces Virgle, and Google plays along

Special mentions go to:

Tim Wheals, a long term friend of mine, who put tape over the diodes on all the optic mice in his company. Now that’s dedication! And yes, his name really is Wheals and yes he really is a roller skate instructor (hey, that means I get to use the phrase “nominative determinism” in a blog post, for his name is a classic case of an aptronym).

Phil Haack, long time blogger and TDD evangalist, who announced he was hanging up his blogging coat. The real mention goes to Tod McKenna though for one of the funniest comments to a blog post ever.

Mac Users are “self centred, arrogant and conceited”

A couple of people have recently suggested to me that I seem to have a thing against Apple. Whilst untrue, this post will do nothing to dispel that view 😉 has a light-hearted video that summarises market research into the stereotypical Mac user. Aside from claiming they are self centred, arrogant and conceited, apparently the average (American) Mac user eats organic food, drives a tank (they are called “station wagons” in the USA apparently), buys five pairs of trainers (sneakers) a year and is worried about green issues. I can’t quite square the last one with driving some ridiculously big car, but that’s them “crazy Americans” for you…