Monthly Archives: November 2006

You wanna have a catch?

Paul Gorbould posted some additions to TV Land’s The 100 Greatest TV Quotes & Catch Phrases. Some of the entries on the original list are debatable, others are just silly; Paul’s additions are mostly good, although I’d claim that What’s up, doc? isn’t technically a TV catch phrase, since Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes were around well before TV appeared.

Anyway, knowing how Matt loves the PopCultRefs and mental exercises, I thought I’d make a bit of a quiz out of them.

  1. Hey hey hey! What comedian provided the voice for Fat Albert?
  2. Hi, I’m Larry, this is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl. In what state was Newhart set?
  3. Norm! What was Norm Peterson’s wife’s name?
  4. We are two wild and crazy guys! From what country did brothers George and Yortuk Festrunk hail?
  5. Survey says… Hogaaaaaan! What’s the common factor between those two quotes?
  6. I love it when a plan comes together. What inside PopCultRef appeared in the opening credits of The A-Team?
  7. De plane! De plane! In what James Bond movie did Hervé Villechaize play the villain’s henchman?
  8. D’oh! How is Homer’s ubiquitous word written in Simpsons scripts and episode titles?
  9. Aaay! What phrase is used to describe the point where a once-loved television show goes terribly, horribly wrong for good?
  10. Sock it to me! What U.S. presidential candidate phrased Laugh-In‘s running gag line in the form of a question?

That’s it. Enjoy!

Okay, okay, a bonus question since you’ve been good: name the star of the movie that this post’s title comes from.

There’s no team in I

Although I didn’t really know it at the time, I’ve long been a proponent of agile methods at work. Which is why it’s ironic that, now we’ve started actually doing agile development, my role in the company (thank you Dr. Laurence J. Peter) basically prevents me from having anything to do with it.

To fill that gap, I’ve been reading agile blogs, and listening to (and occasionally transcribing or summarizing) agile podcasts. Although agile is very much about working with a team, I’m trying to use its team-based strategies to manage my own work… although without a defined customer, a prioritized task backlog looks an awful lot like a to-do list. I go to standups and medium-level meetings about the challenges people face trying to implement agile in the company. And I’ve taken to reading books like Influence Without Authority, since I have none of either.

I think the correct term is glutton for punishment.

Thank you Firefox!

Just as I was finishing the last sentence of the previous post, my computer shut down. There was no warning, no time to process that it was happening, it just… went off.

I was already mentally composing the short I had written up a cure for cancer but my stupid computer ate it and now I can’t remember it note—because naturally I hadn’t saved an intermediate copy, despite being a geek who knows full well that this sort of thing happens all the time at the worst possible moment—but I remembered that Firefox 2.0 saves the last browser session in case of crashes. Hoping that didn’t just mean opens the last bunch of tabs, I started it up… and, as you can tell from this post’s title, it was all there. Every last character. Huzzah!

Now if I could just figure out why the SATA drive I installed a few months ago has been causing this to happen at least once a week….

Eep! It’s a work post!

One of the most common complaints I hear at work these days is that it’s too hard to find information, particularly on our relatively new wiki. I see this as a combination of several issues:

  • We treat the wiki as a bunch of individual, unrelated documents instead of a web of complementary information. A coworker recently set out to map the structure of our wiki; I haven’t heard back, but I’m fairly certain his graph will look more like a bicycle wheel than a spiderweb.
  • We don’t use the wiki as a wiki. The idea of a WikiWord seems foreign; many people actively override the automatic linking given to CamelCased words because they don’t like to see little question marks on pages that haven’t been created. And I can’t count the number of times I’ve gone to a page and found nothing but a bunch of attached Word documents; worse, they’re often just multiple revisions of the same file; worse still, the documents are invariably nothing more than a paragraph or two of text, which could have been put directly into the wiki in the first place! (This happens with email too, and manifests itself in our source control system.)
  • We use the wiki as a dumping ground, and try to force it to do things it was never designed to do. Got a status report that’s a snapshot of a webpage? Cut-and-paste it onto the wiki, preferably on a new page so it’ll be impossible to link to the newest version. Need to parse an XML file, look up some values in a database and make the results into a PNG file? Write it as a wiki page!
  • We don’t have the WikiNature. If WikiNature is typing in a bunch of book titles, coming back a day later, and finding them turned into birds in the Amazon, WorkNature so far is typing in a bunch of book titles, coming back a day later, finding the same book titles, then never coming back. I’ve tried to create some artificial “hub” pages, and to add context where I think it’s useful or relevant, but it seems to be a losing battle.

I’m sure Matt is reading this and chuckling to himself (or tearing out his hair) thinking about how this sounds like our early experiences with adopting agile development practices, and I don’t deny seeing certain parallels myself. (Some of those are in my reaction to how I see things being done versus how I think they should be; I think it was Mike L. at work who coined the term irrational idealist, and that certainly fits the bill.) Several solutions have been proposed, including adding a search engine (marginally successful due to the lack of interconnectedness noted above), hiring a librarian (perceived as a waste of resources), and—my favourite—education (scuttled due to lack of interest in mundane topics). In the end, it’s going to be up to the company’s employees—my coworkers—to work together as a team to start making the wiki work for us.

I just hope that happens sooner than later, before our several thousand pages become several hundred thousand.

Top 5 TV shows

In the vein of Matt‘s recent lists, here’s one of my own: what are your favourite TV shows of the past?

I don’t imagine there are many shockers on this list, at least for people who know me:

  1. Babylon 5
  2. West Wing (the Sorkin seasons)
  3. SportsNight
  4. Max Headroom
  5. Slings and Arrows

Hey, what the heck… how about a bonus two-part trivia question, based loosely on a discussion with Matt today, and to welcome James to the ’verse:

  1. What television show featured the adventures of Ralph Hinkley?
  2. To what was the character’s name changed midway through the series? (Bonus bonus: Why?)

Shame-based man (aka Porch Song redux)

For several months I’ve had a tab open with the beginnings of a post called Porch Song Trilogy*. It was going to be about a concert I went to at the Round Tower Pub, the other music venue at the former King’s Inn, featuring Claire Jenkins, her bandmate Treasa Levasseur, and Andrea Revel, who was new to me.

For one reason and another, I’ve never written the actual post, despite loving all three fabulous performers and having a chance to hang out with them and a few others including Allison Brown and Erin Clark. And the evening, and everyone there, deserve much more than this much-delayed post, which is in part prompted by Matt’s gentle prodding. But that’s what we get tonight, and I promise I’ll do right by them in the future.

The clever title of that post wasn’t mine, much as I’d love to claim it. Andrea told me it was Treasa’s contribution. :)