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Dog using computer, and using the command line. The command “whois AGoodDog” gets the reply “You are! You are!” The dog’s tail is wagging.

New tricks

New tricks published on

It’s been years since we said goodbye to our beautiful black Labrador, Sisko. As Labs go, he was on the small size… yet he still managed to monopolize our king-sized bed. As a puppy, he had a gift for chewing shoes — and for choosing just one from each pair to maximize the damage he did. He once ate an entire carrot cake.

We loved him so much.

He wouldn’t have needed to ask an operating system for validation; he was constantly told what a good, beautiful dog he was — first by us, and then in his later years by Alex’s mum (who gave him the best life any dog could have hoped for).

And yet when the first of our kids came around, Sisko abruptly dropped in status from “Fur Baby” to “Beloved Dog But Definitely, Let’s Not Kid Ourselves, A Dog.” We were warned that would happen, and didn’t believe it; yet when the time came, it was like throwing a switch.

This cartoon, and every dog cartoon I draw, is for Sisko.


Expressionless published on No Comments on Expressionless

Originally appeared on ReadWriteWeb

There is no greater challenge to my geek credentials, no more damning indictment of my weak kung fu, than the fact that I can’t write a regular expression to save my life.

I know, I know. They’re a command-line ninja’s shuriken* of choice. If Linux is dough, they’re the KitchenAid**. They’re loyal and loving, and they’ll jump up and do tricks for you if you only know how to ask them.

But I don’t know how to ask them, because I only step into the land of regex once or twice a year. Every time the need comes up, I have to re-learn regular expressions more or less from zero. The last time it happened, I broke down and bought an O’Reilly book for my iPad. (This is my usual strategy, based partly on the hope that the knowledge will seep into my brain osmotically through my fingertips while I’m playing Cannibal Bunnies.)

And so I found myself plunging back into the book a few days ago, and thinking that there’s probably a German word for the sensation of learning a piece of information, recognizing that it’s something you used to know, and realizing – with some wistfulness – that you will soon forget it again.

I’d probably know what that word is… if only I spoke German more often.

* N.B.: I know even less about martial arts than I know about regular expressions.

** Wait, that’s a trademark. Instead of “KitchenAid,” I’m supposed to say “KitchenAid™ stand mixer.” I’d do a search-and-replace on it… if only there was some concise and flexible means for matching strings of text, such as particular characters, words, or patterns of characters.