Skip to content
(Woman reviewing another woman's resume) Look, your C++ and Node.js skills are all well and good. But what the market's really looking for right now is redstone.


Minecraft-y published on No Comments on Minecraft-y

We’ve opened the door to Minecraft in our family. That may sound pretty unmomentous… but a lot of families have discovered it can impose a pretty big footprint. Stories abound of kids developing obsessive levels of enthusiasm for the game, and even for the gameplay videos it inspires. (In some parenting circles, you have only to mention the name “Stampy” to provoke bared teeth and hissing.)

But despite a symphony of cautionary notes, there’s a lot to be said for Minecraft. It can be insanely creative; there’s nothing quite like the moment your kid walks you through an intricate build representing hours of their focused attention. Add in the engineering functionality of “redstone” (a mineral that allows users to create complex circuitry), and you have the virtual equivalent of Lego Mindstorms.

(Also, Stampy eschews swearing and verbal abuse, and keeps things kid-friendly. FWIW.)

Here, hands-down, is the best book I’ve found on the subject for parents.

Of course, I was bullish on Second Life, so take what I’m saying with a few grains of salt. But there’s remarkable depth and subtlety in the low-res, blocky world of Minecraft.

Hey, Vancouver types: if you want a job that can put those legacy pre-redstone skills to good use, check out Thursday’s Tech Fest Vancouver, brought to you by Techvibes! (Not a sponsored link—I just think it looks like a dandy event.)

And what the hell does this function “Arrrrggghhh-ulk!!()” do?

And what the hell does this function “Arrrrggghhh-ulk!!()” do? published on Purchase print

I will consider it a personal failing if I can’t get a Ouija board with a pipe character, angle brackets and shebang up on Etsy by the end of the year.

By the way, the Ouija board was one of three options I was considering for this caption. I’d sketched up a corpse being reanimated…

sketch of a corpse being reanimated

…and a seance…


…but landed on the Ouija board. That was partly on Alex’s recommendation, and partly so I could draw it while the kids were falling asleep without scaring them into a night’s insomnia if they happened to catch a glimpse.

Oh, well – I can always go back to working on that MyBlogLog app

Oh, well – I can always go back to working on that MyBlogLog app published on No Comments on Oh, well – I can always go back to working on that MyBlogLog app

This cartoon originally appeared in Alex’s blog post on the Harvard Business Review site, and rather than try to say something wise about it myself, I’ll just suggest you head on over and check it out there.


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.

Sometimes the jewel in the lotus is Ruby

Sometimes the jewel in the lotus is Ruby published on No Comments on Sometimes the jewel in the lotus is Ruby

Another iPad cartoon, by request from the lovely Alex. And if you’re reading this, you may actually be the perfect person for lululemon’s senior web developer position. (I have no idea whether enclosing this cartoon with your application would be a plus or a deal-breaker; use your best judgement.)

These teeny tiny plastic boots were made for walkin’

These teeny tiny plastic boots were made for walkin’ published on 7 Comments on These teeny tiny plastic boots were made for walkin’

October 26, 2010: WOW, that’s a lot of traffic today! Thanks for visiting and spreading the word, folks. As far as I can tell, this cartoon is either spreading by email, or was in someone’s (pretty large) email newsletter. Anybody know the source? I’d love to thank them.Oc

October 27, 2010: And the answer’s in. Commenter Patricia Washburn, below, explains the cartoon was posted to Systers, the legendary mailing list for women working on the tech side of computing, started by Anita Borg back in 1994. That couldn’t be more cool!

Happy Ada Lovelace Day, all. May all of our daughters grow up in a world of open doors.

Updated: And here’s the cartoon being drawn:

Updateder: And here’s the four-minute speeded-up version (maybe imagine Benny Hill music in the background):

And with a shift-zero, they saved humanity

And with a shift-zero, they saved humanity published on No Comments on And with a shift-zero, they saved humanity

Is there anything more fun than drawing a rampaging robot intent on destroying civilization? (Answer: being a rampaging robot intent on destroying civilization.) Update: Alex reminds me that the idea for this one came from her recap of Jer Thorpe‘s amazing session last week on Processing. (What she doesn’t mention is that she made the connection, suggesting I do a cartoon about an unclosed parenthesis. xoxo)

Hey, if you’re thinking of getting some nifty Noise to Signal merchandise for holiday gift-giving – and who can fault your marvellous taste? – remember those shipping deadlines. Better order now!

And if you don’t find your favourite cartoon emblazoned on a coffee mug, printed on a greeting card or shaved into the belly of a raccoon (oh, wait – that one’s an invitation-only beta), just let me know and I’ll be happy to add it.

Ooh… this might be a nice one: