Four, Oh Subversioned Four!

I’ve never really used Subversion’s web interface before, since I’m normally checking out or committing revisions from the command line.  However, this morning I wanted to browse quickly through the entire repository tree, so I opened what I thought was the right page.  The title read:

repository – Revision 404: /

Oh, 404.  The standard “page not found” error.

I went straight to our Knowledgebase to figure out the correct address.  I had it right; I just happened to commit revision #404 immediately before I opened the site for the first time, and Subversion was helpfully pointing that out.

That’s just awful timing.

The Poetry of Errors

In an application I just launched, customers can enter a list of people (by username) whom they want added to their website.  This is a large box, so we included instructions for its use directly inside: “To add users to your site, select a role above…” The instructions appear in gray and disappear when you click the box to begin typing, just like the word “Google” in Firefox’s standard search box.

Unfortunately, I inadvertently let the user click “Add” with my instructions still in the box.  The application naturally treated all the words in the sentence as usernames.  After weeding out those that couldn’t possibly be valid, it listed the remainder alphabetically in a table.  The result was this, which I find has a surprising poetry to it:

above add and are as both click
every fine finished for here like many
names please role select separate site space
then to type user users want with
you your

I like best the end: “to type user users want with you your.”

Since we caught the bug internally before any customer did (and I say “we” meaning “not me”), the only consequence is that we have this lovely poem to help us remember.

Tights and Underwear

On my way into the Wang Theatre to see Boston Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty (in which Melissa Hough was particularly outstanding as Princess Aurora) I passed two small children, both about five years old.

This is the conversation I overheard:

Girl: “I don’t mind ballet, but I’m more into gymnastics.”
Boy: “I like ballet.”
Girl: “It’s girls in tights dancing. Of course you like it.”

This reminds me of the argument one of my female high school classmates gave an incoming class of freshmen for why they should join the theatre program: “You get to see us in our underwear during costume changes.”

They’ve both got a point, really. Why don’t more boys join performing arts programs if only for the gawking opportunities?

Dear #{car_company}#

Zipcar just sent me an e-mail that begins:

Hi #{first_name}#,

Oops!  At least this is marginally better than when they addressed me solely by my last name (with no honorific), making their e-mail rather reminiscent of gym class.


I wanted to write a simple post, inspired by the article about Craigslist I just mentioned, with a simple link to a film trailer.  It’s called The Girlfriend Experience, and tells the story of a high-priced call girl.  The trailer is vague, but intriguing.

However, I accidentally searched “Girlfriend Experience” on Google instead of Hulu.  Oops.  Some results were… let’s just say “not about the movie.”  Others were, though, and I opened a blurb Lane Brown wrote for New York magazine about the same trailer.  It quips:

Be aware… her apartment appears to be located near a popular hangout for street drummers.

Funny.  Then I read the first comment (by a first-time commenter):

Holy Mackerel! The drummer is Shakerleg! He drums entirely with his hands. He’s incredible. Google him.

Let’s follow that advice (after admiring the complete sentences and punctuation) and Google the man.

You can start by watching him on YouTube.  It’s quite good.  You can even buy his CD from iTunes or CD Baby.  You evidently cannot read about him on Wikipedia.  Even the Internet has its limits.

All The News That’s Fit To Print

Megan Woolhouse reports in this morning’s Boston Globe on Craigslist’s “personal encounters” listings in the wake of recent crimes connected to them.

There certainly is nothing subtle about many Craigslist ads. For instance, a woman in Waltham this week offered “Wild N Crazy LippService” for $80. She did not specify what that entailed but also offered a half hour for $120, a full hour for $170, and an additional act that cannot be printed in a newspaper for $60 extra.

First, that phrasing is hilarious.  Second, my curiosity is now begging for me to figure out what, exactly, costs $60 extra if only because it’s information omitted from the article, but I know if I did Google would never forgive me for it.  I’d be getting “Wild N Crazy” ads for years.

A Blog for One?

My boss recently asked us to evaluate the social networking site Ning.  (That’s deliberately not a link.  I don’t want anyone accidentally visiting it.) The idea is sound: build a small, private social network — for example, to help people in the office communicate more easily about project statuses and professional development.

The execution is just terrible.  Ordinary users have access to administrative features (the software just pretends to save their changes while really doing nothing), people invited to join a social network can’t just login using their existing Ning account (they have to follow a special link in the invitation e-mail), and buttons peppered throughout the application take no apparent effect of any kind.  Plus, I was able to put the word “Hello!” in blinking, marqueeing, fuchsia text on my profile, and that’s just a crime against good hypertext markup.

But my favorite aspect of the site is not a quirky bug but a deliberate feature — this simple option that appears when creating a new blog post:

Blog Post Options

Blog Post Options

The first two I understand.  Anyone want to go over that third option with me?

A Little Knowledge; No Power

I know the T too well for my own good.

Waiting for a train home from Copley today, the day before the marathon, I saw a single Type 8 car pass by bound for Government Center. For a moment I couldn’t imagine why they’d run a single-car train on any line today. Then, an instant later, I figured it out: they’re supplementing service to the underground stations independent of the branch lines. They must be looping at Government Center and reversing in the siding after Blandford Street.

As soon as I’d finished working through this line of reasoning, the T conveniently validated my entire theory; another individual Type 8 car passed on its return trip. Destination: “B – Kenmore.”

(On the other hand, I did choose to take the D Branch immediately after a Red Sox game got out this afternoon, so I guess I’m still a few credits away from a Master’s in Boston transportation. They taught that on day one. Literally. )

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Words

Three attractive college women stand on a street corner waiting for a bus.  Their male peers pass by on the sidewalk, often gawking unabashedly at the women with whom they must know, on some level, they will never really get to hook up.  The women clearly want this reaction, though, as they are dressed in outfits tailored exclusively for use in nightclubs, with cigarettes hanging coolly from three right hands and tiny, showy purses tucked under three left arms.

As I pass, I overhear this snippet of conversation:

Girl #1: I didn’t throw up everywhere. I threw up once in the bathroom.

Girl #2: Well I threw up all night, and then kept going in the morning.

To think: college guys were walking right past them without even attempting to get their phone numbers!

All I can envision is the scene in Big Bang Theory where the nerdy physicists attend a Halloween party and Sheldon analyzes the other guests’ conversations, “like Jane Goodall observing the apes.”

Sheldon: It seems that the newcomer approaches the existing group with the greeting, “How wasted am I?” which is met with an approving chorus of, “Dude!”

Leonard: Then what happens?

Sheldon: That’s as far as I’ve gotten.

Me too, my fictional friend.  Me too.

Pops Sells its Soul

Last night’s Harvard Pops concert, Pops Sells its Soul, was a triumph musically, comically, creatively, and (in classic Pops style) cinematically, over even November’s Pops Risks it All or the ultimate measuring stick, 2006’s Pops Gets Cursed.

In this episode, the Devil (“Err… Mr. Cifer — call me Lou”) buys the Pops’ soul, which turns out to be masestro Allen Feinstein.  “Come on.  Your kazoo, accordion, bagpipe, and viola orchestra is waiting.”

The concert arced from Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld to Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, with stops at Devil Went Down to Georgia, Danse Macabre, a certain AC/DC song appropriate to the theme, and even a hilarious and unexpected (despite being plainly listed in the program) rendition of Limbo Rock.

Violinists Nora Ali, Anne Michael Langguth, and Martin Ye (collectively portraying the three-headed dog Cerberus guarding the gates of Hades), competed cooperatively over a single challenging solo part in Zigeunerweisen (there in a Vienna Philharmonic Women’s Orchestra performance); Nicholas Ward brought out the electric cello at one point; Tom Compton sang an absolutely hilarious number titled I’m Wearing the Pants; and before the night was over Rebecca Gruskin played a solo on a garden hose with a funnel attached in a composition Mr. Feinstein titled cleverly Hoseanna.

And they somehow managed to conceal until the last moments of the concert what should have been a painfully obvious play on words: the Devil hopes to sneak through the gates of heaven because he knows Faust — you know, Harvard president Dr. Drew G. Faust.  Blinding, isn’t it?

The only question, really, is why you haven’t given them money yet.