About

I'm Mike Pope. I live in the Seattle area. I've been a technical writer and editor for over 30 years. I'm interested in software, language, music, movies, books, motorcycles, travel, and ... well, lots of stuff.

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You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.

— Albert Einstein



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Blog Statistics

Dates
First entry - 6/27/2003
Most recent entry - 11/24/2014

Totals
Posts - 2316
Comments - 2504
Hits - 1,686,037

Averages
Entries/day - 0.56
Comments/entry - 1.08
Hits/day - 404

Updated every 30 minutes. Last: 10:03 PM Pacific


  12:12 AM

For some Friday Fun, a cartoon out of a recent edition of The New Yorker:


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  10:51 AM

I am endlessly amused by the sponsored links on Google that are driven off the current search term. Especially the ones -- eBay, Target -- that are, mmm, indiscriminate in what they want to sell you.

I was looking up the current time today and was offered this amazing deal:

[categories]   , [tags] Google

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  02:55 PM

Today we concentrate on people's opinions, I guess. Except for that teeth thing.

Grammar Girl's Strunk & Twite: An Unofficial Twitter Style Guide. Grammar Girl posts thoughts (more like commandments) on how to write tweets. [via Fritinancy]

Chew on this: We'll soon be able to grow replacement teeth. "Now comes tooth regeneration: growing teeth in adults, on demand, to replace missing ones. Soon." Finally, a good use for wisdom teeth.

The Secret saved my life! If you've ever wondered about all the hype around the book/CD/DVD The Secret and its claim to be able to improve your life just through the power of thinking, you might find this book review quite inspiring! [via (again) Fritinancy]

And speaking of Amazon reviews, have a look at the customer reviews for the Playmobil Security Check Point.


[via Friend Megan]

How to Give Directions. I take a professional interest in how people write up recipes and in how they give directions. Both can be harder than they appear. This, another entry in the eHow wiki, is excellent advice for the second of these challenges.

[categories]   , , , [tags] twitter, teeth, The Secret, Playmobil, directions

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  12:02 PM

Sort of a holiday-catalog theme going on here.

A behemoth of a knife! The ultimate Swiss Army knife. They claim it's the complete list, but it does not appear to have, for example, a USB flash drive. That might be a different Swiss Army knife company, tho.

Dogs Understand Fairness, Get Jealous, Study Finds. They even get petulant: "The unrewarded dogs eventually stopped cooperating."

Bad Moon Rising. "Do you suffer from the heartache of Plumber's Butt?" DuluthTradingCompany.com has the solution for you.[1]


[via Friend Dennis]

Fortune this! What if Italian restaurants gave out fortune cookies? (Read the comments.) Sample: "Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a day. Send him to sleep with the fishes and he never needs to be fed again." [via Fritinancy]


[1] We are fans of this catalog, actually. I love that they have a section for "dog stuff."

[categories]   , , [tags] swiss army knife, plumber's butt, t-shirts, dogs, jealousy, fortune cookie

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  01:33 PM

Getting toward gift-giving season. Let the crass ads begin ...

Jackson Pollock by Miltos Manetas, aka make your own Pollock. Just move the mouse around and click. [via Daughter Sabrina]

Microsoft's SideSight: Something Apple Should Watch. Taking the touch screen virtual, for (e.g.) devices that don't have enough actual screen space.

Hamlet (Facebook News Feed Edition). Sample: "Hamlet and the queen are no longer friends." The original is on McSweeney's; Angela Liao has created an image of what the Facebook page would look like:


[via Son Zack]

My First Rifle. Crickett .22 rifles. Perhaps your young one wants the Model 221 in pink.[1] It's probably a pretty good idea for the company to add the tag line "Not a toy." (This ain't no Red Ryder carbine-action range model air rifle, kid[2].)

[via Colleague David]


[1] For the record, I have no issue with (responsible) gun ownership. I learned to shoot a .22 as a youngster (one much like the Crickett); my instruction included an NRA safety course which, I have to say, was quite good. It taught, and I retain 40+ years later, a healthy respect for the dangers of carelessly handled firearms.

[2] If you have never read Jean Shepherd, you must. He is (was) the Garrison Keillor of Indiana, a decade earlier.

[categories]   , , , [tags] jackson pollock, art, painting, rifle, .22, hamlet, facebook, shakespeare, NRA, Jean Shepherd

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  07:41 AM

Some pre-holiday tomfoolery. In an email, Sabrina noted that a friend of hers had written the following:
A paradoxically self-referential Haiku

Or maybe it's self-referentially paradoxical?

Seven syllables?
Not for me, thank you;
I'll just stick with five.
Haha. I liked this so much that I decided I wanted to do this, too, and I came up with the following:

There once was a lim'rick (so-called)
That started but then it got stalled
Five lines? What a chore
This one had four

Ok, your turn ...

[categories]   , [tags] limerick, poem, haiku

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  06:20 PM

Polls, polls, polls. What is this, Livejournal? One more for youse.

Choose wisely. "There is no question, but there are eleven possible answers." [toque salute: Fritinancy]

You Suck at Craigslist. Choice morsels carefully selected from among the ads posted by our ... less gifted writers, let's call them. [via Friend Kim]

Tastespotting. Per the contributor (Daughter Sabrina), "Just like notcouture, except food and not clothes!" Basically, food pr0n.

Men's Reactions Peak at Age 39. Took me a moment to get this. [via Jeff Atwood]

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  08:55 AM

I'm waiting for A Very Important Delivery today from UPS. Knowing the kind of pace that those guys work at, tho, I'm afraid to even, like, go tinkle lest I miss the harking of the doorbell.

Brain quiz. How much does your brain know about your brain? Haha. I got 9/10, meaning that I was not using 10% of my brain. Haha again.

The 2008 Ig Nobel Prize Winners. Always amusing. Samples:

ARCHAEOLOGY PRIZE. Astolfo G. Mello Araujo and José Carlos Marcelino of Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil, for measuring how the course of history, or at least the contents of an archaeological dig site, can be scrambled by the actions of a live armadillo.

CHEMISTRY PRIZE. Sharee A. Umpierre of the University of Puerto Rico, Joseph A. Hill of The Fertility Centers of New England (USA), Deborah J. Anderson of Boston University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School (USA), for discovering that Coca-Cola is an effective spermicide, and to Chuang-Ye Hong of Taipei Medical University (Taiwan), C.C. Shieh, P. Wu, and B.N. Chiang (all of Taiwan) for discovering that it is not.

100 Skills Every Man Should Know: 2008's Ultimate DIY List. There are a number of things wrong with the premise of this article. Among them is that it's hard to sort out the practical from the macho. Note that there are a couple of items that were probably not on the 1962 version of this list. [via Michael B]

Take our survey. A Language Log contributor posts a survey about surveys. Most representative question:

Do you think surveys asking for people's opinions about the way things are, rather than verifiable things they have done, are an even more extreme form of stupidity, resulting in nonsense like "43% of employees believe managers may be snooping on them" being passed off as news or even social science?

__ strongly agree
__ sort of agree
__ utterly undecided
__ hardly care
__ sort of disagree
__ strongly disagree

You get the idea.[1]


[1] Only distantly related, but amusing, Jeff Atwood notes the following on Twitter: "great, so the 'poll' on whether 'polls' should be allowed on Stack Overflow is split 50/50"

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  11:40 AM

Happy first day of autumn, or as we say around here, fall. Note: Offer limited to northern hemisphere. Void where prohibited by geography.

5 Things Hollywood Thinks Computers Can Do. "Hacking is to this movie what magic is in the Harry Potter stories: plot-hole spackle. All the gaping cracks in logic between scene A to scene C can be neatly smoothed over with the mystical power of hack." Plus four more! [via The Code Project]

Death and Taxes. A "large representational graph and poster of the federal budget." Paging Dr. Tufte. Beautifully executed graphic that uses Flash very effectively to let you navigate and visually study a complex set of data. [via Son Zack]

Internet Memes Timeline. Remember the dancing baby? Hampster dance? Revisit those good times in the long-ago days of the Internet.[1] Wikipedia has a list that overlaps.

Letterfu. Origami meets correspondence. Print a pretty design, write on the back, fold, seal with stamp. I'm not so sure about this, but it's an interesting idea, anyway. [via Steve Spalding]


[1] I was not able to find Mahir ("I kiss you!!!!!", 1999)

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  01:55 PM

Somehow I ended up with five things today. Guess I'm super-excited about all this stuff.

Procrastination (video). "This morning I got up and got ready quickly because I had to get a lot of stuff done ..." [via (sort of) GOOD blog]

Hurricanes, as seen from orbit. Awesome. [via kottke.org]

Distributed Proofreaders. Help Project Gutenberg by proofreading OCR scans of books, one page at a time. I'm signed up, are you?

Plastic Logic reading device. Wow: "Differentiated by a stunning form factor (the size of 8.5 x 11-inch paper), the Plastic Logic reader features a big readable display. Yet it’s thinner than a pad of paper, lighter than many business periodicals, and offers a high-quality reading experience - better than alternatives of paper or other electronic readers on the market today." Man, I can't wait till e-reader devices are commodified.

How to Find Out Anything: 7 Tips. One (perhaps controversial?) tip: know a lot already. Another excellent tip: mine the "invisible Internet" -- stuff that isn't indexed by search engines.

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