You People Make Me Sick

A rant like this is exactly why the internet exists. Posted in the Grilled Cheese subreddit:

A grilled cheese consists of only these following items. Cheese. Bread with spread (usually butter). This entire subreddit consist of “melts”. Almost every “grilled cheese” sandwich i see on here has other items added to it. The fact that this subreddit is called “grilledcheese” is nothing short of utter blasphemy.

Go read the whole thing, have a laugh and learn not to mess with people and their grilled cheeses.

The Case of the 500-Mile Email

I came across the story of the 500-Mile Email quite some time ago, but it’s an absolute classic:

I was working in a job running the campus email system some years ago when I got a call from the chairman of the statistics department.

“We’re having a problem sending email out of the department.”

“What’s the problem?” I asked.

“We can’t send mail more than 500 miles,” the chairman explained.

I choked on my latte. “Come again?”

“We can’t send mail farther than 500 miles from here,” he repeated. “A little bit more, actually. Call it 520 miles. But no farther.”

Curated List of Falsehoods Programmers Believe In

On GitHub there is an entertaining collection of falsehoods that many programmers believe in:

Falsehood articles are a form of commentary on a particular subject, and are appreciated by the developer community at large for their effectiveness and terseness. They’re a convenient written form to approach an unfamiliar domain by dispelling myths, point out common pitfalls, show inconsistencies and subtleties.

In a sense, Falsehood articles are a suite of wordy unit-tests covering extensive edge-cases provided by real-world usage.

I’m personally a fan of the date and time falsehoods.

Get Your Cyanide Kernels

As noted by this Tumblr post, self-labelled Super Foods retailer Sun Foods is selling apricot cyanide kernels (apparently they can also be found at Whole Foods) claiming wonderful health benefits; however, the warning listed on both the website and the bag itself is cause for concern:

WARNING: Sweet apricot kernels contain amygdalin (Vitamin B17) which can cause symptoms of cyanide poisoning when eaten in excess. DO NOT EAT MORE THAN 8 SEEDS PER DAY. See a doctor immediately if you experience symptoms like nausea, fever, headache, or low blood pressure. Do not eat if you are pregnant or nursing. Not intended for children.

Yes, folks, the warning does indeed say “symptoms of cyanide poisoning”. I recommend reading the hilarious Tumblr post breaking down why recommending and selling apricot kernels is so absurd. Just a taste:

Amygdalin is not, in fact, particularly rare; as the wiki page states, it’s found in “many plants” “particularly the Prunus genus, Poaceae (grasses), Fabaceae (legumes), and in other food plants, including linseed and manioc.” The only people who refer to amygdalin as a vitamin are those trying to make money from it. It is absolutely NOT a vitamin in any way, shape, or form. The definition of the word “vitamin” is “a compound which is required by the body in small amounts, which it cannot make on its own and thus must be obtained from the diet.” Your body does not *require* amygdalin in the least. In fact, if you consume too much of it, you will LITERALLY DIE OF CYANIDE POISONING. It is NOT an “important nutrient.” It has not “disappeared from Western diets” because it was never a part of any culture’s diet. Any group of people who ate too much of it probably died.

I verified that the Wikipedia quotes by the poster were accurate and performed an independent search of Google Scholar for amygdalin to validate the Wikipedia content. Multiple papers come up within the first page of search results showing that amygdalin (vitamin B17) does, in fact, break down to cyanide in the human digestive system.

The lesson here: if it causes symptoms of cyanide poisoning, it probably is cyanide poisoning and you should stop eating whatever it is you’re eating. Also, don’t forget to read warning labels.

Now that’s what I call a Hacker

Originally written on a Russian website, Alex from JitBit Software has translated a hilarious post describing allegedly real scripts that do all varieties of things:

OK, so, our build engineer has left for another company. The dude was literally living inside the terminal. You know, that type of a guy who loves Vim, creates diagrams in Dot and writes wiki-posts in Markdown… If something – anything – requires more than 90 seconds of his time, he writes a script to automate that.

Here’s one gem:

hangover.sh – another cron-job that is set to specific dates. Sends automated emails like “not feeling well/gonna work from home” etc. Adds a random “reason” from another predefined array of strings. Fires if there are no interactive sessions on the server at 8:45am.

A GitHub project was started to recreate the scripts in a variety of languages.

What is a coder’s worst nightmare?

Mick Stute on Quora, answering the question “What is a coder’s worst nightmare?”:

I was hired by a psychologist to fix a program that seemed to have “strange output” written by one of his ex-grad students. It was a program that reads a data file, asks about 50 questions, does some calculations, and comes up with some score based on this PhD’s research. It’s on a research 3B2 at the university. He demonstrates the program and sure enough there seemed to be strange flashing words on the screen when it moves from question to question, and they don’t seem nice.

[…]

This ought to be simple. There are only about five places it could output anything, and all of them had this subliminal flash of a message. Each one was hard coded. No problem. Delete the offending mvpwintw() and all is well. Or should be. I compile, thinking I’m done. But when I ran it, there it is again — the subliminal messages. This time with different text still the same subject, just different messages.

I check my code and believe it or not it’s back to the initial state I found it. 15 files, mangled, 3-letter variables — the whole thing right back where I started.

That’s just the start and it only gets better from there. The end result truly is a programmer’s worst nightmare, though I won’t ruin the ending. Well worth the read.