Lingual Shifts: Literary Classic Edition

Jun 03, 2014 in What Were They Thinking

My daughter read “A Murder Is Announced”, by Agatha Christie for class. We found the below excerpt to be a fascinating example of how slang changes:

What sort of a place is Chipping Cleghorn?’ asked Sir Henry.

‘A large sprawling picturesque village. Butcher, baker, grocer, quite a good antique shop-two tea-shops. Self-consciously a beauty spot. Caters for the motoring tourist. Also highly residential. Cottages formerly lived in by agricultural labourers now converted and lived in by elderly spinsters and retired couples. A certain amount of building done round about in Victorian times.’

‘I know,’ said Sir Henry. ‘Nice old Pussies and retired Colonels. Yes, if they noticed that advertisement they’d all come sniffing round at 6.30 to see what was up. Lord, I wish I had my own particular old Pussy here. Wouldn’t she like to get her nice ladylike teeth into this. Right up her street it would be.’

‘Who’s your own particular Pussy, Henry? An aunt?’

‘No,’ Sir Henry sighed. ‘She’s no relation.’ He said reverently: ‘She’s just the finest detective God ever made. Natural genius cultivated in a suitable soil.’

He turned upon Craddock.

‘Don’t you despise the old Pussies in this village of yours, my boy,’ he said. 

And in case you think “ ”Lord, I wish I had my own particular old Pussy here,” is the best quote ever, this gem shows up later:

‘George, it’s my own particular, one and only, four-starred Pussy. The super Pussy of all old Pussies.”

Why is this not a t-shirt?

Bad Science On Bleeding Cool

Feb 12, 2014 in Bad Science, What Were They Thinking

Bleeding Cool has a great article on some really, really bad science in this week’s Thor. Yes, science. In Thor. Really.
Best bit? They close with one of the images clipped by this blog.

Thousands of eyes, seeing the image I picked out.

I miss that.

Tommy Troy’s All Grown Up

Nov 21, 2013 in Creepy Relationships, Sexism, What Were They Thinking

Tommy Troy starts out as a Captain Marvel riff, a kid gifted by a mentor with strange powers. Eventually, they jump to him being an adult. A lawyer, no less. Complete with secretary.

Source: Some old Archie comic.

Source: Some old Archie comic.

What? Surely you don’t expect him to pack for himself?

And no, the “master” is not meant sarcastically.

Try Not To Think About This

Nov 15, 2013 in Odd Powers

Tommy Troy is The Fly. Gifted a magic amulet by an inter-dimensional fly-man (yes, really), he was originally a child who could turn into an adult, then later an adult who became super-powered. His abilities? Vague insect powers. What kind of powers?




That’s not how honey is made. For those who know how honey is made, best not to create too vivid a picture of Tommy Troy’s delivery method.

Metal Men: Generations

Nov 01, 2013 in Sexism, What Were They Thinking

My daughter is doing a science project on “Scientific Inaccuracies In The Silver Age Metal Men Series” (gee, wonder who she takes after). I was explaining the dynamic to her, as she only knows them from Batman: The Brave & The Bold.

“So they’re these intelligent, human-like robots that all feel emotion. Except they all act like they don’t, and the only one who is called out for having emotions is the girl robot, Platinum. They tell her she’s defective for having a crush on their creator, while at the same time checking out women. Because GIRL emotions are stupid.”

mm16-04 MALE robots lusting over humans isn't a bug - its a feature

“Yes, but that’s what boys think!”

mm29-31 the moral of every issue of metal men ever

Only 12 and already so jaded.

I think I’m going to start cleaning the blog up, going back and editing tags, categories etc. Then maybe I’ll have more new content.

Cadalyst Thinks IT Shouldn’t Limit Your Potential

Oct 23, 2013 in Tech

Having worked in IT for years, I have to say that I get tired of the bum rap we receive. Information Technology workers are generally portrayed as self-absorbed, arrogant know-it-alls with some sort of personality disorder. My least favorite example is “Mordac the Refuser”, the IT person from the Dilbert comic strip.

And no, not just because our names sound alike.

And no, not just because our names are similar.

I can’t help but wonder if part of the reason IT has the rep that it does is because at almost every company, it is IT’s job to say “Sorry, that’s not doable.” Sometimes the requests made seem reasonable, so if IT is refusing, it must be because they just don’t want to. At the end of the day though, IT is bound by what is possible with the equipment on hand. So why not get new equipment?

It may be a poor craftsman that blames his tools, but it’s an idiot hobbyist who buys cheap junk.

It may be a poor craftsman that blames his tools, but it’s an idiot hobbyist who buys cheap junk.


Computer Assisted Design review site Cadalyst (who get major props for the great name) are working with Dell Precision Workstations and Microsoft to help you do an end-run around IT’s totally legitimate limitations with a contest entitled “Don’t Let IT Limit Your Potential”. Coming soon, the winners can get assorted prizes, including a new Dell Precision workstation. No jumping through IT’s hoops to get new tech. As for how IT will react to you supplying your own hardware, that’s another story. Considering that BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is all the rage for mobile devices, I can’t see them having too big a fit about you saving them a few thousand on a new workstation.

Speaking of hoops to jump through, let’s talk about what you need to do to win this thing. The first step is to sign up for an account at Cadalyst – something you should probably do anyway if CAD is your line. Then you need to make a short video, 1-2 minutes long, explaining why you need a Dell workstation, be it for work or home. Yes, home – don’t scoff. While workstations are made for the professional, not everyone who needs that level of computing power is sitting in a cube farm in Silicon Valley. Plenty of freelance content creators would be thrilled to have a machine like Dell’s T1700 workstation. Available as a small form factor or mini tower, the T1700 sports Intel’s newest “Haswell” i7 chip, specifically designed to keep power consumption to a reasonable level without sacrificing computer power. I personally would not say no to one of the Haswell-powered portable workstations (think a laptop, but with more power than you’ve seen outside a movie) like the M4800. Both examples ship with either the tried-and true Windows 7 Pro, or Windows 8 Pro, the latest in professional grade operating systems from Microsoft.

But enough about me – what do you need a Dell workstation for? That’s what Cadalyst wants to know, and if you can sell them on it, they can make your wish come true. So dust off those “begging your parents for a dog” skills and get creative. This is up to you; no fair blaming IT if you don’t win.

Unless, of course, your IT guy is the actual winner. Then it is perfectly okay.


This is a sponsored post from IDG/Dell.


Pro Support: For When You Need Real, Actual Support

Oct 18, 2013 in Tech

I used to work in a customer support center. Not the best job ever. This isn’t going to be a rant about dealing with people who thought that right-clicking meant you used the mouse in your right hand (really), but the downside of tech support: Having to treat every single user as someone who knew nothing. No assumptions could be made of competence of any sort. No matter how hard I tried not to, I felt condescending and rude. The worst bit though? When I had to call technical support for something, and got treated the same exact way. Even saying “I work in IT” didn’t help, because guess what? Everyone says that. I once had someone tell me they were a computer science teacher, and his problem turned out to be that he had a disconnected cable (no, your printer will not work without power, sir). So yes, I get the lack of trust. What we needed, I always figured, was a tech support service for techs.

And we could  mock newbs together in harmony.

And we could mock newbs together in harmony.


Dell ProSupport is essentially that. You get 24×7 support to trained computer experts, You won’t have to worry about jumping through tiers before getting actual support. Gone is the frustration of “have you tried turning it on and off again? Yes. Okay, then I am going to have to transfer you” for hours on end. Instead, your needs will be handled by people trained to solve your problems, not pass them up the food chain.


Support should not ever treat you like the little fish.

Support should not ever treat you like the little fish.


When there is an actual issue, you have next day on-site support. If you’re worried that that’s just covering hardware, be assured that Dell also has software support for third party software, operating systems, and even systems firmware. It’s the whole package, even down to asset protection.

I know some of you are scoffing, saying that these are all things that can and should be handled by in-house technical support. I respectfully submit that you have no idea how much of an IT department’s job it is to try to finagle these services from vendors. The goal here is to have that kind of relationship up front, from a single vendor, instead of fighting multiple vendors to get them to give the most basic level of support for your infrastructure. Dell ProSupport means your IT managers spend less time trying to manage vendors, and more time managing your team. It can potentially cut hours of wasted phone tag and frustrations, and frees up your IT team to do more important things, like roll out the latest version of Windows.

I have always felt that a company should stand behind their products, and offer reasonable support for them. With ProSupport, Dell isn’t just standing behind their products; they’re standing behind you.

 This is a paid post in conjunction with IDG and Dell

When Is A Laptop Not a Laptop? When It’s A Workstation

Oct 17, 2013 in Tech

Most people tend to forget that there’s more to computing than just desktops and laptops (with a side order of smartphones and tablets). Part of that may be because the computer companies tend to focus on selling those to us. Desktops may sometimes be all-in-ones, but that doesn’t change what they are. Laptops get relabeled as “ultrabooks” and “netbooks” or whatever, but they’re still laptops. But that’s for the consumer realm. For the professional, there is also the workstation to consider. If you’re someone who uses workstations, you likely just pictured a big, bulky machine.


Think of the rendering power one of those cubes must have had.

The Dell M3800 Precision Mobile Workstation is many things, but it is not a “big bulky cube”. In fact, at first glance it appears to be just another Dell laptop. Okay, not “just” – it’s thin and light, with understated style. But that’s just the first glance.

But what a first glance, eh?

But what a first glance, eh?

One important part of any computer is the screen, and workstations are no different. While a 15.6” screen seems small, the point is the portability, and the rest of the specs make up for it. Dell has stuck a QHD+ screen in the M3800, with a resolution of 3200×1800. For those playing at home, that’s higher than Apple’s much-vaunted Retina Display. Even better, the screen has multi-touch functionality, something you don’t see in enough workstations. As more and more applications are updated for Windows 8, touch is becoming less of a cute thing, and more of a killer feature. Powering the screen is NVDIA’s Quadro graphics system. If that’s unfamiliar to you, that’s because it’s not a consumer chip, but one aimed directly at the pro market. Compare that to other companies, which slap “pro” at the end of their products but ship with consumer-oriented graphics cards.

But I'm not naming names.

But I’m not naming names.

As for the rest of the silicone, the M3800 runs the new Intel Haswell chip. Haswell is codename for the 4th generation of Core i chips. The Dell M3800 Precision Mobile Workstation ships with an i7, and while already darn powerful, the Haswell line has been making tech pundits drool for the power consumption tweaks so sorely needed in this mobile world. It’s unsure just how battery life will work in this case, but you can likely work untethered for a notable amount of time, even with the prosumer video card system.

One thing you need when rendering is RAM and storage. You know what’s awesome? Getting to choose between an energy efficient solid state drive or a massive traditional hard drive. Generally, I suggest the SSD option to anyone working with audio, as they are quieter. SSDs are also slightly more energy efficient. Traditional laptop drives give you more space for less outlay, so they’re hard to rule out. Good thing Dell gives you options – just remember to backup! As for RAM, gone are the days of a gigabyte of RAM being something gamers needed. Instead, most basic laptops come with 4 GB. The M3800 does one better by coming with 16 GB. It is possible that your own unique needs may require more memory, but for general workstation use, that’s a very good number.

And now I’m wondering what kind of gaming system this would be.

And now I’m wondering what kind of gaming system this would be.

In terms of software, the M3800 is part of the Dell ISV (Independent Software Vendors) program. For the unfamiliar, it means that Dell and partners in the program work to make sure that hardware and software will work in a manner that is seamless to the end-user, something anyone – be they the professional user or their IT manager – can appreciate.

There’s more to talk about the Dell Precision M3800 that I could natter on about, but honestly, it had me at “portable, multi-touch workstation for under 4.5 lbs”. The last workstation I reviewed was lovely, but an utter beast that required two people to move. The idea of one that you can throw in your bag? Madness. Sweet, delightful, madness.


This is a paid post in conjunction with IDG and Dell