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Category Archives: Rants

Caution … Traffic Merging…

In my closet I’ve got an official “I Downloaded.  Midnight August 13, 1996” Midnight Madness T-Shirt. image It should come as no shock to anyone… that I’m a big early adopter of almost anything Microsoft’s done that was web related.

That included having my own “space” on MSN … which later became my “Live” space… and is now… a WordPress Blog after many many years.  I suppose on some level I should be happy because I’m able to reduce my blog locations… and it’s not like I used it that much, but it will be missed. 

Like many things on the web they eventually fade away.   Spaces was, for Microsoft, an important marker on the information highway.  For those who want to form communities – there’s still groups.live.com, and there’s the photos.live.com, and the rest of the www.live.com family.

 

I could have hung onto the old blog there – for a while anyway.  But the migration process was painless and offered me the chance to merge with my existing WordPress blogs in a 1-2-3 step that was painless and easy.  So it seemed best to merge them now and get it done.

So for those expecting to see my old mnovember.live.com site who are directed here… well now you know the story.  Mike November’s Notes… have officially been moved here.  I’ll set up a special area just for Mikey in time – he’s not going anywhere.  But, it’ll take a while. 

Changes happen, events in life shift, and merge… like this blog.

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Posted by on September 28, 2010 in Rants, Writings...

 

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Why I only create things for …

I just had a discussion with a designer friend.  As usual, I got my ripping on for only doing stuff for Windows based systems.  I got my usual lecture about the glories of design for Apple and how the iPhone was going to take over the world and it really, lets face it – already had.   How Google’s chrome was right behind it.  How could I possibly still be thinking of designing anything for Windows? It was dead – a dinosaur.  Hardly bleeding edge.  It died a while ago and I needed to really jump on the bandwagon.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m the first to appreciate the design and innovation of the iPhone, even the Mac, Linux and other OS’s… Heck, I’m a huge fan of the design work that went into the OLPC.  But let’s have a reality check here before we all go running down to drink Kool-Aid and jump in the river to be saved okay?

Here’s the latest numbers on what Operating Systems are being used to access the Internet from NetMarketShare, based on actual use by people. 

 image

Now… if you want to know why I specialize in Windows based technologies… there’s your answer.  Pretty simple. 

But to the bigger question of “Is designing for Windows based technologies no longer “bleeding edge”?  Windows, to me, isn’t static, the desktop isn’t static.  It’s very very much alive.  Very dynamic.  Because it’s just an Operating System.  It’s just a desktop.  What I put on that desktop.  What I make it do.  How I make it do that – that’s beyond the bleeding razors edge. 

Anyone can design for a new platform and be creative or original.  Literally even bad ideas become “bleeding edge”, even the ones which aren’t really all that useful or practical or provide a level of function that people didn’t have before. 

If you look at the iPhone development community – it’s a bit like the rest of the mobile phone community.  Aside

Augmented Reality Watch Demo

from work being done in augmented reality – which are currently mostly demos using adobe after effects -I haven’t seen anything there that really excited me and made me say, “Wow I should look into more of that.”. 

Now, there’s a lot of stuff going on now in the Augmented Reality space (I’ve mentioned in previous posts the merging of video and entertainment and new technologies so this isn’t like its a shocker).  But a lot of the really really cool stuff isn’t just happening in the mobile market.  And until it’s happening on more than just the iPhone – well it’s not of much interest to me.

Why?  Look at the numbers above.  iPhones sitting with around .53% of the overall OS market share, now look at the Android… it’s not even a year old fully and it’s sitting at .09%.  In two years – the iPhone has only been able to snake out .53%??  It’s freaking everywhere it seems… everywhere I go I see people talking about building an app for the iPhone… and yet it’s marketshare is .53% of the overall Internet viewership.  

And this does not mean that I think that Androids a better OS – it’s not.  It’s that the uses of the iPhone, Android, etc., are not the uses that people are actually using.  The next jumps in technology in the mobile space will not be phones.  Phones have been done.  Phones are going to merge with something else because phones are a communications system.

I’ve said for decades now the big jump there (communications) is going to be computer telepathy.  Yeah, yeah, that’s sci-fi – it’s too weird and it’s decades out…. I know.  That’s the point.  You want to be cutting edge – bleeding edge – you go decades out and work back.  You don’t go 3-4 years back and work forward.  Android, Apple, all of these are as much stuck in their platforms as Windows is to the desktop.

Windows – is moving out of the desktop.  Surface and other cool technologies are moving it out of there and into the 2.5 and 3D spaces – ala Minority Report.  Eventually I would not be surprised if we see them move to mindspaces of communication.  If they don’t – they should. That’s bleeding edge.

The iPhone – moved to the iPad.  That wasn’t a jump forward, at best it was a jump sideways and back.  We’ve been to the eBook and the tablet space.  Yeah they’re doing some nice stuff there.  But there’s a reason they didn’t sell before and it wasn’t aesthetics, it was ergonomics and practicality and functionality.  iPad’s closer to what I would have liked for that kind of thing… in fact I’m a huge fan of the design of the iPad. 

But the iPad space… isn’t new ground.  It’s not even taking old ground to new heights.  It’s just taking it to new places.  For me – that’s not enough.  I’m also guessing that for a lot of people it won’t be either.  Don’t get me wrong we’re going to see about 11,000 iPad copiers out there and it’s going to be a huge market.  But it’s not ever going to bust into that 92% marketshare a whole lot.  Why not?  Because – if it was going to – it already would have.  Sure it’s going to dent it.  But not by a whole lot, and certainly not enough for me to justify a lot of time thinking about it.

I’m still thinking about quantum systems and mindspace systems because that’s where I want to go.  Where people will eventually have to go.  And at the end of the day… y’know what… they’ll still be using that desktop I’ll predict right now.  Eventually it will go away.  Something will replace it.  But the reign of this dinosaur is still many years from being over.

On my drive to work the other day, they had a talk radio show on technology talking about the new 3D TVs out there.  How the cost on them was pretty low.  One caller pointed out he got a 58 inch screen, blu-ray player, and 2 dinoridesets of 3D glasses all for under $3,000.  Which – is pretty impressive.  Then someone asked him, “So what movies are available?” and he said, “uh… so far all I’ve found is one.”.  <insert crickets chirping sound here>

Bleeding edge is cool.  Designing for it is really cool and I love to do that.  It’s dreamer design work and incredibly rewarding.  But designing something that isn’t used steals from that reward.  I want people to see what I’ve done  – comment – criticize – help improve it – give it life.  That’s bleeding edge. 

So… for now.  I’ll stick with making my dinosaur out live it’s usefulness and find new ways for people to ride it.

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2010 in Design, Development, Rants

 

Boredom leads to adventures…

So I’ve been pretty bored of late.  Over at work I’m working on eCommerce issues – mostly dealing with the various choices vendors have in linking to our network and they all involve XML based products.  You’d be surprised how many top notch IT departments have grown so reliant on tools by Oracle and others for their procurement solutions they literally click buttons and fill in forms without knowing how their tool really works. 

Not that I’m an expert on procurement (well actually I suppose technically I am) but it seems to me that any time you’ve sufficiently automated yourself to the point that you don’t know what kind of XML you’re pumping out, how it gets to the other guy and what kind of an output you need to put out… your over adapted to your technology and now dependant on it.  Which is never a good thing.

So naturally – since I handle a lot of post-production troubleshooting these days… I automated things with a few tools.  I’ll detail these out in a future blog since I’m pretty sure most people have never had to deal with cXML or understand the difference between it and standard XML, and I’ve encountered several “Oracle Gurus” who keep insisting that what Oracle pumps out is “XML”… it is – but not in the classical sense anyone else would expect.

So I’ve started a couple projects there to make it easier for people and those are forth coming…

I also… decided to do a bit of video fun and that… is how I fought off boredom this weekend.  Did two bits you can find here

 

and here…

 

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2009 in Design, media, Rants, video

 

Who watched the Watchmen?

I think by now everyone knows – I’m a fan of Alan Moores the Watchmen.  I also think that there’s a fair chance a lot of people have seen the movie.  Experienced it. 

The graphic novel is a very powerful story that you either get – or you don’t.  As they went to the effort of creating the world of the Watchmen on film they were so very careful to keep the detail of the visual.  Zach Snyder the director – is great for those kind of details.  And he did – he pegged it visually almost perfectly So where the movie works best is in replicating that world. 

Where it fails is in those areas that don’t fit on film.  The subtle nuances that can only come from a book.  What we are left with on screen from his efforts can best be described as a visual feast – an optical orgasm – a color filled three dimensional… turd.

(If you have not seen the movie – turn back now – spoilers ahead)

I am not a purist.  When I heard that the original ending wasn’t used I kind of wanted to cut Zach a break because all of the visual imageelements of the film were done so well in the pre-release scenes we got to see.  Now I have to admit that by removing the original ending and substituting Doc Manhattan as the “big evil” that the world must fear to draw us together.  Now not only didn’t this work as a plot device but there is a rule about monkeying with a classic story – if you’re going to change the plot – change it for the better.  So – all of that was a waste.  Zach’s attempt to provide us with the message that the only reason we’re decent humans is our fear of Dr. Manhattan (substitute “God” for Dr. Manhattan and you’ll see what Snyder was shooting for and missed) – this message almost everyone missed who wasn’t watching for Dreibergs lines at the very end.

And the hinting that – perhaps – maybe – there could be “more of the story” a … sequel?  That’s just incredibly poor taste.  For those who missed these hints – trust me it’s all there.  It was blended carefully … hidden, almost like a subtle threat – but it’s there.  Snyder sold any die hard fan out with that ending.  The original, would have made far more sense.  I had to ask several people if anyone else caught the supposed logic of tying the nukes to the death of the inmate Rorschach “greases” in the film. 

With the supposed logic that when he died – the prison would go insane – and this somehow would be the trigger for Dr. Manhattan’s global attack.  Umm… yeah… that… is a lot more believable to the world and will bring them together than being attacked by an alien life form which wipes out all of New York, and causes madness for miles around. 

The film was rushed – and although visually detailed – the story was so lacking as to cause a feeling as if we, like Dr. Manhattan, are merely observers to this world and have no real emotional stake in it.   And I can’t blame the actors who did amazing jobs on this.  Each understood their characters so well and brought them to life adroitly – with the exception of Ozymandias.  Who was, card board – a cut out of the book’s character and not a very good one at that. 

If it were not for Jackie Earle Hailey’s stabilizing presence of the character Rorschach this film would not even merit discussion.  It’s his complete and total ability to sell the character of Rorschach that allows the film to work even on a basic level.  He’s supported of course by the other performances that are damned good, but it’s his time on screen both with the mask on and off that really sells this movie. 

Even the death scene works without going over the top, and he brings to the role the sensitivity and an empathy needed for us to buy the meaning to his death.  This is where the film really works – in the scenes with Rorschach.  Here Snyder can wring out of the story something close to what the story really is, his attempts with Manhattan, and NiteOwl are well intended but they’re only “good”.

This is not a movie that can get away with “good”.  You either have bought into the premise presented and are going along with it or you haven’t.  Which frankly is where it fails and falls flat. It’s the insecurity of Snyder’s need as a director to reinforce the world he’s created that moves it from allowing us to accept it to rub it in our faces.  It’s in his need to keep beating us over the head with “Hey this is an alternate 1985” or “Hey did you notice I can put yet another blue penis into this shot in spite of the fact that it wasn’t in the book… I just thought it’d be cool to show a blue man’s penis so you’d know he has not concept of or the need for clothing…”.  So instead of just having these details where they belong – they become a gaudy display, they rub our noses into this world. 

Instead of acceptance it becomes a struggle to accept.  The actors have given us their all, the sets, the crew, all have provided us with a perfect replica of the world needed for us to fall into this reality … and then the Director has to screw it up by forcing this world on us rather than letting us see it, accept it, and not need to have storied aesthetics that add nothing and make us go “Huh?  What? – Why… Wha?” and before we can digest it – have the story move on again to a moment which seems not to make any more sense than the words before.  As a result … It’s a long movie that ambles all over the place trying to make a point and in trying to make so many points – it’s doubtful if it ever does. 

Others may judge this film differently but to me – this was a film that needed to be made in 3 films – and to take your time.  But that’s not what we got.  It was pretty.  It was kind of deep.  But it was not… the Watchmen.

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2009 in Rants

 

Who watched the Watchmen?

I think by now everyone knows – I’m a fan of Alan Moores the Watchmen.  I also think that there’s a fair chance a lot of people have seen the movie.  Experienced it. 

The graphic novel is a very powerful story that you either get – or you don’t.  As they went to the effort of creating the world of the Watchmen on film they were so very careful to keep the detail of the visual.  Zach Snyder the director – is great for those kind of details.  And he did – he pegged it visually almost perfectly So where the movie works best is in replicating that world. 

Where it fails is in those areas that don’t fit on film.  The subtle nuances that can only come from a book.  What we are left with on screen from his efforts can best be described as a visual feast – an optical orgasm – a color filled three dimensional… turd.

(If you have not seen the movie – turn back now – spoilers ahead)

I am not a purist.  When I heard that the original ending wasn’t used I kind of wanted to cut Zach a break because all of the visual elements of the film were done so well in the pre-release scenes we got to see.  Now I have to admit that by removing the original ending and substituting Doc Manhattan as the “big evil” imagethat the world must fear to draw us together.  Now not only didn’t this work as a plot device but there is a rule about monkeying with a classic story – if you’re going to change the plot – change it for the better.  So – all of that was a waste.  Zach’s attempt to provide us with the message that the only reason we’re decent humans is our fear of Dr. Manhattan (substitute “God” for Dr. Manhattan and you’ll see what Snyder was shooting for and missed) – this message almost everyone missed who wasn’t watching for Dreibergs lines at the very end.

And the hinting that – perhaps – maybe – there could be “more of the story” a … sequel?  That’s just incredibly poor taste.  For those who missed these hints – trust me it’s all there.  It was blended carefully … hidden, almost like a subtle threat – but it’s there.  Snyder sold any die hard fan out with that ending.  The original, would have made far more sense.  I had to ask several people if anyone else caught the supposed logic of tying the nukes to the death of the inmate Rorschach “greases” in the film. 

With the supposed logic that when he died – the prison would go insane – and this somehow would be the trigger for Dr. Manhattan’s global attack.  Umm… yeah… that… is a lot more believable to the world and will bring them together than being attacked by an alien life form which wipes out all of New York, and causes madness for miles around. 

The film was rushed – and although visually detailed – the story was so lacking as to cause a feeling as if we, like Dr. Manhattan, are merely observers to this world and have no real emotional stake in it.   And I can’t blame the actors who did amazing jobs on this.  Each understood their characters so well and brought them to life adroitly – with the exception of Ozymandias.  Who was, card board – a cut out of the book’s character and not a very good one at that. 

If it were not for Jackie Earle Hailey’s stabilizing presence of the character Rorschach this film would not even merit discussion.  It’s his complete and total ability to sell the character of Rorschach that allows the film to work even on a basic level.  He’s supported of course by the other performances that are damned good, but it’s his time on screen both with the mask on and off that really sells this movie. 

Even the death scene works without going over the top, and he brings to the role the sensitivity and an empathy needed for us to buy the meaning to his death.  This is where the film really works – in the scenes with Rorschach.  Here Snyder can wring out of the story something close to what the story really is, his attempts with Manhattan, and NiteOwl are well intended but they’re only “good”.

This is not a movie that can get away with “good”.  You either have bought into the premise presented and are going along with it or you haven’t.  Which frankly is where it fails and falls flat. It’s the insecurity of Snyder’s need as a director to reinforce the world he’s created that moves it from allowing us to accept it to rub it in our faces.  It’s in his need to keep beating us over the head with “Hey this is an alternate 1985” or “Hey did you notice I can put yet another blue penis into this shot in spite of the fact that it wasn’t in the book… I just thought it’d be cool to show a blue man’s penis so you’d know he has not concept of or the need for clothing…”.  So instead of just having these details where they belong – they become a gaudy display, they rub our noses into this world. 

Instead of acceptance it becomes a struggle to accept.  The actors have given us their all, the sets, the crew, all have provided us with a perfect replica of the world needed for us to fall into this reality … and then the Director has to screw it up by forcing this world on us rather than letting us see it, accept it, and not need to have storied aesthetics that add nothing and make us go “Huh?  What? – Why… Wha?” and before we can digest it – have the story move on again to a moment which seems not to make any more sense than the words before.  As a result … It’s a long movie that ambles all over the place trying to make a point and in trying to make so many points – it’s doubtful if it ever does. 

Others may judge this film differently but to me – this was a film that needed to be made in 3 films – and to take your time.  But that’s not what we got.  It was pretty.  It was kind of deep.  But it was not… the Watchmen.

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2009 in Rants

 

the taLE OF ALIMONY jakobson…

 

image

Several years ago, my then very small daughter, wanted a dog.  I didn’t want another pet.  We had too many pets then, and adding another was, well, just nuts.

So naturally – we got another dog.  Not just any dog… but a 2 time loser.  A dog who, as a puppy, was so unable to be house broken or trained it had been returned to the animal shelter twice.  It was actually marked by animal control to be put down on site if returned again.  My daughter saw her at the animal shelter on the day of her final return.

There was something between that dog, and my daughter that clicked.  My daughter didn’t pick her, so much as the dog picked my daughter.  Which, frankly was how that little dog’s mind worked.  So it came to our home.  When I was told about the dog’s history, my only request was that I got to name it.  I told my wife that if we kept it the dog’s name would be “Alimony”.  And if she brought home anything else it was going to be named “Child Support”.   So – in part out of spite – and in part because it was cute – the dog was brought into our family and was it really was registered with the name “Alimony”, or “Allie” as we came to call her. And for most people, and for most dogs, that would be the end of the story.

But this story is a long one, the dog’s uncanny bond to my daughter was such that for a dog that was to be put to sleep for it’s unwillingness to be obedient – my daughter could get it to do seemingly anything.  It would ironically become my daughter’s 4H project, and a show dog, go to State Fair and receive a blue ribbon, not once but twice, showing for my daughter.  It would win many ribbons, and it would dance and come alive in front of crowded stands, never once taking it’s brown eyes off my daughter… except for those occasions when it was trying to pick a fight with dogs much larger.

It became my daughters friend, and in many ways a mentor. There is a spirit, a stubbornness, that comes with being a very small terrier.  It allows them to take on animals much greater than themselves and never flinch.  Genetically, her breed was meant for fighting badgers and large rats.   They have, no idea that they’re little, they have an objective – and they don’t give up.  Size, shape, condition, odds, none of that matters to a terrier.   And they project an odd set of qualities that causes them to think they can win, and often do, against all odds.

It’s part courage, part bravery, part determination, and part just incredible stubbornness to never give up, never give in, and never think the battle is lost, or worse – not worth winning.  I suppose, if dogs are like their masters – well perhaps that’s where my daughter gets that quality.   You have to develop that kind of heart from somewhere, that drive.  It doesn’t’ come naturally to humans.   

My daughter if she learned to be that way, well it was from Allie.  Whose loyalty to her was incredible, and whose love, was boundless to the very end.  Alimony out lived two of her younger dog peers (of course we had more dogs after we got her… this IS our house… if animal is lost, hurt, bewildered or just plain strange it winds up here… and for all my grumbling… I’ve yet to say no.).  She got to be loved admired and adored by many, many people. 

Admiring people aside… she had something that was the most important thing in the world to her – and that was my daughter.  So despite the fact that she when given any chance would raid he garbage, or commit a dozen unspeakable acts to my things, all she had to do to get my approval was see my daughter – and wag her tail.  There was a level of love there – that frankly – it wouldn’t matter what she did, for being that loving and loyal to her master… well, what’s a little garbage right?  It picks right up off the floor y’know??

Allie developed some lumps a while back, in places where, well, dogs shouldn’t have them.  And as she got older and older her arthritis kicked in,  and on the not so good days, hopping up to lie on the bed wasn’t really something she was up to either.  So, we’d help her up to her favorite places.

But she still, even on her worst days, would pop up, hop off where ever as if there wasn’t a thing wrong with her… and trot after my daughter whenever she heard her.  She would grow older and more and more senile – often I’m fairly sure she had no clue who I was and I’d double the bet that she wasn’t really sure who she was, but she was cheerful about it.   On several occasions we’d take her to the vet thinking maybe it was time.  But it wasn’t.  She still had things she wanted to do.  She still had just a bit more enjoyment out of life, a few more tail wags, a few more barks, a few more French fries to steal and garbage cans to knock over. 

But even the most vivacious of lives, comes to an end.  Allies was very much like her entire life.  It was cheerful, and full of zest, and even when you’d have thought she was gone – she heard my daughters voice, and her head came up, and her tail wagged one more time.  As if to say, “I am so glad to hear your voice, and it’s okay.”, and then she laid her head back down. 

Alimony’s life, was if anything, about what you could do with a life – if someone gave you the chance.  She got her second chance – and she made the most of it.  Doing things no one believed she could, never taking anything from anyone else, never backing down, never slowing down, never giving ground, never giving in.    She was my daughters best friend, best ally, and in many ways, her best teacher about all that you need to learn to succeed in life.

She will be missed.

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2009 in Rants, Uncategorized

 

me zero…big bad world one…

Jonathan Coulton … Big Bad World One… seems to be my theme for the week. 

iquit Posted a bit for people that need to make Word (and any other Office document) do cool stuff … provided it’s in XP.  Forgot to mention that if you’re running Vista the UAC will keep it from doing a lot. (Here’s a couple fixes for that… I’ll show VBA code when I have time, in the mean time you can check out the use of the impersonateLoggedOnUser API calls here, here, or here – which I’m looking at since it uses psi and the runas for another project). 

Kids are – well the kids… meaning teenagers and filled with a lot of angst at a world that doesn’t seem to play fair.  Always sucks to be a teen, goes with the territory – think it may even be in the manual.  Which it’d be cool if they gave you a manual when you became a teen, or an adult, or for that matter at any time.  Unfortunately – the fact is there is no instruction manual for life, and if there was it’d probably be written by the same people who do the instruction manuals for IKea and O’Sullivan.

Some days, the best you can hope for is just to know who’s got your back, probably the best bit of advice I ever got from a co-worker Microsoft.  “Always know who’s got your back.”, which applies in warfare, program management, and when you’re 17 and the world seems like a very very unfair place.  If you know someone has your back – it doesn’t change the fact that the world is going to suck some days. 

But when the chips are down… some days the only way to get through is to remember you’re not alone. 

On the work front… well… I’m doing documentation.  I love documentation the way Socarates loved going out for a drink with his coworkers.   With any luck they’ll leave the first aid kit unlocked and I can find something to OD on.  Documentation my arch nemesis is for some bizare reason something people keep having me do for them – and I really do despise it.   I would rather be gutted and left as a meal for hyenas than do documentation. 

It’s not that I’m bad it – I’m actually really good at it – which is why I keep having people ask for it.  These docs are for a process that – isn’t well defined and I’m not allowed to define it, which gives me hives.    Don’t ask me to put my name on your broken process.  Grrrrrr… but… I’ve never walked on a contract… and I won’t on this one either but it is sooo tempting some days.  But I may see to it the author of all my documents is listed as Nathan E. Douglas or Roderick Jaynes

Once again… I’m trapped in a world not of my own making.  Like a pair of pants from Abercrombie and Fitch life just isn’t working for me I’ve lost the receipt.  Which means of course there’s no way to return it and exchange it for another.

Pretty much the best part of the week was seeing Andrew Kramer had an update to his blog – and some very cool presets for AE I’m dying to look at. 

Second update was seein Tommy Z’s newborn pics… you don’t get a heck of a lot cooler than being the son of a DJ with the Initials Z.Z. (Dude… your son’s got two career choices with initials like that – Rock Star or DJ… it’s like a law or something.)

And that’s all my updates for now…

Hang in there people.  The world may have us down but we’re not out… the world may seem big but we’ve got it out numbered one to five billion.   Personally – I can live with those odds.  

Hey – You’re only out numbered if you stop counting. 

And kiddo… You know I will always have your back… .  😉

 

I quit, I’m done
Cause I don’t think it’s gonna turn out okay
It’s no fair, it’s no fun
If every time it’s gonna end the same way:
Me: zero, Big bad world: one

–Jonathan Coulton, Big Bad World One

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2009 in Rants