The Best of Verity Stob: Highlights of Verity Stob's Famous Columns from .EXE, Dr. Dobb's Journal, and The Register

The Best of Verity Stob: Highlights of Verity Stob's Famous Columns from .EXE, Dr. Dobb's Journal, and The Register

by Verity Stob

Verity Stob is the comedienne of the programming world. She has been writing satirical chronicles of techie life since 1988. Her column first appeared in the legendary .EXE Magazine, then Dr. Dobbs' Journal, and it now graces The Register.

For the first time, the very best of Stob's columns have been collected into one


Verity Stob is the comedienne of the programming world. She has been writing satirical chronicles of techie life since 1988. Her column first appeared in the legendary .EXE Magazine, then Dr. Dobbs' Journal, and it now graces The Register.

For the first time, the very best of Stob's columns have been collected into one essential book. Discover why Mrs. Bill Gates calls in a programmer to fix her plumbing; find out about the Google computer that suffers from Tourette's syndrome; discover the shameful secret of the CEO who types his correspondence in CAPITAL LETTERS, and much, much more!

Table of Contents

  1. How Friendly Is Your Software?
  2. The Programmers’ Guide to Programmers
  3. Larn Yasel Programmin!
  4. POET’S Day
  5. The Maltese Modem
  6. Late One Night
  7. The Kraken Sleeps
  8. Twenty Things (Almost) You Didn’t Know
  9. Few Lend (but Fools)
  10. The Best Improve with Age
  11. STOB versus the Software Engineers
  12. Auntie Verity’s Hardware Help
  13. Underground Liff
  14. The Games We Play
  15. A Chance to Meet You
  16. Wot Any Bule Kno
  17. About
  18. Not Fairies’ Footfalls
  20. In Glorious VerityVision
  21. I Want to Die
  22. Dear Bill
  23. Modem Tales
  24. Around and Around
  25. Four Yorkshiremen
  26. Email and Femail
  27. Morse Code
  28. I Prefer Tea
  29. Junior Makes Three
  30. Don’t Look Back
  31. Book of Anders
  32. The Black Eye of the Little Blue Techie
  33. Mr. Jobs Works Next Door
  34. Quality Street
  35. You May Start
  36. 8086 and All That
  37. The Browser
  38. Park Gates
  39. Et Tu Gnome?
  40. Let’s Parler Y2K!
  41. Yocam Hokum
  42. Bye Bye Byte
  43. Night Mail
  44. Cringing for Bobot or How I Learned to Stop Worrying About the Quality of My Work and Just Made Dreary TV Programmes Instead
  45. One Nostril Hair, 17mm, Grey
  46. The Dog’s Breakfast
  47. Book of Yoc-am (Cont'd.)
  48. Fair Play
  49. By Other Means
  50. Waltz$
  51. Thirteen Ways to Loathe VB
  52. Claire’s Story and Other Tragedies
  53. Down the Pole
  54. Out to Lunch
  55. Two by Two
  56. Big Iron Age Man
  57. Just William
  58. Downwards and Backwards with Dotdotdot
  59. Up with the Joneses
  60. Wherever He Goes
  61. The Devil’s Netiquette
  62. At the Tomb of the IUnknown Interface
  63. Double Plus Good?
  64. I Know This, It’s Unix
  65. Your Call Is Important to Us
  66. Way After 1984
  67. Patter Song
  68. Roger D. Hubris Ate My Hamster
  69. State of Decay
  70. In Memoriam—Edsger Dijkstra, 1930–2002
  71. Open Saucery
  72. Idle Thoughts of an Idle Process
  73. Fragments from a New Finnish Epic
  74. Stoblog
  75. We Don’t Guarantee That Using The Latest .NET XML Windows API Feature Can Metaphorically Speaking Put Bounce In Your Boobs And/Or Hairs On Your Chest (Delete As Applicable) But By Golly We Find It Extremely Hard To Imagine Circumstances Under Which This Will Not Follow As Naturally As Night Follows Day
  76. Soundtrack
  77. Damnation Without Relief
  78. Cold Comfort Server Farm ForgeAhead
  79. One After 409
  80. Jam Today
  81. Borland Revelations
  82. Patenting by Numbers
  83. Confessions of a Spammer
  84. Solder Cellar—Kindly Accept Substitutes
  85. Lara’s Last Stand?
  86. Too Obscure or Rude

Editorial Reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review
For programmers who’ve encountered her dry British wit, Verity Stob’s been a guilty pleasure for ages. Now her best work’s been compiled, assembled, and linked into one ridiculously funny book.

Here’s Ms. Stob sharing the private thoughts of a running process: “I’ve been round 103,216,309 times. Any time now I will find that i is no longer <=the return from GetMaxPossibleCount(). Don’t ask how I know. It’s a feeling...” And conjuring Darl McBride’s Nigerian scam letter to Bill Gates (“with you help i am hoping to justfully claim monies amounting to US $3,000,000,000 denied me and my company SCO/Caldera wrongfully by miscreants and EVILDOERS...”)

Ms. Stob well remembers the old days, when a well-aimed paradox could defeat the most villainous computer. But she’s improved with age: Her Slashdot and Bridget Jones’s Diary parodies are hilarious, her Gilbert & Sullivan rewrite for porn site administrators is sublime, and just watch her try XP pair programming. Bill Camarda, from the March 2005 Read Only

Product Details

Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.70(d)

Read an Excerpt


Dear Bill
We have heard little of Microsoft employee Melinda French since
her marriage last year to Bill Gates. Presumably she is safely
installed in the Gates’ Xanadu-like underground palace, with its
computer-controlled doors and myriad other gadgets. But Verity
is concerned . . .

The shower went wrong this morning, so I called out a programmer. It was my fault. I rebooted the john, owing to how it wouldn’t flush, but was stuck on a modal dialog saying Now wash your hands OK/Cancel and thought I would freshen up while I waited for it to finish its login sequence. So I stepped into the cubicle and waved my hand over the virtual faucet, and of course I got a stream of boiling mangoscented gel down my right boob, Yipe!, because, as Bill explained later in his email, the Net DDE link with the boiler had gone down when I rebooted the toilet.

Then I got mad, which was kind of silly, because this sort of thing must happen to other people most days, and I pressed the emergency reboot button for the whole bathroom, which of course you mustn’t do while the toilet is rebooting in case it picks up a stray interrupt and goes into its emergency back up routine. Which it did and it did.

I wouldn’t have minded so much except of course I couldn’t wash it off in the shower because the shower was still spurting molten mango goo, and I wasn’t really in a fit state to call out the 24-hour programmer over the vidlink. So in the end I emailed him priority Urgent. It took him ages to get here, because of course you need LoveNest security clearance level to get through all the doors to our en suite bathroom, and he had to literally hack his way in, so it was 4:00 pm before I got to fix myself up and have a blueberry waffle.

I do wish that Bill were here, instead of on an evangelising mission persuading the Native Australian Aborigines to use NT for boomerang design. He is such a practical man to have about the house.

And it’s my birthday! Sadly, Bill couldn’t make it back from Down Under owing to how he had to fly to Rio to get them to use Windows ’95 in all their snowmobiles. But he hadn’t forgotten; I was woken up in bedroom suite #3960 (which is where I am sleeping until they fix up the LoveNest bathroom properly) by the email thing going off with a new message. The macro substitution hadn’t worked out quite right, but it was still real Special. It said

Dear <Employee First Name Tag>
Happy Birthday. We look forward to another year of excellent work
from you.

Yours sincerely
<Friendly Line Manager Tag>
This message autogenerated by
Microsoft Scheduler™ for Windows '95®.

And to think most girls have to put up with flowers!

In the evening, I held a virtual dinner party to celebrate my birthday. I asked Bill’s parents, who are called Mr. & Mrs. William Gates II. We ate and I had matzo balls and I said, Isn’t there any other part of the matzo you can eat? which is from Dinnerania™, the Microsoft CD-ROM of dinner party jokes. Only nobody laughed because they were having pot roast and they couldn’t see what I was having what with them being 400 miles away and when I tried to explain they shut down the link. Which was kind of sad because Dinnerania is in alpha and this is the only joke in the database and I had matzo balls special because as Bill always says, someone has got to do the alpha testing.

I am a bit down this morning. Partially this is because, according to the house Newsnet system, Bill has had to go on to Red China, on account of them needing to be told how to use Microsoft Dictator™ for Windows—I guess this must be our new voice recognition add-on for Office. Also I am still worrying about the joke in Dinnerania: what about all those dear little matzos that get hurt just so that persons can have dinner parties?

But mostly I am unhappy because the whole house crashed last night and when it came up again it had to go to its weekly backup security database, which means it thinks I am in LoveNest when I am actually in bedroom suite #3960, which means I cannot open the door as I do not have correct security clearance. Also, there is no phone in here, as Bill thinks guests should be discouraged from using obsolete mainframe technology, and no windows, because the house is built under the hill, and as Bill says who needs windows in a room when you have got Windows®?

However, no need to worry! There is a terminal in here and I have emailed Bill to send help and look! I just got a reply. I just click on the little envelope and

Dear <Guest in bedroom suite #3960 Tag>
Thank you for your message. While Bill is always keen to hear from
his guests, you will appreciate that he is a very busy man, and he
can't always reply to his email straight away. Your patience is
William Gates III

Meet the Author

Verity Stob has been a programmer since 1984 and a columnist since 1988. Her column appeared in the "cult" (i.e. defunct) British programming journal .EXE Magazine until 2000, and has since adorned the granddaddy of programmers' rags, Dr. Dobb's Journal. Stob's work has also appeared on the popular IT news website, The Register. Miss Stob lives and works in London, U.K. Her face remains hidden.

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