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
Read an Excerpt
JULY 1995, EXE MAGAZINE
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
<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