Coding/Debugging Music?

This is totally bizarre, but for well over a year now, I’ve found myself with a certain song in my head when I’m really troubleshooting code.  I only get that song in my head when I’m working hard, and I always realize it after the fact.

Even more intriguing is Which song:   “Axel F” by Howard Faltermeyer

Yes, as in Eddie-Murphy-the-wisecracking-80s-cop movie.

No, I’m no big fan of his (Howard’s or Eddie’s), nor of that song (except as it defined part of the 80s, me being a music buff thereof).  So could there some quality to that song which is uniquely similar to the coding process as they both involve to the brain?  In other words, do they tickle the same gray stuff?

Dunno, but I’d love to know if this happens to anyone else.



Final Vacation Tidbit: Hand Dryers

photo of World Dryer™ hand dryer, with built-in sales propaganda:

These annoying hand dryers are multiplying lately.  Well I’ve hit my limit, and I gotta debunk (or at least deflate) their labels’ claims.

Yes, I grant they are very well marketed, but the actual advantages for the user/patron and the environment are exaggerated, and the disadvantages are skipped (of course). 

Dryers help protect the environment.
They save trees from being used for paper towels.
They eliminate paper towel waste.
They are more sanitary to use than paper and help maintain cleaner facilities.

World Dryer’s main claims:

Dryers are good for the Owner, because they’re cheaper and create no paper waste to clean up.

I won’t second guess their electricity-vs-paper supply cost comparisons, and dryers certainly keep the paper waste to a minimum.  So no problems here.

Dryers are good for the Patron, because they’re more sanitary

The “more sanitary” claim is mentioned in World Dryer’s Waste Reduction PDF and references a report comparing hot air and paper for killing germs.  Problems with this:

  1. Who kills germs with a dryer? (If you washed your hands right, the germs should already be gone!)
  2. “Hot air” is not the same as a Dryer, which requires pushing a button with wet hands, thereby picking up the germs of previous, less-thorough patrons.
  3. Busy bathrooms.  The 1 minute/person process stacks up patrons (making it all the more inconvenient), and patrons end up drying their hands on their (surely less sanitary) pants.

Dryers are good for the Environment, because they don’t use up trees.

Sure, dryers don’t use trees, but guess what: Trees are a renewable resource! We won’t run out! (responsible logging companies act like tree-farmers, planting more trees).
    In contrast, dryers do use electricity, which comes from Coal, AKA “not-a-renewable-resource” (so we will run out of that).
    Besides electricity, we get something else from Coal: Pollution!
(World Dryer also claims that “paper towels cannot be recycled!” — they never substantiate that, though.  Any ideas?)

To summarize the problems:

  1. Convenience:
    • World Dryer’s own Waste Reduction PDF says “the fact is, it does take a few seconds longer to properly dry your hands with warm air.”
    • Dryer inconvenience is further compounded by multiple patrons.  Using a paper dispenser is a 3-second process.  Using a Dryer is a 60-second process, which stacks up patrons.
  2. Sanitation:
    • Dryers create another “touch” surface to spread germs.
    • Dryers are inconvenient enough to skip in favor of pants or other unsanitary clothing.
    • There are plenty of no-touch (motion-sensing) paper-towel dispensers.
  3. Pollution:
    • Dryers use Electricity.  Electricity is made from Coal.  Burning Coal pollutes the air. 
    • Waste Paper fills landfills, but quickly biodegrades.
  4. Natural Resources:
    • Coal is a non-renewable resource and will run out.
    • Paper is renewable and will never run out.

So, I can’t believe I actually just thought through and typed that all out, but I guess I hate feeling “marketed at” when I’m already annoyed by the inconvenience.  That the marketing claims are mostly unsubstantiated or spurious makes it all the worse.

The genius of it, though, is that they propaganda itself is an attempt to make the process seem less inconvenient — you get something to read while you dry, instead of a blank wall.

For more entertainment, how about an address-label sized sticker saying something like:

Electric Dryers are highly inconvenient to use.
Electricity is made by burning coal, which pollutes the environment.
We’ll grow more trees, but not more coal.
Dryers require touching germy buttons.

Or perhaps:

Dryers are convenient for the owner.
The owner values his/her convenience more than yours.
“The environment” sells more dryers.
These signs are here to distract you from how long dryers take.

Seems like 5 or 10 would easily fit in a wallet…

Hack Lives!

Hack screenshot

So I played this game, half-a-lifetime-ago, called Hack. 
It was a ASCII-graphical game for DOS, where you explore a dungeon, seeking the Amulet of Yendor. 
You could play as a Wizard, Barbarian, or various other character types, and would of course fight monsters, gather treasures, and have various adventures along the way.

The user-interface was obviously very simple (even at the time), but the gameplay was amazingly rich. 
I loved it, and spent many days of my life “in the dungeon,” but eventually moved on to flashier graphical games.

So flash-forward 15 years to last week, I see this User Friendly comic mentioning “NetHack,” and then another random mention of the game got me curious and googling. 

NetHack screenshot

Lo and behold, Hack is still alive and kicking! (great history writeup here)  15 years of development (and enrichment) has added a simple GUI (mostly easier on the eyes) and richer (but completely faithful) gameplay.  I’m not at all disappointed. 

I am tempted to say I want some sort of multi-player version, tho.  Especially considering a favorite game of mine: BattleZone, an early 80s arcade classic, which Activision did an amazing (groundbreaking) job resurrecting in ~1998 as a multiplayer FPS.  I’m still playing it 7 years later.

But for now, it’s NetHack again.  It’s nice when old friends visit.

Finally saw the Enterprise finale..


Bad acting.  I guess Frakes & Sirtis are several years outta practice (and shape).  And who wrote that dialog anyway?

Bad effects.  Can’t think of a good excuse here.  I mean, really: stars between the camera and the ship?!? (space-fireflies???)

Bad production.  Tons of obvious overdubs.  They must’ve already pink-slipped the sound engineer.  (Not to mention the amateur-looking phasers…)

Why end an otherwise decent series (and legacy) on a bad note??  Bah!


“slapped together”