Author Archive: Zoey Boles

July 25, 2008

Thinkin' Like a Programmer

"I can't figure this out. My email client says I can't attach more than 10 M of data, but then it says I have 16501 K of data attached, and it can't send that. What's a 'M'? What's a 'K'? Why is the second number so big? I only attached a few files!"

I explained to my uncle that "M" stood for Megabyte, and "K" stood for Kilobyte. That a simple calculation to convert "K"s to "M"s was to take the last three digits off the "K"s and you had the size in "M"s, give or take one. That he had 16-17 Megabytes of data attached to his email, and he can only have 10.

His response was to wonder (1) why didn't the client just tell him he had "too much data," and (2) why did the program give him Ms AND Ks, instead of picking one?

My reply consisted of (1) it did, that's what the message said, and (2) because the programmer was thinking like a programmer.

See, my uncle is a very, very smart man. He worked in a video arcade as the guy who rewired the arcade machines when they exploded when somebody poured a Coke on them. He knew how the machines worked in and out. And got paid good money. When he moved back to Texas, he took up industrial and residential electric work, and is now a fully licensed foreman who's in high demand all through the area. When he says "I won't take a job that pays less than $20 a hour," it's not because he's picky, it's because he doesn't have to. Sharp as a tack. But he's not a computer pro. Not a problem, people can't be pros at everything. This ain't the 1700s, where you can pick up a test tube and learn everything known about chemistry in a few days.

But why would a programmer write a error message for an email program that would be unreadable to end users? Because it's perfectly readable to him! When my uncle read out the message, my first response was "You have about 7 Megabytes too many attachments. Send a second email."

Therefore, a programmer checking his work would think this was a great error message. Not only does it tell you that the email can't be sent, but it tells you why. The limit is in Megabytes, but email messages are typically sent in Kilobytes, so the data is already there. See how helpful I am! And the unit conversion between Ks and Ms are very easy; programmers do it 10 times a day and wouldn't even notice it.

That's why we have end user testing, to try to catch these things that programmers won't notice. It's just a simple conversion of units! But for an electrician trying to send an email, it was as opaque as to him as if he had told me that I had a single pole dual throw make-break when I need a dual pole single throw break-make. It makes perfect sense, if you're used to it. And if I think about it for a minute, I could figure it out most likely… but the point is, his error message is useless to me as it's formatted. But it makes perfect sense to him.

So, what's the moral of the story? Well, moral 1 is, try to be sure that all users of your product can understand what you say. We have an extensive testing process here at SoftLayer to make sure our data screens are usable without any confusion. Moral 2 is that programmers don't "actively" attempt to "keep people from using their computers" by "making their programs too complex." For us, it's completely transparent and useful, as useful to us as a circuit diagram is to an electrician. Just let us know if we make something a bit to opaque; it wasn't on purpose, and sometimes it's an easy fix. We were just thinking like programmers.

-Zoey

Categories: 
July 18, 2008

Let Them Eat Cake

I've been reducing my calorie intake, as I'm a bit overweight. However, lately I've noticed that my weight, which has been trending downward, has taken a bit of a stall. I've been trying to figure out why. And I think I have.

Movies.

I love movie theater popcorn. And there have been so many good movies lately! I've enjoyed Get Smart, I loved Speed Racer, smiled at Hancock, and have seen Wall-E three times!

And each time I buy a bag of popcorn.

That racks up to a lot of popcorn this summer season.

See, Hollywood complained for years that people just aren't watching movies. Maybe the movie industry is dying? Violent videogames are taking away the marketshare! Or maybe people just don't appreciate ART anymore.

Then a giant alien fleet landed and replaced everyone in Hollywood with doubles. But the doubles weren't perfect, see, because these doubles have done something that no Hollywood executive has thought to do for years.

THEY'RE MAKING MOVIES PEOPLE WANT TO SEE!

It's like suddenly somebody realized; hey, people have to WANT to see Hancock before they go see it! People want well made movies with plot and character development! People want more than just whizbang special effects and cheap jokes! And they started making it! And they started making tons of money again.

Same thing SoftLayer does, you see. We built a network which CUSTOMERS want, even though it's a bit more difficult to make. We buy servers that CUSTOMERS want, instead of cheaper servers that we can buy in bulk. We've bundled the kind of bandwidth providers that CUSTOMERS want, instead of buying cheap bandwidth so we can have big bandwidth numbers. We built a world class control panel, and then added an API for people who want even more control.

And guess what? Customers are buying our stuff.

Huh. Who knew.

I wonder if we have any popcorn in the break room.

-Zoey

Categories: 
June 23, 2008

Writing a Blog is Hard

A blog is a strong commitment. I mean, if you just set up a web page, it's obvious that you're going to update occasionally, maybe once or twice a month, add a new page or two. I've seen viable websites that haven't been updated since before Y2K. But it's OK, because it's a website. Not so with a blog! If you set up a blog engine*, you're not allowed to make just one or two updates a month. You have to keep the pump primed with awesome content.

Most of this just has to do with the design of a blog engine. For one, each post is stamped with a date. The assumption seems to be that if you have a date on something, the date is important. The date on a carton of milk tells you when to drink it by, so maybe the date on a blog post is also some kind of content expiration date? The assumption seems to be that dates on text mean that you want people to notice the date and act upon it. Not to mention that most blog engines have some kind of calendar that points to listings of posts by date. If you have a calendar widget that only has one or two days highlighted, the assumption is you don't care about your blog or something.

Again, it's not any kind of failure, it's just what's expected. Blogs all look similar: they have a home page of posts, which link to full post pages. Pages are tagged for quick taxonomy identification and grouping. Blogs also generally allow comments, upping the conversational angle. So you have to keep your blog pumping content. I've discovered three different schemes of blog content generation:

The Panic Morning News: The Panic Morning News is a strategy where a blogger panics, struggling to create content every day. What you end up with is some content which is well written, and some content that seems to be filler, designed to put something up to fill this day's update.

The Anything Goes Times: These are the blogs where you find incredibly boring posts about accounting suddenly appearing in between exciting posts. I'm not saying that accounting is boring, per se, more that suddenly discovering a post about accounting sandwiched between a post about video games and exploding cars sticks out. Of course, these blogs generally are a kind of string of consciousness blogs, where the blogs are more of a “What am I thinking now” type blog.

The Who Cares Star-Telegram: These are the trailblazers who don't care that you think they're lame for having only one or two posts a month. Their posts are well written, and it becomes obvious that, to them, a blog is more a Content Management Engine* than a two-way communication medium.

But this isn't just a blogging phenomenon… it happens with anything that updates daily. Comic strips and books, websites, news feeds. And filler content usually follows some kind of pattern. For comics, a comic/cartoon character is usually put into a silly situation for a day. Batman has a birthday party thrown by Joker and the Penguin, or Naruto goes on a tangent about ramen noodles for a whole episode. Blogs and Webcomics tend to have their own special type of ‘filler,' usually they have a whole update talking about how difficult it is to write blogs and/or webcomics.

-Zoey

* NOTE: If you want the convenience of a blog without the expectations of daily updates, look at making a wiki or use a Content Management System like Drupal.

Categories: 
June 14, 2008

In Memory of Dawn

Dawn was the best friend I’ve ever had, except for my little sister. Just yesterday I got home only to find out that Dawn had died silently in the night. No amount of resuscitation could bring her back. Needless to say, I was quite sad.

Dawn was my computer.*

The funny part of it all was just how much of my time involves a computer. I watch TV and Movies on my computer, I play games on my computer, I do my banking on my computer, I pay all my bills on my computer, I schedule my non-computer time on my computer, I use my computer as a jukebox.

In other words, I was completely lost. What made it worse, however, was that I had had yesterday scheduled to pay my bills. But where was my list of bills?

If you guessed “Dawn had all your bills”, then you are right.

What about paper bills? I’ve got the Internet and a computer! So, in most cases I’ve canceled paper bills. All paper bills I get are shredded forthwith. So I had no paper backup of bills.

Well, I made do. I kicked my roommate off his computer (a technique involving making annoying noises while he tries to concentrate playing Call of Duty 4) and used it to pay what bills I could remember. I kept track of the bills I was paying by entering them into a Google Document.

That’s when it hit me! Why wasn’t my bill spreadsheet on Google Documents? Along with my bill list? Along with all the other documents I work on every day? Cloud Computing For The Win! As soon as I get my next computer up and running (and I figure out a new naming algorithm) I’m going to put all my vital files on Google Docs. This ties in well with Justin Scott’s post; the key to not having your data disappear during a disaster is to have a backup copy. You want backups out there, far away from your potential point of failure. (I did have backups… but they’re all on CDs that I didn’t want to have to sort through to find just one file. And had the disaster been, say, a flood, I would have had no backups.)

Google Docs is a great example of Cloud Computing: Putting both the program and the file being worked on “in the cloud.” Having built internal applications for a few people, I would make the same recommendation: Since many business apps are moving to PHP anyway (thanks for the reminder, Daniel!), you might as well move the application AND the data out of the building and onto a secure server. And as Mr. Scott** mentioned, SoftLayer ALREADY has geographic diversity as well as a private network that will allow you to link your application and data servers together in real time through all datacenters… for free. Along with the added bonus of being able to access your application from any computer… should yours meet up with Misty, May, and Dawn at the Great Datacenter in the Sky.

-Zoey

* I had a system of naming my computers after the female protagonists from the Pokemon series. Dawn, however, is the last of that series…

** I’ve decided that since Justin is an Engineer, calling him Mr. Scott is funny.

May 29, 2008

Plot Course to Vulcan, Warp Factor 8. Engage!

Resolutely pointing off into the starry void of space on the bridge of the Enterprise, klieg lights gleaming off his majestic dome, Captain Picard causes the Starship Enterprise to leap off on another mission. Once asked how the “warp drive” worked on Star Trek, Patrick Stewart claimed that “I say Engage and we go.” Best explanation of warp drive I’ve ever heard.

I find I miss my Linux install. Due to circumstances beyond my control (i.e. I’m too lazy to stop being lazy), and the fact that few games work well on Linux without lots of under-the-hood tweaking, I broke down and bought a Windows installation for my PC. In between mining asteroids in my Retriever Mining Ship and solving 3D puzzles with a transdimensional gun, I do normal work with my computer; programming, web design, web browsing, video editing, file management, the whole deal.

Windows Vista, however, has a new feature that makes my work awesome. No, I’m not talking about the 3D accelerated desktop with semitransparent windows (although that IS awesome). I’m talking about the new Start Menu search box.

In Windows XP (I’m doing this right now), hitting the Windows key opens up the start menu. I can either use the mouse to navigate the menu (why use the start key if you’re going to mouse the menu?), or navigate with the keyboard arrows. However, this can be quite tedious and slow. If I remember the program’s “.EXE” name and the program is on the Windows System Path, I can select “Run…” and type in the name, like wmplayer for Windows Media Player. But the names are funky and again, the cool programs aren’t on the path.

In Windows Vista, however, when you bump the start menu, a new device, the SEARCH BOX, is automatically engaged in the start menu! So, when I want to use, say, Notepad, I type ‘windows key notepad enter’. Goldwave (sound recording) is ‘windows key goldwave enter’. When I want to use a Open Office tool, I bump the Windows key, type “open office” and then select the tool I want with the arrow keys, as the search box narrows down the huge Start Menu to just the entries that make sense. Even cooler: when it’s budget time, I hit the Windows key then type “budget”. Search brings up “Apartment Budget.ods”. Select that with the arrow keys, and it opens Open Office Calc (spreadsheet) for me.

It’s like having a command line in Windows. Any program is just a few keystrokes away, and for a Linux nut and a touch typer like me, means that my computer is that much more efficient. I don’t need muscle memory with the mouse to navigate the start menu, I don’t have to squint at the menu items and find my program. I just have to remember the name!

Try it some time. It’s almost as awesome as saying “Engage” and going to Vulcan.

-Zoey

Categories: 
May 14, 2008

On Site Development

I have a friend who worked at an internationally recognized fast food restaurant. It relies heavily on it’s computer systems to operate. Being a programmer (I’ve always preferred Computer Alchemist), I’ve always been fascinated with the command and control programs used at these restaurants, and have drilled many family members and friends to describe (in the most non-specific non-job-endangering way) what they do with those computers to do their job.

At the fast food restaurant, every order is entered into the cash register at the front of the line, processed by the computer systems on site, the orders are relayed to the kitchen in realtime and displayed on monitors, and various thermal ticket printers spit out meal tickets to be affixed to the various food items to describe their state (Double Cheeseburger, No Pickles, No Onions, Add Secret Sauce). It’s an amazing dance of software.

But I noticed that my friend the grill cook was constantly complaining about the system. Apparently, the order processing is really real time. When the guy up front presses the “double cheeseburger” button, it immediately lights up in the back but it doesn’t alert you that this is an order in progress! So, if the cooks are in a rush and just preparing orders as fast as possible, they might already have the pickles on the burger before the lady up front presses the “No Pickles” button, updating the display. Also, updated items are NOT IDENTIFIED by the system, so if the burger is already wrapped and the burger man is already moving to the next little square, it might not be caught! (Keep this in mind: most order “errors” at this internationally recognized fast food restaurant are caused by slow order takers, or slow customers, or customers who change their mind at the end of an order (Oh, could you make that burger with no onions?). Remember, if the guys in the back are rushing, get your order together in your head before you speak. If you say “Double Cheeseburger, no pickles, no onions, add secret sauce” just like that, it’ll pop into the system the right way!)

My question, of course, was “Why not rewrite the cash registers to be more awesome?” See, the old registers tied into a small computer in the back room that tied into the monitors in the kitchen. All state was held on that one machine, so obviously as soon as it was updated, it would appear on the monitors. But I couldn’t figure out why they kept using this stupid backwards system. It’s 2008! When I worked in the local greasepit in my small town, we used paper tickets we were more efficient than this fast food restaurant’s system! So why haven’t they updated? Simple: the people who can fix it aren’t there to use it.

Aha! That’s what makes SoftLayer so awesome. See, our programming staff is right here, in the same office as everyone else (except for those people who work in our datacenters, but they have our internal IM, email, and phone numbers and know they can contact us at any time.). If something breaks, or if something is built in a backwards or strange way, we know immediately and can turn around and fix it. In fact, we have a whole lot of programmers, as a ratio of developers to normal people. This high ratio allows us to have the best control portal in the world, and to add features quickly. See, if only developers worked at that fast food restaurant, and saw how the system was used, and were allowed to make changes (another awesome bit about SoftLayer: management is open to change. You’d be surprised how many obvious changes simply are not allowed by management in some dev shops…), then it would be a much easier place for everyone involved. And maybe I’d get my Double Cheeseburger right. Without the onions.

-Zoey

Categories: 
April 30, 2008

The Art Of Ramen

A man bicycles down a dimly lit street, balancing three hot steaming bowls of soup as he navigates the various pedestrians and suicidal drivers all intent on their destination. Approaching the apartment building, he enters, climbs a few flights of stairs, and makes his delivery, picking up some bowls from the previous night’s dinner. Whereas in America we would have been expecting a pizza delivery, in Japan it’s not an uncommon sight to see Ramen soup delivery.

If you ever find yourself in an “Oriental Style” kitchen, see if you can find some Miso Ramen to eat. The soup is like a more complex version of Chicken Noodle Soup, served in a huge bowl (if they do it right). Hmm. Makes me hungry typing this.

However, in free association, most Americans will think instead of a small, hard brick of fried noodles sealed in a plastic wrap with a small foil packet of soup base. In 1958, Momofuku Ando of Nissin Foods invented instant ramen noodles (named the greatest Japanese invention of the 20th century in a Japanese poll, beating out karaoke and the Walkman (!)) which allows a meal to be prepared in 3 minutes or so. Liberal application of artificial flavoring and monosodium glutamate trick the brain into believing it has indeed had a complete meal. And at 15-20 cents per packet, it beats out mac and cheese and completely decimates spaghetti as the food of choice when you just have to go out and buy a new RAID array or Wii and discover you’ve stomped your food budget (again).

For such a simple meal, however, I’ve discovered that everyone has their own special way of preparing it. A friend of mine boils the water, takes it off the heat, stirs in the sauce and lets it cool. And liberally applies pepper to the resulting soup. 50% (made up statistic) of the people who make these noodles crush the noodle brick before boiling. Various additions and subtractions have been tried, with various levels of success.

My favorite noodle cooking process is to place the brick into rapidly boiling water, then following it with what my sister and I call “Korean Ketchup” (a very spicy red sauce with a rooster on it; you can find it at your local WalMart), about three tablespoons. Allow the water to boil the brick on medium-high heat for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take the pan off and drain, leaving about a quarter inch of water in the bottom of the pan. Return to the stove and set to medium heat. Open the flavor packet and sprinkle on the noodles. Stir rapidly to dissolve the packet in the water before it boils away, and coat the noodles with the resulting sauce. Remove from heat and pour on plate. You end up with a very strongly flavored, spicy, almost Yakisoba style ramen dish. Sometimes I add frozen fajita chicken, but let’s be honest, if I had the money for frozen fajita chicken, I wouldn’t be scarfing down ramen noodles. Goes excellent with disposable wooden chopsticks swiped from your local oriental meal establishment.

I’ve seen tons of recipes for ramen noodles, from Mexican Ramen and Cheese to an almost Rice Krispie Treat type Noodle/Sugar/Chocolate/Marshmallow recipe that tastes pretty good. Yes, the humble ramen noodle brick is so inoffensive and flavorless (by design) that it can be used as the base for nearly any food desired. So, the next time you snag a box of 15 cent plastic packets, try to come up with an exciting new way to cook them. Ramen is an art, not a science.

-Zoey

Categories: 
April 17, 2008

INFRASTRUCTURE!

Wal-Mart! Champion of Retail! Who else can build a large brick box, paint it blue, stuff it with stuff, and make money hand over fist? What is the source of this power? Many will say it's their sheer size. However, this isn't true! Because what many people forget is that Wal-Mart had to start with one single store, just like every other retailer in America. So what is their secret?

INFRASTRUCTURE!

It's been said that Wal-Mart can track a single apple from the tree to the front of the store. Every piece of inventory is logged and tracked from pickup to delivery. Every single bottle of aspirin, every sock, every donut is duly logged and mashed up in massive data warehouses where giant computers munch the data and produce useful reports. You know what the most popular item is at Wal-Mart? According to an employee friend of mine, in the Cedar Creek Lake Area of North Texas, it's Bananas. They know how many bananas are sold, when they were sold, what the best day of the week is for banana sales, and which cashier is responsible for the most banana sales during a month. They can track banana sales over time, by store, region, trucking company, banana producer, you name it. They know which employee was on duty in the fresh fruit aisle when banana sales were high, and which employee used to be on duty in the fresh fruit aisle when banana sales were low. It's all in there, if you want it.

However, Wal-Mart had to build this technology from scratch. They had to install special data systems in their distribution centers. They had to build their own server farms, lease their own data lines... did you know Wal-Mart has it's own SATELLITE NETWORK?!? The Wal-Mart Satellite Network is one of the largest private satellite systems in the world, carrying real time data from every single Wal-Mart store and distribution center to Wal-Mart's headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, where it is poured into their massive data warehouse. They can plan, instantly, to take care of overstocks and shortfalls at every store, as soon as it happens.

You don't need to build your own satellite network to get competition crushing infrastructure today. Using the technology solutions provided by SoftLayer, and simple connections to the Internet, you too can have the type of infrastructure necessary to succeed in today's business world. We provide world class servers for your number crunching, huge amounts of networked storage for your data warehouse, geographically diverse datacenters for disaster security, and a private network that allows you to tie it all together as blazing high speeds. Using our awesome API 3.0, you can automate just about every part of maintaining your infrastructure. Leveraging the Internet, you can build data portals that allow your partners to keep you up to date on production, to plan finances, track bananas, whatever you want to do!

We've already taken care of the hard work required to build the infrastructure. Now all you have to do is leverage it.

-Zoey

March 12, 2008

Things I Learned at the Post Office

I send exactly one letter a year: a signature form to the IRS to say that yes, indeed, I have eFiled my taxes. Other than that, I use the Internet, and to a smaller part mobile phones, for all of my communications. It's faster, easier, and significantly cheaper.

Walking into the post office, I felt as my Mom must feel when she comes with me to Fry's Electronics. A million options, and not a single clue where to go. All I knew was that, using the US Postal Service, I had to convey this sheet of paper to another post office in Austin.

Some lessons I learned:

The IRS requires a signature. On paper. For filing your taxes online. Or a "super secure five digit pin number" (which I used, once, a year ago and cannot remember). Or my return amount from last year (which is currently stored on hard cellulose media in a backup (box) somewhere in my garage). So signature it is.

Letters require an envelope. Email does not. However, being a post office, this was easy to rectify. For $.25

Letters require postage. Not only did they charge me for the paper sleeve, but they also charged me for "postage." The postal worker handed me the envelope and the stamp. I put the stamp on the envelope and handed it back. He took a rubber stamp and defaced that $.41 square of paper. Why didn't he just save me the extra step?

The post office doesn't automatically affix a "FROM" field to the envelope. He then handed the letter back, gesturing to the top left corner. Apparently, I needed to write MY address there, in case they couldn't find the recipient. Right!

First-Class Mail doesn't actually mean First. In fact, Priority mail goes out before first class. And so does Express mail. In fact, there doesn't seem to be a "Class" of standard mail below first class, making it "Last Class" mail (there is Parcel Post and Media Mail and Bulk Mail, but these aren't standard on-the-price-board listed services). This is like the old joke about the Soviet Union reporting that their car made second place, and the American car made second-to-last, without mentioning that it was a two car race.

Surliness is one of the few free services provided by the Post Office. Along with dinginess and long lines. Then again the guy behind the counter didn't have to make such a show of his open disdain for my inability to "properly" affix postage.

Unlike Internet forms, real world forms have two sides. With a barely restrained sigh, the federal agent behind the counter handed back my form, and made a twirling motion with his finger, requesting that I put my return address on the back of that form. Didn't I already give them my return address on the letter?

After filling out the envelope (twice) AND a certificate (both sides), the federal agent then proceeded to place stickers and stamps all over my envelope. When he was done it had no less than 3 stickers and writing over the entire surface. He then handed me a paper with a convenient 20 digit number I could use to check on the progress of the letter. By calling a "1-800" number. With a phone. It cost me $7 to send a single sheet of paper with my signature on it a mere 200 miles.

As I walked out with the civil servant's stare burning into my back, I thought to myself...

...why couldn't I just have encrypted my tax forms with my private key? Wouldn't that have been easier? And more secure.

Apparently the Post Office, headed originally by Benjamin Franklin (also known for the glass harmonica and a carriage odometer, along with other trifling achievements) used to be the fastest, and dare I say sole way to communicate over long distances. How did they ever get anything done? Seems like an incredible hassle to me.

-Zoey

Categories: 
February 28, 2008

Companion Cube

For the gaming/programmer community, Portal is THE GAME. Seemingly from nowhere, this game burst upon the scene and took the nerd world by storm. Excellent storyline, snappy dialog, challenging puzzles, and an awesome space-warping gun combine to create an incredibly memorable game.

Nearly overnight, the hacker lexicon got some new words and phrases. This guide will help you make sense of most hacker conversations you may hear that refer to Portal.

The Cake is a Lie

The artificially intelligent computer that runs the series of puzzles (known as the Aperture Science Computer Aided Enrichment Center) goads your character along by stating that "cake" will be served to you if you survive all the tests. However, graffiti on the walls of the center proclaim otherwise... stating that the cake being promised is a great, big lie.

Hackers generally use this phrase either as an icebreaker or as a description of a situation where somebody is motivated to do a difficult task for a promised but unverified reward.

I'm making a note here: Huge Success!

At the end of the game, the computer gives you your final review. At the beginning of the review, it says "This was a triumph. I'm making a note here: Huge Success!"

Like Trekkies shouting "Qua'pla!" (Klingon for "Success!"), programmers are now known to say that they are "making a note here: Huge Success!"

The Companion Cube

The Companion Cube is an inert storage cube imbued with a personality by the game programmers to trick game players into carrying this cube throughout a puzzle, but then requiring them to destroy it at the end. They did such a good job, however, that game players have become attached to this "Companion Cube," going so far as to build little paper models or buy plushies of this "character." Generally, you'll hear a hacker talk about how they would never let go of their companion cube, or something along those lines.

Aperture Science Thing We Don't Know What It Does

Programmers find long multi-word names for products to be humorous. The game developers played on this concept:

  • It's not the lab. It's the Aperture Science Computer Aided Enrichment Center.
  • It's not a storage box. It's an Aperture Science Weighted Storage Cube.
  • It's not a button. It's an Aperture Science 1500 Megawatt Superconducing Super Button.

The joke is to take, say, a mouse, and turn it into an "Aperture Science Rotational Axis 2 Dimensional Vector Detecting Peripheral".

Now You're Thinking in Portals

With this guide handy, you can start to understand the conversations of your Portal crazed coworkers. You will no longer be confused when a coworker bursts out laughing when holding a slice of cake. You won't wonder why he has a background with little hearts all over it, displaying a strange box. You can now safely laugh at any name longer than 4 words, knowing that it's most likely a joke. This won't help with any of the other strange things developers say, but at least their conversations should be a little more transparent now.

For more information, check Wikipedia, or better yet, Watch the trailer and play the game.

-Zoey

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