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March 2007 Archives

The Complete April Fools' RFCs book coverWhen I was little I used to memorize jokes from books and repeat them over and over... badly. My family that suffered through this must be very surprised that I have published a humor book.

Over the last 30 years there have been many April Fools' pranks RFCs published by the IETF... the organization that sets the standards for how the Internet works. Computer historian Peter H. Salus and I collected them all, adding some commentary, and have published them. You can see our web site at:

You can order the book on Amazon and Barnes+Noble.

You know the old saying, "If you have to explain a joke, it isn't funny?" Well then this is the least funny book in the world. Nearly everyone one of these pranks requires an understanding of either the Internet Protocols, or the politics behind the decisions that go into making the Internet protocols. Heck, we spend about a page of commentary just explaining what an "RFC" is.

The web site gives away most of the material. The value of owning the book is that it collects them all in one place and makes an excellent novelty to put on your coffee table. That's right, it's a coffee-table book.

(Press release and other info is here.)

Insulting your users

It can be easy to accidentally insult someone that comes to you for support. Saying something like, "Let me show you... it's so easy a child could do it." might be well-intentioned, but think about how insulting it can be to the customer. (We caution against that exact phrase in TPOSANA.)

Continental Airlines could use some training in this area. Today I spent 30 minutes on hold waiting to talk to a human (grrr...). The hold music included adverts for how great they were and while listening to them over and over and over I had a lot of time to analyze what they were saying. (What they weren't saying is, "We've reduced fares to the point that we can't afford to handle luggage properly and thus you are now on hold waiting 30 minutes to find out where your bag is", but I digress.)

Here's the insulting part...

The advertisement for their on-line check in service began, "Still haven't checked in online? Why not? It's child's play!" Ok, you've insulted me. Can it get any worse? Well, the script ended with the jazzy music playing as the announcer says, "So next time check in online! Or have you kid do it for you!"

Insulting to the max. Way to go. Now get me a human so I can find out where my luggage is!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Professionalism

It appears after years of criticism, Diebold may be ready to withdraw from electronic voting entirely. The company is concerned that this relatively small and marginally profitable unit is hurting the company's overall image.
Diebold Weighs Strategy for Voting Unit on

If voting booth manufacturing is so lacking in profit, maybe all such vendors should get out of this business. In some countries the government has an independent division that runs the voting system. Just like the military is an independing branch of the government, the election commission develops voting technology, tests it, and runs the elections. It is an honorable group, held in high esteem, with very high standards.

LOPSA has started opening chapters around the country. New Jersey's chapter is big enough that on odd-numbered months they meet at two locations ("north" and "south"). Dossy took pictures and wrote up a little about the one I attended. Read about the March 2007 OPSA North Jersey meeting. If you are in New Jersey, please join! Otherwise, join or find/start your own chapter.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Professionalism