"We are going to have peace even if we have to fight for it."
Dwight D. Eisenhower
AT THE FUNNY FARM
by several people
This article originally got published in the "ST Enthusiasts
Newsletter" issue 5. Thanks to Dave Mooney for allowing us to use
it. Most of these were taken off Bulletin Boards, I guess. The
last two items were sent in by one of our enthusiastic Austrian
readers, Marinos Yannikos.
Some 'half kidding - whole ernest' articles, which if I didn't
have an first hand experience of the computing industry, would
have dismissed as impossible and a figment of someones
Program Design and Structured methodologies, by Andy Gilmour
In the producing of any computer program there is always a need
for using a structured design methodology, something which is all
to often left out.
Now many of us already use a design system for our programs, but
are we using the most eficcient method or not. I fear not, but do
not despair yet, for this document will teach you exactly how to
make eficient designs for eficient programs.
1 Choose an outdated language such as Fortran or Cobol (But
never Basic, Pascal or C) The reasons for this are
multifold, firstly in selecting an old and limited language,
your boss cannot give you complicated programs to write, and
this is a great advantage already over your collegues.
Secondly it's much more convenient to write self modifying
code in Fortran or similair old languages, thus allowing a
great deal more flexability. Thirdly when your program
doesn't work it's much easier to use the excuse that "the
compiler I'm using is a Fortran 66 compiler, and I am used
to using a Fortran 77 compiler". Fourthly nobody else
understands the language, meaning that you can really mess
up the code and no one will notice, or keep correcting it,
and best of all, after its written, you will be the only
person who can maintain it, so no matter how little you do,
they can't fire you.
2 Carefully consider all the inputs, outputs and processing
that is involved, and think of who else has written similair
code, and consult them about the program. If they prove
difficult, check their hard disk while they're out at lunch
(it's always a good idea to take a disk editor with you in
case they have deleted it, or have it in a hidden
directory). Further to this check for routines which have
desirable side effects, they always brighten up the program,
and ensure that you'll be kept busy maintaining it at an
3 Any further routines needed must be written by yours truly,
and there is no avoiding detailed documentation for this.
Many people write out their documentation, on paper or on a
computer, but both have the same two fallacies, firstly that
paper, disks and computers can go missing, or burn, and are
subject to a whole range of natural disasters, not
dismissing coffee spills magnets, and lightning. Secondly
they're amazingly slow, boring and need too much effort.
This leaves us with the best media for program design notes,
grey matter. Though the human brain is subject to many of
the above natural disasters. But lets face it, if you get
struck by lightning you'll get loads of sick leave, so
someone else will have to do the program anyway. So we have
an instant read/write access media with almost infinite
storage capabilities, with the side benifit that data stored
within this media is almost impervious to duplication and
any other forms of piracy.
4 While designing the program, there are a number of disputed
points to remember.
i) Never program in a modular fashion; though more
readable, it slows the program, and makes it too easy
for a smart alec to understand, and then do you out of
ii) Use gotos when convenient, and gosubs, you'll find them
quite unsurpassed at getting you out of loops and X-
single entry single exit routines. Fortrans goto is
really good too - you can list different labels for
different conditions (the use of gotos is particularly
good for screwing up folk trying to understand your
iii) Nested loops are fun, especially when you use a goto to
get out of them. When doing this it is however
advisable to define a lot of stack space before running
the program. In fact it's almost as much fun as the
next one, recursion. Nested loops are also good for
fancy graphics and sound routines.
iv) Recursion. Now we're talking. You can do mindbogglingly
amazing things with recursion, it has to be the most
efficient way ever devised to use up memory and
processing time, coz say you programmed in a recursive
routine to create solutions for the old towers of hanoi
problem, and told it to do 1000 disks, it would store
an array, or stack of 1000 elements for each move,
which would probably be about the equivelant of an
array of 2,500,000 elements. You find recursion is
especially fun with stacks, queues, arrays, or trees.
The other thing is the time this all takes. This is
especially fun on mainframes, when it slows everything
right down, giving you time to get fresh coffee between
the sparse appearancess of the prompt on your screen.
v) Decisions. Well this is an interesting concept, though
it initially looks very boring, one sees that the
hidden beauty of the if command lies in the way it
augments the previous commands. Secondly, careful use
of the if command in conjunction with the goto command
1-For Next loops
2-Do While loops
3-Repeat until loops
5 If you have completed the program without documenting it
then you've learnt the most important rule of programming:
FIGURE OUT THE DESIGN AFTER YOU WRITE THE PROGRAM
A New Millenium, off Jusavo BBS
Many users will be aware that the current Date algorithms used
in computer systems will be unable to handle the digit change at
the start of the year 2000. A coordinating committee has
investigated the problem and produced a paper recommending
immediate action in order to prevent widespread chaos.
The solution, elegant in its simplicity, is that the date will
be reset to 1967, giving the technicians a further 23 years to
solve the problem. Users are requested to facilitate this change
by searching out and wearing any flared jeans, kaftans,
multicoloured headbands or wide-collared shirts. Noddy Holder
ties are however, not considered appropriate. Special "Computing
is Cool" tie-dye T-shirts will be on sale at the usual
distribution points and the Newsletter will, in future, be dipped
There will be some changes to Error Messages. A short guide to
these changes follows:
New Message Old Message
Like, cosmic man! Unexpected asterisk found
Way out man! Array bound error
Too much! Filesize limit exceeded
What a downer System crash
Far out man! Segmentation violation
Hey, that's cool! Compilation completed
It's a gas! No boot disk in drive A
Gotta split Spawned process activated
Heavy scene Error limit exceeded
I'm a Saggitarius Sign error
Some Slightly Less Known Lightbulb Jokes
(The one about sound engineers having been sent to us by Bryan
Q: How many Macintosh designers does it take to change a light
A: One. He holds the bulb while the world revolves around him.
Q: How many IBM types does it take to change a light bulb?
A: A hundred. Ten to do it and 90 to write documentation number
GC7500439-0001 Multitasking Incandescent Source System Facility,
of which 10 percent of the pages state "This page deliberately
left blank" and 20 percent of the definitions are in the form "A
whoopeedoo consists of sequences of non-blank characters
seperated by blanks."
Q: How many sound engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: One two, one two.
Q: How many DEC employees does it take to change a light bulb?
A: 2 people - Preliminary discussion on concept of change.
1 person - Devise and write formal bulb architecture.
2 people - Feasability study and timetable of events.
2 people - Produce four utilities to reduce screw-in time (in
addition to the electric utility).
1 person - Maintain ISO and DEC standards (sockets, voltage,
4 people - Commonality task force on bulb change.
15 people - Change bulb.
5 people - Perform bulb functional test.
2 people - Perform bulb load test.
3 people - Perform bulb regression test.
1 person - Perform bulb performance analysis.
1 person - Perform bulb bottleneck analysis.
1 person - Follow-up study (bulb merge feasibility).
1 person - Interface with Utilities Commision.
1 person - Interface with users. (Did they want incandescent
when we only supply non-tunable flourescent point
product?) BAX (Bulbs Are eXpensive)!
5 people - Perform BOSE (Build Other Socket Enhancements)
compatibility/ architecture study.
3 people - Ensure form (round/square, clear/frosted) follows
function (wattage, 120/240 volts,
visible/ultraviolet, flashing, flood/spot).
3 people - Implement temporary alternative bulb socket for
already(!?) existing, successful, and profitable
5 people - Determine how to market/package/distribute
temporary alternative bulb socket.
10 people - Determine how to perform bulb change product split
(control: switches, dimmers; versus
implementation: screw-in torque, recovery
1 person - Interface with utilities commision QA group.
1 person - Submit to BDC (Bulb Distribution Centre).
1 person - Set up BPR (Bulb Problem Reports) system.
10 people - Answer customers BPRs.
11 people - Football team to challenge bulb changers.
Construction Project: ATOM BOMB
The following paper is taken from the Journal of Irreproducible
results, Volume 25 Number 4 1979.
P.O. Box 234 Chicago Heights
Subscriptions are $3.70 for a year.
1 - INTRODUCTION
Worldwide controversy has been generated recently from several
court decisions in the United States which have restricted
popular magazines from printing articles which describe how to
make an ATOMIC BOMB. The reason usually given by the courts is
that National Security would be compromised if such information
were generally available. But, since it is commonly known that
all of the information is publicly available in most major
Metropolitian Libraries, obviously the court's officially stated
position is covering up a more important factor; namely, that
such atomic devices would prove too difficult for the average
citizen to construct. The United States cannot insult the vast
majorities by insinuating that they do not have the intelligence
of a cabbage, and thus the "official" press releases claim
National Security as a blanket restriction.
The rumours that have unfortunately occured as a result of
widespread misinformation can (and must) be cleared up now, for
the construction project this month is the construction of a
thermonuclear device. Which will hopefully clear up any
misconceptions you might have had about such a project. We will
see how easy it is to make a device of your very own in ten easy
steps, to have and to hold as you see fit, without annoying
interference from the government of courts.
The project will cost between $5,000 and $30,000 depending on
how fancy you want the final product to be. Since last weeks
column, "Let's make a time machine", was received so well in the
new step-by-step format, this weeks column will follow in the
2 - CONSTRUCTION METHOD
1) First, obtain about 50 pounds (110Kg) of weapons grade
Plutonium at your local supplier (see note 1). A Nuclear Power
Plant is not reccomended, as large quantities of missing
Plutonium tends to make the Plant Engineers unhappy. We suggest
that you contact your local Terrorist Organisation or perhaps the
Scouts in your neighbourhood.
2) Please remember that Plutonium, especially pure, refined
Plutonium, is somewhat dangerous. Wash your hands with soap and
warm water after handling the material, and don't allow your
childern or pets to play on it, or eat it. Any left over
Plutonium dust is excellent as an insect repellant. You may wish
to keep the substance in a lead box if you can find one in your
local junk yard, but an old coffee can will do nicely.
3) Fashion together a metal enclosure to house the device. Most
common varieties of sheet metal can be bent to disguise this
enclosure as, for example, a briefcase, a lunch pail, or a Ford
Cortina. Do not however use Tin-foil.
4) Arrange the Plutonium into two hemi-spheralical shapes,
seperated by about 4 cm. Use rubber cement to hold the Plutonium
dust together. Gelignite is much better but messier tp work with.
Your helpful hardware man will be happy to provide you with this
5) Pack the TNT around the hemisphere arrangement constructed in
step 4. If you cannot find Gelignite, feel free to use TNT packed
in play-do or any modeling clay. Coloured clay is acceptable, but
there is no need to get fancy at this point.
6) Enclose the structure from step 5 into the enclosure made in
step 3. Use a strong glue such as "super glue" to bind the hemi-
sphere arrangement against the enclosure to prevent accidental
detonation which might result from vibration or mishandling.
7) To detonate the device, obtain a radio controlled servo
mechanism, as found in model planes and cars. With a minimum of
effort, a remote plunger can be made that will strike a detonator
cap to effect a small explosion. These detonator caps can be
found in the electrical supply section of your local supermarket.
We recommend the "Blast-O-Matic" brand since they are no deposit-
8) Now hide the completed device from the neighbours and
children. The garage is not recommended because of high humidity
and the extreme range of temperatures experienced there. Nuclear
devices have been known to spontaneously detonate in these
unstable conditions. The hall closet or under the kitchen sink
will be perfectly suitable.
9) Now you are the proud owner of a working Thermonuclear
device!! It's a great ice-breaker at parties, and in a pinch
could be used for national defence.
3 - THEORY OF OPERATION
The device basically works when the detonated TNT compresses the
Plutonium into a critical mass. The critical mass then produces a
nuclear chain reaction similar to the domino chain reaction. The
chain reaction then promptly produces a big thermonuclear
reaction, and there you have it, a 10 megaton explosion!!
4 - NEXT MONTH'S COLUMN
In next months column, we will learn how to clone your
neighbour's wife in six easy steps. This project promises to be
an exciting weekend full of fun and profit. Common kitchen
utensils will be all you need. See you next month!!
5 - NOTES
1) Plutonium (PU), Atomic number 94, is a radioactive metallic
element formed by the decay of Neptunium and is similar in
chemical structure to Uranium, Saturium, Jupiternium and Marsium.
6 - PREVIOUS MONTHS' COLUMNS
Let's make test-tube babies! May 1979
Let's make a solar system! June 1979
Let's make an economic recession! July 1979
# Let's make an anti-gravity machine! August 1979
Let's make contact with an alien race! September 1979
# No longer in print
Ways to be Offensive at a Funeral
1. Tell the widow that the deceased's last wish was that she
make love with you.
2. Tell the undertaker that he can't close the coffin until you
find your contact lens.
3. Punch the body and tell people that he hit you first.
4. Tell the widow that you're the deceasd's gay lover.
5. Ask someone to take a snapshot of you shaking hands with the
6. At the cemetery, play taps on a kazoo.
7. Walk around telling people that you've seen the will and
they're not in it.
8. Ask the widow to give you a kiss.
9. Drive behind the widow's limo and keep honking your horn.
10. Tell the undertaker that your dog just died and ask if he
can sneak him into the coffin.
11. Put a hard-boiled egg in the mouth of the deceased.
12. Slip a whoopee cushion under the widow.
13. Leave some phony dog poop on top of the deceased.
14. Tell the widow that you have to leave early and ask if the
will can be read before the funeral is over.
15. Urge the widow to give the deceased's wooden leg to someone
poor who can't afford firewood.
16. Walk around telling people that the deceased didn't like
17. Use the deceased's tongue to lick a stamp.
18. Ask the widow for money which the deceased owes you.
19. Take up a collection to pay off the deceased' gambling debts.
20. Ask the widow if you can have the body to practice tattooing
21. Put crazy Glue on the deceased's lips just before the
widow's last kiss.
22. Show up at the funeral services in a clown suit.
23. If the widow cries, blow a trumpet every time she wipes her
24. When no-one's looking, slip plastic vampire-teeth into the
25. Toss a handful of cooked rice on the deceased and scream
"MAGGOTS! MAGGOTS!" and pretend to faint.
26. At the cemetary take bets on how long it takes a body to
27. Goose the widow as she bends over to throw dirt on the
28. Circulate a petition to have the body stuffed instead of
29. Tell everyone you're from the IRS and you're confiscating
the coffin for back-taxes.
30. Promise the minister a hundred dollars if he doesn't keep a
straight face while praising the deceased.
First Aid for non-medically minded persons
Is he/she still connected to the power supply? If so, SWITCH OFF
THE POWER IMMEDIATELY. Electricity costs an absolute fortune, and
it would be going to waste.
Check the victims pulse, (if you can find their wrist amongst
the stack of charred bones and greasy, bubbling flesh that was
once a human being). And do try not to be squeamish about it.
Drive the victim to the nearest casualty ward. You can use
him/her to jumpstart the engine as well if need be.
Treating burns and scalds --
Run the affected area under a cold tap as soon as possible.
(N.B. If the victims entire body is a swirling mass of flames it
may a little too late for this).
If the victim has spilt hot liquid over his/her clothes, then
REMOVE CLOTHING IMMEDIATELY. You can never tell, the sight of you
parading around naked may cheer them up and take their mind off
their injury. Remind the victim that worse things happen at sea.
Cite drowning as an example.
Fractures and broken limbs --
Check the injured area to see if the break or fracture has
resulted in a tubular shard of shearing white bone jutting
outwards through the bloody mass of flesh. If it has, then tell
the victim that they are going to die. That always puts the wind
Tie a splint to the victims leg and ask them to walk up and down
for a few minutes. They will probably fall down unconscious,
making the rest of your job easier.
Do not move the broken or fractured limb as this may result in
an abnormal position. However, if you're feeling daring, try
pointing legs in the wrong direction, bending wrists through 180
degrees, etc. It really is amazing the number of fascinating
contortions you can produce. Far better than Play-Doh.
Choking On Food --
Try to dislodge the article blocking the victims windpipe by
punching them hard in the stomach. Do remember to duck before the
particles of food hit you in the eye, however.
Call the waiter and ask for a 20 percent reduction on the bill.
Make a mental note to order soup next time.
Cuts And Wounds --
Dress the wound, whatever that means.
Try and limit the blood loss by tying a tourniquet tightly
around the victims throat unit they experience difficulty in
breathing. Ha ha, only kidding. Tie the tourniquet just above the
wound. Just my little joke.
Stitch up the wound with aluminium wire.
Ha ha! Caught you again! Outsmarted you! Still, I am an expert,
Objects Stuck In The Eye --
Rinse the victims eye in lukewarm water. DO NOT USE SOAP AS
Offer to pick the object out of the victims eye with your teeth.
This usually results in the object mysteriously "going away" and
not bothering the victim any more before you can get to it.
When the victim comes round, ask them what day it is, who the
Prime Minister is, how many fingers you are holding up. To make
it more difficult, hold the fingers up behind your back. Then tot
up the victims score and send it to me at this address:- Dr.
Brain D'Eath, Concussion Quiz, P.O.Box 312, London, the highest
score wins a mystery prize.
Talk in Swahili to disorientate the victim a bit more. Yes,
there's a whole bundle of laughs when it comes to concussion.
Here's a good one: before the victim comes round, switch of all
the lights. When he/she regains consciousness, shout "Thank God!
We thought you might be dead, or blinded or something.
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.