back to article Beyond the valley of the drolls

There's another of those lists of supposedly amusing/sage/cute adages going around, bouncing from blog to email, accumulating fresh contributions and occasional edits and doing all the meme-ish things that memes do. This one differs from all the others that you have deleted irritably from your email inbox in that it includes a …

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Does quoting you in a comment to your article count?

"Using OpenOffice instead of Microsoft Office is like eating organic food instead of conventional. It is not the experience, or the expense, or the convenience that matters. It is the knowledge that you are a better person for so doing."

I like this one -- you can make it either pro- or anti- Open Office just by changing the tone of your voice.

(Although I daresay the analogy would work better if organic farmers required you to come to their farm to get your food, but then didn't charge you anything, while conventional farmers sent someone round to your dinner table and charged you $300 a chair regardless of whether or not a) someone would actually be sitting in it or b) said someone would even want some of your famous green bean casserole.)

Keep up the good work, Verity!

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Data driven

Is it just me or does this concept work best when the underlying quote is particularly sarky? E.g.:

"If you think X can solve your problem, you don't understand your problem and you don't understand X"

"Studies have shown that X is the work the Devil makes for idle hands"

or the old classic

"Q: Why do people take an instant dislike to X?

A: Because it saves time."

(sources and original values of X left as an exercise to the reader)

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Exceptional Quotes

The quote in question (which everyone seems to love) is: "The primary duty of an exception handler is to get the error out of the lap of the programmer and into the surprised face of the user."

I am guilty of copying this into our internal development wiki and our Bugzilla quips, so I'm as unoriginal as the next guy. But, Miss Stob, here's the reasoning. First, it is a standalone comment that is simple, yet funny. True, you've uttered many a brilliant observation, but most of them require context to appreciate. This one is a standalone (context-free, for your XSL fans). Second, it is both simple and contains an implied vulgarity, perfect for simple and vulgar folk like myself. Third, and this one may have escaped you, it does not require that I engage my English to Americanish translation engine (an enterprising post-doc may want to compare and contrast this with hardware CISC to RISC translation). I find your writing, with all of its charming colloquialisms and contortions of the language not fathomed by us continental types both challenging and fascinating to read. However, it seems that most of my coworkers find your tracts, well, intractable. This unfortunately rules out many of your more clever statements for mass market purposes.

Thus, like a singer that has released one catchy pop song after a repertoire of deep and meaningful music, you've captured the hearts and minds of the hoi polloi with what in your mind may at best be mediocre. There is no fighting it. I suggest opening up a Cafe Press store with your new signature phrase, perhaps selling bumper stickers.

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