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Hogwarts School of Architecture and Software

Is this funny? Any improvements?
Dear Young Programmer

We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted into Hogwarts School of Software and Architecture.

Students at Hogwarts will study the ancient art of hand waving and speaking in tongues. Some of our top graduates have been able to have six-figure sums magically appear in their Gringotts accounts, without the actually doing any work.

Term begins September 1. We await your e-mail no later than July 31.

Yours truly,

Minerva McGonagall,

Deputy Headmistress


3 sets of khaki pants
3 knitted shirts with collar
1 cap for day wear

First years may bring a PDA, a cell phone, or a pager. Parents note that first-years are not allowed to bring their own Segway.

First years will take the following classes:

Introducing the Rational Unified Process, taught by Professor Booch.

Learn to write powerful spells using nine different sets of hieroglyphics.
Develop use cases for your spells
Channel into “Alternate Flows”
Take a spell from inception, elaboration, construction, to transition.
Extreme Programming, taught by Professor Fowler

Wave hands with a friend
Cast simple spells, often.
Learn to divine what the spell will do before you cast it
Transfiguration taught by Professor Wozniak

Transition your state
How to cast your pointers
Defense against the Dark Arts taught by Professor Ballmer

All about firewalls
Creating anti-viral potions
How to handle IP agreements, NDA’s, non-competes, and other spells.

Upon arrival, students will be divided into the following houses:

Microsoft – Cunning students who will win at all costs
Open Source – Noble and Idealistic students
Academia – Those students who are most intelligent
Apple – For culture and art-loving students

Not sure I should associate my name with this
Thursday, December 18, 2003

"Is this funny?"


Thursday, December 18, 2003

Previous poster works for Microsoft!

Thursday, December 18, 2003

>Is this funny?

If I am the target audience? No.

Who is in the intended audience? Humor is not as universal as one might think, at least not geek humor.

All narrow interest groups (well, geeks) share humor as a uniting force. Computer geeks, film buffs, pilots all have different kinds of in-jokes that is not funny for others.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

it's mildly amusing.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

I'm both a computer geek and a pretty big Harry Potter fan, so I can't imagine that there are people who would find it much funnier than I did and, well, I didn't find it that funny.

There were a few parts that were approaching funny, but it was a lot to wade through for the one or two humorous lines.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Not funny.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

one more vote for not funny.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

If you threw in some naked pics of Minerva McGonagall, it might work.

Trying to be helpful
Thursday, December 18, 2003

Yes, I did google for "Minerva McGonagall". Am I behind the times ;-)

Frederic Faure
Thursday, December 18, 2003

Bet your glad you didn't put you name to it.

Still, I receieved Barry Trotter the other year for christmas.  That wasn't even less funny and it's been selling bucket loads.

Ged Byrne
Thursday, December 18, 2003

Maybe if you had gotten in a lame "spell-checker" joke I would have laughed ... or not.

Thursday, December 18, 2003



When Harry Met Sully
Thursday, December 18, 2003

It's mildly amusing. I don't know anything about Harry Potter but I grokked the basic ideas.

Hell, everyone has to start somewhere.

I'll be kinder than everyone else. On a scale of 0..10, I'd give it a 6.5, 0 meaning absolutely inept attempt at comedy, 10 meaning that you could write for The Onion. It's a good bit better than mediocre.

A bit funnier than the joke spam that women email each other until the "reply to" forwarding list is about a megabyte.

If I could say anything about improvement, it would be to tighten it up and condense it some.

Bored Bystander
Thursday, December 18, 2003

Funny peculiar, not funny ha-ha.

Jorel on Software
Thursday, December 18, 2003

Another thing that would help humor like this: supporting graphics. As it is it will probably always be weak. A picture of Ballmer as a wizard, etc. As it is, it's weak because you have to exert too much effort visualizing the scenarios.

Now, this is *funny*  ;-) ---

Bored Bystander
Thursday, December 18, 2003

very mildly amusing. Could use tightening up.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

It's not funny at all, not even mildly. It's *contrived* and exactly like a 'opening joke' you'd see at some lame business app conference at the Marriot your employer is paying $1500 for you to attend.

Just try and doing it as standup. Yeah -- lame!

Now these ones, in the same vein, are funny:

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, December 18, 2003

Or how about this one:

A group of managers were given the assignment to measure the height of a flagpole. So they go out to the flagpole with ladders and tape measures, and they're falling off the ladders, dropping the tape measures - the whole thing is just a mess.

An engineer comes along and sees what they're trying to do, walks over, pulls the flagpole out of the ground, lays it flat, measures it from end to end, gives the measurement to one of the managers and walks away.

After the engineer has gone, one manager turns to another and laughs.

"Isn't that just like an engineer, we're looking for the height and he gives us the length.

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, December 18, 2003

Let's give all sides equal opportunity:

A man was crossing the street when a frog spoke to him from the side of the road, "If you kiss me, I'll turn into a beautiful Princess."

He bent over, picked up the frog and put it in his pocket.

The frog spoke again, saying, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful Princess, I will come and live with you."

The man took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to his pocket.

The frog cried out a third time, saying, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful Princess, I will come and live with you and do anything you ask of me!"

Again, the man took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to his pocket.

Finally, the frog asked the man, "What is the matter? I've told you I'm a beautiful Princess, that I'll move in with you (and you are no beauty yourself) and I'll do anything you want. So why oh why won't you kiss me?"

The man removed the frog from his pocket, and said, "Look here princess, I'm a programmer. I don't have time for no girlfriend, but a talking frog is way cool!"

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, December 18, 2003

Academia – Those students who are most intelligent

Now I find *that* funny. 

Thursday, December 18, 2003

A man walks into a Silicon Valley pet store looking to buy a monkey. The store owner points towards three identical looking monkeys in politically-correct, animal-friendly natural mini-habitats. "The one on the left costs $500, "says the store owner. "Why so much?" asks the customer. "Because it can program in C," answers the store owner. The customer inquires about the next monkey and is told, "That one costs $1500, because it knows Visual C++ and Object-Relational technology." The startled man then asks about the third monkey. "That one costs $3000," answers the store owner. "3000 dollars!!" exclaims the man. "What can that one do?" To which the owner replies, "To be honest, I've never seen it do a single thing, but it calls itself a Consultant."

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, December 18, 2003

I'm not an academic, but that part about how Academia is for those students who are most intelligent made me laugh.  Little bits of "mean humor" can be funny.  The funniest part is that I'm not absolutely sure it was intentional.

If this could be made into a /perceptively/ cynical view of the world, but not wocka-wocka overboard, it'd be pretty good.  Don't need the best materials to build a good joke...  But here's some Hemingway pastiche, which I think is good material:

Tayssir John Gabbour
Thursday, December 18, 2003


Thanks for the Hemingway(ish) link. That was brilliant.


Jack of all
Thursday, December 18, 2003

For humour you should go to the Professionals. Here's a link to Dave Barry on computer security.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, December 18, 2003

That's not barry's best piece.


Once upon a time, in a kingdom not far from here, a king summoned two of his advisors for a test. He showed them both a shiny metal box with two slots in the top, a control knob, and a lever. "What do you think this is?"

One advisor, an engineer, answered first. "It is a toaster," he said. The king asked, "How would you design an embedded computer for it?" The engineer replied, "Using a four-bit microcontroller, I would write a simple program that reads the darkness knob and quantifies its position to one of 6 shades of darkness, from snow white to coal black. The program would use that darkness level as an index to a 16-element table of initial timer values. Then it would turn on the heating elements and start the timer with the initial value selected from the table. At the end of the time delay, it would turn off the heat and pop up the toast. Come back next week and I'll show you a working prototype."

The second advisor, a computer scientist, immediately recognized the danger of such short-sighted thinking. He said, "Toasters don't just turn bread into toast, they are also used to warm frozen waffles. What you see before you is really a breakfast food cooker. As the subjects of your kingdom become more sophisticated, they will demand more capabilities. They will need a breakfast food cooker that can also cook sausage, fry bacon, and make scrambled eggs. A toaster that only makes toast will soon be obsolete. If we don't look to the future, we will have to completely redesign the toaster in just a few years."

"With this in mind, we can formulate a more intelligent solution to the problem. First, create a class of breakfast foods. Specialize this class into subclasses: grains, pork and poultry. The specialization process should be repeated with grains divided into toast, muffins, pancakes and waffles; pork divided into sausage, links and bacon; and poultry divided into scrambled eggs, hard-boiled eggs, poached eggs, fried eggs and various omelette classes."

"The ham and cheese omelette class is worth special attention because it must inherit characteristics from the pork, dairy and poultry classes. Thus, we see that the problem cannot be properly solved without multiple inheritance. At run time, the program must create the proper object and send a message to the object that says, 'Cook yourself'. The semantics of this message depend, of course, on the kind of object, so they have a different meaning to a piece of toast than to scrambled eggs."

"Reviewing the process so far, we see that the analysis phase has revealed that the primary requirement is to cook any kind of breakfast food. In the design phase we have discovered some derived requirements. Specifically, we need an object-oriented language with multiple inheritance. Of course, users don't want the eggs to get cold while the bacon is frying, so concurrent processing is required, too."

"We must not forget the user interface. The lever that lowers the food lacks versatility and the darkness knob is confusing. Users won't buy the product unless it has a user-friendly graphical interface. When the breakfast cooker is plugged in, users should see a cowboy boot on the screen. Users would click on it and the message 'Booting UNIX v. 8.3' would appear on the screen. (UNIX 8.3 should be out by the time the product gets to the market.) Users would be able to pull down a menu and click on the foods they want to cook."

"Having made the wise decision of specifying the software first in the design phase, all that remains is to pick an adequate hardware platform for the implementation phase. An Intel Pentium with 32MB of memory, a 500MB hard disk and 17inch SVGA monitor should be sufficient. If you select a multi-tasking, object-oriented language that supports multiple inheritance and has a built-in GUI, writing the program will be a snap. (Imagine the difficulty we would have had if we had foolishly allowed a hardware-first design strategy to lock us into a 4-bit microcontroller!)."

The king wisely had the computer scientist beheaded and they all lived happily ever after.

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, December 18, 2003

I thought it was funny.  It would be funnier if you modified it so that the references to Harry Potter were more subtle.

Remove Minerva McGonagall - replace with a suitable "industry leader". 

Programmers don't write spells, nor do we use hieroglyphics. 

Something like: "Reading spaghetti code, so you can decipher what people have written before you. Writing spaghetti code to prevent your job from being sent overseas" would be funnier.

You should have something about the lost art of commenting.  I'd make commenting class related to the tea-leaf reading class (too lazy to look it up), but you have to get across that point without coming out and saying it.

Waving hands with your friend is a management class (or fast track to?).  I'd develop that further.

The house division idea is good, but the implementation is weak.  You should use the same description structure as the original book.  Also, programmers aren't divided into houses - the terminology there is off.

Also, you need something to cover the difference between programmers working on internal applications only (cost centres) versus those working on products (revenue generators)

I emailed this to my friend (a grad student).  He's in a room with a bunch of other students and they apparently had some fun with it.  He emailed back:
"Why nothing about UML art class? Learn how you can make non-efficient code by drawing, dragging and pointing. Coding for the non coders! Or is this more for Squibs?

Shouldn't the clothing be restricted to a single pair of whatever?  Anything extra for a programmer is a luxury isn't it? If not, at least they must all be
identical so no one can tell if they have more than one of the same item.

As for the list of items would big geeks be allowed a Blackberry? Claimed to be an organiser and highly offended when put into the same class as an organiser or pda. Since it works as all three would you have to get special premission from the magical creatures department.

The last thing I think I would look at is at the names of the four houses. I can see Microsoft as Slytherin but Open source as Griffyndor, I don't know, I think they may be more of a Hufflepuff (hehehe).
Acadamia as a Ravenclaw is okay and Apple as a Hufflepuff may get some people angry as well. Bonne chance! It could be fun to add some detail to those as well.

Microsoft cunning (as with their buying most of market of floppies before release of win 95 to delay release of OS2warp) and calculating (look at the
prices of their sortware, broken addition button because a multiple instead)
who will try to win at all costs (all that needs to be said is "lawsuits¨)

Open source as Hufflepuff. Friendly and nice to all, share code so everyone can benefit.  Not my words but in the room it was mentioned that both Hufflepuff and Open Source are the NDP of politics. Neither has too much glory (but well known and respectable).  Both have gained popularity recently. (Hufflepuff via Cedric and Open Source as programs mature).  Open Sources gets killed by Microsoft/Slitherin if it ever gets good; We all know what happened to Cedric.

As someone immersed in Academia I would emphasize the clever but no real experience angle.  You know, those who know how to play the Academia game but would be shark feed in the real world. 'Those who can do, those who can't teach.'"

I'm still laughing over the NDP comment.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Don't use hieroglyphics? Have you written any regular expressions of late?

Andrew Cherry
Friday, December 19, 2003

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