Once upon a time before there was an Internet (yes, there was too a time! Ask your grandparents.), a cartoonist named Al Jaffee had a feature in Mad magazine called “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions”. Too bad old Al wasn’t in his prime during the current Internet age, because when computers came along, they redefined the concept of stupid questions forever. Here’s how Al Jaffee might answer our current favorite questions if he were a Web 2.0 geek:
Do I still have to use the Web-safe color palette? Yes, you do. In case you haven’t noticed, technology never changes at all. It will forever stay stuck in 1994, and all your visitors will still come to you through dial-up Compuserve accounts running Windows 3.1 and Netscape Navigator on a 640×480 resolution monitor.
I want to learn programming; what programming language should I start with? Binary! Binary is portable (all computers use it!), is easy to learn (two commands, 1 and 0. See, you know it already!), has low development overhead (no compilers or interpreters, just write and run!), it can do everything, and infinite source code examples exist to learn from.
Will you teach me how to hack? Really, there’s nothing to learn. Get a saw, and some wood, and just move one back and forth across the other. 5¢ please.
What does RTFM stand for? Reset Transmission – Futile Message. This is an error code which means your computer has crashed its Internet connection, losing the message the other person was trying to send you. It requires a hard reboot of your computer every time you see it.
I’m curious to try out this new Linux thing. What distro should I pick? It’s good you asked that, because it turns out that Linux distros are all so different from each other, that running the wrong one will actually kill you. To find the right one for you, look up your astrological moon sign, encode it in Uucode, extract the digital root of the resulting hexadecimal, multiply that times the three sine waves from your biorhythm chart, add you phone number, write the answer out as a regexp, encode it with rotation-13, and encrypt the result in PGP. Your answer will appear when you superimpose the result over the number Pi. Who says Linux isn’t user-friendly?
Is it really cheaper to run Windows server than Linux, like their ads say? Of course, because even though they give Linux away for free, to figure the total cost of Linux you have to count the salary of the IT staff, your annual electric bill, the cost of all the hardware, the coffee budget, and the pony your CEO bought for his daughter for Christmas. Compare to the shelf price of Windows server after discount and rebate.
Can I get a virus from doing this? As a matter of fact, there actually are no such things as computer viruses. Instead, security software companies hire ninjas to sneak into your home at night and mess up your computer while you sleep. Didn’t you just know that all along?
I just got an email about this Nigerian prince who needs my assistance with moving some money. Is this a hoax? No, it turns out that Nigeria actually does have 34,712 princes, due to the fact that all babies born in Nigeria are male and related to royalty. And, shocking as this may seem, they have the world’s leading economy, so they’re all wealthy as American oil billionaires while lacking any banking system at all, making the transfer of money a nightmare.
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