Monday, September 14, 2009

The Friday Funnies: A Comic View of Technology Advancement on the Internet...

The following post was submitted by guest contributor, Dr. Bernie Domanski, editor of The Friday Funnies.

I’ve been a computer guy since the 60’s, learning FORTRAN in high school in Brooklyn, then became part of the first Computer Science graduating class from the City University of New York (CUNY), then ultimately, was the first PhD in Computer Science from CUNY. Am I proud? Nah... they made me suffer plenty!

Along the way, my demented sense of humor sustained me. While learning all those horrible programming languages like PL/1, C, Snobol, Algol, Pascal, Basic, Visual C++, Java, Visual Basic, ... I could go on, but I know you’re already sleeping! Hence the need for humor!!

I seem to have the ability to have co-workers test jokes on me... I have heard THOUSANDS of them over the years... and as you would expect, some are good, and some are not so good. With the popularity of the Internet beginning to rise in the 90s, I thought that this technology might be a good way to share all of the dumb jokes people tell me... as I can never remember any of them!

So I began to save jokes... and of course, as friends realized this, they’d email jokes to me (again, some good, some not so good!). After a very short time, I’d have 20 jokes or so every week... so I played editor, and emailed 10 at a time to people I thought would get a chuckle. When do we need a chuckle? On Fridays to start the needed weekend, hence, the Friday Funnies were born.

Email works, period. So soon, I began to get requests to add people to the distribution list (a group list in whatever email client I was using, probably Microsoft Mail). But when the list grew to hundreds, the email server hiccup’ed every Friday... it couldn’t handle the load!

So I did some research on a free program - listserv - that could distribute emails for me, not via my regular, already overworked email server. A godsend. I’d pass the email over with the 10 jokes, and a half hour later deliveries began. A good thing.

Time goes by... more people want the jokes... the list is getting bigger... bigger equals less manageable. So now I needed some kind of robot – a piece of software that could add someone to the list and send them an acknowledgment WITHOUT my help... and similarly, delete someone from the list 'cause their email address changed (or they got sick of the jokes – I like the former readon better!)

Should I write this robot myself? I’m a programmer, right? Nah... I’ll just keep looking... and lo and behold something called Egroups appeared... which was typically used for groups of people who want to communicate with each other. And it does the management of the email addresses! Yay!

One day, a big giant gobble-up-company devoured Egroups whole – and thus was born Groups.Yahoo.com. Mind you, I have no real complaints, but unless I paid them an annual fee, they would include ads in my emails... not ideal, but whaddayawant for nothin’?

So we continue... and blogs are born. Here, I could not only post the jokes, but I could, for the first time, post cartoons, dumb photos, sound bites, and even joke videos! But blogs live on websites – they are not emails! But with a technology called RSS, I could create a ‘feed’ from my fUNNIES blog, and with the help of a free website called Feedburner (now gobbled up by Google), an email is automatically sent out every time I post an update to the blog site!

So when you get an email from me via Feedburner, it actually contains the cartoons, photos, sounds and videos! How cool is that???

End of the story? Nah – even though the technology has marched on, it’s not perfect. Today, my blog site is seemingly fine (http://fridayfunniesbydrbernie.blogspot.com), but my feed to Feedburner is broken. Do I know how to fix it? Nope. Should I call support? There is NO support for anything that’s free!

Bottom line: email still works. My yahoogroups stuff still is reliable, and sends out a text-only email every Friday... with a link back to the blog so you can see the cartoons, photos, sounds, and videos.

Some technologies just work. My advice? Stick with them!

:) Dr Bernie, Guest Nerfherder Guy