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Editor's Note: Penguins Found at North Pole

Apr 01, 2004, 14:00 (23 Talkback[s])

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By Brian Proffitt
Managing Coping Editor

True story:

I was volunteering at a local hospital one night and an elderly gentleman walked up to me as I was staring intently at my computer screen. I greeted him, and without preamble, he said:

"What do you call someone who sits in front of a TV all day?"

Having dealt with SCO, I am used to non-sequitor statements just popping up out of nowhere, so I thought fast and answered, "Er... a couch potato?"

He smiled and patted my arm in the way older folks can get away with without people wanting to sue them for violation of personal space.

"Very good," he said. "Now, what do you call someone that sits in front of a computer all day?"

Several neurons mis-fired when I tried to reply. Finally, I laughed and surrendered to the joke, "I give up. What do you call someone that sits in front of a computer all day?"

"A potato chip." And he laughed at my eyes rolling into my skull and tottered away.

Groan if you will (I did), but this conversation was the spark that led to what I hope will be an annual April Fool's tradition on Linux Today: Tell 'Em If You Got 'Em.

Linux Today has asked several prominent members of the free software and open source community to send in the jokes that they have found amusing. It will be an enlightening (and possibly scary) look into the senses of humor of some of the community's most interesting people. Thanks to all who participated this year!

If you want to join in, by all means, add your own humorous tale/joke/anecdote in the Talkbacks. (Just keep it rated PG-13, please.)

And now, without further ado, we present the First Ever Tell 'Em If You've Got 'Em!

Richard Stallman, President, Free Software Foundation

I doubt this will win a contest, but I am pleased with it.

Someone found a way to generate audio output from the data that GCC is handling. Using this to listen to the events leading up to an GNAT failure, he thought it reminded him of insects.

So he asked a GNAT developer, "Is this the sound of a swarm of gnats?" The developer told him, "No, that's the song of the sick Ada."

(These events are fictional.)

Eric S. Raymond, President, Open Source Institute

Here are two of my favorite riddles:

Q: How many Surrealists does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Two. One to hold the giraffe, and the other to fill the bathtub with brightly colared machine parts.

Q: Do you know why the Buddha couldn't vacuum under the couch?
A: Because he had no attachments.

Gaël Duval, Founder Mandrakelinux

Q: How many Microsoft engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. Bill Gates will just redefine Darkness(TM) as the new ndustry standard.

Pamela Jones, Editor, Groklaw

A guy is taking a walk and sees a frog on the side of the road. As he comes closer, the frog starts to talk. "Kiss me and I will turn into a princess." The guy picks the frog up and puts it in his pocket. The frog starts shouting, "Hey! Didn't you hear me? I'm a Princess. Just kiss me and I will be yours." The guy takes the frog out of his pocket and smiles at it and puts it back. The frog is really frustrated. "I don't get it. Why won't you kiss me? I will turn into a beautiful princess and do anything you ask." The guy says, "Look, I'm a computer geek. I don't have time for girls. But a talking frog is cool."


If IBM made toasters...
They would want one big toaster where people bring bread to be submitted for overnight toasting. IBM would claim a worldwide market for five, maybe six toasters.

If Xerox made toasters...
You could toast one-sided or double-sided. Successive slices would get lighter and lighter. The toaster would jam your bread for you.

If Radio Shack made toasters...
The staff would sell you a toaster, but not know anything about it. Or you could buy all the parts to build your own toaster.

If University of Waterloo made toasters...
They would immediately spin off a company called WatToast.

If ParcPlace made toasters...
Their OO building block system would be called EGGO.

If Oracle made toasters...
They'd claim their toaster was compatible with all brands and styles of bread, but when you got it home you'd discover the Bagel Engine was still in development, the Croissant Extension was three years away, and that indeed the whole appliance was just blowing smoke.

If Sun made toasters...
The toast would burn often, but you could get a really good cuppa Java.

Does DEC still make toasters?...
They made good toasters in the '80s, didn't they?

If Tandem made toasters...
You could make toast 24 hours a day, and if a piece got burned the toaster would automatically toast you a new one.

If Thinking Machines made toasters...
You would be able to toast 64,000 pieces of bread at the same time.

If Cray made toasters...
They would cost $16 million but would be faster than any other single-slice toaster in the world.

If The Rand Corporation made toasters...
It would be a large, perfectly smooth and seamless black cube. Every morning there would be a piece of toast on top of it. Their service department would have an unlisted phone number, and the blueprints for the box would be highly classified government documents. The X-Files would have an episode about it.

If the NSA made toasters...
Your toaster would have a secret trap door that only the NSA could access in case they needed to get at your toast for reasons of national security.

If Sony made toasters...
The ToastMan, which would be barely larger than the single piece of bread it is meant to toast, can be conveniently attached to your belt.

If Timex made toasters...
They would be cheap and small quartz-crystal wrist toasters that take a licking and keep on toasting.

If Fisher Price made toasters...
"Baby's First Toaster" would have a hand-crank that you turn to toast the bread that pops up like a Jack-in-the-box.

If the Franklin Mint made toasters...
Every month, you would receive another lovely hand-crafted piece of your authentic hand-crafted Civil War pewter toaster.

If CostCo made toasters...
They'd be really cheap, as long as you bought a six-pack of 'em.

And, of course:
If Microsoft made toasters...
Every time you bought a loaf of bread, you would have to buy a toaster. You wouldn't have to take the toaster, but you'd still have to pay for it anyway. Toaster'95 would weigh 15000 pounds (hence requiring a reinforced steel countertop), draw enough electricity to power a small city, take up 95% of the space in your kitchen, would claim to be the first toaster that lets you control how light or dark you want your toast to be, and would secretly interrogate your other appliances to find out who made them. Everyone would hate Microsoft toasters, but nonetheless would buy them since most of the good bread only works with their toasters.

If Apple made toasters...
It would do everything the Microsoft toaster does, but 5 years earlier.