Friday, December 01, 2000


The other day at work my boss was preparing a talk for an important muckety-muck. He wanted to use a graph that had been prepared by somebody who has since left our organization. Unfortunately, the graph needed to be updated, so my boss was trying to do it by hand. This, as one might imagine, was causing a number of problems. I volunteered that I had the program that our now departed colleague had used to generate the graph, and I could update the program to produce a new graph.

Since no good deed goes unpunished, I was asked to make a number of other changes. "Can you make this line thicker?" Then, my boss complained that since the graph was color, it was coming out as gray on the black-and-white printer. "Fine," I said, "I'll change 'blue' and 'red' to 'black' everywhere." So I did a search-and-replace. (Fans of vi will recognize the %s/red/black/g command.)

I sent off the new version of the graph to him, and he finally seemed satisified. About an hour later, I got a call from him asking why the work "squablack" was on the graph.

Beware search-and-replace.

Wednesday, November 29, 2000

High Standards

A article about standardized testing in Maryland schools contained this gem:

Despite the slight gains, almost half of the state's elementary and middle schools performed below average, a cause for concern among education officials...