One small note from a man, one giant email for humankind

A friend of mine just received one of those weird blank emails you sometimes see, dated 1969-12-31. Oh, I know what you’re going to say: it’s a server glitch, or the email program has a bug. Sure. You believe your thing.

Me? I like to think those emails actually come from Michael Collins, the Apollo 11 astronaut who had to spend a day orbiting the moon—cut off from all human contact, even radio—while Armstrong and Aldrin bounced around on it. How did he cope with being the loneliest person in history? I think he beamed messages into space… messages that ultimately bounced off some distant world or massive as-yet-undetected object, and have only now returned to us, transformed into email. All the data has been lost in the transformation; only the year of transmission remains.

So if you get one, just respond, “Hi, Michael—hang in there. You guys make it back fine.”

The Apollo 11 crew portrait. Left to right are...

Michael’s the one in the middle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Oh! The Things That You’ll Tweet!

To celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday today, HootSuite has posted a really clever Dr.-Seuss-inflected guide to Twitter, and invited their friends and followers to share their own rhymes, hashtagged #HootSeuss.

Naturally, I found myself helpless to resist. (P.S.—I have nothing against live TV tweeting. It just scanned and rhymed so. well.) And so…

Oh! The things that you’ll tweet!

Oh, the things that you’ll tweet! Oh, the news you will share!
The wisdom you’ll show! The truth you’ll lay bare!
And then Twitter rewards you for all you have tried
when you wake up to find your account’s verified.
It’s all been worthwhile, tweeting all of that dreck,
now that your name appears next to that check.

You’ll tweet about breakfast!
You’ll tweet about memes!
You’ll tweet about farting—
well, that’s how it seems.

You’ll tweet about TV.
You’ll tweet sappy notes.
(On your very worst days?
Inspirational quotes.)

You’ll gain plenty of followers each time you tweet.
They’ll shower you with mentions and favourites so sweet.
You’ll soon know you’ve figured this Twitter thing out
as evidenced by your ever-increasing Klout.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

It’s hard to believe but
you need to know that
sometimes your very best
tweets will fall flat.

Your hashtags may wither,
your snark gone unheard.
Your follower numbers
may drop by a third.

You will come to a place where you soon realize
that sometimes your content unhappily dies.
Especially if you’re trying to force something viral.
That’s when you enter a bad downward spiral
and feeling defeated, and feeling goodbye-ral.

Could your Twitter fame have been sadly so fleeting?
What content will save you? Live TV show tweeting?
A desperate grab for some new trending trope?
Or maybe, just maybe, there may be some hope.
Some force in the darkness may throw you a rope.

Somehow you’ll escape
tweeting drivel and pap.
You’ll drag yourself out
of that trivial crap.

You’ll look deep inside you,
and you’ll make the choice:
to speak loud and clear
with your very own voice.

whether you’re heard by a million and two,
or even if nobody’s following you,
you have something to say!
Come down off that shelf.
You don’t need to be GaGa.
Just come be yourself.

Update: Oh, for god’s sake—they tweeted about it today, but I just noticed that the actual blog post was from last year. It’s still terrific.

I believe crash reports should be worth reading (10)

(crash report for Firefox) I think the aging starcraft knew as I did that the next time would be our last: that they'd have us—and with us, the Arcturan Protocol. That was the one eventuality I couldn't accept. I flipped the control yolk over, centered the implacable rock of the asteroid directly in my sights, and in a moment I will gun the thrusters to overdrive. If you are reading this message, please know I did all I could. Long live the Galactic Assembly.

I think the aging starcraft knew as I did that the next time would be our last: that they’d have us—and with us, the Arcturan Protocol. That was the one eventuality I couldn’t accept. I flipped the control yolk over, centered the implacable rock of the asteroid directly in my sights, and in a moment I will gun the thrusters to overdrive. If you are reading this message, please know I did all I could. Long live the Galactic Assembly. [message ends]

Has your Mac stopped connecting with your favorite Bluetooth device? This might help.

I'm not the Bluetooth logo - I'm a SHARK!Oh, Bluetooth. You’re the technology that keeps almost working. You’re convenient and effortless until the moment you really aren’t.

For example: my MacBook Pro recently stopped recognizing my Apple wireless trackpad. Nothing I did helped: rebooting, resetting, unpairing, changing batteries, burning an entire tofurkey as a sacrifice to Tim Cook.

Finally, I hit on a solution that worked for me and, if you have a similar problem, might work for you too. (Bear in mind I’m no engineer, and what worked for me may wind up burning your house down and turning your pets feral.) It requires you to register as an Apple Developer, but requires no geekiness beyond that. Here’s the process:

  1. Create an Apple Developer account at It’s free. You do not have to be a developer to do this.
  2. Head to the Downloads page at Search for “xcode”.
  3. Find “Hardware IO Tools for Xcode” and spin down the triangle menu. Download the disk image.
  4. Open the disk image, and launch Bluetooth Explorer.
  5. Under the Tools menu, choose “Device Cache Explorer.” Delete the cache for the device in question by selecting it from the list on the left and then clicking the minus button below.
  6. Reboot. Now try pairing.
  7. If you still have no luck, launch Bluetooth Explorer again, open Device Cache Explorer and click “Delete All” to remove all of your devices. (This may require you to pair again with any other devices you use.) Reboot. Now try pairing.

Did it work? Great!

Still no luck? Well, maybe start checking the grocery ads for a good deal on tofurkey.

Why I cartoon

I delivered this short presentation to last November’s Interesting Vancouver event, sandwiched between some of the most, well, interesting people around. This is the first time I’ve ever told an audience why I started cartooning; how my early dreams of earning my living drawing the next Doonesbury gave way to something a lot more personal; and how a gift from Larry Kry, my Grade 11 physics teacher, has helped colour my entire life.

Check out the full range of Interesting Vancouver talks; the videos really do help to capture something of the amazing spirit of the night, and the people who shared their remarkable lives and endeavours.

(Speaker self-improvement note: This was also my first time using one of those amazing little Countryman boom mics; I think I’d adjusted it badly, because it felt like it was trying to crawl off my ear the entire time. At one point in my presentation you’ll see me acknowledge this to the previous speaker, who’d had a similar challenge. In retrospect, radical transparency notwithstanding, I’d have done better to keep that to myself.)

A Who’s Who of Who Did Whom

To: Mr. The Silent Dagger <[email protected]>

Dear Mr. Dagger,

You have been nominated to represent your professional community in the Global Who’s Who 2015 Edition. The largest online community of professionals.

We are very pleased to inform you that your candidacy has been approved. Congratulations!

The Publishing Committee has selected you as a potential candidate, based on your standing amongst your professional community as well as specific criteria from the executive and professional council. Given your reputation, the Publishing Director feels your profile would make a welcome addition to our publication.

Since we are using our secondary resources, you must verify with us that your current profile is accurate. After your information is verified, your online listing will be approved within 7 business days.

Please click here to verify your profile and to formally accept the candidacy.

On behalf of our Committee I would like to salute your achievements and welcome you to our association.

Deepest Regards,
Montgomery Hallicrafter, Registry Director
Global Who’s Who Not At All A Scam Directory

Dear Mr. Hallicrafter:

Thank you for your inquiry. While I am indeed gratified at one level to have been chosen to represent my professional community, I feel compelled to warn you that my professional community has not sought nor will it welcome the public spotlight. You would not, I presume, be so reckless as to contact me without being aware of the nature of my profession, which—while sometimes sanctioned by certain government agencies—occupies what could charitably be described as a legal grey area at best, and therefore prefers to remain in the shadows.

With your indulgence, then, I will decline from clicking to verify my profile (which I presume mentions my specialty in remote high-velocity lead-based witness solutions) and will simply confirm my identity in person, at a time and place of my choosing. You will understand that I cannot provide advance notice of my arrival, but I can assure you it will be unexpected, completely convincing and—very briefly—exciting.

I trust it will also serve as my email unsubscription notice to the surviving members of your organization.

Sincerely yours,

The Silent Dagger

P.S.—We would be greatly intrigued to know from which “secondary sources” you derived this email address. Might this information be extracted from you with a minimum of unpleasantness?