RL172 - Gain Stages

This week, Merlin and John talk about:

The problem: They’re sucking off a teat of largesse, referring to the team developing the Wireless Diagnostic tool that has done nothing but is just sucking off the teat of Apple largesse.

The show title refers to John and Merlin talking about the order in which to put guitar pedals into the signal chain, which are part of the gain stages.

John feels loose, like a long-necked goose. You measure looseness on a scale of gooseness, from zero to goose. Merlin wonders what kind of animal he would be. Maybe a sloth because it seems very laid-back. John’s voice sounds good, it sounds really full, but that might be accounted for by his microphone setup.

Raw notes
The segments below are raw notes that have not been edited for language, structure, references, or readability. Please do not quote these texts directly without applying your own editing first! These notes were not planned to be released in this form, but time constraints have caused a shift in priorities and have delayed editing draft-quality versions to a later point.

Merlin having hearing damage from his band rehearsals, guitar gear (RL172)

Merlin got a new mic, but he is still getting used to it. He thinks he likes it and it sounds bigger, but brings out a range of his voice that he can’t hear very well because he got the Bob Mould problem where he lost some part of the range of hearing accounted by for very loud electric guitars and female voices. Merlin really likes the Sugar albums, but they reflect the production of somebody who can’t hear mids very well.

Merlin thinks it comes mostly from band rehearsals, two or three nights a week having an orange amp in his face during a time when it was understood that you needed the biggest amp you could afford. The other guitar player in the band was a gear nut and was always getting new things, but he was mostly playing with an orange half-stack while Merlin had some janky portable amp miced up. For most situations on stage you just don’t need much… they came up with stuff like Van Halen and there was a time in the 1980s where you wanted a Marshall stack and you needed 4x12 cabinets and a JCM head. Who needs that?

John believed that all the way through the 1990s, but in hindsight he doesn’t understand it. He was there, he remembers feeling very distinctly that his 120 Watt Sound City head through a 4x12 cabinet was the bare minimum of what he needed to perform Unsalted Butter in a room of 350 people. Later he travelled with a 15 Watt amp and still had soundmen in far-flung places ask him to turn the guitar down a little bit. It was a mass-dilution!

On his first tour with he Western State Hurricanes and Death Cab for Cutie back in 1999 John took a Fender Pro Reverb, which is a 35 Watt 2x12 amplifier. It is heavy and they are wonderful amps, but John routinely felt like he was underpowered, couldn’t hear himself on stage, tipped the amp back, pointing it right at his head so he could monitor himself. It was a collective insanity where he was standing up there, thinking to himself that this was an impossibly small amp and he only brought it on tour because they didn’t have room for a full rig and now John was at a disadvantage here with only 35 Watts.

One thing that made Cream big was that they could fill the auditorium with their sound and it was the first time that PAs were getting good and you could play loud and they could hear you and you could hear yourself. The original idea was of course that you didn’t mic the amplifiers into the PA, but the PA was struggling just to get your voice loud enough. If you wanted your guitar to be heard in the back of the auditorium you needed a big amp to fill the space. By the time John came along…?

PAs are 1000 times better now, that technology has evolved with leaps and bounds and PA equipment is so much better now than it was when John was starting out and yet, even then it was more than loud enough to mic a small amp. Neil Young has been playing through a 5 Watt amp for the last 40 years and he has all those amps on stage, he has one super-big amp that he only turns on sometimes, but most of his tone is coming from a Fender Champ behind a curtain.

The other guy in the band always had much better equipment than Merlin, he had more money and access and he cared more. New Gibsons, new Danelectro, and he always had great amps. At one point Merlin had settled into a Sovtek head with a little crummy old Gibson amp that he was using as a ”cabinet”. It was dinky on stage, it was on a chair, while the other guys in the band a big cushy Custom bass amp with the padding on them. It looks very Rock ’n’ Roll to have something that looks like a cross between a cabinet and a couch, while Merlin had this little Gallien-Krueger sized thing on a chair. It doesn’t have the same visual impact and didn’t sell with the Rock ’n’ Roll guys for that reason.

John having a lot of obsolete knowledge about guitar gear (RL172)

All this knowledge that John and Merlin have of 1980s and 1990s and in some cases 1950s-1970s guitar and bass and vocal and drum and amplification technology is just useless now. An entire room in John’s brain is taken up with shelves after shelves, like in the Matrix, but instead of machine guns it is shelves of knowledge about guitar arcana. What is he supposed to do with that now? Nobody gives a shit!

For a while Merlin played with two distortion pedal and for a time he had three, but he could explain why. The Fuzz Box and The RAT and the cool little orange one where you could simulate feedback, they were all for different things! It might have been by Roland (probably BOSS DS-1). Ca 1998 Merlin could explain because they were all for different reason and he would use them all differently together. Everybody who cared about having a guitar sound knew you wouldn’t just use the built-in distortion on the amp because that is muddy and weird.

Instead the Russian Sovtek Big Muff was great for a fuzzy sound, and if you wanted to kick in for a slightly piercing guitar sound you hit the other pedal which would boost the signal a little bit. You don’t need three distortion pedals unless you do! Also, the order you put them in matters. If you have a phaser that you use once during the show, you put that last and not before the distortion. Merlin is not even good at this stuff and still knows it, and he has no-one to teach it and no-one cares.

Merlin is describing the gain stages of a signal chain and John has spent a lot of time thinking about gain stages because he likes a clean boost. One of the tragedies for John was going out on tour, listening to a lot of bands, and really envying guys who had a really fuzzy sound, like Nada Surf had a really saturated sound. The guitar parts that John played, his particular sound required a very clean boosted sound. Also his guitar benefits from that sound. If he got a really nice and satisfying saturated sound, as soon as the band would start playing it didn’t have the articulation he wanted and he couldn’t hear the pling pling pling that he liked.

John also tried to have three gain stages, but two of those were just boosts and it was very important to know how to arrange those because if you boost the signal into something that has a ceiling, something that is compressed, the boost gets compressed by the compressor further down the line. It is like the order to do the dishes in. You don’t dry the dishes before you clean them! That goes all the way to the front end of the amp because some amps have a master volume that is a limit on how much the head is going to light up, and some amps don’t. If you send a boost into an amp with a master volume you are going to get a very different response from the tubes inside of your head than if you send that boost to an amp that doesn’t have a master volume and is just sitting there, waiting to get this hot signal sent to it.

That is why John who tried every kind of amp, he can name every kind of nut, ended up loving those simple Fender amps because if you send something into the front of a Fender amp it is going to lift and send all this beautiful sound. A Fender amp will accept additional power coming into the channel and it embraces this hotted-up electricity and it will send it right back to you in the form of Rock ’n’ Roll. John spent so much time thinking about this! You are sitting cross-legged on the floor on a section of dirty carpet in your band’s rehearsal studio while no-one else is there, and you are chaining together all your effects pedals, switching them around and putting this one in front of that one and imagining that if you only had one additional pedal how different it would be and everyone would finally understand what you were trying to say with your guitar instrument.

John should be sitting in front of a room of 20 year olds, all sitting cross-legged on the floor, all trying to hook up their boxes, and he would be pacing around the front of the room, saying: ”Listen! You have to remember that if you are sending a stereo signal into a mono input you are going to get a summing and you are going to loose a lot of the…” and they would be wrapped and they would be taking notes in a notebook. Having a compressor pedal in your chain is a subtle effect, but John ended up using it a lot. You don’t want to put it toward the end of the chain because you want some compression in there. What is distortion of not compression and what does compression produce if not distortion? If you are putting that at the end of your signal chain you are just squeezing the signal through a toilet paper tube.

John has all this knowledge and feels like a Saturn V engineer who is wandering around NASA headquarters during the Space Shuttle era, trying to talk to people about the Saturn and no-one cares anymore: ”That is great! You got us to the moon, gramps!”, but now they are up here with the multicultural cast of astronauts. No more short-sleeve white shirts! Take your pocket-protector out and go gently into this good-night because we don’t give a shit anymore about your dumb guitar knowledge. From 1977 to 1997 they were building on a body of knowledge and that entire time it seemed like this would always be relevant. The amazing thing about reaching middle age is that you see that you had 20 years there where it never seemed like that knowledge is going to stop being useful, but it seemed like you were building on it together with tens of thousands of people.

Troubleshooting computers, Wireless Setup Assistant (RL172)

To a large extend that is also true for computers! Of the corpus of data and pseudo-data about using Macs in particular that Merlin has in his head, the end of that also represents the mid-to-late 1990s when he didn’t know the most technical specifics down to the metal of these computers, but he knew a lot about making them work better or what software to use to make a certain thing happen. He knew a lot of that stuff, but that is all tears in rain at this point. There are all this little wizard things where you have this array of stuff, which is true for guitar stuff and certainly also for Stereo-equipment. How many people do even own a Stereo anymore?

John remembers the first time Merlin told him to turn his computer off and back on again. ”What is that going to do?” - ”Trust me on this! Sometimes it works miracles!” - ”Okay, whatever you say!” and it worked and John was astonished how Merlin knew that this was going to work. Then this became the first tool in John’s toolbox! John almost feels like turning this computer off right now, just to see what would happen. It hasn’t been off in weeks!

John decided a year or two ago that he was just going to stop turning his computer off, but just going to put it to sleep, and it seems to be fine. People in the Unix community always had a certain point of pride about what their uptime is. Even with Merlin’s phone, now that he has phones with Touch ID he doesn’t like restarting his phone. He is the goto gizmo guy and he knows that if he hard-resets this phone by holding the home key and the sleep-button and make it restart it will probably be fine, but then he will have to reenter passwords sometimes.

At this point in the conversation Merlin’s voice went all robot and went all to shit and John felt it was a clear case of the ghost in the machine hearing them and feeling like it was going to show them exactly how to repair some permissions by just… it just shit the bed! Has John tried running the wireless diagnostic?

The Wireless Setup Assistant comes in a little tuxedo, holding a tray, and he says: ”Is your modem on? Well, I can’t help you! Thanks for trying!” John’s frustration with the wireless connectivity troubleshooter is one of Merlin’s delights in his life. It makes John so made and he doesn’t see how anyone could defend it. If he worked at Apple, whatever job he had there he would immediately request a transfer to to the diagnostic department and he would call them into a conference room and sit them down and would ask: ”What exactly do you think that your product does? What is it supposed to do and what does it do?”

Whatever they would say, John would be: ”Fired! Fired! Fired!” He could go out into the street and get 25 random people walking around a mall and they would have a better understanding of how to build a diagnostic system than those dingelings who have been working there since the dawn of time. It is probably the last refuge of scoundrels at Apple: All the guys who have been there since the 1980s, they end up at diagnostics because it still works like the Mac Classic. The result of the diagnostic tool is always the same: ”Here are the six steps we understand which all involve turning something off and on”, and when that inevitably does not solve the problem, there is no further information and it is impossible to glean anything from this tool.

It doesn’t say anything specific although it knows more, which is what is frustrating: The diagnostic tool has to know more than it is revealing and you wonder whose side it is on. Does it work for you and is it your advocate or is it collection information which it feels like you are not able to understand or is it collecting information on behalf of someone else, like a functionary in a train station on the Slovakian border who has one stamp and if you cannot put the stamp in the passport, then there is no further conversation to be had.

There can’t really be that many things wrong! The computer is never going to come to you and say: ”There is too much salt in the water!” or: ”No-one ever loved you as a child!”, but it is only ever going to say a few things in addition to the things it says, like: ”Here is the amount of signal I am getting from your modem and here are the type of signals I like to get and here are the ones I don’t! This is what this signal is telling me!”, but instead you are looking over at your wireless thing, which only has 5 lights and those lights are blinking, meaning that this machine to the best of its ability is telling you that it is fine. The computer is sitting so close to it that it could reach out and touch the other thing and it is telling you: ”Can’t help you! Don’t know!” Somewhere between those two there is more information available. It is maybe a situation where John would need a dongle that has some additional lights.

Back in the early days of The Long Winters when WiFi was still very much an exotic and wonderful thing, Eric Corson, bass player of The Long Winters and former employee of the Mac Store, he worked for a third-party Apple distributor, had a WiFi card antenna thing, but he also had some kind of program and they would drive around in the van in the middle of the night and he would have his computer in his lap with his little antenna and they would be seeking WiFi-signals. It is called a WiFi-sniffer! They were on the hoof, driving slowly, just idling though these towns. One night they were in Des Moines, which is a town that really rolls up the sidewalks after dark and at least in the early 2000 there is nothing going on at night although it is a big town. It felt like they were ghost hunters.

Eric’s little sniffer had more information about the signals he was getting and it was more useful information than any diagnostic tool on any computer John ever had. He was like: ”Turn right! Turn right!” Maybe he was faking and John was gullible and on the hook, but eventually they would pull up in front of some strange little motel that had really hot WiFi signal, or a Panera Bread in a strip mall somewhere that was close but was still broadcasting un-password-protected WiFi and they would sit there in the parking lot, crouched over their laptops, WiFi-ing. Those were thrilling times and that is what John wants! He wants his diagnostic program on his computer to be a sniffer that is sniffing out problems and telling him that the problem is injustice.

John is thinking of 1 Cupertino Plaza, which is where they send the people who aren’t at 1 Infinite Loop anymore, a building like a 1960s-style police headquarters, and upstairs on the 14th floor there has got to be a section where the frosted front-glass door says: ”Lost and Found, Property section, Diagnostics” and you go through that door, there is a big long desk like a scene out of the movie Brazil, but there have got to be 20 people working in that section. It is not just one harried person in a green visor, it is a team and they have done nothing, but they are sucking off the teat of the Apple largesse and no-one in that company ever used that because the last time they tried to use it was 1998 and it didn’t do anything and so they, unlike John, never tried again.

John also never submits a bug report because that is how they get their hooks in you and how the NSA figures out that you are a complainer and they put you in a special file. There are plenty of people submitting informed bug reports, but John’s bug reports would all be: ”What the fuck is wrong with your stupid-ass company?” and he would get on some list. His mom has been telling him his whole life not to get on a list of belly-achers. John does not subscribe to a world-view where there are such lists, but his mom thinks that in the future they will route your calls through some special bank of operators who are there to deal with problem customers. She believes that there is some list at 911 or the police department and they won’t send cars out to them because they are crazy.

John knows enough people in the police department and with the EMTs where the EMTs do say that they go to this person all the time and the are…

At that point John restarted his computer mid-sentence and his sound quality is very poor. There is nothing open, not even Safari is open, he is not even looking at pictures of old cars. Google Drive has been trying to get him to sign back it, Apple Drive has been for the last two months every time John goes into his Apple Mail on his phone, saying to sign into iCloud. John doesn’t know how he got signed out of iCloud, but he realized that he could continue to send email without iCloud and so it became another thing he just ignores. They decide to restart their connection again because John’s sound quality was very poor

Merlin being blocked by a Thai restaurant (RL172)

Merlin is pretty sure he has been banned by a Thai-restaurant. He uses an app called eat24 which most restaurants hate because it is a real pain in the butt for them. They have to have 5 iPads running all the time to see all the orders coming in and they hate it. The app makes it easy to reorder what you have gotten before and it is a Thai place that Merlin really likes. The food is really good, the delivery is pretty spotty but okay, and they used to order from them constantly, sometimes once a week.

One night they really ate the bugger, they screwed up the order, they weren’t responding, maybe they took it to the street instead of the avenue, which happens all the time, but it was a total clusterfuck. Merlin called and asked what was going on because it was Friday night and they were watching TV and there was $40 worth of Thai food somewhere presumably. Merlin is not so much this guy anymore, but he can still sometimes be this guy if he is super-mad and has a bunch of hard-earned money going into Thai food that might be somewhere, especially when he feels like he is not getting the whole story.

There have been so many problems with this place, like ”We didn’t have what you wanted and you didn’t call us to say you wanted a substitute!”, ”The computer went down and we had no way to call you!”, a lot of which is probably the fault of these middle-persons and you deal with them through a messaging window of the middle person. Merlin was surely at least half a dick with them, but they did really screw up and everything about the experience was poor and they handled it badly and Merlin probably also handled it badly and was not as kind as he can be.

Another Friday night came along and Merlin thought about giving it a throw again and everything was going fine until he got to the checkout where the app said: ”We can’t deliver to this address!” Maybe they have changed their coverage area but Merlin might try ordering today and having it delivered to his office and see who is so fucking smart. He has a feeling he has been put on a list as a belly acher. It is ramifications!

Trouble with cabs and Uber, expecting 5-star ratings (RL172)

From following along the Twitter machine John understands that you rate Uber and Uber rates you. Merlin is so embarrassed by every aspect of this story. He will avoid the apologetics and shame, he thinks Uber is a terrible company, unfortunately he had maybe two cabs ever come to his house because of where he lives, so he ends up using Uber. When he was in Portland recently it was he easiest way and he feels like a bad person for it.

When Merlin rates his own music or anything, he treats 5 stars like a serious thing and he had to really thing about this. It should be like a Bell Curve and most of the reviews for stuff is probably going to be a three. If everything went as well as could be expected +/- 10% he will give 4 stars. If they just did their job it is a 3 star, it is average. You succeeded at not setting the house on fire. Then Merlin found out that if you are an Uber driver and your rating consistently drops below 4.7 you get fired. 4.7 is a lot of stars! Because he also knows that they review him as well he just gives everybody 5 stars now and it tears his heart apart because it feels so wrong.

John does not use Uber, he has only used it a couple of times. He spent more time in Ubers that were called by John Hodgman than he has spent in Ubers called by anyone else. Hodgman loves it, at least he was an early adopter, and when they need a car he goes bleep bloop and a stretch limo pulls up, but it was the closest one. He is living high on the hog. John spent a lot of time in these things, but he has never rated anyone. Merlin never asked because he doesn’t even want to know.

John does not tip additionally because it feels like that is against the principle and he is very chatty because he wants to know everything about everybody. He starts talking to the cab driver right away and if they indicate to him that they don’t want to talk, that is fine, but he wants to hear their life story because it is always interesting. One time he had a cab driver in Washington DC who was from Eritrea and he said that he tells his story 25 times a day and he wants to hear John’s story instead because that is how he can learn and his customers are interesting. John realized he wasn’t doing him a favor by asking for his story, but he should get in the cab, sit down and say: ”Let me tell you about my day!” and that would be interesting to them both.

John’s girlfriend being a professional thrifter and selling things on eBay (RL172)

Merlin used eBay once and it was in the 1990s. John made it all the way to 2013 without ever having used eBay. In the early 2000s his girlfriend at the time was a pretty big deal on eBay. They would go to thrift stores and she would buy things inexplicable to John like Air Jordans, all this stuff that was not for her. John was never a thrift store person who was looking for stuff that was not for him, he would find really cool stuff, but if it didn’t fit him and he didn’t want it he would just throw it back into the pond. She would see some old Nikes and put them up on eBay and sometimes sell them for a ton of money.

In the early days of eBay you could still find incredible stuff lying around and sell it for people for hundreds of dollars and she had this whole sideline going. Her nature was to be a little bit secretive from John, like ”Don’t worry about it, that is my business!” but then in about 2003/04 John had one of those hilarious conversations where she was like: ”eBay used to be great, but it is shit now!” and she didn’t want to do it anymore because it sucked. John had missed the time when eBay was great and now it was 2004 and eBay sucked, so he never learned anything about it until fucking 2013 when he decided to figure it out and he saw he could get a set of wrenches for 10% less than wrenches in he store and they were also old. It is also a game and that aspect is what makes it addictive and it is part of what makes it suck, too!

On Craigs List there are the Craigs List lectures that people have in their item, like: ”For sale! One iPhone! No flakes, I will sell this only to a person with high moral integrity who comes directly to my house and stands there contrite with hat in hand and asks me for permission and calls me sir. Do not call this number with any solicitations!”, all these guys who are taking out their anger and frustration in their Craigs List ad, trying to preempt what they imagine is a world of scammers and lowlives and doorbell ringers. ”Fuck you, guys! Eat shit!” John wants to call this number and hang up now, he wants to ring and dash, he want to put a burning bag of dog shit on your door step and it is not even Halloween!

On eBay there are plenty of people who have similar lectures, but there is this sub-class of ad that are extremely pedantically eBay-splaining hat anything less than a 5-star rating you might as well be pissing on their face. If you cannot give them a 5-star rating, then say nothing! If you give them 4 stars it is tantamount to a Scarlett letter, like putting them in the public stocks. It is the same than Merlin using periods in texting and i makes him seem mean. You are not supposed to use punctuation anymore because it makes you sound angry.

There are really only three reviews on the contemporary Internet: 5 stars, 1 star or NULL. Either you give it the full 5 stars, you give it 1 star because you are mad or there is nothing to be said. That offends John because in his soul he has a full panoply of star ratings.

Facebook planning to add a thumbs-down button (RL172)

This is the Facebook thumbs down problem. They finally needed a thumbs down because there is just too much desire to thumbs-down stuff. John hasn’t seen it yet and doesn’t know if they have rolled it out yet. Merlin has deactivated his account has hasn’t looked at it in years. Merlin thinks this could be the end of Facebook because they are capitulating now. They have a whole lot of grenades rolling around on the floor that we are not going to hear about for a while. The real name stuff is super fucked up and bugs him a lot.

The problem is that if somebody you don’t know that well posts ”My mom died today!” Do you give that a thumbs up? Or if somebody’s dog died on Twitter, do you star it? Having your dog die sucks! An additional complication is when it has 385 faves and if you do smiley-face it you are in good company because 385 people have felt like that was the only appropriate response. Like a High 5 or a hug it can be interpreted in a lot of different ways. John doesn’t know if you can still poke somebody on Facebook. You can’t poke somebody when their mom died, but now when Facebook has thumbs-down option, do you thumbs down when somebody’s mom died?

On YouTube there was always a thumbs up and a thumbs down and it was established pretty early on that you put a video of Thomas Jefferson himself reading the preamble to the constitution and there would be 17 people who would thumbs-down it for whatever reason. That is baked in to that dumb interface. We have the ability to communicate in real time 3-dimensional augmented reality at least John does because he is hooked in with the special class. John could appear on Merlin’s desk and say: ”Merlin-wan Kenobi, help me! You are my only hope!” Yet, we are still communicating with semaphores and we only have two semaphores: A giant up-thumb and a giant down-thumb.

People getting upset about punctuation or GIF/JIFF (RL172)

In the same way we have all this emotional top-end to our punctuation, like exclamation point, hyphens, but there is this artificial floor of the period. There is no punctuation that goes below a period meaning the period has become the default lowest rating. Whenever Merlin reads something without a period he reads it as an inchoate thought or as a title. If something that is meant to be a sentence, but it doesn’t have a period it bothers him. It is like leaving the cap off the tooth paste. That should have a period because it is a sentence.

Merlin also thinks it is funny when people use two spaces after a period when they are typing. On a typewriter you had to because it was the only way to visually set i off from the sentence before. In 1987/88 he made the transition from typewriters to computers, but he probably still in most of the 1990s did it until he read a book called The Macintosh is Not a Typewriter, or the Don’t Steal Sheep book (called Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works) Merlin probably officially didn’t stop doing it until the 2000s. It is one way you can tell if somebody wrote it themselves. If Robert Evans is out there, first of all his sentences already make almost no sense, which is why it is great to follow him on Twitter. John didn’t even know that Robert Evans was still alive. He spews out a combination of words and memories and spaces and names. Suddenly on a Friday night he has 10 tweets and it is really funny.

The president of Kazakhstan is the same way: He only tweets very periodically, but when he does it is always a total tweet storm, like: ”Kazakhstan still is leader of corn harvest!” and he will do 10-15 tweets touting the facts that Kazakhstan has the greatest human rights record and is the only country in the world that is still processing Safran on an industrial scale. This place sounds incredible, but no-one has ever read him his at-replies obviously.

The Turkmenistan guy was quite a character. He might still be around. They changed the names of he months to his family members, but who hasn’t done that at one point? Welcome to the month of Madelinebruary or Elenorgust. The two space / one space thing feels like a thing that someone wrote in a book who was sitting around in the 1980s and was saying: ”Hey, computers aren’t typewriters!” and they had some knowledge of kerning or something that they informed their thesis with. Because computers have kerning and type fonts and a theory and now they have created a problem that didn’t previously exist. They wrote a book about it and all the people who read the book initially were all of a class, which is to say people who read computer books about kerning, and they were like: ”Yeah!”

That is the first generation of people who decided that was going to be the place where they plant their flag and then it became a thing of: ”Oh, you haven’t read the book? Nobody has told you about this?” Everybody in the computer world loves that kind of shit. It is not a question of: ”Hey, you should read this!”, but ”Oh what, you didn’t read this?” and all the second generation adopters of it are already adopting this new theory based on the premise that you are an idiot if you haven’t done it and somewhere along the line when the nerds took over the world in the early 2000s it is this thing you can get upset about, like: ”Why are you still doing that?” and it all just started with somebody’s herp-derp.

Like GIF and JIFF, people get pretty passionate about that. It is clearly GIF. Merlin has been on the wrong side of history at a point, he had always said JIFF, but he has been told that is incorrect by more people and the tide has turned and Merlin started saying GIF, but now his daughter corrects him and says that it is animated JIFF. John’s understanding was always that the smart people, the insiders said JIFF and the dummies and the tourists and the moms said GIF. John was firmly in the GIF camp and also the dress was gold and whatever, he was always on the wrong side of these things.

John does two spaces after a period because he learned to type on a typewriter. The thing is that if you touch the space bar twice it puts a period in, it is an automatic function. Merlin is glad John knows that. John doesn’t care how much white space they put in there, but it is a reflex, ”click click” and you begin a new sentence. The predictive text understands that and John continues to use two spaces because it puts a period in there magically. John learned to type 1981 on a IBM Selectric and he continued to use manual typewriters all the way through the 1990s. He had a computer, but it wasn’t connected to anything and if he wanted to write something and hand it to somebody else he would type it. John still has a typewriter in his house that he will type things on and he is not going to have two separate type styles, one for his laptop and one for his typewriter, but it is a single skill.

If John is on skis, he will not on red skis suddenly do back scratchers and on green skis he will not do back scratchers. Merlin thinks they are terrible with metaphors and he was going to say he will wash his hands better after he washed chicken than carrots, but that doesn’t make any sense. John also ”warshes” [sic] his hands better after he washed chicken, too! Merlin says: ”God damn it! We are breaking up!” - ”Oh no, really?” - ”No! You are fine!” That is going to be Merlin’s new Asnull (?). ”You know who is going to love this episode?” - ”John Siracusa!”

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