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Wednesday, July 30 12:01 AM EST

BBspot Mailbag

Now you too can enjoy my Inbox without the annoying spam. Every week I get some amazing e-mail. Some amazing because of the sheer cluelessness of the sender, some because of the time and energy that went into crafting them and some are just simply amazing.


This isn't a Believer, but is about the Believers that get posted here...

From: Jason
Sent: Monday, July 21, 2003 10:14 AM
Subject: Hardware sharing

I hereby respectfully request copies of all emails you may receive regarding the hardware sharing program be sent to me.

Before you put the Mailbag up, i would read your site for giggles. I now dread it for fear of losing what shred of faith for humanity i have.

You are an evil, evil man.

btw, loved the end of that story..."Oh shit." classic.

Nothing has come in on this article yet, just give it some time.


Microsoft Bias

I got a nice e-mail from a reader, who said he was a former Microsoft employee, then followed it up with an explanation lest I think ill of him...

From: Travis
Sent: Monday, July 28, 2003 11:49 PM
Subject: RE: Enterprise Vs. Star Destroyer

Oh, and so you don't hold the working at MS thing against me, picture this:

An office door with a nameplate reading, "Tourette's Ward" flies open and smashes against the inner wall so hard that it drives the rubber wall protector THROUGH the sheetrock. A software tester emerges into the hallway screaming about not being able to do his job because, "Our software f**king SUCKS!" and "How can I test this application if I can't even get the F**king OPERATING SYSTEM TO F**KING INSTALL??? Not that it maters since this release is just a bunch of G*D Damn EYE CANDY to cover all the f**king "Won't Fix" bugs that are now THREE F**KING RELEASES OLD!"

That was me.

Dell Support

From: Dan
Sent: Wednesday, July 23, 2003 6:44 PM
To: ''
Subject: Dell Tech Support

This should amuse you. You know that when you call tech support, or your bank, or the phone company, or just about anybody these days, you're just about guaranteed time in Phone Queue Purgatory. You know, "Press 1 for smarmy salesmen, press 2 for belligerent shipping clerks, press 3 for soulless accountants, press 4 for incompetent level-1 tech support". After that, you're shipped off to listen to a half-hour of your favorite 80's music Muzakked, punctuated by everybody's most-hated voice ever: sickly sweet, "Your call is important to us. Please stay on the line and someone will be with you shortly."

Yeah, right. If my call was important then I'd be talking to a human, and "shortly" seems to be defined in terms of continental drift. If you catch my drift.

Anyway, Dell has recently abandoned the delusion that anybody believes their call is important, or that anything useful will happen shortly. Instead, they've taken that same voice and changed the script. Now when you call Dell Tech Support, you get to hear:

"Did you know that most simple computer problems can be solved by rebooting your computer? To do this, click the 'Start' button, select 'Shut Down Computer', click the green 'Restart Computer' button and click 'OK'. If this does not restart your computer, please press and hold the power button until the system shuts down."

I kid you not. This means that 80% of Dell's tech support is now being handled by an answering machine.

Enterprise Vs. Death Star

Moths are drawn to flames. Geeks are drawn to mistakes published about their favorite sci-fi shows. I received an incredible amount of e-mail on this topic. Here is a small sampling...

From: Daniel
Sent: Wednesday, July 23, 2003 2:07 AM
Subject: Star Trek vs Star Wars

Ok, I'm very ashamed of what I'm about to say, but here goes: I own a copy of the Star Trek TNG technical manual. I know, I know, I'm sick, but I just can't help it. Seeing as how I have this resource though, I thought I might as well correct some people who've been emailing in with "facts" about the Enterprise.

2) Any sub-warp matter based projectiles would be deflected harmlessly by the deflector dish (that’s what it’s there for) rendering 50% of the deathstar's weapons useless

That's not true at all. The deflector dish is for keeping out matter while traveling at warp, and has no defensive purpose, although every once in a while they use it to channel a large burst of energy. Obviously any missiles (proton OR photon) would be designed to detonate at an appropriate point so as to inflict energy on the shields of a craft, and maybe I don't remember the Star Wars movies that well, but it seemed like the only weapons they had that weren't energy based were proton torpedoes.

5) Photon torpedoes don’t use mass but rather speed to inflict damage (and by pass deflector dishes) this technology is far beyond proton torpedoes which use protons of combustible material to moderately scorch hull plating (if deflector dish is deactivated).

This doesn't make any sense. Photon torpedoes are designed to explode on contact with shields, which is why they always explode on contact with shields in the show. It's as simple as that. And I don't know what you mean by "protons of combustible material", because it appears you don't know what the words "combustible" and "proton" mean. Protons are not combustible; neither would they produce an explosion if just packed together and hurled at something, which implies that proton torpedoes use some sort of technology that we don't know about. Possibly because they don't exist. Photon torpedoes, on the other hand, supposedly are made up of a small quantity of matter and antimatter which are combined to release energy, and do not inflict damage via speed. Still a moot point however, seeing as how photon torpedoes also don't exist.

While the star trekkers struggle to go warp 13 {13x the speed of light} the star wars ships travel something like 25000x the speed of light.

This also is not true. Obviously, if the warp factors were directly correlated to multiples of the speed of light, then most of it's trips between star systems would be measured in years, and the show wouldn't make sense. This is backed up by the technical manual, which claims that speed increases geometrically compared to warp factor, putting warp 9 at about 1516 times the speed of light. (I don't know exactly what numbers they used to calculate this)

The weaponry used by the star trekkers typically has something like 10^20 joules/blast where the weapons used in the star wars worlds have something like 10^200/blast. So thats not 10x as much but more like billions of billions of billions of billions of billions of billions of billions..... times as much energy.

The problem with these numbers is that they're obviously made up off the top of somebody's head. I will agree, however, that Star Wars obviously has more powerful weaponry, considering that the Death Star could destroy an entire planet.

In general, I guess I'd probably put my money on a star destroyer for the pure fact that while the Federation built their flagship as an exploratory vessel with weapons included only to defend itself, the Empire built star destroyers to conquer planets and wipe out fleets of vessels. Personally, I enjoy watching Star Trek more, but I doubt that the Enterprise would win. Of course, I think we're all ignoring the possibility that neither the Enterprise or a star destroyer would win, because THEY DON'T EXIST.

Universal power...

From: Brendan
Sent: Friday, July 25, 2003 7:50 PM
Subject: Star Trek vs. Star Wars

Holy Crap!

I really have to step in on this one. Our buddy 'Marshall' seems to have exaggerated the power of Star Wars weapons just a teensie weensie bit, considering that by most accounts the total energy of the visible universe is only 10^67 Joules. Hmm...Well, I suppose the Star Wars weapons could use billions and billions times more energy than exists in the universe, but something tells me otherwise....That combined with the warp 13 thing, damn. (Takes a deep breath and tries to peel his hand away from the coffee mug, one finger at a time)

Another contender...

From: Giorgio
Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2003 10:42 AM
To: briggsb
Subject: Enterprise Vs. Death Star

Dear Sir,

First of all you have to excuse me for mine poor writing: I'm not an English speaking person.

About Enterprise Vs. Death Star I have to remember all of you another contender: SPACE BALL. Space Ball is the only ship that can view the tape to see how things will happen. In this way they know
always enemy moves.

But a single script writer can beat them all with a simple pen.

Another geek solution...

From: Yan
Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2003 8:50 AM
Subject: enterprise vs. star destroyer

In the end there is really only one method geeky enough to put an end to the Enterprise vs. Star Destroyer debate: a Google fight.

Enterprise: 17,700,000

Star Destroyer: 151,000

William Shatner speaks...

From: Miranda C
Sent: Wednesday, July 23, 2003 11:34 AM
Subject: star wars/star trek


Just a quick question regarding the people who take the Star Wars/Trek debate so seriously: why expend so much energy debating the comparable weapons and defense systems of two star craft in series which regularly subvert and flat-out ignore the laws of physics (and some other scientific laws as well)? When space is as noisy as it is in both series, when light beam weapons are visible to the naked eye, when all the issues of FTL travel are blatantly and rigorously ignored, how can anyone make a serious argument about the so-called physical rules and realities of the worlds of these two series? Obviously the writers pick and choose which reality to apply in a given story based on the impact of the story itself, the characters and plot-lines and things like that, so the question is not of the technical aspects at all, but of the impact the storytelling will have, and who happens to be doing the writing.

If these series were the kind of science fiction that was grounded in science, a real argument could probably be made regarding who would win a fight. They're not, even remotely, grounded in basic scientific principals, so trying to argue consistency in terms of battle tactics and things like that is not only silly, it's completely moot. The laws of both these universes are as mutable as water.

That sounds like a good place to end it.

That's all for this week!

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