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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Thursday, May 23, 2024

Random Insults – Catalyst Style

Author: Mark Dixon
Thursday, July 28, 2005
10:00 pm

hospitality suites at Catalyst were great. More food than one could possibly
east and great desserts! Plus – everyone gave away some little device or photo
or trinket in hopes we would all remember their wares.

My kids love it when I come home from a conference or trade show. We all got
a chuckle at the photos of me hanging from the Novell helicopter and posing
with a live parrot on my shoulder.

One son particularly enjoyed the 4-way USB
hub I brought home from one suite.
Another son loved the little FM radio on legs. My daughter liked the stubby pen with its carabiner key chain. My wife
seemed to like Sun’s own martini glass with the pulsating blue light in its
stem — at least she hasn’t thrown it away yet!
But my favorite? Hands down
– the random Shakespearean insult kit from Bridgestream.
If only I had been equipped with this in my high school literature class!

It took only a few minutes to tear apart all the little magnetic insulting
adjectives and nouns and place them on our refrigerator door. But I find myself
spending a more than a few more minutes now and then, adjusting the words into
pleasantly-diabolical insults. Perhaps you can think of people to match the
phrases I constructed – people whose Identity attributes would be enhanced by such pithy words.

all reminded me of a a wild and crazy guy I worked with in the early 1980’s.
A brilliant software developer and ardent investigator of "zero-point
," Moray King even played drums in a jazz band at his own wedding.
What a great guy to work with! He told us of a random insult generator he devised
while attending the University of Pennsylvania. This was back in the days when
8 inch floppy disks held 16K bytes of information and a Nova minicomputer with
32K of magnetic core memory was hot stuff, if you can remember that long ago.

Moray had assembled lists of insulting adjectives and nouns – maybe not as
flowery as the Bridgestream set, but effective still the same. His user interface
program would randomly post a selection from each list on the menu
screen. Of course, it was all in fun until a professor surprised Moray by bringing
in a group of women to tour the computer lab. Before Moray could make any alterations,
a rather plump middle-aged lady sat down and tapped the keyboard. "Hello,
you obese harlot, what would you like to do?"
was the quick and unfortunate reply!

Moray survived that dubious event and actually graduated from the university.
And later while we worked together, he resurrected the random insult generator
– using a Data General Eclipse computer on a major US air base. But this time,
he was careful. By toggling one front panel switch on the computer, he could
easily turn off the insults when the top brass dropped by for a demonstration!

I’m not recommending that Microsoft build such a function into the next version
of Windows or even that you should actually repeat these high-brow insults to
co-workers you detest. Just smile serenely the next time you see an unchin-snouted
weather-bitten foot-licker
, and think Shakespearean


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