Who Says Java Programmers Don't Have A Sense Of Humor?Commentary • workplace • people • Opinion • culture • technology • computers • ISSUE 45•01 ISSUE 37•44 • Dec 5, 2001 By Nate Orenstam Nate Orenstam I've heard the stereotypes about Java programmers being uptight nerds who don't know how to cut loose. Well, that's about as far from the truth as Enterprise is from Gene Roddenberry's original vision. Contrary to what you may have heard, Javaheads can be quite the cut-ups. In fact, I've been working at Symantec for more than a year now, and compared to the systems administrators and IT support personnel around here, I'm a regular Jim Carrey. Don't believe me? You should have been here the other day. Tim Hauser, one of the more humorless C++ programmers around the office (and that's really saying something!), went out to Starbucks for some Essence Of Life. While he was gone, I changed his desktop wallpaper from the Death Star to a picture of Smallville's Tom Welling without a shirt. He didn't find it too funny, but me and the other Java guys sure did. Some folks may have stopped there, but yours truly was just getting warmed up. About an hour later, while Tim was using the "facilities," I went in and changed the classpath on his computer, resulting in a confounding stream of ClassNotFoundExceptions. It took poor Tim a couple of minutes to figure out what the heck was going on. All the while, I was in the next cubicle, laughing my Dockers off. That wasn't exactly the most productive day I've spent at work, but it sure was one of the most memorable ;-) Of course, I have other, less disruptive ways of being a goof-off at work. Don't tell my department head, but a day doesn't go by when I don't spend a few on-the-clock minutes on slashdot.com, riffing with my fellow techies. People post some pretty funny stuff, but somehow, the funniest bits always seem to come from Javaheads. There's just something about that language that seems to attract the clinically insane! Slashdot's weekly polls give me even more opportunity for mischief. Like, a few weeks ago, they had people vote for Favorite Bot Weapon. I picked Pneumatic Jack Spikes, but they were beat out by Spinning Sledge/Armature and Backlash-style Saws. Furious that Pneumatic Jack Spikes lost, I suggested in IRC that the poll's voting was rigged, calling it "the product of a vast conspiracy by a secret cabal of BeOS users." You better believe that got a reaction! Mass e-mailing jokes is another way Java programmers share laughs. If something is funny—I mean really funny—we like to spread it around. For example, when I found this hilarious Shockwave game where you do target practice on The Backstreet Boys, I made sure to e-mail the link to all my friends. And have you seen those e-mail "snowball fights"? The ones where you get splotched with a virtual ASCII snowball? Well, I've started more than my share of those, believe you me. The laughs don't stop at quitting time. When I get home from work, the first thing I do is turn on Channel 27 for The Simpsons. There are no less than three reruns a night, and if I get home before 6 p.m., I usually catch them all. To me, The Simpsons is the comedic holy grail. (No offense, MPFC!) It's filled with smart jokes, like references to The Prisoner and Logan's Run. Plus, they poke fun at nerds. And, hey, as a nerd, I can take it. If you can't laugh at yourself, what can you laugh at? Still not convinced that Java programmers have got it in the wit department? Check my homepage sometime. In addition to the complete lyrics to The Rutles' All You Need Is Cash and dozens of downloadable audio clips from MST3K, I've installed some hidden spots that will cause the Knights Who Say "Ni" to appear on the screen if you roll over them with your mouse. As for links, I have some real doozies, like one for a site that has a Flash-animated baby that sings classic rock songs in a high-pitched voice. And, for what it's worth, I was linking to the Hamster Dance waaay before anyone else. (There's plenty more where all that came from: Just visit nateorenstam.com.) So, as you can clearly see, Java programmers do know how to laugh, and we often do so at our own expense. Never tell us we don't have a sense of humor... or you just might find all your applets replaced with ActiveX components!