Some Favorite Quotes and .signatures

This list got long enough that I decided to break it up into categories as best as I could. New quotes and signatures will be added to the top of each category as I find them. They are not in any order of preference.


Computers, Programming and Technology

Be conservative in what you do, be liberal in what you accept from others.
-- Jon Postel (ed.), RFC 793: Transmision Control Protocol (TCP) Specification, Sept. 1981

Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.
-- Albert Einstein

Software and hardware design is less different than software designers think, but more different than hardware designers think.
-- Fred Brooks, OOPSLA 2007

I always wished that my computer was as easy to use as my telephone. I finally got my wish. I no longer know how to use my telephone.
-- Bjarne Stroustrup, inventor of C++

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.
-- Yogi Berra 

You people are this town's worst nightmare: people who don't like girls and are good at math.
-- Comedian Bill Maher to Comdex attendees in Las Vegas, November 1998

The following three quotes headed some of the chapters in @ Large - The Strange Case of the World's Biggest Internet Invasion by David H Freedman and Charles C Mann.

The only system which is truly secure is one which is switched off and unplugged locked in a titanium lined safe, buried in a concrete bunker, and is surrounded by nerve gas and very highly paid armed guards. Even then, I wouldn't stake my life on it.
-- Gene Spafford, Director, Computer Operations, Audit, and Security Technology (COAST) Project, Purdue University

The typical computer network isn't like a house with windows, doors, and locks. It's more like a gauze tent encircled by a band of drunk teenagers with lit matches.
-- Robert David Steele, Chief Executive Officer, Open Source Systems, Former CIA analyst and Deputy Director of the U.S. Marines Intelligence Center

Using encryption on the Internet is the equivalent of arranging an armored car to deliver credit-card information from someone living in a cardboard box to someone living on a park bench.
-- Gene Spafford

Any technology, sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from magic.
-- Arthur C. Clarke

Many spend their time berating practitioners for not applying their method. We all need to disseminate our ideas, but most of our time should be spent applying and improving our methods, not selling them. The best way to sell a mouse trap is to display some trapped mice.
-- David Parnas in IEEE Computer April 1996 describing a possible reason why formal methods are not used more often in software practice

Act in haste and repent at leisure; Code too soon and debug forever.
-- signature for Raymond Kennington,

If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing well -- unless doing it well takes so long that it isn't worth doing any more. Then you just do it 'good enough'.
-- Programming perl, Wall and Schwartz

If you have eight hours to cut down a tree, it is best to spend six hours sharpening your axe and then two hours cutting down the tree.
-- anonymous, on the benefits of having good tools

DOS Computers manufactured by companies such as IBM, Compaq, Tandy, and millions of others are by far the most popular, with about 70 million machines in use wordwide. Macintosh fans, on the other hand, may note that cockroaches are far more numerous than humans, and that numbers alone do not denote a higher life form.
-- New York Times, November 26, 1991

If you need a screwdriver, use the general purpose hammer.
-- anonymous in comp.lang.c++

Do not look into the laser with remaining eye!
-- warning message on the side of lab laser

Emergency Bulletin from the National Weather Service: "Stay away from Windows."
(...during strong thunderstorms)
-- signature for Alexandre Enkerli,

Applicants must also have extensive knowledge of Unix, although they should have sufficiently good programming taste to not consider this an achievement.
-- Hal Abelson, MIT job advertisement.

He who can does. He who can't teaches. He who can't teach builds learning systems.
-- anonymous with deference to George Bernard Shaw

Software quality is not a crime.
-- Someone at SGI

The only thing worse than no documentation is incorrect documentation.
-- JRV (while explaining to my boss why having some documentation for a piece of code was slowing down the port of it.)

The difference between emacs, and vi, is like the difference between making love, and masturbation. That is to say: 'vi' will always be there when you need it.
-- signature for Patrick Dockhorn,

What I am going to talk about has absolutely no practical value. Once you accept that fact it allows you to have a more open view of things.
-- Paul Dietz, in introduction to a lecture in algorithms class

Mosaic is the 1990's equivalent of forcing friends to sit through slides of your trip to Florida - Painful for everyone but the host.
-- Steve G. Steinberg, Wired Magaizine

To the optimist, the glass is half full. To the pessimist, the glass is half empty. To the engineer, the glass is twice a large as it needs to be.
-- Anonymous geek humor

Business and Organizations

The only thing worse than change simply for the sake of change is stagnation simply for the sake of comfort.
-- Anonymous

Possible titles include Lecturer (without PhD.), Visiting Assistant Professor of the Practice (with PhD, this title is subject to approval).
-- Job ad posted by Duke University (where did they get that title?)

We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.
-- Petronius Arbiter, 210 BC

Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it.
-- from a Winnie the Pooh book by A. A. Miles (anonymously placed on my desk at AT&T while in the midst of working on a project that was totally out of control)

"TRW acts as a repository of credit data on more than 170 million Americans... TRW concedes that it's difficult for its computers to distinguish between people of similar names and says it is working on new software to address that. The worst case, says [TRW vice president John] McGee, is when two people at the same address have essentially the same name. 'People can name their children whatever they want to, but they just need to understand the [consequences] of doing so," he says."
-- From "Business Week" magazine, July 29, 1991


It's like deja vu all over again.
-- Yogi Berra

Making predictions is tough. Especially for the future.
-- Yogi Berra

When everything else fails... so will the duct tape. But have it along anyway.
-- David Goodman in rec.skiing.nordic

You are only allowed so many heart beats per day, week, year that are healthy. If there are more heart beats from stress there must be less from sport, in order to keep a heathy body and a healthy head.
-- Antonina Anokin, former Russian XC ski coach

Rugby is a ruffian's sport played by gentlemen. Soccer is a gentlemen's sport played by ruffians.
-- Dane LeBlanc, the day after getting a concusion playing rugy

Curling is a cross between bowling and housekeeping.
-- Outside Magazine

Social Commentary

Rule for Students

Paul Harvey's wishes for everyone to experience some quieter and simpler things.

Just when I thought you were the shallowest man I could ever meet you managed to drain some more water from the pool.
-- Elaine Benes, character on Jerry Seinfeld show

Some people make the world turn and others just watch it spin.
-- Jimmy Buffet

Only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity and I'm not sure about the former.
-- Albert Einstein

I am entertained, therefore I am.
-- Peter Sacks, Generation X Goes to College, giving a slogan for the postmodern age based on his experience teaching college in the 1990's

Seattle - the only place people move to so they can be close to mountains they can't see.
-- Michael Feldman, PRI's Whad'Ya Know?

"I can't believe they said that"
Real people. Real quotes. Real stupid.

Time exists so that everything doesn't happen at once.
-- anonymous

It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.
--former Vice President Dan Quayle

Grad school is the snooze button on the clock-radio of life.
-- Comedian John Rogers (who holds a graduate degree in physics)

How is a redneck divorce similar to a tornado?
You know that somewhere, somehow, someone is gonna lose a trailer.
-- Jeff Foxworthy, comedian

The first sign of maturity is the discovery that the volume knob also turns to the left.
-- signature for Jerry M. Wright,

Some people drink from the fountain of life, while others just rinse and spit.
-- anonymous

Virtue was never as respectable as money.
-- Mark Twain

Heaven is a place with German Engineers, British Police, and French Cooks, Italian lovers and Swiss bureaucrats. Hell is a place with German Police, British cooks, and French Engineers, Italian bureaucrats and Swiss lovers.
-- signature file for Ted Ede

If you suck on a tit the movie gets an R rating. If you hack the tit off with an axe it will be PG.
-- Jack Nicholson

If someone who knows three languages is called tri-lingual and someone who knows two languages is bi-lingual, what do you call someone who knows one language?
An American.
-- anonymous

The difference between an American and a European is that a European thinks that 100 miles is a long distance while an American thinks that 100 years is a long time.
-- anonymous

There are over 30 doctors running for the US Congress this year. That's going to be rather strange. Half the time these folks will be playing God and asking women to take their clothes off and the other half the time they will be doctors.
-- Jay Leno

A billion here and a billion there and pretty soon you're talking about real money.
-- Senator Everett Dirksen

The alt. newsgroups hierarchy are the newsgroups whose parents aren't home.
-- JRV

Time flies like the wind. Fruit flies like a banana.
-- Groucho Marx

It's a hundred and six miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses.
Hit it!
-- Jake and Eliott Blues in "The Blues Brothers"

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