Try Catch Finally

Technical Humor – No Exceptions

Ever work on an F5?

029 - Ever work on an F5

Movie Inspiration: Twister    _IMDB_Logo

In today’s comic, the Dude that was just hired is probably starting to reconsider his choice of employer.  What can I say?  Some projects would devour every last developer in the shop, and as many late nights and weekends as you wanted to throw at it, and it STILL wouldn’t get done on time.  That’s when you know your project is in the “suck zone”.

Most of the comic went together fairly smoothly.  The trickiest part resulted from me trying to be funny and work in yet one more reference to the inspiration movie – the cows.  Originally I had one cow tumbling through the air in the background, but that looked a little out of place considering how calm the weather looks outside.  So CJ and I settled for just putting a couple on the lawn.  After we declared it done, though, I realized there was something not quite right with the scale – either the cows are miniature, or they like to graze near redwoods.  Oh well, that’s funny, too.


Projects require a little magic, too

028 - Projects require a little magic too

Movie Inspiration: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone  _IMDB_Logo

So, “Harry Potter” is finally coming to a close.  Of course, we all know how it ends, right?  Harry Potter wakes up in the cupboard under the stairs and realizes it was all just a dream.

All right – put the wands away.  I was just kidding!

It has been truly amazing to see the actors – especially the kids – grow over the last decade.  It’s also been fun to see how many British actors and actresses have been cast over the eight movies.  To me, it seems like it’s become a badge of honor to be cast, not unlike appearing on Sesame Street or the Muppets Show.

Dating myself?  Check.

Anyway, the line for this week’s comic was easy, but the visual proved to be much harder.  CJ and I flirted with trying to draw the head boy and the kids on the staircases at Hogwarts, and then writing in requirements for some piece of software into the railings and steps.  I didn’t think I could actually draw the staircases small enough to be recognizable and in motion, but in enough detail that you could actually read the words.  Then I struck on the idea of having the rug pulled out from under you as being a metaphor for having the requirements change on a project.  An Agile (with a capital “A”) approach to software can handle a lot of change on a project, but sometimes you still feel like the kids in the comic.

The real visual stroke of genius (CJ’s, of course) this week, though, was working the word “Requirements” into the scene.  Can you find it?

Testing, with a Will

027 - Testing with a Will

Movie Inspiration: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl  _IMDB_Logo

Poor Will Turner.  He really does need to get out more.  Hopefully a shower is included in the four hours of down time.

This week’s line was an easy one.  I love the original line, referring to the swords that Will made as a blacksmith, and the three hours a day that he put into practicing with them.  Testing video games seems to be a very easy way for a young developer to loose him- or herself in their work, so twisting it was easy.

Since I was going down the road of video game testing, I decided to give a nod to five great gaming systems of history – the Amiga, the NES, the Atari, the original Playstation, and the original XBox.  Of these, I spent the most time on the NES.  There were a few years there where my brother and I would rent a couple of games from the local video store, and play them all weekend.  Looking back, I can’t believe how much free time I had as a kid.  Of course, at the time I generally thought I had too much homework.  Hey!  Anything that cuts into your Legend of Zelda, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Megaman time hurts!

Happy Independence Day, 2011

026 - Happy Independence Day 2011

Movie Inspiration: Independence Day


I’m baaaaack!  Oh, wait – wrong movie.

But I am back – and just in time for a comic I’ve been waiting many months to draw!  Way, way back when, CJ had suggested this as a fun way to celebrate the 4th of July holiday.  The idea that I would have a comic tied to an upcoming holiday was a fun one, and led to You… autocomplete me and Happy Mother’s Day, 2011.  I had a third planned for Father’s Day, but alas, that fell right in the middle of the craziness that has been my life for the last three weeks.  Perhaps next year.

Today’s comic is definitely more subtle than most of its brethren.  In fact, if you’ve never seen the movie you may not even get the joke.  SPOILER! July 2, aliens invaded.  On July 3, we tried to retaliate, with tragic results, mostly because their ships carried shields that we couldn’t shoot through.  On July 4, we found a way to beat them – send out a signal that infects their computers with a virus, thus shutting down all of their shields.  If you can get past some of the rather glaring science holes in the movie, it actually was very entertaining.

If only our Dude had renewed his subscription on July 3, and not procrastinated.  Tsk tsk.

TCF on leave

For a variety of reasons – both personal and professional – I’m taking some time from the comic these next few weeks.  I hope to be back on the air the week of June 27.

In a software shop far, far away…

025 - In a software shop far, far away

Movie Inspiration: Star Wars: A New Hope

You gotta believe that Han would be a little rough around the edges working on a software project, much like he was as captain of the Millennium Falcon.  Luke, of course, would probably be just as whiny.  Give him a couple of more projects, though, and I’m sure he’ll calm down.  (He might need an extra hand on his second one, though.)

Speaking of the Falcon, I really wanted to work a Y2K joke in here – get it? The year 2000? The millennium? – but CJ and I couldn’t make it work without a lot of stretching.  Of course, since the new millennium started January 1, 2001, not 2000, the joke wouldn’t have even worked then.  Sigh.  Nothing is ever easy.

Visually, though, it’s always a good day when you get to draw a lightsaber, even when at this scale it looks like a fancy kitchen knife.  (It slices, it dices…)  One of these days I’ll have to draw a pair of Dudes have a ‘saber fight.  Then we’ll see if it stays sharp after cutting through a can.

Intern Logan

024 - Intern Logan

Movie Inspiration: X-Men

Poor Logan.  I get the feeling that he won’t last long at this job, despite his genteel nature.  Ahem.

I originally conceived of Logan working for a document shredding company, showing up to destroy boxes of sensitive documents right on-site.  Then I remembered the series of ads with the byline of “Life’s too short for the wrong job“, where they had supposed pictures of the insides of various vending and service machines, showing how they “really” work.  The document shredding companies typically have the shredding apparatus mounted inside a truck, so I thought it would be even funnier to have Logan be the apparatus in the truck.  Boxes come in a chute and Logan goes to work.  That idea morphed into the above because I thought it would be a simpler way to convey the same joke.

This week, two visual pieces gave me the most trouble.  The first was the pile of shredded paper.  CJ and I went through three different iterations of placement and pile depth.  I originally just drew the pile, but CJ suggested scattering some of the paper on the floor to make it look more like a mess, which makes it look more like what a real “shredding room” would.

The really difficult piece this time was Logan’s hair.  Four separate attempts and a couple of hours of sculpting later…

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Good thing he knows kung fu

023 - Good thing he knows kung fu

Movie Inspiration: The Matrix

Ah, the Matrix.  Prior to 1999, no one could tell you what the Matrix was, or how unbelievably cool it would be.  I remember seeing it in the theater and being totally blown away.

“Good thing he knows kung fu” is actually the second Matrix parody I’ve done (the first being Welcome to the Real World), but it’s such a rich movie it won’t be the last.  The parody here is from the rooftop fight sequence where Neo is dodging bullets.  In today’s comic, it’s something nearly as lethal – paper cuts.

As with several previous panels, the smallest things tend to take the most time.  This week, it was the paper.

I threw everything else together in less than an hour, but spent two just getting the look of the paper to where it is.  I happened across a feature in Expression Design a while back called the “envelope distort” which allows me to place a grid on top of the object, and then mash and warp specific points of it.  Design does all the math to figure out the resulting shape.  That made it easier for me to make the paper look like it was curling and crinkling as it came flying out at Anderson, but I’m still not 100% happy with it.  CJ was even less so, but we reached that magical point of “ok, we’ve got to move on with our lives; it’s good enough; publish it!”

The paper aside, I think it turned out well.

Service with a Smile

022 - Service with a Smile

Movie Inspiration: Batman

The core of this week’s parody was actually one of the original Parodied Lines that I did for my technical blog.  I, too, like the way it rolls of the tongue – it just took me a while to find the right visual for it.  I love the thought of Joker doing technical support (CJ’s idea, actually).  He’s highly intelligent, and this provides him another way to mess with the citizens of fair Gotham.

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Happy Mother’s Day, 2011

021 - Happy Mothers Day 2011

Movie Inspiration: Forrest Gump

Let me start by saying that you all have CJ to thank for this week’s “Try Catch Finally”.  We had decided a couple of weeks ago that I should do something for Mother’s Day, and I spent a couple of hours last week looking for something I could parody in that vein.  I started out by looking at movies that had strong mother figures, but didn’t really find anything that jumped out.

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