What didn't happen in the tearoom today

11 AM August 1, 2005

Concerning a fictional event, in one act. For four players.


  • The Manager
  • Employee without Tea
  • Other Employees (2)

Act I

The Manager has made three cups of tea. He hands one to each of the Other Employees.

Other Employees: Thankyou, thankyou.

The Manager: You're welcome.

The Manager picks up his own cup.

Employee Without Tea: Oh. Where's mine?

TM: I thought you said you didn't want one.

EWT: No, I said I did want one. But it's OK... I'll make my own.

TM: Sorry about that. I'll make one for you.

The Manager gets a cup and teabag from the drawer. He puts the cup next to the jug, puts the teabag in the cup. The he picks up his own cup and steps back.

TM (To EWT): First, boil the jug again, so the water's nice and hot.

Employee Without Tea puts the jug on to boil. The Manager looks on in satisfaction, enjoying his tea. The jug, having just been boiled, reboils in just a few seconds.

TM: Yes, it's important to have the water at the right temperature for tea.

The Other Employees nod vigorously at The Manager's wise pronouncement.

TM: Now, quickly, while the water's still boiling, pour the water into the cup.

Employee Without Tea pours the jug.

TM: OK. And now just jiggle it up and down until it's the colour you want.

Employee Without Tea picks up cup and jiggles the teabag. As he jiggles, he starts to realise who is making the cup of tea.

TM: There you go. Nothing like a good hot cup of tea, is there?

EWT: Err... Thankyou?

TM: You're welcome!

Exit The Manager, job well done.

Just to clarify, yes, this is fictitious. It sprung into my head after hearing just two or three half-sentences emanating from the tea room this morning. Given the people involved, my fanciful imagination is certainly wrong. That said, there are one or two workplaces I've known where it might have happened exactly like that.

By alang | # | Comments (2)
(Posted to Tall Tales)


9 AM August 1, 2005

Looking for a way to introduce programming to my sons, I downloaded MSWLogo the other day. Gee it’s fun.

Logo was designed as a teaching language. Logo is centred around the turtle and the drawing area. You give simple commands to the turtle – forward 100 and right 90 – and wherever the turtle goes, it leaves a line. You can combine these commands into simple programs, and with just a few lines of code, can draw some neat patterns.

I settled on MSWLogo, on the strength of positive comments from pages I found by searching for logo programming on Google. MSWLogo has a drawing window, a command window and a text editor (screenshot). What more could a junior programmer want?

Fiddling with Logo on the way home reminded me of my first, tentative adventures with Basic on the TRS-80 pocket computer. Logo is responsive and interesting – you can “make it do stuff.”

Time for an example. Here is the turtle on a blank screen:

The turtle is kind of triangular. According to one Logo text, its name is Ernestine. The turtle’s pen is tied to its tail, right in the middle of its flat backside. Now, using the editor, we rattle off a quick program:

to square

repeat 4 [forward 50 right 90]


From the command prompt, we can now type ”square”, and sure enough:

The triangle is, of course, the turtle, back where it started, in the middle of the screen. Now we can use our square in another program:

to flower

repeat 8 [


right 45]


And here is what it looks like:

Not bad for a few lines of code. What I found most fun, though, was drawing fractals with recursion. This little routine draws a tree, splitting each branch in two.

to tree :size

forward :size

if (:size > 10) [

left 30

tree :size * 0.8

right 60

tree :size * 0.8

left 30


back :size


tree 30” gives:

More complex fractals can be drawn with not that much more code. I even had it drawing the dragon curve in eight lines of code.

MSWLogo comes with an impressive range of demos. There are some 3d graphics, a bunch of games, and a Pascal compiler, written in Logo, that converts Pascal to Logo and executes it.

I’m glad I gave Logo a whirl. It stretched me, All in all, I can heartily recommend Logo as a fun toy for programmers. Logo encourages a different kind of thinking, and gives a big payback for a small investment.

By alang | # | Comments (4)
(Posted to Software Development and javablogs)
© 2003-2006 Alan Green