Category Archives: Funny

One Cause for “The creator of this fault did not specify a Reason.”

I’ve been doing a lot of work with SharePoint search lately and specifically the KeywordQuery class, properties and methods.

If you want the result set to return results above and beyond the usual suspects (see here), you add it to the SelectedProperties collection, as in:


Many thanks and a tip of the hat to Corey Roth and this enormously helpful blog post (

In my case, “xyzzy” isn’t actually a managed property.  When I added it to SelectedProperties anyway, SharePoint threw one of my favorite ever runtime exceptions:

“The creator of this fault did not specify a Reason.”

I especially like the capital “R” in Reason.  This sounds to me like the .NET equivalent of “I have no mouth, and I must scream.”


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Straight to Jail List – Cisco VPN Client

Last summer, I created a “straight to jail” list for the refrigerator.  #1 on the list is Lawrence O’Donnell (for inaccurate predictions), but that’s way beyond the scope of this blog :)  Today, I’m adding Cisco’s VPN client to the list, and that’s in scope by a nose.

A bunch of years ago many of clients used Cisco VPN to enable remote access to their site.  Back then, I created virtual PCs for each of these clients and installed Cisco on that? Why?  Because Cisco locks your machine up so that you can’t even browse local network printers, let alone dangerous tools like Skype, Communicator and the “~” key.  But,  if you install it on a VM, your VM is locked down but not your host. 

I’m reminded of those glory days today because I have to use a Cisco VPN client *again* and it locks me and I have to use it in a minute.  I’d rather blog about how much Cisco VPN client deserves to be in jail rather than use it…


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Sunday Morning Funny: “Dad, He Doesn’t Even Know You”

We northern New Jersey Galvin’s are big fans of the political satire t.v. program, The Daily Show hosted by Jon Stewart.  I don’t like to get political in my blogging, so all I’ll say on that is that without the Daily Show, I may well have permanently lost all of sense of humor on or about 12/12/2000.

We were having a meal on the deck early last week and my ten year old son brings up a recent episode of the Show. I made the comment, "Jon Stewart knows that he better not make fun of me or there will be terrible consequences for Jon Stewart." 

My son thinks about it for a minute and says: "Dad, number one: He doesn’t even know you." 

I waited for a number two, but he decided that was enough and moved on to the next subject without skipping a beat.

It used to be that I could get a lot more mileage out of those kinds of jokes, but he’s getting too used to me or too mature or both.  I need to adjust somehow.


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Sunday Funny: “I Thought This Was Supposed to Be a Rich Town”

A little over three years ago, my wife and I signed my son up for a summer activity, The Midland Park Players.  This is a drama group that spends about three or four weeks preparing for a play and then showing it to the parents, friends and relatives.  It’s always been done very well.

I don’t know if everyone’s child is like this, but my son is extremely reluctant to try new things.  Knowing this, we signed him up for the program.  We’ve found that it’s best to alert him to these kinds of things early and often.  So, in order to overcome his natural reluctance, we told him early and did our best to make it sound like fun, etc.  Even with a multi-month advertising campaign, he still wasn’t convinced.  We forced him to do, though, and as is often the case, he had a great time. 

By the time the second year rolled around, he had once again convinced himself that he didn’t want to participate.  But, we had signed him up and on zero-day, I dropped him off one morning at the high school where they practice.  When I went to pick him up after lunch, he was very excited, all smiles and announced, "The play is the Velveteen Rabbit and I want to be the Rabbit".  He had spent literally months carrying on (sometimes hysterically) about how he didn’t want to have anything to do with Park Players and after the first day, he wants to be the lead role in the play.  We’ve seen this pattern before.

(Much to our surprise, he did get the Rabbit role and he was amazing.)

Fast forward a few years.  He’s been in Park Players three times now, so he’s something of a veteran.  This summer (2008), Players starts up again.  In the mean time, he’s finally convinced us he really doesn’t want to play soccer and he never liked basketball.  That left him with no extra-curricular activities for late Winter / early Spring.  A client with whom I was working mentioned that his daughter was in a program called Stage Right.  Stage right is a slightly more expensive version of Park Players and it’s not in my town, but adjacent to it.  Perfect.

The thing to know about that town is that it’s practically another country in terms of wealth.   It has a high-frequency train right to Wall Street and NYC in general.  It’s just a wealthy place.  One of the on-going family discussion themes is whether we should have moved to that town instead of where we live now.  It’s a bigger town, its schools offer more programs for the kids, etc.  My wife grew up in that town and her parents live there, so we are "hooked in" despite not living there.  I personally grew up in different circumstances in Massachusetts, so I don’t have a lot to say about this during family dinner conversation.  This isn’t to say that we aren’t very happy where we live.  We just know that that town is a level above our town economically.

Stage Right’s next program started too soon for us to launch our normal advertising campaign to overcome my son’s reluctance.  This is when he came up with one my personal favorite arguments against doing something: "Friday nights are prime nights for sleep overs!"  Stage Right was going to interfere with his weekend socials. 

The day comes, we bring him there and drop him off and as with everything else, his natural love of just being alive took over and he’s been having a good time with it.

This past weekend my wife was talking to him and for the first time, I think he’s tailoring his discussions very precisely for his audience.  She had asked him how Stage Right compares to Midland Park Players.  He tells her that "In Park Players, we have teenagers that help us out.  There aren’t any in in Stage Right.  In Park Players, teenagers make all props.  In Stage Right, we have to bring our own props.  We have to do everything.  And then he twists the knife: "I thought this was supposed to be a rich town."

All these years, I never really thought that he was hearing or understanding anything as it related to the "rich town".  However, it turns out he was.


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Sunday Funny: “I wonder if your password is …”

I recently bought lunch for my brother (as usual) and we ended up talking about funny things that we did at our respective colleges.  At my alma mater, Lafayette College, the academic support IT department had a very inclusive way about it.  We were given a LOT of rope and I took advantage of that at times.

Two my favorite memories relate to my good friend, Gabe.  He had made the terrible mistake of telling people his freshman year that "I’m a freshman, but I have Sophomore standing" due to the various advanced placement classes he had taken, etc.  Many of us were similarly situated but we didn’t talk about it so much.  His senior year, when we introduced him to people, we’d say "This is Gabe.  He’s a Senior, but he has Sophomore standing".

The college had some Sun workstation/servers running X-Window.  They had gigantic monitors and the engineers used them for CAD and other boring engineer stuff.  We CS people used them to learn programming and, of course, to play games.

We didn’t like the computer-helpless engineers to much so one of our favorite things to do would be to telnet to the box they were on and run X-eye on them.  This would pop up a pair of eyes that followed the mouse around on the screen.  You could pop up even more and have literally a dozen or more of the X-eye applications running.  Try not to laugh out loud when a hapless engineer is trying to close X-eye after X-eye and muttering under his breath about it 🙂

We also played X-trek on those boxes.  To do that, you had to download the source, get various dependencies wherever you could find them and build it.  I wasn’t a sophisticated C programmer, but I could read header files.  I was looking through these and found directives like "#DEFINE MAX_TORPEDO_DISTANCE 10".  I played around with that increase range and power for phases and torpedoes, re-built it and then destroyed Gabe the next time we played.

Gabe was also a huge fan of a TV show called Blake’s 7.  I had never seen it, but that didn’t prevent me from insisting that Dr. Who is the superior show.  The arguments would get heated at times 🙂

One day, it occurred to me that I could probably guess his UNIX password.  I sat down next to him one day and announced in a loud tone, "I’m going to guess your password right now, Gabe."  "Yeah, right" was his answer.  I then logged in, entered his user id, turned to face him, typed and said out loud, "I wonder if it’s B-L-A-K-E-7" ?  Touch typing has never paid off as handsomely as it did that day.

Next week (or soon): More computer room antics from college. 

Do you have any to share?  Leave a comment or email me and I’ll publish them here. 


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Sunday Funny: “When I Was a Little Boy”

As a parent, somewhere along the line I discovered the "When I was a little boy" trick. 

My son, probably four or five at the time, was playing a balloon and like most little boys that play with balloons, he popped it.  He was very upset.  The world had come to an end.  I said to him, "when I was little boy, I had a balloon and it popped and eventually, I got a new balloon."  It seemed to help him cope with his loss and led to a fun talk about what it was like when I was a little boy.

That worked well as a consolation technique and I used it a several times over the next period of time.  I did get into trouble once when his Monster Rancher 3 creature died.  I talked about how my dog, Prince, had died in a car accident.  This time, his response was, "Now I feel bad about two things!"  I shied away from using the "when I was a little boy" technique for consolation after that.

Before the dead dog incident, however, I had also started to use the technique to convince him to do chores.  "When I was a little boy, I had to go out and get the newspaper", "clean my room", "get Mommy her coffee cup", etc.

This too was pretty successful for a while, but he started to increasingly rebel against the tyranny of my childhood.  One event, in particular, marked the end.  I told him to bring the garbage cans from curb back to the garage.  He argued and I responded, "When I was a little boy, I had to take the garbage back to the garage."  He responded, "Oh yeah!  Well when you were a little boy, that was STUPID!".


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Sunday Funny: “NOT FOR EXPORT”

Back around 1998, the company I worked for at the time received some funding to create a new e-commerce product.  We had the full gamut of business requirements to meet.  It had to be fast, easy for end users, flashy, multi-language, etc.  Sad to say, I probably haven’t had as an ambitious set of work to accomplish since those heady days.

This effort pre-dated Microsoft.NET.  Plain vanilla ASP was still somewhat new (or least very unfamiliar to my company).  "Brick and mortar" companies were doomed.  Doomed!  This is to say that it was pioneering work.  Not Hadron Collider pioneering work, but for us in our little world, it was pioneering work.

We were crazy busy.  We were doing mini POC’s almost every day, figuring out how to maintain state in an inherently stateless medium, figuring out multi-language issues, row-level security.  We even had create a vocabulary to define basic terms (I preferred state-persistent but for some reason, the awkward "statefull" won the day).

As we were madly inventing this product, the marketing and sales people were out there trying to sell it.  Somehow, they managed to sell it to our nightmare scenario.  Even though we were designing and implementing an enterprise solution, we really didn’t expect the first customer to use every last feature we built into the product day zero.  This customer needed multi-language, a radically different user interface from the "standard" system but with the same business logic.  Multi-language was especially hard in this case, because we always focused on Spanish or French, but in this case, it was Chinese (which is a double-byte character set and required special handling given the technology we used).

Fast forward a few months and I’m on a Northwest airlines flight to Beijing.  I’ve been so busy preparing for this trip that I have almost no idea what it’s like to go there.  I had read a book once about how an American had been in China for several years and had learned the language.  One day he was walking the city and asked some people for directions.  The conversation went something this:

  • American: "Could you tell me how to get to [XX] street?"
  • Chinese: "Sorry, we don’t speak English".
  • American: "Oh, well I speak Mandarin." and he asked them again in Chinese, but more clearly (as best he could).
  • Chinese: Very politely, "Sorry, we don’t speak English".

The conversation went on like that for bit and the American gave up in frustration.  As he was leaving them he overheard one man speaking to the other, "I could have sworn he was asking for directions to [XX] street."

I had picked up a few bits and pieces of other China-related quasi-information and "helpful advice":

  • A Korean co-worked told me that the I needed to be careful of the Chinese because "they would try to get me drunk and take advantage of you" in the sense of pressuring me into bad business decisions.
  • We were not allowed to drive cars (there was some confusion as to whether this was a custom, a legal requirement or just the client’s rule).
  • There were special rules for going through customs.
  • We were not allowed to use American money for anything.
  • You’re not supposed to leave tips.  It’s insulting if you do.

And finally, I had relatively fresh memories the Tiananmen massacre.  When I was at college, I remember seeing real-time Usenet postings  as the world looked on in horror.

In short, I was very nervous.  I wasn’t just normal-nervous in the sense that I was delivering a solution that was orders of magnitude more complicated than anything I had ever done before.  I was also worried about accidentally breaking a rule that could get me in trouble.

I’m on this 14 hour flight and though it was business class, 14 hours is a damned long time. There are only so many ways to entertain yourself by reading, watching movies or playing with the magnetized cutlery.  Even a really good book is hard to read for several hours straight. 

Eventually, I started to read the packaging material on a piece of software I was hand-carrying with me to the client, Netscape’s web server.  I’m reading the hardware/software requirements, the marketing blurbs, looking at the pretty picture and suddenly, I zero in on the giant "NOT FOR EXPORT" warning, something about 128 bit encryption.  I stuffed the box back into my carry bag, warning face-down (as if that would have helped) and tried to keep visions of Midnight Express out of my head. 

Looking back on it now, I should have been worried, if at all, when I left the U.S., not when I was entering China 🙂  Nothing untoward happened and I still consider that to be the best and most memorable business trip I’ve had the pleasure of making.


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Sunday Funny: Keeping Your Son On His Toes

One of the many joys I take in being the parent of a ten year old boy is finding new ways to make him laugh or think a little differently about questions and things in the world.  I’ve used these techniques over the years:


Misconstrue his questions:

Son: What day is it?

Dad: One day before Wednesday.

S: No, what day of the month is it?

D: Oh, it’s 4 days after Jan 25.


Tickle him and tell him you’ll stop when he stops laughing.


Go down stairs to the TV room and announce, "It’s good to be the daddy."  Then, pick him up to get the warm spot on the couch and change the channel to something good, like the Scifi channel.


Read stories out loud.  Insert ridiculous sentences in the middle of the story.  My favorite is to add "killing him instantly" when the main characters encounters some minor trouble.  For example, "the knife slipped in his hand, cutting his index finger, killing him instantly."  Nothing quite gets your son out of a complacent and passive listening mode as the main character being killed instantly.


Read stories incorrectly.  Read sentences backward.  The best part of this is that the first couple of times I did this, my son thought he was helping me out by pointing out that I wasn’t reading the words in the right order.  The down side is that he really doesn’t want me to read to him any more.


Go to Burger King for lunch.  My son would eat BK morning, night and day if we let him.  When going, tell him, "I know you hate going there, but we simply have no choice."  When he tries to explain that he loves BK, talk over him and say things like "We don’t have time to argue about it!  We’re going and I don’t want to have a discussion!"

(This reminds me of my favorite Borg joke: "Borger King: We do it our way.  Your way is irrelevant."  hahaha!)


Open a book to page 9 and say, "hmm, that’s an odd page".


Fill the world with arch enemies.  "We’re going to run quick over toe 7-11, arch-enemy of 11-7".

"Your aunt lives in Ringwood, arch enemy to the town of Squarewood."


We drive up to Massachusetts from New Jersey several times a year and it often takes about 5 hours door to door.  As we arrive home and pull into the driveway say, "oh, I forgot, we need to make a quick dash to Home Depot."


When watching a violent episode in a TV show (such as Heroes), tell your son, "some times, at work, I need to destroy my enemies by burning them alive using the powers of my mind.  I don’t like doing it, but you gotta do what you gotta do."


When watching bad horror movies (see "It’s good to be the Daddy" above), ascribe improbable motives to the evil character.  For instance, tell your son that the reason Jason is so angry  is because he wants some cake and they won’t let him have any.


Explain phone numbers incorrectly.  Instead of telling your son to dial "201-111-2222", tell him it’s "2-011-1-12222".


What tricks do you use?


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