As you know, engineers tend to have a unique sense of humor. And the folks who design computer chips are no different.
“The Silicon Zoo” is a collection of animals and other artworks that are etched into the circuitry of any number of chips.
The size of the artwork is generally measured in microns (millionths of a meter) and is thus much too small to see with the unaided eye. You can find everything from Daffy Duck on a RISC processor to Marvin the Martian on an image sensor used by Spirit and Opportunity.
You can even find Waldo!
We recently purchased a new high speed printer at work and it wound up in the cubicle next to mine. Seeing as how I’d have to put up with the traffic and disruptions of people using the printer, I decided I was going to be the first to use it.
The first day the printer was available, I set up my computer to print to it and sent it a document that needed printed anyhow. To everyone’s disappointment (mine included) our brand new $5000 printer didn’t properly fuse the toner to the paper.
That afternoon, a couple guys from the tech ops group came up to look over the printer to see if they could figure out what was wrong with it. I joked that there was still a piece of plastic in the printer that said, “Remove this tab before operating.” We all laughed and after they spent some time cleaning the print drum and playing with the fuser temperature setting they eventually determined that the fuser was defective and they’d have to call the vendor for a new one.
Today, a week and a half later, the new fuser arrived in our office and one of the tech ops guys came up to install it. The first thing he did was to open up the printer and make sure he understood how it was all put together so he could do it correctly. I went back to work and a few minutes later, he asked me if I could try printing something.
After a couple false starts, I eventually came up with a print job that had text in the area where the toner hadn’t been fusing and this time around everything worked properly.
That’s when Joseph confessed that he hadn’t replaced the fuser. He’d simply discovered this small piece of plastic still in place that was labeled “Remove before operating.” Turns out my joke had been right on the money….
There’s a couple guys in tech ops right now with very red faces. 🙂
Update — October 13, 2005
There’s a new chapter in the saga of the new printer…
We’re long past the point of dealing with the problems caused by the set up guy not noticing the bit of plastic labeled, “Remove tab before first use.” Today the tech ops guys were trying to figure out why the $2,000 optional stacker wasn’t picking up jobs and wasn’t stapling documents.
It took them about 15 minutes to find the problem:
The stacker wasn’t plugged in.
That’s not the funny part.
I’ve been posting the saga of the printer to a humor list I subscribe to. About an hour after sending out the “not plugged in” update, I received a private message from another one of the subscribers, asking who the manufacturer was and what kind of printer it was.
Then I noticed her signature block. She works for the company that built it!
Science Fiction editor Theodore Sturgeon once rather notably said, “Ninety percent of science fiction is crud, but then, ninety percent of everything is crud.” This is known as “Sturgeon’s Law.” Blair’s corollary to Sturgeon’s Law is, “On the Internet, the percentage tends to be higher.”
The greatest strength of the web is that anybody can put up a website about any topic. Favorite sports teams, favorite celebrities, research they wish to share, dissenting political views, and so on.
The greatest weakness of the web is that anybody can put up a website about any topic. There’s no requirement for honesty, fact-checking or even (quite frequently) spell-checking.
Which brings us to this site. I’m not sure which side of Sturgeon’s Law this falls under. But I have my suspicions….