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Video Tales From the Slashdot Help Desk: Reverse-Engineering Rob Malda (Video) 28

One day Rob 'samzenpus' Rozeboom was happily working away at Slashdot HQ, then in Holland, MI, when a gentleman came though the door with a plan to make millions of dollars by reverse-engineering Rob Malda. There was a certain Underpants Gnome Step 2: '????' bizzareness to the idea, but he offered him a car just for a chance to meet Rob Malda, an offer Rozeboom could (and did) refuse. But that is just one of the many reader comments and requests he has dealt with in his years at Slashdot. Most of them come in by email, and we've included a few of the weirder ones in the video for your chuckling pleasure.

My seat in the office was at the old receptionist desk because that way I could be the one who dealt with the UPS and FedEx guys, and yes everyone in the office is really that antisocial.

So anyway, I am sitting at my desk one day and this guy comes in and he is dressed in, sort of, a old pair of wrinkled khakis and he is got a overcoat on, but he is wearing like a nice buttoned down shirt and tie and he has a great big duffle bag drawn over his shoulder, like one of the army kind of duffle bags. He kind of looked like, you know, a Pearl Jam fan who is slowly metamorphosing into a marketeer.

So anyway, he comes in and he has got two great big three-ring binders that he is holding in front of him, giant duffle bag like old army surplus duffle bag over his shoulder. He comes up to me, sets the three-ring binders down on the front of my desk and I said, “Can I help you?” And he looks around the office and he says, “Is this where Slashdot is? And I said, “Yeah. Do you have an appointment with someone?” And he says, “Is Rob Malda here?” And I said, “Well, he might be. Do you have an appointment with him?” And he says, “All right, I know he is back there. He is back there, isn’t he?”

And at this point, I am starting to get a little weirded out and I said to him, “Well, he might be back there, what do you need?” And he says, “All right.” And he takes the duffle bag off the shoulder, throws it on the floor, looks at me and he says, “I know a way that we could all become rich beyond our wildest dreams.” And I still don’t know if he is joking at this point and so I say, “And how is that?” And he says, “Well, we are going to reverse engineer Rob Malda.”

I wait for a while and he just keeps staring at me like this is the most important thing he has ever said in his life and I go, “Well, what does that mean?” And he says, “Let me show you.” So he opens up one of the three-ring binders and it reminds me of like maybe a scene out of A Beautiful Mind, where there is just newspaper clippings in it and they are all about tech companies that have gone big because you got to remember at this time, you could probably sell ice over the internet and convince someone that that was a million-dollar business.

So he has got a bunch of hand-drawn graphs and a bunch of things about startup companies and he pages through it for a while and he sees me looking at all those evidence and you can tell that he knows that I am not really buying it. So he closes that folder, opens the other one and the other one is just lists of things that he wants to do. So he starts paging through them, pointing out different things in there that we could do if we could reverse engineer Rob Malda.

And at this point, I can hear everyone in the back, I hear doors open and I can tell everyone is in here listening to this guy try to get to the back of the office. So he looks up at me and I’m still looking kind of skeptical and he says, “You are not buying this, are you?” And I said, “Well, not really. I mean, you don’t really have anything there that really is convincing me that you should go see Rob Malda. And he says, “Well, what if I give you my car?” I can hear a chuckle from the back of the office. And he takes out his keys and put them on the desk.

Now as I said, I have been looking for a car for at least two weeks and I was pretty tired of being driven around like Miss Daisy, so I really had to think about whether or not I was going to accept the keys and let him go back to see Rob Malda. But eventually I wasn’t 100% sure that Rob Malda wouldn’t end up in the duffle bag, so I said, “You know, as much as I’d like to take your car, I can’t let you back there.” And he says, “All right, well, what if I come back with more evidence. I’ve got more folders at home that I can bring and show you?” And I said, “All right, well you go back home, get those other folders, bring them back. I will take a look at what else you have and maybe you can go see Rob Malda.”

So he seems happy with that, packs up his stuff, throws his giant duffle bag over his shoulder and leaves. Rob comes back and everyone is like, “Oh my god, was that guy serious?” And to this day, I kind of don’t think there was anything wrong with the guy. I think he was just so caught up with the whole idea that you could become a millionaire on the internet by just being on the internet that it really got a hold off him and that this was his plan, you know this is what he thought would get him what he was seeking.

So, yeah, that was by far the strangest customer request I have ever had to deal with at Slashdot and in the end, you know Rob said, I should have taken the car and he would have talked to the guy. But, you know, I still think that I probably made the right decision, although I probably should have asked about a leasing option.


And a selection of the email we get...

"Instead of a confusing bunch of numbers and some adjectives that don't mean anything why not just have a list of everyone who has posted a comment that a user can go through. That way you could click on a name and then click on their comments until you decided if you liked what they had to say. You could then click on them again and click on a ACCEPT COMMENTS link. Then you could click on them again and let them know that you like what they write so they will probably like what you write. That way it would save some clicking. After a bit you will have clicked on enough people that you could see a dozen or so comments in a story because you can't read much more than that anywy. You'd just have to click on a dozen people for a dozen or so stories and you will have your own little community with only the people who were worth clicking on. Just a thought."

"Is it possible to take all of my account information and insert it into a new account? I ask because my wife has started to check on me through Slashdot while I'm at work. She doesn't think I am working if I post during the day. It has reached the point where she will call work if she sees that I have posted. My boss doesn't like it and I can't get her to stop. I'd hate to have to get my karma back up to where it is now or have my posts (which are very good mostly) not associated with a new account. I know I could just start posting anonymous coward but I have a problem with having what I write linked to the word coward. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you in advance."

"I have 2 young kids and it would be great if you made a Slashdot kids section. Your readers are getting older and most are going to have kids soon if they don't already. I'm not sure if you have children but in case you don't let me tell you how hard it is to get anything done in your free-time that doesn't involve yelling at them and putting them in timeout. My wife is always complaining that the kids just want to play with me and that I should be grateful, when they get older they may want nothing to do with us. It would be awesome if I could plop them down in front of a computer next to me and look at kids stuff on Slashdot. That way we would be doing something together. Just a thought. I love the site but would really love it if I could use it to spend time with the kids."

"I noticed today that many Slashdot stories are listed on Google. I thought you were supposed to be a neutral internet party? I can't believe what you have as "news" if you are in cahoots with the "do no evil" gang. Almost everything I used to believe in is on Google now I was hoping that Slashdot would be strong enough to resist the Google money pool but I guess I was naive. Google is going to slowly absorb everything is that ok with you? it doesn't seem so bad when your playing volleyball or bringing your cat to work but it is. A cat is no trade for integrity. Look back at what you used to stand for and not greed or I will have to find a news source that hasn't been swallowed by Google."

"Come up with a name that means something.""I came here to learn about hockey and there is no hockey to be found. Your lucky that I didn't send you any money or we would have a big problem right now. If you don't want others to be confused to I suggest you think about changing your name to something that isn't obviously about hockey. I asked some coworkers and they agree, I'm not just some idiot.

"I have been blocked from Slashdot. I have done nothing worthy of being banned and if you would take your head out of your a** long enough you would realize it! I have to put up with this kind of s**t at work but I won't put up with it here! so here's what I demand you do: Apologize to me, both here and in a letter. Apologize to my isp, I called at yelled at them yesterday thinking it was their fault. Finally, I want a written promise that you will never do this to me or anyone else again. If you do not meet these demands in 10 business days, I will be forced to take drastic action, including but not limited to: emailing everyone I know to tell them of how you treat innocent users or reading my news else where. Your move a***ole!"

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Tales From the Slashdot Help Desk: Reverse-Engineering Rob Malda (Video)

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