Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

10 Apr 2008, 8:25 a.m.

Trivia, Drugs, And Profit

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2008 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

Yesterday, in the back of the M60 bus coming back home from Columbia, I overheard a group of people discussing hair, phones, cable companies, the wireless auction, etc. I offered a factlet about rotary dial phones and how area codes got assigned initially, and before I knew it they were asking me whether I freelance. This reminds me of two other stories.


An acquaintance of mine was at a party. She met someone and started talking. "Do you freelance?" he asked. "Sometimes," she replied. He pulled out some cocaine and offered to share it with her.

So now "freelance" is a back-formed analog of "freebase"?

She said, "no, I meant websites," and basically begged off with "thank you, you're too kind, I couldn't possibly."


One spring day at UC Berkeley, I went to an engineering career/internship fair in Pauley Ballroom, in the MLK student union, just upstairs from the Open Computing Facility. I got professionally branded swag from the professionally staffed booths with the professionally made banners -- Intel, Microsoft, and companies that are huge or defunct now, all blurred together in my memory. Then I saw a space that looked empty, except for the fact that two people were sitting there, and index cards were taped to the front edge of their table.

The cards had tech acronyms and abbreviations on them: VoIP, DNS, HTTP, and so on... and RTFM.

I looked up from decoding them all and said, "RTFM?!"

One of them said, "You're the first one who's noticed."

And that's how I got a tech writing internship that summer.


17 Apr 2008, 22:27 p.m.

Did you get that factlet from Microserfs?

18 Apr 2008, 14:12 p.m.

I may have!