User Friendly

From Academic Kids

For the concept in software engineering, see user-friendliness.

User Friendly is an online daily comic strip about a gang of friends who operate a small Linux-based internet service provider. The strip's humor tends to be centered around technology jokes, and so-called geek humor.

It is drawn and authored by J.D. Frazer, a.k.a. "Illiad". It is considered to be one of the first major webcomics, and has been running since November 17, 1997. Although the drawings were shaky to start with, the jokes have been popular and the artistic style has developed. Its popularity inspired many other webcomics with similar themes, the most popular being Penny Arcade and PvP.

User Friendly is now published in a variety of newspapers making it one of the first webcomics to make the transition from the net to the mainstream.

In late 1999, User Friendly and Sluggy Freelance swapped a character (A.J. and Torg).

Contents

Main Characters

For more information, see User Friendly characters.

A.J. Garrett

A.J. is the creative guy for the company, maintaining and designing their websites. As a web designer, he's uncomfortably crammed in that tiny crevasse between the techies and the marketing people. This means he's not disliked by anyone, but they all look at him funny from time to time. He loves most computer games, nifty art, and has a big brother relationship with the Dust Puppy. A.J. is terrified of Grues and attempts to avoid them (http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20021017). He was released from the company on two separate occassions, but returned shortly thereafter.

He and Miranda have previously dated, but split up over a misunderstanding. They remain attracted to each other.

The Chief

The Chief is Columbia Internet's CEO. He is the fearless leader for the techies and salespeople, as well as the only calm, clear-thinking head in the company. He wouldn't be if he knew what was really going on. The Chief is also a closet guitar player, having spent years mastering the art of perfect tone, only to have computers come along and render all of his effort meaningless.

Dust Puppy

Born in a server from a combination of dust, lint and quantum events, the Dust Puppy looks similar to a ball of dust and lint, with eyes, feet and an occasional big smile. He was briefly absent from the strip after accidentally being blown with compressed air while sleeping inside a dusty server.

Although the Dust Puppy is very innocent and everything but worldly, he plays a superb game of Quake. he also created an artificial intelligence named Erwin with whom he has been known to do occasional song performances.

Generally, all the other characters in the strip like the Dust Puppy; notable exceptions to this are Stef and the Dust Puppy's evil nemesis, the Crud Puppy, who first appeared in the strip on February 24, 1998.

Erwin

Erwin is a highly advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) that resides somewhere on the network. He was created overnight during experimentation in Artificial intelligence by the Dust Puppy, who was feeling kind of bored. Erwin is written in COBOL because Dust Puppy "lost a bet". Erwin passes the Turing Test with flying colours, and has a dry sense of humour. He is an expert on any subject that is covered on the World Wide Web, such as Elvis sightings and alien conspiracies.

Originally, Erwin occupied the classic 'monitor and keyboard' type computer with an x86 computer architecture, but was later given such residences as an iMac, a Palm III, a Coleco Adam on Mir, a Furby, a nuclear weapon guidance system, an SGI O2, a Hewlett-Packard Calculator (with reverse Polish notation), a Lego Mindstorms construction, a Tamagotchi, a Segway, a Mech-Warrior Timber Wolf exo-skeleton, and an internet equipped toilet as a punishment for insulting Hastur.

Greg Flemming

Greg is in charge of Technical Support at the company. In other words, he's the guy that customers turd all over when something goes wrong. He blows off steam by playing visceral games and doing Bad Things to the salespeople. He's not a bad sort, but his grip on his sanity hovers somewhere between weak and non-existent, and he once worked for Microsoft Quality Assurance (http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=19980306&mode=classic).

Mike Floyd

Mike works as a System Administrator, and is responsible for the smooth running of the network at the office. He's bright but prone to fits of anxiety. His worst nightmare is being locked in a room with a sweaty Windows 95 programmer, and no hacking weapons in sight. He loves hot curries, preferably ones with the same properties as Alien acid-for-blood.

Miranda Cornielle

Miranda is a trained systems technologist, an experienced UNIX sysadmin, and very, very female. Her technical abilities unnerve the other techs, but her obvious physical charms compel them to stare at her, except for Pitr, who is convinced she is evil. Although she has yet to reveal any character flaws, it is a commonly held belief in psychological circles that "perfect" people like her are deeply disturbed neurotics with sociopathic tendencies. Maybe that's why she smiles so much.

She is frustrated by A.J.'s inability to express himself and his love for her.

Pitr Dubovich

Pitr is the admin of the Columbia Internet server, and a self proclaimed Linux guru. He suddenly began to speak with a fake Slavic accent as part of his program to "Become an Evil Genius." He has almost succeeded in taking over the planet several times. His sworn enemy is Sid, who seems to outdo him at every turn. Pitr's achievements include: Making the world's (second) strongest coffee, merging Coca Cola and Pepsi into Pitr-Cola and making Columbia Internet millions with a nuclear weapon purchased from Russia.

Sid Dabster

Sid is the oldest of the geeks, and very knowledgable. His advanced age gives him the upper hand against Pitr, whom he has outdone on several occasions; including in a coffee brewing competition and in a (rather biased) game of Jeopardy. Unlike Pitr, he has no evil ambitions per se, but he is a friend of Hastur's and Cthulhu's (based on the H.P. Lovecraft Mythos characters).

Smiling Man

The Smiling Man is the company Controller. He is in charge of accounts, finances and expenditures. He smiles all day, for no reason. This in itself is enough to encourage the other staff to keep pointy objects out of his reach. His favourite wallpaper is a large, complex, and utterly meaningless spreadsheet.

Stef Murky

Stef works as the Corporate Sales Manager. He runs most of the marketing efforts within the firm and sells things before they exist. He can't understand the way techies think, so doesn't get very far with them. He sucks at Quake. Although he admires the power of Microsoft's marketing muscle, he has a real problem with Microsoft salesmen, probably because they make much more money than he does. He has a strange relationship with women and is universally hated by the geeks. Stef is definitely gormless as demonstrated on January 14, 2005 (http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20050114&mode=classic).


Comment board

Every daily strip has its own comment space for people to comment and discuss the strip in. A community has evolved around the comment board, which is considered by many User Friendly fans a contributing factor in the popularity of the comic.

Common threads found in the comment board are:

  • Illiways, the café at the end of the Ufiverse (a pun on The Restaurant at the End of the Universe): This thread is used for café-like, general conversation. Newspapers, coffee and warm fuzzies are available daily.
  • Question of the Day (QOTD)
  • "I don't get it" thread (IDGIT)
  • Translations Thread: Translations into many real and fictional languages and dialects by the readers

A general guideline for what is suitable to post is the Fourteen-year-old sister rule. That is, if you wouldn't want your fourteen-year-old sister to see it, don't post it. This includes external links, and is tested by applying the 'two click rule' whereby any link with unsuitable content within two clicks is deleted. Entries only containing references to being a first post (or second, et cetera) are not welcome and likely to be deleted by the moderators.

The source code for the ARS (Account Registration System) is available for download.

Link of the day (LOTD)

Every day a link suggested by the community is posted to the main page. The sites selected are usually not well-known and mainly non-commercial. As the User Friendly community has grown larger being selected as the link of the day has a similar effect as being Slashdotted.

Illiad for a day

This is a contest where members of the community create an original strip with bits and pieces of previously published strips.

Ufie Idol

This is a music contest, where members of the community show their singing talents.

Bibliography

Several cartoon compilations have been published:

External links

Copyright

All images are from UserFriendly.org (http://www.userfriendly.org) Copyright © 2005 J.D. "Illiad" Frazer.

Some text is taken from or based on text from UserFriendly.org (http://www.userfriendly.org).da:User Friendly de:UserFriendly no:User Friendly pl:User Friendly

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