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Biotech

Laptop Heat May Cause 'Toasted Skin Syndrome' 195

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the protect-your-crotch dept.
mrvook submitted an item that might affect a lot of you "Working with a laptop on one's lap for extended periods of time has been found to cause heat damage and skin discoloration in a handful of cases, prompting researchers examining the phenomenon to recommend thermal protection for laptop users and warnings labels on laptop device packaging." Only 10 cases have actually been reported, so this might just be a case of media hyping something, or it could be the end of the world with a generation of nerds doomed to sterility and crunchy crotches.
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Laptop Heat May Cause 'Toasted Skin Syndrome'

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  • Really? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @09:56AM (#33794364)

    "...a generation of nerds doomed to sterility..."

    Are we really worried about nerds being sterile?

    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @11:20AM (#33795486) Homepage

      It's not actually the nerds that are getting sterilized.. It's the hot blonds that are. Geeks and Nerds are anal enough to not use the laptop in a un-optimal position, I.E. on the lap. Therefore they seek out a table or other surface. Or they get "clever" and design a lap support platform that lifts the "lap" top to proper typing height.

      Dumb blonds and others that really know very little about proper computer use, leave the thing on their lap and don't have the neurons to communicate "Ow this is hot, get it off me" from their groin area to their brain...

      Most of the time it's mis-read as "I'm hungry" or "I have to pee"

      IT's these creatures, specifically the MBA or Marketing genus line of these creatures we are looking to protect. They are the ones that need the warnings on Toasters that say not to use in the bathtub, or curling irons that say "do not insert into any orifice"... Which is too vague, most of these creatures dont understand the word orifice, and think it's a type of Spanish dessert.

  • by dane23 (135106) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @09:57AM (#33794382) Homepage

    Scientists prove that heat makes things hot and should be avoided when you don't want things to be, you know, hot.

  • by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @09:57AM (#33794384)

    Only 10 cases have actually been reported, so this might just be a case of media hyping something, or it could be the end of the world with a generation of nerds doomed to sterility and crunchy crotches.

    Cool a laptop that is not only powerful, but also eliminates the need for trimming and birth control. Ladies will start looking at the nerd carrying the laptop in a whole new light... ;P

    • I read stories like this years ago. Some laptops do get uncomfortably warm.. guess what, if it's uncomfortable rather than just nice and toasty, you should probably not be placing it directly on your lap! Taking the pain will just lead to damage.

      However if there are issues simply from extended periods of being nicely toasty, that definitely isn't good, and people do need to be warned.

      • by hedwards (940851)
        You're assuming that it's painful. I come from a family with poor pain sensitivity and I've literally broken bones without knowing it.

        I'm guessing with numbers that small that it's either not possible or that we're dealing with a group that doesn't really feel the pain. In either case, I'm not sure what can really be done about it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Firethorn (177587)

          You're assuming that it's painful. I come from a family with poor pain sensitivity and I've literally broken bones without knowing it.

          This is probably why there's only 10 cases of it. You need quite the combination of events to get it.

          1. A particularly hot laptop
          2. Somebody with high pain tolerance or something wrong with their heat senses*.
          3. A particular dedication towards working on their laptop, on their lap, for a continous and extended period of time

          I've used my computer on my lap a few times, and it does get warm. But I shift around, get up and get a drink or snack, visit the bathroom, etc...

          *There's also the boiling frog scen

          • *There's also the boiling frog scenario - toss a frog into boiling water he'll try to jump out. Put a frog in cold water and slowly warm it to boiling he won't. Some research says this is legend, some says it's true as long as you're really, really gradual. Me? I wonder if it also depends on the frog. Anyways - there are probably people less likely to notice being slow cooked than flash burned.

            The "boiling frog" meme is just an urban legend [snopes.com].

            I agree with everything else you said, though.

            • by Firethorn (177587)

              I agree with everything else you said, though.

              Actually, I think that if you reread the middle of what you quoted there, you'll find that you agree even with that statement. Specifically - Some research says this is legend, some says it's true as long as you're really, really gradual.

              Different researchers getting different results is nothing new.

              Oh, and a coworker suggesting a 4th requirement/indicator -
              4. working without clothing between the laptop and the skin.

      • by canajin56 (660655)

        However if there are issues simply from extended periods of being nicely toasty, that definitely isn't good, and people do need to be warned.

        Yes, that's precisely what TFA says it is:

        The condition is sometimes called "toasted skin syndrome," and is commonly seen among elderly patients that use heating pads for prolonged periods. The consequences of the condition have a small chance of being serious.

        Prolonged exposure to being "toasty" can cause a blotchy rash, and if exposure continues, it can result in

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by bughunter (10093)

        However if there are issues simply from extended periods of being nicely toasty, that definitely isn't good

        No, it isn't. And it doesn't even have to be "toasty" -- shortly after acquiring my 2006 Macbook Pro, I developed a case of Tinia cruris that defied treatment with Desenex and Tinactin.

        You can see where this is going. It took a trip to the doctor's office and the question to be posed, "did you recently acquire a laptop computer?" before I realized the association.

        Yes, Macbooks cause crotch rot. Swamp nuts. Rack rash. The itch. Taint thrush.

        Laptop users, take my advice, and go buy a paperstone cutting [amazon.com]

  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The-Blue-Clown (1261404) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @09:59AM (#33794396)
    Why is it that we as a society feel we need to put warning labels on things for the dumbest of society? If they can't move a hot laptop off their lap, do we really expect them to read a warning label?
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anne_Nonymous (313852) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @10:00AM (#33794420) Homepage Journal

      Ow! Your stupid warning label reflected sunlight into my eyes! See you in court jerk!

      • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

        by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @10:06AM (#33794466) Homepage

        Ow! Your stupid warning label reflected sunlight into my eyes! See you in court jerk!

        Oh, sorry. The warning label has fine print that says do not look at label in direct sunlight. You're on your own.

        And, remember ... do not taunt Happy Fun Ball [wikipedia.org].

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gad_zuki! (70830)

        >Why is it that we as a society feel we need to put warning labels on things for the dumbest of society?

        Because civil suit outcomes and damages are determined by jurors, who are the lowest common denominator themselves.

    • TFA! (Score:5, Informative)

      by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @10:07AM (#33794478) Homepage Journal

      This concerns CHILDREN. The report was from a pediatrics journal and involved kids. As TFA points out, kids' skin is more sensitive to heat than adults, and parents need to be aware of this.

      • Re:TFA! (Score:5, Funny)

        by oldhack (1037484) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @10:17AM (#33794618)

        Oooh, clever, pulling out the "think of the children!"

        Screw those pests.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          But they can be really handy. When my now-grown kids were little and I was in the grocery store with them, every woman in the place would walk up and talk to me. I remember thinking "I wish I'd have had some of these when I was single."

          Now that I'm single again I wish my kids would make me a grandpa so I could take the ankle-biting rugrats to the store and get laid by a better class of woman...

        • by houghi (78078)

          Wait till they find out terrorists hand out those computers to children with copyrighted material on it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by couchslug (175151)

          "Screw those pests."

          Pedobear, it that you?

      • Heat makes things hot. Most kids figure this out by the time they're old enough to be using laptops.

      • by zero_out (1705074)
        Let's not forget that "children" also includes 17-year old drivers, with part-time jobs, who socialize with their friends via Facebook, using a laptop their school provided, while lounging in bed. These children also fall into the category of pediatric medicine.
    • by hedwards (940851)
      It's not a matter of intelligence, it's a matter of sensitivity to pain. There's a lot of warning labels that are there for stupid people, but there's also a lot of them which are there for a small minority that needs them. Take those warnings for people with nut allergies. Most of the things those are on don't have nuts in them officially, they were just processed in the same facility or on the same equipment. You're not going to know that there's possible contamination without the warning.

      Likewise, you
    • by zero_out (1705074)
      I think the problems are that the damage can happen at only 120 F, and laptops don't spike from ambient temperature to 120 F instantly. 120 F isn't all that hot, and if you warm it slowly, well, we all know the fable about boiling frogs.
    • Why is it that we as a society feel we need to put warning labels on things for the dumbest of society?

      "We as a society" generally don't. Most warning labels aren't specifically mandated by social consensus. (Even those that are mandated by government are often mandated by regulatory bodies heavily influenced by the regulated industry as part of a package that includes limits on liability if the rules are complied with.)

      The people putting the warning labels do so, because warning labels are very cheap, wher

    • by canajin56 (660655)
      Did you know that prolonged used of an electric blanket, hot water bottle, or a hot tub could cause a permanent blotchy rash that can become cancerous? No? I guess that makes you "the dumbest of society" then. This isn't about burns from a very hot laptop, it's about a chronic skin condition caused by a comfortably warm laptop. But I guess you can't really expect the dumbest of society to RTFA.
    • Why is it that we as a society feel we need to put warning labels on things for the dumbest of society?

      Mostly because of liability in court, which is not the worst thing in the world. Yes it's absurd for that woman to sue for spilling hot coffee, but there are going to be abuses no matter what. I'd rather companies have to warn people even about obvious dangers than companies getting away with hiding less obvious dangers.

      Anyway, there are always legitimate situations where it's good to have a warning that you consider obvious. One that comes to mind here is people who can't feel properly. If you can't fe

  • My woman can save $50 a month on birth control thanks to my laptop!
    • by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @10:03AM (#33794438) Homepage

      My woman can save $50 a month on birth control thanks to my laptop!

      I think I'd rather get a vasectomy than slowly bake/burn/scorch my parts, thank you.

      But, I admire your enthusiasm. :-P

    • Except the pill has positive benefits outside of just birth control, so she'd probably want to keep taking it anyway?

  • Warning labels suck (Score:3, Interesting)

    by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @10:01AM (#33794428)

    Please no more warning labels. They are applied in non-removable paint on my car visor, my child's safety seat, and other rather annoying places.

    Why the hell do I as a driver need to be warned about the dangers of... well I don't know what dangers they are warning me about anymore because they are so damned ubiquitous. Removable stickers are fine. Resale of the item means they won't have the warning? Make a website http://warnings.gov/ [warnings.gov]

    You go there, pull your product type from a dropdown list and it will have every warning you could possibly want to have on your product, all there in a singular location and available in any language you want, updated instantly.

    Oddly enough, I think it was Jay Leno (could be wrong) complaining about how car manuals are nothing but 80 pages of warnings rather than content which you could use to operate/repair your vehicle. Please please please, no more warning labels. I've become immune and now only see them as a bright yellow stain on my upholstry.

    • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @10:06AM (#33794456)
      Exactly. We need warning labels on things that are really harmful. There is a difference between something that is harmful if you drink 2 liters of it and something where 5 drops can kill you, but warning labels often lack this important difference. Warning labels don't help society but rather harms them because no one will read the label because they expect it to be all stupid things so people ignore things that are really dangerous.
      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Exactly. We need warning labels on things that are really harmful. There is a difference between something that is harmful if you drink 2 liters of it and something where 5 drops can kill you, but warning labels often lack this important difference. Warning labels don't help society but rather harms them because no one will read the label because they expect it to be all stupid things so people ignore things that are really dangerous.

        Someone once said that the sum of human intelligence is a constant, and in

      • WARNING: Rants about warnings can cause a state of raised blood pressure, which could lead to stroke or even death.
    • http://warnings.gov/

      You go there

      If it requires Internet access at the point of warning, then there would still need to be a fallback warning label for people who have dumbphone service for $80/yr instead of smartphone service for $800/yr.

    • I don't think it's that odd if it was Jay Leno complaining about car manuals, seeing as he's a massive car nut :)

      • by magarity (164372)

        Jay Leno complaining about car manuals, seeing as he's a massive car nut
         
        Any car he would collect is too old to be full of warning labels. Those are for modern people who can't look after themselves.

        • According to this partial list [wikicars.org] he has at least 10 vehicles made after 2000.. he's not a "classic car" nut, he's just a car nut, or should I say a vehicle nut. The only vehicle I knew for sure that he had before today was a Y2K superbike, and I'm guessing that has some warning labels considering the exhaust can melt the bumpers right off of cars..

    • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

      Oddly enough, I think it was Jay Leno (could be wrong) complaining about how car manuals are nothing but 80 pages of warnings rather than content which you could use to operate/repair your vehicle.

      I don't see why this would be odd, anybody who has read a car magazine in the last decade or so has probably read an article by or about Jay Leno - he's a huge car buff with a huge car collection, and as far as I know prefers to work on his cars himself. He is exactly the kind of person who would despise warning labels all over his beautiful cars.

    • by Syberz (1170343)

      Warning labels also screws up darwinism.

      We should remove the warning labels off of everything and let the weaker members of the herd remove themselves from the gene pool in spectacular fashion.

  • Testicular cancer (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ylikone (589264) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @10:06AM (#33794458) Homepage
    My cousin blames his testicular cancer on a decade of using a laptop resting over his crotch. Even though cancer does not run in his family (or mine) and I don't think I believe the laptop is to blame, it could be that it aggravated it.
  • by Adkins1984 (1845316) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @10:07AM (#33794474)
    "He recognized that the laptop got hot on the left side; however, regardless of that, he did not change its position," the report says. I think we found the problem. Why say your kid is dumb when you can blame his laptop that he never puts down?
    • by LanMan04 (790429)

      "He recognized that the laptop got hot on the left side; however, regardless of that, he did not change its position," the report says. I think we found the problem. Why say your kid is dumb when you can blame his laptop that he never puts down?

      I think the point is that a laptop can be hot, but not to the point of pain, and still cause damage over time. That's not necessarily intuitive.

      Intuitive = If it's not hot enough to cause acute pain, then it's OK to leave there all the time.

  • Only 10 cases have actually been reported, so this might just be a case of media hyping something, or it could be the end of the world with a generation of nerds doomed to sterility and crunchy crotches.

    I'm trying to look for the downside in all of this.

  • by fridaynightsmoke (1589903) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @10:08AM (#33794484) Homepage
    More accurate would be "LAPTOP USE ON BARE SKIN MAY CAUSE TEMPORARY BLOTCHY THIGHS", but that wouldn't grab people's attention as much.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by canajin56 (660655)
      That's not very accurate. It doesn't require bare skin, it's permanent not temporary, and it's not just a blotchy rash, it's a blotchy rash that can form weeping skin lesions and sores, and can become cancerous.
  • Science? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by snookerhog (1835110) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @10:12AM (#33794530)
    I don't think "heat makes things hot" really qualifies this as a Science article.

    put it in Idle where it belongs

    • by T Murphy (1054674)
      Er if the laptop is on idle it probably isn't hot enough to cause the problem. I think you're missing the point here...
  • I often like to sit on my couch to use my laptop at home. It's the most convenient to cross my legs with the laptop sitting on top. I have had burns on my leg from the laptop's heat. It heated up slowly enough that I didn't notice until there was a full burn. I know I am not nearly the first one to have this problem. Isn't this the reason in 2000-2002 they were switching to the name "Notebook" instead of "Laptop"?
    • by hedwards (940851)
      Possibly, I do remember a long time ago, there was talk about laptops being a known risk for sterility in men. Which wasn't really a shock at the time. The reason why the Balzac hangs out there more or less unprotected is that the equipment is heat sensitive. And needs to be a bit below core temperature. Consequently it wasn't terribly shocking that a device that routinely operates above body temperature and sits on the lap might have some impact on male fertility.
  • by OglinTatas (710589) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @10:13AM (#33794560)

    Because "weenie roast" is too gender-specific

  • by jr0dy (943553) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @10:15AM (#33794592) Homepage
    I believe this explains the events which transpired in the film "Children of Men". :)
  • In other news... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bemymonkey (1244086) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @10:17AM (#33794616)

    ...putting your hand in a toaster also causes Toasted Skin Syndrome.

    Who woulda thunk it? :(

  • by name_already_taken (540581) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @10:19AM (#33794650)

    My parents said this used to happen to them when they were kids.

    They grew up in houses that were heated by coal fireplaces - they would sit too close to the fire for too long and the same thing would happen. The cure - stop putting your skin too close to heat sources.

    Seriously, I think people have known about this since the discovery of how to make a fire. We just forgot about it for the last 50 years while we all enjoyed our modern heating systems that distribute heat more evenly.

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @10:58AM (#33795166) Homepage Journal

      Actually, fifty year old heating systems distributed heat more evenly than modern systems. Back in the '30s-'40s they had "gravity furnaces". There was no blower; convection distributed the heat, which was controlled by an electrical thermostat that varied the furnace's flame. If the power went out because an ice storm took down the electrical wires, you still had heat, because the furnace wasn't connected to the house's electricity. Its thermostat's electricity was generated by a walnut-sized doohickey called a "power pile" that generated electricity from the flame of the pilot light.

      I had one in the old house I raised my kids in in the '90s. I loved it, it was way better tech than we have today. Especially when the power went out.

      • Actually, fifty year old heating systems distributed heat more evenly than modern systems. Back in the '30s-'40s they had "gravity furnaces". There was no blower; convection distributed the heat, which was controlled by an electrical thermostat that varied the furnace's flame. If the power went out because an ice storm took down the electrical wires, you still had heat, because the furnace wasn't connected to the house's electricity. Its thermostat's electricity was generated by a walnut-sized doohickey called a "power pile" that generated electricity from the flame of the pilot light.

        I had one in the old house I raised my kids in in the '90s. I loved it, it was way better tech than we have today. Especially when the power went out.

        Yes, I've seen diagrams of the old systems that were available in the USA.

        I think only rich people in the UK would have had these systems in their homes in the 1930s and 40s though.

        My parents' parents' houses were exactly like the house featured in the 1900 House [pbs.org]. Central heating would have been a dream for them. Their hot water came from a "back boiler" which was a cast iron thing installed into the back of one of the fireplaces. They had to be careful to open the taps if it got too hot as the

  • by hey! (33014) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @10:20AM (#33794656) Homepage Journal

    Next, remove the skin, placing it on a mandarin crepe that has been spread with a teaspoon of hoisin sauce. Top with a sprig of green onion, then fold/roll into a burrito style package.

    Serve, pairing with a reisling, dry Chardonnay or a white Bordeaux.

  • ...since laptop from now on will be reserved only to one usage.

  • (In hysteric Apple fanboy voice) Another epic win for teh iPad! Apple designed it such that it doesn't roast your balls!

    (Your wife may of course decide to roast them after you show her the bill.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by TheMidget (512188)

      (Your wife may of course decide to roast them after you show her the bill.)

      Your husband. It's an Apple product after all...

  • by chemicaldave (1776600) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @10:22AM (#33794688)
    Specifically referring to my horrendously flawed 1st generation 13" Macbook. Because of the heat generated it was marketed as a "notebook" and even comes with warnings against using it on your lap per the user guide. This has led to many a warm-lap, a melted "mag-safe" power cord, and just recently caused one of the plastic screw holes for the heatsink to actually shatter during use.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by straponego (521991)
      Yeah, my first gen Macbook Pro, aka Bruce Cockburn, was pretty bad too. The generation after that is also unusable as a laptop. Add to that the constant high pitched whining sound and random kernel panics Apple never acknowledged (but which went away with a software update a year later), and I've seen enough that I'll never buy Apple hardware again. They don't care if it works as long as it looks pretty.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by quacking duck (607555)

      If there's one thing I don't like about Apple's mobile products it's their unwavering desire to shrink the enclosure thickness by bare millimeters with each new generation, without really compensating for reduced ability to dissipate heat.

      I mean, would it have killed them to at least add vents to the sides of their notebooks? A single vent area can't suck in cool air and expel hot air well; if nothing else some of the hot air gets sucked right back in. And the vent's already half-blocked by the screen hinge

  • They didn't mention this, but laptops can get WAY hotter when doing things like playing games, compared to more general use. Just something to consider.
  • Back in the day, we called it a "burn".

  • The real problem is people insisting on using bloated inefficient software, which of course requires more electricity to run and produces more heat.

    If modern operating systems and software were better optimized most people could get along fine with low power, low heat netbooks.

    As it is, people seem to be happy to pump more and more electricity through their desktops and powered laptops until they are just a few watts short of tripping their circuit breaker. Just to write a letter.

    • by Firethorn (177587)

      As it is, people seem to be happy to pump more and more electricity through their desktops and powered laptops until they are just a few watts short of tripping their circuit breaker. Just to write a letter.

      How many people write letters anymore? I'd tend to think that the heat increases tend to come more from attempting to make real time rendering more and more realistic.

      For just writing a letter, computer energy usage is probably lower than it has been in a decade. Using a 'gaming machine' probably does cost a tad more juice, but if you're not running games on it it's not using nearly as much electricity as it would be otherwise.

  • What is this, preschool?
  • Only 10 cases have actually been reported, so this might just be a case of media hyping something, or it could be the end of the world with a generation of nerds doomed to sterility and crunchy crotches.

    Well the article says 10 cases since 2004. In my estimation, that's easily tens of millions of users. You are more likely win the daily lottery in some states. And this can be avoided by not putting it on your lap for extended periods.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I actually suffered from this. My laptop definitely got warm enough to grab my attention, but not so hot that I felt that it was burning. After a few weeks, I noticed a strange red splotchiness on my legs and it really was alarming at first. It's not like you pound yourself with a hammer and wonder why you have bruises, or burn yourself with an iron and wonder why you get blisters, it's much more subtle than that. After a day or so, I figured that it was the laptop and a couple of days of not using the lapt

  • Back around 2000 I had a Sony VAIO (never again). I had to call tech support for another reason, and while I was on the phone, complained that my new laptop got so hot that it burned my legs when I was wearing shorts.

    The person's response was, "They're not laptops, sir. They are notebook computers." Evidently the manufacturers' response too their "laptops" getting to hot was to conveniently rename them.
    • by ZorinLynx (31751)

      I thought "laptops" were the older portable computers which were still somewhat large and heavy, but could fit in your lap? And notebooks were the machines that came later which were lighter and more portable, and they needed a term that fit their smaller size?

      For instance, this would be a laptop: http://www.microstar.net/museum/cpqslt286.jpg [microstar.net]

      And pretty much *all* of today's computers would classify as notebooks.

      • by BobMcD (601576)

        Something with a nineteen inch widescreen isn't 'portable' by much of a margin. Could you imagine a reporter taking notes on a pad of paper that size?

  • Well I have a quite toasty laptop that has a desktop CPU (i7 960) three hard drives and 6 GB of RAM so it's interesting info to me. However I don't put it on my lap because to do so would block the three cooling fans. I use a laptop cooler between my lap and the machine.

    Maybe people should start using these to protect their family jewels?

  • All this time I thought my neighbors cooked a shit-load of bacon every day. Speaking of which, I'm hungry...
  • by PPH (736903)

    This is just another example of natural selection at work. Too stupid to take something hot off your lap? Get out of the gene pool!

    Granted, this is like getting a sunburn or the canonical frog in the simmering pot. Sure, you'll get scorch marks the first time. But that's why we learn from our mistakes. Lacking that ability is reason enough to have your nards permanently roasted.

If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker to come along would destroy civilization.

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