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Programming Languages Are Like Women

Warning: This list may be offensive to ardent feminists (ducking)

by: Daniel J. Salomon Department of Computer Science, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

There are so many programming languages available that it can be very difficult to get to know them all well enough to pick the right one for you. On the other hand most men know what kind of woman appeals to them. So here is a handy guide for many of the popular programming languages that describes what kind of women they would be if programming languages were women.

Assembler--A female track star who holds all the world speed records. She is hard and bumpy, and so is not that pleasant to embrace. She can cook up any meal, but needs a complete and detailed recipe. She is not beautiful or educated, and speaks in monosyllables like "MOV, JUMP, INC." She has a fierce and violent temper that make her the choice of last resort.

FORTRAN--Your grey-haired grandmother. People make fun of her just because she is old, but if you take the time to listen, you can learn from her experiences and her mistakes. During her lifetime she has acquired many useful skills in sewing and cooking (subroutine libraries). That no younger women can match, so be thankful she is still around. She has a notoriously bad temper and when angered will start yelling and throwing dishes. It was mostly her bad temper that made grandad search for another wife.

COBOL--A plump secretary. She talks far too much, and most of what she says can be ignored. She works hard and long hours, but can't handle really complicated jobs. She has a short and unpredictable temper, so no one really likes working with her. She can cook meals for a huge family, but only knows bland recipes.

BASIC--The horny divorcee that lives next door. Her specialty is seducing young boys and it seems she is always readily available for them. She teaches them many amazing things, or at least they seem amazing because it is their first experience. She is not that young herself, but because she was their first lover the boys always remember her fondly. Her cooking and sewing skills are mediocre, but largely irrelevant, it's the frolicking that the boys like. The opinion that adults have of Mrs. BASIC is varied. Shockingly, some fathers actually introduce their own sons to this immoral woman! But generally the more righteous adults try to correct the badly influenced young men by introducing them to well behaved women like Miss Pascal.

PL/I--A bordello madam. She wears silk dresses, diamonds, furs and red high heels. At one time she seemed very attractive, but now she just seems overweight and tacky. Tastes change.

C--A lady executive. An avid jogger, very healthy, and not too talkative. Is an good cook if you like spicy food. Unless you double check everything you say (through LINT) you can unleash her fierce temper. Her daughter C++ is still quite young and prone to tantrums, but it seems that she will grow up into a fine young woman of milder temper and more sophisticated character.

ALGOL 60--Your father's wartime sweetheart, petite, well proportioned, and sweet tempered. She disappeared mysteriously during the war, but your dad still talks about her shapely form and their steamy romance. He never actually tasted much of her cooking.

Pascal--A grammar school teacher, and Algol 60's younger sister. Like her sister she is petite and attractive, but very bossy. She is a good cook but only if the recipe requires no more than one pot (module).

Modula II--A high-school teacher and Pascal's daughter. Very much like her mother, but she has learned to cook with more than one pot.

ALGOL 68--Algol 60's niece. A high-society woman, well educated and terse. Few men can fully understand her when she talks, and her former lovers still discuss her mysterious personality. She is very choosy about her romances and won't take just any man as her lover. She hasn't been seen lately, and rumor has it that she died in a fall from an ivory tower.

LISP--She is an aging beatnik, who lives in a rural commune with her hippie cousins SMALLTALK and FORTH. Many men (mostly college students) who have visited the farmhouse enthusiastically praise the natural food, and perpetual love-ins that take place there. Others criticize the long cooking times, and the abnormal sexual postures (prefix and postfix). Although these women seldom have full-time jobs, when they do work, their employers praise them for their imagination, but usually not for their efficiency.

APL--A fancy caterer specializing in Greek food. She can cook delicious meals for rows and rows of tables with dozens of people at each table. She doesn't talk much, as that would just slow her work down. Few people can understand her recipes, since they are in a foreign language, and are all recorded in mirror writing.

LOGO--A grade-school art teacher. She is just the kind of teacher that you wish you had when you were young. She is shapely and patient, but not an interesting conversationalist. She can cook up delicious kiddie snacks, but not full-course meals.

LUCID & PROLOG--These clever teenagers show a new kind of cooking skill. They can cook-up fine meals without the use of recipes, working solely from a description of the desired meal (declarative cooking). Many men are fascinated by this and have already proposed marriage. Others complain that the girls work very slowly, and that often the description of the meal must be just as long as a recipe would be. It is hard to predict what these girls will be like when they are fully mature.

Ada--A WAC colonel built like an amazon. She is always setting strict rules, but if you follow them, she keeps her temper. She is quite talkative, always spouting army regulations, and using obscure military talk. You gotta love her though, because the army says so.

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Selecting a Programming Language Made Easy
Daniel Solomon & David Rosenblueth
Department of Computer Science, University of Waterloo
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1

With such a large selection of programming languages it can be
difficult to choose one for a particular project. Reading the manuals to
evaluate the languages is a time consuming process. On the other hand,
most people already have a fairly good idea of how various automobiles
compare. So in order to assist those trying to choose a language, we
have prepared a chart that matches programming languages with comparable

Assembler - A Formula I race car. Very fast, but difficult to drive and
expensive to maintain.
FORTRAN II - A Model T Ford. Once it was king of the road.
FORTRAN IV - A Model A Ford.
FORTRAN 77 - A six-cylinder Ford Fairlane with standard transmission and
no seat belts.
COBOL - A delivery van. It's bulky and ugly, but it does the work.
BASIC - A second-hand Rambler with a rebuilt engine and patched
upholstry. Your dad bought it for you to learn to drive.
You'll ditch the car as soon as you can afford a new one.
PL/I - A Cadillac convertible with automatic transmission, a two-
tone paint job, white-wall tires, chrome exhaust pipes, and
fuzzy dice hanging in the windshield
C - A black Firebird, the all-macho car. Comes with optional
seat belts (lint) and optional fuzz buster (escape to
ALGOL 60 - An Austin Mini. Boy, that's a small car.
Pascal - A Volkswagon Beetle. It's small but sturdy. Was once
popular with intellectuals.
Modula II - A Volkswagon Rabbit with a trailer hitch.
ALGOL 68 - An Astin Martin. An impressive car, but not just anyone
can drive it.
LISP - An electric car. It's simple but slow. Seat belts are not
PROLOG/LUCID - Prototype concept-cars.
Maple/MACSYMA - All-terrain vehicles.
FORTH - A go-cart.
LOGO - A kiddie's replica of a Rolls Royce. Comes with a real
engine and a working horn.
APL - A double-decker bus. Its takes rows and columns of
passengers to the same place all at the same time. But, it
drives only in reverse gear, and is instrumented in Greek.
Ada - An army-green Mercedes-Benz staff car. Power steering,
power brakes and automatic transmission are all standard.
No other colors or options are available. If it's good
enough for the generals, it's good enough for you.
Manufacturing delays due to difficulties reading the
design specification are starting to clear up.




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