Obscure References

Tim Wilson posted a tweet about obscure references the other day, which reminded me of all the things that I put into articles on the blog here, and how nobody ever called out any of those.

So, because nobody has asked for it, but you are all at my mercy for it is me who decides what I post, harr harr, this article is a probably non-exhaustive list of those references.

Sometimes, I write articles simply because I want to read them.

The following are grouped by medium, so to speak, because I couldn’t think of any other way. Or rather, chronological order seemed boring.


The first ever reference to a book made it into the blog in Using Data Feeds for Debugging. It came in the form of a list of characters from “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making” by Catherynne M. Valente. I wonder what you all thought of those names…

DTM – How to Amend an Existing Analytics Setup had the first reference to the excellent “Light” by M. John Harrison (the “More”, “Always more”, and “Always more after that” headlines). I also used those in What to Test, Launch? Launch!, Basic Tracking on AMP Pages, Basic Tracking – Angular SPA & angulartics2, and Using Data Feeds for Debugging”. The book is a bit like Marmite in that people either love it or hate it. I am firmly in the former camp, and I have probably read it half a dozen times by now.

Iain M Banks may have been the best Science Fiction author of our times. I mentioned him, and the outstanding “Culture” series in Data Quality at the Adobe Summit. Actually, Stanislaw Lem is the best, but Iain M Banks is close.

“One ID, to eventually rule them all” in Cookies, IDs, and the Experience Cloud needs no explanation.

Nadia (“Nadezhda Francine Cherneshevsky”), mentioned in Why I do not use setVar, is a character from the Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson, probably the most likeable one.

“But life is complex (“, and entropy is real”)”, is from another great book by Kim Stanley Robinson called “Aurora“. I used it in Using Data Feeds for Debugging.

You may have noticed that I am almost exclusively reading Science Fiction, lately. Probably escapism.

Movies & TV shows

“[In the voice of Ian McKellen] Pointless, really.”, found in SAINT Classifications, the first time I put a citation, is from the movie “Stardust“, which is based on the book by Neil Gayman. I use that quote a lot, in my head.

A variety of ST:TNG characters are mentioned in The “Star Trek Blue Print” for Web Analytics, obviously.

The quote “explain, as you would a child”, found in Simplicity is Hard, is from “Galaxy Quest“, the best Star Trek movie so far, or maybe the second best, after “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country”. Yes, I am old. We used to have “Star Trek nights” in our local cinema, where we watched all 6 movies!. We all agreed that 5 was great as a chance to sleep before the grand finale!

Reference to “3rd & Bird”, a show on CBeebies in How Classifications are Different. My kids used to watch CBeebies quite a lot, and “3rd & Bird” has a catchy theme song.

A somewhat lame “I’ll be back” in With DTM you don’t need Plugins! – Part 1, obviously from “Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

Reference to “Lost” in Using the Reporting API with Javascript. I never liked Lost, and I’m glad I never finished it.

“The Men Who Stare at Code” in DTM – find the rule that does … is a weak reference to “The Men Who Stare at Goats

There is a Star Trek reference in DTM CustomEvent Rules, as well as a mention of “Wazowski” from Monsters, Inc., and a hearty “Yes, we can!” from the original “Bob the Builder” series that my kids followed on CBeebies.

“Bubbles!” and “just keep swimming, just keep swimming” in Delayed Page Load Tracking with DTM are obviously referencing “Finding Nemo“. I was never able to work “Mine! Mine! Mine!” into any article. Deeply disappointing.

“Isn’t that a pip?!” in CSP and the Experience Cloud and Quick tip – non-minified Launch code is easier to debug is a quote from “In the Night Garden…“, another show on CBeebies. This one is … wow!

“I am very smart.” is spoken by Dr Simon Tam in the Firefly episode “Serenity” and used in Launch? Launch!. I have a hunch that I took the quote from somewhere else, though. A vague recollection that it was not meant literally. If anyone knows, tell me, please.

“What have the Romans ever done for us?”, used in When concrete meets water seems to be from “Monthy Python’s Life of Brian“, a movie that I don’t actually find that funny.

I have used “Anyone? Bueller?” in With Launch, you don’t need doPlugins! – Part 4 and Quick tip – non-minified Launch code is easier to debug. It is from “Back to the Future“, and we used to use it on the internal Omniture mailing list a lot when we did not get answers to our questions. Ah, the good ol’ days!

We go “all the way to 11!” in A Standard Data Model for Requirements in reference to an iconic scene from “This is Spinal Tap“.

I used “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy“, or some form of it, in A Standard Data Model for Requirements, and Consultants (can) do Everything.

“I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right.” is an old quote from “Magnum P.I.“, which means when you read it in Launch – Make an Extension – Publish or Analytics Team Roles, you have to read it in the voice of Tom Selleck!

You also have to do air quotes when you read “Historical Documents” in Quo vadis, W4D?. Like “On, Teb, on!”, it’s from “Galaxy Quest“.

The quote “we used to boil everything” from “Captain America: The First Avenger” somehow popped into my mind when I wrote in Out with the Old!. I’m afraid I do not remember why.

Almost too obvious to make this list is the mention of Cato Fong and Clouseau in Launch Extensions & Cato Fong. I mean Cato is in the title!

The Pretender” was a TV series that I watched briefly when it came out. I liked the idea, but it was also a bit weird. I mention it in Consultants (can) do Everything

Hyper-lame, so I did it twice: “use the source, luke” in The Adobe Client Data Layer and Why I do not use setVar

A lot less lame was “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” in 2020 for Developers. Still a great movie!

I wrote “picture Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa: “That’s a bingo!”” in Launch Libraries, “Upstream”, and Fallbacks and almost immediately wondered whether I really wanted that clip in my head. But sometimes, a blogger must do what a blogger must do.

“To infinity and beyond!” in TTD is a big issue! is a reference to “Toy Story“, as we all know. I think I used it because in parallel, I was updating debian on my file server.


Do you remember “The Art of Noise“, mentioned in DTM CustomEvent Rules? They were great!

“Neuland” is a term conservatice politicians in Germany use to describe anything digital, likely because they do not know what it is. I use the term in TDD and Adobe Analytics.

“Direct Call Rules – what are they good for?” and “absolutely nothing” in Direct Call Rules – what are they good for? are a reference to “War“, one of the most popular protest songs ever recorded.

“We chose to test Data Elements… We chose to test Data Elements and do the other things, not because they are hard, but because they are easy.” in TDD – Testing Data Elements and Page Load Rules is a variation on the famous Address at Rice University on the Nation’s Space Effort, delivered by John F. Kennedy in 1962.

Supremely lame “To DE Or Not To DE?” in Quick tip – setting products or listX in DTM.

It took me surprisingly long to put the first reference to xkcd into an article. I did it in DTM – Data Elements that persist.

Stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before” is a song by The Smiths, and is quoted it in Everything but the TMS. Whatever you think of Morrissey these days, The Smiths were a huge part of our culture when I grew up. The title of this post is a reference, too. Anyone remember “Everything But the Girl“? You should.

British supermarket chain Tesco uses “Every little helps” as their tag line, and I used it in Data Quality at the Adobe Summit. At that time, I had already lived in Switzerland for almost 2 years, which just shows how much Advertising creeps into our heads.

David Bowie’s “Changes” makes two appearances: Once as “Ch Ch Ch Changes” in Quick tip: Tracking Server & SSL and then as “Cha-Cha-Cha-Changes” in Maintenance.

Internet slang alert! “IMNSHO”, short for “in my not so humble opinion”, a sort of mock of “IMHO”, or “in my humble opinion” appears in More tests, more fun and Basic Tracking – Remix (contains Launch).

There’s even some Bruce Lee, in the form of “shapeless, formless” and “become like water” in Switch off DTM server-side.

“I, for one, welcome our new server-side overlords.” I wrote that in The Era of Server-side Everything, not quite realising the origins behind it. In other words: the quote was obscure to myself when I used it.

More Internet slang! “YMMV” is short for “your mileage may vary”. Find it in Tracking Form Abandonment and 7 things I learned about making Extensions.

“Simples”, I wrote in Basic Tracking – Remix (contains Launch), having a vision of a talking Meerkat in my head. Another one of those UK ads.

Something “sparks joy” in 7 things I learned about making Extensions, even though I have not seen a single episode of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.

Yet another UK ad: “Go compare!” in Quick tip – Launch buildDate and Live Expressions. You have to sort of sing it in your head, I guess.

Oh, another music reference! “Salt-N-Pepa“, mentioned in Using Data Feeds for Debugging because of the “push()” method.

People Are People” is a song by Depeche Mode. It appears in Using Data Feeds for Debugging. When it came out, us Depeche Mode fans were not convinced, I remember.


This article is likely the one that took most research, out of all the articles on this blog! Sounds stupid, but I actually had to skim through everything I had ever written. It was an interesting experience, spanning the spectrum from cringe to fun.

By the fourth article, I decided not to fix any typos, because I would have to edit almost every single article.

I really think we need to come up with a way to automatically expire articles when they are no longer relevant (such as everything I have ever done on DTM), so if you are looking for a great idea for a startup with AI, this is it: a system that can read through articles, regularly, and understand whether they still make sense, then give them some score.

Please make sure you score down anything that is about “s_code”! Right down!

What I really want to know, though: did you notice any of the above when you read the articles? Or any other things I might have overlooked now?

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