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User Friendly is a discontinued daily webcomic
Webcomic
Webcomics, online comics, or Internet comics are comics published on a website. While many are published exclusively on the web, others are also published in magazines, newspapers or often in self-published books....

 about the staff of a small, fictional Internet service provider
Internet service provider
An Internet service provider is a company that provides access to the Internet. Access ISPs directly connect customers to the Internet using copper wires, wireless or fiber-optic connections. Hosting ISPs lease server space for smaller businesses and host other people servers...

, Columbia Internet. The strip's humor tends to be centered around technology
Technology
Technology is the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, and procedures. The word technology comes ;...

 jokes and geek
Geek
The word geek is a slang term, with different meanings ranging from "a computer expert or enthusiast" to "a carnival performer who performs sensationally morbid or disgusting acts", with a general pejorative meaning of "a peculiar or otherwise dislikable person, esp[ecially] one who is perceived to...

 humour.

Drawn and authored by J. D. Frazer
J. D. Frazer
J. D. Frazer , pen name Illiad, is the artist and writer of the webcomic User Friendly. The strip debuted in November, 1997, and is considered to be one of the first major webcomics. It is about a group of characters who work for a fictional Internet service provider, and the comic's readership...

, a.k.a. "Illiad", it has been running since November 17, 1997. Frazer is one of the few, and first, webcomic creators successful enough to make a living as an artist. This is probably because of its being one of the first webcomics, and his targeting of a specific Web audience, which is tech related people, most of which were abundant on the Internet at the time it started.

It is remarkable for having been updated daily from when it started in 1997 until June 2009 (most webcomics are updated only a few times a week), and for having all previous strips online in the archive.

When it's being updated here is a running storyline and sometimes several days' worth of comics are drawn in advance, but the Sunday comic is always drawn for immediate release and breaks from the regular storyline. The Sunday strip is based on current events and is in full color, unlike the regular daily strips.

Periodically, there will be "nag-strips" which are special strips drawn for promotional purposes. These strips appear for 20 to 30 seconds before jumping to the daily strip. The content of these strips is to ask for donations or introduce advertisers, often presented by the characters or a cameo by Illiad.

The strip went on hiatus from June 1, 2009 to August 2009 due to personal reasons. In this period, previous strips were re-posted. A second hiatus lasted from 1 December 2009 until 1 August 2010, again due to personal reasons. New cartoons, supplied by the community as part of a competition, started to appear as of August 2, 2010. From November 1, 2010 through November 21, 2010, Illiad published a special "Remembrance Day story arc", and stated that it is "vague and at this point random" what will happen to the strip afterwards, that "going daily again is highly unlikely", but that "there are still many stories that I want to tell through UF, over time." Since then, previous strips are re-posted on a daily basis.

History


User Friendly started when J. D. Frazer, working as creative director for a Canadian ISP, started doodling a few cartoon jokes about his coworkers and boss. His boss encouraged him to post them online. Then people started emailing him, asking for more cartoons. Before that, he tried another comic, Dust Puppies, and sent it to six major syndicates, but was rejected by all.

The cartoon has been running online since November 17, 1997.

It is regarded as one of the first webcomics to achieve success, both financially and by popularity. It's also one of the few self-sufficient webcomics available, out of the thousands available on the Internet. His revenues come from advertising, sponsorships, the printed O'Reilly books and merchandising.

In late 1999, User Friendly and Sluggy Freelance
Sluggy Freelance
Sluggy Freelance is a popular, long-running daily webcomic written and drawn by Pete Abrams. The comic has over 100,000 daily readers and premiered on August 25, 1997...

swapped a character (A.J. and Torg).

J. D. Frazer made a cameo appearance in the webcomic Penny Arcade
Penny Arcade (webcomic)
Penny Arcade is a webcomic focused on video games and video game culture, written by Jerry Holkins and illustrated by Mike Krahulik. The comic debuted in 1998 on the website loonygames.com. Since then, Holkins and Krahulik have established their own site, which is typically updated with a new comic...

, on April 7, 1999. and, according to Penny Arcade's wikia, also on August 20, 1999.

In 2000, the Waiting For Bob webcomic ran a series of comics where several of the characters visited Columbia Internet to have them design and host a website advertising their product, "Caf".

Since 2000, User Friendly is published in a variety of newspaper
Newspaper
A newspaper is a scheduled publication containing news of current events, informative articles, diverse features and advertising. It usually is printed on relatively inexpensive, low-grade paper such as newsprint. By 2007, there were 6580 daily newspapers in the world selling 395 million copies a...

s, including The National Post, one of Canada's leading national newspapers.

Since 2001, several cartoon compilations have been published by O'Reilly Media
O'Reilly Media
O'Reilly Media is an American media company established by Tim O'Reilly that publishes books and Web sites and produces conferences on computer technology topics...

. See User Friendly#Bibliography

In late 2007, it was part of the exhibit Infinite Canvas: The Art of Webcomics in the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art
Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art
The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art is an American not-for-profit arts organization devoted to the production and history of comic books, comic strips and other forms of cartoon art. Located at 594 Broadway in New York City, MoCCA was founded by Lawrence Klein in October 2001.In 2007, MoCCA hired...

 (MoCCA).

Main characters



A.J., Illiad's alter ego, represents "the creative guy" in the strip, maintaining and designing websites. As a web design
Web design
Web design is the process of planning and creating a website. Text, images, digital media and interactive elements are used by web designers to produce the page seen on the web browser...

er, he's uncomfortably crammed in that tiny crevice between the techies and the marketing
Marketing
Marketing is the process used to determine what products or services may be of interest to customers, and the strategy to use in sales, communications and business development. It generates the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication, and business developments...

 people. This means he's not disliked by anyone, but they all look at him funny from time to time. A.J. is shy and sensitive, loves most computer games and nifty art, and has a big brother relationship with the Dust Puppy. A.J. is terrified of grue
Grue (monster)
A grue is a fictional predator that dwells in the dark. The word was first used in modern times as a fictional predator in Jack Vance's Dying Earthuniverse ....

s and attempts to avoid them. He was released from the company on two separate occasions, but returned shortly thereafter.

In the strip, he and Miranda (another character) are now dating. They also have previously dated, but split up over a misunderstanding.


The Chief is Columbia Internet's CEO
Chief executive officer
A chief executive officer , managing director , Executive Director for non-profit organizations, or chief executive is the highest-ranking corporate officer or administrator in charge of total management of an organization...

. He is the leader for the techies and salespeople.

Illiad based the character on a former boss:
The Chief bears a superficial resemblance to the Pointy-Haired Boss
Pointy-Haired Boss
The pointy-haired boss is Dilbert's boss in the Dilbert comic strip. He is notable for his micromanagement, gross incompetence and unawareness of his surroundings, yet somehow retains power in the workplace...

 of Dilbert
Dilbert
Dilbert is an American comic strip written and drawn by Scott Adams. First published on April 16, 1989, Dilbert is known for its satirical office humor about a white-collar, micromanaged office featuring the engineer Dilbert as the title character...

 fame. However, Illiad says that The Chief was not inspired by the Dilbert character. His personality is much different to the PHB, as well: he manages in the laissez-faire style, as opposed to the Marketing-based, micro-managing stance of the PHB. He has encouraged the office to standardise on Linux (much to Stef's chagrin)http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=19981008.


Born in a server
Server (computing)
In the context of client-server architecture, a server is a computer program running to serve the requests of other programs, the "clients". Thus, the "server" performs some computational task on behalf of "clients"...

 from a combination of dust
Dust
Dust consists of particles in the atmosphere that arise from various sources such as soil dust lifted up by wind , volcanic eruptions, and pollution...

, lint and quantum
Quantum mechanics
Quantum mechanics, also known as quantum physics or quantum theory, is a branch of physics providing a mathematical description of much of the dual particle-like and wave-like behavior and interactions of energy and matter. It departs from classical mechanics primarily at the atomic and subatomic...

 events, the Dust Puppy looks similar to a ball of dust and lint, with eyes, feet and an occasional big toothy 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 unworldly, 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 (or filks).

Dust Puppy is liked by most of the other characters, with the exceptions of Stef and the Dust Puppy's evil nemesis, the Crud Puppy.


Crud Puppy (Lord Ignatius Crud) is the evil twin
Evil twin
The evil twin is an antagonist found in many different fictional genres. They are physical copies of protagonists, but with radically inverted moralities. In filmed entertainment, they can have obvious physical differences with the protagonist—such as facial hair, eyepatches, scars or distinctive...

, born from the crud in Stef's keyboard; he is the nemesis of the Dust Puppy and sometimes takes the role of "bad guy" in the series. Examples include playing the CEO of AOL or controlling a "The Thing" suit. The Crud Puppy first appeared in the strip on February 24, 1998.


Erwin first appeared in the January 25, 1998 strip.
Erwin is a highly advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence is the intelligence of machines and the branch of computer science that aims to create it. AI textbooks define the field as "the study and design of intelligent agents" where an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its...

 created overnight during experiment
Experiment
An experiment is a methodical procedure carried out with the goal of verifying, falsifying, or establishing the validity of a hypothesis. Experiments vary greatly in their goal and scale, but always rely on repeatable procedure and logical analysis of the results...

ation in artificial intelligence by the Dust Puppy, who was feeling kind of bored. Erwin is written in COBOL
COBOL
COBOL is one of the oldest programming languages. Its name is an acronym for COmmon Business-Oriented Language, defining its primary domain in business, finance, and administrative systems for companies and governments....

 because Dust Puppy "lost a bet". Erwin passes the Turing test
Turing test
The Turing test is a test of a machine's ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour. In Turing's original illustrative example, a human judge engages in a natural language conversation with a human and a machine designed to generate performance indistinguishable from that of a human being. All...

 with flying colours, and has a dry sense of humour
Humour
Humour or humor is the tendency of particular cognitive experiences to provoke laughter and provide amusement...

. He is an expert on any subject that is covered on the World Wide Web
World Wide Web
The World Wide Web is a system of interlinked hypertext documents accessed via the Internet...

, such as Elvis sightings and alien
Extraterrestrial life
Extraterrestrial life is defined as life that does not originate from Earth...

 conspiracies
Conspiracy theory
A conspiracy theory explains an event as being the result of an alleged plot by a covert group or organization or, more broadly, the idea that important political, social or economic events are the products of secret plots that are largely unknown to the general public.-Usage:The term "conspiracy...

. Erwin is rather self-centered, and he is fond of mischievous pranks.

Originally, Erwin occupied the classic "monitor
Computer display
A monitor or display is an electronic visual display for computers. The monitor comprises the display device, circuitry, and an enclosure...

 and keyboard
Computer keyboard
In computing, a keyboard is a typewriter-style keyboard, which uses an arrangement of buttons or keys, to act as mechanical levers or electronic switches...

" type computer
Computer
A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem...

 with an x86
X86 architecture
The term x86 refers to a family of instruction set architectures based on the Intel 8086 CPU. The 8086 was launched in 1978 as a fully 16-bit extension of Intel's 8-bit based 8080 microprocessor and also introduced segmentation to overcome the 16-bit addressing barrier of such designs...

 computer architecture
Computer architecture
In computer science and engineering, computer architecture is the practical art of selecting and interconnecting hardware components to create computers that meet functional, performance and cost goals and the formal modelling of those systems....

, but was later given such residences as an iMac
IMac
The iMac is a range of all-in-one Macintosh desktop computers built by Apple. It has been the primary part of Apple's consumer desktop offerings since its introduction in 1998, and has evolved through five distinct forms....

, a Palm
Palm, Inc.
Palm, Inc., was a smartphone manufacturer headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, that was responsible for products such as the Pre and Pixi as well as the Treo and Centro smartphones. Previous product lines include the PalmPilot, Palm III, Palm V, Palm VII, Zire and Tungsten. While their older...

 III, a Coleco Adam
Coleco Adam
The Coleco Adam is a home computer, an attempt in the early 1980s by American toy manufacturer Coleco to follow on the success of its ColecoVision game console...

 on Mir
Mir
Mir was a space station operated in low Earth orbit from 1986 to 2001, at first by the Soviet Union and then by Russia. Assembled in orbit from 1986 to 1996, Mir was the first modular space station and had a greater mass than that of any previous spacecraft, holding the record for the...

, a Furby
Furby
A Furby was a popular electronic robotic toy resembling a hamster/owl-like creature which went through a period of being a "must-have" toy following its launch in the holiday season of 1998, with continual sales until 2000...

, a nuclear weapon
Nuclear weapons delivery
Nuclear weapons delivery is the technology and systems used to place a nuclear weapon at the position of detonation, on or near its target. Several methods have been developed to carry out this task....

 guidance system, an SGI
Silicon Graphics
Silicon Graphics, Inc. was a manufacturer of high-performance computing solutions, including computer hardware and software, founded in 1981 by Jim Clark...

 O2
SGI O2
The O2 is an entry-level Unix workstation introduced in 1996 by Silicon Graphics, Inc. to replace their earlier Indy series. Like the Indy, the O2 used a single MIPS microprocessor and was intended to be used mainly for multimedia. Its larger counterpart was the SGI Octane...

, a Hewlett-Packard
Hewlett-Packard
Hewlett-Packard Company or HP is an American multinational information technology corporation headquartered in Palo Alto, California, USA that provides products, technologies, softwares, solutions and services to consumers, small- and medium-sized businesses and large enterprises, including...

 Calculator
Calculator
An electronic calculator is a small, portable, usually inexpensive electronic device used to perform the basic operations of arithmetic. Modern calculators are more portable than most computers, though most PDAs are comparable in size to handheld calculators.The first solid-state electronic...

 (with reverse Polish notation
Reverse Polish notation
Reverse Polish notation is a mathematical notation wherein every operator follows all of its operands, in contrast to Polish notation, which puts the operator in the prefix position. It is also known as Postfix notation and is parenthesis-free as long as operator arities are fixed...

, which meant that Erwin talked like Yoda
Yoda
Yoda is a fictional character in the Star Wars universe, appearing in the second and third original films, as well as all three prequel trilogy films. A renowned Jedi master, Yoda made his first on-screen appearance in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back where he is responsible for...

 for weeks afterward), a Lego
Lego
Lego is a line of construction toys manufactured by the Lego Group, a privately held company based in Billund, Denmark. The company's flagship product, Lego, consists of colorful interlocking plastic bricks and an accompanying array of gears, minifigures and various other parts...

 Mindstorms
Lego Mindstorms
The LEGO Mindstorm series of kits contain software and hardware to create small, customizable and programmable robots. They include a programmable 'Brick' computer that controls the system, a set of modular sensors and motors, and LEGO parts from the Technics line to create the mechanical...

 construction, a Tamagotchi
Tamagotchi
The is a handheld digital pet, created in Japan by Akihiro Yokoi of WiZ and Aki Maita of Bandai. It was first sold by Bandai in 1996 in Japan. As of 2010, over 76 million Tamagotchis have been sold world-wide...

, a Segway, an IBM PC 5150, a Timber Wolf-class BattleMech
BattleMechs
BattleMechs are large walking war machines that feature prominently in the fictional universe of BattleTech...

, and an Internet equipped toilet (with Dust Puppy being the toilet brush
Toilet brush
A toilet brush is a domestic implement designed for the cleaning of the lavatory pan. The modern plastic version was invented in 1932 by William C. Schopp of Huntington Park, California, USA and later patented in 1933 by The Addis Brush Company....

), as a punishment for insulting Hastur
Hastur
Hastur is a fictional entity of the Cthulhu Mythos. Hastur first appeared in Ambrose Bierce's short story "Haïta the Shepherd" as a benign god of shepherds. Robert W...

.


Greg is in charge of Technical Support in the strip. In other words, he's the guy that customers whine to when something goes wrong, which drives him nuts. 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
Microsoft
Microsoft Corporation is an American public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through its various product divisions...

 Quality Assurance.


Mike is the System Administrator of the strip, 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 ramen, straight out of a styrofoam cup.


Miranda's character is a trained systems technologist, an experienced UNIX
Unix
Unix is a multitasking, multi-user computer operating system originally developed in 1969 by a group of AT&T employees at Bell Labs, including Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, Brian Kernighan, Douglas McIlroy, and Joe Ossanna...

 sysadmin, and very, very female
Female
Female is the sex of an organism, or a part of an organism, which produces non-mobile ova .- Defining characteristics :The ova are defined as the larger gametes in a heterogamous reproduction system, while the smaller, usually motile gamete, the spermatozoon, is produced by the male...

. 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
Evil
Evil is the violation of, or intent to violate, some moral code. Evil is usually seen as the dualistic opposite of good. Definitions of evil vary along with analysis of its root motive causes, however general actions commonly considered evil include: conscious and deliberate wrongdoing,...

. Although she has few character flaws, she does express sadistic tendencies, especially towards marketers and luser
Luser
In Internet slang, a luser is a painfully annoying, stupid, or irritating computer user.It is a portmanteau of "loser" and "user"....

s. Miranda finds Dust Puppy adorable.

She and A.J. are now dating, although she was previously frustrated by his inability to express himself and his love for her. This comes after years of missed opportunities and misunderstandings, such as when A.J. poured his feelings into an email and Miranda mistook it for the ILOVEYOU email worm and deleted it unread.


Pitr is the administrator of the Columbia Internet server, and a self proclaimed Linux
Linux
Linux is a Unix-like computer operating system assembled under the model of free and open source software development and distribution. The defining component of any Linux system is the Linux kernel, an operating system kernel first released October 5, 1991 by Linus Torvalds...

 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
Coca-Cola
Coca-Cola is a carbonated soft drink sold in stores, restaurants, and vending machines in more than 200 countries. It is produced by The Coca-Cola Company of Atlanta, Georgia, and is often referred to simply as Coke...

, Pepsi into Pitr-Cola and making Columbia Internet millions with a nuclear weapon
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

 purchased from Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, and the infamous Vigor
Vigor
Vigor is a clone of vi for UNIX that adds, as a joke, a cruel parody of Clippit, the Microsoft Office assistant. The name is a portmanteau of vi and Igor, Dr. Frankenstein's assistant. Vigor was written by Joel Ray "Piquan" Holveck in Sunnyvale, California, and the logo for Vigor was created by...

 text editor. He briefly worked for Google
Google
Google Inc. is an American multinational public corporation invested in Internet search, cloud computing, and advertising technologies. Google hosts and develops a number of Internet-based services and products, and generates profit primarily from advertising through its AdWords program...

, nearly succeeding in world domination, but was released from there and returned to Columbia Internet. In some strips there are hints that he is probably an illegitimate son of Sid, which Sid knows and Pitr doesn't, leading to some irritation for Pitr and uncomfortable feelings for Sid.


Sid is the oldest of the geeks and very knowledgeable. 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 round of Jeopardy!
Jeopardy!
Griffin's first conception of the game used a board comprising ten categories with ten clues each, but after finding that this board could not be shown on camera easily, he reduced it to two rounds of thirty clues each, with five clues in each of six categories...

that was hacked in favor of Sid, by Sid. Unlike Pitr, he has no ambitions for world domination per se, but he is a friend of Hastur
Hastur
Hastur is a fictional entity of the Cthulhu Mythos. Hastur first appeared in Ambrose Bierce's short story "Haïta the Shepherd" as a benign god of shepherds. Robert W...

 and Cthulhu
Cthulhu
Cthulhu is a fictional character that first appeared in the short story "The Call of Cthulhu", published in the pulp magazine Weird Tales in 1928. The character was created by writer H. P...

 (based on the H. P. Lovecraft
H. P. Lovecraft
Howard Phillips Lovecraft --often credited as H.P. Lovecraft — was an American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction, especially the subgenre known as weird fiction....

 Mythos characters). He was hired in September 2000 and he had formerly worked for Hewlett-Packard
Hewlett-Packard
Hewlett-Packard Company or HP is an American multinational information technology corporation headquartered in Palo Alto, California, USA that provides products, technologies, softwares, solutions and services to consumers, small- and medium-sized businesses and large enterprises, including...

, with ten years experience http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20000926. It is his habit, unlike the other techs, to dress to a somewhat professional degree; when he first came to work, Smiling Man, the head accountant, expressed shock at the fact that Sid was wearing his usual blue business suit http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20000927. He is also a fan of old technology, having grown up in the age of TECO
Text Editor and Corrector
TECO is a text editor originally developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1960s, after which it was modified by 'just about everybody'...

, PDP-6
PDP-6
The PDP-6 was a computer model developed by Digital Equipment Corporation in 1963. It was influential primarily as the prototype for the later PDP-10; the instruction sets of the two machines are almost identical.The PDP-6 was DEC's first "big" machine...

es, the original VT100
VT100
The VT100 is a video terminal that was made by Digital Equipment Corporation . Its detailed attributes became the de facto standard for terminal emulators.-History:...

, FORTRAN
Fortran
Fortran is a general-purpose, procedural, imperative programming language that is especially suited to numeric computation and scientific computing...

, IBM 3270
IBM 3270
The IBM 3270 is a class of block oriented terminals made by IBM since 1972 normally used to communicate with IBM mainframes. As such, it was the successor to the IBM 2260 display terminal. Due to the text colour on the original models, these terminals are informally known as green screen terminals...

 and the IBM 5150; one could, except for the decent taste in clothing, categorise him as a Real Programmer
Real programmer
The term Real Programmer is computer programmers' folklore to describe the archetypical "hardcore" programmer who eschews the modern languages and tools of the day in favour of more direct and efficient solutions – closer to the hardware...

. He was once a cannabis
Cannabis
Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants that includes three putative species, Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. These three taxa are indigenous to Central Asia, and South Asia. Cannabis has long been used for fibre , for seed and seed oils, for medicinal purposes, and as a...

 smoker http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20010507, as contrasted with the rest of the technological staff, who prefer caffeine (Greg in the form of cola
Cola
Cola is a carbonated beverage that was typically flavored by the kola nut as well as vanilla and other flavorings, however, some colas are now flavored artificially. It became popular worldwide after druggist John Pemberton invented Coca-Cola in 1886...

, Miranda in the form of espresso
Espresso
Espresso is a concentrated beverage brewed by forcing a small amount of nearly boiling water under pressure through finely ground coffee. Espresso is widely known throughout the world....

). This had the unfortunate effect of causing lung cancer and he was treated by an oncologist http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20091014. He has since recovered from the cancer and was told he has another 20 years or so to live.


Sid Dabster's beautiful daughter. The character appeared for the first time in the strip of Aug. 30, 2001. Pearl is often seen getting the better of the boys. She is the antagonist of Miranda, and occasionally the object of Pitr's affections, much to the chagrin of Sid. Some people (both in strip and in the real world) wrongly assume that the character was named after the scripting language PERL. While this may be the true intention of the author, in the script timeline, is shown to be an error based on wordplay.


The Smiling Man is the company comptroller
Comptroller
A comptroller is a management level position responsible for supervising the quality of accounting and financial reporting of an organization.In British government, the Comptroller General or Comptroller and Auditor General is in most countries the external auditor of the budget execution of the...

. He is in charge of account
Deposit account
A deposit account is a current account, savings account, or other type of bank account, at a banking institution that allows money to be deposited and withdrawn by the account holder. These transactions are recorded on the bank's books, and the resulting balance is recorded as a liability for the...

s, finance
Finance
"Finance" is often defined simply as the management of money or “funds” management Modern finance, however, is a family of business activity that includes the origination, marketing, and management of cash and money surrogates through a variety of capital accounts, instruments, and markets created...

s and expenditures. He smiles all day, for no reason. This in itself is enough to terrify most normal human beings (even via phone). However, the Dust Puppy, the "Evilphish", a delirious Stef, and a consultant
Consultant
A consultant is a professional who provides professional or expert advice in a particular area such as management, accountancy, the environment, entertainment, technology, law , human resources, marketing, emergency management, food production, medicine, finance, life management, economics, public...

 in a purple suit have managed to get him to stop smiling first. His favourite wallpaper is a large, complex, and utterly meaningless spreadsheet
Spreadsheet
A spreadsheet is a computer application that simulates a paper accounting worksheet. It displays multiple cells usually in a two-dimensional matrix or grid consisting of rows and columns. Each cell contains alphanumeric text, numeric values or formulas...

.


Stef is the strip's Corporate Sales Manager. He runs most of the marketing efforts within the firm, often selling things before they exist. He is a stereotypical marketer, with an enormous ego and a condescending attitude toward the techies; they detest him and frequently retaliate with pranks. He sucks at Quake, even once managing to die at the startup screen in Quake III Arena
Quake III Arena
Quake III Arena , is a multiplayer first-person shooter video game released on December 2, 1999. The game was developed by id Software and featured music composed by Sonic Mayhem and Front Line Assembly...

; in addition, he manages to die by falling into lava in any game that contains it, including games where it is normally impossible to step in said lava. Although he admires Microsoft
Microsoft
Microsoft Corporation is an American public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through its various product divisions...

 and frequently defends their marketing tactics, infuriating the techies, he has a real problem with Microsoft salesmen, probably because they make much more money than he does. His attitude towards women is decidedly chauvinist; he lusts after Miranda who won't have anything to do with him. Stef is definitely gormless as demonstrated on January 14, 2005.

Information on other characters and first appearance links to comics can be found at List of User Friendly characters.

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.

LOTD is no longer active.

Recurring themes

  • Tech-support jokes
  • The computer game NetHack
    NetHack
    NetHack is a single-player roguelike video game originally released in 1987. It is a descendant of an earlier game called Hack , which is a descendant of Rogue...

    and its Amulet
    Amulet
    An amulet, similar to a talisman , is any object intended to bring good luck or protection to its owner.Potential amulets include gems, especially engraved gems, statues, coins, drawings, pendants, rings, plants and animals; even words said in certain occasions—for example: vade retro satana—, to...

     of Yendor
  • The computer game Quake, often focusing on Stef's complete inability to play it
  • On-and-off romance between A.J. and Miranda
  • Illiad, the web comic writer, sometimes puts in a cameo appearance, often in the "nag-strips." He is usually represented as a guy with a paper bag over his head and two-eye holes poked through the bag.
  • Rivalry between Sid and Pitr for being the smartest genius.
  • Pitr's quest to be an evil genius and take over the world.
  • Erwin's transfer between various corporeal machine embodiments for his artificial intelligence.
  • The RIAA, MPAA, Microsoft
    Microsoft
    Microsoft Corporation is an American public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through its various product divisions...

    , SCO Group
    SCO Group
    TSG Group, Inc. is a software company formerly called The SCO Group, Caldera Systems, and Caldera International. After acquiring the Santa Cruz Operation's Server Software and Services divisions, as well as UnixWare and OpenServer technologies, the company changed its focus to UNIX...

    , and other targets of geek
    Geek
    The word geek is a slang term, with different meanings ranging from "a computer expert or enthusiast" to "a carnival performer who performs sensationally morbid or disgusting acts", with a general pejorative meaning of "a peculiar or otherwise dislikable person, esp[ecially] one who is perceived to...

     ire.
  • The disconnect between Stef's marketspeak and the geek lingo of the rest of the cast
  • Llamas
  • Butter
    Butter
    Butter is a dairy product made by churning fresh or fermented cream or milk. It is generally used as a spread and a condiment, as well as in cooking applications, such as baking, sauce making, and pan frying...


Plagiarism


In February 2009, Mike Masnick
Mike Masnick
Michael "Mike" Masnick is the CEO and founder of Techdirt, a weblog that focuses on technology news and tech-related issues...

 wrote on technology news site Techdirt
Techdirt
Techdirt is a weblog that reports on technology trends, and related business and economic policy issues, often focusing on copyright and patent reform. The website was started in 1997 by Mike Masnick and it was originally based on the weblog Slash. Techdirt has been named among the favorite blogs...

 that users of the website MetaFilter
MetaFilter
MetaFilter, known as MeFi to its members, is a community weblog whose purpose is to share links and discuss content that users have discovered on the web.-Community:MetaFilter was founded by Matthew Haughey in 1999...

 had discovered that Frazer had been copying their comments and using them as punchlines in his UserFriendly comics.
Later Frazer accepted full responsibility on his site, writing "over the last couple of years I've infringed on the expression of ideas of some (who I think are) clever people. Plagiarized. My hypocrisy seems to know no bounds." He apologized to his readers and the original authors of the jokes, and said "I'll be modifying the cartoons in question. No, it won't happen again."

O'Reilly Media
O'Reilly Media
O'Reilly Media is an American media company established by Tim O'Reilly that publishes books and Web sites and produces conferences on computer technology topics...

 and Manning Publications
Manning Publications
Manning Publications is an American publisher established by Lee Fitzpatrick and Marjan Bace that publishes books on computer technology topics, with a particular focus on web development...

have published material by Frazer. The book published by Manning contains a cartoon that Frazer has since removed from the website. The online comics have been updated to quote, and credit the source of the punchlines. A thorough search of the archives by User Friendly fans was also conducted to ensure that none of the other punchlines have been plagiarized.

External links