Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Downside of Fanboyism

You just bought a SomeThing by Thingmaker and are very happy with your purchase. I am happy for you if you will quit trying to evangelise to me and more importantly, quit disrepecting me for my different choice.

I understand that you think that your choice is perfect for you. That does not make it perfect for me!

Should I point out failings in the SomeThing from my perspective, it would be nice if you would not attack me.

If I ask a question and have a bit of data wrong about the SomeThing, it would be nice you would not attack me.

I have seen both happen all too often in discussions.

Your needs and my needs may be very different. Please respect that.

If I do not know much about the SomeThing, please understand that I may well have gotten a detail wrong but not out of malice. Attacking me is rather counterproductive.

Due to fanboyism, many people will not switch. How can they when they are often attacked for asking their questions? That does not get them the data they need to make a good choice.

I am unlikely to ever go Apple because of this. Others will not try other products for similar reasons.

If you attack people for not using your product of choice, you are rude and you are not encouraging anyone to take up your side.

Please think about it the next time that you are considering flaming someone over product choice. Thank you.

Odd Language #7: What Is Wroung?

From, last paragraph: “Anita Borg Institute is also honoring three women selected for technical excellence, specifically Jennifer Chayes, distinguished scientist and managing director of Microsoft Research New England for her work uniting theoretical computer science with computational biology; Sarita V. Adve, a professor in the department of computer science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for her contributions to hardware and software memory models; and S. Revi Sterling, director of ICTD graduate programs at the University of Colourado at Boulder, for having a social impact in the lives of women through development of a new participatory community radio technology that’s especially of use in less-developed parts of the world.”

The issue: OR vs. OUR spelling: “Colourado”? Was someone’s search-and-replace for “or” to “our” just a little too enthusiastic?

Puzzle #10: Synthetic Aritmetic

The following are integer arithmetic equations in a synthetic language.  Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division are used, and there are also some other operators, at least one special to this problem.  Your solution should give the meaning of each of the words, the grammar for each, and the grammar for forming a number.

1) xi we xi ji ho
2) ta za ji yo be
3) fe lu yo ho ko ji fe be yo da
4) cu ma xi ji xi
5) ta su ta su ta ji su yo cu
6) lu yo da ko ji yo po
7) yo ge za ji lu yo po
8) fe ta yo lu ne ji fe ta yo po
9) ta ro yo lu ji ge yo ho
10) ta yo ho we yo po ji xi
11) ho su ta ji ta
12) xi ma xi ji yo ge
13) ta su ta ji yo cu
14) yo ho su yo ho su yo ho su yo ho ji lu qe da ve be fe xi yo ho
15) lu ma lu ji lu su lu
16) xi yo cu ne ji xi yo cu
17) lu ma cu ji lu
18) lu su yo da ji yo ho
19) yo ge su yo ho ji fe cu yo ge
20) yo ge ro lu ji yo be
21) yo lu ro ta ji yo ge
22) be su be ji yo cu
23) ta yo ge ne ji ta yo ho
24) yo be su yo da su xi su ta su lu su ho ji ve cu fe ge yo cu

Submit your answer to Gene Wirchenko . Your answer should be in the form of a proof. That means to show how your answer must be correct. The deadline is Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

The Other Side of Communication: Not

It is important to be able to communicate well. You can probably think of plenty of cases where miscommunication caused trouble. Someone said something unclear, untactful, ambiguous, or, or, or. Someone did something.

Another way to get into trouble with communication is by not recognising when one should not communicate.

I tutor a high-functioning autistic boy in mathematics. He had learned how to game the special needs aides. They are so eager to get a result that they will accept practically anything and can be tricked into doing the work for the student. (Lower the bar, lower the bar, lower the bar, bury it so no one will trip over it.)

That technique does not work too well on me. I operate on a different basis. When I set him to work on some exercises, I break contact. It is up to him to do the work. I keep an eye out in case he gets into deep trouble, but I let him fight his way through little difficulties. In fact, I insist on it by not answering very many questions. To ensure that I break contact, I often read the newspaper, glancing over at intervals.

It has been over a year, and I am still fighting efforts by him to draw me in, but I have largely broken him of this. The result is that he is doing much better: he has more confidence and can do things by himself. After all, the idea of tutoring is that eventually, the student does not need the help of the tutor.

Sometimes, it is better to keep quiet.

Odd Language #6: Ungrammatical But Useful

Occasionally, an ungrammatical expression is very useful for making a point succinctly.

S.M. Stirling’s Conquistador has an example of this. (Conquistador is set in our world and an alternative world discovered in 1946 by an ex-soldier. An excellent read and reread. Published by Penguin, ISBN: 0-451-45933-4.  Copyright © Steven M. Stirling, 2003.)

On page 296:

“Not bad,” Tom said, putting his mug down. “Well hopped, and a nice sharp taste … some local microbrewery?’

“We brew it ourselves,” Ralph said.

I brew it ourselves,” Henry said, and offered his hand.

The issue: “I brew it ourselves” is ungrammatical, but it very efficiently makes the point, “We brew it ourselves, and I am the one who does the brewing.”

Puzzle #9: Truthteller, Liar, or Fencesitter?

There are three types of people:

  • Every statement made by a truthteller is true.
  • Every statement made by a liar is false.
  • Fencesitters alternate between true and false statements.

Laura, Paul, and Sam each might be any of the above types.  They each made two consecutive statements.  From their statements, determine each person’s type.  Warning: It is not necessarily the case that there is one of each type.

L1: “Exactly two of us never lie.”
L2: “Paul tells the truth at most as often as Sam does.”
P1: “Exactly two of us are one type of person.”
P2: “Laura tells the truth at most as often as Sam does.”
S1: “Laura and Paul are the same type of person.”
S2: “I have lied.”

Submit your answer to Gene Wirchenko <>. Your answer should be in the form of a proof. That means to show how your answer must be correct. The deadline is Wednesday, August 7, 2013 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #7 Solution: Phone Numbers

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

Spoiling the Web

I started this blog at the end of May. It has not been two months yet and already, I have over 600 comments.

I would feel a lot better if they were not almost all spam. I have received one genuine comment. I replied to it. The other comments are spam.

I have just installed Akismet. While I do not like CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) schemes, I also dislike having to wade through lots of spam.

If you have wondered why CAPTCHA is used so widely, now you know.