Monthly Archives: June 2014

Another Point of View

I have read a couple of rather interesting novels recently which tell a story that I have already read, but doing so from a different point of view.

Orson Scott Card wrote Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow. In the first, the main character is Ender Wiggin; in the second, it is Bean. Despite knowing how the story turns out, I still found Ender’s Shadow to be very interesting.

Another pair are Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonflight and The Harpermaster of Pern. The events of Dragonflight are built up to at the end of The Harpermaster of Pern. Knowing that the Fax trainwreck was going to happen, I still found it interesting how the story developed. And I squirmed, knowing that the trainwreck was going to happen, that there was no way it would not, because it already had.

Do you know of any others?

Odd Language #54: Perversion of Meaning

An all-too-common sentence: “I am nauseous.”

The issue: The perversion of meaning by substitution of a different word. Something nauseous is something that makes one sick. “I am nauseated.” is probably what was meant.

This happens with other expressions as well. e.g. “You have another thing coming.” for “You have another think coming. ” (You should rethink your position.) “having free reign” for “having free rein”. (The expression comes from a horse having free rein.)

Puzzle #57: Alphabet Sets

The letters of the alphabet have been divided into three sets. What are the set membership rules?

Set 1: A E F H I K L M N T V W X Y Z

Set 2: B

Set 3: C D G J O P Q R S U

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, July 9, 2014 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Software Changes

With version 29.0, the tab display for Firefox was changed. I and others found it awkward. For me, at least, the contrast is much lower making it hard to see them clearly. I keep many tabs open so it is important for me to be able to see them clearly. Consequently, I reverted to version 28.0.

Unfortunately, Firefox is not the only software that this has happened to where omething that was working fine was arbitrarily changed. My first browser was Netscape. When I found that some pages were not working for me, I tried upgrading to a later version. It was considerably different and was awkward. As a result of that, I ended up switching to Firefox.

I have used Firefox since the early days (version 0.94, I think). Many of the changes over time have been good, but I like the version 28.0 and prior tab display.

Having found something that works, I do not like it being messed up. I switched browsers once because of this. I could do it again.

I think that software developers and others who develop program interfaces (whether GUI or CUI) should consider their existing users. If a change is going to be made, allow an option to choose which interface to use.

Odd Language #53: Twenty-Second

From The Murder Book by Jonathan Kellerman, p. 80: ‘”A night,” said Waters, sagging and trying to calm herself with a twenty-second pull on her cigarette.”

The issue: Ambiguity. It could mean a pull that lasted twenty seconds, but it could also mean pull number twenty-two.

Puzzle #56: Bacon!

Mmm, bacon!

Mom fried some bacon strips for breakfast, then took her yogurt and went out to her greenhouse. (Partly for the fun of gardening, and partly to avoid the arguments about fair and unfair shares.)

The first son up grabbed one-third of the bacon strips and took two more for good measure. The second son up grabbed one-half of the remainder, but then put one back. The third son up grabbed one-half of the remainder and then took another.

At this point, there were two pieces left which Dad got. How many pieces did Mom fry up?

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, July 2, 2014> at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #54 Solution: Alphabet Sets

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

Just Like Mine

You have your computer configured the way you want it. It makes sense to you to have it that way.

Of course, it would make sense for others to do it that way.

Well, maybe not.

Not everyone has the same needs or aesthetic considerations as you do. There is no one true way to use a computer.

An example of this is Web pages. Some are very difficult to read, because the text is too small, or the foreground and background colours do not contrast enough, or, or, or. They may be fine for the person who set them up, but they may be difficult to use by others.

It can be as simple as the page width. One site that I follow has a heading intended for a system with a higher resolution. Every time that I want to log off, I have to scroll right to get to the log off button. There is plenty of room to the left where the button could be put. And I think of this irritation every time I log off.

What additional, maybe unintended message, are you sending with your communication?

Odd Language #52: Which Cut?

From Kamloops This Week, Tuesday, May 27, 2014, p. A11, article “Does the Canadian miltary need a $169-million plane?”:

“The Conservatives will soon publish their first annual list of military procurement plans and it’s unclear if the gigantic C-17 aircraft will make the cut.”

The issue: The context of this article was that the Department of National Defence was in budget-cutting mode at the same time that the plane was being considered. “make the cut” and “budget-cutting” are different uses for “cut”.