Monthly Archives: January 2015

Confusing Terminology

Many fields — and the computer field is no exception — have confusing terminology. There are odd words which you have never seen before, and this can be offputting.

However, the alternative is worse. Familiar words can be reused as terminology. This can lead to confusion when you do not know that there is another definition.

For an example of the confusion, see Odd Language #85: Chat?. The original poster for the thread knew the ordinary English word “chat” as talking but not the computer meaning of a live conversation by typing. This was quite relevant, because his hearing is badly impaired.

The advantage of terminology being words that you do not know means that you know that you do not know. Knowing that one does not know is higher on the scale than thinking one knows but does not. And is less confusing, too.

Odd Language #85: Chat?

There was a thread in the USENET group called “Communicating with MS”. Here is part of an interesting post (reformatted).

Person Helping: The page has a link to a chat window. Why don’t you click it and see if they can help get you answers?

The issue: What came next:

Original Poster: I may try this but I doubt I could hear the person well enough to make out any complex instructions. I’ll keep trying to find someone who is technically oriented and get them to go the regular MS phone connection way. Gordon

Person Helping: I didn’t even think of that. That you would mis-interpret what “chat” means.

Puzzle #88: Snowballs

Anticipating a neighbourhood snowball fight, George has several caches of snowballs prepared. The total number of snowballs is even. No cache’s size is evenly divisible by another cache’s size. (For example, if there is a cache that has two snowballs, no other cache can have an even number of snowballs.) What is the minimum number of snowballs that George can have if he has four caches?

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, February 11, 2015> at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

A Manners Oddity

In my second blog post (Business Miscommunication in the Job Hunt), I wrote of what I consider to be bad manners by many businesses in not acknowledging job applications.

Lately, I have been sending query E-mails to various local companies asking each if they have need of someone like me. I have gotten several answers back. True, they have all been noes so far, but why so many answers? I do not get the same from my job applications (and I am hardly alone in this).

There is very little to distinguish my queries from job applications. Each of my queries has a cover letter and includes my resume, just as a job application would. In some cases, these queries have gone to HR people.

So why the difference in treatment? I sure do not know, but I am pleased to be getting some answers.

Puzzle #87: 2,0,1,5

Using each of the digits in 2015 once along with addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, factorial (3! = 1 × 2 × 3 = 6, and 0! = 1), unary negation (as in -2 + 5 = 3), and brackets, as you choose, devise expressions. (For example, 2 + 0 – 1 + 5! equals 121, and (2 + 0) × (1 + 5) equals 12.)

Do this for each of the whole numbers from 0 to 10. For more of a challenge, have the digits appear in the order 2, 0, 1, and 5.

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, February 4, 2015 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #85 Solution: Still More Marbles

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

The Calm After the Storm

After last week’s Snow Wussies, a comment on the aftermath:

Now that the roads are plowed and sanded and the sidewalks have been cleared, everything is back to more-or-less normal.

A couple weeks ago, when we got the first big snow in Kamloops, it was treacherous doing my laundry. The apartment complex that I live in has land that slopes rather steeply. The fresh snow got packed into slipperiness very quickly. Naturally, I was careful. At one point, I went a slightly longer way back to my apartment, because I would be on fairly level ground. That was when I had my worst slip and went down hard. Last weekend, getting to the complex laundry was positively uneventful.

And how is your winter going?

Odd Language #83: Too Dumb

‘”The Church’s breeders were successful, technically,” Zog said, “but unfortunately the resulting chicken was literally too dumb to eat. …”‘ — _Variable Star_, p. 132

The issue: From context, “too dumb to eat” means that the chicken was so stupid that it was unable to eat. Another meaning is that the chicken was so stupid that it could not be eaten.

And how was your Christmas turkey?