Thursday, August 29, 2013

Sometimes memes get to me

I try really hard not to be a Grammar Nazi online. Even when I cringe at obvious errors, I restrain myself from pointing them out, though I sometimes do contact the writer if s/he will have the ability to fix it.

Many errors appear in memes. The one that made me feel impelled to address a grammar problem is this one:
You can say "How a dog looks after doing something bad." Or you can say,  "What a dog looks like after doing something bad." However, you have to toss either the"how" or the "like." As they both serve the same function in this sentence,  the two together are redundant. It's rather like this sentence, "The reason I didn't get my homework done was because my computer crashed." That should be, "I didn't get my homework done because my computer crashed."

3D printing in the cloud: it's not just fun and games

One of the delights of writing for The Enterprise Cloud Site is learning about things that sound unlikely but really do exist, like the Society for Printable Geography. The printable does not refer to traditional maps but to 3D printing, which renders geographical data into iPhone cases, pendants, earrings, and puzzles.
All this is made possible by Sculpteo, a company that combines 3D printing with a cloud engine. Howevr, 3D printing is not just for hobbyists and collectors. It has many applications in robotics, architecture, scientific research, and education.  Read more in 3D Printing, Cloud Engine Revolutionize Manufacturing

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dictionary updates

The Oxford English Dictionary wants to show itself to be keeping up with trends and trendy words, some of which  you may wish you never heard of. Its blog has post Buzzworthy words added to Oxford Dictionaries Online – squee! has been paraphrased by a number of other online news sources already. But odds are good that this is the only one not to include a picture of Miley Cyrus demonstrating a move in the not Disney approved dance known as twerk (one of the additions).

Those who are interested in the digital currency movement may be happy to see that bitcoin makes it in (in the lower case form).  And in a nod to something that's been practically beaten to death in tech circles, BYOD is there. It's intersting to see how many of these are underlined by Blogger's spell check, about half I'd say, including the title's own "squee" and "selfie," another word we may wish we didn't have to have.
Here's the full list of Oxford's updates.

unlike 

Friday, August 9, 2013

A kind of nutrition label for apps

Your mobile apps know a lot about you: what you buy, how you pay for it, what you browse, and where you are when you do it. To get some idea of just how much data is collected about you and who else gets to see it, click on Target’s privacy policy http://m.target.com/spot/terms/privacy-policy#InformationUsed. While that information on data collection is available, most customers probably never bother to check it.  The question is if a voluntary code of conduct for apps that summarize the information upfront will provide better consumer privacy protection.  The NTIA believes it can, but as it is something companies are not required to opt into, its critics regard it as a diversion from more effective legislation.

Rather like the nutrition facts label on food packages, the short notice on apps is intended to which reveal at a glance how much of what you don’t want in your diet is in it. Also like the packaged food industry, the voluntary code frees companies from a mandatory label that might rate its data collection policies according to a government standard.


There's a parallel to the nutrition labels printed on packaged food. If there were a legal mandate, then all apps could have a point rating to reflect how privacy-friendly (or not) they are. But without that, it's up to companies to be self-regulating, as it were, and voluntarily decide to briefly show some of its data collection facts.
This week's Advertising Age includes http://adage.com/article/news/big-food-preps-50m-push-facts-front-labeling/243475/. The food manufacturer want to avoid having a legal mandate, so they are spending $50 million to promote what they call ad "Facts Up Front." The idea is that putting that nutrional summation on the front of the package will satisfy those who are critical of the way they have represented sugary cereals and such as sound nutritional choices without having to accept an offical label that is not within their own control like the grade system recommended by the Institute of Medicine. With such a label, the foods that contain more fat, sodium, or sugar than the benchmarks set for them would get no stars at all. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Blame the ship logs for this word


In my review of Orwell's Down and Out_, I mention that he devotes a whole section to analyzing swear word, though  "bloody"is the only one that makes it into print in the 1933 book; all the others are just represented by dashes in that wonderfully quaint Victorian device. 

 I'm not sure at exactly what point all that's fit to print allowed for more explicit language to be allowed into books, though I'd venture it was after 1970. Stephen Birmingham seems to get a kick out of including one in acronym form, saying that  "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" was recorded in that fashion in ships' logbooks next to records of punishment.  See the footnote on p. 271 of The Grandees.
I did a brief Google search and haven't found anyone who says he is mistaken in the etymology of the word.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Your email organized

Imagine coming into your office and finding all your files rearranged for better organization. You get a note saying: “You’ll now find your important files here, your social media files here, and your promotions over there.”
That’s just about what Gmail did with inboxes a few weeks back. While I don’t really mind having my email organized according to the Gmail system, Google's ability to make the change really drove home the point to me that email metadata is open for use.
Read more in Learning About You From Your Email Metadata.

Pictured here is an example of the raw metadata sent to me by the Immersion team at MIT.