Not Clear on the Concept

Got this from the hotel at which I recently stayed:

By completing this survey, you may be contacted by the hotel to help improve the quality of service provided. We sincerely thank you for sharing your opinions as we continue to do our best to make each stay enjoyable.

So, so you send me spam and if I help you out, my reward is that you’re going to bug me more? Could be worse, though. They could be telling me it’ll take 5 freaking business days to remove me from their email list.

Death to Contract Goblins

Funny story about contract goblins, the denizens of the land of the wireless, who are not human, have no souls and bind you to contracts.

The store a few blocks away, which I walked to in the kind of weather that warps reality, couldn’t help me either. See, I purchased my phone from an at&t licensed store, not a core store. At this point, I had been trying to get this iPhone for just over three hours, and my anger was such that I could almost move objects with my mind. I returned to the kind, helpful sales rep at my local store and told him I’d be willing to swallow the price tag of an iPhone. He said he was out of stock.

I don’t have the desire to spend upwards of $1k a year on phone service; I have a brick of a phone and buy minutes so that I can use it the three times a year it’s helpful to me. Otherwise my phone is turned off. My own peeve is with the phone and cable companies who send out massive amounts of paper spam mail, with the offers to bundle your services. They put helpful phrases on the envelope, such as “Important account information inside!” to get you to open it, but of course the “important” thing is getting you to add more services to your account, which is more importance to them than to me. The trouble with this is that it gets you desensitized to the mail, and when the bill shows up, mysteriously not announcing that there is truly important information in it — your frakking bill — you might just ignore it. Which I just realized I did, again, while paying another bill online. Oh, Joy, here comes a late fee, which I have no doubt is by design, and helps pay for all that spam. Positive return on investment.

Dirty buncha angel rapers.

Pet Peeve of the Day

The wave of pedantry continues.

How is it possible to have two midterms in one class? This bugged me when physics professors for whom I was TA-ing would do it, and I’ve seen a couple of references more recently. A MIDTERM happens in or near the MIDdle of the TERM. It’s right there in the word. As the so-called immortals of Highlander would say, “There can be only one!” If it doesn’t happen then, it’s just a regular ol’ EXAM or a TEST. At least having more than one final exam hasn’t caught on yet, as far as I’m aware.

Language Tip of the Day

Penultimate means “second to last.” It does not mean “better/cooler than ultimate,” in the opposite way that you might use infamous instead of famous. (It doesn’t mean an arbitrary one in a group, either)

Google on penultimate guide and you’ll see a plethora of piñatas of misuses.

SEO Codswallop

DF: Tynt, the Copy/Paste Jerks

I’ve picked at this nit already, but Gruber explains what’s going on when you get the annoying “read more” blurb when you copy/paste from certain sites (which also apparently sends analytics back to a server too, to report on what was copied). It’s all due to a company named Tynt.

It’s a bunch of user-hostile SEO bullshit.

Everyone knows how copy and paste works. You select text. You copy. When you paste, what you get is exactly what you selected. The core product of the “copy/paste company” is a service that breaks copy and paste.

Whatever their justification for using Tynt is, I’ll bet it involves repeated use of the phrase “biz dev”. All they’re really doing is annoying their readers. Their websites are theirs, but our clipboards are ours. Tynt is intrusive, obnoxious, and disrespectful. I can’t believe some websites need to be told this.

A pox on thee, Tynt.

Timely Reminder

I migrated to the newer Microsoft Office Suite last fall, and it not only did not go particularly well (many things that should have been imported from the old version did not migrate), it’s still haunting me.

I discovered that a monthly task reminder had not “fired” — too late to help me, of course. Here’s what I found when I checked the task


It imported task with a new reminder date of late December — that part’s fine; it would run again each month — but somehow it decided that pushing it off by more than a hundred years was a good idea.

I hate the evil empire.

Nits to Pick

Blogs and news stories which list the most recent comment first. This makes no sense to me. There are comments on comments, and you need to read these chronologically to make any sense of them.

Blog archives not using previous and next (or the equivalent) in a consistent fashion. On some, previous takes you to the previously viewed page, which has a more recent timestamp, but on others it takes you to an earlier set of posts.

Sites which append their URL when you copy & paste anything. I understand the reason — to make it more likely to drive traffic back to the original site. But for a responsible blogger, who is going to link back anyway, this is just an annoyance and makes it less likely I’ll grab the story from you, if it’s something being reported elsewhere.


Between reading blogs and watching sports on TV over the weekend, I was exposed to a few expressions that are, well, just wrong, dammit!

Walk the talk — no, it’s talk the talk vs walk the walk. The former is easier than the latter. If you walk the talk, aren’t you repeatedly putting your foot in your mouth?

Untracked — as in, “The quarterback finally got untracked.” No. It’s a train metaphor. He got “on track.” Something that is untracked has gotten off the rails, and that’s not where you want to be.

But (h/t to Lev) it turns out that there’s a collection of these mistaken words and phrases (no doubt collected using cheap central American labor combined with the nimble fingers of Asian children in sweat shops). Yay! Someone else is doing this for me!

Common Errors in English

It’s fairly long, because English is a horribly mixed-up language, but to give you an idea of the completeness, it even has quantum leap, something about which I’ve already complained.

The thing about quantum leaps is that they mark an abrupt change from one state to a distinctly different one, with no in-between transitional states being possible; but they are not large. In fact, in physics a quantum leap is one of the smallest sorts of changes worth talking about. Leave “quantum leap” to the subatomic physicists unless you know what you’re talking about.

OK, it’s not perfect, since you can have a leap that encompasses other allowable transitions, but the gist is right, and it puts this a leg up on the Bad Astronomer.

Hint: It's Not a Verb

Sat-nav for flappers

Sat-Nav wristwatches have been around since 1920.

OK, the idea of a small chart scrolling on one’s wrist is clever, but the “sat” part of “sat-nav” stands for satellite, as in artificial satellite. What artificial satellites are involved here?

Yes, I have a peeve about using acronyms and abbreviations where one obviously doesn’t know what the terms stand for. Like saying “Please RSVP,” “LCD display,” “ATM machine” or “PIN number,” though these are examples of pleonasms rather than the first example, which is merely incorrect. But I digress …

Original article has several pictures of interesting inventions.