2020 Oct 21, 3:50
Its rare to find devs anticipating Unicode control characters showing up in user input. And the most fun when unanticipated
is the Right-To-Left Override character U+202E. Unicode characters have an implicit direction so that for example by default Hebrew characters
are rendered from right to left, and English characters are rendered left to right. The override characters force an explicit direction for all the text that follows.
I chose my Twitter display name to include the HTML encoding of the Right-To-Left Override character
#x202E; as a sort of joke or shout out to my favorite Unicode control character.
I did not anticipate that some Twitter clients in some of their UI would fail to encode it correctly. There's no way I can remove that from my display name now.
Try it on Amazon.
How about pages that want to tell you about the U+202E.
2012 Jul 3, 6:39
Lookup any software license shortly summarized in plain English.
2012 Feb 8, 2:58 2010 Feb 26, 10:12
Interesting stuff about Google determining synonyms based on folks changing their search queries.
2010 Jan 15, 6:03
The derivation of the word Zork.
2010 Jan 8, 1:53
Two Gentlemen of Lebowski, by Adam Bertocci: "Thou err’st; no man calls me Lebowski. Yet thou art man; neither spirit damned nor wandering shadow, thou art solid flesh, man of woman born. Hear
rightly, man!—for thou hast got the wrong man. I am the Knave, man; Knave in nature as in name."
2009 Dec 17, 6:13
"In this remarkable and fully rockin' video, an Italian singer performs a rock piece whose lyrics are gibberish intended to sound like English"
2009 Nov 27, 6:10
"What follows is a brief description of the method we have developed for encoding arbitrary shellcode as English text. This English shellcode is completely self-contained, i.e., it does not require
an external loader, and executes as valid IA32 code."
2009 Aug 7, 7:03
Starting with an English phrase, Translation Party converts back and forth between English and Japanese until the result no longer changes.
2009 Jul 20, 11:40
"My interactive media project this semester is about the augmentation of the classic communication medium business card... what came to my mind pretty quickly was Augmented Reality." Ever since I saw
those AR things you print out I've wished they were based completely off of QR codes that would tell the client app where to download the 3D scene to project.
2009 Jun 2, 4:00
"A notice was sent out by the real estate department with the provocative subject line Campus notification - Building 7: Marking Boring Locations."
2009 May 31, 8:29
"When on a hot summer's day you buy a carbonated beverage to quench your thirst, how do you order it? Do you ask for a soda, a pop or something else? That question lay at the basis of an article in
the Journal of English Linguistics (Soda or Pop?, #24, 1996) and of a map, showing the regional variation in American English of the names given to that type of drink."
2009 Apr 7, 11:58
This past week I finished Anathem and despite the intimidating physical size of the book (difficult to take and read on the bus) I became very engrossed and was able to finish it in several orders of
magnitude less time than what I spent on the Baroque
. Whereas reading the Baroque Cycle you can imagine Neal Stephenson sifting through giant economic tomes (or at least that's where my mind went whenever the characters began to explain
macro-economics to one another), in Anathem you can see Neal Stephenson staying up late pouring over philosophy of mathematics
. When not
exploring philosophy, Anathem has an appropriate amount of humor, love interests, nuclear bombs, etc. as you might hope from reading Snow Crash or Diamond Age. I thoroughly enjoyed Anathem.
On the topic of made up words: I get made up words for made up things, but there's already a name for cell-phone in English: its "cell-phone". The narrator notes that the book has been translated
into English so I guess I'll blame the fictional translator. Anyway, I wasn't bothered by the made up words nearly as much as some folk. Its a good thing I'm long
out of college because I can easily imagine confusing the names of actual concepts and people with those from the book, like Hemn space for Hamming distance. Towards the beginning, the description
of slines and the post-post-apocalyptic setting reminded me briefly of Idiocracy.
Recently, I've been reading everything of Charles Stross that I can, including about a month ago, The Jennifer Morgue from the surprisingly awesome amalgamation genre of spy thriller and Lovecraft
horror. Its the second in a series set in a universe in which magic exists as a form of mathematics and follows Bob Howard programmer/hacker, cube dweller, and begrudging spy who works for a
government agency tasked to suppress this knowledge and protect the world from its use. For a taste, try a short story from the series that's freely available on Tor's website, Down on the Farm.
Coincidentally, both Anathem and the Bob Howard series take an interest in the world of Platonic ideals. In the case of Anathem (without spoiling anything) the universe of Platonic ideals, under a
different name of course, is debated by the characters to be either just a concept or an actual separate universe and later becomes the underpinning of major events in the book. In the Bob Howard
series, magic is applied mathematics that through particular proofs or computations awakens/disturbs/provokes unnamed horrors in the universe of Platonic ideals to produce some desired effect in
2009 Mar 16, 4:23
The underwhelming answer to the question of "What are the commonest five-word sequences on the Web?"
2009 Mar 16, 4:22
"This data set, contributed by Google Inc., contains English word n-grams and their observed frequency counts. The length of the n-grams ranges from unigrams (single words) to five-grams. We expect
this data will be useful for statistical language modeling, e.g., for machine translation or speech recognition, as well as for other uses." 6 DVDs for only $150 with licensing restri... ok nm.
2008 Dec 29, 12:22
"This wasn't my fault. Anyone could have dropped his stupid iPod in the toilet. It's really the government here. I mean, at this point the building contained six customs officials, an army of
policemen, people from various security agencies, a bomb squad, and a couple of detectives."
2008 Dec 26, 12:27
sequelguy posted a photo:
The English portions of the signs read "dangerous. Climbing on and over the balustrades and railings stictly prohibited. Daner to Life! Any violation will result in criminal prosecution!"
2008 Aug 19, 11:02
In which Grumpy Grammar Gus is taunted with poor grammar.
2008 Jul 23, 5:19
"Everyone can do an American accent... at least everyone thinks they can. After the BBC's Stephen Robb took a lesson from one of the movie industry's top accent coaches, we asked readers to record
their best US accents."
2008 Jul 3, 11:50
Another translation error. At least they're upfront about it though.