Now, though, I live closer to work and have found something else to keep me occupied “on the blog”: The back file of the Literary Digest.
The Literary Digest was a very popular and influential newsmagazine back in the 1900s through the mid 1930s. It is really only remembered today for spectacularly botching its prediction of the 1936 presidential election. A sort of “Dewey Defeats Truman” before that other famous messup.
Fortunately for us, the issues pre-1923 have entered the Public Domain and can be freely spread around, which is what I propose to do in this new series. Here is to hoping I can make an interesting post every day out of these old stories and ads.
If you live in a country or area that is at all non-monolingual, you will encounter telephone trees where the first prompt requests you specify your language. For example, in the United States, it is usually Spanish.
Unfortunately this does not scale well. If you have to deal with even, say, the UN languages, that’s 6 possibilities. Further, they are rarely standardized, so for one firm, you key in “6” to get Spanish. For another it’s “2”, etc.
I propose this:
A universally understood tone or sequence of tones that means “specify your language” (SYL). These would be tones that a computer could recognize, like SITs. In this way, a person could specify to their phone/phone company what their language was and have them automatically reply.
A universally standardized mapping of languages and dialects to numbers. For example, en-US = 1033 (Microsoft LCID).
This would result in the following pass:
Caller dials some number with a phone tree.
Called party PBX picks up.
Called party PBX plays SYL SIT.
Caller (or caller’s phone/phone company) recognizes the SIT.
Caller (or caller’s phone/phone company) responds with language code
This would include a termination character, like # or *.
Called party PBX connects the caller to the phone tree or operator of that language.
Of course, even the UN isn’t going to maintain an operator for every possible language, so in those cases, a fail-gracefully routing tree would be set up so that the nearest neighbor language would be selected instead. As an example, if en-GB (2057) wasn’t supported, but en-US was (1033), the call would be routed there. Alternately, a message could be prerecorded in that language, telling the called party that their language wasn’t supported.
Everyone who has ever taken a high school or college course in chemistry, biology or kindred sciences unquestionably remembers the, sometimes lurid, always present warnings against doing things, normally, well, normal, but dangerous in a laboratory.1
While looking into the current New Zealand flag change question, I found this wannabe Gantt chart, which I think is hideous.
Here are some problems:
And worst, the layout is just plain hard to read. Time is the abscissa, but the ordinate is a bunch of categories with arrows pointing here and there.
1A. The entries on the list do not line up with the categories, making it hard to tell who is doing what.
1B. There are multiple colored arrows, complete with dashes and solids, making it hard to tell how many parallel processes there are.
The thing is mostly made in Microsoft Word/Excel/PowerPoint (I can’t tell which exactly), which isn’t bad, but for some reason, the striped band between 2015 and 2016 is a bitmap and so looks ugly when you get close in.
The colors of the fonts are inexplicable.
“CPG” category has terrible colors and a gradient on each line for some reason!
Overuse of capitals and acronyms. These are a common problem in politiqual work though.
I request that they hire a graphic designer to fix this, or find a bored summer intern (or winter intern since they are down south) to fix this up.