Category Archives: proposal

McMansions appearance against function: defense

In the United States at least, large cheaply built houses are commonly termed “McMansions”. The term appears to be a portmantle of “mansion” (a large house) and “McDonalds”, the fast food franchise.

Many of these McMansions are built to look castle-like with (fake) stonework, quoins and in some rare cases, battlements. I have not seen a moat yet.

Anyway, my comment to these styles is, “that’s stupid”. The construction of these houses isn’t enough to stop a normal burglar or home invader, much less a siege engine. If you’re into paranoia about your house, look into survivalist architecture. If that isn’t yet a thing, I expect it to be made one to fill the perceived need.

I wonder if @legallysociable has any thoughts on this?

There ought to be a word for this

On the way to work, I pass through some areas where the rocky hills or mountains have been cut to provide a roadway. At these cuts or passes, the rough rock is exposed in faces on one or both sides of the road.

During warm weather, springs may be seen where the rock face is damped (usually it is a darker color). During colder weather, these flow onto the road and form ice in a little bar maybe 30 to 50 cm wide across the road.

There should be a short word to refer to these things that combines the elements of (ice) (on the road) (from a spring) (caused by earth removal). There must be such a word in some language that could be adapted, or adopted.

A new security question

We all know those “security questions” that websites ask to verify user’s identities, sometimes called shared secrets. The ones like your mother’s maiden name and favorite high school pet’s phone number.

I propose a new one for technical people: What was the name (SSID) of the first wireless network you connected to?

At the beep, enter your language

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:

  1. 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.
  2. A universally standardized mapping of languages and dialects to numbers. For example, en-US = 1033 (Microsoft LCID).

This would result in the following pass:

  1. Caller dials some number with a phone tree.
  2. Called party PBX picks up.
  3. Called party PBX plays SYL SIT.
  4. Caller (or caller’s phone/phone company) recognizes the SIT.
  5. Caller (or caller’s phone/phone company) responds with language code
    1. This would include a termination character, like # or *.
  6. 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.

What do you think?

Idea for chemistry laboratory commissioning

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

Wear your safety glasses/googles.

No horsing around.

Label your experiments.

Clean up after yourself.

No food or drink.

This last one gave me an idea:

Continue reading

More English reform: -ese to -eze

Months ago now I promised to explain why I spelled the demonym of China “Chineze”.

I suggest this as a simple way to bring spoken and written English closer together. So:

  • Chinese -> Chineze
  • Japanese -> Japaneze
  • Korean -> Korean
  • Congoese -> Congoleze (Both Congos)

…and so on.

Vietnamese is a special case and might be better changed to just “Viet”.

New characters in the English language alphabet

One of the more annoying parts of English appears to be the fact there are some digraphs. The most common are “sh”, “ch” and “th” for their respective sounds. I propose using three new characters to replace these sounds:

For “th”, we use instead “8”.
For “ch”, we use instead “4”.
For “sh”, we use instead “2”.

For those who know Greek alphabet, the “8” looks like a lowercase theta, which represents the “th” sound. “4”, when written with an open counter, appears like the Cyrillic letter that represents “ch”. The nearest glyph to “sh” sound would be the Cyrillic one, but it looks like a W, so we can’t use that. Instead we use “2” because that follows the pattern established by “8” and “4”. The other option would be “6”, but that looks like a G.

So, for a sample:

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. 8ey are endowed wi8 reason and conscience and 2ould act towards one ano8er in a spirit of bro8erhood.

Note that the “ch” in “conscience” was left alone. These aren’t supposed to be replace all instances of the sounds, but only those represented by the digraphs. This will make replacement of existing text much easier, almost machine capable.

I got a rejection letter!

I applied for a position yesterday and today got a form letter rejection!

Why can’t companies do this more often, especially when they are using highly automated HR software? I despise people who, in a professional context, let others hang on when they already know they are not going to get hired. A simple “Sorry, but we have decided not to interview/hire you.” Email is enough, and lets me mark that as “No” in my spreadsheet of job applications.

I hope it is not because they don’t want to annoy us. We’re adults applying for jobs with adults; trust us and I think you’ll find 98+ % of your job seekers are emotionally mature enough to handle a professionally worded rejection letter. In most cases, we got used to getting them from colleges, so we won’t be seeing anything new if they come from firms.

Proposal for a new Acronym: NSFL

I know NSFL has been “taken” on urbandictionary to mean something more extreme than NSFW, but NSFW really tells you all you need to know in a short form. I propose NSFL to mean

Not Safe For Lunch

That is, it will kill your appetite and very likely make you psychosomatically nauseous. For example, if you are going to post something entituled “Vacation souvenir” and then include a picture of A TAPEWORM you add “(NSFL)” to indicate it will be disgusting in that way, without making people sick by reading the description.