Abusing the l@nguage

A week of IT

With the approach of what our errant typing fingers have been known to render as "the fertive season", eateries and such around town are busy trying to drum up seasonal custom. One conference venue in central Wellington is clearly making a pitch for the ICT industry, with a signboard advising that "Xm@s functions" are catered for.

Or perhaps people do it almost without thinking these days, to signal that they or their organisations are "up-to-the-minute", digitised and web-enabled.

A remembered remark from long ago comes to mind: "There are all sorts of strange characters in the ASCII set; Hex 40 is that 'at' symbol that you used to see in shopping problems in old arithmetic textbooks: '14 cabbages @ sevenpence each'. I can't think why it's in the character set, and I can't see any conceivable purpose for it." The author? One of our current staffers, being strikingly non-prescient in the early 80s.

Proof of concept

"Developing a National Content Strategy with [sic] require clear objectives. Providing access scientific and research content, mapping New Zealand’s content landscape, within a legal framework that provides adequate framework to handle novel issues such as those that arise from the promising use of ICTs whilst also providing protections against new or increased risks, will support businesses and the ICTsector."

Quote from the Government's digest of responses to its Digital Strategy. Clear prose to express the objectives might be a help and it's not advisable to rely on the spellchecker as a proofreader. We assume "with" in the first sentence should be "will".

Okay, glasshouses, stones, etc — but we're sure Computerworld staffers would be excoriated for a 50-word sentence. Fifty-one if you include "to" as the obviously intended third word.


A Wellington IT manager tells the story of losing his broadband connectivity and, after some considerable time trying to get through on the phone to Xtra, was told: “Send us an email.”

Automated learning

A recent technical recruit to a large consultancy was instructed to learn online and complete the test at the end of the company presentation. He thought he could skip what he knew and just complete the test but he found the software wouldn’t let him unless he had spent at least 10 minutes on each of the learning slides. Easily fixed. He wrote a small programme that flicked the slides over every 10 minutes and returned to do the test (successfully) after a pleasant pub lunch.

Ascending the mountain

Invited to attend a software company's user conference, a Computerworld staffer was promised (in one of this generation's most hideus cliches) some "face time" with the CEO. The invitation went on to promise him "access" to another couple of senior executives.

Our man doesn't like to think what part of the deputy head honchos he might end up looking at.

For the Biblically schooled, Exodus 33: 21-23 might come to mind:

And the Lord said, "Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand upon the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen."

Perhaps we should be grateful for that executive face time after all.

Email etales@idg.co.nz with your stories of wit and woe

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