Monday, August 25, 2008

Bad Speling Iz Ok Now?

This article has been in the back of my head, bugging me since I first read it. Mind, it's not the article itself that bothers me, it's the assertion that is being made in the article. Bad Spelling should be acceptable at the college level.

Spelling "truely atrosious," says academic (sic)

I've been mulling this over for weeks, and I've heard a few people make the argument that standardized spelling is a relatively new construct from a historic perspective. I occasionally misspell words, too. It happens, but I do try to correct it when I get a word wrong. Yet, I am still deeply annoyed that, in this, the day and age where computers will happily correct your spelling as you type that there would be a sudden lack of care about spelling.

When most correspondence was hand written, spelling was important. When most correspondence was done through manual type-writers, spelling was important. Now that machines can help us spell, it isn't?

This is a business problem too. With the globalization of the workforce, something I've dealt with first hand at my last few jobs, the person reading the message may not be a native English speaker. In fact, the person reading may not be able to speak or read English at all. Just as machines help us spell, machines help us translate one language to another. However, if I throw poorly spelled words into a translation engine, it will not try to translate the word at all (and rightly so). Passing the word right through in misspelled English.

I can see why this British college professor would be tired of correcting such misspellings, because in an academic setting, he can always expect that he is the primary audience, and his students must have a passing ability to communicate in English. However, if his idea is accepted, I would not want to hire the students that come out of his classes. They would do no good where I work. They would only serve to make communication more difficult with my co-workers from around the world, and worse - perpetuate the global feeling that the rich countries are becoming more stupid.

When someone who did not grow up speaking and writing English earnestly attempts to correct a misspelling by a native English writer, will that writer feel embarrassed? I hope so.

There's a whole different question about how someone who is unable to correctly spell words, made it past the college admissions exam, but I won't get into that now.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Beijing : Attack and Murder at the Drum Tower

I feel that I should begin by expressing how safe I felt while I was in Beijing. I felt safer in every part of Beijing than I do in downtown Minneapolis. The news outlets don't really say that enough while sharing this bit of news. Actual physical attacks on foreigners are very unusual in Beijing. Like any large city, crimes of opportunity are common, but confrontational attacks against foreigners are incredibly rare.

Todd Bachman, his wife Barbara, and their Chinese guide -- who's name has not been reported, as far as I can find -- were attacked and stabbed at the historic Beijing Drum Tower on 9 Aug, 2008 at 12:20 pm Beijing time. Todd Bachman died of his injuries. Barbara Bachman underwent emergency surgery, and is said to be in serious, but stable, condition.

To most of the world, as the China Daily reports, he was an American tourist, and family member to a US Olympic coach.

To the rest of the country, as reported by the New York Times, Todd was the Father-in-law to current Olympic US Men's Volleyball team coach, Hugh McCutcheon. Or, as the LA Times reports, the father of Elisabeth "Wiz" Bachman, former Olympic Women's Volleyball player for the 2004 US team at the Athens Olympics.

Of all the stories though, I prefer the one about the man, and not about who he is related to.

As many of you know, I live in Minnesota. Todd and Barbara Bachman also live here. Where I live, the local paper, the Star Tribune, reports that Todd Bachman is the CEO of a local and successful chain of Florist and gardening stores, called "Bachman's". By successful, I mean that that the business has survived for more than 120 years. As a point of perspective, I mention that this year marks the 150th year of Minnesota statehood. There wasn't much of a Minneapolis 120 years ago when they opened.

Extensive reporting on the assailant is available, his name, work-history, where he was born, and who his family is. He jumped from the Drum Tower's second level (where the attack occurred), and died instantly upon impacting the ground.

However, it bothers me that we know nothing at all about the third victim of this crime. Even in the China Daily report, she is known only as "a Chinese tour guide". I only hope her injuries are less severe than the other two, and that reporting on her is unimportant because she is now starting a new day of being a tour guide. I hope this, especially considering the injuries to the other victims. The only indication of her well-being, from China Daily, "The two injured women are in stable condition at a hospital," does not suggest she is back at work today.

Todd and Barbara's daughter, who was present, but not injured, has even been reported on. As a former Olympiad, I suppose that's natural, but that only makes me more bothered at the fact that nobody reports any details about the tour guide. She is also a victim of this tragic crime. I'm sure I'm not the only person who wonders about such things.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Javascript Toolkits; Web Programming

So I've started working with the Dojo Toolkit -- mostly because I ran the demo for it, and I was impressed by what it could do out of the box. It does have a very nicely featured demonstration set.

I've mentioned this to some friends and colleagues, and instead of thoughts or experiences with this toolkit, I got back a whole bunch of comments about why I chose to work with Dojo and not "my favorite toolkit, x," where X is either a larger distribution that includes Dojo, or a smaller, more specialized distribution that I've never heard of. The other suggestion I keep hearing is "Prototype".

That I've never heard of 'x', shouldn't be surprising. While I've been doing web pages and light web programming for some years, I've only done very lightweight JavaScript. I've never done anything with Ajax, for example. I've done pre-load and post-load things, but none of this requires a toolkit.

Anyway -- it's not that I don't want to hear about toolkits, but there is a certain undeniable power to a decent demonstration set -- not just a verbose description. And THAT is what got me to actually give Dojo a serious look.

Once I get what I'm trying to do fully functional, I'll be sure to post it here. So, far, I've only played around on my home computer.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Florida Bird Photos from Today.

Someone I know in Florida sent me some pictures of birds -- the pictures were taken today.

Black Bellied Whistling Duck
Green Heron
Little Blue Heron
Roseate Spoonbill
Snowy Egret
Woodstork w Roseate Spoonbill