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  • Blog Post: What’s the difference between ternary and tertiary?

    The conditional operator ( condition ? consequence : alternative ) is often referred to as both the “ternary operator” and the “tertiary operator”. What’s the difference? “ Ternary ” means “ having three parts ”. Operators in C# can be unary, binary or ternary – they take one, two or three operands...
  • Blog Post: Begging the question

    In my last post I described the syllogism " Photogenic people look good in photograps; Michelle Pfeiffer is photogenic; therefore, Michelle Pfeiffer looks good in photographs " as "begging the question". A few people commented on that, so I thought I'd address this point of English usage. In modern...
  • Blog Post: Five-Dollar Words For Programmers, Part Four: Boustrophedonic

    Here’s an almost useless but thoroughly delightful five-dollar word. English of course is read left-to-right. Hebrew and Arabic are read right-to-left. A text is boustrophedonic if it reads left-to-right and right-to-left, alternating . It’s from the Greek βουστροφηδόν meaning “as the ox turns”; you...
  • Blog Post: A Couple Links

    Just two unrelated links today. First, Raymond's post today reminded me of one of my favourite lines from the L.A. Story screenplay : "Look, rather than do an interview with me, which would be fascinating, by the way, because of my interesting word usements I structure , what if I showed you around...
  • Blog Post: "Boolean or" or "boolean or"?

    I was writing the text for some new error messages for the expression tree library the other day. When I ran them past our user education specialists (that is, the people who will be writing the documentation to explain the error messages), one of them pointed out that “Boolean” is an eponym -- a word...
  • Blog Post: Error messages: diagnostic is preferable to prescriptive

    The new LINQ features are going to create new failure modes for the compiler, so we're going to need to create some new error messages. The compiler development team got together the other day to discuss what makes an error message good or bad. I thought I'd share with you guys what we came up with....
  • Blog Post: If so smart Yoda is, why does not words the right order in his sentences put?

    Part three of my series on the impact of high-dimensional geometry on search algorithms will have to wait at least until after the Victoria Day weekend -- I'm crazy busy getting wedding invitations out, working on last-minute book edits and, oh yeah, that Whidbey thing. However I will take a couple...
  • Blog Post: Ologiology

    No technology today -- but, hey, where does that word "technology" come from, anyway? I'm on this politics/technology/etc. mailing list. A recent poster noted that Donald Rumsfeld, in an interview will Bill O'Reilly on the subject of, of all things, the Boy Scouts, used the word "phraseology". He...
  • Blog Post: Anthimeria weirds languages

    A little non-technical rant for a Friday. Professor Thingo, in a recent blog entry, decries the use of "Gestalt" as a verb and asks " Does the English language now allow parts of speech to be used entirely interchangeably? Did I miss a memo? " Though I also would personally balk at verbing "Gestalt...
  • Blog Post: OOP = Obviously Oxmoronic Posting

    In double-checking today's entry, I see that I wrote: Saying that script is bad because spotty teenage vandals use it is obviously specious . Hmm. Is there such a thing as “obviously specious”, or is that an oxymoron?
  • Blog Post: A Grammatical Aside

      I just wrote in a comment to my previous entry, "The ability to rate one's knowledge of a subject accurately is strongly correlated with one's knowledge."   Wait a minute.   "One's"???   Word's grammar checker didn't blink at that.   But nor does...
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