October 2000

3 Oct 2000[link to here]

Last night some friends and I invented and played a fun word game. I had an American dictionary with me, as all travelers should, so my cohorts generously opted to allow American words and spellings. It turns out that knowing the rules to convert American spellings to British is not enough. I tried to use the word "notarised", thinking that it would be the British equivalent of "notarized", but the British don't have notaries. No one notarises anything here and the word isn't in the dictionary.

Actually, I tried to use the word "notorised", because I'm an idiot. I guess that would be what a motorized British notary did. I like to think I wouldn't have made that mistake if the board hadn't been upside-down from my vantage point, but I'll never really know.

5 Oct 2000[link to here]

There are at least two efforts going on to make a music hash function with the following properties:

  1. Two recordings that sound the same should have the same hash.
  2. Two recordings that don't sound the same should have different hashes.

No one is close yet, as far as I can tell, but I think they should also be trying for a third goal:

  1. Songs that sound similar should have similar hashes.

The third property could just emerge if the first two are done well, but it might help to keep it in mind. It would enable lots of other useful applications too.

The funny thing about the two efforts is that Tuneprint, the one that's billing itself as an open source project by and for The People, requires people to sign an NDA before they can see the code and has avoided answering questions about what the license on the code will eventually be. In contrast, Songprint was written by a company hoping to make money off selling tools for related services, and their code was released under the GPL. The Tuneprint web pages talk the right talk, but Songprint is at least trying to go somewhere.

6 Oct 2000[link to here]

Yesterday I did some fire juggling and went to a ceilidh, today I took a breakdancing class, and tonight I'm going clubbing (techno/trance). I am a diverse dancing machine! Sunday I'll go back to what I don't suck at, as I head off to Amsterdam to help celebrate Herfstjongleerdag. Be back next-weekish.

This raises an interesting point. Sometimes people argue that spelling should be phonetic, because then it would be easier to know how to spell spoken words or pronounce written words. I like morphological spelling because it makes it easy to know what written words mean.

The reason for the divergence is that spoken language changes much faster than written language, and this gives rise to another convenience. Even when two languages are distinct enough to be considered different languages, many words may be written similarly. I like the fact that I can read the Herfstjongleerdag web site and understand it with enough confidence to book plane tickets, despite the fact that it's in Dutch, and I don't know any Dutch. If someone were to read it to me, I'd have no idea what they were talking about, and I'd be spending next week sitting around here.

13 Oct 2000[link to here]

Rolling Stone (via MongoMusic) emitted this funny use of language:

Yesterday, [Tori Amos] and her [..] husband Mark Hawley [..] gave birth to a seven-pound, as-yet-unnamed baby girl.

Given the distribution of labor, I think it would be fair not to name the man as a principal actor of giving birth. I guess this way it's easy to work him into the news blurb, but I think we can do better.

It's also sad that this is in MongoMusic's news section, even though the story is dated over a month ago. I can't believe the world of music is really that uneventful. (I don't usually use their site; I'm doing research for job hunting.)

25 Oct 2000[link to here]

I've been traveling for the past couple weeks, so despite having things to say, I haven't had time online to say them. The more time I spend doing things worth talking about, the less I talk about them. Here are two tidbits from a couple weeks ago:

I saw in a cafe a triangular pastry covered in almond slices. The sign said "Almond Triangle (contains nuts)".

I passed by a storefront for an escort agency named "Fingerprints". Their slogan is "Leave an impression". Ick.