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Journal Journal: Data Corruption from Excel Autocorrect 1

Someone on TECHWR-L posted a link to this paper (under the paradoxical title "The Cupertino Effect"), which is about how Excel's autocorrect feature can corrupt statistical analysis of genetic data if/when Excel "makes the wrong assumption" about an entry based on how it looks:

Comment Documentation (Score 1) 676

I actually am a technical writer, and I like it. Now that I have been working in the field for a while, I'm chary about getting involved with F/OSS projects because the F/OSS community in general tends to treat non-programmers as not worth bothering with or listening to, even though a lot of us who'd really like to get involved are working professionals with good track records. I don't need to get treated like shit and ignored on a volunteer project when, if I get treated like shit and ignored in the corporate world, I'm at least drawing a paycheque. (Nothing eats like food, after all.)

I've seen far too much of the attitude around that programmers should write the documentation, because the programmers know the application best (as if that's a particularly good criterion by which to create documentation!), and IME that really only accomplishes two things: It makes your programmers (who'd rather be programming, quelle surprise) cranky, and it pisses off your user base, when the documentation reads like something that has been hacked together by someone who doesn't know the first thing or care a whit about documentation. Brilliant.

Now, if someone were serious about getting technical writing students involved in F/OSS projects, I'd recommend contacting these folks: Cooperative Education and Career Services at the University of Waterloo, and the Rhetoric and Professional Writing and Rhetoric and Communication Design programme people. They do co-ops at both the graduate and undergraduate levels in those programmes, and, at least when I was there, seem to be quite open to unconventional project ideas...
The Media

Getting The Public To Listen To Good Science 419

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "We all know that false or misleading science headlines are all too common these days and that misleading media combined with an apathetic and undereducated public lead to widespread ignorance. But the real question is, how can this trend be reversed? At a session at the recent AAAS meeting, a study was discussed indicating that what matters most is how the information is portrayed. While people are willing to defer to experts on matters of low concern, for things that affect them directly, such as breast cancer or childhood diseases, expertise only counts for as much as giving off a 'sense of honesty and openness,' and that it matters far less than creating a sense of empathy in deciding who people will listen to. In other words, it's not enough to merely report on it as an expert. You need to make sure your report exudes a sense of honesty, openness, empathy, and maybe even a hint of humor."
First Person Shooters (Games)

Do Gamers Enjoy Dying in First-Person-Shooters? 309

Ponca City, We Love You writes "Brandon Erickson has an interesting post about an experiment on players' emotional reactions to killing and being killed in a first-person shooters (FPS) with a group of students who played James Bond 007: Nightfire while their facial expressions and physiological activity were tracked and recorded moment-to-moment via electrodes and various other monitoring equipment. The study found that "death of the player's own character...appear[s] to increase some aspects of positive emotion." The authors believe this may result from the temporary "relief from engagement" brought about by character death. "Part of this has to do with the intriguing aesthetic question of precisely how the first-person-shooter represents the player after the moment of death," says Clive Thompson. "This sudden switch in camera angle — from first person to third person — is, in essence, a classic out-of-body experience, of exactly the sort people describe in near-death experiences. And much like real-life near-death experiences, it tends to suffuse me with a curiously zen-like feeling." An abstract of the original article, "The psychophysiology of James Bond: Phasic emotional responses to violent video game events" is available on the web." Obnoxiously this alleged scholarly research is not available for free, so we'll just have to speculate wildly what it says based on the abstract.

Comment I'll go you one better... (Score 1) 9

Some dimbulb sent me thirty-six copies of an e-mail with a 47MB attachment. It seems she doesn't know a) that PDFs tend to be large; b) how to check the file size on something; c) that the Internet isn't like a toilet -- if something doesn't go down the first time, flushing again won't help; d) how to read a bounce notice enough to figure out why the message was returned; and e) that sometimes a big message takes a long time to go out, and hitting Send again and again doesn't make it go faster (or something).

I sent her an angry e-mail because she'd managed to fill up my disk quota (and boy was that a royal PITA to clean up), and she said, "I don't know why you got all those copies. You should have only gotten three. It kept getting returned, so I tried sending it again." *headdesk headdesk headdesk*

I should probably also mention that she sent this message to about 20 people at the same time.

I really don't know what to do about a case like that. Perfessor Multigeek suggested locking her in a room with a computer and a bunch of reference materials and not letting her out until she'd learnt to program, but I'm not hopeful... Strangulation with a length of CAT-5 cable?

Journal Journal: My Teeny Tiny Technical Writer-Dick 3

I admit it. Not only do I not have very many tools, most of the ones I do have aren't very big, and damn, I don't even know how to use the big ones very well.

(Get your minds out of the gutter. The big ones, in this case, would be MS Word and FrameMaker...)
The Almighty Buck

Journal Journal: On the Wrong Side of the Loop 2

Hey, everyone.

Boy, it's been a long summer. I spent quite a while hashing out something about streetcars and dealing with my injured arm, then ran out of money and had to spend quite a while herding bureaucrats. The bureaucrats in question were NGO-type bureaucrats, which are definitely the more malignant kind. (Governmental bureaucrats are relatively benign, for whatever reason, largely I think because their funding sources don't depend on how many butts they can cram into whatever
United States

Journal Journal: Streetcar Suburbs and Trolleytrack Towns 2

Author's Note: This is the first part of a series. The material here represents an excerpt from a longer work (in progress) to appear in print in late June. The material presented here may not appear in the final version in this form, and the formatting here has been optimised for online viewing.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Rustin, Where Are You? (Where *is* Rustin, anyway?) 3

(Back story: Rustin has gone to Portland, without leaving me contact info, so I don't know where he is at the moment.)

Rustin, if you're out there, please get in touch. I've got about a hundred questions I need to ask you.

Anybody who knows where Rustin is, could you please grab him by the ear and get him to call me, collect is ok. If he doesn't have my number, e-mail me at shgstewart at gmail dot com.
The Gimp

Journal Journal: It Ain't An Insult (X-Post from ?!ish LJ/Interroblog) 1

As the old Kenny Rogers song goes, I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in, and it turns out the unwashed barbarian hordes have taken it over. A friend of mine just sent me a link to this Language Log post called "A Brief History of Spaz." All this was brought on by Tiger Woods' saying, "I was so in control from tee to green, the best I've played for years... But as soon as I got on the green I w
It's funny.  Laugh.

Journal Journal: SofC 3

Whenever I eat a tall glass of melonade, what I really want to know is, how the hell can they be elements, huh? The truth? You can't handle the truth, ve'rak ani yode'a ma she'at sho'elet be'emet. Don't tell me what to do, don't tell me what to say, ma zot omeret? Laisse-moi d'etre ta corrida, welcome to the jungle, we got fun and games. Be'agam ha'barbarim, yesh li khaverim. I have been, and always will be, your friend. Home is where, when you go there, they have to take yo
It's funny.  Laugh.

Journal Journal: Geek Prom! 2

I really want to go to this! Unfortunately, it's all way the hell and gone parsecs out in Minnesota, which is too damn far for me. Do visit the yearbook pages and check out the photos of the cute, sweet, geeky lesbians. :)
The Almighty Buck

Journal Journal: Network or Die! 4

I am inspired to write this post because of my LiveJournal friend Dorable, who posted this entry recently about her employment status. It looks like it worked, judging from the next entry... So, because Rustin's always urging me to be completely shameless, I did one of my own:

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