Monday, November 14, 2011
Create + Update = ?
Fun as that is, I'm actually interested today in a term I have run across a few times recently that pertains to just two of these, namely create and update. The standard database command for creating a new database entry is Insert. If you need to update an existing entry, you use (logically) the Update command. Sometimes, tho, you have a situation where you want to update-or-insert — that is, update the item if it exists, or create (insert) it if it doesn't.
Turns out there's actually a term for this: Upsert. Like, a legitimate, definitely-in-use term that gets over 100,000 search hits and that has its own Wikipedia entry.
Like CRUD, this isn't apt to warm the hearts of editors. (It's also not yet in general dictionaries, which is more editorial reason to frown about it.) It's handy, tho, at least for the crowd that deals with CRUD-y stuff all day long. The term has been formalized in at least a few programming frameworks as an actual command (salesforce.com, Oracle). It's hard to imagine that the terms would escape into general usage from its current confines in the world of database folks. But you never know.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
I can C you now
Then today I was glancing at someone's resume, which said this: "Highly effective external and internal communication from C-level to consumer." Same term, basically, twice within 24 hours. What the heck?
Apparently I've been out of touch with the terms C-suite and C-level. It's all over Google (> 1 million) hits, as if the evidence of seeing it on the cover of a magazine weren't enough evidence that it's widely known. Wikipedia has a nice explanation in its entry for Corporate title:
The highest level executives are usually called "C-level" or part of the "C-suite", referring to the 3-letter initials starting with "C" and ending with "O" (for "Chief __________ Officer"); the traditional offices are Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Operations Officer (COO), and Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Chief administrative officer and Chief risk officer positions are often found in banking, insurance, and other financial services companies. Technology companies (including telecom and semi-conductor) tend to have a Chief Technology Officer (CTO), while companies with a strong Information Technology (IT) presence have a Chief Information Officer (CIO). In creative/design companies (such as film studios, a comics company or a web design company), there is sometimes a Chief Creative Officer (CCO), responsible for keeping the overall look and feel of different products, otherwise headed by different teams, constant throughout a brand.
I take a very small comfort that the terms C-level and C-office don't appear (yet) in general-purpose dictionaries (including the OED, as far as I can tell). The Investopedia site has a definition that refers to C-suite as "widely used slang." That seems right.
I'm curious how long the terms have been around; they seem widespread enough to seem pretty established. Paul McFedries finds a citation from 1997 for CxO (Chief [Whatever] Officer), and his entry (tho not the citation) talks about C-suite and C-level.
I tried a Google n-gram search, but the hyphen is treated as a token by itself and I don't know how to get around that just yet.
Anyway, there you go: one of those moments. A term (two terms) that I've apparently been surrounded by for a decade or more and would have sworn I'd never heard before. I suppose it's evidence that I my own self will not soon be achieving any sort of C-level.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Why a Duck?
In Seattle, the venerable Alaskan Way Viaduct that runs along the downtown waterfront — a stretch of State Route 99 — has been shut down. This is the first phase of a project in which the old viaduct will be replaced with a tunnel. The viaduct is old (1953) and was damaged during a 2001 earthquake. Everyone feared a repeat of the collapse of the Cypress Street Viaduct in San Francisco, and the state DOT (cleverly?) posted a video that showed a simulation of what might happen to the viaduct in an earthquake.
All this led to a, um, Seattle-style debate about how to replace it, and here we are, a decade later, finally getting around to actually doing something. As of Friday October 21, the viaduct will be shut for 10 days while they do some preliminary work.
The problem is that the viaduct carries about 100,000 cars a day and that the only other major north-south route in Seattle is I-5. Closing off this route is, as with the L.A. closure of I-405, many people's worst traffic nightmare.
Ok! So what to call it? Carmageddon is sort of already claimed.
An early term that the MSM seems to favor is Viaduct Crunch. Adequate, but lacking that certain something.
Let's see what's shaking on Twitter! One hashtag on Twitter that has some traction is #viacondios. Cute, but to my mind a bit of a stretch.
It's looking like people are converging around #viadoom. It's all over Twitter, of course, and the term has gotten enough traction that it's showing up (albeit in quotation marks) in media reports — for example, in a Reuters article.
I do suspect that cute names for this little diversion are going to wear thin very quickly. L.A.'s carmageddon lasted one weekend. Viadoom is going to last 10 days, and there's years' worth of construction still to come. Perhaps when the tunnel boring starts in earnest, we'll get another term for that particular mess.
PS Should you not recognize the title of this entry, have a gander at this video.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Just throw some text at it
Friday, October 14, 2011
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Let's (cohort) party down
- If anyone is interested in having a cohort party, feel free to suggest some possible ideas. […] On friday, Melanie was saying something about a get together on December 15th, which is the day after we finish our practicum [#]
- Some girls from my Elementary Education cohort decided to have a couples party. [#]
- Each intake is split into cohorts. Each cohort divides into clusters. And each cluster… well, it’s just a cluster. So a lot of socialising happens at the cohort level. Like last night at the Irish pub in Rittenhouse Square, where the INSEAD group crashed a two-cohort party. We were told to ask the cohort of whomever we spoke to before they had a chance to ask ours. If they said “cohort E”, we were to pretend to be from “cohort I”. If they said “cohort I”, we were naturally from “cohort E” [#]
- We have had the chance to meet many members of Cohort 10 as they’ve joined us for classes and speaker series over the past few months […] Now we are all anxiously awaiting the Baltimore Study Group-sponsored cohort party in January. [#]
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
A smarter way to app
Monday, September 12, 2011
One Nissan Leaf, two Nissan ...
Thursday, September 01, 2011
The honey badgers of web development
First there was the honey badger, a badger-like creature that's apparently known for its "ferocious defensive abilities." Then there was a nature program (video) that explored the honey badger's appetite for such delicacies as bee larvae and cobras and its apparent indifference to bees and snakebite and venom and pain. And then there
was Randall's alternate narration (video) for that nature documentary, from which all the world learned that "Honey badger don't care. Honey badger don't give a shit."
Like it? Get the t-shirt or the poster.
Right, this isn't news; the Know Your Meme site has a nice piece that recounts the brief history. (It also came up in the TV show "Glee," which is nothing if not culturally au courant.)
What's fun is watching the term honey badger go generic. Earlier this year, Mignon Fogarty (aka Grammar Girl) tweeted this:
Honey badger don't care about "i.e." and "e.g." (http://youtu.be/4r7wHMg5Yjg), but you should: http://j.mp/m3apUD
That was in May; note that she uses the full phrase and includes a link for the as-then-still uninitiated. But yesterday I found this in a technical article:
Then there are the honey badgers of web development, the notorious Content Management Systems, designed to kill all your hopes and dreams.
No "don't care" here; no link. You either get it or don't.
This is what really interests me; is it possible for the term honey badger to become decoupled from any explicit reference to Randall's video and enter the lexicon as a synonym for, dunno, "indifference" ("aggressive indifference"?). That would be pretty awesome for Randall, and awesome to have seen it happen.
1 As an aside, from an editorial perspective, the article is filled with cultural references and is too clever by half, as people say. Woe onto the non-English-as-first-language speaker (non-American?) who reads this. Entertaining, tho. :-)
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Organize and humorize
I say "mostly" because although they used a hyphen in the body of the ad, they don't in the subject line of the email where I saw this.
Update: This is an ad for a desk calendar, in case that isn't clear, oops.
I personally have no problem with -izing nouns, but some folks do ("seemingly lazy application of this custom").
Friday, August 12, 2011
True only if you don't say it about yourself
It's always bugged me, too, this thing where a person or a company takes pains to tell you what they think their virtues are:
- I'm a classy person.
- I'm an educated person.
- I'm a modest person.
- (Most any reference to "elegant" in a product description.)
Now John Scalzi has coined a term for this: McKean's inversion. He describes it this way:
The adjective a person says they are is frequently the thing they are not.
The name McKean's inversion originates via an indirect route. Erin McKean is a lexicographer (among her other talents) who once stated what's come to be known as McKean's Law: "Any correction of the speech or writing of others will contain at least one grammatical, spelling, or typographical error." Scalzi knows McKean and says he remembers how she once observed that ...
... if someone used the word to describe themselves, it was often quite obvious that they were in fact the opposite.
Thus the inversion. And as noted, McKean's Law was already taken.
It's a little early to tell, but my sense is that this is intended to be used for instances where the person is being a bit clueless. It would therefore not work when they're simply being disingenuous, e.g., "I'm just a humble technical writer." But who knows?
Friday, August 05, 2011
One media to rule them all
Not a surprising neologism in retrospect, but then again, good ones always seem obvious after the fact:
- Welcome to the first murdochracy
- This is What Murdochracy Looks Like
- The revolt against Murdochracy: a view from Oz
- End days for dead paper and "Murdochracy"?
- Is the Murdochracy tumbling down?
Definition? Well, dunno, something like this:
Murdoch's immense political power , which has had successive Prime Ministers dancing attendance on him, and rushing to confer lucrative favors on his News Corporation.(Thanks to James Galasyn for finding this one.)
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
In contemporary America, we also have people who are — and I am inventing this word here — illegitimists: They believe that the president of the United States is illegitimately elected, or that the country is ruled by a cabal that is in turn controlled by some other sinister force or forces.(She is careful to note that her intent is to be agnostic with respect to political persuasion, by noting that this also described Marxists in an earlier era. Not everyone buys this attempt.)
Just as a word, illegitimist is not unknown. It has no dictionary entry in standard dictionaries (at least, as per Dictionary.com and Vocabulary.com). Even the mighty OED does not have a specific entry for this term. However, there is a precedent or two:
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
PepsiCo and the future of snack terms
Let's say you give a kid a carrot," Nooyi [CEO] explained. "And he says, 'I don't want to eat a carrot.' But you say, 'I tell you what, I'll give it to you in a wonderful drinkable form that's still as close to the carrot as possible.' All of a sudden, what have I done? I've drinkified the snack! Or I take a fruit juice and give it to you in a wonderful squeezable form, which is Tropolis. What have I done now? I've snackified the drink.
- reward sensitivity -- a term from psychology (?) referring to how easily people are satisfied. (Something that people who design snacks take into account.) No quotation marks in the article. (34K Google hits.)
- bliss point -- the point at which you achieve satisfaction, same context. In quotation marks. (48K Google hits.)
- sip and spit, e.g. sip and spit rooms -- the technique used for tasting. In quotation marks. (Familiar from wine and coffee tasting, I suppose -- 160K Google hits.)
- blue-can Pepsi -- the traditional/original version of Pepsi. No quotation marks. (8K Google hits.)
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
From Greek battles to all-day presentations
- Walkathon (alt. walk-a-thon)
- Butt-numb-a-thon (my personal favorite), described as "a celebration of film fandom," 12 movies in a row.
Monday, April 04, 2011
It's useless, but somehow not
Nothing fancy and of debatable uselessfullness (probably should never be in 4Hi with lockers ON). Maybe some cases in sand dunes or snow, but not much else.
Uselessfulness. Yes that is now a word. A term we are coining for Tuscon artist Nick Georgiou who takes useless trash (pretty much anything print) and creates amazing useful works of art.
Friday, April 01, 2011
Truthiness and falsiness
12 + "a". A discussion for another time: does boolean get a cap?)
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
I don't have a smartphone, I have ...
There is a formal term, actually: it's a feature phone. (2.6 MM hits on Google.)
There are some interesting things here. One is that this is a kind of retronym; the term feature phone is defined primarily by what it's not. What it's not, however, has changed a bit. If Wikipedia is to be believed, a feature phone was originally a phone that had more features than the original set of monochrome, just-talk cellphones. (Cite.) However, these days, since those old-skool phones are pretty much gone, a feature phone is a phone that has fewer features than its successor, namely a smartphone. Or both at once -- this article describes it this way:
Feature phones, [which] are dumb phones that have elements (but not the full connectivity) of smartphones.And here's another wrinkle: the term smartphone itself has had something of a movable definition. Or even a circular one. Here's Wikipedia:
A smartphone is a mobile phone that offers more advanced computing ability and connectivity than a contemporary feature phone.The article goes on to describe the first smartphone (1992) as having many of the features that people would probably consider smartphone-ish:
[...] it also contained a calendar, address book, world clock, calculator, notepad, e-mail, send and receive fax, and games. It had no physical buttons to dial with. Instead customers used a touchscreen to select telephone numbers with a finger or create facsimiles and memos with an optional stylus. Text was entered with a unique on-screen "predictive" keyboard. By today's standards, the Simon would be a fairly low-end product, lacking for example the camera now considered usual.1992? Impressive.
Note that this implicitly says that smartphones today include cameras, i.e., part of the definition (necessary but not sufficient) is that there's a camera. It don't do the trick if it ain't got that click.
But the term smartphone itself is even older than that. Paul McFedries finds a cite that goes back to 1984, where of course it meant something a bit different:
Part of the transparent keyboard facility is the ability to deal with the telephone through the "smartphone" option, which makes it possible to answer the phone (using a headset) with the computer.Not today's definition, I think we can agree. It's tempting to say that smartphone simply means "whatever the newest state of phone technology is," but that isn't supported by actual usage citations. Still, it does lead a body to speculate what we'll call the next generation of phones, which will have the ability to ... golly, what? I can't even imagine. But it's a sure thing that the current generation of iPhones et al. will someday seem quaintly primitive. At that point, it's hard to imagine that we'll still be calling them smartphones. Or what we'll call the new ones.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Under the table and DRMing
I got some information DRM'd to me that …
Monday, January 24, 2011
Gasmic consciousness, Part II
The patriotgasm certainly seems Michael Bay-like.This sent me searching, which yielded the following without much effort:
- Super Bowl stat-gasm
- Moore-gasm (as in, Michael Moore)
- snow gasm (a puerile bit from a comedy site)
- higher ed-gasm
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Lost in the search-result woods
For a Google search, tho, it's all about page 1; according to one study, "sites surveyed received more than 95% of all their non-branded natural search traffic from page-one results." There's a lively industry around getting a site onto Google's first page. Because if you're not on page 1, you are ... what? "In the wilderness"? "At the back of the pack"?
Links to prominent services like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Flickr carry a lot of weight with Google, and can push unwanted content to the Google Ghetto, otherwise known as page two.