Vista Service Pack 2

I've just upgraded to Vista Service Pack 2. So far I'm not that impressed.



Sometimes you have to invent a new word. As a scientist I have to come up with new names for new concepts I think up but it's not that often that I need a new name for something that occurs in everyday life.

This summer I was on a summer school for two weeks together with about a hundred other people. Most where Ph.D. students quite a bit younger than me and inevitably there were a couple of romances there. For reasons I won't go into we started to refer to these romances as "drowning". For example, if we suspected that one guy had fallen in love with someone we would alert that he was drowning. Some couples had serious cases of drowning. It was rather absurd but also a bit of fun to refer to it as drowning.

At some point I commented that drowning was a euphemism but quickly realized that I was wrong. A euphemism is a word which sounds much nicer that the word it is replacing. However, drowning is certainly not as pleasant as falling in love. Hence drowning, in the sense we used it, it not a euphemism. But then what is it? Is there a name for this? No one new, not even the guys from Oxford. So one of them, Christopher Broadbent, came up with a word: malfemism. It's obviously derived from euphemism using a bit of Latin which goes well beyond my knowledge. It's not that it will be the most useful word in the history but I still like it, both for the way it sounds and the fact that it was created for a situation where I actually needed it.

So here's a new word for you: malfemism, for when the actual word is too nice and boring.

Google Toolbar

I've had my ups and downs with the Google Toolbar for Firefox this week. Normally I think it has some valuable features in addition to what Firefox offers although I only use a fraction of all the things you can do with it. But things have been a little frustrating the last few days.

It started with Google announcing Sidewiki. Reading their announcement really got me fired up. This is something that I've been thinking about and wanting for many years. Well frankly, the scale was a little smaller in my head. What I've been after is a way for academics to annotate papers they read with comments and share them with others in a simple way. I've discovered quite a few bugs in research papers over the years and at times I've been frustrated with the fact that no one takes responsibility for these, not the published and very seldomly the author(s). So naturally Sidewiki got me very enthusiastic because it's just what I wanted, and on steroids even!

So I rushed to download the new Google Toolbar which is needed to access Sidewiki. After I restarted Firefox I looked around for the new feature. After a few moments of unsuccessful searching I went to consult Googles help section. As it turns out Sidewiki doesn't work in all languages yet, and one of the unsupported languages is Swedish. Dang! But why am I using a Swedish toolbar in the first place? I often use the English language version of software because I often find that the Swedish translations can be confusing and I tend to use the English terms anyway.

The next step was naturally to download the English version of the toolbar. But the download page didn't give me any choice of language. After a couple of minutes of more research I find out that the language of the toolbar is determined by the language used for Firefox. So it turns out I have a Swedish version of Firefox, something that is complete news to me, especially since all the menus are in English. Argh! And the reason for this is because I choose the Swedish as my language when installing Ubuntu some two years ago since Ubuntu handles the installation and upgrading of Firefox.

To sum up, I can't use Sidewiki because some decision I made a couple of years ago. Sigh. There are of course a whole number of things I can do to make it work but I don't know of a single one which I would actually be prepared to do at this point. I just have to be patient for a Sidewiki to be translated to Swedish.

There was also one other thing today. The new version of Google Toolbar that I now have installed has a feature for translating web pages and offering this translation of pages not in your home language. I've already disabled this feature for English pages. But a few moments ago I visited a Swedish page. Google Toolbar identified it as being in German and offered to translate into Swedish. Hello?



Douglas Coupland is an author that I've been following rather closely during the years. He has a way of describing the modern world in a way that's funny, clever and very much to the point. One of his key ingredients in these descriptions are phrases which captures modern world truisms, something he refers to as Couplandisms. Given my taste for quotes I really cannot resist these. Coupland maintains a page full of these phrases and it's little goldmine. Here's a few examples.
We’re rapidly approaching a world comprised entirely of jail and shopping.
If you don’t change, then what’s the point of anything happening to you?
Figure out what it is in life you don’t do well, and then don’t do it.
Is there anything in the world more annoyingly creepy than an unspoken dress code?
It’s weird when people start sentences with ‘frankly’ — as if their other sentences don’t count.
I don’t want any vegetables, thank you. I paid for the cow to eat them for me.

The Couplandisms are a quotes from his various books. Maybe sometime I'll write about which of his books I recommend and which I don't. For now, have fun with the Couplandisms.