October 2009 Archives

♻ Regexps gone wrong

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Listening to Pandora today, I saw a sad sight: a poorly written regular expression let loose on the world.

The “about this artist” tab showed the following (excerpt):

Nappy Roots began making music together at a local record shop-c*m-studio named ET’s Music, and released their full-length debut, Country Fried Cess, in 1998.

What? “shop-c*m-studio”?

It took me a second to realize that someone wrote a regular expression (perhaps \bcum\b) assuming that every instance of the word “cum” was… obscene, and not thinking about the combining preposition.

Perhaps this isn’t a case of bad regular expressions, but a bigger statement about the word. Maybe the implementor of the regular expression thought it was dirty. Do kids today know this word has some other (more legitimate) meaning? At least x-cum-y is pronounced differently (koŏm) than the obscene word (kəm). On the other hand, “anal” (as in “anal-retentive”) is pronounced the same as the other anatomical adjective, and we don’t snicker when we hear that… do we?


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Learn Terminal.app tips, tricks, and history from one of its authors, Ben Stiglitz (who kind of reminds me of the Micro Machines guy).

[via Visor, the absolutely essential Terminal.app companion]

♻ SuperAwesome

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Google Chrome has one of the best bug labels I’ve ever seen: SuperAnnoying.

♻ Another phew moment

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Phew. Another phenomenon I thought I was neurotic for suffering from, revealed by Wikipedia: semantic saturation.

Have you ever had to repeat a word over and over again really quickly? I most recently remember this happening to me with the word “false.” Just say it out loud. “False.” Break it down. “false.” Again: false false false false.

It just becomes letters and sounds—I can’t convince myself the thing ever had meaning.

Why it happens is pretty cool:

The explanation for the phenomenon was that verbal repetition repeatedly aroused a specific neural pattern in the cortex which corresponds to the meaning of the word. Rapid repetition causes both the peripheral sensorimotor activity and the central neural activation to fire repeatedly, which is known to cause reactive inhibition, hence a reduction in the intensity of the activity with each repetition.

Neural adaptation: useful for tricking your vision, and now, your language.

[via Best of Wikipedia]

♻ Souljah Boy Told 'Em

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Ever wonder why Soulja Boy always goes by “Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em” when we’re not quite sure who is being told what?

Apparently, it’s because of “Souljah Boy.” Yes. With the ‘h.’ The (much less famous) rapper sued and forced Mr. Way to change his official stage name to Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em.

Of course, there will always be the original “Soldier Boy” for us:

P.S.: If your ears can take it, give the remix a chance.