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When I was studying Spanish and had gotten to the point where our assignments consisted of reading real books, I kept a well-thumbed dictionary on my desk. Every paragraph seemed to contain several words that I had to look up, which was tedious and slow. Our wise teacher kept telling us that we didn't need to do that—you don't actually have to know what every word means to understand the text.  Continue reading...
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In a comical scene in the film The Princess Bride, the character Inigo Montoya has finally had enough of hearing the bad guy Vizzini say "Inconceivable!" when things are not only conceivable, but just keep happening. Montoya is finally moved to say, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."  Continue reading...
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Given how much our day-to-day lives are influenced by weather — and especially by storms — perhaps it's not surprising that we have a rich vocabulary for these natural phenomena.  Continue reading...
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Although we can take inspiration from stories where "failure is not an option," engineers think a lot about situations in which it very much is an option. Certainly in the world of computers, failure is never far away, and consequently there is some interesting vocabulary around anticipating and managing that failure.  Continue reading...
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There are all sorts of words in English based on the -onym word part, which derives from a Greek word that means name. Everyone knows about homonyms and synonyms, but what about retronyms, demonyms, and aptonyms?  Continue reading...
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Recently I was in a meeting about computer security where the presenter concluded an explanation with "…basically, it's an example of the Confused Deputy problem." For me, the term confused deputy vividly invoked a kind of genial befuddlement that might indeed result in a security problem.  Continue reading...
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Your computer's keyboard has around 110 keys by which you can make your wishes known to the machine. Most of these have obvious labels: if you press the A key, the letter A appears on the screen. Some are less obvious, though — the Shift key and the mysterious Ctrl key — and in this article I'll explore why they're named what they're named.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 Displaying 1-7 of 23 Articles