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Archive for December, 2005

Dutch Media ban new orthography

One of my collegues of Tweakers.net, a guy from Belguim, was elected for participation in the Dutch TV-show ‘Het groot Dictee der Nederlandse taal’. This show consists of a ‘dictee’ (don’t know the English word for this, and can’t find it either) of the Dutch language and is recorded in the buildings of the Dutch parliament. This ‘dictee’ contains several words which are pretty difficult to write. The program is broadcasted on Nederland 3 at 20:15.

The Dutch language has the interesting property that there exists an official orthograpy (I think the English word ‘spelling’ is also appropriate here, but I’m not sure). This orthography describes exactly how words should be written and which rules should be followed for situations which are not documentened, e.g. the use of words of foreign languages in combination with a Dutch word.

This orthography is defined by an institute called ‘De Taalunie’, which is a government funded, not for profit organisation with people who know very much about language, and the Dutch language in particular. In 1995 this institute introduced a new definition of the Dutch language, which was controversial. The aim of this new definition was to solve ambiguities and inconsistencies which existed in the Dutch language since 1954 (which was the year of the latest update until 1995) in order to make it easier for people to determine how words should be written. This new orthography caused that some words were written different than before, especially the combination of two words.

This year, there is another update to the orthography of the Dutch language. This update will be effective somewhere in 2006 (not sure when) and should solve some incosistency problems which are still there since the update of 1995. Last week some Dutch media institutions announced that they will ban this new update, with the arguments that the new orthography lacks consistency, makes it to difficult and is ‘not logical’. The Dutch national paper ‘De Volkskrant’ and the Dutch broadcast institution ‘NOS’ (which produces the Dutch news program) say that they will not use the new spelling. Personally, I think their arguments are very weak, and the examples they are use to justify their decision, they mainly come up with words that are hardly used, such as ‘Nazitop’ (the leaders of the German NSDAP party which only existed until 1945 or something), havenot (I personally even don’t know what this word means) and some other words which are not used very often.

While the newspapers are ‘heavy’ users of the Dutch language, and generally are able to say something meaningfull about the new orthography, a big group of ‘normal people’ on the internet have their verdict ready about the new orthography. This is ok, when you have some arguments for a certain statement, but obviously most people really don’t know where they talk about.

Statements as ‘this is already the third time I have to learn the Dutch language again, while I’m only 19 years old’ (when he’s 19, there is only one ‘new spelling’ introduced since he’s alive) are typical. On the forum of Tweakers.net is a complete topic with (mostly) people who really have no clue what they are talking about.

One of the moderators of the forum, however, explains exactly my problem (I don’t feel like to translate it into English, sorry):

Ten eerste wordt de spelling niet om de vijf, maar om de tien jaar aangepast, een lekkere demagogische leugen, dus.

Ten tweede was de spellingswijziging van 1995 de eerste sinds 1954. Die van 1954 maakte een einde aan de ouderwetsche spelling die zoo verouderd was dat hij niet meer gebruikt werd.

Probleem dat toen geintroduceerd werd was de “voorkeurspelling”: je schrijft kopie, maar je mag ook copie schrijven. Dat was dusdanig onduidelijk dat er decennialang tegen geageerd is, omdat simpelweg niet duidelijk was wat de status van de voorkeurspelling was.

Ook de 1954-regels betreffende de tussen-n waren dusdanig verwarrend dat veel mensen ervan overtuigd waren dat het iets te maken had met een meervoud.

In 1995 is er geprobeerd (en met enig succes) om wat meer duidelijkheid te scheppen in de spelling. Ondanks de initiele bezwaren tegen pannenkoek (want dat kon niet, want meervoud, en meer van dat soort ongeinformeerde onzin) lijkt het allemaal best wel werkbaar.

Nu wordt er geprobeerd een aantal onvolkomenheden uit 1995 recht te trekken, waarbij inderdaad een paar rare situaties ontstaan. Goed kans dat die voor augustus nog rechtgetrokken worden, zoals ook het groene boekje uit 1995 een rectificatie kreeg. Maar de paar overtrokken voorbeelden tussen de duizenden woorden worden natuurlijk graag breed uitgemeten in de sensatiepers omdat het volk nu eenmaal zijn brood en spelen moet krijgen.

And

Zolang ik mensen (onder andere op dit forum) nog hoor klagen dat de d/t-regels zo ingewikkeld zijn betwijfel ik ten zeerste of zoveel mensen terecht kunnen claimen dat ze een verschil gaan merken.
Als jij inderdaad moeite hebt gedaan je alle wijzigingen uit 1995 correct aan te leren dan is het inderdaad zo dat je een aantal van die dingen nu weer aan moet passen. De overgrote meerderheid is echter nooit verder gekomen dan de verontwaardiging over pannenkoek, en het adagio dat niemand meer wist hoe je paardebloem moest spellen. Alsof dat een woord is dat de meeste mensen dagelijks gebruiken.

Wat vind jij er nou eigenlijk “niet bepaald leuker” op worden? Dat je van woorden die je niet of nauwelijks gebruikt nu makkelijker kunt bepalen hoe je ze moet spellen, in plaats van ze altijd op te moeten zoeken omdat er geen duidelijke regels aan de spelling ten grondslag liggen?
Zelfs de discussie over het afbreken van Frankrijk vind ik zwaar overtrokken. Afbreken van woorden dient normaliter zoveel mogelijk vermeden te worden, in het groot dictee mag het niet eens, en buiten dat dictee zal er niet vaak iemand over vallen.
Verder vraag ik me af waar de meeste mensen zich druk om maken. De spelling volgens het groene boekje is voor de overgrote meerderheid van de Nederlanders hooguit relevant als ze een sollicitatiebrief schrijven. (En dan is de spelling van paardebloem meestal weer niet relevant.)

The (IMHO) most important improvement is the fact that concatenations of words are now clearly defined. For most people it was unclear if one should write ‘open-sourcesoftware (which was the correct version), ‘open source-software’, ‘opensourcesoftware’,’ open source software’, ‘open-source software’ or ‘open-source-software’. Now, it is defined that a concatenation should be written without dashes or spaces, except when there is a ‘klinkerbotsing’. So, when the new orthography is introduced, it is ‘opensourcesoftware’. This is a lot more ‘logical’ then it currently is.

By the way, the Dutch minister Van der Hoeve has the opinion that the media is very late with their complaints. The new orthography was already presented in April this year, and now, more than a half year later, they come with complaints.

Usability?

One thing I noticed yesterday was the following. The Gimp uses the file extension to determine the format of picture when you save an image. So when you used ‘bla.jpg’ it will be saved as an Jpeg-file and when you use ‘bla.png’ the file will become a Png-file. Yesterday I edited a picture in Adobe Photoshop (It was not my own computer, so The Gimp was not installed). Whe I saved the picture, I used as file extension .jpg, assuming the picture will become a Jpeg-file. However, when I was reviewing it in another application, it complained about the file format and that it was not possible to open it… Investigation reveiled that the picture was saved as an Adobe PSD-file with the extension .jpg. Not very useable..

Exploding processor

Yesterday, my server again losts its internet connection. It seems that dhcp is causing the trouble, but I can’t put my finger on the exact cause. However, I read on the website of our provider about the possibility to get a fixed ip-address, so I sent an e-mail asking if that is also possible for our connection. I hope this will fix the problem and has probably as added bonus that port 25 for outgoing traffic is not blocked, so I’m able to run a ‘normal’ smtp server.

I also wrote an article for Tweakers.net about the release of version 1.0 of Ruby on Rails. This project exists for only 15 months now according to the project website, but is very popular with webdevelopers. Mainly, because of its strive to ‘not repeat yourself’ and the adaption of ‘webdeveloper trends’ such as AJAX. According to some people it is a decent replacement for J2EE with Hibernate, but I think currently it is mainly a competitor for PHP and maybe Python. According to what I read about RoR it force the developer to create a good strucure for a webapplications which very likely will make RoR applications better maintainable than their PHP counterparts. Maybe now it is a good time to step on the RoR wagon?

While wikipedia is critized a lot recently, a comparisation of the online encyclopedia with Britannica reveiled that the quality of articles about science topics are about the same within the two encyclopedia’s. Both contained errors, which is not suprising for Wikipedia, but actually is surprising for Britannica. Most people regard ‘printed’ encyclopedia’s as the golden standard when talking about accuracy. Wikipedia had four major errors in 42 articles, while Britannica had three errors. However, the text quality is sometimes very poor on Wikipedia.

Finally, via Planet Gnome I saw this video. I think there processor isn’t usable anymore (however, a clockspeed of more than 3,8GHz on a AMD Duron processor _is_ impressive).

On photography now: Last Tuesday I bought a Canon Speedlite 430EX flash and yesterday I used it. My girlfriend had the final presentation of a project about floors with light tiles. Because this project is rather ‘hot’ on the university (yesterday there was even an article about it in the Dutch national paper ‘De Telegraaf’ and someone is making a documentary about it), I was going to be the ‘photographer’. Some pictures are not very good, the shoot is not bad.

Lichtvloer

Lichtvloer 2

Overleg

DNS error

Today, my server instantly seems to be unreachable. It turned out, however, that some mistake in my named.conf file of Bind (DNS-server) made the wolkje.net domain unreachable. I accidently didn’t specify a zone-file in my named.conf. This error must exists for atleast two weeks, but maybe more. The domain, however, was still reachable until today. Weird.
It is now fixed. I also discovered some other errors in my server setup. The server cannot be ping’ed and when my internet connection goes down, I’m also not able to ssh from my local network to my server.. especially this last one need some fixing.

Canon Powershot Pro1 sold

Today I sold my Canon Powershot Pro1 camera.

Powershot Pro1 sold

Top-ten weirdest USB-drives

Fosfor.se has a top-ten of weirdest USB-drives ever. There are some very funny USB-drives in the list, for example a shrimps-drive a ‘thumb’-drive and a dimsum-drive.
Shrimp-drive

Chrismas present

This morning a package was delivered by DHL. Unfortunately I was taking a shower, but our neighbour was kindly enough to receive it an carry it up four stairs. It turned out that I received the yearly christmas present of my employer: A fatboy!
Fatboy with box

Fatboy

Last weekend we also ‘celebrated’ Sinterklaas (a Dutch tradition). I got some very nice presents:
Alicia Keys – Unplugged

A very good cd (maybe her best cd this far)

Also I got a DVD of Genesis: The Way We Walk Live in concert:

I got also a tripod for my camera, but unfortunately the one I got (Hama Traveler) was not heavy enough to support my Canon EOS 300D camera, so I got my money back for that one. Now I’m looking for a suitable tripod.

I forgot to mention one other present:
pinguinsloffen :)

Webdevelopment on Mac OS X

Today I did some work on a new design for my weblog, mainly HTML and CSS coding. First, I’m still searching for a decent HTML editor for Mac OS X. There are several freeware texteditors and even HTML editors, but these don’t even come close to the editors which are freely available for Linux, especially Gnome. Using Gnome, I normally use Bluefish or just Gedit for editting PHP and HTML files. Fortunately, it is possible to use Bluefish on Mac OS X, using Fink, however, this isn’t as integrated as for example Inkscape or The Gimp for Mac OS X. Maybe I should fix that when I have some spare time left.
My new design is mainly a new CSS file for the default Kubrich design which is used by WordPress. It turned out to be very simple to change the layout when you’ve become familiar with the CSS file. I also tried to get the design working on Internet Explorer 6. This turned out to be a little more difficult than expected. The Kubrick-theme for WordPress isn’t already working flawlessly on IE 6. This is caused by the crappy CSS implementation on CSS. Looking for a solution for my problem, I learned about ‘quircks’-mode and the lack of support for some CSS attributes on IE. Especially the missing min-width and max-width on IE is very annoying. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seems to be an easy solution for fixing this bug.

Search in Nautilus

Obviously, the development of Gnome is still going on. This evening, I read a weblog article about search integration in Nautilus written by Alexander Larsson. The article contains some screenshots of a search implementation in Nautilus which is powered by the search code of Beagle. The new functionality implements ‘smart folders’, which enables one to save search queries. I think this kind of functionality is really essential in order to stay in competition with the other ‘desktop environments’ such as Mac OS X and the upcoming Windows Vista. Since I’m using Mac OS X with Spotlight, I developed the habit using Spotlight for finding files when I know (part of the) name of it. This is way faster than manually navigating to the folder in which the file is stored using Finder (or Nautilus or whatever filemanager).
Now, there only need to become a solution for the patent problems regarding Mono/C#… but didn’t I wrote that a year ago also?

Inkjet printer with Laser printer performance

CoolTechZone has a review of the Hewlett-Packerd Business Inkjet 1000 printer. According to HP this printer prints normal monochrome pages for only 0,02 cents per page. This is in the price range of Laserprinters and thus very interesting in my opinion. The reviewer of CoolTechZone wants to check HP claims and did so using the supplied cartridge. The final verdict is that the printer almost is as good as a (cheap) laser printer with a price per page of about 0,038 cents (which is a little higher than HP claims). On one 34 dollar cartridge it is possible to print over 1000 pages. The printing speed is impressive with 3 seconds per page (black/white) and 100 seconds for a photo. The purchase price of the printer is also reasonable with approximately 150 dollar. I think this is a good development. My OfficeJet 6110 All-in-one is a little slower but the price per page is in the same range I guess.

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