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Archive for March, 2011

My first real encounter with the definition of this word came after its use in the third installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean series.

 
From Dictionary.com:

—noun
willingness to believe or trust too readily, especially without proper or adequate evidence; gullibility.

 
Wordsmith Wednesdays made-up example sentence:

The credulity of the mark left the con man able to swindle him out of his savings.

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From Dictionary.com:

 
—adjective
giving one’s name to a tribe, place, etc.: Romulus, the eponymous founder of Rome.

 
Wordsmith Wednesdays made-up example sentence:

The Simspons is a show in which members of the eponymous family repeatedly wind up in comical and ridiculous circumstances.

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SnowmanA stress reliever has to be an activity that can effectively take my mind off of a stressor.  But it can’t be just any activity.  Oft-recommended are such things as taking a walk, listening to music.  Those won’t cut it for me.  My mind cannot be given a single free moment to wander wherever it wishes (which would inevitably be to the stressor).  Walking and listening to music are simply not engaging enough.  While I walk, I can think; while I listen, I can think.  In fact, I could do both at the same time and still think.  No, it has to be an activity that takes more attention and concentration—basically, something that you can’t “tune out” so easily.  That means that the main qualities I’m looking for are fast-paced and/or creative, which is why this weekend, I built a snowman.

It’s been many, many years since I last built a snowman, but I was happy with the outcome.  I wanted it tall, round, and to look the part, which explains the scarf and top hat.  The point is that I gave myself a creative goal so that I could concentrate on getting the result I wanted, which, I suppose, is what stress relief really comes down to: distraction.

If we can find an activity that causes us to effectively—even if temporarily—forget about something that’s bugging us, then we’ve succeeded in finding a stress reliever.

Here are a few other activities that I find work well when trying to free myself from stress.

Mountain biking: fast-paced.
Playing music: creative.
Multiplayer Quake 2: fast-paced.
Watching comedy: distracting.

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From Dictionary.com:

—adjective
existing or being everywhere, especially at the same time; omnipresent: ubiquitous fog; ubiquitous little ants.

 
Wordsmith Wednesdays made-up example sentence:

Cell phones and other similar devices have become ubiquitous in modern society.

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Who says that blogs have to be consistently full of original material and personal opinions? In light of that question, I present you with existing material! Things that were written by others, but that I’d like to draw your attention to. Here are some quotes from Futurama, one of my favourite TV shows that has always been somewhat overshadowed by its big brother The Simpsons. These are some lines that actually made me laugh out loud. And because I’m all about the opinions, there’s a short note on Futurama at the end.

News anchor: . . . and the discoverer of Popplers, Captain Turanga Leela.
Fry: Turanga?!
Amy: That’s her name, Philip.
Bender: Philip?!

 
Fry: Whoah, whoah, wait a second. You mean Bender is the evil Bender? I am shocked. Shocked! Well, not that shocked.

 
Elzar: You folks still doin’ alright?
Bender: Oh, yes, Elzar!
Elzar: Good, ’cause it turns out I forgot to cook that chicken.

 
Morgan Proctor: Why is there yogurt in this cap?
Fry: I can explain that. See, it used to be milk, and, well . . . time makes fools of us all.

 
Zapp: Men, you’re lucky men. Soon you’ll all be fighting for your planet. Many of you will be dying for your planet. A few of you will be forced through a fine mesh screen for your planet. They will be the luckiest of all.

 
Announcer: Futurama is brought to you by Thompson’s Teeth: the only teeth strong enough to eat other teeth.

 
Leela: I’m going to remind Fry of his humanity the way only a woman can.
Professor: You’re going to do his laundry?
Amy: [Slaps the professor]

 
Fry: To Captain Bender: he’s the best . . . at being a big jerk who’s stupid, and his big ugly face is as dumb as a butt!

 
Zoidberg: We’ll need to have a look inside you with this camera.
Fry: [Opens his mouth]
Zoidberg: Guess again.

 
Zoidberg: Well, I have a lot of experience telling patients bad news, so . . . let me break it to him gently. Fry, you have no nose! Your nose is gone! You have no nose on your face! Where it is I can’t say, but on your face it’s not!

 
I could go on and on. These are just a few of the laughter inducing lines. The show is absolutely hilarious, so you can imagine my devastation when, in 2003 after four seasons, it wasn’t renewed by FOX. Futurama execs later began to deal with a different network and released four movies as a fifth season, and have since produced a sixth season (which I haven’t seen yet, shame on me). I’ve enjoyed the series over and over, and would highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it, especially if you enjoy the style of humour employed by silly characters on The Simpsons, such as Homer or Chief Wiggum. It’s also a must for geeks, as the scientific and sci-fi references are endless.

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Believe it or not, I learned how to say this word correctly only after mispronouncing it aloud and being corrected by the teacher in one of my high school English classes.

 
From Dictionary.com:

—adverb, adjective
1. with a turn or twist to one side; askew: to glance or look awry.
2. away from the expected or proper direction; amiss; wrong: Our plans went awry.

 
Wordsmith Wednesdays made-up example sentence:

When asked what she liked about her job, she was unable to answer and began to wonder if her professional life had gone horribly awry.

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User friendliness and intuitiveness are the kinds of qualities that rank highly in the design of an application’s user interface, yet time and again I’m frustrated to discover various applications and web forms, the creators of which seem to have not been able to keep their creativity under control; there is a line, after all, between creativity and usability that one should refrain from crossing when designing an interface.

Let’s use as an example a web page where a user can customize some sort of profile.  A basic necessity is making clear what a user can and cannot click on.  Usually, if there is an option that the user can click on, it will take the form of either a button or a link which can be told apart from regular text by being underlined or distinctly colored and causing the mouse cursor to change.  Some web forms, however, will go against this by employing something that acts like a button but doesn’t look like a button.  The result: confused users.  “Where do I click to sign out?  Oh, I guess it’s that little picture of a door that’s tucked away in the corner and isn’t properly distinguished from the background of the page, but depresses once I click on it.”

Creative developers, I can hear you all the way through the Internet.  “But it’s fun to design and code my own customized version of a button.  Surely, the added creativity will be appreciated by my users.”  Not always.  You could have the coolest custom forms, but if they’re not intuitive, they will just annoy people.  A fancy, button-like object may differentiate your website from others and be fun to create, but it’s not worth sacrificing usability.  That’s not to say that creativity in interface design is bad.  In fact, it’s necessary, but it must be carefully balanced with clarity and user-friendliness.

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