25 August, 2010

Bugging out!

I'm in the throes of writing a feature article on computer bugs at the moment. It gave me the chance to revisit an old favorite of mine from 1994. The Pentium floating point flaw was in the news at the time, and it overshadowed this little snippet.

Windows Mis-Calculator

In the four years leading up to the great Pentium flaw scandal, the not-so-great Windows Calculator scandal was flying under the horizon. It came to light in 1994, but it had been kicking around since Windows 3.x first appeared in 1990. CALC.EXE came up with a joke answer that was even funnier than punching 07734 into a handheld calculator, turning it upside down, and saying "hello" to people in leetspeak.

Propeller-heads tried the following math exercise instead:

0 - 2.11

Windows Calculator got the right answer: -2.11. But adding 2.1 to the result yielded an interesting result that broke new ground in mathematics. Instead of -0.01, it introduced the baffling concept of -0.00. We're not entirely sure what minus zero to two decimal places means, but it was fun to geek out to back in 1994.

Yeah, we know how lame that sounds. Remember that this was six years before the millennium. Even geek entertainment was simple back then.

Murky Bucket

It seems that my nation needs me. I left Britain 23 years ago, and now, according to an article in today's Daily Telegraph, people there don't want to say "Thank you" anymore. Of course, they are prepared to render thanks, but they believe that the actual words "thank you" are too formal. So they use informal and even foreign terms instead: Top of the list of informal thank-yous is "cheers." They'd even use the reviled language of French and resort to "merci" rather than saying "thank you." Really!

This goes to prove one thing: I'm an early adopter. "Cheers!" was almost my exclusive way of saying "thank you" back in 1985-87, my last two years on British soil.

You may offer whatever thanks you wish for my blog today in the space provided below. Use whatever terms you choose. For those in need of a thesaurus of colloquial terms of gratitude, the Telegraph provided the following, sorted in order of preference according to their opinion poll:


1. Cheers

2. Ta

3. That's great

4. Cool

5. OK

6. Brilliant

7. Lovely

8. Nice one

9. Much appreciated

10. You star

11. All right

12. Fab

13. Awesome

14. Wicked

15. Merci

16. Danke

17. Gracias

18. Super

19. Ace

20. Thank you