5 Primo Coding Secrets for English Majors

Last week, as I was trudging through the quicksand of changing my website theme, constantly sinking into the swamp of contradictory code and grasping at branches of CSS held out by travelers before me, I wondered if something positive could be pulled out of the mess. Aha! I could share what I learned with the blogosphere. Thus, in the spirit of passing on some recently, painfully-earned wisdom, I will share the most dominant lessons.

CSS code response = success
Source: Dreamstime.com

Have you ever forgotten to save your writing after a long stretch of creativity, only to have your computer crash and lose hours of your genius? In the old pre-computer days, this was known as “the teacher lost my paper.” Two weeks of my best creativity disappeared because I was too cheap to make a copy of my seminal work on the religious imagery in e.e. cummings’ poetry. It still bothers me, decades later! Back up your work. Here’s what that means when you are creating or making changes to a blog site.

1. Write down the changes you make–preferably as you go

Most writers know how and why to keep track of changes as they go, either by using a Track Changes feature or the primitive “print it out and make edits by hand” method. Version control becomes an issue when you don’t keep track. Also, what if you change something and you decide you don’t like it? You might want that original brilliant phrase back which only sounded mundane after a night reading Seamus Haney. The same logic applies to changes to technology. Continue reading “5 Primo Coding Secrets for English Majors”

Autoexec.bat, We Hardly Knew Ye

My tablet screen wouldn’t rotate. The position was stuck in Portrait, and pressing the Auto-Rotate icon on and off didn’t fix it. I had no idea what caused it, and a thorough search through the jungle of Settings and Application Manager just made me sweaty and full of scratches. Since 90% of the way I use the darn thing is in Landscape, this was bad, bad, bad. I was completely perplexed.

I have only had this tablet since May. My colleagues and spouse have been whispering “iPad” and other salacious ideas in my ear for years, but I left the cutting edge many years ago, I ignored it. Finally, I gave in and now I carry it around with me.  There was a time though…

Once upon a time, there were no handheld computers. You did not walk around the house looking for the special charger to plug in or with three separate devices in a stack. You wrote checks, you played cards, and you read newspapers, magazines, and books.

Once upon a time
The first computers I ever used were the UNIX mainframe systems at Berkeley when I was an undergrad. I had two Computer Science classes.  In one, I learned to write a program that mimicked one of my board games (IF NOT STANLEY STEALS TREASURE THEN DO NEXT TURN). In the other, I created a concordance for e.e. cummings poetry. To an English major, computer programming was whimsical. Someone tried to get me to play Adventure on the mainframe, which was the only non-classwork related thing students could do. “You are standing at the entrance to a cave with a bag,” it said to me. Yeah, so? I thought? Now What? What are the rules for this thing?  I always need to have a book of Rules. Continue reading “Autoexec.bat, We Hardly Knew Ye”

Einstein and Toast

The numbers on a toaster indicate duration of toasting in minutes, and not a “degree of toastiness.”—Albert Einstein

False rumors seem to happen more frequently and get sillier these days. Maybe our dependence on social media causes it; maybe our “too busy to look things up” lifestyle. It seems at times like we’re being homeschooled by the neighbors. Like we’re at a backyard barbecue at our cousin’s, and as we’re waiting for a burger, some strange guy with a half drunk beer and a twinkle in his eye — or gal, ignorance is not a gender-based phenomenon — steps up, says, “did you know…?” and proceeds to feed us a load of malarkey. And we buy it.

The political season is rampant with half-truths, innuendo, and plain boldfaced lies. But even strange rumors are created about everyday topics and quotations routinely misrepresented. In this Information Age, when the correct information is a few mouse-clicks away, the wrong information is available and deployed even faster. The truth is at our fingertips but the lies are jumping in the way.

As Einstein did not say…
People are fond of quoting smart people. An idea can carry more authority if delivered by a knowledgeable figure rather than li’l ol’ us. As a result, quotes are frequently misattributed to smart and clever people, especially to Lincoln, Twain, Franklin, and, most of all, Einstein. If you look at the site BrainyQuotes.com, they have an entire Einstein page and a good portion of those quotes appear to be things Einstein did not say. Continue reading “Einstein and Toast”