EE: And So On (Reader Comments and Addenda)

Mea culpa. There were several goofs, misstatements, omissions, and errors in this week's column... I forgot to mention a point associated with the mispronunciation "eck cetera" (or sometimes "ect cetera"): people often misspell the abbreviation as "ect." I don't know which (the mispronunciation or the misspelling) is cause and which is effect, but I suspect […]

EE: And So On

On most computers running the UNIX operating system, there's a directory named /etc. Some people pronounce that directory name as "etcetera"; others simply say /'Et si/. Some may even spell it out as /'i 'ti 'si/. Another standard UNIX directory name, /usr, is generally pronounced like "user," but sometimes spelled out to avoid confusion with […]

DD: Excuse me, what was that?

Sometime around the early 1980s, Logical Business Machines (creators of computers with names like David and Goliath, and a programming language called English) released a computer system called Mike. This system came with speech-recognition software and a microphone. An executive of the company attempted to demonstrate the product on a television show; he stood at […]

CC: Pidgin Carriers

When two groups of humans who don't share a language come together, they generally try to communicate. Often, the result is a pidgin—a simplified language that combines features of the groups' languages while leaving out the more difficult parts, allowing the groups to speak to each other. This sort of lingua franca is often used […]

BB: Who Are You Thinking Of?

The game of Botticelli is played like this: One player, the chooser, thinks of a famous person (living or dead, real or fictional). The chooser says the initial letter of that person's last name (or of the person's only name if there's only one). The other players then try to guess who the chooser is […]

AA: We Do ’Grams, Word Games

Okay, is there anyone here who doesn't know that an anagram is a rearrangement of letters from a word or phrase, ideally resulting in another word or phrase that has some bearing on the original? Didn't think so. The Net is full of anagrams; they're so common that I'm surprised it's taken me a year […]

zz: Hidden X Term for Puzzlement (7, 9) (Reader Comments and Addenda)

Don Monson notes that the rec.puzzles.crosswords newsgroups is more oriented toward cryptics than toward American-style crosswords; sounds worth checking out. He also mentions an amazing program called Crossword Maestro that solves cryptic clues for you. Here's an example of the program's approach to a clue from this column: Save father unusual present on his day […]

zz: Hidden X Term for Puzzlement (7, 9)

Not all crossword puzzles are created equal. In an American-style crossword puzzle, you're given a definition for each word; you then come up with a word that fits both the definition and the puzzle. In a British-style crossword puzzle, also known as a "cryptic crossword," you're given a clue for each word; each clue consists […]

yy: Minced Spam

Arthur once received a piece of junk email with the subject line "Priceless Information - 200 Unusual Secrets." It was apparently an advertisement for a collection of "secret" methods of doing things; the spam listed the titles of the secrets, but of course not the secret contents. Some of the secrets turned out to be […]