Sports manglish

I initially thought the following clumsy paragraph was a simple sub-editor’s mistake in the SMH. However, on re-reading, it seems to have been intentional:

The following evening as his younger brother Mitch watched their 28-year-old sister Melissa play her final home match in her top-level basketball career Shaun was an absentee, by virtue of notification the South Africa tour duty that had been called off for him was suddenly back on, and that he needed to pack and get to the airport for a 11.45pm flight from Perth to Johannesburg.

Brain hurt. But wait; there’s more. Continue Reading →


It looks like Justice Gordon has found ANZ’s late payment fees to be penalties. However, this does not make them “illegal” or “against the law”. Penalties are void or unenforceable (see Andrew v ANZ), but this is as a matter of contract (including, and often in particular, principles of equity).

The word illegality has a chameleonic quality, but it is better used to describe conduct involving a breach of the criminal law (or breach of statute) — in other words, conduct contrary to law — rather than conduct that is simply ineffective at general law. (The former question can sometimes itself be difficult to determine, as recognised in Miller v Miller).

Hence the SMH is wrong to say that the Federal Court “ruled [the ANZ’s] late payment fees charged on credit cards were illegal”. The AFR is likewise technically wrong to describe them as an “illegal penalty”, although the word is there used in its more lay sense. The real description is that the relevant fees were invalid because they were penalties.

More facepalm-inducing is this howler:

It also throws out ANZ’s six-year statute of limitations, meaning anyone who has ever been charged a late fee by ANZ can potentially now claim those fees back.

How anyone could think that a “statute of limitations” could be “ANZ’s”, rather than, say, a statute enacted by a Parliament, is just … I don’t know


Intel speech recognition

I think Google is in the lead on this one, with Apple within closing distance but still second.

I might have to revisit what I wrote just yesterday; I wouldn’t discount Intel:

Intel partnered with an unnamed third party to put that company’s voice recognition software on Intel mobile processors powerful enough to parse the human voice but small enough to fit in the device that’s listening, no round trip to the cloud required.

This would be an interesting gumshoe exercise … Nuance?

The difference that 15 years makes

There are some great passages in this Salon article — written at Apple’s nadir — about ex-Apple programmers working for Microsoft. In those areas where a contrast is drawn, I think most would agree that Apple now bests Microsoft.

Some choice parts:

And of course Microsoft is determined to keep developing Mac versions of its Web browser to press its struggle for market share with Netscape.

I wonder how many members of the current youth could conceive of the browser situation in 1997, where Netscape was the incumbent.

How do these software artists feel about working for the company that the public and the media, if not they themselves, often picture as an all-devouring Evil Empire?

I wonder which company would today come to mind if you asked people to identify the “Evil Empire”?

“Working for Apple is a very frustrating experience because Apple is extraordinarily good at inventing things, but extremely bad at competing,” Eames explains.

Surely, the situation is diametrically opposite now. Continue Reading →

30 years of the Mac

The Mac was launched 30 years ago today. I don’t remember the launch, but I do remember (as a late primary school student) being taken by my mother to try one out in a computer store on Oxford Street, Bondi Junction, not long afterwards. It was immediately clear that the GUI was a far superior way of doing things, particularly for those who were not as techie as I (read:parents).

Some months later, when Apple released a mouse for our then-new Apple 2e, we grabbed one immediately. I still remember getting used to the way it worked as a user (mouse paint on such a dinky machine felt nearly as good as MacDraw), then jumping into BASIC to work out how to interface with it as a programmer. IN#4 and all that…

That was useful knowledge when we finally bought our first Mac, and retired the Apple 2e, about half a decade later. The superiority of the Mac to the Apple was clear as soon as I started learning to programme it: it did not have a closed apple key, but it could detect presses of just the shift key! And it could tell a press on the left shift key from one on the right!

Apple has set up a site for people to post reminiscences such as this. Clever marketing. But it also reveals some interesting things. Continue Reading →

The SMH … sigh

What is it about using commas for pauses, but not to separate dependent clauses

Unsurprisingly, African countries with their high rates of malnourishment and lack of access to clean water and affordable produce, populated the top 10 worst countries to eat in.

including when they are clearly needed?

The all-rounder dubbed the Big Show by teammates threatened his best production yet, hauling Australia back from 4-114 after the exit of Shaun Marsh (55) into what was looking by the minute a match-turning knock.

That article has a pearler even by the standards of sports journalism:

The ball after reverse-pulling Bresnan for another boundary a slightly more conventional pull brought him unstuck, ending up in the hands of Ravi Bopara at midwicket.

So the ball reverse-pulled Bresnan? Sigh…

And, of course, no sports article would be complete without a failure to recognise the existence of the collective singular:

Australia lead the series 2-0 heading into Sunday’s third match in Sydney.