Archive for May, 2010

What Is a Malamanteau?

The following article appeared on Wikipedia for a very short time due to a recent xkcd comic. It’s a reference back to Language Log, which references xkcd sometimes, but the reverse seldom happens.

A malamanteau (plural malamanteaux) is a neologism for a portmanteau created by incorrectly combining a malapropism with a neologism. It is itself a portmanteau of malapropism and portmanteau. In a less strict definition, a portmanteau of a malapropism with another word can also be considered a malamanteau. The contained malapropism must be typically a very common one, probably most people are not aware of, in order to be able to regain the meaning of a malamanteau.

A malamanteau often is created when somebody tries to use a neologism (alternatively, an idiom) but mistakenly confuses a word with another one. However, unlike a malapropism or an eggcorn, the fumbled word is not completely replaced, but merely transfixed to the new one. A famous example is: “misunderestimate” which was popularized by the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush. Probably it was intended to be “underestimate” but mistakenly jumbled with “misunderstand.”

Examples

  • Somebody describes his misunderstanding of what someone was saying by stating, “I misconscrewed it up.”
  • Somenone explains his inability to talk while being upset by saying he was “flustrated.”
  • A meaningful malamanteau is “ambiviolent,” as in: “Beatrix Kiddo in Kill Bill was ambiviolent. She didn’t know who to kill first.”

I was going to write more about it when I made this draft, but by now it’s two weeks later and I’ve lost interest. Booyah.

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Intelligent Alien Life Does Exist, Otherwise They Would Have Contacted Us

This post is recycled, and was originally published on my former weblog on Saturday 2005-02-26 at 18:08:45. I tweaked some grammar and spelling here and there, but I resisted the urge to rewrite this entry almost entirely. I did not, however, refrain from commenting on myself. Sensitive souls beware: I added some brand new explicit content.


This is the only signature I had which really liked. [I guess I must really, really like it, for I still use it.] It looks like a quote from someone famous at first sight [(of course famous by no means implies not stupid)], or just a good old expression (you know, like “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”), but it is entirely a product of my brain. [Whoopee.] I don’t find that so very surprising all by itself; in what may be a form of narcissism, I say things I consider quotable quite often. [Saying quotable things sure is narcissistic. What’s that? You meant I consider things I say quotable quite often, did you? Very well then, carry on. On a very related matter, I’m not so sure if stupid jokes like You’ve got the first pickle (when offering a few pickles) as a play on first pick is all that quotable, though.] But still, this particular “quote of my mind” has a sort of uniqueness over it. [Oh boy. If that means it’s the magnum opus of my brain, I’m fucked.]

You should also know something about my browsing behavior to understand a bit about what happened when the quote came to me. I seldom browse with less than four pages open. [Even at the time that was a lie and you know it. I bet you rarely managed to browse with less than 10.] I basically just open what I find interesting and then read what I have opened one by one, or close it quickly if I see it is not what I expected it to be. [Most people, on the other hand, close pages they don’t want to see as slowly as possible.] I also start writing a reply to something, to interrupt it by going to some other page, after which I will continue writing the reply. [You were also doing that while writing this post, weren’t you?]

The situation where the general idea came into my mind was like this. I was filling in profile information on some site (I don’t remember which one, but it doesn’t matter) and I came to the signature part. I could use the quote which I made up with my Chicken avatar (“The chicken and the egg came at the same time”), but I wanted something new. [I’m sure that everybody knows what your Chicken avatar looks like.] Something catchy. So I decided to go to another site. Meanwhile, I could think about my signature.

It was quite a strange site I visited. A UFO related site, where they argued that UFOs actually were some kind of new technology from the Third Reich, whose descendants still resided on Antarctica. Utter nonsense and therefore enjoyable. [The perfect way to judge whether something is enjoyable.] But then suddenly this thought came into my mind, because of the combination between World War II and UFOs. [Suddenly, I wanted to kill myself.] Why haven’t aliens contacted us? If they’ve observed us they must have noticed the bloodbaths of Alexander, the expansion and fall of the Roman empire, the Conquistadors, Napoleon, and most important, World War II. So yes, obviously alien life is intelligent; if they weren’t, they would have contacted us. Intelligent alien life does exist, otherwise they would have contacted us. [Amazing!]

And there it was. The perfect signature. I had exactly the kind of bad quote I wanted my signature to be. I still like it. [I guess I can live with it for a while longer. Perhaps I should update it. Space dinosaurs do exist, otherwise they would not be extinct on earth.]

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Opera and Link Targets

If you’re like me and you aren’t particularly fond of sites opening in new tabs without your explicit command, you might be interested in activating Opera’s Ignore Target setting. This setting “Unfortunately … also disables the window.open() method, breaking the functionality of many sites,” so you might prefer to utilize JKing’s UserJS which stops most links from opening in new windows.

On the other hand, you might prefer all links to external sites to open in a new tab. I recently wrote a script that does just that for someone on the MyOpera forum.

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Hewlett Packard Breaks Wheaton’s Law

The title of this post probably isn’t a shocker, assuming you know that Wheaton’s Law is “don’t be a dick.”

What is shocking to me, however, is the fact that HP region encodes their printers and ink cartridges. That’s right, just like the annoying mechanisms that apply to DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, video games and whatever else might be region-encoded, ink cartridges are region encoded as well.

We discovered this issue a couple of weeks ago when my wife’s printer ran out of ink. She’s got an HP PSC 2355 All-in-One Printer, which, while not super expensive, she certainly wasn’t going to leave in the US. At Saturn (where ink is slightly cheaper than at Mediamarkt even though they’re owned by the same corporation) she selected some ink cartridges and we thought that would be the end of the ink shortage. The ink cartridges had the exact printer model in the list of compatible printers on the package, but after inserting the cartridges in the printer it displayed the joyful message that an “Incorrect Print Cartridge” had been inserted.

It’s especially lovely how all of the official HP support pages claim that something has probably inexplicably gone awry with the cartridge itself and, summarized, that it really couldn’t have anything to do with the printer. While keeping the possibility in mind, we didn’t consider this scenario very likely, however.

Alternative search results seemed to point to some obscure error and upon running the patch for this error, the patching software said there was nothing to patch. That was a waste of time and effort.

Somehow that wasted effort did make me realize that perhaps I should try a broader Internet search while including things like “US to Europe” in the search string. This quickly yielded plenty of results. One commenter said that “after 3 phone calls and 4 emails” he “learned that all HP printers sold after 2004 are regionalised.”

So my wife went on the HP support chat and after 45 minutes to 1 hour of exchanging all kinds of codes and diving into hidden configuration screens (something rather silly that reminds more of an easter egg than of a serious feature) the region of the printer was changed. It’s now working properly in Europe. Beware, however, if you’re a business person staying in various continents who wants to take their printer along. Aside from the considerable effort involved, there are only 2 region changes left now.

Whenever my current Epson printer or my wife’s HP printer is ready for replacement I will most certainly try to buy one that doesn’t have such ridiculous anti-features. Therefore I was trying to find out if other printer manufacturers also region-encode their ink cartridges; I couldn’t find anything (though I didn’t search for very long), but I did run into this gem, as a reply to someone asking whether their American Epson printer would work in Japan.

I’ve never heard of region coding for ink cartridges.

Such sweet, blissful innocence.

While HP was already on my avoid list due to their abhorrent tech support regarding the lousy computer they sold to my parents. It turned out that the SATA controller to which the HDD was connected had somehow become defective. Figuring this out took me about 5 minutes; they took several weeks and they still couldn’t find anything wrong with it. But the story behind that is worthy of a separate blog post. Suffice it to say that I will not be buying any computers, printers, scanners or anything else from HP anymore. Lousy support is one thing, but if I wanted to have acts of coitus performed on me if I happen to move outside of some so-called region I’d rather pay money to a hooker.

P.S. By the way, Microsoft, this is why I use Ubuntu now instead of software that does all kinds of ridiculous things that I don’t want it to do. This has already been extensively covered by other people, so I certainly won’t waste my time doing any such thing.

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