## Out of Office

When I am away from the office, I have got into the habit of writing a silly limerick or a haiku as my automatic “Out of Office” message. This has earnt me a bit of a reputation so, as I’m out all this week, I thought I’d raise the bar.

Anyway, I feel my work is done! Judging by my inbox, my colleagues seem suitably amused and some were even compelled to respond in rhyme. (What have I done!? Perhaps I should hold a rap battle when I return!)

…Enjoy

Posted in Day Job, Distractions, Random, Writing | 4 Comments

## Genitive Junction

I have noticed a peculiar semantic non-linearity that affects my internal grammar. (I’m not sure whether it’s common to English speakers, or if it’s just me!) Anyway, say if Alice and Bob own some tasty chocolate, my grammar allows this contraction:

Alice and Bob’s chocolate tastes awesome!

Note that only Bob is phonetically marked as being in the genitive case, but it’s understood that Alice is also included. That is, it seems that genitive distribution over conjunction is implied in [my] English. Moreover, this same logic applies equally to lists of arbitrary length, as well as to disjunctions:

Is this chocolate Alice, Bob or Carol’s?

My grammar also allows me to mark each element in the list in the genitive (i.e., explicit distribution), but it’s very much a marked reading for me:

(?) Alice’s and Bob’s chocolate tastes awesome!

Indeed, not only is this marked, but my linguistic instinct is confused. For me, there’s a possible reading that is more akin to, “Alice’s chocolate and Bob’s chocolate, which aren’t necessarily the same, both taste awesome!” That’s a significant distinction and it’s only the conjugation of “taste” that errs me towards the correct interpretation.

Now look what happens when we throw a pronoun into the list. Say we’re interested in the chocolate that belongs to Alice and me:

(*) Alice and my chocolate tastes awesome!

What happened? We can’t do that! We have to mark each element explicitly in the genitive:

Alice’s and my chocolate tastes awesome!

The reason I’ve noticed this is because I often make the first mistake — because that’s how it works in the general case, without pronouns — feel awkward midway through the sentence, then start again with the explicit distribution.

Thus it seems we have the following distributive rule:

$\textrm{Genitive}(\bigwedge_{i=1}^{n} \textrm{NP}_i) = \left\{\begin{array}{l}\bigwedge_{i=1}^{n-1} \textrm{NP}_i \wedge\textrm{Genitive}(\textrm{NP}_n) \\ \textrm{if, }\forall i\in\{0,\ldots,n\},\ \textrm{NP}_i \not\in\textrm{Anaphora} \\ \\ \bigwedge_{i=1}^{n} \textrm{Genitive}(\textrm{NP}_i)\\\textrm{if }\exists i\in\{0,\ldots,n\}\textrm{ such that }\textrm{NP}_i\in\textrm{Anaphora}\end{array}\right.$

Plus, as I say, the same applies to disjunction ($\vee$).

Posted in Linguistics, Random, Semantics, Syntax | 3 Comments

## Colourful Words

One of the many ways of representing colours is to use a hexadecimal encoded string of red, green and blue values, using 8-bits per channel. This is commonly seen in web-development; for example, red is #FF0000 and a pleasant blue is #0080FF.

Such hexadecimal strings are always six characters long, using the digits zero to nine and the letters A to F. If we just restrict to the letters and, say, numbers that look like letters, some combinations will be bona fide English words. This search is very easy to achieve using a regular expression against the dictionary file shipped with most Unices:

grep -Pxi "[a-fos]{6}" /usr/share/dict/words

The numbers we use to our advantage are 0, which looks like an O, and 5, which looks like an S. We don’t include 1, because it looks like both an I and an L, so a colour like #F111ED for “filled” looks wrong (we could easily write a regular expression that avoids words with combinations of Is and Ls, but with only six letter words, it’s not worth it). Similarly, I don’t think 2 looks enough like a Z to include it.

Anyway, without further ado, let me present the colour words!

## Haskell School Has Cool

Recently, I’ve been writing a lot of code in JavaScript; both for my day job and an open source library I’ve been developing as a personal project. Increasingly, I’ve found myself naturally gravitating towards the functional style of programming, which JavaScript facilitates to a certain degree. Maybe because it’s neat; maybe because “once a mathematician, always a mathematician”; or just maybe the inner-developer in me has some instinct on its features. (The last one is doubtful!)

Posted in Haskell, Software Engineering | 2 Comments

## Failed Test

I was tasked — actually, it was my idea — with creating a test to aid the employment of a new Head of Systems. My first attempt was considered too technical and intimidating, so I made a woolly management alternative.

Personally, I feel that the head of a technical department should have a thorough understanding in what their staff are doing as well as, importantly, being up for any challenge. (Intimidating? Seriously?) Apparently, however, they’re looking more along the lines of “ineffective shyster”: a +2σ salaried triage.

Anyway, if you’re bored, here’s the [anonymised] test that never was! I generously allowed 40 minutes to complete this; I think it should be doable in around 20.

Posted in Database Design, Day Job, Oracle, PL/SQL, SQL | 1 Comment

## Trained Response

We are sorry for the delay to this service. This is due to…

Posted in Cycling, Day Job, Rants | Leave a comment

## Movies of 2012

Mrs. Xophmeister and I go to the cinema quite a bit, so we decided to compile an annual ranking of the movies we’ve seen. That is, those which we saw together with a UK cinematic release date within 2012.

Posted in Personal, Random, Review | 2 Comments