Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Spacing

1161 words on

You know there’s a web site called Technorati. And it looks like it could be the perfect tool for ego-Googling, i.e. giving you a list of sites that link to your own web-site. While Technorati seems to quite limited in that respect as they seem to limit their interest on blog-like sites, they are still better than Google who just give you a list of pages (mostly your own) with links to your site. There’s no chronological element there and no quick way to learn about new links. [And with this, amusingly, Technorati have a web-2 feel to them because of their unreliability and the hipster crowd they seem to attract. All this while the site itself looks like a conservative and static underpowered web-1 affair.]

Thus, Technorati could be great. If it weren’t crap. It’s crap because it’s about the most unreliable site I’ve seen on the web for a while. Which is to say that more than half of the requests I send to it are answered first by an eternal wait and then by a message telling my that they can’t afford the hardware (or programmers) to satisfy my request in a timely manner and thus prefer to display a mostly blank page instead. Ugh, crap. It could’ve been such a useful tool to learn about new links referring to our applications or these pages.

Actually I used to prefer Feedster for this kind of searches but somehow their useful features stopped working some months or even a year ago. And as Scott, the only – and extremely helpful – person I vaguely knew there – doesn’t seem to work for them anymore, there’s not much use in investigating further. So what’s a good ‘ego-googling’ service these days? I still think those can be quite useful, most notably for keeping track on comments of your applications and – to a lesser degree – your random rants on the web.

I still tend to keep checking Technorati or their feeds to see whether any new links to our site that deserve a response – or beg for a comment – have come up. And after the latest Rechnungs Checker update, I found this one which seems to appreciate the application but complains about its name.

And that’s a fair point – but one that hasn’t crossed my mind so far even though I generally share the spirit this comment comes from. – Some years ago some updates to german spelling, the frequently criticised Rechtschreibreform was passed. And one of the changes to the spelling it suggested was to split up long words into several shorter ones - just as in English. This, of course, destroys one of the main attractions of the German language but also changes the meaning of certain words. For example there is the word alleinerziehend for single raising parents. You’re supposed to write allein erziehend instead now. Which is a very neutral and factual – almost technical – description of the situation. A situation which may merit the ever-so-slightly more dramatic longer single-word construction in most cases of its use where the word is supposed to signify the extra effort coming with that style of living.

So this unnecessary splitting up of words can slightly change their meaning and reduce both the precision and the drama of the language. And I mostly don’t like it – although it may make the language easier to understand. And now I am faced with a situation where the name of one of my own applications is ridiculed for the reason of splitting up words unnecessarily – basically saying that Rechnungschecker would be a more appropriate name in German. Ugh, that hurts.

So I got to think about how that name came to be in the first place. Probably the first application we ever published was the old (RealBasic) version of GeburtstagsChecker. It introduced our big earthlingsoft naming scheme where most application names end in ‘Checker’. It was Steffen’s project and when I came up with SETI Checker some time later, I figured that I didn’t like the mid-word capitals too much and wanted a space there (the fact that not using a space after an acronym would have looked strange anyway may have helped…). And back then we quickly discussed this and decided to not make a big fuss about spacing or not spacing the words and both of us stuck to our initial styles of naming applications (which may give you an idea about who made which appplication…).

Not a big deal. One, in which I still consider my standing reasonable though, with my approach letting me avoid mid-word capitals – which I consider unnatural – and also use both a German word and the English Checker in application names while clearly distinguishing them. Sure, using any German word in your application name probably doesn’t help its popularity considering the mostly ignorant and narrow-minded world population, but it’s the kind of compromise I’m willing to take. It’s not that these applications were created for profit, but rather for trying out Cocoa, doing cool things or simply programming tools that we consider useful.

And now – despite all my worries about the style of the application name – I get a critique like that. There’s a space in the name, which makes it look like a stupid Rechtschreibreform deal. Bum! While I never thought the name was ideal and I’d also say that an expression combining the German Rechnungs and the English Checker shouldn’t be joined, this is nothing I considered before.

Photo of the ZEIT aricle on RFID

While at the topic of joining or dis-joining words I’d like to note that our big weekly Die Zeit spelt out RFID as Radiofrequenzidentifikation this week. This is very strange and in my opinion wrong to begin with: I don’t think it’s correct to begin with as the Radio in RFID refers to electromagnetic waves rather than radio stations and thus should be translated as Funk instead – which in German has a different meaning than in English. But then again the article was published in their business/economy section which I usually find to be the least carefully written / researched one. [Going with my stereotypes of people and subjects I consider this to be quite natural of course.]

And while at the topics of dis-joined words and newspapers, I’d also like to present this:

Photo of a newspaper section on the 'Informatikjahr' with an overly large gap between the J and the A

A special newspaper section on the Informatikjahr, i.e. informatics year. Note how this is a nice and long German word joining Informatik and Jahr. But somehow the letter spacing they got for it closely joins the J and the K that precedes it – i.e. letters from different syllables – together while keeping the J and the A that follows it – i.e. letters from the same syllable – apart. Surely a small point of letter spacing but I’d say that’s exactly something you should take care of – particularly in a headline.

March 11, 2006, 2:25

Tagged as earthlingsoft, technorati.

Comments

Comment by James Gross: User icon

Hello Sven-

We will be rolling out linkserach or “ego-googling” shortly, and when we do I will be sure to touch base with you again. Please feel free to contact me if there is anything else I can help you with at the email provided.

Thanks JG

March 11, 2006, 3:23

Comment by ssp: User icon

Thanks for letting me know James. I’m looking forward to seeing that.

March 11, 2006, 13:12

Comment by Scott Johnson Formerly of Feedster Now of Ookles: User icon

Hey Sven,

Thanks for the kudos. You always gave Feedster AWESOME feedback and I thank you for that. I’m hard at work on my new startup Ookles.com (nothing there right now but keep an eye on it).

Thanks! Scott

March 13, 2006, 1:09

Comment by ssp: User icon

I’ll keep an eye on it Scott. Good luck!

March 13, 2006, 23:41

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