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visits member for 2 years, 2 months
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Grey-haired geek, perennial polymath.

I used to develop in Java but I got tired of all the brackets and static typing, so I now play with Python.

In case people wonder about why I am also registered for the English and Chinese Stack Exchange forums, I recently spent a couple of years in China teaching English.


Mar
26
comment “Fire” a weapon before firearms existed?
@Socce [k]nock is both noun and verb, it is the notch at the blunt end of the arrow, and the act of placing the bowstring into aforementioned notch. It has nothing to do with hitting.
Dec
18
comment How long can you say “the late so and so”?
Very nice point about social etiquette. My own experience of such use involved a dead uncle who was my namesake. On official correspondence I disambiguated by referring to Mr John Doe, Deceased, but socially it was my late uncle, John Doe. This is relevant to @Matt's answer, too. Personally, I found it took the spookiness out of seeing my own name referred to in a definitive past sense:).
Nov
19
comment What is it called when someone says something like: “I'm not a racist, but…”
@user606723 nice use of a qualifying statement to make your point :)
Nov
5
comment What word describes a policeman who is not wearing a uniform?
Mufti ('Military Uniform For Travelling Incognito') comes from British Army slang and used to refer specifically to the armed services, but I agree it has become naturally extended to anyone who habitually wears a uniform.
Nov
2
comment what do we call the machine used in shops through which we swipe our ATM card to pay for something?
@Martha thanks for helping me improve my answer. I think there are differences beween mag-stripe as used in America, and how it used to be used in Europe. Whether American mag-stripe is more secure I really doubt, because the technology involved does not allow sophisticated encryption methods, but as you say, that debate is off-topic.
Nov
1
comment what do we call the machine used in shops through which we swipe our ATM card to pay for something?
@Martha When using the mag stripe card in an ATM you do need to type in your pin, but for sale transactions in shops (at least in the UK) this was not required, and the mag stripe readers provided in shops often had no means of entering the pin anyway. The difference in security comes from where and how the verification of the pin is done. For a mag stripe, the pin is held on the card itself, and fraudsters can easily copy the information. For chip+pin, the pin is verified remotely by the bank's service using encrypted communication links; it is much, much safer.
Oct
2
comment Is there a word for the action of lifting the mouse to go further?
This suggestion seems a lot more murine than the seafaring analogies with oars. Maybe 'hopping' or 'popping' would work, too.
Mar
5
comment Languages understandable to English-speakers without learning
@Hugo +1 for the link to Eddie Izzard. The best laugh I have had on EL&U for a while. BTW by a similar logic, I find I can read Dutch, but I cannot even try to speak it;)
Feb
19
comment Why are “hard water” and “soft water” so called?
Like @Roger, I have lived mostly in hard water areas. Soft water feels soft and soapy, compared with hard water. My first experience of it puzzled me, because after washing my hands it felt like I could not get the soap off. Also, hard water has a kind of 'bite' to it which is lacking when drinking soft water.
Jan
23
comment Does the word “newbie” have a negative connotation?
Perhaps the best summary is that 'newbie' can sometimes be perceived as mildly derogatory, due to confusion with 'noob', which is unambiguously derogatory. So, it's best not to use the term with folk you don't know, as @Mithun's brother suggested.
Jan
16
comment Is there an idiom that corresponds to the Hungarian expression “fall off the other side of the horse”?
The tale of Scylla and Charybdis is usually used to depict a choice between two evils, rather than over-enthusiasm.
Sep
24
comment How “Devil may care” is different from “After me the deluge”?
My apologies for inaccuracy. However, I think the gist of my argument remains true.