It turns out Rita *did* remember me. And she forgives me….

It was way back in the beginning of 2008 that I blogged about how My name is Dragutsky, Michael Dragutsky and it was probably almost a year before that I pretty much wrote about this, my possible family connection to the actor and comedian Gabe Kaplan that I was always told existed until I planned to write about it in that blog post, at which point a disclaimer was recommended.

I bemoaned the fact that I had misled a young graduate student named Rita, even though it was done unintentionally. I even dedicated that blog post to her.

A few years later, she emailed me!

She admitted that it was while essentially Google stalking me, basically checking my story.

Still feeling guilty, I apologized once again. But she forgave me my trespasses, and pointed out that they weren’t really trespasses anyway since she was a consenting adult (we both were), and it was a great story at least. I then described my failure to verify the accuracy of the story with Gabe Kaplan, who is now perhaps best known as a celebrity poker player.

Though she reminded me that I *had* sent her flowers the next day, which kind of belies the whole ‘one night stand’ thing a little. And she pointed out how easy of a time she had finding me with a simple Google search with the keywords KAPLAN DRAGUTSKY.

She also pointed out that she obviously knew much more about me than I knew of her, since she had the whole Blog to use as a source. Oops!

After chatting a bit further, we ended the conversation on friendly terms. Although she made it clear that she knew how to get a hold of me if she needed someone to fix her computer! 😉

No words seem to make the picture any clearer

Let’s try something out today, a little thought experiment.

Type the following three keywords into Bing (who are we kidding, type them into Google; either will work and we know that you are going to use Google anyway!):

MSKLC Windows 8

Your first link will be a “nice” little collection of bugs that talk about problems visualizing a keyboard layout. It will take years to go through the process and have very few results, none of which are very helpful:

• there will be a contractor working for Microsoft Customer Support Services who will notice that MSKLC as a download is not officially supported on Windows 8 as a download. While technically true and also true of Windows 8.1, Windows 10, and pretty much any version that didn’t exist when MSKLC 1.4 first was released. This response is entirely untrue, and unhelpful as a bonus.

• there will be an experienced customer who proves it works on the platform because they just did it. This has the benefit of being true but is also not helpful.

• subsequent contributions will alternate between people who confirm that MSKLC works just fine on Windows and MSKLC has an unrelated problem for a particular keyboard layout. They are all probably true but none of them are helpful either.

• Finally, the original customer will say that he solved the problem and can now visualize keyboard layouts. There will be a hint that DPI is involved but with no links or references it will be largely ignored and thus will also not be terribly useful for others.

I will start with the actual screenshot of the problem, the picture for which there are no words.

There will then be two blogs with the same art. In 2007, I blogged about

A picture that can’t easily be described with words

Then in 2010, I revisited it in

A picture that *still* can’t be easily be described with words

The problem remains the same, and Microsoft by not fixing a bug that we knew about just before the 1.4 MSKLC release we have collectively undermined our own download, never mind the millions and millions of downloads of MSKLC.

Microsoft should do better here. There should be words to describe the picture.

Video clips can inspire many different things….

Have you ever watched Kill Bill, vol. 2?

There is one very cool scene lasting a very brief time where the late David Carradine tells Uma Thurman what makes Superman unique among superheroes, one that will effect every person a little differently. If you have seen the movie you’ll already know what category you’re in and if not you can watch one of the dozens of copies of the scene on YouTube like the ones below by just searching on YouTube for the keywords:

Kill Bill volume 2 superman quote

• some people will impatiently not get it;

• most will think that it is kinda a cool way to look at things that is maybe slightly mind blowing;

• a few will lie and claim that they always realized it, just like a few people claim to have realized the fatal plot flaw in The Wizard of Oz movie or Raiders of the Lost Ark or the plot twist at the end of The Sixth Sense;

• another group of people will point out that Mon-El aka Lar Gand of Daxam and other superheroes have the same somewhat unique quality as Superman, perhaps even correcting me on some bizarre small technical point.

Group number one are the ordinary people, group number two are the pretty cool people, group number three might be the uber cool people but are probably the lying jerks, and group number four are the geeks, dorks, and nerds that populate Comicons worldwide!

As a bonus I will point out a flaw in the captioning support in YouTube/Google if you turn on captions for any video other than the first one (where I intentionally embedded the correct English language captions not to show a solution but to help give context to the challenge.


Oops they did it again!

It’s hard to know who to blame.

Maybe I should explain what *IT* is.

It all started with Fractions may be your friend, but they can trip you up at Microsoft where some basic inability for some small part of microsoft to handle basic fractions led them to accidentally overpay by a few days.

And it continued on with Microsoft can really be a bully, sometimes where some other part of Microsoft is screwing me out of stuff they broke during a hasty move while another part of Microsoft was taking me to collections to get that small overpayment refunded.

Now without any provocation, six months after the first overpayment, they overpay me again. When they had no reason to, since they haven’t paid me themselves for all that time.

Premera? They are just my health insurance coverage, helping me with my recovery.

Prudential? They are just my long term disability insurance coverage, helping me to do the same.

The Internal Revenue Service? Both the first 75% three day overpayment and the second 60% three day overpayment had all appropriate taxes withheld due to Microsoft’s efficiency in such matters even when they shouldn’t be doing it. So they are probably really happy that they’re being paid either way, and even the small errors are unlikely to trigger a field audit due to the small amount.

Microsoft? Annoying as hell that they’re stressing me out while I should be focusing on my recovery rather than their silly accounting smudges, but I’m too cynical to let it get to me. I doubt that they even realize it’s happening anyway.

At this point, I will write it all off to one part of Microsoft (the part sending me to collections) and another part of Microsoft (the part that continues to keep overpaying me) are experiencing the corporate equivalent of guilt and trying to repay me for the stuff they broke and trying to compensate me without admitting any wrongdoing in the process.

Awful nice of them under the circumstances, now that you think about it! 😉

The 5 steps to ACTUAL calendar reform

Along similar lines as my DST roundup blog at
blogger Matthias Rascher pointed out on Twitter a nice summary of failed attempts at calendar reform:
10-day weeks, Year Day, and other failed attempts at calendar changes

It is easy to think that you have a good idea, and it is even easier to think that you have a great idea. And it is better to realize that it probably won’t work, even when (or especially when!) you might even be right.

So I’m going to save everyone some time, and explain the only way to reform a calendar. In just five easy steps….

  1. Have a truly unique and powerful idea about calendar reform. I cannot state this point enough, since it is so easy to overlook that nearly everyone does. How many people are using the French revolutionary calendar, anyway?
  2. Pick a religion (not a country) with a history spanning millenia and use them to push your agenda. No matter how smart one believes atheists to be, none of them have ever reformed a calendar by admitting their lack of religion aloud.
  3. Be prepared to support them any way you can, including giving up naming rights for your new baby. Remember that the Gregorian calendar was named after Pope Gregory.
  4. Prepare to wait several hundred years or longer, since that’s how long it will take most people to adopt it anyway. Remember that even popular calendars take a while to catch on.

In the end, I’m not going to finish this list, since it seriously unlikely to ever happen. Though if someone really thinks that they are the exception that proves the rule, I’d be happy to cure you of your misguided notion(s). 😉

For better or worse, we have the best calendar that can make it through the process. If you want to be immortalized, you’ll need to find a better way….

I explained to her that I had her back [internationally speaking]

Several years ago when I was at CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) and AEE (the Adult Entertainment Expo) while talking to some companies about closed captions and subtitles (not for Microsoft of course!), I met Shawna Leneé, an adult model and actress.

She asked me what I did for a living and I said today’s blog post. 😉

I pointed to that E Acute in her last name, her stage last name I mean: (U+00e9 in Unicode) and explained that I was trying to enable her chosen career since not everyone could handle her name properly. 😉

I was introduced to her work not too long before, at the bachelor party of a colleague who realized that neither strip clubs nor strippers would a be good way to go. One of the people planning the party realized that his fiancée had a high school graduation picture with more than a passing resemblance to Shawna Leneé, so it became a theme for the party (and both Digital Playground’s Cheerleaders and Penthouse’s Bring Me the Head of Shawna Leneé were rented.

Now to be perfectly honest, the whole party theme disturbed me on multiple levels:

  • watching two such films with a bunch of guys seemed a little strange;
  • quality of such films is usually not great, and finding a film that won’t make people feel uncomfortable is a long shot at best;
  • the surprise ending to the second film, enough said about that;
  • what would the upside be for him to imagine his bride to be when she was so much younger?
  • what would the upside be to having a bunch of other guys fantasizing about your fiancée anyway?

After the two films were done, I broke the silence caused by the unexpected plot twist at the end of the film and pointed out the technical problems in supporting the name of a performer when her name contained a diacritic (I had proof of this since the first film had the name without the diacritic).

Everyone was rolling their eyes at that point, but I said I was just getting started. So in that second movie where Steven St. Croix sent Evan Stone to “fetch him the head of Shawna Leneé,” between three of the actresses in the film there were five different vowel combinations producing the same Arthur Fonzarelli “Aaay” sound: Shawna Leneé, Jayden Jaymes, and Faye Reagan.

And I went on about how we all knew the pronunciation of Leneé was correct because it was pronounced by many of the people in the movie as a plot point. Which means that the film actually had a plot, albeit one was disturbing.

Getting back to Shawna, like me she mostly grew up in the metropolitan Cleveland area, and she was already aware of the problems caused by the “é” in her name, from incorrect billing to website mistakes to the fact that even a half decade later the IAFD site only lists Shawna Lenee’ with a simple apostrophe as an alias. Even though I’m told that some areas have improved, most of the industry has continued to disappoint, internationally. 

Captions, Same Language Subtitles, A Man and a Woman, and more

Friend and colleague Don Osborn tweeted las Thursday: Same-language subtitling for African languages?

Regular readers know how strongly I feel about subtitles and captions. What they may not know (since I haven’t blogged about it previously) is that it all started with an award winning film from years prior to when I was born!

The 1966 French film A Man and a Woman (Un homme et une femme) is my favorite example of both technologies, and as an interesting by the way why I first learned that I can love an opera even if I don’t know the language.

I have read the movie in its native French, subtitled into English, dubbed into English, and both at the same time. It was pretty easy to enjoy unique aspects of the film with every one of those permutations, especially with the Oscar winning visuals that the film offered.

Interestingly, it was also used as part of the plot of Nelson DeMille’s Night Fall, and helped firmly anchor the story for any reader who knew the film, or New York City, or Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, or even Yemen or Tanzania, or the fascinating and terrifying case about the explosion and subsequent investigation of TWA Flight 800 over Long Island.

I find the lines between dubbing, subtitles, and captions are blurrier than ever, yet I agree with the idea that no matter what you call it, the potential benefits of SLS (same language subtitles) can be a wonderful aid to literacy in not just the languages of Africa but the languages of anywhere. Of everywhere.

In the end, I found it fascinating how many aspects of the movie and the book’s story resonated with aspects of my own interests, experiences, areas of expertise, and life. It has become one of the Nelson DeMille novels that I have been able to enjoy several different times over the past few years, and not only because I wish I was as clever as retired NYPD detective John Corey.

The novel’s reminder of Man and a Woman (Un homme et une femme) and how many different ways it has been able to speak to me has made it one of my favorite reminders of why I love what I do (when I’m able to it, of course!).

Windows time zones vs. IANA names?

A birthday present for John O’Conner, who asked me about this….

John O’Conner, an old colleague from Unicode asked me via Facebook for an article on a mapping between Windows defined timezones and IANA names. I was going to do a blog post to explain but then I found it mostly covered by a Stackoverflow article and Noda Time:

I think the article explains most of it, though the article kinda skips over some of the motivation for Microsoft to keep its own timezones in the first place, as well as why it has such mealy mouth language about there being a mostly 1:n mapping between the two.

Luckily, these two points are related to both themselves and to a third unrelated “inside baseball” reason mostly internal to Microsoft: The team that owns Windows Internationalization does *not* own timezones, the various Microsoft subsidiaries collectively own them, since they are the ones that have to explain why cities/states/countries that might professionally or personally dislike each other might not want to be listed together.

Essentially, it becomes a geopolitically sensitive issue to make sure that nobody gets pissed off about either not being given their own time zone or being forced to share a time zone with someone that they don’t feel like being good sharers with….

In the end, the International team is a consultant on this issue, just like the Outlook piece of the Microsoft Office folks are, since the latter represents the ones who are arguably the hardest hit by the whole issue anyway.

Everyone has a right to not get along well with others, basically. This is a fancy way of saying that some regions and countries (and their respective government officials) didn’t pass the lessons that we’re all supposed to learn in school in kindergarten…..

Happy Walpurgis Day?!?

Just like I posted in the Blog back in 2008:

Now once again it is May Day, meaning last night was Walpurgis Night or maybe Walpurgis Eve, or maybe Witches Sabbath or Walpurgisnacht from the German.

Does the fact that I am not Finnish or German or a witch or a socialist, but just an atheist MOT, have any real influence here?

Outlook is still messing the whole time of year up….

Three or more ways to read books….

Friend and Twitter friend @terrynakamura posted the other day on Twitter an article about how how your paper brain and your Kindle brain are two different things:

is true as far as it goes, but for argument’s sake you have to consider that your Audible brain is yet another!

 Is it just me or is this like The Beatles White Album where people who want the best picture will have to buy the book again each time a new format comes out?

I think it’s just a conspiracy by Amazon to make you buy the same book over and over again! Certainly not everyone will do it, but some people would rather watch the movie instead anyway!

Now to get into my main concern with the article: the sketchy “proof” of the DEEP reading argument. I will accept quite readily that these three different ways of reading the same book activate three different parts of your or my brain, but even the additional sources added to the article don’t really make the full case for value judgment of their comparative worth.

In the end, each view into the work of the author or authors brings different pros and cons to the subject, and ignoring the relative merits of the accessibility of graphic novels to audio books is easier than ignoring the fact that Douglas Hofstadter’s Pulitzer prize winning Gödel Escher Bach can’t be easily captured by a non-visual medium, which in the end is largely the same issue.

Furthermore, the fact that neither leet from the likes of Mark Russinovich nor URLs from the likes of Orson Scott Card are ever read literally the way that audio books usually try to do it show that the only thing worse than a passive vocabulary is the institutional inheritance of someone else’s passive vocabulary.

It gets even more difficult when one has to translate into another language, where important meaning can be lost in any or all formats, which is why multiple translations can come in handy.

There is also the fact that some people would rather have a book read to them by someone like Scott Brick than by someone they don’t know. If you have to risk being led down a garden path, then there is something to be said for choosing the gardener when you can!

A blog about all the things that the old Blog was about!