Grammar Police: Localization

This isn’t actually a “policing” situation – it’s just something I thought you might find interesting.

Writers – especially technical writers – often have to work within the scope of globalization. Globalization is a way of writing that lends itself to localization, which is the process of translating a communication into another language and culture.

For example, you can help globalize a software application by pulling text strings, icons, and other forms of communication into separate files, which can then be localized for each culture that the application will support. Culture encompasses language, but also includes things like graphical icons that might not have a similar meaning to a different people. In writing, globalization can mean taking a careful approach to the words you use.

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Grammar Police: Utilize

You do not utilize a computer. You use a computer.

verb (used with object)used, using.

to employ for some purpose; put into service; make use of:

to use a knife.

to avail oneself of; apply to one’s own purposes:

to use the facilities.

to expend or consume in use:

We have used the money provided.

to treat or behave toward:

He did not use his employees with much consideration.

to take unfair advantage of; exploit:

to use people to gain one’s own ends.

to drink, smoke, or ingest habitually:

to use drugs.

to habituate or accustom.
Utilize is a word often used by people who think that it makes them sound smarter, because “z” and all that. These people are wrong.

The word utilize is generally accepted as correct when you’re speaking of some resource which has a finite capacity, and you need to discuss in general terms how much of that capacity is being used. Oxygen utilization in the blood, for example. It could certainly be applied to utilization of our datacenter resources in a similar fashion. You may not have fully utilized your email server (and not the companion word, fully, which further implies a measurement of consumption), but when you sit down to send an email you are using Outlook or whatever.

Seem too complicated? Fine – just never use “utilized” at all. We are not using our datacenter to its full capacity would work just as fine, and actually be a lot clearer.

I’m going to keep posting this every year until the madness stops.

Grammar Police: Cyber

The US government, in particular, is doing this a lot. “We have a big cyber initiative.” “We’re very concerned about cyber.” Cyber, cyber, cyber.

Online sex that loners engage in if they are too ugly and boring to get a real boyfriend/girlfriend.

Loner1: Hey wanna cyber?
Loner2: Sure, baby, let me virtually take my clothes off.
Loner1: This is so great.

by Ember November 10, 2003
So, yeah. If you’re not talking about your “big” online sex initiative, then it’s cyber security, folks. And if you’re concerned about online sex… well, okay. Me too. But also be concerned about cyber security, or, for the entire rest of the planet who isn’t pretending to live in a William Gibson novel, information security or infosec, which only vaguely sounds like infosex. 
Please point this out to people who try to engage you in “cyber” at work. It is harassment, and you shouldn’t have to put up with it.

Grammar Police: Premise


Also, premissLogic. a proposition supporting or helping to support a conclusion.
  1. a tract of land including its buildings.
  2. a building together with its grounds or other appurtenances.
  3. the property forming the subject of a conveyance or bequest.

See the difference? Something that’s on-premise is something which is aligned to the original proposition or logic. Something that’s on-premises is located on-site. if you insists, because I know how you kids are with the shortcuts these days, on-prem can be a shortened version of on-premises. 

But do not say “on-premise” to mean “on-site.” Correct other people who make this mistake. We will not lose this battle!

What’s Your Suck Level?

In a recent Pluralsight “IT Ops News & Talk” podcast, I talked a bit about quantifying your level of suck.

That sounds horrible.

Here’s what I said, and why:

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Thanks for the Spam

If I directed you to this page, then it’s because you recently sent Unsolicited Commercial Email (UCE), or “spam,” to one of my e-mail addresses. You need take no action; I’ve already reported your activity to your mailing list provider, and they’ll deal with you according to their abuse policies.

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Oh, Noze, Now I Know A Product Exists! Augh! Take The Knowledge AWAAAY!

So, just got done doing a webinar on AD group management. I thought it went well – a lot of organizations spend WAY too much on group management, and it isn’t really a technical problem as much as it is the right people in the org not having the right UI. Anyway, spent about 40 minutes talking about the things we see companies dealing with, and some of what we’ve seen people try, and what worked, and what didn’t.

I kind of wrapped with a list of 5 main capabilities we see companies needing, like getting a UI in place that lets actual data owners manage the groups that provide access to their data. We also talked a bit how it’s mostly political problems that keep group management from being better.

The webinar was sponsored by a vendor, of course, but they didn’t even show up to do a product demo or sales pitch. They wanted it to be a legit discussion on the problem, and what my company sees companies dealing with. At the end, they do get mentioned as a sponsor. I said something to the effect of, “look, the solution here is basically better distributed, delegated user interfaces, and that doesn’t come with the OS. You have to either build or buy. If buying is an option, look at this sponsor’s web site. They’re a good place to start – this is an area they work in. There are others, and you should do some research.”

One attendee drops a comment in the Q&A queue: “I was not told we would have a product shoved down our throat. Do not contact me.”

Sheesh. First of all, sweet pea, if I’m gonna shove anything, you’ll know it. But seriously, this attitude just vexes me. We spend 40 minutes talking about legit problems, talking about what companies often try, and what happens. We talk about the real money involved – how much it costs to continue dealing with these problems. We talk honestly about the problem being partially political, and some ways to start addressing that. Then in the last 120 seconds, I introduce a sponsor and say that they have a product you should include in your other considerations as you look for solutions. And that’s shoving?

It’s this don’t-market-to-me-at-any-cost attitude I just don’t get. This wasn’t a bait and switch presentation by any stretch; there’s just certain people who think they’ve somehow been personally violated if they’re presented with any kind of knowledge of vendors or commercial activities. Like, knowing that a vendor and a product exists has somehow weighed down your brain and made you less able to function in the world. I mean heck, this wasn’t even the usual webinar, which is mainly just designed to get you online to watch a product demo. I try to not even do those.

like knowing about different solutions. I love it when folks tell me about tools they’re using in their organization, and what they think of them. I’m seriously trying to put together a vendors-not-allowed site where IT folks can share information on their tools, and honest opinions on them – I think it’d be great for research.

But getting PO’d because you had to “endure” the knowledge that a vendor exists? Man. That’s an uptight life. I wonder if that person can even watch network TV. I mean, I skip commercials on my DVR, but I know that the commercials exist. What a terrible knowledge to have to live with.

OK, back to Summit planning.