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Friday, February 27, 2015

Poor English is one clue the email you've received is possibly a scam.

I read this article titled, "Police urge residents to protect against cyber attacks".

www.dailymercury.com.au/news/police-urge-residents-protect-against-cyber-attack/2556169/

I regularly advise computer users to listen to their instinct. Nearly everyone I've helped who have infected their computer say they felt something wasn't right. If you get this feeling listen to it. Nature has provided us with a great survival instinct and we should take advantage of what nature has provided.

In the article I found this paragraph relevant to readers of this blog.

Look for spelling mistakes on a business site. Pharming is a practice where cyber criminals redirect your attempt to access a site to their version of the same site. Spelling mistakes, poor grammar/english and the use of old business emblems are the giveaway. Be observant.

The problem is even the article itself contains the word "english", which should be "English". If the article you're reading has poor grammar and is written by skilled journalists, then many business sites will have poor grammar. It is a clue, but not the only clue.

The other paragraph which concerns me is the following:

Ensure your home computer/laptop/tablet/smartphone(s) has antivirus protection.

Yes. Definitely install and keep your anti-virus software up to date. However keep in mind nearly every infected computer that I've repaired (and there been hundreds over the years), have had anti-virus software installed. Anti-virus software will not catch the latest malware (there's a potential windows of 24-48 where you software doesn't know about the new malware) and do not stop many infections. Many infections are a result of the user going to a site, clicking on a link, installing free software. Even those ads you see in Google can lead you to unwanted and undesirable software.

Ultimately you're your own best defence. If it doesn't feel right STOP. Think about what you're just about to do. It may cost your hundreds. None of us are immune to being infected. I read an American police station had to pay the ransom to decrypt their data. Do make sure you have a backup of your important information off your computer.

Also to be scammed often has nothing to do with your computer. I recently had my credit card cancelled due to fraud and it had nothing to do with my computer. Another family member had their credit card cancelled due to fraud and they don't have a computer. A client was scammed simply by providing their bank customer number. I've seen the banks and telcos get tricked and they should know better. So keep in mind if the police, banks and telcos can be tricked, then if you do get tricked, don't be too hard on yourself. The crooks are very clever and do this for a living.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.Australian-Dictionary.com.au
For IT support I can be contacted on 0415 910 703.
My IT site is www.OnlineConnections.com.au or www.Computer-Repairs.Melbourne.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Is it, writing a practice piece or practise piece?

I thought I'd share a question I just saw on the Yahoo Answers service. The question was, "Is it, Writing a practice piece or practise piece?"

https://au.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20150211012744AA8Yxhx

I have to admit the words practice and practise gave me a lot of grief. I know the obvious usage but when I saw 'practice makes perfect' it didn't feel right, even though it is. Now I'm a tad better at working out those situations where I still struggle. For me this is like a fun puzzle.

OK. Then. The answer is a practice piece. Why?

You are writing the piece to be used as part of practice and thus a practice piece. You could practise using a practice piece, but you write a practice piece. The piece is for practice which is the regular activity and thus it is a practice piece. You could say I'm going to practise my writing by writing a practice piece, but that's not saying the same thing.

Sometimes we can get confused when we shorten our sentences. It is possible the person's question being quite short may not be clear as the what they really want, but all we can do is to respond to the question as it is asked. A better question would probably be, what do you mean?

Kelvin Eldridge
www.Australian-Dictionary.com.au
Creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.

How would you go answering the numeracy and literacy tests new teachers are expected to undertake?

I read the article at the link below and whilst I think I'm a bit of a rebel at times, I do think teachers should reach a basic acceptable level in numeracy and literacy, if it is considered an important aspect of their profession.

It does concern me however that such tests are only going to be performed at the end of a course, which in my opinion is far too late. A lack of skills should have in most cases been evident before people were admitted into a course and certainly assessed during the course. If there is a problem in certain areas this should have been picked up and the person not allowed to proceed. This simply feels like a pointless exercise after the event. Another level of bureaucracy that could be avoided.

How do you think you would go based on the example questions in the following article?

www.news.com.au/finance/work/tough-new-numeracy-and-literacy-tests-to-be-given-to-australias-graduating-teachers-from-2016/story-fnkgbb3b-1227214979835

Now here is another interesting thought. With most tests you're allowed a certain level of errors. Based on my observation of year 12 results and other test results I've observed, the average result appears to be around sixty four per cent. Would future teachers simply have to attain a pass of around fifty per cent and thus be below average?

It is important to keep in mind that none of us are perfect and we'll all make spelling, grammar and typing errors. Teachers are just people. I know from my interest in words that finer aspects of my skills have evolved considerably over the last 12 years. Would I have passed the numeracy and literacy test had I become a maths/science teacher? I have no doubt I would have, but I also know there would have been much room for improvement.

As long as teachers reach an acceptable level of numeracy and literacy skills and endeavour to continue to grow those skills over time, I think we have a good system.

The work I do with the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary is really about lifting our written work to the next level. To be better than we would be with the writing tools such as Microsoft Office, or the browsers we currently use. It never hurts to become better at what we do, but often that simply takes time and practise.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.Australian-Dictionary.com.au
Creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.

Friday, February 6, 2015

James Adonis' article 'Should we adopt American spelling', which appears in The Sydney Morning Herald contains an important piece of misinformation.

I often see people state we should move to American spelling because of the number of Americans using the language is huge compared to all other variations. However that logic is flawed. If we thought that way we should all think about learning Chinese. I'm neither for or against change, but I do believe if we're using Australian English, we should use the spelling variations used by the majority of Australians.

In the article by James (http://www.smh.com.au/small-business/managing/blogs/work-in-progress/should-we-adopt-american-spelling-20150206-3pley.html) states the following.

It is, however, a losing battle, made worse by an American institution by the name of Microsoft and, more specifically, its helpful but insidious spellchecking tool. 

Here’s why. Quite rarely do people change the language of the spellchecker to ‘English AUS’ or ‘English UK’. The consequence is that they type away oblivious of the norms in their own country. Subconsciously, they’re allowing American spelling to infiltrate their writing, turning those foreign nuances into a habit.

Like many others James blames Microsoft. Yes let's all get on the bash Microsoft bandwagon. The reality is Microsoft have done quite a good job. Probably around 10 years ago James would have been right in terms of the default language, but that issue hasn't existed for many years. If your computer is set up correctly Office will pick up that you're using Australian English and you'll use the Australian dictionary.

Here's the problem. Many people think 'ize' spelling is American and 'ise' is British. Thus we should be using British. Therein lies the basic problem. Even the English use both spelling variations and so do we. So generally both the 'ize' and 'ise' spelling variations of words are BOTH correct (except in America where they made a decision long ago). However the 'ise' variation has become the preferred spelling in Australia. Microsoft provides both spelling variations in their dictionary so it is up to the user to decided how they wish to spell. This is the same as our authoritative dictionaries which are descriptive and not prescriptive.

Personally I find this confusing and unnecessary, and thus I created the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary which enabled me to create add-ins for Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer and currently in development, a native dictionary for Apple Macs.

So I'm sorry to say James, it isn't Microsoft's fault. At least in most instances. There are errors in the dictionary as there will be in any work but this isn't one. No it isn't because computers aren't set up correctly as they've evolved. However that doesn't stop people downloading and installing software incorrectly. How many people chose the US version of open source software over the British version simply because it is more up-to-date. I suspect many.

For those who are interested in finding out the reality of what is happening with the spellcheckers, please feel free to drop into my site www.Australian-Dictionary.com.au.

I am however thankful that James did spell spellchecker as one word. If he had been using Microsoft Office, or most of the spellcheckers used by Australians,  the word will be marked as an error and the suggestion which splits spellchecker into 'spell' and 'checker'. That's an error in the software people are using.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.Australian-Dictionary.com.au
Creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.

eBay Australia main page used High Wasted instead of High Waisted.

I found this typo on the main page of eBay after seeing the typo mentioned in the community forums.

I did wonder if perhaps it was branding. You know, the type of branding that deliberately misspells words. However when I clicked the link I found an additional spelling error and some images had text using wasted and others using waisted.

The members were having fun with the obvious recreational drug inferences.

I must admit I was quite surprised to see this typo on the main page of eBay.

Kelvin Eldridge
Creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.


Saturday, January 31, 2015

In an article what does the word sic mean and how should sic be used?

I was reading an article today and in the quoted section of text I noticed the word sic appearing in brackets and thought, I really should look sic up. I've seen sic often but have never taken the time to check out what sic really means and how sic should be used. I have a general feeling what sic may mean, and I'm sure many others learn things from context as I have, but in this case I thought it was time to investigate further. I'm glad I did as what I found uncovered an interesting variation between Australian and American English.

The word sic is Latin and means thus. I don't usually quote Wikipedia as I don't feel Wikipedia is an authoritative reference and contains many errors. In addition Wikipedia can lead people to incorrect information as it doesn't qualify the information sufficiently in many cases and rarely for Australian usage. Thus Australians can mistakenly use Wikipedia as a reference think they're correct, but they end up using American English. However, in this case the entry in Wikipedia beings with, The Latin adverb sic ("thus"; in full: sic erat scriptum, "thus was it written") and I thought that information was worth sharing.

What this is saying is, the writer of the article wants to show the quote is being written as it was originally written and that the writer has not introduced an error. The effect of sic is to call attention to the reader the original text may have a spelling, grammatical error, or perhaps some other issue the reader is to be made aware off.

The Wikipedia entry also mentioned another point I found very interesting. In America the general convention is to place the word sic within square brackets, whereas in Britain the convention is to use parentheses or as some like to call them, curved or round brackets. A check of the Macquarie Dictionary does not provide guidance on formatting, but The Australian Oxford Dictionary provides an example shows round brackets are used.

The word sic being a foreign language word is often written in italics. The word sic is not an abbreviation and thus sic should not end with a full stop.

For me this information is great to know. I've often had the need to quote text which contains an error and on the one hand, I don't wish to change the text as that is not how it originally appeared, but on the other, I don't want to share an error which may mislead people. The word sic however does have one drawback that needs to be considered. When you point out an error in text by others, in effect you can end up diminishing the perceived value of the text. For some that will be helpful, but for others they will see this as the writer being condescending. You won't be able to keep everyone happy. My feeling is, if you can contact the original writer ask if it is OK to change the text. If you can't contact the writer, then it is probably better to use sic. I think it is better to aim for higher standards and lead by example. You never know when someone reading your work will benefit from what you've learnt.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.Australian-Dictionary.com.au
Creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Disappointed that Woolworths can't be bothered with correct punctuation in their Everyday Rewards email.

I received an Everyday Rewards email this morning and couldn't believe the poor use of punctuation. Three punctuation errors on their blackboard. Can you spot them?


Greengrocers and often held up for their examples of bad punctuation, but in this case this would be a communications section of Woolworths creating the material, so there is no excuse for poor punctuation. If anything, it makes you wonder what they're trying to do. Are they trying to make it look like they're the local greengrocer? It simply makes no sense for Woolworths to drop the standard of their communication.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.Australian-Dictionary.com.au
Creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.