'We've got a sub for that'

Introducing the great 'I've just been humiliated in front of 1,200 people' sub. You choose the bread, the filling, the salad and the sauce. However you feel, whatever you want - we've got a sub for that.

And I've got a term for that: comfort eating.

The BBC and Tim Berner's Lee

Here's some of the worst subbing I've seen on the BBC News website for quite a while:

BBC News article extract on the rise of the web's digital elites

The first par shown needs to be broken up - it took me three reads to get the sense of it. Then there's the apostrophe in Tim Berners Lee's name. And of course the stray 'his' in the third par.

The rest of the article is little better - particularly this short par:

Despite this, people like former US Vice-President Al Gore is an online optimist.

To be honest, I'm not shocked or offended at all - it's just nice to be reminded that nobody's perfect.

Clutchslip's shocking iPhone app

My colleague Clutchslip writes:

Having recently succumbed to an iPhone, I’ve inevitably being looking for apps to load. I feel utter disgrace at having considered this shocker, as reviewed on the iTunes App Store. The review warns -

“Rated 12+ for the following:

Infrequent/mild alcohol, tobacco, drug use or reference to these.”

And the product? AA – Best of Britain, a hotel, restaurant and pub guide!

'Receive Quid From the Government'

I just logged into StatCounter to see how The Engine Room was doing when I spotted this ad:

Receive Quid from the Government
'Get a few quid' perhaps, but never 'receive quid'. I think I'm safe in saying that this copy wasn't written by a native British English speaker.

In fact, Google gives only 576 results for "Receive Quid" (and almost all of those follow their 'quid' with a 'pro quo').

Unfortunately, the ad changed before I thought to click on it - and no matter how many times I refresh StatCounter it won't come back. So I'll probably never find out how to receive quid from the government.

I wouldn't know what to do with 11,286 quids anyway.

'Sleep starts at the beginning of the night'

By now you have probably heard or read about hotel chain Holiday Inn offering a human bed-warming service.

This is obviously a daft (if effective) PR stunt so I won't dwell on it too much, but I would like to look at a particular quote that has appeared in a lot of the coverage around this story. The quote, attributed to Dr Chris Idzikowski of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre, is as follows:

There's plenty of scientific evidence to show that sleep starts at the beginning of the night when body temperature starts to drop. A warm bed - approximately 20 to 24 Celsius - is a good way to start this process whereas a cold bed would inhibit sleep.

"There's plenty of scientific evidence to show that sleep starts at the beginning of the night" - what exactly does this mean? If by 'night' we generally mean the time that we are asleep, then yes, sleep does usually start at the beginning of the night.

Here are a selection of sites using the quote or a version of it:

'I am out of the office now for the rest of my life'

My publishing director retired last week after 41 years with the company. I forgot to remove him from a particular mailing list and this morning emailed him by accident, only to get a great automated reply back. It began:

I am out of the office now for the rest of my life.

Did you mean: dicks?

My girlfriend is currently writing an academic essay about the 'DIKW hierarchy', a model which distinguishes between data, information, knowledge, and wisdom.

She searched for 'DIKW' on her university library website and got this:

Did you mean: dicks?
I could hear her laughing from two rooms away.

Worst Case & Michael Ledwidge

This morning, on the way in to work, I saw an advert for the novel Worst Case by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge. Here's the book's front cover:

It seems strange to me that the title is placed between the authors' names. The novel could almost be called 'Worst Case & Michael Ledwidge'.

Juxtaposition: 'I can make you thin'

Here's a rather unfortunate juxtaposition from yesterday's Metro:

Unfortunate juxtaposition in Metro
Good spot, Gareth.

'Not suitable for children under 3 years old'

My colleague Clutchslip has forwarded on this extract from the latest edition of Transport News Brief, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders' email newsletter:

Transport News Brief reader Owen Ryder of Cummins recently bought a birthday card for his baby daughter. On the front it read "Happy Birthday To A Special Girl On Your First Birthday". On the back it said, in small print "Not suitable for children under 3 years old". He's now not sure for whom this card is suitable.

Nursey nurse

The camera on my mobile phone is broken, so you'll have to take my word for it when I say that a recruitment agency near my office is currently advertising for a "NURSEY NURSE".

At first I assumed this was a typo, but Googling 'Nursey Nurse' throws up the following vacancy on guardianjobs:

Nursey Nurse
And Nursery World Jobs is carrying an advert for a "passionate nursey nurse":

Passionate nursey nurse
I could go on, but it's past my beddy-byes.

Gang 'jailed for a total of 94 years'

This evening's 8pm news summary on BBC One mentioned the sentencing of a drug-smuggling gang. The newsreader said:

Patrick Walsh and his accomplices were jailed for a total of 94 years

However she did not say how many accomplices there were.

If Walsh had 20 accomplices, that figure of 94 years would seem on the low side; conversely, if he had only two, it would seem rather high.

So it's almost meaningless to be told the number of years without also being told the number of accomplices.

(According to the East London Advertiser, Walsh had five accomplices.)

Incidentally, I was amused to hear the gang referred to as "international drug smugglers". Unless told otherwise, I assume that drug smugglers smuggle drugs from one country to another, making them by default "international".

But that's just my interpretation.

Word of the day: waitperson

This evening my girlfriend and I had a meal out at a restaurant in Crystal Palace. The food was excellent but the menu suggested we ask "our waitperson" about the soup and terrine of the day.

'Waitperson' - is this a common word? I'd been under the impression that 'waiter', like 'actor', was increasingly being used gender-neutrally. Or can I expect to come across 'actperson' soon?

The Oxford English Dictionary does list 'waitperson' (as an American English term) - the first quotation is as follows:

1980 N.Y. Times 3 Aug. (Long Island Weekly section) 13/1 The young waiters and waitresses (referred to as ‘waitpersons’ on the menu),..wear a preppy uniform.

Redemial racehorsing and real-play

I was on a training course yesterday with a chap who littered his speech with spoonerisms. Two particularly good ones he came out with were racehorsing (for 'horseracing') and redemial (for 'remedial').

And I'd also like to share this snippet from the pre-course information:

We will be using real-life situations in skills practice. There will be no role-play, only real-play!

Make Your Own Web Site for the Older Generation

At work, when I moved over to the web side of operations full time, I inherited lots of bits and bobs from our departing web editor.

One of these was a book titled How to Make Your Own Web Site for the Older Generation.

Unfortunately, the "for the older generation" part of the title refers to the book itself, not to any websites that might be built using it. In other words, it doesn't tell me how to build a website that appeals to OAPs.

(The cover of my copy is identical to the one pictured, except that mine has "Web Site" in the title instead of "Website".)

'Food photography for visual purposes only'

My colleague Clutchslip has sent me this:

Food photography for visual purposes only

It's very difficult to make out, but the small text underneath the coffee mug reads: "Food photography for visual purposes only."

So there you go - you're not allowed to sniff or eat the photo.

Headlines: 'Bizarre cricket caught on camera'

The sixth headline in this BBC News 'Most Popular Stories Now' widget confused me briefly:

BBC News widget with bizarre cricket story
Bizarre cricket? Could the Beeb mean Twenty20?

(OK, here's the real story.)

Tools to tile images and create PDFs

Here are a couple of really handy web-based tools that I discovered recently and now use regularly at work:

Upload a Word, Excel or PowerPoint document and this tool will convert it into a PDF and email it back to you. It's free - you don't even have to sign up. Much easier than firing up Acrobat.

This tool is designed to help you "create any size wall posters from any size images", but I use it to print off screengrabs of websites when they won't fit on to one sheet of paper. Basically, Block Posters 'slices' your image up into page-sized tiles and then turns these into a PDF for you to download and print. My only criticism is that it doesn't accept .PNG files.

Icy playground shortages

From a BBC News article today:

Icy playground and staff shortages
I didn't know the UK was suffering from icy playground shortages!

'Indicative of fecal contamination'

Have a look at this (particularly unpleasant) headline and standfirst, and then have a look at the full story on WESH.com.

Human waste found in soda fountains

First, the headline: "Human waste found in soda fountains". Well, the body copy says the fountains "contained coliform bacteria, which is a group indicative of fecal contamination". But it doesn't say anything about actual human waste being found.

And then the standfirst: "Virginia researchers find 70 percent of drinks contaminated". The body copy says "nearly half of all beverages" contained the bacteria - so where does this figure of 70% fit in?

Incidentally, the story refers to "a study" carried out by "experts" and "researchers", and also indirectly quotes "microbiologists". Names and details, please!

AP headline unleashes emotions

I saw this Associated Press headline on the New York Times website today, and I'm not that keen:

Civilian deaths unleash emotions in Afghanistan

"Civilian deaths unleash emotions in Afghanistan" - which emotions? Awe? Lust? Joy?

Of course not, but it wouldn't hurt to be a bit more specific.

Twitter + wine = Witter?

I saw this on Twitter and it confused me somewhat:

Twitter promoting Fledgling wine
"A Twitter winemaking project for literacy around the world"? I couldn't see the connection between winemaking and literacy, or indeed winemaking and Twitter.

But according to the Fledgling Wine website:

The Fledgling Initiative aims to make awesome wine for the benefit of Room to Read, a non-profit organization extending literacy and educational opportunities to children worldwide. Every case sold will provide approximately 60 local language children’s books and promote education in the world’s poorest regions.

So that's the connection between literacy and winemaking. I'm not entirely sure where Twitter fits in, but the introduction on the Fledgling Wine website is written by Biz Stone and Evan Williams, two of the co-founders of Twitter, so I'm guessing there's a very close link.

Of course, a premisis

Yesterday my colleague Clutchslip sent me an email with the subject 'Today's new word':

Just reading about an aspiring brewer who decided that what he needed was “of course, a premisis to brew in.”

Of course!

Now Clutchslip didn't want to embarrass the brewer so I won't do any naming and shaming either (feel free to Google, though).

But I can say that 'premisis' isn't that new a word, at least judging by this GrammarBlog post.

Giving The Engine Room a polish

As you've probably noticed, I'm in the middle of updating The Engine Room's template. Please bear with me as it might take me a few days to iron out the kinks and restore all the widgets (especially the blogroll).

Thanks - and I hope you like the new look.

£0.30 buys you... no credits

I've been frequenting those North London pubs again, and in one of them I spotted a jukebox with the following price list:

Jukebox price list
For only 30p you can get... no credits! What a bargain!

The Engine Room's top 10 posts from 2009

Here are The Engine Room's 10 most popular posts from 2009 (according to Google Analytics):

1. Police seize nipple clamps in council offices
2. Have fun with homonyms!
3. The Apprentice and Lorraine Tighe's eyes
4. Yao Guai Bear!
5. Timothy Taylor steak and ale pie
6. Due to the bad weather
7. Six-yearly, bi-monthly, every two months
8. Beware the escalator of death
9. Word of the day: bustitution
10. Google Maps wants me to swim to Glasgow

So - reality TV, pies, Xbox games, portmanteaux and funny pics. You lot have very similar tastes to me...

Words Between the Spaces

One of my resolutions for 2010 is to share with you more of the blogs, sites and tools that I stumble across and enjoy.

So to kick things off I'd like to mention the blog Words Between the Spaces, written by a magazine copy editor in the US.

Having a background in consumer and business mags myself I'm always pleased to see a magazine copy editor or sub blogging - especially as most editing blogs seem to be kept by newspaper journos.

I'm adding Words Between the Spaces to my blogroll (in the 'Favourite Blogs' section, if only provisionally).

Black text on dark grey

STA Travel is a great company, but I'm not sure about the colours it is using in its email newsletter (click on the image for a larger version):

STA Travel newsletter
Red text on dark grey? Maybe. Black text on dark grey? I can't read that at all.

(To be fair, when I forwarded the newsletter on to one of my other email accounts the black text showed up there as white. It's a mystery to me.)