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#159 April 6, 2007

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Ramblings.
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Caught Napping. New York may be the city that never sleeps, but apparently it takes naps from time to time.

It’s caught my attention lately that some stores in Manhattan don’t keep to their stated hours. Restaurants are particular offenders: on more than one occasion have I gone out of my way to drop by a place for a bite to eat — keeping well in mind what time they close — only to find the staff having called it a day.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always thought business hours meant “open for your business until the very last minute”.

***

Writing Out Loud. I’ve been geeking out on my Mac lately by having Microsoft Word read text out to me.

This is by no means the first time that I’ve heard about this feature, but it is the first time I’ve taken it for a test drive. I’m quite taken by it, particularly how the computer manages to reasonably approximate the inflection, pauses and pacing affected by punctuation. While I’m a firm believer that there is a difference between writing meant for reading and that meant for speaking, at a minimum this text-to-speech feature is a really sweet way to proofread (proofspeak?) a document, which if memory serves is a suggestion that came up in an episode of Grammar Girl.

***

Available Now, Later. Amazon.com has been sending me confusing signals lately. First, I get an email alert informing me that a book I’ve been waiting for is already available. The problem, however, is that I know that the book’s release isn’t for another month. Then I saw it: the book was available for pre-order. I may be nitpicking, but that sort of marketing is a tad misleading: would it have hurt to have an email alert with a subject heading of “Pre-order Now!” instead of “Available Now!”?

Then there’s the unavailability of otherwise available books. I’ve been awaiting the release of a couple of graphic novels which I intended to buy online. But after the release date neither are available on Amazon yet, although I am given the option to pre-order both. I suppose these are hiccups any retailer has to face, more so when you’re the world’s largest bookseller. But it does show the chinks in their armor all the same.

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