Nothing But

Windows 7’s default icon for an image file is a snapshot showing two flowers in muted orange and yellow. When I logged onto my computer at work this morning, my desktop was cluttered with files, half of them screenshots accidentally saved there due to missed mouse clicks. For the first moment that the icons appeared on screen, each of them showed a cached thumbnail version of their image. The thumbnails then disappeared and were replaced by the default flower icon in a pattern that cascaded from the top of the desktop to its bottom and from its left to its right. Just after the last flower bloomed in the lower right corner of the screen, the thumbnails started to re-render. Each flower quietly dropped away, following the same left-to-right and top-to-bottom pattern, the pattern broken in two or three places when a larger file took longer to load and its flower lingered on screen for one moment longer than the flower that came after it.

It’s Science!

BBC: “Science has discovered a fifth moon circling the dwarf planet Pluto.”

A moon is defined as “a natural satellite of a planet”. If Pluto is no longer a planet, then its satellites are not moons. You don’t get to have it both ways, science.

The Bell Character

My favorite ASCII character is the bell. This character was used in early five-bit character sets, first developed in the Nineteenth Century. It was used to signal a telegraph terminal to ring a bell, alerting the receiving telegraph operator that a message was coming in. Though it’s just a vestigial remnant of the immediate successor to Morse Code, there is still a slot reserved for the bell in modern character sets.

Your Inkjet printer will not ring a bell when fed a bell character, but many Unix/Linux or DOS-based command prompt terminals will sound a tone when called on to print a bell to the screen.

In your browser, a bell looks (or sounds) like this:

You’re probably seeing a rectangle, an empty space, or an oval with the letters “BEL” inside.