Medial caps get camelised

Pic: The Wandering Nerd

A question on last week’s University Challenge made me think for a second. I don’t have an exact transcript but it went something along the lines of “In typography, what is the term for an uppercase letter in the middle of lowercase letters, particularly in proprietary or commercial names?” I was casting about in my own mind for the definition when in buzzed one of the contestants with the answer “camel font”. Jeremy Paxman agreed that this was good enough, but supplied the words which must have been written on his card, “camel case”.

Unfortunately, I don’t think this is the correct typographical definition. The one I was mentally searching for (and I confess that I had to find it after the show by going to the Wikipedia page on camel case) was in fact “medial caps”. These have been around for decades (think CinemaScope, AstroTurf, InterCity) but became much more common in the 1980s (think WordPerfect, PageMaker and, later, iPod and its ilk). Camelcase  is a definition of the same practice, but comes from computer programming rather than typography.

Writing about this, however, gives me a great opportunity to use the illustration above which I found on the Wandering Nerd blog when I Googled “WordPerfect”. This shows the little crib sheet supplied by the manufacturer which you were supposed to place above the function keys on your keyboard to remind you of the shortcuts needed for various operations: F6 for Bold, F8 for Underline, etc. I wrote the whole of my book Editing Design and Book Production for Small Publishers in WordPerfect. By the time it was published in 1993 it was already going out of date, with the arrival of DeskTop Publishing (more medial caps). But that’s another story.

By the way, Emmanuel College Cambridge beat St Peter’s Oxford in the University Challenge match. I think they may go far in this year’s series.

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We’re all on WhatsApp now

News that the European team’s victory in the Ryder Cup was bolstered in part by their bonding in a WhatsApp group has resulted in another slew of publicity for everyone’s favourite messaging app. Even an old-fashioned blogger with an aversion to Facebook like me finds it a great tool. (I know that it is now owned by Facebook but I take all the reassurances that the social media behemoth can’t access its data at their word.)

What is even funnier is the news that a bunch of Scottish Conservatives opposed to the blatant leadership manouvering of professional buffoon and erstwhile UK Foreign Secretary are using the codename Operation Arse “so that we’d be clear who we were talking about.” Let’s hope that they have a WhatsApp group of the same name.

Preparing the Phoenix

My daily trip to the Phoenix Park has become very complicated. A huge central area has been cordoned off to enable the construction of a venue big enough to hold the expected 500,000 people who will attend a Mass to be celebrated by the Pope. This is taking place on Sunday 26 August.

The result of all this activity is that I have had to move my dog-walking start point from the Papal Cross car park to the one on Glen Road. This happens to be the area where most of the females and this year’s fawns from the park’s fallow deer herd hang out. This part of the Fifteen Acres is where the deers would normally be at this time of the year, but they are confined to the eastern part of the space by the temporary fence.

My enforced move has meant that I am much closer to the dozens of people who turn up every day to feed the deer, something that is actually prohibited by the park authorities. Every day there are several bunches of deer, each surrounded by tourists proffering food – mainly carrots and apples. This activity is bad enough (according to the Wild Deer Association of Ireland, even carrots and apples are not good food for deer) but then some of the feeders then leave their litter behind.

The other day, I saw one hind with something shiny in its mouth. It was too far away for me to get a photograph, and it dropped the object as I got closer. But this is what I found when I got to the point at which it had been grazing:

There was a major outcry about what we are doing to our habitat when the Blue Planet TV programme recently broadcast the effect of plastic pollution on the species with whom we share our earth. And yet people still leave their rubbish behind in a field where wild animals graze.

Looking around the interwebnet for material on deer feeding in the Phoenix Park I came across some incredible examples of general idiocy. Here is a man feeding a buck with some sort of biscuit:

Here is ‘Dublin-based model’ Brittany Mason delighting her 77,000 Instagram followers with her cute picture. She apparently ‘made friends with Bambi today’, carefully remembering to add her sponsor’s hashtag to the post.

I took these examples from a very good piece posted in 2016 on the Dublin Inquirer site, and there are many more horrifying pictures there.

One of the reasons why the trend has grown is because tourist guides and social media are encourgaing the practice. Here are a couple of examples I turned up:

Some proper research needs to be done on the effects of this rapid increase in feeding. According to a recent Mooney Goes Wild radio programme, where one Spanish student was found to be giving the deer popcorn, Laura Griffin from UCD is looking at the subject. I hope that this will be published soon, and perhaps then the OPW will take a much more active stance on prevention.

In the meantime, maybe people will realise that the deer are wild and really shouldn’t be approached. Particularly during the annual rut, which will start in a few weeks time. Here is a piece which appeared in the Irish Sun, written in the usual sniggery language we have grown to expect.

Smart timing for Rolex ad

While following the Open golf online on Sunday afternoon, I noticed this clever ad from Rolex, where the displayed watch is actually telling the correct time.

I usually find online ads a bit of a nuisance  — on my older computer, a page will often freeze as a result of a “slow script”, and it’s nearly always caused by an over-complicated code-heavy ad — but sometimes you have to applaud the concept and execution. Very simple, very well put together.

Someone has to do it

A big shout out to the person who compiles the DM Reporter Twitter feed. Every day they wade through the gross pit of slime which makes up the comments section under nearly all the posts on the Mail Online website, and pull out the choicest examples. Above are just a few of the comments made by the good people of Britain (or at least those who read the Mail) about the anti-Brexit march which took place in London yesterday.

It is quite clear that the whole Brexit process is shaping up to be the most rancorous, divisive and awful event which has befallen the UK since the second world war. How on earth the nation heals itself afterwards is anyone’s guess.

Cricket lovely cricket

Pic: BreakingNews.ie

Circumstances meant that, unfortunately, the day that Test cricket came to Ireland I was on a ferry from Dublin to Holyhead. Otherwise, I would certainly have made an effort to get a ticket. Although it’s a minor sport over here, those who play it are really dedicated to the game.

In an article in the Irish Times, Niall O’Brien describes how the players of his generation ‘fell in love with Test cricket while watching it on the BBC in those long summers of our childhoods.’ How great it was that during the match his brother Kevin should become the first Irishman to score a Test century.

In fact, the first day was washed out and not a ball was bowled. Typical cricket, you might say. So the match actually started on the Saturday, and it was a time for much emotion. In a lovely piece in the Observer published on the Sunday, Andy Bull wrote:

Soon after 10am, the Irish players gathered together on the outfield while the chair of selectors, Andrew White, set down a scruffy cardboard box full of handsome new caps. He handed them out one by one, the first to captain William Porterfield, then the rest in alphabetical order, Andy Balbirnie, Ed Joyce, Tyrone Kane, Tim Murtagh, Kevin and Niall O’Brien, Boyd Rankin, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson and Gary Wilson. The first Irish Test XI. At least a couple of them started to cry from pride.

Being away means that I wasn’t even able to see the highlights, which were broadcast each night on RTE. It looks as though Ireland acquitted themselves well, having a chance when they reduced Pakistan to 14 for three in their second innings. Class prevailed, however, and the visitors eventually won by five wickets.

But how wonderful it was that the ‘greatest game’ has a new Test-playing nation, and that real cricket – the kind where a whole narrative builds over several days – now has a chance to thrive on a new field. If only it was shown live on TV, when there would be a chance of more young Niall O’Briens falling in love with the game. But I fear the cash register prevails and therefore we have little chance of broadening its appeal.