Friday, 2 April 2004

Newsletter Issue 77, April 2004

Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 77, April 2004
Hi guys,
The English language is constantly changing. Each year we add more words to our dictionaries and a few grammatical rules are amended slightly. But there is one that I have been puzzling about in the The Round Bracket Debate below.
If you are having trouble with spam, then check out the article on Spam Filters below. 
Don't forget, if you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.

The Round Bracket Debate

I had always assumed - great thing, makes an "ass" out of "u" and "me" - that if you were going to put use round brackets (parentheses) in a sentence, that it was an "aside" sub-clause within that sentence. Which I would punctuate as follows;
Bob had decided, despite the rain, that he was going to the fair (it was too good to miss).
However, recently I have read a number of books and found that publishers no longer seem to treat round brackets in a universal way. I have seen the sentence above often treated thusly;
 Bob had decided, despite the rain, that he was going to the fair. (It was too good to miss).
So how are we supposed to use round brackets in prose? Just because it appears to have been normal practice to have brackets within the sentence (ie, before the full stop) doesn't mean that this is correct usage; or that it is current usage. After all, modern usage of full stops has changed - we no longer use them after initials, "Mrs", "Mr" and "Dr", nor do we use them in anagrams (FoRST not F.o.R.S.T.). We are also asked by publishers to not use two spaces after a full stop at the end of a sentence.
I had a bit of a trawl on the internet in order to try to determine correct UK English usage. The UK's University of Southampton says "don't put marks of punctuation before brackets used within a sentence or a bibliographical reference; they should always come after the brackets". Oxford University's online site's examples concur with Southampton, as does Massey here in NZ. A classics professor at Victoria also told me that completing punctuation AFTER the brackets was what he would consider correct usage.
For curiosity's sake I had a look at some US sites, and found that using a full stop before a bracket appears to be acceptable in US English. See for examples. The Americans also (horrors) capitalise the start of the brackets (sub-clause) within the sentence.
So on the surface, English usage appears to be "aside sub-clause within the sentence", while US usage is "aside sub-clause within or without the sentence and you can use capitals at the start if you like" (the latter being a bit of an oxymoron!). However, if any of you have any references and rationale to support either way, I would really appreciate you passing them on to me.
Nothing like being pedantic, is there?!

Spam Filters

Are you, like me, getting stacks of junk emails and emails with virus attachments? I get an average of 60 each morning on start-up and probably receive another 30 during the day. My top scoring day was 450 junk messages.
While MS tries hard with their Outlook 2003 Junk Senders list, what I think the software effectively sends EVERYTHING to the Junk Mail bin. Nearly all my messages went there.
To correct this I created rules that check my inwards emails at the inbox and then route them to the appropriate folder (eg "Private", "Clients" "Deleted Items" from known spammers etc). Unfortunately I then ended up with my email in the appropriate folder, but ALSO a duplicate message in the Junk Mail folder as Outlook has decided that this person is a Junk sender and I don't seem to be able to change that <sigh>. Then I got sick of deleting the junk mail, so I routed all Junk Mail to Delete so at least I only have to check one place.
So not very effective, really. Made more work (which was not the idea).
However, there are a load of software programmes that can fix these headaches. A selection of these, that you too can try, follow;
Good luck!
Default Email Error

Recently I had a very weird error whenever I clicked an email hyperlink in any Office 2003 application.
Internet Explorer would bring up a message "Could not perform this operation because the default mail client is not properly installed" and then trot off and spawn 63 Internet Explorer windows. This happened regardless of whether Outlook was open or not.
One major issue was that I couldn't work out if this was an Outlook 2003 problem; a Windows XP problem; an Internet Explorer v6.0.2800 problem; or a combination of all three... making it very hard to find a solution. Anyway, I had a good trawl on on the Microsoft site and - of course - couldn't find anything. It was very frustrating.
In despair I went at last to Woody's Lounge. This was really where I should have gone initially. Woody's Lounge has upwards of 11500 registered members with some serious computer nous, pretty much all using MS Office, all volunteers, who bend their considerable brain-power to solve our most weird & wonderful PC problems.
So I posted my problem at I got a reply from a Woody's MVP (Most Valuable Person) with the moniker "jsher2000" who suggested that I try toggling the default email settings in Internet Explorer, which I did; and this solved my problem.
So, just in case any of you are having the same issue, or run across it, I did the following to correct it;
  1. Closed Outlook
  2. Opened Internet Explorer
  3. Went to Tools | Internet Options | Programs | E:mail list and changed to my other listed email in the drop down list (in my case "Netscape")
  4. Closed Internet Explorer
  5. Restarted my PC
  6. Started Outlook, which popped up the message box that Outlook was not currently my default email application & did I want to make it so. Clicked "yes"
I then tested a couple of hyperlinks & it was all good.
If any of you are having PC problems, it is definitely worth going along to Woody's Lounge. You are likely to find that you get things solved tout de suite.

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs for you;
  • IMHO, In My Humble Opinion. Internet shortspeak - and usually not a humble opinion, either!
  • BTW, By The Way. More internet shortspeak

Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Short+Hot Keys... and now tips
All those hotkeys for you again, but this time we are "plusing" as well;
  • Access "Choose the selected data column for output (The check box next to the name of the column) 1If multiple items are selected, pressing this key affects all selected items. Select multiple items by holding down the SHIFT key while clicking them. Toggle the selected state of a single item by holding down CTRL while clicking it." + (Plus)
  • Access "Add a new record" Ctrl & + (Plus)
  • Excel 97, 2000 "Insert blank cells into a row or column" Ctrl & Shift & + (Plus)
  • Frontpage "Apply superscript formatting " Ctrl & + (Plus)
  • IE "Zoom in" Alt& + (Plus)
  • PowerPoint "Stop or restart an automatic slide show" + (Plus)
  • Word, PowerPoint "Apply superscript formatting (automatic spacing)" Ctrl & Shift & + (Plus)
  • Word, PowerPoint "Expand text below a heading" Alt & Shift & + (Plus) or Alt & Shift & + (Plus) NUM
  • Word "Open the Address Book in the To field; works with keys for sending E-Mail" Alt & + (Plus)
  • Word "Customize Keyboard Shortcut" Alt & Ctrl & + (Plus) or Alt & Ctrl & + (Plus) NUM
  • Windows Explorer, Outlook "Expand selected group" NUM & + (Plus)
Hot Linx
Revamped your website & can't remember what it looked like before you updated? Then this could be the site for you to enter your website into the "Wayback Machine" at and click "Take me back"
If you want to check your writing for common errors in verb or noun usage, you can't really go past this list from the Economist. Frightening (for me, anyway!) at
Want to know one person's take on different terms and usage between the US and UK? Then check out this site at
This site is dedicated to the world of printmaking. Check out a variety of global artists working in lithographic, mono-print, digital, lino, screen or mixed media at New Zealander Ted Dutch is featured at

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here