Commas in Thousands

At work I edit a manual of design practices and from time to time people will write with suggested changes. Recently I had a guy who was asking me to add some information. In the e-mail he quoted a sentence from the manual and included the new information. He also edited some numbers I already had in the sentence to add a comma, making 3500 appear as 3,500.

I don’t know where I picked it up, but it seems like I learned at some point that you don’t need the comma in 4-digit numbers, but should include them with 5 digits and above. I looked through the manual and at least I was consistent. I did a search to see what the standard practice is and it was pretty useless. Wikipedia has a big long article about commas that says one standard is to use spaces (actually half spaces) between thousands, like this: 15 000 and another is to use commas like this: 15,000. Of course they didn’t use a 4-digit number. Naturally they had to add the crazy thing where commas are used as decimal points and periods are used for thousands in some countries (which I learned about when I got my very first HP calculator that could be set to display numbers either way). In a discussion on Wikipedia, one contributor flat out refuses to ever use commas in numbers because it is WRONG (his caps) regardless of what the Wikipedia style manual tells him to do. That’s insubordination.

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Netflix Once Again

Last weekend I joined Netflix for the third time. I had joined last summer when I was able to see 45 movies in 4 months. I don’t even want to try to see that many movies this summer, but I did want to get caught up on some classics, plus some things things that have come out on DVD since then. Also, my queue at Netflix from last time still had over 30 movies in it (though a lot of them were iffy at best).

I was able to quickly add another ten or fifteen movies to my old queue and have already watched Casino Royale, Letters From Iwo Jima, and Night at the Museum with The Godfather, Part II coming through my mail slot this morning. I added some old silent movies with Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton that had made AFI’s Top 100 list along with other classics like The Searchers and The Maltese Falcon, that I have never seen.

Probably what pushed me into going ahead with Netflix again this year was they sent me a coupon for 20% off my first three months. Since I would only be in it for 3-4 months, that was a very good discount. That brought the $14.99 2-at-a-time plan down to only $11.99. Within a day or two of joining I got an e-mail saying they were dropping the price of that plan to $13.99 and still giving me 20% of of that, so now it will only be $11.19 a month (plus tax).

Another factor was that even though I am able to rent DVD’s from Kroger for $1.00, the selection in the machine is limited to only new releases and most of the very newest movies are not available (either it takes a while or they are rented out already). Plus you have to leave the house twice, and all of that hassle. And don’t get me started on Blockbuster. Susan and I rented Shrek from there recently since she had never seen it, and it was over $4 for one old movie.

AFI’s 10 Most Overrated

For the 10th anniversary of the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 best American movies, they allowed re-balloting and added movies from the last ten years. It is important to understand how the ballot worked. First, they limited the nominees to 400 movies, including 45 movies that came out since the last list. You could write in a movie, but I don’t know what chance a write-in would have. Instead of having people rank the movies, they just had people pick 100. Then you would rank your top 5 which was used as a “tie-breaker”.

Some of the criteria for selection were cut and dry. There had to be significant American involvement and it had to be feature-length (60 minutes or more). The rest of the criteria are more flexible:

Critical Recognition

Major Award Winner

Popularity Over Time

Historical Significance

Cultural Impact

Note that liking the movie supposedly has nothing to do with the decision. Even some of these criteria could be ranked objectively, like critical recognition, award winner, and popularity.

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Amazon Runneth Over

I was planning on redirecting my Amazon links at the end of the month so that I would not get more than $600 in payments this year from the Associates program. Amazon reports earnings of over $600 to the IRS, meaning I would have to put that down as income and lose a third of it in taxes. Even if I earned another $300, I would only break even. There is a chance that in July, August, September, and October I could get a little more than $300, but I didn’t think it was worth it.

What really got me close fast was someone ordering a $200 book yesterday for which I received a $13 commission. That puts me at $581 on the year and I still will have a few more items ship before the orders dry up. That also put me at $1,000 from Amazon since I started.

I wanted to find some non-profit organizations that have Amazon programs, but it wasn’t easy. I did pretty well when I searched on “Amazon” and “portion of the proceeds”. In addition to the Opossum Society and American Cetacean Society, that I already knew about and would use when I ordered things from Amazon (since I can’t receive money from my own purchases), I discovered the San Diego Natural History Museum, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Rainforest Alliance.

So tonight I updated my web pages to use those different organizations’ links (I also used Movable Type’s search and replace to fix links I have on the blog). The only thing I don’t like is that I won’t be able to monitor how well my website is doing in terms of sales. But in November I can switch back since payment for November won’t come until January 2008.

Safari

Kind of funny that a couple of days after I wrote about the SeaMonkey browser that Steve Jobs would introduce the Safari Browser for Windows. People don’t seem that impressed, but to me that represents a huge step for Apple. They are bringing Mac to the people. Plus it can’t hurt sales of the iPhone if people are comfortable using Safari (most probably didn’t know that Safari was the browser for the Mac) at home and it is one of the key features of the iPhone.

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Introducing Lilli

The weekend before last Susan was volunteering for Paws Atlanta helping with adoptions at Petsmart. They had a batch of puppies and Susan wound up adopting a cute black and white female. She is half English setter, which is kind of like an Irish setter but without the sense of humor and doesn’t drink as much. She was told the other half is Australian Shepherd, which is kind of like a German shepherd but <insert gross generalization here>.

After considering hundreds of names, Susan decided to name her Lilli as a short form of Lilliputian, which she certainly is right now: She can walk right under Beacon as if she were walking under a table.

Lilli

SeaMonkey

I’ve been using Netscape and then Mozilla as my main web browser for a long time. I’ve never been crazy about Internet Explorer and, for a while at least, it seemed to have a lot of security problems. SeaMonkey.png Recently, Jeb added Snap Shots to his page. It seemed like a neat thing, so I added it to mine as well. But as I browsed I noticed that if I tried to go Back in my browser, I didn’t go anywhere. If I held down the Back button to see a history of pages, there would be about 3 copies of the current page in the Back history. So I took the code out of my pages rather than have to deal with that (although I have been getting a similar thing on My Yahoo when I would get information on a stock in my portfolio).

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iTunes Plus

This week Apple started selling songs without piracy protection, calling it iTunes Plus. They had made a deal with one recording label, EMI, to offer this. EMI made the same deal with other companies so, while some people are saying Steve Jobs pushed EMI into the decision, I don’t know if that is true. The new songs will cost $1.29 instead of the standard $0.99 (Jobs had previously insisted on the $0.99 price for all songs). But to sweeten the offer the songs are also recorded at a higher quality level (meaning the files are bigger).

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