Archive for March, 2012


I work in tech support, and I’m surprised by the number of times I ask someone to read me their web address, only to hear, “HTTP, colon, backslash backslash, yadda yadda yadda.” If that is, in fact, what they have written in their address bar, their browser is going nowhere fast. As it turns out, backslash and forward slash are never interchangeable.

Perhaps my experience is abnormal, but when I think about it, I NEVER hear anyone call a forward slash by its proper name. Everything is a backslash to them. Here’s how I remember it:

You are reading this text right now. You read it left to right. The sentence is moving forward as you move to the right. Now, imagine that you have a young, budding slash that hasn’t really decided his occupation, yet. He stands straight up like this –> | and hasn’t leaned either way. Now, if this strapping lad of a slash leans forward in the flow of the sentence, he is a forward slash. If he leans backward in the flow of the sentence, he is a backslash.

But more important than what you call a slash that’s already chosen his path is how use one in a situation that needs a slash. Typing in web addresses, network names, and file paths will give you errors if you use the wrong slash. If that’s not bad enough, try putting a backslash in a sentence. That no-no will throw up red flags on the Punctuation Radar of every grammar snob in a 10-mile radius.

/ is a forward slash, often just called a slash. It is used if you want to make something in a sentence as an option. For instance, “I’d like any faculty/staff/students in the area to participate.” Forward slashes are also used in web addresses (http://www.example.com/) and Linux/Mac OS X directories (/home/anthony/Desktop).

\ is a backslash (one word). It is only used in computing. It is what Windows uses in its file paths (C:\Users\anthony\Desktop) and network names (\\server\folder). It is also used in programming and scripting as an “escape,” which makes the character after it behave differently than normal.

I hope I’ve clarified this for a few people. Anything I missed? Let me know!

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I recently started researching lucid dreaming, beginning by checking out a book from my library, and not just because I think Inception is the best film ever made (it’s not actually about lucid dreaming, but I think Christopher Nolan drew some inspiration from there). However, I’d not really had any concerns about it beyond wondering if it might be less restful, thereby requiring more sleep time. I was walking home from class with my wife yesterday when I started talking about it with her, and she brought up some things I hadn’t yet thought of.

For one, she said that since lucid dreams feel more real, the frightening things in them can feel more real, as well. Nightmares become something more, and can leave you feeling distracted and disoriented throughout the following day.

She also brought up the idea that if you were to, say, lose a loved one, you might start to dream lucidly just so you can “be with them.” Wow, that actually does sound like Inception.

There are a lot of derivatives to that concern. If lucid dreaming is so cool, what if I get bored with real life and want to dream all the time? I currently have no worries about that due to being at a good place in life, but that’s not always going to be the case, and I doubt I’ll forget how to dream lucidly once I learn it. Additionally, I’d need to be careful not to let the events of my dreams consume my waking mind, as that’s selfish at best and irresponsible at worst.

I’ve thought about her concerns, and even come up with a few more of my own. For instance, what if I start second-guessing the real world and wondering if it’s a dream? I can zone quite a bit sometimes, and all it might take is for my contacts to get a little foggy and myself to feel a little dizzy to make me start to question whether I’m actually awake.

What if lucid dreaming is addictive in more ways than one? What if I get to where lucid dreaming is the only way I can sleep? This is sounding more like Inception all the time! It’s been several years since I’ve had any trouble sleeping or getting to sleep, and I’d hate to screw that up now.

I just checked out the book and have read the first few pages. It hasn’t addressed any concerns, yet, but it has painted some neat pictures of what lucid dreaming can be like. I’ll definitely give this book its fair shot to make a case, as I’m interested enough to read it all the way through, but not so interested that I’ll make up excuses if I find anything that worries me.

I’ll be reading more in the days to come and cataloging anything interesting here (like, you know, having a lucid dream).