Date: Wed, 7 Dec 94 23:15:20 PST
Subject: WhiteBoardness 12/7/94
WhiteBoard News for December 07, 1994
This item comes by way of Roger Felts:
The Dallas Morning News can't blame this foul-up on the
flawed Pentium chip.
Monday's Morning News carried a story on how the
microprocessor's infamous flaw is just the latest high-
tech fiasco in an increasingly complicated world.
The News might have mentioned the dangers of high-tech
newspaper editing as well.
Its story identified Intel Corporation, the Pentium's
maker, as Until Corporation. And it changed the name
of Intel executive Vinod Dham to Vaned Dam.
The damage didn't end there. Software giant Microsoft
Corporation became Microvolts while VLSI Research
Incorporated packed its bags and moved to VA-LISE
Research. Dean Takahashi, the San Jose Mercury News
reporter who wrote the story, got the byline Dean
Tuckahoes. Ron Leckie, vice president of marketing for
Megatest Corporation was identified as Ron Lackey, vice
president of Megadeaths Corporation. "Not very
flattering, is it?" said Leckie.
Morning News editors, who picked up the story through a
computer network, said there was only one way to
explain such goofs in a story about technology goofs.
They blamed it on a computer.
After searching three hours for a hacker, the newspaper
concluded its own electronic spell-checker program was
to blame. Each changed name in the story matched the
first choice in the spell-checking program. The
software stopped on "Intel" and offered "Until" as the
correct spelling. In place of the reporter's name, it
offered up an Algonquian root. The newspaper's
executive editor, Ralph Langer, says it appears that an
editor accepted the changes instead of telling the
computer to ignore them. "We stand by the gist of the
story," joked another embarrassed editor.
Intel, which has endured widespread ribbing over the
Pentium flub, wasn't convinced, saying the explanation
didn't add up. "Someone there obviously made a
conscious effort to satirize it," said Intel spokesman
Howard High, whose name would have made it through the
Morning News's system just fine. "If it was part of a
spoof and tagged that way, then fine. But if somebody
put out a spoof as serious news, I wouldn't be
To Intel's relief, the blooper didn't occur on a
Pentium-based computer. The spell-checker program the
Morning News uses was run on an Apple Macintosh.
Law enforcement can be a real zoo when a pig receives a
seal of approval -- to be a dog.
Vice President Al Gore has declared a Vietnamese pot-
bellied pig in Oregon an honorary dog.
Police in Portland use Harley the pig to sniff out
drugs. They also take him on school visits, and they
want funds to promote his talents. The problem is that
drug-sniffing money is reserved for police dogs, not
Gore solved the problem Monday by issuing a special
certificate featuring the official vice-presidential
seal -- the emblem, not the animal -- that makes Harley
an "honorary dog."
© 1994 Peter Langston