Research that Hebrew word carefully before it’s permanent [I just Googled]

There’s an increasing interest in using Hebrew and other foreign languages on jewelry and tattoos. Even the Bieb and his pop have latched on to (or fomented) this trend. Whether it’s the mystique of using an ancient language or the beauty and abstraction (to non-speakers) in the script, the appeal is understandable. What is harder to fathom is how careless consumers and artisans can be in getting the translation of their work correct. There’s even a whole website devoted to such disasters.

What I Googled: sanctified in Hebrew

Why I Googled it: I saw a ring via a Pinterest pin that claimed to have the Hebrew word “Kodesh” (meaning: sanctified, set apart) on it. Knowing some Hebrew, I was curious to know if the word was rendered correctly. Translation and design mistakes frequently occur because the Hebrew alphabet and right-to-left writing are unfamiliar to the artisan and the words do not always translate easily.


What I found out: There are various spellings (in Hebrew) of the word “kodesh.” This is due to the fact that vowels are designated by various symbols below, above, and within certain Hebrew letters. Which means that without vowels, it’s difficult to determine what a word is if it’s taken out of context.


Somewhat predictably, Strong’s Concordance was one of the first search results I checked that proved helpful. I looked up the word sanctified (#6942) and found that the word קדש is often translated as the verb “holy,” “sanctified,” or “set apart.” Wikitionary also captured this definition.

The ring I had seen used the word קדוש (note the additional letter vuv). When I originally searched for קדוש, without vowels, I found it translated as “kadosh,” meaning “speciality.” After additional research with Strong’s (#6918), I found that it is more frequently translated as either the noun or adjective form of קדש. The Hebrew Wikipedia entry(after running it through Google Translate) also supported the alternate spelling of the word.

Google Translate

Sensagent and Wiktionary were additional helpful resources in figuring out this puzzle. Both interpreted the word as holy, sacred, or blessed.

This would seem to be the more accurate word choice for use on jewelry since it describes the person (or what they’re striving toward). This is the same word that is used in perhaps the most well-known of all Jewish prayers, the Shema Yisrael.

The takeaway: Based on these results, I concluded that the word used on the ring is indeed correct. And, in case you were wondering, Justin Bieber and his dad must have done their research, too, since their ink is the correct way to spell Jesus in Hebrew (which is Yeshua, more frequently Anglicized as the name Joshua).

Know your mobile carrier’s network upgrade plans before you get your next phone [I just Googled]

If you’ve been holding on to the same cell phone you’ve had for years, count yourself lucky in some respects. While you may be able to take advantage of innovations like geolocation tools (maps, finding restaurants, etc.), surfing the Internet wherever and whenever you’d like or watching Netflix movies at a moment’s notice, you have one less thing to worry about: Fourth generation – commonly called “4G” – mobile networks.

Why is 4G such a contentious topic in the tech sector? Partially because mobile carriers have promised far more than they have delivered. And partially because of the shifting (and confusing) technologies underlying 4G networks.

What I Googled: will +samsung +”galaxy s2″ +epic +4g +touch +work +Sprint +LTE

Why I Googled it: My wife and I recently upgraded our aging HTC Hero phones for the new Samsung Galaxy S II Epic Touch 4G, a gorgeous Android phone with a huge display, fast dual-core processor, 8 MP camera, and, best of all, designed to run on Sprint’s 4G network. Sprint’s current 4G network is referred to as “WIMAX” (more on that in a minute) and offers much faster speeds than the older 3G network. I recently learned that Sprint has stopped expanding the WIMAX network and has instead switched to deploying a LTE 4G network nationwide. Concerned that my phone would be obsolete before I broke it in, I turned to the net to learn more.

What I found out: Third generation – 3G – networks and 4G networks are very different. While 3G is much faster than its predecessor, 4G has speeds up to 10 times faster. It’s the difference between waiting 30-60 seconds for a webpage to load on 3G and waiting 2-3 seconds on 4G. Obviously, streaming video from YouTube or Netflix is enjoyable on 4G speeds while it can be infuriating on 3G.

But every carrier employs slightly different technology as the basis of its 4G network. Sprint decided to use WIMAX a few years back and began building out that network. Unfortunately, they didn’t get very far. In the Washington, DC area, 4G is fairly reliable and has fairly consistent coverage. In other markets, it’s not as dependable or not available at all. Recently, Sprint made the decision to switch to LTE instead of WIMAX due to a variety of technical reasons I won’t go into here.

From what I can tell, as Sprint turns its attention to building out its LTE network, it will divert resources from developing the WIMAX network. However, the LTE roll-out will take quite some time and has only barely begun in just a couple of markets. Meanwhile, Sprint will continue to support the WIMAX network.

So what’s the big deal? Basically, WIMAX and LTE use two different frequencies that require a compatible radio inside a mobile phone to connect to it. The Samsung Galaxy S II has the WIMAX radio, but not the LTE radio. The newly announced Galaxy Nexus on Sprint will have LTE, but not WIMAX.

The takeaway:

Without going into too many details, here’s what all of the above means:

  • Those living in an area that was promised WIMAX likely won’t get it. Better for these folks to avoid getting a WIMAX phone since they will never be able to take advantage of the 4G speeds promised by the device manufacturer.
  • Those living in an area that already has WIMAX will be safe upgrading to a WIMAX phone now (like the one I got) since Sprint will reportedly support WIMAX at least until 2015. As long as they don’t plan to move to a location that doesn’t have WIMAX, don’t travel much, or don’t care that they won’t have 4G speeds when they travel, they should be fine. These folks will be able to use their phones for the lifetime of their contract (2 years), though they’ll be forced to upgrade at the end of their contract (something many already do) to continue using a 4G network.
  • Those who are in area that is slated to get Sprint’s new LTE 4G network should wait to upgrade until that build-out is confirmed and stable.

While I’ve been a faithful Sprint customer for years, I increasingly find it difficult to recommend it to others looking to switch from AT&T or Verizon. I realize the choice to invest in a network technology cannot be easy, but I would have hoped Sprint would stand behind their commitment to WIMAX instead of confusing their customers and, for some, cheating them out of promised 4G network speeds.

Netflix couldn’t possibly screw up any more…oh wait, it just did

I want to like Netflix. I’ve been a loyal customer since 2002, but they’re making it hard to like them these days.

When the company announced the price hike earlier this year, I balked like every other customer. Not because I don’t want to pay more (I don’t) – I realize there are economic reasons behind the decision – but because the company no longer seems to care about its customers wants. The rate increase forced me to drop from three to two DVDs a month to maintain our budget; no big deal. But like so many others, it really forced me to consider staying with Netflix or finding alternatives.

Which is what Netflix still has going for it – viable alternatives simply don’t exist. Amazon streaming doesn’t have as mature a catalog and costs more. Redbox still requires you to leave the house and hope a movie you want is available.

And that’s where Netflix had the model nailed: The queueby-mail-without-late-fees, and streaming features at its core are what made Netflix pure gold in a media-consumption service. I can set up a list of movies that I want to watch, wait for them to come in the mailbox, then hold on to them for as long as it took me to watch or re-watch them. In some cases, I could watch them instantly on my computer, TV, iPod, or Android devices. These features are starting to flag, however.

I remember years ago getting regular emails from Netflix happily announcing price decreases. Then came messages about the new streaming services, and Blu-ray disc availability. But every message I’ve gotten recently from (or about) Netflix has been bad news. Monthly rate increases. No more Starz streaming movies. Just today, I received an email from Netflix in which Reed Hastings announced that the DVD service would now be named “Quixster” (ugh) while “Netflix” would refer to the non-integrated streaming service. Two services. Two credit card charges. No integration.

Qwikster will be the same website and DVD service that everyone is used to. It is just a new name, and DVD members will go to to access their DVD queues and choose movies…A negative of the renaming and separation is that the and websites will not be integrated.

Apparently, the folks at Netflix don’t understand the mind of their customer. I don’t care if a movie is streaming or DVD, I just want to put on a managed list and watch it, sooner than later if possible. If I have to manage two separate queues, that simply requires too much of my time and it will no longer offer me the value it once did.

And at 14 years old, the Netflix DVD service hasn’t changed much; truthfully, it doesn’t really need to. With the focus on streaming, however, that service needs to mature in some very critical ways to convince customers like me to stay. And, with their unsurprising recent earning report that showed a huge dip in membership, I’m not alone.

For example:

  • Let’s face it, the streaming library still sucks compared to the DVD availability.
  • Streaming titles are often mediocre or poor quality on an HDTV.
  • Licensing deals for streaming titles is flaky, causing titles to disappear and reappear like whack-a-moles.
  • Netflix is opaque with its customers about which streaming titles are about to disappear; without warning, titles are just – poof! – gone. Services like Feedfliks helpfully fill in this gap, but shouldn’t have to.
  • My instant queue is often reordered randomly – system bugs like this are inexcusable.
  • The ability to add and remove specific seasons of a television show to my queue.
I’m interested to see what the two-website split will look like, but I’m increasingly preparing myself and my family to dump the service altogether. It’ll be a difficult transition, but I’m starting to doubt the company is going in the right direction with its customers.