5
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I go by many a name,
Including one that's quite a shame.

I can take you to an exact location,
But sometimes only to a nearby destination.

If great power is your wish,
I'll grant it but your money will vanish.

Substituting for that which can be negative,
I'll always remain completely positive.

I can be very important,
While at the same time very insignificant.

When I contain many things,
I simultaneously contain nothing.

I can signal the beginning,
But I can also signal the ending.

Who or what is this poem referring to? Can you explain each line?

Please put your answers in the spoiler markup!

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Is it a

Smartphone

? I am not sure, but it makes sense to most clues.

EDIT: explanation.

I go by many a name, Including one that's quite a shame.

Smartphone, perhaps it's a "shameful" name because it's not really smart.

I can take you to an exact location, But sometimes only to a nearby destination.

The gps that is on a smartphone.

If great power is your wish, I'll grant it but your money will vanish.

It gives you the possibility to do a lot but it costs a lot.

Substituting for that which can be negative, I'll always remain completely positive.

The negative side is that people are not social anymore because they are constantly watching their smartphone. But in the end, it's still a great invention.

I can be very important, While at the same time very insignificant.

Some people just need it a lot for reading mails etc. However, it's still luxury. You can actually survive without one.

When I contain many things, I simultaneously contain nothing.

Lot of apps and lot of other things are on a smartphone, however it's still just data, it doesn't take actual space. This one was the hardest for me...

I can signal the beginning, But I can also signal the ending.

Signal --> reception --> (smart)phone

So, that's it :).

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ That's not what I had in mind, but if you can make it fit, please feel free to expand your answer! $\endgroup$ – pacoverflow Dec 3 '14 at 16:07
  • $\begingroup$ I edited my original answer. My explenations are in there now. $\endgroup$ – Valentin Grégoire Dec 3 '14 at 16:59
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    $\begingroup$ Shameful name? Is it iPhone? $\endgroup$ – Kaz Wolfe Dec 6 '14 at 4:12
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Here is my answer:

#

I go by many a name,

# has many names: number sign, pound sign, hash, octothorp, tictactoe, etc.

Including one that's quite a shame.

Sometimes people refer to # as the sharp symbol (♯), even though they are completely different. Shame on Microsoft for referring to C# as "C Sharp".

I can take you to an exact location,

In HTML, you can mark a specific location on a web page (let's call it webpage.html) by using an anchor: <a name="anchor_name"></a>. Then someone can go to that exact location on the page by using # and the anchor name (e.g. http://.../webpage.html#anchor_name). The browser will load the page and automatically scroll the page so that the anchor is at the top of the browser window.

But sometimes only to a nearby destination.

If the anchor is defined near the bottom of the web page, the browser may not be able to scroll far enough to place the anchor at the top of the window. But the anchor will still be somewhere in the window.

If great power is your wish, I'll grant it but your money will vanish.

In many Unix shells, non-root users will have a \$ prompt. But if you "su" to root, the \$ disappears and your prompt becomes #.

Substituting for that which can be negative,

# can substitute for "no.", which is an abbreviation for number. But "no." can also be negative (the opposite of "yes.")

I'll always remain completely positive.

One could say that # is made up completely of +. Four plus signs all connected to each other.

I can be very important,

In some programming languages, # indicates a comment. Comments are important to developers for documentation purposes.

While at the same time very insignificant.

Comments are insignificant because they are ignored by the compiler/interpreter.

When I contain many things,

The tic-tac-toe board can contain up to nine Xs and Os.

I simultaneously contain nothing.

Tic-tac-toe is also known as "Noughts and crosses". Nought (O) means nothing.

I can signal the beginning,

# indicates the beginning of a comment in some programming languages.

But I can also signal the ending.

Many phone systems will ask you to enter information (such as a PIN), "followed by the pound or hash sign". You press # to indicate the end of that information.

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  • $\begingroup$ The only thing I don't feel "works" is the "quite a shame" part $\endgroup$ – Joe Dec 5 '14 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ You could've made it refer to hash as in the drug... the stigmas there would often make it "shameful" $\endgroup$ – d'alar'cop Dec 5 '14 at 16:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Joe The pedants among us would consider it shameful. Also some developers mock "C Sharp" by calling it "C Pound" or "C Hash". But if that's your only issue with the answer, I can live with that! $\endgroup$ – pacoverflow Dec 5 '14 at 16:42
  • $\begingroup$ @d'alar'cop Good idea! $\endgroup$ – pacoverflow Dec 5 '14 at 16:44
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Is it

A degree?

I go by many a name, Including one that's quite a shame.

There are many types of degrees, but the Associate of Social Sciences degree stands out in particular. If Associate of Science is A.S., and Associate of Arts is A.A., then...

I can take you to an exact location, But sometimes only to a nearby destination.

A degree of longitude is 0 km at the poles (pinpoint accuracy) and becomes over 100km at the equator, so your geographic coordinates in degrees can sometimes specify your exact location or only an approximation.

If great power is your wish, I'll grant it but your money will vanish.

A degree can give you great power, but costs a lot and may put you in debt.

Substituting for that which can be negative, I'll always remain completely positive.

Degrees Celsius (can be positve or negative) to degrees Kelvin (always positive).

I can be very important, While at the same time very insignificant.

A degree is very important to help you find a job, at the same time everyone else also has a degree so it has become insignificant.

When I contain many things, I simultaneously contain nothing.

A degree contains many years of hard work, but is just a piece of paper.

I can signal the beginning, But I can also signal the ending.

A degree signals the beginning of your career and also your graduation, the end of your student life.

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  • $\begingroup$ +1, best answer so far. Only flaw is that 0 K (absolute zero) isn't positive. $\endgroup$ – pacoverflow Dec 5 '14 at 3:30
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think there's anything in the universe that is actually at absolute zero though. $\endgroup$ – McMagister Dec 5 '14 at 3:32
  • $\begingroup$ Very well done. Love it! This is a great example of a wrong answer given the right way. $\endgroup$ – Travis Don Kindred Dec 5 '14 at 13:33
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Television

I go by many a name, Including one that's quite a shame. : Its Called idiot box

I can take you to an exact location, But sometimes only to a nearby destination. : Various shows take us to different destinations

If great power is your wish, I'll grant it but your money will vanish.

More money for more picture and sound quality

Substituting for that which can be negative, I'll always remain completely positive. : Negative as it time consuming but positive in terms of entertainment..also I guess its somthing about positive and negaitve charges(electronics )

When I contain many things, I simultaneously contain nothing. : It shows your fav celebs,bt celebs are not practically in there

I can signal the beginning, But I can also signal the ending. : In TV you can see Happy endings !! :)

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  • $\begingroup$ Not a bad try, but not what I had in mind. $\endgroup$ – pacoverflow Dec 4 '14 at 15:52
1
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SPACE

I go by many a name,
Including one that's quite a shame.

space, Empty, nothing, Vaccum. Empty being the one that is shameful to have.

I can take you to an exact location,
But sometimes only to a nearby destination.

if you are in the exact location of space there is no longer space, although it would be nearby as you passed through space to get to space leaving space behind.

If great power is your wish,
I'll grant it but your money will vanish.

buying space is power; land is power, alot of what you do with space could be considered powerful.

I can be very important,
While at the same time very insignificant.

certain areas of space are sentimental to people, whilst to others is quite insignificant.

When I contain many things,
I simultaneously contain nothing.

space is filled with millions of things but space still has nothing in it.

I can signal the beginning,
But I can also signal the ending.

space has the potential to start and end anything. Also SpacE = Start + End

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  • $\begingroup$ Not a bad try, but not what I had in mind. $\endgroup$ – pacoverflow Dec 4 '14 at 15:43

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