Archive for August, 2010

A billion here, a trillion there …

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

… and soon it becomes harder to personalize the visualization.

There’s a common factor here

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

A well-known Heinz product.

The number of US states Barack Obama claimed to have visited during his presidential campaigning.

My age.

Can’t draw a straight line with a ruler?

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Try using one of these.

Another post on language

Monday, August 30th, 2010

About a month ago, I ran across this web post. Yesterday, I ran across this article, which is excerpted from a new book I’m going to have to read. Fascinating stuff.

My personal take on Sapir-Whorf is that language doesn’t provide an absolute limit to what you can think about. Instead, it limits what you can think about easily. If the first were true, then how would any new concept make it into language in the first place?

An interesting personal sidelight is that I remember having an absolute internal compass until about the age of 11. That was about the time my family left England – I wonder if I’d internalized the subliminal clues where I lived, and coming back to the US changed the clues enough to disrupt my compass for good?

Time flies like an arrow …

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Fruit flies like a banana. I found out just how much when a couple of bananas on a high shelf became “out of sight, out of mind.” I could certainly have used this advice a week or so ago.

Engineering versus …

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

I’ve enjoyed doing software development, but it hasn’t been the most lucrative career. Of course, if I’d gotten into web development a decade or so ago, or been actively involved with any of the other hot-technologies-of-the-moment, I could have earned more money. Of course, at the moment, I consider myself lucky to be employed at all.

It fits in with something I read years ago … there’s a “money stream” that flows through organizations, and the closer your position is to being on the banks of the stream or actually within it, the more money you earn. As a programmer, I’ve usually been nowhere near the stream.

There are other problems with being employed as a technical person. Management often considers engineers fungible, so experience is discounted – except when your resume is being considered. I can remember seeing advertisements that required five years experience with software that had only been available for three – if you hadn’t been working on the development team, you didn’t qualify for the position. I also remember a cartoon from some years ago showing a hiring manager reading a resume, with dialogue on the order of, “I see you have ten years of experience with the technology, twenty-four patents, and forty publications. No Master’s degree. The position requires a Master’s degree.” At least this time around, I haven’t seen any ads that state “x months in the position offered” as a requirement.

Then you have the pressure. Not just feature and schedule pressure, but the knowledge that your work may be safety-critical. If you’re programming the anti-lock braking system for an automobile, or the fly-by-wire stability system for an aircraft, you are subject to worries and pressures that someone programming a media player application doesn’t have.

All of which leads up to this picture, which I found here:

Engineering plea and response

There are hazards, and then …

Friday, August 20th, 2010

… there are hazards.

This reminds me of my high school days in south Texas. The golf course on the local Air Force Base had signs posted that warned you to use a club to reach for your ball, and not to use your hand … the spot of white you were seeing could be a cottonmouth rattlesnake preparing to strike.

There were no crocodilian hazards on the course, but a group of local high school students did introduce such a beast, borrowed from the local zoo, to the pool at the Officer’s Club once.

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

A few days ago, I posted a picture of an art installation that I’d found online. I don’t know where the sidewalk zipper is, but it seems logical to me that it’s near to this one:

Zipper Pond

Taking the easy way out

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

I read, years ago, about an iaido exercise involving the attempt to split a falling dewdrop with a simultaneous draw-and-strike of a samurai sword. This requires much less skill to deal with dripping water.

That which is not …

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

wed … can eternal lie?

Maybe they could have had a famous author play at the wedding.