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Comment Personal vs Research? (Score 2) 387

As a senior engineer I'm expected to keep an eye out for technology that may be useful for the company. I set time aside to poke around, see what's out there, and play with new stuff. Some of this may end up being only of personal interest, while some of it may end up being useful for the company. Until I have a look at it, I won't know.

I'll spend half a day on something on my own responsibility, a morning or an afternoon, before I seek buy-in from my boss to proceed further.

...laura

Comment ALGOL-W (Score 1) 630

I played with Basic in high school but did my first undergrad stuff in ALGOL-W. As an undergrad I messed with Pascal, Fortran and PL/I. One of my profs at the time was an author of the ALGOL 68 report, thought BCPL was cool and that C (a relatively new language at the time) was a mental disorder. He gave us an assignment in APL once. I guess I'm showing my age.

Now I do 99% of my work in C. My boss and I agree to disagree on scripting languages. I like Python. He thinks Python is ridiculous and insists on Perl for production work.

...laura

Comment Same for small plane crashes (Score 1) 270

The media are all over small plane crashes much the same way, giving a highly distorted view of just how safe aviation is. Aviation organizations like AOPA have started to get on the media's case about this.

If they reported car crashes with the same enthusiasm the "news" would be nothing but car crashes.

...laura

Comment Security through obscurity (Score 1) 95

It's radio. Anybody in the vicinity can listen in all they like. Back in the bad old days this was Industry Canada's position, that cellphones were not private and there was nothing anybody could do about it.

Unlike AMPS, the communications are digital. So what. If you are sufficiently determined you can decode the data you have captured.

...laura

Comment Set up a dummy account (Score 1) 348

If push came to shove I'd set up dummy Facebook and Twitter accounts and let CBP see them. No good way to tell which of the several hundred Laura Hallidays on Facebook is me. Post some pictures of cats, a few likes, done.

I already engage in some self-censorship. There are a few CDs (mainly Russian and Israeli acts) I leave at home when I cross the border.

...laura

Comment Facebook is for old people (Score 1) 534

I accept that advertising is what supports platforms like Facebook (indeed, just about everything on the internet), but please remember the user in all of this. My computer is mine. My browser is mine. Monopolizing it while you play an irrelevant auto-play video is just not cool.

Facebook is relatively tame in this respect. I've seen worse.

...laura

Comment Re:What's the big problem? (Score 1) 675

I remember a few years ago seeing that my Amex was about to expire, and wondering when my new card was going to arrive.

Then I got a phone call from American Express. Had my new card arrived? No. Did I live alone? Yes. Did I know any men with Russian accents? Uh, no...

Yup: somebody had stolen my card and had gone on a shopping spree with it, triggering security alerts. My bill that month was about 50 pages, interesting charges (all local, curiously), then pages of Credit for Fraudulent Charge. I asked what my liability in the matter was and they said zero: unlike most other credit cards, American Express cards may only be used by the cardholder ("non-transferrable"), and if the merchants hadn't verified the identity of somebody who was really unlikely to be named "Laura", that was their problem, not mine.

...laura

Comment Null Island, Pacific style (Score 1) 91

A long time ago I was working with GPS applications and their internal representation of longitude meant our Null Island was in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 0 north, 180 west.

We figured out the conventions of the mapping application we were using (no Google Maps yet, and the documentation was vague) by trial and error. Our first attempts to plot GPS fixes from a drive along a local freeway showed a blank area with no freeway, nor much of anything else. We found that we were drawing a map centred on 49 degrees north (correct) but 123 degrees east, out in the middle of nowhere near the border between China, Mongolia and Russia. Nearest town Harbin, China...

...laura

Comment What else is new? (Score 3, Insightful) 170

Step 1: Apple introduced the iPad and everybody was desperate to get one because it was the trendy item to have.

Step 2: people started figuring out what they could do with a handy portable computer.

Step 3: everybody who had a use for a tablet had one and the sales dropped off to replacement level.

Any remotely interesting new product is going to grow at unsustainable levels until the market is saturated. Then the growth stops.

...laura

Comment My TV is a TV (Score 1) 507

I bought my TV to be a TV. I measured the space it needed to fit in, then looked at candidates at the store and picked the one that looked best. It has an ATSC tuner and various inputs with various things (Apple TV, Roku, DVD player) plugged in to them.

My Apple TV and Roku do all the smart TV stuff I've ever wanted to do. I've never seen a standalone smart TV that was worth the money.

...laura

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