Non-Computer

  • The Old New Thing

    Microspeak: All-up

    • 15 Comments

    Here are some citations. Let's see if we can figure out what it means.

    I think a presentation of these results would be a fun boost for the team. Is this something we should handle in a bunch of teams' weekly meetings, or should we do something all up?

    In the first citation, all up appears to mean "with everybody all together."

    We're looking for an all-up view of the various compatibility mitigations we have related to this feature.

    In the second citation, all up could mean "overview" or "detailed summary". Not sure yet. Let's keep looking.

    From the all up performance effort, we've settled on the approach below.

    Okay, this seems to suggest that all up refers to an aggregation of individual items. Let's try again:

    We have a number of channels for disseminating information. I think an all up destination could play a key and proactive role in major announcements such as the one from last week.

    Here, all up appears to mean "consolidated, comprehensive". Let's keep going.

    Document title: XYZ All Up Glossary

    This document is a glossary. Presumably is a glossary of terms you may encounter throughout the entire XYZ project. One last citation, this from a status report:

    • This week: Created Customer All up report.
    • Next week: Update Customer all up report with more customer related information.

    Okay, this didn't actually tell me much about what an all up report is, which is kind of a bummer because I was asked to create an all up report, and I still don't know if what I created is what the person wanted.

    (I ended up creating a report that summarized the status of every team, and called out issues that were noteworthy or reasons for concern. The person who asked for the report didn't complain, so I guess that was close enough to what they wanted that they didn't bother asking for more.)

  • The Old New Thing

    The citizenship test is pass/fail; there's no blue ribbon for acing it

    • 35 Comments

    The civics portion of the United States citizenship test is an oral exam wherein you must correctly answer six out of ten questions. One of my friends studiously prepared for his examination, going so far as buying a CD with the questions and answers and listening to it every day during his commute to and from work.

    At last, the day arrived, and my friend went in to take his citizenship examination. The examiner led him to an office, and the two of them sat down for the test.

    "Who was President during World War II?"

    — Franklin D. Roosevelt.

    "Correct. How many justices are there on the Supreme Court?"

    — Nine.

    "Correct."

    And so on. Question 3, correct.

    Question 4, correct.

    Question 5, correct.

    Question 6, correct.

    And at that point, the examiner said, "Congratulations. You passed. There is a naturalization ceremony in two hours. Can you make it?"

    My friend was kind of surprised. Wasn't this a ten-question test? What about the other four questions?

    And then he realized: You only have to get six right. He got six right. How well he does on the remaining four questions is immaterial.

    My friend was hoping to get a perfect score of 10/10 on the test, or at least to find out whether he could get all ten right, just as a point of personal satisfaction, but of course the examiner doesn't care whether this guy can get all ten right. There's no blue ribbon for acing your citizenship test. It's pass/fail.

    Bonus chatter: My friend hung around for two hours and was naturalized that same day. He said that for something that could have been purely perfunctory (seeing as the people who work there have done this hundreds if not thousands of times), the ceremony was was quite well-done and was an emotionally touching experience.

    In case you hadn't noticed, today is Constitution Day, also known as Citizenship Day. One of the odd clauses in the legislation establishing the day of observance is that all schools which receive federal funding must "hold an educational program" on the United States Constitution on that day. This is why students at massage therapy schools and beauty schools have to watch a video of two Supreme Court justices.

  • The Old New Thing

    Microspeak: spend

    • 15 Comments

    Remember, Microspeak is not merely for jargon exclusive to Microsoft, but it's jargon you need to know.

    We don't encounter the term spend much in the engineering side of the company, but it's in common use among those who regularly deal with money and budgets.

    We are in line with company standards with regard to spend for this type of event.
    Q4 spend will be higher as a result of widget recolorization.
    Our corresponding spend will increase significantly if we adopt this proposal.

    From the above citations, it is apparent that the word spend is shorthand for expenditure.

    And then there's this citation:

    I'll let you know what we have available with respect to spend.

    So much for that theory. Here, spend means available budget.

    My new theory is that spend is shorthand for spending.

    This appears to be common use in business-speak:

    IT Spend Report Shows Tougher Times Ahead
    The spend is 15% more than the 100m T-Mobile allocated to marketing last year
  • The Old New Thing

    The wisdom of seventh graders: The emergency survival kit

    • 15 Comments

    As a precursor to reading a story about survival, seventh grade students were asked to come up with a list of things they would want to have in their emergency survival kit. Students were specifically instructed to limit themselves to things that were readily available (so no Apache helicopters), and the complete kit had to be something you could comfortably carry in a student backpack.

    As always, there are students who chose a very sensible collection of things to put in their emergency survival kit: water purification tablets, a flashlight (with batteries), a first-aid kit. Those students are not the subject of today's story.

    Here are some of the more unusual items some students chose to put in their emergency survival kit:

    September is National Preparedness Month.

  • The Old New Thing

    News flash: Big houses cost more to maintain

    • 21 Comments

    In 2005, we learned that big houses cost more to heat. In 2006, we learned that big houses cost more to cool.

    But then the research into big houses seems to have stalled.

    No worries. The research journal The Wall Street Journal recently released a paper concluding that big houses cost more to maintain.

  • The Old New Thing

    Revival of the Daleks: Act One, Scene One

    • 2 Comments

    In 2009, a group of volunteers on a routine cleanup of a pond in Hampshire, England discovered a Dalek.

    (Later in the episode, the story may introduce a scientist who is thawing out a 30,000-year-old-virus.)

  • The Old New Thing

    Outdoor Trek: Mirror, Mirror starts this weekend

    • 1 Comments

    As previously noted, Outdoor Trek will be staging live performances of the Star Trek episode Mirror, Mirror. The schedule is up.

    Three weekends starting this Saturday at Blanche Lavizzo Park. Saturday performances are 7pm; Sunday performances are 2pm. Admission is free.

    Attend if you dare.

  • The Old New Thing

    The social interactions in two preschool classes, in graphic form

    • 34 Comments

    Each preschooler at my daughter's school was asked a few simple questions, and the answers were printed in the yearbook. Among other things, the preschoolers were asked to complete the sentence, "I like to play with (person)."

    This is the type of question that leads to tears and hurt feelings.

    Whatever. Their parents are going to be stuck with the therapy bills. (My daughter is not a preschooler at the school, so I avoided a therapy bill. At least not over this.)

    From this data, I created a graph. Each arrow points from a student to the person they said they like to play with.

    1 7 16
    2 8 17
    3 9 14 18
    10 19
    4 11 15 20
    5 12
    6 13

    This class breaks up into four cliques. Two of the cliques consists of a pair of playmates, and one hanger-on. The large clique consists of two focal points (students 9 and 10) who play with each other. The medium-sized clique has a single focal point (student 18) who plays with a best friend (14).

    I think that student 14 is in the best spot. He (or she) is not himself popular, but the popular kid plays with him (or her).

    The second preschool class has a more complex structure.

    21
    22
    23 30
    24 31 35
    25 32 36
    39
    26 33 37
    40
    27 34 38
    28
    29

    The upper left group consists of a core of four students (23, 30, 31, 24) who play with each other, plus some hangers-on.

    The lower left group consists of a pair of friends (27 and 28) and their hangers-on.

    The right-hand group consists of one very popular student (37) who plays with a best friend (36), and their hangers-on.

    The most interesting student is number 26.

    All of the other students gave only one name in response to the prompt. But student 26 gave three names. As a result, that student links together the three cliques in the class.

    Student 26 is bringing people together. I admire that.

  • The Old New Thing

    Microspeak: Brownbag

    • 22 Comments

    Remember, Microspeak is not merely for jargon exclusive to Microsoft, but it's jargon that you need to know.

    The term brownbag (always one word, accent on the first syllable) refers to a presentation given during lunch. The attendees are expected to bring their lunch to the meeting room and eat while they listen to the presentation.

    A brownbag could be a one-off presentation, or it could be a regular event. The speaker could be an invited guest, or the presenters may come from within the team. In general, the purpose of a brownbag is to familiarize the audience with a new concept or to share information with the rest of the team. Sometimes attendance is optional, sometimes attendance is mandatory, and sometimes attendance is optional but strongly recommended, which puts it in the murky category of mandatory optional.

    You can learn more about each team's plans in brownbags that we will kick off the week of 2/17 and continue regularly through the month.
    Are you going to the brownbag? I'm heading to the cafeteria, want to come along?

    It is common for the slides accompanying a brownbag to be placed on a Web site for future reference. Sometimes the presentation is recorded as well.

    The term brownbag is sometimes extended to mean any presentation which introduces a group of people to a new concept, whether it occurs at lunch or not.

    Virtual brownbag on widget coloring.

    That's the (redacted) subject of a message I sent out to our team. The message described the process you have to go through in order to get a widget coloring certificate. It could have been a brownbag but I was too lazy to book a room for it, so I created a virtual brownbag.

    Due to scheduling conflicts, we will have to move the presentation to Friday at noon. We apologize for the last-minute change. This is now really a brownbag, so grab your lunch in the cafeteria and join us for a great talk and discussion!

    The above is another example of how the term brownbag was applied to something that, at least originally, was not a lunch meeting.

  • The Old New Thing

    Get your hex wrench ready, because here comes the Ikea bicycle

    • 14 Comments

    Ikea säljer elcyklar. Click through for two-image slide show.

    Ikea selling electric bicycles

    Forget furniture. Ikea is now launching, that's right, an electric bicycle.

    It goes under the name People-Friendly and costs around 6000 SEK ($900 USD).

    But only in Älmhult, Småland.

    People-Friendly has already received three design awards, including the IF Design Award, according to Ikea's press release.

    What distinguishes it from other electric bicycles is that the battery is hidden in the frame. That makes it look like a regular bicycle as well as lowering the center of gravity and makes the bicycle more stable.

    Performance is for the most part like other electric bicycles: It handles 6–7 Swedish miles (60–70 km, 35–45 US miles) on a charge, which takes 5–6 hours. The weight is 25 kg (55 pounds). The frame is aluminum and the engine is in front.

    Only in Småland

    The 5995 SEK cost of the bicycle may sound like a lot, but it's inexpensive for an electric bicycle.

    The biggest problem with the People-Friendly is that you can't buy it at regular Ikea stores.

    So far, the bicycle is sold only at the bargain department of the Älmhult Ikea.

    "Here is where we test new products. And this is a test product. We want to see how much interest there is and be sure that we can take care of the product, even after the purchase," says Daniela Rogosic, press officer for Ikea Sweden.

    She cannot say when it will begin being sold at general Ikea stores, but she confirms that interest has been strong for the bicycle during the month it has been available.

    Do you have to assemble it yourself like the furniture?

    "Yes, you put it together yourself in the classic Ikea way," says Daniela Rogosic.

    Fact sheet

    • Price: Around 7200 SEK ($1100 USD) in Austria
    • Material: Aluminum and steel (front fork)
    • Gears: 3
    • Weight: 25 kg
    • Battery: 36 V
    • Range: 60–70 km
    • Charge time: 5–6 hours
    • Top speed: N/A
    • Engine: 36 V, forward

    On the Web site for the Älmhult bargain department, it describes the bicycle as a three-speed, available in both men's and women's styles. Limit one per customer.

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