2009-05-30

Baby swinging machine

Just brought home an electronic chinese weight measurement device. Unbelievably, I had to RTFM on how to turn it on. It just wouldn't talk to me. A "light tap" says the guide. Okay. The biggest bang I can possibly deliver, indeed does turn it on - and I am not considered weak. (Actually, I found a simple way to slam it against the floor - supposedly, it's not only the average force but the signal frequency which also matters).

This reminded me something. A short while ago I visited Dima Kuchin and his new baby in Holon. We had a talk about software and IT industries, and he told me about his friends, who also had a baby.

The little guy didn't sleep too well, so his parents bought an electric swinging device. The killer feature: an audio trigger. Whenever it detects cries above some volume treshold, the swing motor turns on for five minutes. And then there was evening and there was morning, and also a bug and a workaround. Yes, they were software engineers. Can you guess the end of this story?

The baby was too quiet for the automatic craddle, and all his tears would all be in vain. The parents sleep in other other room... Now, every time they hear their baby crying, they scream aloud. That keeps the young guy happy, without ever having to get up from the bed.

"услышав лай караульной собаки, часовой дублирует его голосом"

More on the subject of children: do yours have GUIDs?

2009-05-26

Do you know percents?

Last Sunday together with the APhO team, we've meet the israeli science minister, Daniel Hershkovitz. He's a great guy and he told us many stories.

During the great professors' strike, he was not much into politics. Yet, he was in the committee responsible for the talks. It finished with a white night of agreements.

"Look, " someone said, "if we give you 1.5%, the other guys will also want. And if we give out 1.5% to both groups, it will already be 3% to the total budget".

"No, " he said, and started to slowly explain to the whole finance ministry and histadrut leaders the proper mathematics of dealing with fractions.

Ofer Eini, the histadrut chief, carries a pocket mathematician with him sometimes. The young guy says: "yes, that's true what you explain, in theory. In practice, it is not exactly so..."

I found it first

A story comes from Dr. Eli Raz, ILPHO. They have built a huge hot-air balloon for something [TODO add picture]. It was unconnected for a while and then accidentally risen and flew away. Eli went after it fast with a car to ramot itshak.

When he came, someone was nearly finished packing it into his SUV. Eli: "I am sorry, this is my balloon". The guy - "No, it's mine. I found it first!"

The balloon was successfully returned to owners.

2009-05-15

Interviewing tips

Joel says there're on you two relevant parameters to measure: "smart" and "gets things done".

Together with DP we came up with easier, down-to-earth and more engineering-oriented quantities directly measurable in a human conversation:

1. Bandwidth
2. SNR

Bandwidth is how fast one can think to produce output. This might not always be important, but usually it is, especially when estimating price-performance ratio to make the hiring decision.

SNR - Signal to noise ratio - is the ratio of meaningful, smart, relevant and correct things s/he says to the total audio output. It's usually up to the interviewee to balance the trade-off between SNR and Bandwidth, but you should be able to factorize by it to deduce the total mental capacity.

All other skills you should be able to teach the employee yourself. If you cannot teach, don't hire anybody. Relevant background = oxymoron, if you are going to develop only new things. Remember - specialization is for insects.

Link: history of programming languages

"1972 - Dennis Ritchie invents a powerful gun that shoots both forward and backward simultaneously. Not satisfied with the number of deaths and permanent maimings from that invention he invents C and Unix"

http://james-iry.blogspot.com/2009/05/brief-incomplete-and-mostly-wrong.html

2009-05-01

Losing weight

While laughing at me for comparing my weight before and after long running distances, my friends compiled this ultimate guide for weight loss. Here's what you can do to reduce the mass of what is considered your body:
  • aerobic workout (2 electron-volts per C02 molecule)
  • going to lavatory (number one and number two)
  • sweating
  • haircut, shaving
  • sneezing/coughing
  • donating blood/bone marrow
  • donating organs
  • crying
  • spitting
  • vomiting
  • male orgasm, female menstruation
  • manicure/pedicure

Worth to mention that you may even consider leaving your mass intact. Accelerating downwards, ultimately in a free fall, will show immediate results. If you want it long-term, move to the equator , a space orbit or a smaller planet. Remember - helium inhalation is cheating (as is swimming or travelling to low altitudes), despite the added value of making funny voices.

Enjoy, and don't go crazy. Thank you very much.