Updated Today

The weather had been iffy, so I decided to check if the game was still on. The organization’s website told me this:

image of website saying the weather was updated today

“Updated: Today”

That’s worthless. What if the website guy typed in “Updated: Today” yesterday and never changed it?

That’s one of the more annoying trends in web services: giving the relative time instead of absolute. For example, your inbox says it was updated 3 minutes ago. And it has said that for the last half hour.

Dear user-interface designers: try to give information with absolute times/dates, not relative. That way I know if the information is stale.

In my line of work, I deal with safety systems. There are all sorts of mechanisms for ensuring data is new and correct. I don’t expect rolling counters and checksums, just a normal date and time display. Don’t try to make my life easier by oversimplifying the data – you’re making it worse by making the data unreliable.

But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Hebrews 3:13


I think the current Apple CEO should commission a microwave before he leaves the company, whenever that may be. There is a golden opportunity there.

For example, here is the control panel of a normal microwave.

front panel of a normal microwave

And here is the control panel of an Apple microwave.

front panel of an Apple microwave

No, I did not change just the logo.

I have no suggestions right now as to what that first button would do, but it would be a way for Mr. Cook to cement his name to remain in the product after he’s gone.

Take the ram for the ordination and cook the meat in a sacred place.

Exodus 29:31

Baby Names 2016

Subtitle: in which I improve the government’s records

Allow me to introduce to you the 2016 SFS List of Baby Names that Combine Similar Pronunciations. That baby name list is the place to go in case you are wondering what are the most popular baby names in 2016 regardless of how they are spelled. The Social Security baby name list does not adjust the rankings based on alternate spellings (like Catherine/Katherine), but SFS does.

It was just Mother’s Day, so the SSA released the name rankings for 2016. Last year’s champion, Jackson is again the most popular boy’s name in the US. And it is widening the gap over Aiden – Jackson’s count is going up and Aiden’s count is going down. No controversy for the girls – it’s Sophia again. Her numbers are going back up, but all the top girls’ numbers are going up so that doesn’t mean much.

Some Stats

  • There was not a lot of change at the top for the boys. The top 7 names are the same, and in the same order except William and Jacob swapped spots at 6 and 7.
  • The top 6 names for the girls are the same as 2014, it’s just Ava and Isabella swapped spots at 4 and 5.
  • Noah is once again the highest-ranked boy’s name that has no spelling variations, at number 3.
  • Emma is the highest-ranked girl’s name that has no spelling variations, at number 3.
  • Girl names still have more spelling variations than boy names (279/1000 vs. 186/1000 alternates)
  • Kason took the prize for the most spelling variations for the boys at 8. Last year, Aiden, Kayden, Kason, and Cameron had 7 or more variations, but not this year.
  • For the girls, Adaline once again claimed the title of most variations – still at 7.
  • Sophia is still the runaway favorite for the girls, but the gap is closing. Sophia is on the decline.

2016 Improved Baby Name List

Click on the link above and peruse to your heart’s content!

After he became the father of Jared, Mahalalel lived 830 years and had other sons and daughters.

Genesis 5:16

Missing String

I was using a certain device the other day and got this warning.

image of warning screen for a missing string error

For a second or so, I was confused. Then I realized what happened and I was amused.

I do believe it was a product that was still in development, so I can’t fault them yet. Don’t know if the error messages were copied from a previous project, or if a conversion from C to C# or from Java to Fortran wasn’t fully reviewed, or whatever.

For those not familiar with strings in programming, %s is a parameter that’s supposed to be populated with the actual text.

But nothing of theirs was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that they had taken for themselves; David brought it all back.

1 Samuel 30:19

Survey Dilemma

Some things I tend to overthink. Surveys, for example, take me a long time to complete because I must consider the question and the implications of the answer.

I was not involved in this survey, but I read a little bit about the results. The survey had to do with how much time people spend on their smartphones and when and where – all the usual habits.

One question that stood out to me was “Do you sleep with your phone next to your bed?”

The surveyors used the high percentage of positive answers to indicate that people are addicted to their phones. Something along the lines of “it’s the last thing they do before going to sleep and the first thing they reach for in the morning.” If I hadn’t known the intent of the question, I would have answered Yes. But knowing the intent of the question would make me want to answer No.

I keep my phone on my nightstand, but only because I use it as my alarm clock. Before I go to sleep, I put it out of commission – airplane mode, all communications off, etc.

If I answer the letter of the question: yes, I keep my phone next to my bed.

If I answer the spirit of the question: no, I sleep with my alarm clock next to my bed.

The fact that my phone is the same physical device as my alarm clock complicates things. In this case, I’m not using my phone for its communication purposes. Is a phone still a phone if it’s not used as a phone?

I would have a similar dilemma if a survey question asked me if I had an alarm clock. My answer depends on why you need to know. If you want to know how many people wake up on their own without some sort of a signal, then yes I use an alarm clock. But if you represent consumer device manufacturers and want to know which appliances are in one’s home, then no I do not use an alarm clock.

You wouldn’t think yes/no questions could be so complicated, and that’s why I don’t trust surveys. Because a lot of times, the people devising the questions don’t realize there could be complications with the way their questions are worded.

But David said, “What have I done now? Was it not just a question?”

1 Samuel 17:29

Field Trip

I’m on a field trip today. Technically, I’m a chaperone. But it’s all in how you look at it.

Either way, I don’t have a blog post today. Go outside and enjoy the weather instead of reading this.

A man found him, and behold, he was wandering in the field; and the man asked him, “What are you looking for?”

Genesis 37:15

Better Deal

Here’s a lesson from the grocery store this last week: is a bigger box of cereal a better deal than the smaller size of the same cereal?

Answer: usually, but watch out for sales.

Exhibit A:

image of large cereal box price compared to small cereal box price

Looking at the non-sale price, you see that the larger box (19.1 oz) is a better deal because it is 26.1 cents/ounce – lower than the 26.3 cpo for the 12.5 oz box.

As an aside, I prevent whining from the kids about picking out cereals when they accompany me to the grocery store. I do this by having a consistent rule and reminding them of it beforehand. Before we reach the cereal aisle, I let them know they can each pick out one box of cereal, whatever they want as long as it is less than 20 cpo. This heads off questions about what they can get and keeps them busy as they scan the shelves for qualifying items and weigh their options. It also usually weeds out bad choices such as Lucky Charms, but on the rare occasion when that is on sale I do let them get it.

Back to today’s topic… The sale price knocks the price of the smaller box down to be the better deal: 19.9 cpo vs. 23.5 cpo.
And if you buy 6 of them, you can save even more. Either way, the big box ends up being the worse value in this case. I’ve seen it where the small box was on sale but the large box was not, yet the large box was still a better deal, so don’t be drawn in by large colorful “SALE PRICE” signs – read the fine print.

Plus, shopping is so much nicer when they list the cents/ounce on the shelf tag.

In proportion to the extent of the years you shall increase its price, and in proportion to the fewness of the years you shall diminish its price, for it is a number of crops he is selling to you.

Leviticus 25:16