Profile

Cover photo
Andrew Reid
Works at NIST
Attended Queen's University
Lives in Washington DC
135 followers|221,645 views
AboutPostsCollectionsPhotosYouTubeReviews

Stream

Andrew Reid

Shared publicly  - 
 
This certainly seems to be in the spirit of things.

If I cook it myself, I can ensure that it comes out properly penguin-shaped. Win!
5
Add a comment...

Andrew Reid

Shared publicly  - 
 
I grew up in Calgary, and picked up, somewhere somehow, possibly in school, that a "desert" is any place where evaporation exceeds precipitation, so that many places on the leeward side of a mountain range, including the dry prairie on which Calgary sits, could be considered deserts.

This is not, it turns out, the actual geographical definition of a desert, which has to do with the availability of moisture, but also the predominance of sandy soil and the ability to support various types of flora and fauna. Calgary, though very dry, does not qualify in any useful sense.

Nevertheless, Canada does have a desert, and it is in the rain shadow of the Rocky Mountains -- it's the Okanagan valley. Anyone who has driven through it on Highway 3, as I did twice a year for several years, knows that it's a pretty deep valley, and has at least one informal characteristic of deserts, namely that you can use it to diagnose car problems -- if any bit of your car is at all marginal, you can count on it to fail and strand you in the most hostile possible environment. My old, faithful 1982 Honda Civic overheated rather badly one time on Anarchist Summit, the route by which you climb out of Osoyoos when you're heading east, and after that, I could always use the temperature gauge as an uncalibrated inclinometer. Built character, that's for sure.

The actual article is about how the Okanagan desert ecosystem is threatened by invasive species, and has some interesting history, along with descriptions of efforts to restore and revitalize it.
Most people don't even know Canada has a desert - the Okanagan is an anomaly in a country known for snow. But the Okanagan Desert is threatened - scientists and indigenous people are now working to protect the ecosystem.
3
George Phillips's profile photoAndrew Reid's profile photo
2 comments
 
Indeed, you are correct. I'm either becoming less of a pedant, or losing my mind, or both.

According to an embarrassed and hurried Google search just now, it looks like the mountains to the west of Osoyoos might in fact be a bit of the Cascade range that pokes up into Canada: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Cascades

Lovely map and article here: https://opentextbc.ca/geography/chapter/9-2-introduction/
Add a comment...

Andrew Reid

Shared publicly  - 
 
A bunch of famous language inventors did an AMA on Reddit yesterday, which I found pretty interesting. I read a book a few years ago, by +Arika Okrent , "In the Land of Invented Languages", which was a pretty good summary of several interesting angles on this, including pretensions to universality, hopes for uniting all mankind, and so forth.

For the show business types in the AMA here, of course, there's not much universality, mostly it's about how to strike the right balance between convincing alien-ness (or seeming historical authenticity) and comprehensibility and feasibility for actual actors to perform and keep in their heads.

These people also have a new production in the works, "Conlanging: The Art of Crafting Tongues", which sounds pretty cool.

Geeky fun.

Also, I'm sure I've shared this before, but:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOt5_WjssV0

Bonanza bleeny!
1
Add a comment...

Andrew Reid

Shared publicly  - 
 
Today's ride.

Not particularly ambitious, but it does end with "heartbreak hill", which worked out fine today.

The most surprising thing is that this route was not in my collection on the map pedometer site. It _almost _ is, the clockwise version of the same route is in there, but not this one. So far, there has never been a duplicate in the routes I've posted to this "Bikery" collection, which seems weird to me.
1
Add a comment...

Andrew Reid

Shared publicly  - 
 
Brilliant and hilarious comic artist Richard Thompson, creator of the "cul de sac" comic strip, and all-around hilariously insightful guy, died today of complications from Parkinson's disease.

I was a pretty big fan of his strip, and met him very briefly (i.e. long enough for him to sign whatever I was buying) at a few public events, once at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, and at least once at a promotional event at a local independent bookstore. The one I recall was for "The Complete Cul de Sac".

The guy was amazing, and his early departure is a damn shame.
The Reuben Award-winning cartoonist died of complications from Parkinson's disease, the effects of which he had endured for eight years.
1
Add a comment...

Andrew Reid

Shared publicly  - 
 
From Mental Floss, an angle on why spam e-mails are clumsily crafted and obviously spammy.

The claim is that it's a time-management strategy for the spammers. They don't want a big haystack full of responses, with only a few needles which will actually send money, they want to go straight to the needles. By making the e-mails obvious, they deter the savvy or skeptical from engaging, and restrict responses to a smaller but more gullible subset, which is more target-rich for them.

The full article is here:
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/WhyFromNigeria.pdf

The article does a reasonable job of quantifying the model, posed as a classification problem for the attacker, but it seems like it's still fundamentally a plausibility argument -- it does not address, for example, the fact that maintaining a high level of spammy character in the messages makes them easy to filter, which presumably means some receptive victims will never see the thing. Is this a small enough effect to justify the strategy? How would an attacker know this?

2
Peter Phillips's profile photo
2 comments
 
Meanwhile, lots of people making fun of the new Trump/Pence campaign logo. I feel this is somehow related...
Add a comment...
Have him in circles
135 people
Chris McClelland's profile photo
Hal Cooper's profile photo
David Strumfels's profile photo
David Larsen's profile photo
Dave Kary's profile photo
Unique Gifts for Cycling, Camping and Outdoor Enthusiasts's profile photo
Esther Amankwaa's profile photo
Kate Childers's profile photo
George Phillips's profile photo

Andrew Reid

Shared publicly  - 
 
From Donna Yates on twitter, via +Jennifer Ouellette (also on twitter, as well as this here Google machine), apparently a small Spanish publisher, Siloe, has negotiated for the right to publish a facsimile of the Voynich manuscript.

This is obviously a trifle niche, for those who feel that having a physical replica is interesting or useful, and are willing to part with several thousand Euros to get it. This publisher evidently specializes in facsimiles, and has apparently pledged to reproduce very stain, tear, and hole. Useful for instructional purposes, I suppose, or as a stunt double in certain circumstances.

Seeing this motivated me to confirm what I thought I knew, namely that images of this document are already freely available on-line -- they are, one of the sources is the Internet Archive, here: https://archive.org/details/TheVoynichManuscript

For extra hilarity, that particular interface has a "read this book aloud" function, which I couldn't help but try out -- from that perspective, it seems to be primarily a story about a typography, a gripping tale of percent and caret.
3
Andres Soolo's profile photo
 
I'm pretty sure the Voynich Manuscript is in public domain. If the author's death should be more recent than the last 75 years, let his inheritors prove it.
Add a comment...

Andrew Reid

Shared publicly  - 
 
+David Anders linked to this Hackaday article earlier today, about the early days of getting non-phone-company accessories on to the phone system, and the legal battles surrounding that.

Tossed off lightly in the article, but followed up on in the comments, was this bit:
> Also in 1968, a company called Codex introduced the first 9600 baud modem. The 125-pound device had 66 PC boards and required tuning to work upon installation and any time the phone line changed. A pair of modems cost about $46,000 and required special cooling, like much of the gear in those days.

So 9600 baud in 1968. Presumably the 66 boards and tuning was because it was essentially a 1968-technology DSP, figuring out the line characteristics and customizing the pulse shapes so that they were recognizable on the other end.

Additional info here -- I haven't actually read this yet, but it looks like it's probably worth sharing: http://www.historyofcomputercommunications.info/Book/1/1.1-BeginningsModemCompetition-CodexMilgo56-67.html

Edited to add: The link above is in fact disappointing, it's a reasonable timeline of the personalities involved and their goals, but I was hoping for a technical description of the operation of the Codex device.
2
George Phillips's profile photo
 
Comments also have a link to an interview with the modem's designer:
http://archive.computerhistory.org/resources/access/text/2016/04/102738129-05-01-acc.pdf
Some good details in there, not that I can really put them together into a picture of how the device worked.
Add a comment...

Andrew Reid

Shared publicly  - 
 
A surprising bit of data, via r/DataIsBeautiful.

The site links to a web tool where you can pick a country (or the world), pick a year, and then see how many people are older or younger than a given age for those parameters.

I am familiar with the sizable demographic bumps that are already in place in various countries in the world, it's something one learns about in international development circles, and it was a small part (too small, probably) of the NAFTA conversation back in the day.

Nevertheless, I was still surprised to learn that a bit more than four out of every five people in the world are younger than I am.

The "percent younger" numbers are smaller for much of the first world, as expected, but also surprising to me was that the US population is not that much younger than European countries. I had the more-or-less uninformed expectation that US international prominence and higher-than-European immigration rates made a big demographic difference, but that doesn't seem to be borne out.
1
Add a comment...

Andrew Reid

Shared publicly  - 
 
Another local independent bookstore bites the dust.

I've actually only been to this one a couple of times, but as I recall it has a predictably fine selection of titles, with a strong focus on international relations, finance, and economics, of course.

It bills itself as the "world's wonkiest bookstore", but I'm honestly not sure, I recall a bookstore in London near the Houses of Parliament that had a similarly impressive set of titles. Can't recall the name, alas.
The popular literary haunt on Pennsylvania Avenue will shut its doors in October.
1
Nick Alcock's profile photoErin Blake's profile photoAndrew Reid's profile photo
5 comments
 
Nope, I'm only good for one attempt at ironic humor, I honestly hadn't remembered it was that obvious.
Add a comment...

Andrew Reid

Shared publicly  - 
 
This is lovely. I sometimes think I should actually try to learn some Scots, or at least memorize some Burns, but have only managed a few phrases, ye ken.
 
this is by tom leonard and i can't think of many poets who have made me so happy, imagine poets making you happy. Embedded image. 6:34 PM - 19 Jul 2016. 7 Likes. Reply to @HINIONGE. Replies. niɒi. 2h2 hours ago. niɒi @eeeeeein. @HINIONGE reading it aloud was a lot of fun.
1 comment on original post
3
Add a comment...

Andrew Reid

Shared publicly  - 
 
Today's ride. It's the smaller version of the Bethesda loop, but with a small detour into Virginia at the end, which adds a bit of interest. Also, unlike last week, this one has the big "heartbreak hill" near the end, which worked out fine.

I wonder if there's some simple way to correct the elevation profiles -- there are four anomalous dips in this one, the one at the very beginning and at the very end, which are when I go over the Taft Bridge but the elevation profile goes through the valley, and one for each crossing of the Potomac, around mile 19 and again around mile 20, where the I go up and over the bridge, but the elevation profile follows the river.
1
George Phillips's profile photo
 
Low-pass filter? Or something a bit more hacky that looks for pairs of points with the same elevation and not too far apart that have a large area between them on the "abs(elevation(x) - base)" curve. If so, maintain the same elevation between those points. A sort of "never happened" approach.
Add a comment...
Andrew's Collections
People
Have him in circles
135 people
Chris McClelland's profile photo
Hal Cooper's profile photo
David Strumfels's profile photo
David Larsen's profile photo
Dave Kary's profile photo
Unique Gifts for Cycling, Camping and Outdoor Enthusiasts's profile photo
Esther Amankwaa's profile photo
Kate Childers's profile photo
George Phillips's profile photo
Collections Andrew is following
Education
  • Queen's University
    Physics, 1989 - 1994
  • University of British Columbia
    Physics, 1986 - 1989
  • University of British Columbia
    Physics and Computer Science, 1982 - 1986
Basic Information
Gender
Male
Story
Tagline
Clever. Maybe clever enough.
Introduction
I studied computer science and physics at UBC, and have never really let go of either. I read a lot. Geeky, but not in a debilitating way.
Bragging rights
I know how much wood a woodchuck would chuck, but I'm not telling.
Work
Occupation
Scientific computing
Employment
  • NIST
    Scientific computing, present
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Washington DC
Previously
Canada - Calgary - Vancouver - Chicago
Friendly staff and great pour-overs.
Public - a week ago
reviewed a week ago
1 review
Map
Map
Map