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Andrew Findlay
Works at Pebble Beach Systems
Attended Durham University
Lived in London
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Andrew Findlay

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This week's KAL's cartoon http://econ.st/18iX0oh 
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+Helena Roeber and I spoke about Android's design principles at Google I/O 2013. Here's the video.
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Visualizations of Pathfinding Algorithms

This is really awesome. See how A*, Breadth-First Search, Best-First Search, Dijkstra, and Jump Point Search work to find a path between two points, with obstacles that you construct. Fantastic if you're a visual learner.

http://qiao.github.io/PathFinding.js/visual/

#pathfinding   #visualization   #interactive  
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A joke i've heard recently:

How many Linux users are needed to change a lightbulb?

1 to post a thread in a forum telling the bulb has burnt.
1 to suggest to try to turn the lamp on through command lines.
1 to complain that the user broke the thread.
1 to ask what new bulb will he install.
1 to advice that we shouldn't use the word burn for meaning a broken lightbulb, because it would mean that the bulb was set on fire and that it wold be right to say that the bulb broke due to an excess of electrical current.
25 to suggest to install all the kinds of existing and imaginable lightbulbs.
5 who say that the burnt bulb is an upstream issue that doesn't belong to the distro. There's an open bug on the bulb's developer mail list.
1 noob to suggest to install a Microsoft lightbulb.
250 to flood the noob's mail address.
300 to say that a Microsoft lightbulb would turn blue and that you'd had to reboot continuously to get back to normal.
1 former linux user who still frequents the forum, to suggest to install an Apple iBulb, which has a fresh and innovating design and it costs 250 $.
20 to say that iBulbs aren't free, and that they have less functions than a 20 times cheaper standard lightbulb.
15 to suggest to install a national lightbulb.
30 to say that national lightbulbs are creepled remasters of foreign lightbulbs and that they don't bring nothing new.
23 to argue if it must be a white or a transparent bulb.
1 to remiind everyone that the right name is GNU/Lightbulb.
1 to say that lightbulbs are a Winbugs users thing and that real Linux users aren't afraid of the dark.
1 to announce finally which will be the model of the installed bulb.
217 to discard the chosen model and suggest another.
6 to complain that the chosen lightbulb has propietary elements, and that another should be used.
20 to say that a 100% free bulb, isn't compatible with the lamp switch.
The same previous 6, to suggest to change the switch for a compatible one.
1 to yell out: “STOP ARGUING AND CHANGE THAT LIGHTBULB FOR GOD'S SAKE!”
350 to ask the previous user what God is he talking about, and that if he has scientific proofs of his existence.
1 to say that we can't trust in corporation-made bulbs and that we should trust in community-made bulbs.
1 to post a link to an ODF file explaining how to build a lightbulb from scratch.
14 to complain about the format of the previous file and asking to send it in txt or LaTeX.
5 to say that they didn't like the taken decission and that they'll fork the house's electric installation and install a better lamp.
1 to post a series of commands to put to change the lightbulb.
1 to comment that he executed the commands and had an error message.
1 to advice that the commands must be executed as root

And finally:
The father of the first user, who while everyone were discussing, he went to the shop and bought the cheapest lightbulb.
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Pet peeve of the day: Oregon is trying to make it harder to have exceptional public schools. Which kind of sucks.

Background for non-Americans: the US school system is a disaster, with very uneven quality. You have some good school districts, and you have some really bad ones, and it's all just pretty crazy. Very different from back in Finland, where education isn't just good, it's fairly reliably good. You don't have to worry too much about which school you go to, because while there are certainly differences, they simply don't tend to be all that marked.

In the US, if you care about education, you end up having to make sure you live in a good school district. Or you do the whole private school thing, or try to make sure you can transfer, or whatever. The one thing you do not do is to just take it for granted. You work at it.

I'm not a huge believer in private schools, and I actually wanted my kids to be able to walk to their friends houses, so we made sure to move to one of the better districts in Oregon.

Now, living in a good school district means that you end up paying a lot more for housing, so it's not actually necessarily really any cheaper than sending your kids to a private school. But you do also end up being in a community where people care about education, so it's not just the school: it's the whole environment around you and your kids.

But it's unquestionably unfair, and it unquestionably means that people who can afford it get a better education in the US. Despite the whole "public" part of the US public school system, it's like so much else in the US: you don't want to be poor. The whole "American Dream" is pretty much a fairy tale.

So the Oregon legislature is trying to fix the unfairness. Which I very much understand, because I really do detest the whole US school system - it was always one of the things that we talked about being a possible reason to move back to Finland when the kids needed to go to school. We ended up learning how the US system works, and made it work for us, but that doesn't mean that I have to like the situation. Because I've seen better.

So why is trying to make things fairer a peeve?

The way the Oregon legislature is trying to fix things isn't by making the average school better, it's by trying to make it hard to have the (fairly few) bright spots around.

In particular, let's say that you do have a good school district, where people not only end up paying for it in the property taxes (which is what largely funds the school), but also by having special local tax bonds for the school in addition to the big fund-raisers every year. Because the public US school funding just isn't that great, so the local community ends up fixing it - to the point of literally raising much of the money to build a new building etc.

And I realize that this all just sounds completely insane and broken to any sane person, but hey, Americans are so used to it that they seem to think that it's how things should work. The whole school bake sale is a part of the whole American psyche (and I'd be a big proponent of using that funding method for the military too, but somehow it never works that way).

Anyway, if you actually were successful, had people who cared deeply about the local school, and built a good local public school around such a community, such a school district used to be able to accept out-of-district kids, but charge them extra tuition to make up for the fact that they obviously aren't paying the local tax bonds etc.

And now, in the name of fairness, there's a bill (HB 2748) getting pushed through to make that kind of "out-of-district tuition student" not be an option any more. 

And I really do understand the fairness question. Why should public schools be able to charge some people, just because they don't live in the right place? It's a public school, isn't it?

I'd be frickin annoyed too about the kids of well-to-do families who get to go to a better school in their nice district. I absolutely get it. I grew up in a country where private schools were for odd people who wanted their kids to be in full-time foreign language immersion classes and learn more than just four languages. Where one of my buddies transferred to my school not because it was more convenient or a better school, but because it was the only Swedish-speaking one that taught Latin, for chissake. And it was all free, and we didn't need to have cookie bake sales.

So I really do understand why people would want to get rid of the special schools and find them odious. I find them odious, and they are a sign of how broken the US school system is.

Except HB 2748 doesn't actually do anything to try to fix the breakage, it just says "you can't charge out-of-district students". It doesn't fix the bad schools, it just makes it harder to be a good school. Suddenly local tax bonds etc don't make much sense, because you can't make non-residents bring in the equivalent funding.

Oh well. I bet nobody wanted to hear that whine, and I guess I should put the "First world problems" meme picture here, but hey, I wanted to get that rant off my chest.
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Andrew Findlay

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· Fantastic Educational videos ·
from the ten-minutes-well-spent dept.

Fellow fans of The BlackAdder will feel as chuffed as I to know "Dr Johnson" did, in fact, write the first Dictionary of the English Language (despite failing to receive the patronage of Prince George because of Baldric's sausage). It took him 9 years because a certain butler persisted in discombobulating him.

But who amongst you knew the word "alligator" was an invention on William Shakespeare? Next time you're having difficulty rhyming with the words purple, orange or even toilet - just invent something!
(List of English words without rhymes: http://goo.gl/YqS1Z)

This analytical overview of the development of the "English" language is a fantastic watch - and I guarantee you will learn something fun!

#TheOpenUniversity  http://www.open.ac.uk/ 
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Brilliant word. The Finns are one again demonstrating their excellence.
 
During the last panel at 4th Street, (Swearing and Cursing) Steven Brust introduced me to my new favorite word. This may be the best curse word ever, especially if you work in publishing as I do.

Pilkunnussija

It's Finnish, and the full definition that I found is: "Noun (Vulgar, pejorative)- A person with exceptional and unnecessary attention to detail. Noun- A person who believes it is their destiny to stamp out all spelling and punctuation mistakes at the cost of popularity, self-esteem and mental well-being."

The literal translation is "comma-fucker."

So Wednesday, my first day back at work, I come rushing in - all smiles. Not only were the Supreme Court decisions out, but I had the best word ever. I have it written on an index card, in red Sharpie, followed by the definition and literal translation. My boss demands it and makes photocopies, and by the end of the day it's the new hot thing amongst the production department's language geeks.

I mean we're editors for goodness sake. "Have you seen Suzanne's new word?"

So my boss and another of my coworkers post it to Facebook that night, and now their friends are sending me interesting language links. Such as the Stephen Fry bit below (which is awesome, and wherein he rails against Pilkunnussijas).

So thank you Steve, you have made my world a more surreal place.
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If we make consistent effort, based on proper education, we can change the world. We are selfish, that’s natural, but we need to be wisely selfish, not foolishly selfish. We have to concern ourselves more with others’ well-being, that’s the way to be wisely selfish. We have the ability to take the long-term benefit into account. I think it is possible to make real change in this century.
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That ending.
 
This is, hands down, without a doubt, the best advertising I've ever seen.

Zachary Quinto vs. Leonard Nimoy: "The Challenge"
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Doing a little brainstorming? Try one of these five great reader-nominated mind mapping tools to organize your thoughts and help you make them reality:
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Universal ADB (Android Debug Bridge) Driver for Windows

My test matrix for Carbon and Tether includes several phones and several versions of Windows. Both apps require that the user has ADB installed on their PC to function.

For whatever reason, every phone manufacturer has their own adb driver, so I end up installing like 3-4 different drivers when I do my testing. It's a royal pain in the ass, and is also asking a lot of the end user of one of my apps to do this.

This driver should work on all Android phones for all versions of Windows. [1] It does not require that you turn on test signing or disable driver verification. This is done by installing ClockworkMod as a trusted certificate and publisher into the local machine's certificate store.

Here's the installer file:
http://download.clockworkmod.com/test/UniversalAdbDriverSetup6.msi

Here's the Github source code:
https://github.com/koush/UniversalAdbDriver

Thanks to an XDA thread for gathering the device/vendor ids:
http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1161769


Let me know how it works.

[1] On Windows 8, after downloading, choose "More Info" then "Run anyway".
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Work
Occupation
Student at Durham University
Employment
  • Pebble Beach Systems
    Customer Support Engineer, 2014 - present
  • University of Glasgow
    Student, 2012 - 2014
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Previously
London - Watton-at-Stone - Durham, UK
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Education
  • Durham University
    Software Engineering, 2009 - 2013
  • University of Glasgow
    Education, 2013 - 2014
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