Showing posts with label Technology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Technology. Show all posts

Monday, June 09, 2014

Article 1 section 2 paragraph 3 of the U.S. Constitution and why you aren't being represented!

Constitution of the United States
Here's what a source says about our House of Representatives, "In the original constitutional debates there were pro-federalist delegates proposing that a House member could represent up to 50,000 constituents, while more anti-federalist framers sought one House member up to 20,000 citizens.  The debate, therefore, was over the people wanting smaller Congressional Districts and not larger. In September 1787, they settled on the language, "The number of representatives shall not exceed one for every 30,000," thus limiting a Congressional District minimum size to 30,000 citizens. No Congressional District maximum size was included because the framers believed both the members of Congress and their constituents would inherently want Congressional Districts as small as the constitution would permit."1

Another source states, "The Constitution says that the total number of representatives shall not be greater than one for every 30,000 citizens. During the ratification debates over the Constitution, opponents argued that such a ratio was inadequate to properly represent the country. But even using the original ratio in the Constitution, the House of Representatives would have consisted of about 9,400 members after the 2000 census. Faced with the ever increasing size of the House, Congress voted in 1929 to limit the number of representatives to 435."2

Needless to say, our current Congress has not been keeping the size of Congressional Districts in-line with the intent of our Constitution's framers.  Today, Congressional Districts have 710,767 citizens. This is way over the original expectations of roughly 50,000.

Can you imagine a House of Representatives with 9400 members?  How would business get done?  Well, maybe that's the point.  There would be so many representatives, that votes would have to be made based on what the person feels is right for their 30,000 voters, rather than how much money they can collect from lobbyist for their next campaign. 9400 Representatives would make it a lot harder for lobbyist to sway the will of our elected officials.  It would make pork barrel projects almost nonexistent because districts would be too small to gather enough support for the most silly of funding requests.  It's a lot harder to buy off 9400 people than it is 435.  Particularly if each of those 9400 people have to go back to talk directly to just 30,000 people several times a year.  Representatives' support would really have to come from the local grassroots level.  They might even vote per their constituents desires!  Imagine that!

The one problem with a number of Representatives being so large is that bill introduction may become a bit unmanageable. If we keep to the current system of making huge bills with tons and tons of legal code, things would be unmanageable.  However, that doesn't necessarily need to be a roadblock. Maybe we shouldn't keep the current system of bill introduction!  Maybe our Representatives should really just submit succinct laws that apply to very specific things.  We would still need a huge bill from time to time to address social and other national issues, and the national budget, but we would pretty much end riders that plague the current system.  We can even use 21st Century technology to make such bills easier to process.  (Anyone hear of this Wonder called The Internet?)

More meaningful and useful laws might actually get passed because they wouldn't be tied up so frequently in political maneuverings.  Political Parties couldn't hold our government hostage with standoffs, because their members would be so easily replaced.  We would actually be able to hold our Representatives accountable!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Old School: Pager Code


There are/were several types of pager codes in the 1990's before cellphones become common with inexpensive data/text plans.

Calculator Method
The simplest (and prolly earliest) pager code was the Calculator Method.  This method replaced letters with numbers that resemble those letters when held upside down (similar to how you'd create words using upside down numbers on a calculator).  These were typed backwards so that the effect was easy to read.  Examples:

  • HELLO would read 07734.  4 kinda looks like an H, 3 is clearly an upside down E, 7 is clearly an upside down L and 0 is O in either direction.
  • GUESS WHO would read 04177*553176.  6 kinda looks like a G, 17 looks like an upside down U, 5 looks like an S, * is a space, 177 looks like an upside down W.
Beeper Codes
Another common pager code system consisted of a string of numbers that were typically 3 letters long used to represent specific words and phrases. Though I doubt there is consensus regarding a name for the collection of these pager codes, these seem most closely associated with the term "Beeper Codes".  Beeper codes were really a collection of many individual codes that were derived from several cipher methods.  Many codes used letter count, but other methods were also employed.

  • I LOVE YOU was commonly typed as 143.  This required foreknowledge of the code, as any combination of words can share common letter counts.  143 could've easily meant I CAN'T FLY if you didn't know the established meaning. 
  • I LOVE YOU was also 831 from the phrase, "8 letters, 3 words, 1 meaning."  Again, foreknowledge is necessary to decipher the code.  
There were a lot of these individual Beeper Codes.

Number look alikes
The most versatile pager code was a slightly more formal substitution method.  Letters were represented by a look alike number or string of numbers. This is similar to the Calculator Method, but can be read rightside up and used to spell any word without a lot of forethought (or turning your phone upside). Different varieties existed, but the most common was this:


Pager Code

LetterNumber Look Alike
A8
B8
C6
D0
E3
F4
G6
H4
I1
J7
K15
L7
M177
N17
O0
P9
Q0
R12
S5
T7
U11
V11
W111
X25
Y4
Z2
Spacebar- or *


With this method, complex messages could be sent without a lot of effort. Even after texting and cellphones become more common, this was still a good system to encipher messages from casual interloping.

  • HELLO becomes 43770
  • WISH YOU WERE HERE becomes 111154 4011 1113123 43123 (a special symbol for spacebar wasn't necessary once texting was available)
  • FOUR SCORE AND SEVEN YEARS AGO becomes 401112 560123 8170 5311317 438125 860
Pager codes were still used by some people even after texting become available because most early texting-capable cellphones didn't have an alphabet keyboard.  Typing words was still tedious using the texting system.  It was prolly around the time when type-ahead appeared that use of pager codes finally become uncommon.  Once smartphones become common, there was really no need for pager codes anymore at all, except for fun.  I still find myself using some of the old 3 digit beeper codes if I don't feel like typing out a common phrase.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Yahoo's Blunder with unnecessary changes to their services is well explained on slashdot.org

Yahoo's blunder with unnecessary changes to their services such as Yahoo! Groups is well explained on slashdot.org by anonymous poster.

If you have no userbase, the Agile concept of ship (garbage) early and ship (garbage) often even before you really have an MVP actually makes some sense. If you have a 6-month runway of capital before you go belly-up and start over (oh, I'm sorry, "pivot"), there's no point in wasting another month to get it right.
But if you already have a userbase, the developer-centric attitude of leaving what, to users, is core functionality in the backlog while you release half-assed stuff that merely shows off how good you are with AJAX, or how quickly your UX people can change the design from one week to the next, doesn't work. It's bad for your customer base, it alienates them, and it eventually drives them to your competitors.
More of this person's comment can be found here. If you are interested in exploring the topics brought up by this person, click on the links I added to their quote above.  That will take you to Wikipedia articles that will explain each of the terms.  

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Article from Northwest University sites big breakthru for Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Big Multiple Sclerosis Breakthrough - Phase 1 trial safely resets patients’ immune systems, reduces attack on myelin protein


From the article:
A phase 1 clinical trial for the first treatment to reset the immune system of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients showed the therapy was safe and dramatically reduced patients’ immune systems’ reactivity to myelin by 50 to 75 percent, according to new Northwestern Medicine research.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

How far off is the Zombie Apocalypse?

With a new particle that can enable your body to oxygenate without breathing, one is left wondering isn't this just the sort of technology that will bring on the Zombie Apocalypse?

Scientists invent particles that will let you live without breathing