August 14, 2020

Interesting bits and bobs: 2020-08-14

§ links     # quotes loc bugs doctors religion gphotos Israel targets tracking

Google Photos on iOS does not have a slideshow function! 😱 They did however roll out a new designed and killed off For You feature.

  • The American state of New Jersey bans doctors from declaring someone dead on the basis of irreversible brain damage if they have reason to believe it would contravene the patient’s religious convictions.
  • Why companies struggle with recalcitrant IT
    • Airlines are, for instance, now advised to turn the plane off and on again every 51 days, to stop its computers displaying false data in mid-flight. A similar problem found in 2017 in some aeroplanes made by Airbus, Boeing’s European rival, prompted the European Union Aviation Safety Agency to require that such aircraft be rebooted at least every 149 hours.
    • An industry rule of thumb is that, depending on how carefully they work, programmers make between 0.5 and 50 errors in every 1,000 lines of code they write.
    • According to Motor Authority a Ford GT has over 10 million lines of code, that is much more than what an aircraft needs to fly (2 million lines of code for the Lockheed F-22 Raptor and 7 million lines for the 787 Dreamliner).
    • At CES 2016, Ford indicated that they have 150 million lines of code in their new pickup, the F150
  • Unix Wildcards gone wild – a list of unexpected behaviour you can run into when using wildcards


Targets create three common problems:

  1. They produce perverse results when people focus excessively on them.
  2. They tempt managers to manipulate numbers.
  3. The obsession with measurement diverts people from useful activity to filling in forms.

The department of health provided a fine example of the first when it penalised hospitals whose emergency departments took too long to treat patients after ambulances had dropped them off. Hospitals responded by keeping patients waiting in ambulances rather than in emergency departments. The Metropolitan Police illustrated the second, after it linked pay and promotion to achieving a crime-reduction target. A police whistle-blower told a parliamentary committee that downgrading or underreporting crime had become “an ingrained part of police culture”. The universities to which a-level students are struggling to get admitted provide an example of the third. Tenure and promotion are awarded on the basis of the production of articles (which can be measured) rather than teaching (which can’t), so students suffer.


Mr Netanyahu is instead banking on a controversial mobile-phone surveillance program created by Shin Bet, the security service. The program, designed to track terrorists, was used early in the outbreak, then halted. In June the prime minister brought it back over objections from the head of Shin Bet. The program is meant to identify those who have recently been in contact with an infected person. The health ministry then sends them a text message telling them to quarantine. But there has been a high number of false positives, say experts, and the public’s trust in the government is so low that many Israelis leave their mobile phones at home to avoid being tracked and ordered to quarantine.

— `If you knew Time as well as I do,' said the Hatter, `you wouldn't talk about wasting IT. It's HIM.'
$ Last updated: Feb 7, 2021 at 13:38 (EET) $