In Sputnik’s Orbit

A few thoughts to tide you over…

 

Translate 13,000 Application Strings in One Shot

In a browser, Modern computer applications contain thousands of text strings used within the user interface to populate help text, buttons, dialogs, and other controls. Localization is used to swap these text strings out for those appropriate to other languages so the application can readily adapt to users around the globe. This post isn’t about how that’s done but about a method for addressing the single greatest weakness of localization–getting all those strings translated into every language supported by the application. Generally, they’re stored in properties files of one form or another and sent out to language experts (or volunteers) for translation.

This quickly becomes a logistical nightmare nightmare, and unless each translator is very adept, and every translations is made in the context of the application, results can be mixed. It’s a lot of work and can be a great expense that many smaller developers simply can’t afford, meaning that many applications simply don’t support as many languages as they might, or support them as well as they should.

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2021 Appearances

I will NOT be attending Comicpalooza this year due to the pandemic, or any other appearances for the first half of the year. AmadilloCon and Fencon…we shall see.

New Stories!

New stories coming!

Galaxy’s Edge Magazine: The Snows of Maxwell Montes – A cynic finds purpose in sacrifice on the harshest of planets.
Analog Science Fiction & Fact: Sample Return – A woman bets everything on a fishing expedition — into the clouds of Jupiter!

What’s a Free Market Anyway?

Recently, I found myself in contact with online denizens arguing that Republicans want to destroy trade unions because they are against the free market.

No. Just no. Putting aside what the GOP does or does not want for another (very rainy) day…

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Christmas Lights, 2020

Some of you may not have been able to get out and enjoy the Christmas lights as you normally would, or may not have felt up to it this year, or may not have had neighbors in the mood….so we did it for you.

Two Story Sales!

Hi everybody! I know I’ve been way too quiet of late, and I thought I’d pop in to give a little update–and a lesson in perseverance.

First, I sold two more stories (you are the first to know). One, my 2020 Jim Baen contest winner, sold to Analog. The other sold to Galaxy’s Edge after being my second Jim Baen finalist way back in…I’d have to look up the year.

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The renowned mathematician Paul Erdos, when asked how old he was, used to answer “2 billion years”. His reason was “when I was born, the Earth was known to be 2.5 billion years old; now it’s known to be 4.5 billion years old; therefore, I must be 2 billion years old!”

With respect to Mr. Erdos, that’s a load of BS.

Paul Erdos was born in 1913, the first year radiometic dating was proposed by Boltwood. At that time, most scientists would have quoted late 19th century estimates of between 50 million and 100 million years unless they were up on the discovery of radium and the heat it produced (and the effect that had on estimates based on heat dissipation), and then they would have admitted that no one could know, but many hundreds of millions of years at least.

Boltwood later determined that the 26 geological samples he was working with were between 410 million and 2.2 billion years old—which only meant Earth had to be at least that old.

So when Paul Erdos was born, Earth was “known” to be at least 410 million years old, though most science curricula were still teaching “tens of millions.”Age of the Earth - Geology (U.S. National Park Service)

Radiometric dating was used in 1921—in an impromptu effort at a conference—to establish an informal consensus that Earth was “a few billion years old,” and in 1927, Arthur Holmes’ “The Age of the Earth” argued from radioactive analysis that certain strata must be at least 1.2 billion years old, but he was not attempting to accurately date the Earth but to convince geologists that they should take radiometric dating seriously and that it could and must be reconciled with other methods.

In 1931, the National Academy of Science convened a “committee on geologic time,” which issued a bulletin (#80) declaring that radiometric methods were the only reliable means of measuring the age of Earth, but even by 1949, their annual report only declared “the age of the Earth appears to be “ about 3.35 billion years. By that time, Erdos had been bouncing around university research positions for a decade. Today, lead-uranium and lead-lead radiometric dating have been used to definitively date the Earth–or more precisely, the moment of crystalization of the oldest rocks on Earth and near space, to 4.543 billion years, plus or minus 1%.

So no, Erdos was not 2 billion years old, though it’s possible he was a person who didn’t pay a great deal of attention to geophysical news. More likely, he was just making a joke. A Hungarian by birth, he also used to start his talks by saying with “I’m going to speak to you in the international language of science: Bad English”

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My Reply To A Contact About Masks

Below is my reply to a person who reached out through my website to explain why he didn’t need to see my video about anti-viral masks because he “already had covid for a few minutes and is immune for life,” and anyway the disease is a hoax, etc., etc. I didn’t write this to address that person (who is no doubt so deep in the cult of political theater as to be beyond all hope) but to address for the greater good his oft-repeated misapprehensions. And now that I’ve done that, it’s off to work I go…’

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The Best Possible Sit-Stand Desk?

BTOD VertDesk V3 workspaceWhen I started writing seriously back in 2011, I knew the last thing I needed was to start coming home every day from my corporate desk job and spend hours more behind a desk, so instead I learned my craft standing in the bedroom, typing on a little Acer Netbook perched high atop a tall chest of drawers. That worked well enough

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Why I Left A Quiet Place After Only A Few Minutes

A Quiet Place had a lot of buzz when it came out in 2018, but though I’m a huge fan of both Emily Blunt and John Krasinsky, for various reasons, I never saw it. So the other night, after a hiatus due to an injury, I was looking for scifi to watch while burning calories on my treadmill, and Netflix offered it up. But after five or ten minutes, I’d had enough. Here’s why.

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