I had an idea when recently removing a (fortunately inactive) virus from my PC.
On the way to work for a couple of weeks I noticed a decent diameter tree, maybe 30 cm, fallen across some non-electric lines. I think they were cable or telephone. Unfortunately, I don’t remember ever learning how you are supposed to report these things. They aren’t in an obvious municipality, so I can’t just go to the local DPW and tell them.
What I wish is that 8-1-1 wasn’t just utility marking, but a general utility number for things like downed lines (well, maybe that is covered by 9-1-1), trees in lines, service outages and similar matters. Currently you have to call the local utilities special number, which is hard to remember. It’s also hard to find out when you’re in the middle of nowhere and see something like this.
On the way to work, I pass through some areas where the rocky hills or mountains have been cut to provide a roadway. At these cuts or passes, the rough rock is exposed in faces on one or both sides of the road.
During warm weather, springs may be seen where the rock face is damped (usually it is a darker color). During colder weather, these flow onto the road and form ice in a little bar maybe 30 to 50 cm wide across the road.
There should be a short word to refer to these things that combines the elements of (ice) (on the road) (from a spring) (caused by earth removal). There must be such a word in some language that could be adapted, or adopted.
We all know those “security questions” that websites ask to verify user’s identities, sometimes called shared secrets. The ones like your mother’s maiden name and favorite high school pet’s phone number.
I propose a new one for technical people: What was the name (SSID) of the first wireless network you connected to?
If you live in a country or area that is at all non-monolingual, you will encounter telephone trees where the first prompt requests you specify your language. For example, in the United States, it is usually Spanish.
Unfortunately this does not scale well. If you have to deal with even, say, the UN languages, that’s 6 possibilities. Further, they are rarely standardized, so for one firm, you key in “6” to get Spanish. For another it’s “2”, etc.
I propose this:
- A universally understood tone or sequence of tones that means “specify your language” (SYL). These would be tones that a computer could recognize, like SITs. In this way, a person could specify to their phone/phone company what their language was and have them automatically reply.
- A universally standardized mapping of languages and dialects to numbers. For example, en-US = 1033 (Microsoft LCID).
This would result in the following pass:
- Caller dials some number with a phone tree.
- Called party PBX picks up.
- Called party PBX plays SYL SIT.
- Caller (or caller’s phone/phone company) recognizes the SIT.
- Caller (or caller’s phone/phone company) responds with language code
- This would include a termination character, like # or *.
- Called party PBX connects the caller to the phone tree or operator of that language.
Of course, even the UN isn’t going to maintain an operator for every possible language, so in those cases, a fail-gracefully routing tree would be set up so that the nearest neighbor language would be selected instead. As an example, if en-GB (2057) wasn’t supported, but en-US was (1033), the call would be routed there. Alternately, a message could be prerecorded in that language, telling the called party that their language wasn’t supported.
What do you think?
When mind reading is actually invented, I fear the first application of it will be in a time clock.
Everyone who has ever taken a high school or college course in chemistry, biology or kindred sciences unquestionably remembers the, sometimes lurid, always present warnings against doing things, normally, well, normal, but dangerous in a laboratory.1
Wear your safety glasses/googles.
No horsing around.
Label your experiments.
Clean up after yourself.
No food or drink.
This last one gave me an idea: