Chip's Technical Blog

Tech commentary of thoughts, challenges, how-to's, and the mundane.

Archive for December, 2008

Leap Seconds

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

So this year there will be a leap second added just before midnight, the first since 2005. As we all go to celebrate New Year’s, I wonder how this will be treated by the TV networks (I don’t recall how it was handled in 2005). Will we start our countdown one second later than usual, so that the 10 second countdown starts at 11:59:51? Or will we all actually celebrate the New Year one second too early? Perhaps the network will add their leap second early to avoid confusion. Will municipalities running fireworks shows start them on time? Do they launch fireworks at that second, or do they try to time it to explode at that second? Will the general public have any clue that a leap second occurred?

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/TECH/12/31/leap.second.new.year/?iref=mpstoryview

Puzzle Oops!

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

So we bought a 1000 piece puzzle from WalMart before Christmas for the family to put together, and last night we did so. However, there were a few problems with the puzzle. During the putting together of it, there were these pieces which we just became convinced they couldn’t fit anywhere in the puzzle. Though most of the time, we thought we were just kidding, that it would become clear eventually where they fit.

When we had put in “all” the pieces, there were three extras. There really were pieces which didn’t go in the puzzle. On further inspection, these pieces turned out to be duplicates of 3 other pieces in the puzzle. They really didn’t fit! And moreover, we had paired one of them with another and therefore couldn’t figure out where in the puzzle the two pieces went.

While it’s annoying to have been frustrated about these extra pieces, the more frustrating thing is that we were one piece short. While I cannot be 100% certain that we didn’t just lose the piece, I have to believe that since we have extra pieces, those are missing from someone else’s copy of the puzzle.

So how does this happen? Perhaps they lay them flat, and cut many together, then whisk them off. Then in this case, two pieces may be stuck together, and the whisking process just screwed up?

So if you bought an I Spy puzzle from WalMart, check and make sure it has all the right pieces. And if you have extra ones, let me know. Maybe we’ll start a puzzle-piece exchange to fix it up.

On the other end — the question becomes, how can you do quality assurance on jigsaw puzzles? How do you avoid this kind of production problem? Maybe I’ll do some research into the mass production of jigsaw puzzles to figure out how this happens and how to prevent it.

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