Matt Richtel /NYT helps Google, Silicon Valley promote H-1B visas
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Matt Richtel of the New York Times offers "A Google Whiz Searches for His Place on Earth" (link), part of that paper's "Remade in America: A series about the newest immigrants and their impact on American institutions". It's a true multimedia edutainment spectacular including audio, a slideshow, and even interactive features.
And, as it happens, our ticky-tack laws and ticky-tack native-borns are getting in the way of what the NYT, Google, and Silicon Valley want. The article's poster immigrant works for Google out of their Toronto office because, while he can get a work visa, his wife cannot. Ricktel uses the trick of allowing him to say what the NYT would like to say:
"Every American I’ve talked to says: ‘Dude, it’s ridiculous that we’re not doing everything we can to keep you in the country. We need people like you!’ ...The people of America get it... And in a matter of time, I think current lawmakers are going to realize how dumb they’re being."
Most of the rest of the four screens are like that, with about seven paragraphs on the final screen given over to the American side of things presented by a representative of the Programmer's Guild and a brief discussion of congressional opposition to increased numbers of visas.
The rest is an ad, including this hilarious/sad bit:
But back in late 2006, maps produced by the service were taking too long to download and appear on phones... Enter Mr. Mavinkurve, who floated an alternative: cut the number of colors in each map section to 20 or 40 from around 256. The user would not see the difference, but the load times would be reduced 20 percent... Mr. Mavinkurve used a rare combination of creativity, analysis, engineering and an understanding of graphics to find a solution that had eluded the rest of the team, said Mark Crady, a manager in the maps group.
Assuming it's described correctly, that is in no way a breakthrough but simply one optimization technique that would occur as a possibility to virtually any experienced programmer. If that and similar are all there is, someone's not exactly being honest.
Note also that the number "256" is instantly recognizable to any programmer, since that's the number that 8 bits - a byte - represents. You can set your monitor to 8-bit color (256 possible colors) if you want the true posterization look; most people set it to 32-bit color (approximately 4 billion possible colors). What he was apparently suggesting was the equivalent of setting your monitor to 5-bit color, where you'd only see 32 possible colors and it would look incredibly horrible. On a cell phone that might not be noticeable. Note also that when dealing with binary, there's no "around" involved, and "20 to 40" makes no sense, since there's no such thing as a fraction of a bit: 4 bits would represent 16 possible colors and 5 bits would represent 32 possible colors.
For an example, if your screen was just ten pixels by ten pixels, and each pixel was represented using 8-bit color, your screen would require 10x10x8 bits, or 100 bytes. If you went to 5-bit color, the screen would require 10x10x5 bits, or 63 bytes (half a byte would be unused). That's a simple optimization technique which can be used if the user doesn't need or can't see the difference, with the addition of slightly more processing time necessary to unpack each pixel into a full byte in memory. However, simply compressing the data in other ways - such as representing area of one color as a run versus including each byte even if all those in one line or area are the same - might make more sense.
UPDATE: Earlier this post said the screen was five by five pixels, but I had used ten pixels in the rest of the example. So, to be extra nerdy, I fixed it to have the correct values.