Overheard: Word of the Day


April 20, 2012  4:32 PM

Overheard talking about cramming landline phone bills

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
“An investigation by Rockefeller’s Senate Commerce Science and Transportation Committee last year found that phone companies had placed $10 billion in third-party charges on customers’ landline phone bills over the last five years — and that a large percentage of those charges were unauthorized.” — Brendan Sasso

Today’s WhatIs.com Word of the Day is cramming, padding your phone bill with sneaky little charges for things you don’t want and never knew you were paying for.

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar has convinced  Verizon, CenturyLink and AT&T to stop cramming  landline phone bills. The Senator is on the Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet — which has oversight over the FCC and the wireless industry.

April 19, 2012  1:18 PM

Overheard talking about memory maps

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse

“Bad computer memory is one of the three main reasons for random system failures; the other two are heat (usually caused by fans or heatsinks being blocked with dust) and bad power.” — Serdar Yegulalp

Today’s WhatIs.com Word of the Day is memory map, a massive table that tells your computer how much memory is available and helps ensure that data is always written to, and read from, the proper places.

There’s an interesting article at Forbes.com this week about recent advances in understanding human memory. Author Roger Kay writes about his own memory issues and explains how memories may not be held in their entirety in the brain but are maintained as a kind of chemical residue of the original perception.

That means my brain, in effect, uses hash values to store and retrieve data.  Does that also mean that when I remember things incorrectly it’s because my brain has suffered from a hash collision?  Makes sense to me!


April 18, 2012  8:21 PM

Overheard talking about smart meter hacks and PKI

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
“Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) components — in particular, the smart meters that are responsible for measuring and managing the delivery of electricity use for more than 110 million households and companies in the United States — rely on secure communications channels in order to transmit usage data. Many AMI equipment manufacturers rely on PKI for identification, authentication and establishment of secure communications channels.”  – Seth Bromberger

Today’s WhatIs.com Word of the Day is smart meter hack.  If you live way out in the country, you may still have an old-fashioned spinning mechanical electrical meter, but you are fast becoming the exception. Ironically, the very features that motivate power companies to install smart meters also make them vulnerable to new kinds of attacks. According to an FBI bulletin, smart meter hacks may end up costing utility companies about $400 million per year.

Keep your eye out for a new kind of service provider who will independently verify the security of AMI components and the smart networks they use.


April 18, 2012  5:48 PM

Overheard talking about Anonymous and the abuse of its name

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
“Anonymous is more of a brand and a franchise that is borrowed and often abused by anyone. I’m concerned about the false attacks and pretenders stealing intellectual property in the name of ‘Anonymous.’” — Joshua Corman

Today’s WhatIs.com Word of the Day is Anonymous, a decentralized hacktivist group which is either a gang of Robin Hood’s merry men, an authoritarian self-appointed collective Sheriff of Nottingham, or simply a group of politically-motivated cowards with computer skills, depending on who you talk to.

Anonymous has its roots in the Antisec movement in the early 2000s and its members, when seen in public, often wear Guy Fawkes masks.


April 18, 2012  3:59 PM

Overheard talking about seven-segment display

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
“Even if you haven’t heard the name ‘seven-segment display’ before, you’ve probably seen quite a few in your lifetime. They appear on pretty much every piece of electronic equipment that needs to display numbers for any reason, like the timer on a microwave oven, the display on a CD player, or the time on your digital wristwatch.” – Dmitry Brant

Today’s WhatIs.om Word of the Day is seven-segment display. I’m old enough to remember the first wristwatches with digital display — big black things whose seven-segment displays used so much power that the owner had to push a button to light up the display before he could see the time.


April 13, 2012  4:04 PM

Overheard talking about profitability analysis

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
quotes and quotations
“I often ask at customer events how many in the audience can tell me who their most profitable customers are and it’s always surprising how few hands go up.” — Jason Nash

Profitability analysis is a component of enterprise resource planning (ERP) that allows administrators to forecast the profitability of a proposal or optimize the profitability of an existing project.

I’m absolutely lost when it comes to any kind of financial analysis.  My eyes glaze over and my head starts to nod whenever I hear the magical words: pivot table.


April 13, 2012  2:48 PM

Overheard talking about mickey and other mouse-related terminology

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
“Every time the mouse moves a certain distance, a signal (think of a playing card in a bicycle wheel) is sent to the microcontroller and counted. If 100 of these signals or clicks is equivalent to one mouse ball rotation, and the microcontroller has received 100 clicks in the forward direction and 50 clicks in the sideways direction, the computer, with the aid of some simple programming, can understand that the mouse has moved one ball rotation forward and a half rotation sideways.”Office of Naval Research Science & Technology

Today’s WhatIs.com Word of the day is mickeya unit of measurement for the smallest detectable movement of a mouse.



April 12, 2012  11:44 AM

Overheard talking about Node.js and JavaScript on the server

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
“Node is a server-side JavaScript interpreter that changes the notion of how a server should work. Its goal is to enable a programmer to build highly-scalable applications and write code that handles tens of thousands of simultaneous connections on one, and only one, physical machine.” — Michael Abernethy       


 Today’s WhatIs.com Word of the Day is Node.jsNode.js is a set of server-side JavaScript libraries that runs within Google’s V8 JavaScript engine. Node.js uses an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model. It is asynchronous, which proponents say leads to good performance and scalability.  The most intruiging thing I’ve read about Node, though, is that if it becomes widely adopted on mobile devices, it has the potential to change the way we think about servers. Again.


April 11, 2012  3:51 PM

Overheard talking about strategic sourcing and ERP

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
“Another important function for enabling strategic sourcing is contract management, key for negotiating and managing terms with suppliers, including pricing and performance requirements. Contract management for procurement should support advanced negotiation functions, including methods to collect and compare vendor bids, as well as functions for managing contracts, improving spend visibility and data analysis.”Catherine LaCroix

Today’s WhatIs.com Word of the Day is strategic sourcingStrategic sourcing differs from conventional purchasing because it places emphasis on the entire life-cycle of a product, not just its initial purchase price.


April 11, 2012  2:55 PM

Overheard talking about a six thinking hats retrospective

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
“Once everyone is seated introduce the exercise by giving a brief summary of De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats process. Then explain that the group will all put on the same hat and discuss the iteration…and after that they will put on the next hat in the series and so on until the all the hats have been worn.”Rob Bowley

Today’s WhatIs.com Word of the Day is six thinking hats retrospective.  I just participated in one here at TechTarget and it may have been one of the smoothest retrospectives I’ve ever been part of.  I don’t recommend it for every single iteration because that could get boring, but it was a nice change-up.  Any kind of structure that moves the discussion along briskly and limits the time people can argue or rant is a good thing. Maybe I’ll try it at the dinner table next family gathering!


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