Why is Andy such a Precision Freak?

Published Sun, Jun 27 2004 14:37 | William

Ok, I'm not being serious.  If you haven't read his piece on Floating Point Number, let me tell you, it's a great read.  While most of us don't confront issues that require this precision or even think in these types of terms, some people do and it's nice to know that people like Andy are as picky as they are.  I work in a business where we make money by lines we transcribe.  In the transcription business, a Line isn't really a line as you might think.  You see, font size, font face and all that crap can change the physical size of a line (that's often why professors specify 500 lines with single spacing, Times New Roman font at size 10 etc)  , so a contract may define a line as '75 characters not including white spaces'.  Obviously this stuff varies and different facilities will negotiate different rates per line.  But the point is that rounding out to say 3 decimal places is fine unless otherwise specified.  But think about the numbers Andy's stuff deals with  - and on a 911 system, the consequences could be pretty severe.  Sure 10 seconds may not seem like a big deal a lot of the time, but if that was your kid I'm sure you'd agree that 10 seconds is a lifetime, and in the kid's case, it literally would be.  So he's blogging about the new features in VC++ in VS 2005 http://www.cadencoding.net/blogs/users/cornbread/default.aspx and goes on to explain why he feels this way (I guess he gets asked “Why are you such a precision freak” more than people ask me “Hey, have you ever thought of buying a 2 litre bottle of diet coke instead of drinking that fountain stuff, it sure would save you some money”).

Andy must have one of the coolest jobs I've ever heard of.  


# William said on June 27, 2004 8:24 PM:

Thanks for the props Bill. I love my job it really challenges me. Wish it paid a little better but if it came down to be bored and making more money or staying and being challenged on a daily basis. I'll pick stay every time.

# William said on June 27, 2004 9:42 PM:

Andy, I can't wait to show my co-workers your post. Every now and then simple line counting can get tough b/c some places will have stuff that like ignores double spaces or more, counts punctuation but not duplicates, stuff like that. A walk in the part compared to the precision you are dealing with. It's definitely got to keep you on your toes.

# William said on June 27, 2004 10:51 PM:

Well since you are in the transcription business I have a question maybe you can answer. Do you get into OCR much?

I think I have an idea that might be worth doing but I don't know much about OCR and I need to ask somebody who does know quit a bit about it some questions regarding the feasability of my idea. Also maybe somebody has already done my idea and I can just go buy an off the shelf solution.

Basically here is the idea. I have a disabled son as you know already. He requires a special diet. There are like 600 possible ingrediants on labels that contain things that might affect him badly should he eat them. I'd like to find an app or code one that uses OCR to scan the label and bounce it off that list and pop up a list of everything on that label that matches any of the 600 bad ingrediants. It would save me tons of time at the grocery store but I know zip about OCR so I don't know how hard or easy this would be to accomplish. Any thoughts or ideas on it?

# William said on June 30, 2004 12:04 PM:

Andy, sorry for not getting back earlier, I just saw this. Anyway, we do a little OCR but not much. There are a good many OCR components but I'm not sure which ones have an API. Let me check it out and I'll get back to you. As many as there are there'd have to be some with an API Exposed. The label size might make it a bit tough but it's been getting better and better. I'll be back in touch shortly.


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