Monday, December 17, 2007
The second is just damn funny. It's a posting by (ahem) Steve Jobs on his highly-unofficial blog, where he explains that the Android OS is, shall we say, less than ideal, especially when compared with the iPhone, which is perfect. Then again, he might be biased.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
The most surprising thing about it was that she agreed to even show up.
Monday, November 19, 2007
I've known Dave long enough that I simply ignored whatever wierdness was printed on his shirt for a few minutes, until someone else commented on it and I actually read what it said. After that, I had to ask if it was actually true, at which point I congratulated the lucky couple.
Also ran into Chris Napoli at the party, who is back in town after a decade in North Carolina. He's currently at loose ends, and "thinking about" getting a job.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Last weekend one of Adam's friends came by to take a look at the car. He's looking for a project to work on, and the Morgan seems to be about the right effort and price level. Faced with its imminent loss, Joahnna decided we needed to get some photos of the Morgan before it's gone.Looks nice, doesn't it?
I gave rides around the airport a few weeks back, taking Danger for a ride, as well as Awais and his kids. A good time was had by all, although I think the passenger that had the best time was Awais' father. He's worked in aviation for his entire career, but this was the first time he'd been in a small aircraft.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
For only $18k, it seems pretty tempting. Unfortunately there are a few downsides to the aircraft. For starters, it burns about 210 gallons of Jet-A per hour, which runs about $950 at today's prices. And an hour is about all you get, because that's most of the fuel in the plane.
But it looks fun...
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
[Robert Tessaro for the Brady Campaign] lays the blame squarely on lawmakers who allowed the assault weapons ban to expire in 2004.
Designed to be fired from the hip, assault rifles such as the AK-47 can spray at a rate of up to 600 rounds a minute in full automatic mode. It is the weapon of choice for guerillas and gangsters.
Now, if we're going to get technical about things here, the AK-47 is a fully-automatic assault rifle, which is currently illegal, and has been illegal since 1934 (Wikipedia article). So we're already seeing some misdirection here, but it's possible that legally-acquired weapons are falling into the wrong hands and being used by criminals. Is that the case here?
Hmmm, later on the article reveals that:
"The streets of South Florida are being flooded by AK-47s and assault weapons from old Soviet bloc countries. It's driven the price down, making the availability greater," said Chief Timoney.
Really, from old Soviet Bloc countries, you say? Meaning, probably not imported by an authorized arms dealer or legally sold?
I'm all for solving problems, but one reason for letting the Brady bill lapse is that it isn't solving the problem. Criminals aren't going to buy a legal, semi-automatic assault rifle when they can buy an illegal, full-auto version for cheaper. They're not worried about breaking the law -- that's what makes them criminals in the first place.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
"It's only going to antagonize somebody," said Charles Bullock, a political scientist at the University of Georgia. "You have three Republican governors. The delegations in Congress of these states are predominantly Republican, so it's not easy politically. There's really no easy way out of it."The implication, of course, is that this would be a nice, easy problem if one of the states was Democratic -- sorry, no water for you.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
When I got to my car I had a text message from Jon saying "You still OK?" I thought back to my last conversation with Jon (lunch this monday), where I wasn't feeling all that well, and texted back "Not sick yet."
I didn't even think about the earthquake. It's California after all, and quakes are a part of life. But when I stopped at the grocery store on the way home, everyone was buzzing about how scary it was, and lots of products had been knocked off the shelves; about then I figured out that Jon was probably asking about quake effects and not my general health.
According to the USGS the epicenter was just a few miles east of my house, but I didn't see any effects when I returned home other than the garage looking slightly more disheveled than usual.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Yesterday I saw one of the planes was open from 8am to noon (tough to get a plane for a whole day on short/medium notice), so I figured I'd try it again. It was somewhat iffy, as the weather was forecast to be fog at 9am, clearing up by 10am. I figured if we arrived at around 9:30 we'd have a reasonable chance at landing.
Weather out of Reid-Hillview was clear, but as we got to King city, the ground was covered by a very pretty (but un-landable) blanket of clouds. Paso Robles was still reporting fog, so I knew it didn't get any better, so we tried diverting over to Harris Ranch. When we got there, we found the edge of another cloud deck just over Harris, so I turned back north and headed back to the airport.
I wasn't terribly disappointed -- the whole idea was to get out of the house, not really to get somewhere in particular. But it would be nice if I wasn't staring at the clock for the flight to make sure I got the plane back in time.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Can't fly for much cheaper than that!
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Not going to help us much in Iraq, since it can't shoot down IEDs, but I'm sure the Israelis wouldn't mind test-driving one.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
The first few links were, naturally, red herrings -- you wouldn't expect the source of all knowledge to just jump out and bite you. After all, if it were that easy to find, we'd all be geniuses, and that clearly isn't the case. So I was looking for something unusual. And I found it on about the 6th or 7th link:
Think I need to change my diet.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
I passed my private pilot checkride yesterday, so I am now an officially licensed pilot. The checkride didn't go especially smoothly, but I performed well enough on the various sections to satisfy the examiner, so I now have my magic piece of paper that says I'm allowed to fly myself and others wherever I wish.
Harris Ranch, anyone?
Monday, July 02, 2007
To recap: an exceptionally incompetent group of troublemakers, unknown to the plods or spooks, decided to bring a spot of terror to old Blighty starting last Friday. These people had no actual explosives, and were apparently too lazy and ignorant to learn how to make them.
Full article here.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Once again it seems like the U.S. is choosing to back a politically-acceptable dictator (OK, jury is still out on whether Abbas is a dictator or not, but dismissing the elected assembly is not a good start. Who wants to bet Hamas won't be allowed to run in the next election?) over the radical but popularly-supported alternative.
The U.S. is scared of creating another Iran in Palestine, but the more opposition the U.S. creates to the current Hamas leadership, the more they empower the radical elements of the party. The way to moderate them is to bring them to the negotiating table. Radicals cannot abide compromise. When people have nothing, the guy standing up for their rights is a hero. When people see a promising offer on the table and the guy next to them says "No! XXX at any cost!" they stop seeing him as a hero and start seeing him as a loony.
(Found a Wall Street Journal article following writing this, on why support for Fatah isn't the answer. It illustrates the problems with support for Fatah pretty well, although I have serious doubts about the author's proposed solution)
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
I put in my final night flight, in a long but spectacular evening flying from Reid Hillview to Gnoss Field in Sonoma, to Livermore, and then back to Reid Hillview. Weather was clear through the whole flight, which was good luck -- SF is frequently covered in fog.
With this flight I've met all my hour requirements, so now I just have to brush up on some of my maneuvers and get my FAA checkride scheduled. Can't wait!
Joahnna and I visited my parents over memorial day, and did a whirlwind tour of some of the Seattle highlights. We managed to get a ferry ride in, along with a trip to the Seattle Art Museum and the new sculpture garden in downtown. We didn't manage to make it to the Boeing Flight Museum, but I guess we have to save something for the next trip.
Friday, May 18, 2007
Friday, May 04, 2007
Last weekend's flight was fun, and pretty straightforwards except for the second landing in Salinas, where they were having a convention for Light Sport aircraft. In retrospect, I should have parked for a while to chat with people about their planes, but I was so stressed to land the plane amidst all the traffic that I didn't even think about the event.
This weekend, weather permitting, I'm flying out over the central valley to Fresno, to get some practice at flat-land navigation while racking up my cross-country hours. After that's done, then it's time to do a little night flying, and afterwards it's just polishing up my skills to pass the practical test.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Monday, April 09, 2007
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Monday, March 26, 2007
Then, to top that, Sachin sent me a link to a car that runs on air. How much cheaper than that can you get? Of course, with a top speed of 40mph, it's not going to get you anywhere in a hurry.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Thursday, March 22, 2007
However, recently a bunch more similar ideas have been popping up, fitting in under the new light-sport aircraft rules in the U.S. and Europe. The most famous is probably Terrafugia, which was started by a team of MIT students after their concept won a cash prize. I have some doubts about this one, but my main one is that they'll be able to get it made street-legal, since cars are so heavily regulated.
Which is why I found the new PAL-V to be much more interesting. For starters, they went with a gyrocopter design instead of a winged aircraft -- folding rotors is much easier than folding wings. More importantly, three wheels makes it technically a motorcycle, which means as long as the motor passes noise emissions you're golden.
And apparently they're not the only people to have come up with this idea -- an American gyrocraft designer has come up with a similar concept, although his vehicle looks much more like something from 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.
Will I be first to line up for a flying car? Probably not -- I'll let a few other people test them out for reliability first. The Terrafugia looks clumsy, but the PAL-V seems like something I could see myself owning one day.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Also, today was chart expiration day. Since all my sectional charts just turned into pumpkins, I stopped off in the airport store and picked up a new SF terminal and sectional charts. I've now realized it doesn't make sense to "stock up" on charts as they go out of date every six months.
I have a short flight schedule for this weekend to brush up on some more skills, and after that I'm ready for my next (and last) stage check. After that I do some long-distance solo flights, and then I'm ready -- supposedly -- to face the examiner.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Unfortunately it doesn't report on VFR flights, even if the flight is being tracked by ATC. So no help for me in the short term.
Monday, March 05, 2007
For the math-impaired, that works out to about $71-$107 million dollars per aircraft. A not-inconsiderable sum. Especially when you consider that it's an upgrade of the CH-47 Chinook, an aircraft that's been in service since 1966. The feature list for the aircraft includes fancy sounding items like "terrain-following-radar", "foward-looking infrared" and "net-ready cockpit". Pretty impressive, until you look around and find this: An MH-47D Chinook, special-forces equipped, already comes with FLIR.
No wonder the GAO is going to pay close attention to this one. Paying $10bil to buy a minor variant of aircraft we already have sounds like pork to me.
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
The weather this morning was iffy for flying, due to heavy clouds coming in, but it wasn't raining, so my instructor decided we could fly as long as we just did pattern work (that's flying circles around the airport, for the uninitiated). We did some more practice on unusual takeoffs and landings, which are pretty fun. I scraped the tail skid on one of my soft-field takeoffs, but other than that they went well. The landings weren't quite as pretty but I got a lot better as the day went on. Some better flare technique helped out here, as well as learning to use some rudder to correct for crosswind alignment.
I have homework for the weekend -- some final studying for my FAA written test, as well as plotting out a detailed course for my cross-country trip, which (weather permitting) will be this sunday.
Oh, and a cirronimbus cloud is a big, puffy raincloud, which is exactly what the sky was full of this morning.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
I had this little epiphany while reading an article on proper leaning techniques for piston engines (fun stuff!), and noticed in the author's bio that he spent some time flying for Air America.
When at first we practice to deceive, it usually ends up as a good plot for a movie.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
It was definately a thrill to go out and do everything on my own, with no one watching over my shoulder (or correcting my mistakes). I could have held the plane for longer, but I decided to keep this session short at just over an hour. Sometimes it pays to quit while you're ahead.
It did take a while to get here, though, because of the weather minimums I have as a student pilot. For me to fly solo, the weather doesn't have to be merely good, it has to be darn near perfect. The past few weeks I've tried to go up several times, but when the time came around, the weather was below minimums every time. My biggest enemy recently has been haze (frequently smog), which on otherwise nice, sunny days reduces visibility below the 10 miles I need. Finally a storm system blew in and got rid of all the built-up haze, but then I couldn't fly because of the storm. If it's not one thing, it's another.
But I'm finally past that, and the weather should be getting more predictable as we head in to spring. And if I land the plane a few more times without bending the landing gear, they'll probably drop my minimums a little, too...
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Friday, February 09, 2007
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Since the start of the war, the U.S. military has suffered 3,094 fatalities in Iraq. Seven civilian contractors of the Defense Department have also been killed.
This is pretty much your standard casualty report, except in this one I saw a key phrase I hadn't seen in previous statements: that key little caveat "of the Defense Department."
Of course the vast majority of contractors in Iraq aren't Defense Department contractors; they're employees of Halliburton or Blackwater or some other private company, and paid via sufficient indirection that you can claim they're not Defense Department contractors.
Some quick searching showed that I'm not the only one who can't figure this out (Here is a news article on the subject, as well).
Friday, February 02, 2007
To be fair to the analysts, they did have a bit of trouble finding someone to write the study:
In a different Nov. 3, 2002, message, Houston said that the company had been unable to convince any other major research company to do the TCO study, and specifically mentioned Gartner as one that turned down Microsoft's request.This may not be researcher integrity, however, so much as having a good sense on which way the wind is blowing:
"We approached Gartner about doing this study and they declined," said Houston. "They said it was because they didn't know that their model for TCO would work well with Linux. I privately wonder if they want to take on this debate."
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
I think the distances involved would probably kill me, but I'm certainly interested to see how Jon's progress goes.
Monday, January 15, 2007
Today I achieved my first major milestone in my flight training, which was my first solo flight. I was a little nervous going into it, but I figured if my flight instructor thought I was up to it, and the rental company was willing to toss me the keys to a $180k plane, then I must really be ready.
Or something like that.
The event itself was, fortunately, uneventful. I made three circuits in the pattern with my instructor in the plane, then after the third landing, he had me taxi over to the "instructor bench", where he sat and watched while I made three more circuits on my own.
After my third landing, I taxied back and picked him up, after which we returned to the office/classroom for the festivities. This involved a couple after-action photos and a ceremonial shirt-doodling, as well as congratulations by the office staff and other instructors.
I spent the rest of the day bouncing inside.
Friday, January 05, 2007
Bush's statements often reserve the right to revise, interpret or disregard laws on national security and constitutional grounds.
"That non-veto hamstrings Congress because Congress cannot respond to a signing statement," ABA president Michael Greco has said.
The practice, he added, "is harming the separation of powers."
Not surprisingly, Bush has used more signing statements in his term in office than all 42 presidents before him combined.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Usually after you have completed the design and testing and are shipping millions of units. Like in this example -- the patent licensing company for Washington State University has just asserted a patent covering Bluetooth. Which is used, oh, pretty much everywhere these days.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
I'm creating a market for fiber-to-the-home one bit at a time.
Labels are very cool. I've gone back and labelled a bunch of my old posts, so now you can find all my travel info more easily.
I was a bit worried when I didn't see any 914s for sale on Trader Online (finally found one in Arizona), but apparently that's because they're just not expensive enough. A quick search on Craigslist found 7-8 of them for under $3000.
First need to get the Morgan out of the garage, though.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
"To fly 7 million light years to O'Hare and then have to turn around and go home because your gate was occupied is simply unacceptable," said union official Craig BurzychThe funny thing is that I found this on CNN, and as opposed to the tabloids...
The short answer to the film's title question is that GM killed it, and in a very emphatic manner. When the leases on the EV-1s expired, GM did not allow owners to renew the lease or purchase the cars, but instead forced them to return every EV-1 to GM, where they destroyed. No question about it, GM wanted those vehicles gone.
One of the lessons I picked up from this is how easy it is to buy into hype. The EV-1 was a workable electric vehicle -- it had good acceleration, decent styling, and a range of 120 miles, which is good enough for any normal commuting. But shortly after the vehicles were coming out, many questions were raised about battery life, recycling, accident danger due to acid spills, total environmental impact, etc. And I remember giving these arguments some weight, since they are legitimate concerns.
The problem is, although these concerns are legitimate, they are also mostly non-issues when you dig into them. The batteries could be completely recycled, battery life is mostly a problem with lead-acid batteries rather than the NiMH batteries the EV-1 used, acid is far less dangerous in an accident than gasoline, and even if more coal-fired plants were built to provide the electricity, they still put less carbon in the atmosphere total than a gas burning car.
And whoever raised these issues, probably knew all that.
Ultimately, I think the problem was that the electric car was forced upon the manufacturers, and most companies are unwilling to promote a product that makes their existing product line obsolete. No existing car manufacturer wants to touch these for fear of making their existing cars look bad.
Which is why my hopes are with a couple new companies making next-generation electric cars with state-of-the-art battery technology. Tesla Motors, a new silicon-valley startup, is building a line of high-performance electric sports cars, with a range of about 250 miles. Full production won't start until 2008, and it will probably be a year or two after that until we see something a bit more affordable, but hopefully they'll have a sports sedan out in time to replace my Subaru STi.