Monday, December 17, 2007

To Android or Not To Android?

Found a serious and a not-so-serious posting about the new Android operating system from Google. The first, a serious analysis of who's participating in the Android alliance and why, is interesting from a market dynamic and background standpoint.

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

Nerd Sniping

This comic pokes fun at the tendency of engineering-type people to be sidetracked by interesting problems. Good thing I'd never do anything like that. Bad things could happen.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Objective Reporting

Adam sent me a link to this interview on Fox with Naomi Wolfe. It's admirable how she keeps her cool throughout the interview as she refuses to follow the interviewer's script, and he grows increasingly frustrated. He attempts to side-track her entire book with a straw man ("don't you believe enemy combatants should be in prison?"). At the end he declares the "debate" a victory for him because she hasn't "answered my question".

The most surprising thing about it was that she agreed to even show up.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Dave Le Returns

Joahnna and I went to Dave Le's birthday part last weekend. First time I'd seen Dave in many years. True to form, he had a surprise for us:
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

Photo Shoot

I've been thinking of selling the Morgan. Well, truth be told, I've been thinking of selling the Morgan for a few years now, but it never seems to get much past the thinking stage. In the meantime it just sits around my garage looking sad.

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?

Haypatch Rides

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


I was browsing used plane ads today, looking for low-priced aircraft, and came across an ad for a Soviet L-29 jet trainer:
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

Mental Gap

I was halfway through this CNN article on gun proliferation when I just had to take time out for a rant. Early on, supporters of the Brady bill put the blame for this situation squarely on congress for not renewing the assault weapons ban:
[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

Drought Politics

I was reading this article on CNN about a drought in the southeast. What I found disturbing is that it mentioned -- several times -- that the situation was "difficult" because all three states involved have Republican governors and senators.
"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


We were out celebrating Joahnna's brother's birthday at TGI Friday's when the earthquake hit. The quake itself was somewhat anticlimatic -- the building started to shudder, and just about the time people were wondering what was going on, we got one big shake. Everyone stopped and looked around for ten seconds or so, and then when it was evident the action was over, people just started going about their business again.

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

Flying in a Circle

Joahnna and I tried to fly to Paso Robles yesterday, but it turned out to be yet another aborted attempt. Our first try was a few weeks ago, when we fired up a Piper Archer and started taxiing to run-up, but aborted the flight because the HSI wasn't working properly. There weren't any other planes available, so we aborted the flight.

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

Wherefore Art Thou, Newt?

Some reasonably intelligent and insightful commentary by Newt Gingrich, of all people. He points out a number of screwy things about our presidential election process, mostly variants on The Daily Show's point that our elections have become style over substance.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Flying for $0.30/hour

It seems that battery technology is getting close to the point where electric aircraft are viable. A guy at Oshkosh announced that he has an electric ultralight that's ready today. The battery pack lasts for about 2 hours, and a full charge costs about $0.60 in electricity.

Can't fly for much cheaper than that!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Sharks with Laser Beams

Cool video of MTHEL (Mobile Tactical High Energy Laser). It certainly seems like the laser can shoot down whatever it sees, which is the hard part. All that money Ronald dumped into Star Wars may have finally had an effect.

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

Source of All Knowledge

I was actively engaged today in increasing my value to the company by doing research (i.e. surfing the internet), and decided to go straight to the source. So I went to Google, and typed in "Source of All Knowledge".

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

Mission: Accomplished!

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?
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Monday, July 02, 2007

Bomb Disposal Expert Analyzes Latest Attack

An excellent commentary on the latest terrorist attacks in Britain. To wit:
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

Phoenix Motors

Phoenix Motors is making a smallish pure-electric SUV. Got this from a Register article about new quick-charging batteries, which are used by both the Phoenix and the British Lightning. The Lightning appears to be taking a page from Tesla's book and going for the less cost-sensitive sports car market, but Phoenix is taking a more interesting tack and selling them to fleets and municipalities, both of which are more sensitive to operations cost than capital costs.

Selective Democracy

Interesting article in the LA times about Hamas and Fatah. Not sure if anyone in L.A. will actually read it, but since it also made the top-three list on Google News, it's guarenteed to get some readership.

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

Night Flight

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!

Memorial Day Trip

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.
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New Front Lawn

Finally did something with the front of the house. I now have all new grass front and back, as well as a little ring to make my remaining tree look neat and under control. Now it's time for a backyard BBQ.


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Friday, May 18, 2007


I found this video over at Groklaw. Anyone who has ever sat through a boring, technical presentation will definately appreciate this. If you haven't, well, count your lucky chickens.

Aviation Records

As Jon can attest, there aren't a lot of records around waiting to be broken. However, Barrington Irving, a young man from Jamaica, found one: The first African American to fly solo around the world. He put himself through flight school, managed to get a plane (!!!) and fuel donated to set the world record, and founded a non-profit to introduce aviation and aviation careers to inner-city youth.

Friday, May 04, 2007

More Cross-Country Work

Last week I did my first long solo flight, flying from Reid-Hillview down to Coalinga, back up to Salinas, and home to RHV. Total time was a little over three hours. However, I need at least 5 hours of solo cross-country time to get my license, so I need to do another cross-country solo this weekend.

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

Simple Ideas

An article about Virgin's Richard Branson supporting research into aircraft biofuel also mentioned a simple idea he had for reducing noise and fuel consumption at airports -- have push-back tugs actually taxi aircraft all the way to the runway.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Woman sets records for the wrong team

Interesting interview with Hanna Reitsch, a German test-pilot during WWII and close associate of Hitler. By the 50-mile rule, she was the first astronaut, almost 20 years before John Glenn achieved sub-orbital flight.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

U.S. Loses Top Tech Spot

Reading this article wasn't really a surprise, since the tech industry (and the VC industry) has seen this one coming for a while, but it's interesting to see it hit the news as a fait accompli instead of dire predictions of the future. Remains to be seen if this is enough to get the U.S. to address the issue, since we seem to be preoccupied with "staying the course".

Monday, March 26, 2007

Alternative Fuel Day

I was reading an article about new batteries that run off of sugar water. Similar principle to a fuel cell, except using a fuel that neither leaks through its container or explodes. Apparently can run on almost any sugary liquid (not Coke, though -- the carbonation screws it up).

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

One More

Apparently I missed mentioning the Milner Aircar, which looks like more of a garage-type development effort. However, their development is further along and they have a couple features which makes them more attractive than the Terrafugia. Chief of those is that the rear wing placement allows greater visibility in car mode, but also the styling of the car is more attractive, and they're targetting a four-seat vehicle, which is more in line with the car form factor.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Jetsons Era Arriving?

It appears that the mythical flying car may soon be a reality. For many years Moller has teased us with his "Skycar" that was always "just a few years away". I've worked on a few projects like that, too...

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

Passed Written Test

I took -- and passed -- my FAA written test today, so that's one more milestone on the road to getting my license. I spent more time studying for this relatively easy test than I did for most of the tests I took in college, which was somewhat amusing in retrospect. I think it's been so long since I took a real test that it made me a little nervous.

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

Excellent Site

Just found a site called FlightAware after reading some aviation newsgroups. It's a really slick site with a tie-in to the U.S. air traffic control system - it will tell you exactly where any flight under IFR conditions is located. You can track flights by tail number (for small aircraft) or by airline flight number.

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

A Bargain at Three Times the Price

I was reading about an Air Force procurement program for a next-generation combat, search and rescue helicopter. The contract is currently awarded to Boeing, and is expected to be worth 10-15 billion dollars for 140 aircraft.

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


I cancelled flying (and work) on Monday because I was still recovering from the cold I acquired over the weekend. Actually I'm still recovering from it now, but I'm down to the sniffly-nose part that can be tackled with Kleenex and decongestants.

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

Air America

I watched "Air America" with Joahnna the other night, which is a fun flick. What I hadn't realized is how close to reality it came. Air America was a fully-functioning CIA airline which operated all over southeast asia.

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

The Eagle Has Landed

Today I completed my first unsupervised solo (on my first solo, my instructor was sitting on a bench watching me fly the plane). Although, actually, it turned out to be semi-supervised, since my instructor was giving a demo flight to a prospective student, and he ended up in the traffic pattern right behind me. So he was watching my first landing.

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

HD DVD Copy Protection Cracked

This Register article reveals that a crack has been found for HD-DVD copy protection. And, apparently, it wasn't even that hard.

Score: Hackers 2, Hollywood 0.

Wonder if the Blu-ray guys did any better of a job on their security?

Friday, February 09, 2007

Kevin Smith Interview

Just finished watching a really funny interview with Joahnna and Adam. Actually, the interview is with Kevin Smith, and I watched it with Joahnna and Adam, but you get the point. Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Friendly Fire Video

The Sun somehow got ahold of the gun cam video from an A-10 involved in a friendly-fire incident. Illustrates a number of things, among them the communications lag between disparate parts of the service (the A-10s make two passes and have already figured out that it's probable friendly fire by the time the call comes in from the unit under fire to break off the attack).

Mission: Possible

I got a very excited phone call from Shana the other night, saying that she had been (finally) accepted into Vet school. She got an acceptance letter from Kansas State, and she's still waiting for responses from Oregon and North Carolina. But with this letter it changes from a question of "if" to a question of "where."

Congrats, Shana!


I had a running discussion with Awais a ways back about the number of contractors and contractor deaths in Iraq. Like so much about the war, it is difficult to get any sort of accurate information out of the murk presented by the government. A prime example is the latest casualty report:
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

Buying Opinions

If there was any doubt in people's minds about how "analyst reports" are generated, this one should pretty much put the nail in the coffin. The article details some of the relationship between Microsoft and IDC, when Microsoft was struggling to come up with a plausible argument on how Windows costs less than a free operating system.

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

Gratuitious Cross-Posting

Jon has decided to silly thing (defined as silly, of course, by the fact that I would never attempt such a thing. Myunique activites are not silly, of course -- they merely enchance my character). To wit, he has decided to break the unsupported, unresupplied speed record for the John Muir Trail, and he's launched a blog to document the attempt. I'll let you read all about it for yourself.

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

Pushing The Limits

I was reading this article on CNN about "signing statements" that Bush appended to a recent postal services bill. I found this interesting because, although I may have slept through a few social studies classes, I had never heard of such a thing as a "signing statement" (link goes to Wikipedia article).
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

Patent Surfacing

Ahh, the joy of submarine patents. For those of you not familiar with patent lingo, a "submarine patent" is one where the owner of the patent surfaces, seemingly from nowhere, at an inopportune moment.

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

New Look and Feel

Busy day for the blog today. To kick off the New Year (and to make my new shiny labels more relevant) I switched my blog to a new look and feel. I liked the austere look of the old template, but as I work in the networking industry, I also felt a need to increase the bandwidth consumption on the internet.

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.


Also played around a little bit with labels, which will allow those of you who are only interested in, say, my political rants, to skip past my posts on the progress of my flying career. I'm not sure that my legions of fans have swelled to quite the number where they are incapable of sorting through this on their own, but I'm usually willing to take some shiny new piece of technology for a test-drive.

DIY Electric Car

I was spending some quality time Googling today, and ran across this kit to do an electric conversion of a Porsche 914. It could make an interesting summer project, and of course it would be available much earlier than the Tesla...

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

UFO Finds Gate Occupied at O'Hare, Returns Home

"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 Burzych
The funny thing is that I found this on CNN, and as opposed to the tabloids...

It's Electric

Over the Christmas holiday, I watched "Who Killed the Electric Car", an interesting documentary on the history of electric vehicles in the 90s. The story primarily covers the vehicles created after California's historic mandate to make 2% of all vehicles on the road zero-emissions vehicles, and the subsequent development of the EV-1 by GM.

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.