Monthly Archives: July 2006

CAPTCHA Scmatzpa

I finally got my CAPTCHA working, although it means I will lose a lot of new friends.

A CAPTCHA, for those of you who don’t know, is a “completely automated public Turing test to tell computers and humans apart(tm)” It’s a way to tell humans and computers apart. Why would I need to tell a computer from a human? Because of the comments I get on this blog.

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Building Blocks

I was reading over on slashdot today about a neat operating system called “Plan 9“. For those of you who aren’t film buffs, the operating system is named after the famously bad movie”Plan 9 From Outer Space“.

So what makes a good operating system any more? If I ad a magic wand, here are the things I would want to see in a fresh O/S.

An image from one of the worst movies ever made, Plan 9 From Outer Space
These people should not be coding your O/S!

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Lack of Motivation

I’ve been getting little emails every day with nice motivational quotes. Stuff like “What you think, you become” and “Success means doing what makes you happy” When you are an inventor like me, everybody is more than willing to give you advice — most of it negative. I guess negative advice is the safest to give. Getting little emails each day makes me think of all the other folks who perservered. They keep me focused.

Lately I’ve been getting repeats. It started a couple weeks ago, when I got “Whatever you’re ready for is ready for you.”

I distinctly remembered hearing that one before.

The next Monday, I got “If you’ve had wonderful family relationships, you will be able to call yourself a true success in life no matter what else you’ve achieved.”

Now I know I had that one before.

What’s up? Are the guys at the motivational quote company sending me a hint? Should I have been paying more attention to being ready for things that are ready for me? And just what the heck does that mean, anyway? Sounds like something they would say on the old Kung Fu show.

“The grasshopper is ready for the things that are ready. He does not wait for readiness to arrive”

I never understood those bald guys in that Kung Fu show. Every episode, David Carradine would get into some kind of trouble, then he would remember some bald guy telling him about grasshoppers. At the beginning of the show, they had a bunch of bald guys throwing spears at him, which he deflected, making him walk over hot coals, and shooting arrows at him.

I don’t think those bald guys liked David Carradine that much.

So in the interest of being self motivational, i thought I would put some quotes in here for you guys to think about. These are all quotes by respected and educated people about how silly some idea or another was. They were completely wrong. I’ll just think of them as my old bald guys for this week.

I sure hope they don’t have any guns.

And there’s nothing at all in here about grasshoppers.

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The Switchblade

I am an amateur pilot, and I love strange airplanes, and this one takes the cake. It is a proposed strategic bomber for the Air Force starting in 2020. Here’s what it does and some back-of-the-napkin analysis:


Normally the airplane just tools along at subsonic speed. It can loiter up to 15 hours

When it comes time to attack, the wings flip around like a switchblade, and the plane accelerates to Mach 2, looking like it is flying sideways

While still supersonic, it drops its bombs and completes its mission

There are a couple of things to note here:

  • There’s no pilot – Looks like all of us stick jockeys are out of luck in the future. Robots will be flying the toys and pounding the bad guys. I just hope nobody names a new computer system Skynet!
  • Populsion looks mostly the same – Still pumping large volumes of kerosene to make the getty-up go. Is suborbital ScramJet that pie-in-the-sky? I’d rather have bombs on target in an hour than a nifty plane that can open my beer and scale a fish
  • Global War On Terror is a Sideshow – As much as the president and the politicians talk about how important Iraq and the WOT is, the money tells a different story. We’re still building huge weapon systems for war with — who? China? Somalia? The Burger King? Beats me, but it must be very important to have to spend all of that money. Yes — if major war starts up there will be no time to build an infrastructre, but a simple question — are we balanced? Is war about making the other guy want to stop fighting? Or is it about some kind of air supremacy doctrine? They don’t necessarily mean the same thing.
  • Bigger is Better – We’re still building big honking weapon systems. Take one out, and we just wasted a lot of production capacity. If somebody cracks stealth, are we going to end up with a couple of hundred billion dollars worth of neat black airplanes? Sounds like a strategy put together by idiots with too much money in their pocket.
  • Incremental Sells – Instead of 20 little programs that are massively experimental (perhaps using DARPA as an broker) contractors and consultants learned long ago that you sell little advances, not big ones. Nobody wants to be the guy who approved $20 Billion for the Giant-Attack-Frenchfy-Machine. It may sound super cool in the briefing room, but the DoD is about making it to retirement, not being risky.
  • Weapons Still the Same – Yep, we got big old cans of kick-ass dropping from the plane. No lasers, no aera-denial weapons, no DEWs. You’d think with our frustration at having to watch a lot of civilians to find terrorists that maybe the Air Force would come up with some kind of massively deployed sensor arrray with redundent communications and autonomous ability. Or that maybe there could be some kind of psyops weapons that would need a platform. But nope. We’re still hauling explosives around the world in the hopes that we can blow up enough stuff to make people stop fighting. Let’s hope it works! It hasn’t worked a lot in the past, but you never know.
  • Same clunky speeds – Here we are forty years after the X-15 and we are still tooling around the block at Mach 2. Is nobody pushing the envelope any more? Looks to me like we are stagnating or heading backwards. Are the production fighters of 2050 going to be Sopwith Camels flown by robots?

Actually, considering what we are spending, that last idea might not be so far-fetched.

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Set Phasers To Corn

Picture of corn field
Hapy Anniversary, Star Trek!

If you’re an English farmer who likes Star Trek, what better way to celebrate the anniversary than creating a huge maze? Tom Pearcy used satellite technology to help him design the huge maze at his farm to celebrate 40 years since the airing of the first episode of the show.

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The Wisdom Of Crowds

Over on Yahoo, the emails and votes are favoring Ms. Poland to be the winner of the Ms Universe.

I’ve always been a big fan of The Wisdom Of Crowds, so in the interest of science I reviewed the pictures of some of the contestants.

This is a tough job, folks. But somebody has to do it.

It’s all in the interest of science, of course.

Picture of Ms Poland
Ms Poland is the odds-on favorite to win the title of Ms. Universe. Are the crowds right?
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Getting a Tune-up

The fun just keeps rolling along here at the House of Bat. Last week I got a version of Cakewalk for me and my son. For those of you who don’t know what that is, lemme tell you about it, show you a screen shot, and talk about how cool it is.

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F-35A Seen Rolling Out

Picture of the F-35A in the hanger
This is one cool airplane

Being a private pilot, I always like to keep my eye out for new airplanes. Flight Global recently spotted the new Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) rolling out, getting ready to start making test flights. The plane you see is not the production model — to save weight they eliminated the Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing equipment (STOVL). But everything else is in there, including avionics and flight systems I’d love to get my hands on.

Wiith terrorists using 10-dollar cell phones to blow people up, our strategic nuclear force doesn’t really deliver the returns it once did. But fighters and other ground support aircraft?” That’s a different story entirely. I would like to see the military develop a sub-orbital cargo capability. (That means being able to deliver men and material anywhere in the world within an hour)I think it’s very doable and if they are not careful, the commercial sector is going to develop it and they are going to get caught with their pants down. Let’s hope somebody is listening. With all of the money spent on bombers, the military really dropped the ball when they did not proceed with hypersonic technology in the 1960s. The cynic in me wonders why goal of speedy movement of men and materials was forgotten. Or if it was really forgotten. Seems to me one of the absolute basics of warfighting — maneuver.

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Weather Channel Scoops CNN

Snapshot of the Weather Channel  web page for my hometown, showing Wednesday coming after Friday
Somehow I think this should be top of the fold today

i was waking up this morning, reading my email, feeds, and favorite web pages, when I came across this from the weather channel. I had to read it twice.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think the Weather Channel is breaking some major news today! Turns out that Wednesday will come after Friday this week. Who knew? I thought it was the same every week, but perhaps not. Maybe Wednesday got tired of being called “hump day”. Maybe Saturday is taking the weekend off.

Stranger still is that it’s not just any Wednesday. Nope. It’s next Wednesday, the 12th. This means, of course, that Wednesday is coming early this week! It also means that we’re going to have to repeat this coming Wednesday whether we like it or not. I sure hope it’s a fun day.

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