Mike's Weblog

I've got my brother Mike set up with his own brendoman.com weblog. Check it out and leave him a comment. You can find pictures of him here. Stop in at his new site and leave him a comment. If you RSS, then you may want to subscribe to his feed.

Google calculator

Tonight my father-in-law called with a math problem for me. He built a water tank out of six-inch pipe to go on top of his horse trailer. This will be much more stable and wind-resistant than the 55 gallon barrel that he had been strapping up there. He was trying to figure out how many gallons of water it would hold. He has 396 inches of 6 inch pipe. I thought back to my geometry days and somehow remembered the formula for volume of a cylinder: pi(r*r)*h . pi9*396 = about 11196 cubic inches. Thank you, Mac OS calculator. I brought up the Dashboard widget for converting units of measure. Alas, it doesn't convert cubic inches to gallons. Then I remembered that Google added a conversion feature recently. I figured it was a long shot, but I typed in 11196 cubic inches in gallons in the Google search window. Brilliant! 48 gallons. I gave Joe the answer and he said that was about what he expected. Thanks, Google. But that's not all. I came back later to see if I could have done the whole thing in Google. I tried (3*3)pi * 396 cubic inches in gallons. Wow. Very impressive.

Space tourism, orbital vs. sub-orbital flight

Another company has started selling tickets for a sub-orbital space flight. After reading that article I started wondering why they don't just enter an orbit around the earth. That would be a more exciting trip and it would last longer. If you're paying 150,000 dollars, then you don't want the trip to be over in just a few minutes or hours. So I did some research into the difference between orbital and sub-orbital flight. As usual, Wikipedia had a very good article on the subject: Difference between sub-orbital and orbital spaceflights. Turns out that the lateral velocity of the ship is the big difference. Here's an excerpt:

The difference between the lowest speeds required for orbital and sub-orbital space flights is substantial: a spacecraft must reach about 18,000 mph to attain orbit. This compares to the relatively modest 2,500-3,000 mph typically attained for sub-orbital crafts.

The important difference in energy requirements between a sub-orbital spaceflight such as that required for the X Prize and for an orbital spaceflight is that no lateral or angular velocity is required for the sub-orbital flight. The energy required to get to 100 km or even 350 km altitude is dwarfed by the energy required for the necessary lateral velocity of orbital space flight.

In terms of energy: accelerating a spacecraft to orbital speed requires about 31 times as much net energy as just lifting it to a height of 100 km (together 32 times).

Photos

MikeMike has uploaded some photos from his visit over the weekend. There's some very good stuff. He made a whole album with pictures of Dixie, my parents' new dog. His new camera lets you stitch photos together into a panorama. And, of course, he has some good ones of Emma.

Longhorn to have fewer BSOD

Red Screen of Death thumbnailThe new version of Microsoft Windows, code-named Longhorn and due out in late 2006, may have fewer Blue Screens of Death. But it will have a new feature to fill that gap: Red Screen of Death. I, for one, can't wait.

Someone predicted this back in 2000, but they thought it wouldn't show up until 2016 (one year after IE 6.0 is released for Mac OS).

(via Slashdot)

Garden update

GardenWe had some nice rain here over the weekend, and my garden is coming right along. Most of my greens have sprouted and are filling in nicely. The carrots seem to be doing well, too, even if only four out of the eight seeds that I planted have come up. So far I haven't seen any sprouts in the square planted with nasturtiums, unless this is not a weed. The birds have enjoyed eating my basil and parsley. Since my cat wasn't keeping them away, I had to install an owl decoy, which I happened to have in my garage. Dad had this in his hangar to keep birds from building nests in his plane, but it didn't work. And one day we were down there with Emma and she said she wanted to keep it. When she asks dad for something, she always gets it. So she carried it around our house for a few weeks like it was a baby. Then it went into the garage until now. It seems to be helping; the two remaining basil plants may just survive.

Second story on digg

Another of my submissions to Digg.com got promoted to the front page. Huzzah!

Insanity . . . subsiding

I'm not going trade my computer in. With the discount I would lose and the restocking fee I would pay, it would cost me around $300. I was already planning on upgrading my RAM (an extra gig rather than 256 MB) and when I need more hard drive space I'll get a USB 2 external drive. The processor speed bump was minor, the video RAM only matters in video games (which I don't plan to do much of) and the wi-fi isn't worth much when the computer is two feet from my ethernet switch anyway. So I'm going to keep my computer and continue to be very happy with it. The price for the older iMacs like I have has dropped to $1299, so I can get back the difference between that and what I paid. If you're thinking about getting a Mac, this is a good time to make the switch, whether you're getting the newest iMacs or you can find one like I have for $1299.

I think I'm going to be sick

Apple just upgraded their iMacs. For the same cost you can now get a computer with a faster proc, double the memory and hard drive (and video RAM), and a dual layer superdrive. Oh, I think I'm going to be sick. Excuse me.

Update: I read that if they upgrade a product within 10 days of you purchasing it, you're eligble for an exchange. I hope so. I would probably lose the 10% discount I had Friday, but this seems like a much better deal.

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