Showing posts from July 31, 2005

Shuttle ready to come home.

Well they've put the cargo module back in the shuttle cargo bay, detached from the ISS and are now making ready to come home on monday. There's no obvious reason for the shuttle to fail NASA on re-entry so by the time we wake up monday morning, they should all be back safely on the ground. In the meantime, from the box marked "totally cool NASA pictures" ....

Satellite engineer?

Now I'm no expert, but we've got a large tree which is filling out nicely on the south side of our house, just to the west of our satellite dish. Consequently, every time it rains or is windy, the tree moves around and cuts off the high channels on our Dish network. So I went out with a ladder and a ratchet wrench today to see if I could make it any better. In the end, we jigged the dish about 0.5° to the east, and 1.5° up and added 10% to the signal strength for sats 110 and 119. 10% improvement for 10 minutes up a ladder? Sweet. Hopefully now when it gets windy, the signal will drop but not enough to cut the channels off. I've also tagged the offending branch, and if we're still having trouble after autumn, the tree people will be coming to fettle that branch and thin it out ......

George's thought for friday.

Americans' approval of "President" B*sh's handling of Iraq is at its lowest level yet, according to an AP-Ipsos poll that also suggests fewer than half now think he is honest. In fact 38% - a lot fewer than half. A large percentage of those polled now see B*sh's confidence as arrogance. So 62% of the country now see that he is an arrogant, lying warmonger, and yet we're still waiting for that impeachment.....

Tilt! Google has changed!

I've noticed this week that Google's behaviour has changed. And not in a good way. The first page of results has your exact search terms, but if you hit "next", it trims the search terms down substantially then re-searches. For example : I searched for '"blue cube" science fiction novel' because I'm trying to find a novel I read years ago about a primitive culture where one day a guy came across a giant blue cube in a clearing and - well - if you know the novel, please email me. Anyway, when I clicked 'next' in google, the search term had simply changed to 'blue cube'. The results were nothing like what I was looking for. Anyone else noticed this, or know why this has happened ?

Free enterprise on life support in Boston.

This made me laugh : Boston's Logan International Airport is trying to pull the plug on Continental Airlines' free Wi-Fi node. Apparently the airport authority have sent an increasing number of threatening letters pledging to "take all necessary steps" to have the Wi-Fi antenna removed from Continental's frequent flyer lounge. If we're to believe the airport authorities, Continental's free service poses an "unacceptable potential risk" to communications gear used by the state police and the Transportation Security Administration. Oddly enough, however, Boston Airports own $7.95-a-day pay WiFi service, in the same building, with the same equipment, with the same frequency spread and power, apparently poses no risk at all to the police and TSA. That's amazing; identical services can be a threat to aviation security when they're free, and perfectly safe when you have to pay. Now bear with me here, because this is going to be a real stretch

Cute technician

I had my 6-monthly dental appointment this morning and the usual technician was on vacation so I had a cute stand-in who did the same job - rearranged all my teeth for me. Also of note : I've sold my first copy of the Car Bibles today. I got in this morning and there was an email from telling me I'd got an order. Sweet.

Photo of the year ?

Seems one of the passengers in the Toronto crash is going for photograph of the year. Unphased by the crash, he turned around and starting taking photos.....

Steve Robinson fixes Shuttle

It looks like the EVA to pull out the gap fillers under the Shuttle was a success this morning. The astronaut was maneuvered under the shuttle on the ISS robotic arm and he simply tugged the pieces out, no problem. 3 firsts for NASA - first unrehearsed spacewalk, first in-flight repair, first time an EVA has gone under the Shuttle. Neat.

Fucking cagers II

I know how to save lives on the road. Everyone who only has a car license needs to have it revoked right away. They, and new drivers, need to be forced to ride a motorbike for 6-12 months (after passing a test of course). Then they need to re-take their car test, and not the laugh-a-minute jokefest that is the DMV test, but a real driving test. Then and only then can they be allowed back into a car. That single action would save thousands of lives on the roads every year. Oh - and people over 70 should have their licenses taken away too. They all drive like a slow motion train wreck. In the meantime, if you drive a car, and have never ridden a motorbike, this message is for you : USE YOUR FUCKING EYES! Better still, go to a motorbike showroom and acquaint yourself with what a motorbike looks like, then when you do use your eyes, you might actually see them once in a while instead of driving around in the cellphone-induced haze that you all do.

Air France A340 on fire on Toronto

An Air France A340 skidded off the runway today in Toronto and is on fire at the end of the runway. It looks like all the passengers and crew (309 people) were evacuated safely which is good news. This is the first A340 accident since they started flying, which is also good news. Well trained cabin crew, plentiful evacuation slides and a good airframe must have all contributed to their eventual good fortune. The predictable / bad news comes from the American cable and news services that were falling over themselves to introduce the "T" word into the news reports as quickly as possible, even if they said "terrorism hasn't been ruled out". These media services are getting totally out of control. Rather than look at the facts available at the time, anything even slightly out of the ordinary now gets blamed on terrorism, or at least has terrorism mentioned in conjunction with it, instantly. You can all thank B*sh and his deep-rooted need to keep Americans scared o

Creationism vs evolution.

The creationism vs. evolution debate has come to the fore again today after B*sh endorsed teaching both competing theories. That's truly scary that the man running the country (or at least the public figurehead) is such a believer that he thinks creationism should be taught in schools. The undisputable fact is that The Bible is a work of fiction, and schools must not teach fiction as fact, for any subject matter. I don't particularly care what people believe in on these grounds, but what I do care about is that creationism should absolutely not be taught in schools. If anything, it should be taught in church where it belongs, then those who choose to believe that sort of thing can learn about it, and those who don't won't be subjected to it. What's kinda funny is I took the Atheist test today too :-) The results... The Ardent Atheist The results are in, and it appears that you have scored 76%... You are an atheist, pure and simple. You think God is just one

Sphincter Factor 10 moment 1.

NASA have decided to send one of the astronauts out to try to pull out the protuding gap fillers between some of the shuttle thermal tiles. It's what I spotted on the photos a couple of days ago, but it's the old 3D illusion. Whilst I thought it was a missing tile, it was actually a triangular piece of white carbon fibre sticking out from between two of the tiles and casting a shadow behind it. Either way, the astronaut on the end of the Canadarm2 could make matters worse if he bumps into the thermal tiles themselves or dislodges any of them. The second sphincter factor 10 moment, will of course be re-entry.....

Aeon Flux

Blimey! Charlize Theron as Aeon Flux. Talk about great match for character. I wonder if the film will be as good as the original cartoons ?

B*sh bypasses Congress - again.

"President" B*sh evidently got impatient with waiting and with listening to all the valid reasons why John Bolton shouldn't be appointed to the UN, and instead chose to bypas Congress completely today and appoint him to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. "This post is too important to leave vacant any longer, especially during a war and a vital debate about U.N. reform. So today I've used my constitutional authority to appoint John Bolton to serve as America's ambassador to the United Nations." ie. B*sh waited for congressional recess so he could prevent a vote. Because voting is just not the way things are done in a dictatorship. Checks, balances anyone ? Or are you Americans just going to let Texan Hitler continue to trample all over your constitution and rights? This is worrying on two counts. For one, Bolton is a warmonger cut from the same cloth as B*sh, and he's pissed off the UN too many times in the past. This means the l

Overhaulin' - where's Courtney?

We've been watching the new season of Overhaulin' on TLC and its all well and good except for one thing : Courtney Hansen is missing. Without her moderation, car know-how - and lets face it, eye candy - the other host (Chris) is getting a bit big-headed. I checked the show website and they have two versions of the 'meet the crew' page. The one linked from Google shows her still on the team. The one linked from their own website shows she's missing. I guess they dumped her. The show is still great, but bring back Courtney :-(