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WEEK 5 2006

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Saturday 4 February 2006

Saturday - took it easy, tried to relax. Returned some overdue books to the library, went down to the mall in Palmdale. As I arrived I realized that the Probe was emitting steam from under the hood.

There couldn't be a worse spot in the Antelope Valley than the congestion down by the mall to have this happen - it was horrible: stop and go traffic, cars backed up everywhere, and the car is steaming and running rough. Oddly the temperature gauge didn't show an overheat - it's either a head gasket or possibly a water hose. I finally managed to get off the road into a parking lot where I could check under the hood. It was too wet  to tell where the leak was, and just it wasn't big enough to be visible, so I went into the bookstore and Best Buy, burned a couple of hours to let the car cool, added some water and drove home in nearly as bad traffic as I'd arrived. I guess people were out getting ready for the Superbowl? It was congested everywhere, not just near the mall.

In the evening I went over to some friends, taking my laptop, and finished off some proposals for work, due Monday. There are more however, another three dropped on my plate at about 5:00 on Friday evening, due Tuesday. Sheesh.

A picture detail from the PocketPC camera, taken during our visit to Dads' place last week: Duke waits for Mike to return. I like the pixelated look of it, rather impressionistic.

Duke waits for his master to return

Friday 3 February 2006

Friday - today's class was on GUI writing. Actually the first half of the class was on structures and handles, functions and subfunctions, which underlay the GUI's, and that part was very useful. The uicontrol stuff was pretty new to me as well. The GUI building using GUIDE was interesting, but I'd already done a lot of it. I now have a better idea of how what I was doing - handle graphics -  actually works.

I read an article on the Deployable Optical Telescope in the Aerotech News & Review. There is an article online here. Essentially this is a telescope with many mirrors, that unfold from a small package to make a big telescope. It's a difficult job, because the individual pieces have to be carefully located to within a few millionths of an meter after deployment.

The Superbowl is Sunday. I've the enormous sum of 50 cents riding on the Steelers'. I understand the odds are nearly even in Vegas - less than a touchdown. It should be a good game.

Checked on the dog. She's fine, but still won't come near me. I couldn't even tempt here with a french fry. Stupid dog.

Thursday 2 February  2006

Thursday - I spent most of the day in a class on Matlab External Applications, i.e. "mexing". Interesting, but unfortunately it was very "C" centric - most of the people there seemed to be interested in the FORTRAN side of things. Though there were a couple of JAVA weirdo's behind me. Nonetheless, I learned something during a day that would probably be spent doing paperwork, so that's good. Tomorrow I take the GUI class. I'm glad I swotted the books and taught myself some basic MATLAB stuff in December.

After work I stopped and checked on my friends' dog - they are out of town. The dog has known me for years, has even stayed at my house when they've gone before. She's fine, but wouldn't come near me. I made sure she had a sheltered place to sleep, with food and water.

John Tesh, the radio announcer, is full of interesting factoids tonight: "People who exercise at work get more done during the day than people that don't." and "People who smile more, live longer". He's fallen into an old logical fallacy, that "Correlation equals Causation". It doesn't. But you see that mistake, and hear it, everywhere.

And if he can't get basic logic right, what does that say about his shows' romantic advice?

Wednesday 1 February 2006

Wednesday - there was a safety meeting for the Flight Loads Lab personnel this morning. Generally safety meetings are duller than the steak knives at Sizzler's, but this one wasn't bad. There are a lot of "systems" in the High Bay - pneumatic, hydraulic, electric, mechanical - any of which can maim or kill you. Which made it more interesting than the usual office hazard meetings ("Laser Printer Toner: It's not for Drinking!" or "The Paper Clip: Enemy of Your Eye").

The High Bay is not, technically, a hanger, though often there are aircraft in it. It's used to test various things - aircraft generally - for static and dynamic responses. I did nod at a couple points, in which people were debating the meaning of the word "hazardous", but there were free donuts, and that makes up for a lot.

Something I did the other day was to sign up for downloadable books from the Los Angeles County Library. You can supposedly download a book for 21 days and play it on the original download device, or another portable device. It has some sort of DRM (Digital Rights Management) scheme, so that after a while the recording goes away or becomes unreadable. I'm a bit uncomfortable with that. I don't object so much to the idea, but to the implementation.

Some DRM schemes take over your PC, installing rootkits (Sony, for example), opening up your computer to virii, trojans and worms. Some prevent you from using other formats, even open sourced media such as MP3's, for example. Indeed, my friend with a PocketPC has warned me that Verizon's downloadable music option makes any other media format unreadable. So much for listening to podcats, or whatever.

In other news, Verizon has started to enable the built in GPS on some of their smart phones with VZ Navigator.  Supposedly Verizon will activate it for a day, for $3.00 or so, or for a monthly charge of $10.00. Interesting, but it seems that it only runs on their V325 phone. My PocketPC has the hardware built in, but there is still no software to run it.

Tuesday 31 January 2006

Tuesday - back to work. With a side excursion to drop off the Explorer at the mechanics. That headlight thing... My friend Roger gave me a ride into work in his metallic green 300SD Mercedes. It has a lot more acceleration than the old SD I was driving a couple of years ago!

In the evening we picked up the Explorer - Scott had replaced the compound switch control unit, his best guess as to the cause. Best guess, because, as Murphy never sleeps, the lights and blinkers were working fine again. Intermittent faults are the very devil. Which reminds me, I forgot to ask him to check the computer codes for the "check engine" light that flashed on for a while last year. If there are codes like that in the computer, when the car is taken in for smog checking, it fails automatically. Also, since I just turned over 100,000 miles, I should check for any recommended servicing, and have him do it at the same time. Well, maybe later this year.

Not a lot to say about work - meeting and proposals mostly. Booorrrriiiinnnngggggg, as one of my nieces used to say.

 Monday 30 January 2006

Monday - back on the road, heading to Lancaster. My brother and I traded off driving, the traffic wasn't bad, the weather was OK, and we had an interesting audio book to listen to. Not a bad trip.

I had previously kept my beautiful 19" LCD monitor (a present) in Martinez, when I was working up there for weeks at a time, but now that I'm employed full time down south I decided to take it with me. I worried that the continual cold and damp downstairs couldn't be good for it. I'll replace it with my antique 17" Viewsonic, the monitor that I'm using at this very moment. I boxed it carefully, with cushions, and we placed a water proof tarp over it. A good thing, since it began to rain before we left, and continued until roughly Livermore.

Book #6 is Post Captain. That horrible Polychrest, and then Maturin and his bees. Heh.

Sunday 29 January 2006

Sunday - at my Dads' place. Saturday night we were awakened at midnight by explosions. I thought the refinery had blown something up, again. It was actually fireworks. One of my father's neighbors, as startled as we were, standing on her deck outside in a bathrobe suggested it must be Chinese New Years, and that indeed turned out to be the case. There was apparently a little festival (non-alcoholic) downtown as well. Maybe this was to make up for Martinez's canceled judeo-christian new year celebration this year?

My father's dog does not care for explosions.

In the evening we watched Cat Ballou on DVD. It was OK, though not as funny as I recalled.

Saturday night we watched The Duelists, which, again, wasn't as interesting as I recalled. Oh well. I was reminded of this movie after running across the story while looking through a collection of Joseph Conrad stories at my father's, over the Christmas break. The movie is fairly true to the book.

Picture of the Week

Buoy 18 and a seagull

Photo Notes: This is buoy #18 in the Richmond ship channel. I took this photo years ago, and just now noticed the seagull.

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