Archive for Technology

Happy PI Day

pi1.gifThe date 3/14 has lately become known as “PI Day.” For those of us that have worked in science and engineering disciplines, the constant relating to the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle is ubiquitous and indispensable in a variety of applications.

The little animation above is a clever method of showing how the ratio π works. I found the graphic in the Wikipedia page on PI. Here’s some more interesting things about it:

Because its definition relates to the circle, π is found in many formulae in trigonometry and geometry, especially those concerning circles, ellipses, and spheres. Because of its special role as an eigenvalue, π appears in areas of mathematics and the sciences having little to do with the geometry of circles, such as number theory and statistics. It is also found in cosmology, thermodynamics, mechanics, and electromagnetism. The ubiquity of π makes it one of the most widely known mathematical constants both inside and outside the scientific community; several books devoted to it have been published, the number is celebrated on Pi Day, and record-setting calculations of the digits of π often result in news headlines. Attempts to memorize the value of π with increasing precision have led to records of over 70,000 digits.

Happy PI Day.

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Orville and Wilbur Day 2016

First Flight

Today marks the 113th anniversary of the famous Wright Brothers flights at Kill Devil Hills near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903. Their first flights, however primitive, opened the door to aviation technology that has flourished since then.

From Wikipedia:

The Wright brothers, Orville (August 19, 1871 – January 30, 1948) and Wilbur (April 16, 1867 – May 30, 1912), were two American brothers, inventors, and aviation pioneers who are generally credited with inventing, building, and flying the world’s first successful airplane. They made the first controlled, sustained flight of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft on December 17, 1903, four miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. In 1904–05 the brothers developed their flying machine into the first practical fixed-wing aircraft. Although not the first to build and fly experimental aircraft, the Wright brothers were the first to invent aircraft controls that made fixed-wing powered flight possible.

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NWS Weather Radar Limitation

Blank AreaThis is a screenshot segment of the National Radar Mosaic showing the remnant of Hurricane Newton over Arizona and New Mexico. I thought it strange that there should be a blank, almost rectangular feature in the radar echoes until I realized what it was. A quick look at the surrounding radar installations revealed that the blank spot, which is located almost entirely within the southwest corner of Catron County, New Mexico, is beyond the range of the four adjacent radar installations from which the composite is made. That area is unseen by the radars at Tuscon, El Paso, Albuquerque and Flagstaff.

The population of the entire County affected is a little over 3600 total, so there aren’t that many people affected by the lack of radar coverage, although Reserve, NM, the county seat appears to be in the blank area. I just thought the blank spot was amusing enough to post about it here.

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CB&D Website Changes Underway

Smartphone on WeblogNow that I have upgraded to a smartphone, it has become obvious to me that our websites are definitely not handheld mobile friendly. Shortcomings we have noted include small text size and flaky mobile application plug-in support for our various Flash® animations.

I have already taken the first step toward compatibility by replacing our animated banner with a static image. Next steps will be (as we get to it) replacing the little animated doodads with static images, or removing those that do not have a static equivalent, including the Never Forget animated tribute.

It troubles me to do away with this animation which has been a memorial to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on this site for over ten years, but the traffic count on the hit indicator at the right under the animation has been diminishing steadily. When the hit counter passed sixty million in February of 2010, the hits per hour were nearly 1300; when the counter passed ninety million, the hits per hour had diminished to 529. The current hits per hour is under 200, so it is time to phase the tribute out.

Image: How this site looks on my new Samsung Galaxy mobile

I will clean up the incompatible items on all of our sites over a period of time (read when I get around to it) and begin looking at ways to detect device type and to issue a compatible format. This latter effort may take a while since I use a very old version of Wordpress and I will have to customize things in the old code rather than upgrading to a new version incompatible with the current database structure.

It might just be too much work to convert the whole site, so I might incorporate a mobile only splash page that directs the mobile user to switch to a larger tablet or a full-size computer screen. I have only begun to research the changeover, so stay tuned.

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A New GPS for the RV

New Garmin GPS

I have had the little Garmin Nüvi 205W GPS since July of 2009. Once understanding its limitations, it turned out to be a reliable gadget in our old Denali SUV.

We bought our Ford F-150, which had a built-in navigation system so we retired the 205 to the office shelf. When we bought the Roadrunner, our Georgetown 30X3 32 foot motorhome, I resurrected the 205W and have been using it in the RV when we travel.

The old GPS has only a four inch display which, in the larger dimensions of the RV, could be hard to read from the captain’s chair. I decided that if Garmin were to have a larger format GPS, then we would need to get it to overcome the display size issue. An Amazon query turned up this nice Garmin Nüvi 2797 with lifetime map updates and a traffic report receiver. The price was within budget, so I ordered it.

The GPS showed up yesterday and I have been getting acquainted with the unit which, fortunately, is similar enough to the old unit that familiarization has gone quite fast. The new features (traffic, bluetooth, etc.) will eventually come into focus as well.

The best thing is that the larger display will be MUCH easier to read while seated in the captain’s chair and underway in the Roadrunner. We will not have the opportunity to use it until toward Memorial Day or after since our May is sort of booked up with caduceus-oriented appointments.

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Camping in Palm Desert (Again)

Camping Setup

We left our Arizona home this morning at about eleven AM and arrived to check-in at the RV park at about two PM. That sounds like good travel time, but we gained an hour coming to the PST time zone, so the time was nominal as compared to our previous experience coming here. We had a good trip with one little slowdown where an eighteen wheeler rolled over in the median along I-10.

We got here and set up camp for our weekend visits with the kids and the grandson. We had been invited to the in-laws for dinner on previous trips here, but this time we’re inviting the kids and the other set of grandparents to the campground for a steak cookout on Saturday. With the big RV, we can prepare the sides and grill the steaks right here.

The RV Resort is packed today; we took a walk around and saw vehicle license plates from all over the US and Canada. There is an “Oh Canada” dinner and show here tonight (we will not be attending, eh? $40 USD per plate, hosers). Besides, we brought the food and beverages we need and are now settled in and quite comfortable.

We are using the Verizon Jetpack® MiFi wireless internet hot spot we recently obtained and thus far, it seems to work much better (and is more secure) than the often spotty performance of the unsecured WiFi offered by the RV park. We will probably report on our performance assessment of the new gadget after using it for a while.

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Warm Hands

Little HottiesDuring the winter months here in Arizona, the temperatures don’t get extremely cold, but to an aging couple, both with arthritic hands, the lower temperatures can bring some discomfort. Add to that the fact that we don’t run the heater in our retirement house, the minor discomfort is not limited to the outdoors.

Damsel suggested that we acquire some hand warmers for those occasions when a little heat might go a long way to relieve the little aches and pains in our hands. I went on Amazon and found these Little Hotties Hand Warmers. I ordered a box of ten pairs of them and today, I opened up one pair to try them out.

It was cool in the office this morning when I activated the pair of warmers at about 10AM. It is now quarter to eight in the evening and these little guys are still warm in the front pouch of my hooded sweatshirt. I have not had cold hands all day and the discomfort due to the cooler temps is virtually nil. We probably won’t need to use these every day while the cooler weather persists, but, on those occasions when the joints are acting up, they will be a welcome addition to the pockets where the hands go when they feel cold.

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