Saturday, July 20, 2019

The Week That Was

That was quite a week.  Looks black-and-white, until you notice the LEM on the left.

Here's the week, over at NASA APOD: Tues | Wed | Thurs | Fri | Sat.  There will probably be more, up through next week, but using APOD is up to you now.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Today's The Day

50 years ago, I was enjoying the summer between first and second grade when this happened.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Got Nothin'

Nothing to blog because it was Just A Rainy Weekend.  Goodbye Hurricane Barry.  It may take a few days to re-prime the blogging pipeline.  In the meantime, go over to Dan's blog and read Rethinking Amateur Radio Clubs, and be sure to click through to the article linked from there.  The ideas knocked around there apply to pretty much any kind of local clubs, and why they're having trouble keeping interest up.

Wow.  That almost turned into a blog post.  OK, one last look at Barry:

More later in the week.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

For Now, Stick With the NATO Alphabet

Article at Atlas Obscura: It Might Be Time to Update the Old "Alfa-Bravo-Charlie" Spelling Alphabet

As the article also points out, increasingly this is not just a radio thing.  As microphone size and voice bandwidth on cell phones are increasingly squeezed, being able to use a phonetic alphabet to spell things out is increasingly important.  The author highlights this with stories of difficulties with his own unusual last name.

Strangely, the conclusion of the article comes back around to "perhaps not; in testing, the NATO alphabet works perfectly well."  From the article:
Turns out there was effectively no difference between the new, improved spelling alphabet and the old standard.  If certain letters were in certain places in the nonsense combination, the new version might be more effective; in other places the old version was.  No difference!  After all that!
At some point, good enough is good enough and further refinement is not worth the small theoretical gains.  For examples, note the enduring QWERTY keyboard and the ongoing mediocrity-yet-useability of mp3 audio.

So what to do?  When in doubt, just use the NATO standard (wikipedia link).  It's the most common variant out there today, the most likely to be recognized, and the overall the most effective.  Also, you won't sound like a goofball as you search to come up with newer clever phonetics on the fly.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Of Voodoo, Podcasts, and Rising Water

While we wait to see how New Orleans fares when wedged between draining the Midwest and dealing with a Georgia hurricane hooking in out of the Gulf, now might be a good time to catch up the Times-Picayune's podcast series Voodoo City.  In half-hour episodes, two reporters – one local, the other transplanted from New Jersey – dig into some local lore.  I've listened to maybe a half-dozen so far, and they've all been very good.  Hat tip to The Darling Daughter for recommending.

Here's the link to the series' page at the iTunes Store.  How to get them onto your device is left as an exercise for the student.  Yeesh, I wish they'd get with the 21st Century and include a direct mp3 link.  But for free-as-in-beer, drinkers listeners can't be choosers.

On to the "rising water" part of tonight's feature blog post, here's a link to the NOAA page for river & tide gauges in the general area, and here's a link to the New Orleans Mississippi River gauge.

Bonus Link: Yes, the world really does end in New Orleans.  You can even find the location on Google Maps.  Fortunately, this has little to do with the current weather conditions.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Comparing Europe and the U.S.

People are forever comparing U.S. ways to those of Europe, usually over some highly divisive issues of the moment, or maybe in the course of griping about the relative lack of train service here.  "Why can't we do ______ the way they do it in Europe?"  Before making any such social, political, or infrastructure comparisons, it is useful to first consider this one geographic comparison:

I'm not pointing at any one issue here, mind you.  I'm just pointing out a geographic fact.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

More at the "Florida Hikes!" Site

Following up on yesterday's dwarf cypress forest post, here are two more from the Florida Hikes! site:
Aucilla Sinks section of the Florida Trail
Oh man, I want to get over there in the semi-near future.
Backpacker Tips for Hurricane Prep
Especially timely with this upcoming weekend.  But really, if you backpack or even car camp, you're 95% of the way there.  At least, camping gear has pulled me through some bad hurricanes with relatively little trouble so far.

Anyway, the Florida Hikes! site has a lot of good stuff.  Worth a dig around when you get a few minutes.  Interesting travel without the need for passports and jets.