Thursday, April 30, 2015

Cheap Coffee Reviewed

Over at youtube/buzzfeed.  H/T to the Darling Daughter for sending the link.

Bonus: cheap beer reviewed by a wine expert.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Two New Bands?

If you're here for the music, move along.  We're talking ham bands here.

The FCC has proposed two new bands for amateur use: 2200 and 630 meters.  Brother, that is low stuff, down below the AM broadcast band:
Right here, where the two red lines point.  BTW, the TV low band goes up near FM radio, not down by 30m.  What can you expect, I swiped the original image from a NASA site.

The actual frequency allocations are 135.7–137.8 and 472–479 kHz.  If approved, maximum allowed power will be 1 and 5 Watts respectively.  Those are very narrow bands and at very low power.  What's a ham going to do with those pathetic slices of the spectrum?  Experiment of course! Why, back in the 1920's, the HF spectrum was thought to be useless and so it was thrown to hams as a scrap, and they quickly discovered that it was good for world-wide communication.  So no doubt we'll also find some cool use for these LF and low-MF allocations.

If allocated.  We shall see.

Full article over at the ARRL web site.

Afterthought: Vertically polarized 2200 meter waves could have stunningly long paths across salt water.  A quick back-of-the-envelope calculation says that digital PSK31 signals could make the hop from New Orleans to Apalachicola, or Apalachicola down to Tampa on the proposed 1 Watt.  Challenge accepted.

Monday, April 27, 2015

BSL Makes the Top 10 List

Yeah, that's right, Bay St. Louis made's "Ten Most Beautiful Towns in Mississippi."  Article and links at the Sea Coast Echo.  I can believe it, our fair city has come a long way since August 2005.  It felt like we'd pulled even with our pre-Katrina standard circa 2010, and with the opening of the marina and the revitalization of downtown we've that marker post way back in the rear-view mirror.

Synthetic Diesel: Just mix CO2, water, and energy...

... lots and lots of energy.  Here's the article at IBD.  Interesting read.  Now the 64 Euro question: Where to get the energy to synthesize the stuff?  Knowing how these things usually go, probably from heavily subsidized coal burning plants.

Monday, April 20, 2015

40's Vintage Music

I'm out the door to work momentarily, but here are a couple of interesting links to some vintage music:

Radio Casablanca, a pirate shortwave station, lit off over the weekend.  Here's an hour and a half recording of their broadcast at the SWLing Post.

In the comments at the SWLing Post, there was an interesting link to 1940's UK Radio.  A good bit more clear sound there.  Too bad the url initially reads as "1940 suk radio," because that more describes the state of radio in the 2010's.

Off to work.  Didn't want to let these weekend links slide by without mention.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Quote of the Day

Never worry about theory as long as the machinery does what it's supposed to do. -- R. A. Heinlein

Hrmmm.  Good practical advice, but also a good way to get blindsided.  I recall my graduate advisor saying something along the lines "If you don't really understand it, it WILL come back to bite you in the ass," and looking back, experience has confirmed this.  I guess that's the difference between engineering and physics.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Welcome to My World

xkcd permalink

Do you know how many programming classes most physicists take?  Just enough to be dangerous.  Do you know how much fun it is to plow through 35 year old physicist-generated Fortran?  Just enough to make the weekends well-earned.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sunken Ship, Treasure,

... and a Nazi torpedo tail all make for an interesting read over at the BBC.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

So Bad It's Good

So I was wondering what the heck that white crust is on brie cheese.  From the relevant article at Wikipedia:
The cheese is then taken out of the molds, salted, inoculated with cheese mold (Penicillium candidumPenicillium camemberti) or Brevibacterium linens, and aged in a cellar for at least four to five weeks.
Greaaaat, one of the four things to which I'm noticeably allergic.  No wonder my nose has been a little stuffy this week.  Nothing horrible but this means an extra antihistamine squirt tonight.  Still.... worth it.  Like most good cheeses, brie falls into the "so bad it's good" category.

Also from the same article:
Around the Île-de-France where brie is made, people enjoy soaking this in café au lait and eating it for breakfast.
Now, this is for the extra heavy-duty cheese where the crust has turned dark, but still, might be worth a try in the morning with the lightweight Americanized version.  I'll let you know if it was worth it.  If I survive.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Sometimes, a cat is just a cat.

From over at Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal:
Then again, the cat may or may not be on his day off.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Cleaver's Up!

April issue of the Fourth Ward Cleaver's been posted.  Always worthwhile.

Week of the Broken Things

Since mid-day Sunday:
  • sliced open thumb on cheese grater.  Right thumb, naturally.
  • a friend called to report that the car I'd sold him two years ago had burned up.
  • washing machine finally died.
  • at work this morning, UPS died.
  • then after hastily shutting down both desktop computers, the Main Machine wouldn't re-boot.
  • car shop called this afternoon saying that their brake rotor lathe was down, so my car wouldn't be ready for at least another day.
And it's only Monday.  I'm not inclined to buy any lottery tickets for the next few days.  Here have some appropriate music.

The only bright spot was that the Main Machine's disk drive was easily transplanted into a surplus computer and things are sort of back to normal on that front.  I'm not counting on things to stay good for long, and the first order of business after that Frankenstein disk-transplant system came to life was a complete backup.  As far as the rest, it's nothing that a week's healing and a few hundred dollars won't fix.

Gonna go put on some blues music now.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Tuxachanie Trail Conquered

Sure, it took four tries spaced over seven years, but at last I've finished the eastern Tuxachanie Trail section between Airey Lake and the P.O.W. camp.  On previous attempts, both maps and trail markings have been vague, but things are in good shape now and the trail was relatively easy to follow.  Took just over three hours to cover the eight miles with a friend from the ham radio club.  Naturally, we stayed in touch with various folks in the Biloxi area via 2m and the W5SGL repeater.  Here're a couple of pics:

Yes, that's a Jurassic Duck antenna attached to my camelbak with – what else? – duck tape.

Tuxachanie Creek was low today, but still flowing nicely.  Some of the hardpan bottom gave it almost a rapids effect.

Finally, on a related note of some minor interest, here's an article by a guy who hiked and camped it back in January.  Outstanding pictures.

Not really biking, but the "bikes" tag comes the closest.  Meh, it's close to the bike trails.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

iPhone surgery scheduled

Battery's dying on the iPhone.  Meh, after two years it's about time.  As soon as the new batt and tools are all in, I'll post how the surgery goes.  In the meantime, here are the relevant links:®-IPhone-Replacement-battery-models/dp/B00DE09Z90

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Trouble with the Four Cylinder Mustang

Commentary and links over at Liberty magazine.

The six is respectable.  The eight is a thing of majesty.  The four, with its "enhanced sound" is shameful.  Drop the fake sounds, Ford, and the four may have a place.  Perhaps in the export market, but still, a place.  Just not in my driveway.

Three from the BBC

I Nearly Drowned in Chocolate
Well, if you gotta go...
I wonder who got the shoes in his Hershey bar?

Breakthrough on Understanding Whale Communication
It's all in the bones.

Drinking through the Ages in America
Drinking ain't what it used to be.