Sep 232008

NASA’s Phoenix Lander Might Peek Under a Rock

I thought this was really pretty interesting.  It must be pretty cool to work on this and try to come up with a way to make the lander’s robotic arm perform a task it wasn’t designed to do.  To me it would be a great challenge to make it do something that is so simple that we take it for granted yet in reality a complex task and break it down into commands.

It would also be interesting to see what they find  under the rock.

 Posted by at 7:38 PM
Sep 152008

Hurricane Ike which was only a category 2 storm made landfall in Texas and moved  north through the Ohio valley yesterday proves that the rating doesn’t tell the whole story.  They’re saying it caused 30 billion dollars n damage and has caused at least 30 fatalities.

From what I’ve read it brought  in a  pretty high storm surge over a large area.  What really made this storm was the size of it I think.  Instead of getting stronger winds it expanded in size after hitting Cuba and looked like at one point it was affecting almost the entire Gulf of Mexico

Even after landfall it’s fast speed and taking a while to wind down brought strong winds all the way into the Great lakes states as it merged with a cold front.  It was an amazing storm to watch.

I think a lesson to learn from this storm is that it’s probably not a good idea to build on barrier islands but we’ll never learn that.  I really would never want to have my permanent house on one of these types of islands.

Sep 152008

I had to sign into Microsoft live today for some reason.  Well being visually impaired like I am makes the graphical ones hard to read.  Usually it takes me a bunch of tries to get it right which really is an inconvenience but it’s the normal thing now.

As usual reading the text really sucked.  I happened to mouse over an icon that was too small for me to really tell what it was but the title said “use audio mode”  I thought how great!  I’ll be able to actually do what I need to do with out a bunch of failed attempts.  I was in for a surprise.  It harder for me to understand the audio than it was to struggle to read the text.  The voice was distorted and hard to understand.  To add to that they had another “voice” to throw off automated programs.

Oh well.. Back to trying to guess from the picture which luckily only took 2 tries.  It was one of the easier ones to read with high contrast.

It really irks me that with all the technology which should increase accessibility they have to do such annoying things to stop spammers and other people who up to no good.  There has to be a better way.  Let’s face it.  They get through anyways so why go through so much trouble and waste other people’s time to do nothing in the long run?

Sep 112008

Hurricane Ike has maximum sustained winds near 100 miles per hour right now but the real story is it’s size.  It’s a big storm with hurricane force winds extending up to 115 miles from the center.   Tropical storm force winds extend up to 255 miles from the center.

The minimum pressure (945 millibars) is borderline low enough to support a category 4 storm but I imagine the size of the whole storm is keeping the gradient from being tight enough to cause the winds.

Another interesting storm for this year.

Sep 112008

I had read about Google chrome and just had to try it out.  I would’ve tried it sooner but I kept forgetting to boot into windows.  I always like to try different things.  I first tried to use it under wine but that didn’t work out for me.  I’ll try again another time.

I was disappointed right from the beginning.  No menus?  No title bar?  That really takes away from the usability for me and just isn’t how I prefer things to be.  I only really tried it for five minutes or so and just wasn’t right for my needs.

With no title bar I guess it’s OK to make it look clean and all but it’s how I know which program the window belongs to. Imagine how confusing it could be if all of your program you have running would have a ui designed like this.  To some the lack of a title bar is a good thing because they just take up space for them.

No menu bar?  I really don’t like this at all.  I pretty much expect all programs to have a menu bar and know where to expect to find different options or features.  After a few wrong guesses I found out how to find preferences in order to find out if I can set my own back round colors and fonts for pages but I didn’t see that option.  That is what would really stop me from using it.

What I did notice is it loads very fast and is fast with opening the few sites I tried.  I will try it again in the future for sure.

No addons like Firefox has is a disadvantage for me too.  I’ve grown used to using and being able to find addons for just about anything I might want to do.

It’s certainly different than what I’m used.  It’s not really a bad thing but just doesn’t fit what I want.  I’ll stick with firefox.  It’s good to see something else out there.  Maybe it’ll help encourage  innovation.  The other thing is that Chrome is still a beta version.  Time will tell how it really turns out.

Sep 102008

Today is the day LHC goes on line for testing.  I’ve been looking forward to seeing what we can learn from this massive machine.  It’ll probably create more mysteries than it solves.  Will it confirm our current theories or prove them wrong or  make no difference at all?  This is real science.

It’s not going to create a black hole that will destroy the earth.   Even if there was a small risk of that happening I believe the risk would be worth it to expand our  knowledge.  I really wish science was a big priority for funding.

 Posted by at 11:28 AM
Sep 092008

That was a pretty good line of storms for this time in the day and year.  I don’t think it approached severe criteria in my back yard but still we had a nice very heavy wind driven rain.  It got as dark as it would be about 8:30 pm as the storms moved in.  Just before the rain started I noticed low level clouds racing across the sky from west to east.  The line heald together as it crossed the river better than any I remember of this season too.  We even had lots of lightning.

Sep 092008

Today is going to be a good day. 7:40 in the morning and there appears to be some pretty strong thunderstorms moving towards us.  Not bad for September.  The other nice thing about these storms is it seems like a pretty solid area of storms so I don’t expect to be just missed by them like my area was all summer.

Some counties west of here have already had severe thunderstorm warnings due to the storms.  Radar was saying they were capable of producing quarter sized hail.

Sep 062008

Tropical storm Hanna moved into the Carolinas last night and north, then northeast through Virginia and is now off the coast.  It dumped heavy rains in some areas and in my back yard we received heavier rainfall than I had expected.  I figure that was going to happen when I saw the radar this morning and felt the  humidity.  Dew point of 72 or 73 today made it feel like summer and not September.

My Davis vantage pro2 recorded 2.19 inches today.  I noticed that Lancaster county’s stormnet website shows most areas getting 2 to almost 5 inches of rain.  So much for me not having to cut the grass anymore this year.. It’s been so dry it hasn’t grown.

It’s been breezy since about 2 but the wind hasn’t been strong.  State college dropped the wind advisory too.   I haven’t heard of any damage or flooding really either.

This situation could have been worse I think if the moisture from Gustav had combined with the moisture from  Hanna.

In the Atlantic Hurricane Ike is back up to 135 miles per hour making it a category four.  This one will be a fun storm to track.

Sep 052008

Tropical storm Hanna is approaching the East coast of the United states now with maximum sustained winds near 70 mph.  It seems like there is a lot more convection today than there was yesterday but still not around the center.  The minimum pressure is 980 millibars which seems a bit low to not be a hurricane but that depends on other factors too.

It will make landfall in the Carolinas and move up the east coast and turn northeast.  Hopefully some time in my life time I will have the opportunity to experience a tropical storm or hurricane from the coast.

It would be really fun to be on the outer banks this weekend.  I am really hoping we don’t get too much rain here though.  I want to do other things this weekend.  On the plus side we do need the rain and the storm will be moving pretty fast.

Hurricane Ike is still going strong although it has weakened somewhat.  It’s still a category three storm and looks like it may strengthen a bit.  The track appears to want to brush south Florida but that’s still five days from now.

Tropical storm Josephine has really weakened and there doesn’t seem to be much convection left that that storm.  Josephine is forecast to weaken and turn towards the northwest over the next few days.