Archive for December, 2010

The Flash Drive Conundrum

I’m not always against progress, as such. Progress for the sake of progress, sometimes; “progress” for the sake of marketing or advertising, however, is something that really very much annoys me.

My general rule of thumb is that anything notably durable, well-made, or simply exceptionally well-suited for its intended purpose will be discontinued. Probably within a few months, certainly by the time that any reasonably attentive person would go “Huh, that’s really quite remarkable”.

This is depressingly true where flash drives are concerned. I kind of expect this for consumer products, but for quite a few years I’ve been buying “enterprise” or “corporate” drives which are encrypted and certified to meet FIPS 140-2 (and other, such as HIPAA and GLBA) standards. You’d think that stuff like this would tend to have a longer product life-cycle, but… nope.
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Published in: General | on December 29th, 2010 | No Comments »

The Post-Christmas Blues

Hi, it’s me again. I hope you had a good Christmas week, ’cause mine was proper ‘orrible, much of it – alright, too much, subjectively – spent sitting around in airports, reading or watching videos on my MP4 player. Still, I’m alive, and that which does not kill me just makes me hate traveling that much more.

Or something like that.

Anyway, the only things of substance I accomplished during the week that are worth noting are a mild revamp of my novel’s website and the creation of a Twitter account, wherein I will occasionally bore an indifferent public with random 140-character observations. You follow me, I’ll follow you, everything will be lemonade and cucumber sandwiches, or something.

Lemonade and cucumber sandwiches? Urgh. Reading a combination of post-Victorian e-books, (badly) translated light novels, an Amelia Peabody story, and Neal Stephenson over the last week seems to have had an interesting effect on my writing. Hopefully I re-achieve my linguistic baseline before embarking on my next novel…

Published in: General | on December 27th, 2010 | No Comments »

You Cannot Go Back… And Shouldn’t

I have, of course, a fascination with the past, and have since I was a wee anklebiter. As I lumber through middle age, though, I find that – despite not having had a particularly enjoyable childhood, all in all – I occasionally become nostalgic for some strange thing from my misspent youth. I also find that, almost without fail, my memories of things from the past are better than the things actually are, or were.

In a way, I’m fortunate that I now live several hundred miles from any of the tiny towns I grew up in, as this renders the occasional nostalgic urge relatively difficult to give in to. Are the hamburgers at the little place down by the highway really as good as I remember? Probably not, but I’m unlikely to find out any time soon, assuming the place is still around. Was the 1930s library really as awesome as I remember? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Some things I can never revisit – was Apple Slice really the best soft drink ever? alas, it’s been discontinued for decades – and I’m slowly coming to realize that most of what I can revisit, I shouldn’t.

Take, as one oddly random example, the movie Spies Like Us.
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Published in: General | on December 20th, 2010 | No Comments »

Quietly Awesome Railgun Milestone

The U.S. Navy’s dreams of one day raining burning-hot bars of solid tungsten carbide down on enemies from hundreds of miles away came one step closer to fruition this week as they successfully demonstrated a thirty-three megajoule electromagnetic railgun firing. Range? Apparently around 110 miles.

It sounds impressive, and as far as railguns go, it certainly is. Note that the Navy are concentrating right now on raw power and, to a lesser extent, range, as steps towards their goal of having an immensely badass standoff weapon.

So far, as near as I can tell, nobody’s mentioning – anywhere! – the accuracy of such a system. We can rain death down on an enemy from over a hundred miles away, and have it arrive at several times the speed of sound, yay. What are the odds of actually hitting a realistically-sized target, though? At 110 miles, what’s the impact radius?

For that matter, what’s the intended target for this future railgun system? Obviously, the Navy would like to put big holes in noun from a great distance away… but what noun?

Don’t get me wrong, having a railgun that can punch holes in things from over a hundred miles away is extremely awesome, and is a great leap towards the “1970s of tomorrow” we were promised back in the 1950s. :) I just think it would be nice if they at least dropped a few hints as to what the darn thing is meant for, is all.

(My guess is that this is meant, like many naval weapons, as an anti-ship weapon, as a way of countering – or completely bypassing, at very high speed – missile-defense systems. A little browsing online might turn up just who exactly has recently fielded, or is about to field, a new system of that sort…)

Published in: Geekiness, General | on December 16th, 2010 | No Comments »

A Wintery Conspiracy Theory

On Saturday, central Minnesota got hammered by one heck of a winter storm, which dropped twenty inches of snow in some places, and created drifts more than five feet high. If you’re in the United States and have watched the national new in the last day or two, you’ve probably seen the video of the Metrodome, the enclosed sports arena in Minneapolis, collapsing under the weight of the snow.

Yep. A combination of snow, ice, and high winds caused, nearly twelve hours after the end of the snowstorm, the inflatable roof to collapse and fail, requiring the postponement and relocation of at least one NFL game, maybe more.

If you’re outside Minnesota, though, or at least the Twin Cities, you probably haven’t heard the conspiracy theories surrounding the collapse.
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Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', General | on December 14th, 2010 | No Comments »