Archive for the 'Technology' Category

Seattle Post-Intelligencer blogs about its own sale, possible demise

January 11, 2009

The Seattle P-I is up for sale, according to the Seattle P-I.

If no buyer comes forward within 60 days from last Friday, January 9, 2009, the paper with the spinning globe on top of its building will become completely defunct or go web only.

There’s an outside chance a family, company or organization could buy the P-I to increase its influence in Seattle or out of altruism, he said. That happened in San Francisco and Philadelphia. But the odds of that happening would be higher if the P-I were the only paper in town, …

Here’s a thought:

Tim Pilgrim, a journalism professor at Western Washington University, suggested that the P-I staff buy the paper and run it at a lesser profit than Hearst requires — perhaps assisted by a wealthy patron such as Bill Gates or Paul Allen.

“If this kind of profit-driven killing of legitimate news sources keeps happening, the online ‘news’ outlets that repackage P-I and other newspaper content will be out of news and only have opinion (blogging, etc.) to post,” Pilgrim wrote in an e-mail.

Like this post is doing right now.


Moon over Mumbai

October 21, 2008

India will launch a lunar probe tomorrow in a bid to keep with China in the new Asian space race, which also features Japan and South Korea as contestants. At stake — national pride and billions of rupees or euros or yuan (will we speaking of dollars in the future??) in space businesses such as satellite launches. Satellite launches will become commoditized with NASA needing to outsource its lift capability the same way US corporations outsource database administration. 

The Chandrayaan-1 mission is aimed at high-resolution remote sensing of the moon in visible, near infrared(NIR), low energy X-rays and high-energy X-ray regions. Specifically the objectives will be
To prepare a three-dimensional atlas (with a high spatial and altitude resolution of 5-10m) of both near and far side of the moon.
To conduct chemical and mineralogical mapping of the entire lunar surface for distribution of elements such as Magnesium, Aluminum, Silicon, Calcium, Iron and Titanium with a spatial resolution of about 25 km and high atomic number elements such as Radon, Uranium & Thorium with a spatial resolution of about 20 km.
Click here to large view
Simultaneous photo geological and chemical mapping will enable identification of different geological units, which will test the early evolutionary history of the moon and help in determining the nature and stratigraphy of the lunar crust.


On the criteria of price, India has proven so far to be the low cost leader in lunar probes:

If successful, India joins the Asian powers China and Japan, which have already undertaken their own lunar missions.

But it’s doing it at a fraction of the cost – $80m compared to China’s $187m lunar probe launched last year and Japan’s $480m Kayuga mission.

And with a much smaller budget than NASA with arguably better results for the cash lately

Its budget is less than $1bn a year, compared with more than $17bn that Nasa spends. India’s remote sensing capabilities are almost legendary. Today there are seven Indian-made and operated remote sensing satellites in orbit, the largest number of any country in the civilian domain.

Can this translate in part to a higher standard of living for the Indian people? Looks like other flags will be joining Old Glory on the Moon in coming decades.

Leftist suppression of science?

October 10, 2008

I saw this blog posting in my email, which is a review of a posting in the NRO from John Derbyshire regarding the threat to modern genomics research by BHO. The article is something about how anti-Darwinian the cultural Marxists like BHO are because they oppose genomics (human-sciences) research because it would disprove the known fact that there are generic differences among the human races. I think.

Tanning Beds and Melanomas

September 18, 2008

Now one of the lefty blog sites ran a story that criticized Gov. Palin for having a tanning bed in the Governor’s Mansion, implying that this was strange. A media critic’s blog pointed out that the Palin bought the bed herself, so there really isn’t an issue here.

However, shouldn’t her running mate warn her about the dangers of exposure to sunlight since he has been battling melanomas for years. Granted that Alaska is rather dark during the winter months, she would benefit from a tanned glow during campaigning, and she may not like tan lines. The National Cancer Institute recommends avoiding tanning beds and booths, and here’s some “straight talk” about tanning beds.

Here’s what to look for.

As far as the affordability of personal tanning beds, I worked with an admin who had purchased her own tanning bed, and she used it a lot. She did run into financial pressures and she gained an urgency to find a man to help support her. Anyway, ‘regular people’ have bought their own tanning beds.

Wii Fit, circa 1979

June 9, 2008

The Wii Fit is so hot that retailers can’t keep them in stock, or the shortages are deliberate or due to bad planning by Nintendo. Now do you think that exercising by your game console or computer is new? It existed nearly 30 years ago. A physical fitness application, distributed as a game cartridge named Physical Fitness became available when the TI-99/4 home computer was introduced in 1979 (but the copyright notice for the program states 1978. Interesting)

The Texas Instruments home computer, The TI 99/4 line of computers was sold until 1983. A TI 99/4A model came out in 1981 with a better keyboard and some other improvements.

TI-99/4 computer from 1978 (From the Obsolete Computers page)

I took these screen shots from a really good TI 99/4A simulator. You can download a pretty complete set of cartridges for it, including the Physical FItness cartridge.

The manual for the Physical FItness cartridge says:

Today as never before we are interested in finding exercise programs that promote our general fitness and good health. Only a generation or two ago most people received an adequate amount of exercise from their daily lives — walking to school or work and doing chores around the home or farm. Now, however, with our modern labor-saving devices — plus the fact that many of us have sedentary jobs — we often find that something extra in the way of exercise is needed. Physical fitness experts agree that the benefits of a regular exercise program, combined with other good health habits, can be enormous.

Exercise can tone up the muscles, improve blood circulation and heart efficiency, and increase strength and endurance. It gives you greater muscle control, helps keep your body supple, and generally enhances your feeling of well-being. In addition, exercising is an excellent way of relieving tension. When long hours of sitting at a desk or facing pressure situations give you a textbook case of “executive stress”, you can loosen up those tight muscles by exercising. These benefits are well worth the small amount of time invested in a regular exercise program.

The object of this module is to help you plan and maintain an exercise program designed for you — your lifestyle, your general health and condition, your exercise needs. The exercises, based on those found in The United States Book of Family Physical Fitness, prepared by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, are divided into five progressive levels, with separate categories for men and women. (These levels and the exercises themselves will be discussed more fully later.) The computer helps you keep rack of the order in which the exercises are performed and the number of times to do each one and sets the pace for the exercises.

Here’s computer based physical training, from 1979, when Jimmy Carter was president and disco was peaking out in the USA. There was also big trouble with Iran, we started to become involved in Afghanistan, and there was an energy crisis (what, things have come full circle??). Imagine inserting a cartridge into your home computer, turning on the power, pressing a few keys and getting ready for your workout:

The original RF (TV) display was 320 by 200 (32 x 25 characters) pixels. Then

Then you could review a list of exercises, or go on to the men’s or women’s workouts. The routines for men and women are pretty similar, only real difference is that men of course are expected to do more in their routines. Or so people thought in 1978.

And those people would be none other than the President’s Council on Physical Fitness (and now Sports). Founded in 1956 by President Eisenhower in reaction to the Cold War fear of Americans becoming soft, the commission is best known for the childhood fitness tests that all US primary school children go through, and often flunk.

First, check your pulse to see what your heart rate at rest is.

Pick a fitness level. The higher the number, the more rigorous the exercise. You progress from level to level when your adjusted heart rate is no longer reached by the exertion.

Let’s get started with calisthenics. Yep, this is going to be a little boring.

Now comes the cardio portion of the workout. You have an option of taking a run or doing some running in place exercises, as are displayed below:

Time to stop and check your pulse again.

Yes, this is quite dated (as much as leisure suits) and wouldn’t hold anyone’s attention today. But 30 years ago home computers caused as much excitement, and arguably more, than the game consoles of today.