Archive for August, 2010
This is a video from a camera on one of the Space Shuttle’s Solid Rocket Boosters. The cool part is that it has sound!! I know I’m never going to fly into space so I live vicariously through videos like this. If you’re impatient the video gets good at 1:50 when the seperation happens.
The timer in the upper left is launch time (T+). Notice how the other SRB doesn’t stray too far from the camera and can be seen against the earth. Plus you can see the smoke trailing from the falling boosters and in the far distance the smoke column cause by the initial shuttle launch.
The cool part with sound is you can hear the change in noise as the air thins, plus the rattle of debris impacting on the booster casing, the ‘chutes deployment and inflation, and finally the impact into the water.
The SRB’s are basically giant bottle rockets; once they’re lit the only way to shut them off is to let them burn out or self destruction (which only was used once after the Challenger accident).
The SRBs only burn for about 2 minutes then jettison from the shuttle at approx 27 miles up. Their momentum is so great that they continue up to about 41 miles to the peak of their arc before falling back to the earth.
A small drogue chute orients the SRBs in an upright position and about a mile up the three main chutes open so the 91 ton empty cylinder won’t be damaged on impact. I never knew until now but the chutes are held partially closed (or “reefed”) until a set speed when they can be fully opened; otherwise the sudden full inflation could shred the chute or snap the cables holding it.
The empty booster is only open at the bottom so landing tail first seals air inside the rocket cylinder causing it to float upright sticking about 30ft out of the water.
Roughly 6 minutes and 130 miles off the coast of Florida the boosters end their short trip to the edge of space. In the past they would be recovered and be used 4 or 5 more times but with the close of the shuttle program they’re just collected for scrap now.
Like I said yesterday, Wired’s article is already making waves. Chris Anderson was interviewed on NPR about it this morning and this afternoon it made the news crawl on CNN.
One thing I like from the NPR interview is that Chris mentioned that by dead he’s talking about Web transitioning to Mobile. Which in a way is very true. Although he still talks about how applications rule and that they will kill the web.
Here’s an experiment to see if he’s right: Use only apps, no web browser.
Go 2 days without ever opening Firefox, IE, or safari, chrome, etc.
Don’t use Google (it’s a WEB page).
Try getting the things you want done with only dedicated web apps. No diversity of the millions of online web pages, just the 20 or so apps you can load before your phone fills up.
Don’t be fooled by apps that redirect you to a browser, they’re cheating.
Basically Chris’s prediction of the future of the web is where the multiverse of web pages is boiled down to a handful of corporate apps that port and filter the web for you. Much like the archaic AOL days in internet prehistory. And that scares the shit out of me.
Luckily he’s wrong!
Rob Beschizza edited the fact distorting graph used by Chris for the wired article to better fit reality. Pay close attention to the red “web traffic” That is “dying”. This is just the same graph but adjusted using the same data used for Wired’s article to reflect the actual amount of traffic passed in each category.
In Wired’s article it shows web use as a percentage against other high bandwidth internet traffic. Now that we can see the actual amount of web traffic we can see that in the last 5 years the web has almost tripled. Rob summed up Cisco’s data best:
Assuming that this crudely renormalized graph is at all accurate, it doesn’t even seem to be the case that the web’s ongoing growth has slowed. It’s rather been joined by even more explosive growth in file-sharing and video, which is often embedded in the web in any case.
In regards to using “bandwidth” to measure the value of internet traffic.
Does 50MB of YouTube kitteh represent more meaningful growth than a 5MB Wired feature?
It’s worth noting that we’re talking generalized numbers and graphs and that there will be a bit of variation in the data. But the web is still a LONG way from dying. Harry McCracken at Technologizer has another great article pointing out other technologies that have “died” recently (Hint Facebook died 2 years ago but Vinyl is alive and well).
This is one of the reasons I quit subscribing to Wired. Idiotic, sensationalizing, articles.
Now I fully appreciated the irony that I complain about Wired sensationalizing articles to draw viewers; and that by posting this I’m part of the problem, taking the bait hook line and sinker. But this article is going to be splayed across the internet and the news simply because of the source, and it needs to be killed now.
It’s the same tired argument that has been out since the iPhone and has sped up since the iPad. “Apps” and online video streaming are going to take over the internet and surfing web pages as we know it will cease to exist. Basically Chris is channeling a Steve Jobs presentation (or even plagiarizing one).
As much as we love the open, unfettered Web, we’re abandoning it for simpler, sleeker services that just work. -Chris Anderson
At least he didn’t call the services “magical”.
The graphic showing a shrinking web is hard to ignore, and I heard that 95% of online stats aren’t made up or distorted.
The reasons to scoff at head editor Chris Anderson as a moron?
1. The diagram is from 1995 (i.e. 7 years before most people used the internet), to 2005 (i.e. half a decade ago, 2 years before Job’s iPhone app revolution).
In Chris’s defense, 2005 was before the magical apps and services Chris describes even existed so they wouldn’t show yet.
2. “Web” is used here for a general catch-all that fits alot of very different and dynamic services.
3. Anybody with an office job knows that email rules the word. Even including spam it shows up non-existent on this graph. Pointing to how this graph doesn’t reflect reality of the web.
4. Apps and services are just a frontend to parse web data. The web is still there, you’re just using a very specialized browser to access it. The Facebook app is nothing without the Facebook itself.
5. The MAIN problem with the graph is that it is a measurement of bits of traffic and not representative of the web experience.
Text on the internet is the smallest part of it. This entire article takes up the same space as a 1”x1” image. On a boring static webpage the images take up 90% of the space. To put this in perspective in 2006 Wikipedia (the entire thing) was 1.2 Terabytes in size; the whole thing could fit on one large hard drive (can you say real life HHG2G?).
Videos on the internet take up MUCH more space than anything else, especially if you’re watching a HQ youtube or hulu stream. 10 minutes of HQ youtube will pass as much traffic as all the surfing you’ll do on Wikipedia for the next few months.
Suddenly the above graph makes much more sense. Even if online video made up 90% of web traffic it would still mean that more time online is spent just surfing the web. And this is why it’s shocking the editor of Wired Magazine wrote this article, it horrible mis-represents the data provided by Cisco about web traffic. Much more useful would be how much time people spend on different web sites. However that’s much harder to measure.
I’ve always suspected that turning off lights and unplugging cell phone chargers was just a case of the “warm fuzzies” (things that make you feel good but don’t really make a huge impact).
The gap between curtailing inefficient appliances and using efficient ones can be large, so it shocked the researchers how many people underestimated it. An example: a 100-watt bulb that is on for six hours uses 600 watt-hours. By leaving it on for one hour less, you save 100 watt-hours. On the other hand, a 15-watt fluorescent bulb could be left on for all six hours and only use 90 watt-hours, saving 510 watt-hours over the incandescent bulb.
The really good news here is this proves that the key to conserving energy doesn’t lie in cutting conveniences out of your everyday life; it’s just a matter of upgrading your house to more efficient appliances. On a side note CFLs take a few seconds to come to full brightness, pay the extra bucks for the “instant on” CFLs, it’s well worth it.
Still if you don’t have the money to upgrade all our household appliances now it’s still a good idea to cut back on waste.
-Closing the blinds on a window because it’s too bright then turning on the light in a room doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
-If you can remember to make all your trips around town in one big loop rather than 5 individual trips out and back saves a lot of gas (and time in my experience).
-If you have to wrap in a blanket in the summer because the AC is too cold, maybe dial forward the thermostat a few degrees.
-Conversely if you’re in a t-shirt and shorts in winter and complaining of the cold, maybe try putting on pants and a sweatshirt before cranking the heat to 78 degrees.
I could point to their failed and horribly thought out Garmin Phone as an example but this is something much more basic that all their new products have.
About a year and a half ago I got a Garmin Nuvi 250, the price on them dropped to $100. You may have noticed on the road that A LOT of people have GPS in their cars now. This recent price drop is why.
Anyway about a week ago it told me to update the maps. Makes sense, there are a lot of places I drive that have new roads not on their maps. I hit cancel and forgot about it. Then today it nagged me again to download maps. So I go online and start the process of updating the GPS.
First off plugging the GPS into USB killed my keyboard. I don’t know why. I had to plug the keyboard into a different port to get it back, at least it didn’t fry it like the external hard drive I had a few years ago.
Then to get the GPS to update you have to goto Garmin’s website and download a browser plugin that detects the GPS. This involves a lengthy registration process I didn’t want to do. Last thing I want to do is give my email address and physical address to YET ANNOTHER company to spam me.
Now I had the plugin running and the GPS plugged in. But it wouldn’t detect the GPS
Move the GPS USB to another port.
Keyboard dies again.
Move the Keyboard back to its original port.
3 Minutes later the GPS finally connects.
Finally the GPS is discovered by the browser program.
“Click here to check for updates”
“Click here to download update.”
Finally the update goes through and I check the Maps update. There are two options, first is a lifetime update service that costs $120.
Yes One Hundred and Twenty dollars.
Or a one time update that costs $70.
Keep in mind that Garmin street maps aren’t all that great. When the GPS was new a lot of the streets were already out of date. Plus I’m constantly aggravated by the fact that the maps never start out zoomed to the level where you see surface streets, I always have to zoom in one level.
It also tries to redirect me onto streets that I know are slower. On the way to Bear Lake instead of taking I-15 north and going 75MPH (posted) it wanted me to take a back highway to Brigham City. Admittedly highway 89 is a beautiful drive and lined with fruit stands from all the nearby orchards.
But it’s slower!
All these gripes with the GPS and they want me to pay for a map update that costs the same price as the whole flipping GPS itself. In fact I can just buy the newer model for the same price and I’m sure it would have a more up to date map in it.
Meanwhile my Android phone does all the features the Garmin does. But it also gives me:
Maps that are as upto date as Google’s online database.
An application that updates over the air bi-monthly.
Satellite view of the surrounding area.
Current local traffic conditions.
An ETA adjusted for traffic.
Street view pictures of the intersections I need to turn at.
Current location of any friends and family with Latitude.
The ability to search and route to any nearby business, gas station, or ATM.
And best of all it’s FREE!!!
So as soon as I find a good dashboard car mount for my phone I have a Garmin Nuvi 250 GPS for sale. Then it’s good bye and good riddance to Garmin.
It’s not April fools, not a concept, it’s for real.
Ed Fries, former VP of Microsoft’s Gaming Division created it as a pet project. You can read more about it here.
Best part of all you can play it now, even if you don’t have an old Atari 2600 hanging around.