Thursday, August 26, 2010

Blogger Fiesta Meetup Fail

To celebrate Blogger's 11th birthday, Google is encouraging bloggers to get together and celebrate on Aug 31.  They have a signup page at Meetup Everywhere for Blogger Fiestas all over the world.  I don't know how many bloggers out there use Blogger, but I imagine it's more than the 492 people currently listed as attending these parties.  The really sad part, though, isn't the total number of people attending, it's the size of the parties.  I made a histogram of party size:
Note, that the horizontal scale is logarithmic.  That means, that the bins get larger as the party size increases. Close to 70% of the parties have only one person attending, 90% have less than 5.  For such a huge userbase, this is a pretty epic fail.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How Stuff Doesn't Work was a site that I frequented often while I was in high school, it didn't have tons of articles but they were good articles. However, in the years since then it has become profitable and as it has the quality has gone downhill. I recently visited the site and came across a link to their "getsmart challenges" and there it was The Ultimate Automotive Physics Quiz. Looked interesting so I figured why not give it a go. By question 11 I knew something was wrong, the question asked "As an object accelerates, its velocity and drag.." increases or decreases. Of course in laymens terms this is a perfectly valid question, however in physics acceleration is defined as a change in velocity over time and it works in both directions. Additionaly, when an object passes through the sound barrier the drag drops off drastically. So the statement is even more wrong. But it gets better because the next question was

This isn't even correct in laymans terms. The car can no longer have a "positive" acceleration when the drag force equals the force the engine and tires can exert on the road opposite the drag. So to conclude I will say Rest In Piece the How Stuff Works that was once actually good.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Education Inflation

Although I have a much longer rant about education inflation (grade inflation is a symptom of the larger problem), I think this classified ad I saw a few weeks ago in the Bergen Record just about sums it up:
 Update [9:14PM]: There's been some confusion - I'm referring to the middle ad. The text reads:
Escort Service
Escorts needed. College degree preferred. Call...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Caption Contest

"Mr. Bean drives a convertible with his feet." Any more good ideas for captions? . . . (This seen between NY and Boston).

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hot Coals Only

As I mentioned last week, I was at a conference in San Diego last week:
So, while Stacy, her mother, and Moshe were out enjoying the weather, I spent my days here:
At least the hotel room had a good view.  There were two aircraft carriers (Nimitz and Carl Vinson) parked across the bay.  Here's the Carl Vinson and some support ship:

But you could also see across the bay, and the distant Cabrillo National Monument (which we visited the day we left).
You can just make out our hotel across the bay, and, yes, that is a submarine.

I was able to have a little fun, though.  Stacy and I rented a convertible, and drove up the coast:

Finally, some of you may recall Yoni/Jonathan's series [1, 2] on "No Hot Ashes."  Well, I noticed these nifty receptacles on the beaches of La Jolla inscribed with the opposite message:
And, if you look closely you can make out some surfers in the water.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Credit Card Security

Its a good thing that they make you sign those electric pads whenever you use your credit card. Otherwise - how could they be sure of your identity? Notice my signature printed out there. I recall they have a better system in England, but I can't seem to remember what it is . . .

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Sunny San Diego

I've been in San Diego, CA this past week for the SPIE Optics + Photonics conference.  I gave a short talk on Sunday, which is why I came out here in the first place.  It's been a good week to be here:
And, from what people have been saying, it's always a good week to be here.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Full of Hot Air 2010

You may remember that last year I volunteered at the Quick Check Balloon Festival. Well I did so this year again. Unfortunately, I did not help with the morning launch because my friend who was there was still sleeping (he was under the weather). Although I did help with the evening launch I have no pictures of that because my parents forgot to leave a camera and did not come for the evening launch. For the evening launch I helped with a RE/MAX Balloon. We inflated it just like last year, however unlike last year, we also launched. Since hot air balloons are subject to winds they normally cannot return to where they take off from, so you need to chase them. This was an experience. Tearing around the local roads trying to keep an eye on the balloon, while talking to the pilot to figure out where he was going to come down. In the end he came down behind a school and due to bad directions from a local we where a little behind him getting there. Fortunately, some locals helped hold the balloon down until we got there. In return we gave tethered balloon rides until we had to deflate because of night coming on. Enjoy some pictures from the event.

This is me in front of Sproulville (The RV and trailer are owned by my friend, his brother is the balloonist he races motorcycles).

Some of these people are really into ballooning.

Nice shot with the burners going, the RE/MAX balloon I helped with has two 15 million BTU burners.

The two bees are Lilly and Joey I spent part of the day out of the rain talking to Lilly's pilot.

Keeping the balloon down until the pilot is ready to take off so that the balloon can gather enough free lift to get altitude quickly.

A balloon inflating, you can see the crown tether of another balloon cutting across the picture, that balloon most likely had gone hot. The crown tether is used to help control the balloon while it is on the ground.

Just starting to hot inflate.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Soap Lettering

Hey everyone,
10 points to anyone who can figure out why the words are backwards. This is not photo-shopped at all.

hint: you may be looking at more than one bar of soap . . .