Thursday, July 31, 2008

Saudi Arabia and Dogs

Heh. The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice is trying to take people's pets!

You don't even need something like scandalous clothing or teh interwebs...

Trying to ban people from having pets will eventually backfire or be ignored, as it was in Jeddah. I thought that Saudi's were not very big fans of dogs. Something must be changing. Maybe it is that a dog is an excellent way to meet chicks. Those kids will find a way!

Learned something new, it seems Mohammed hung out with a dude that loved teh cats. He even made the day before caturday a day of rest and worship in Saudi Arabia and Iran!

Difference between Europe and America

Heh. The difference in thought across the Atlantic even goes down into how much the flight control system lets the pilot do.

Airbus believes that the aircraft should keep the pilot within a specific envelope. The pilot can not access all of the control authority of the control surfaces.

Boeing believes that the aircraft should give the pilot the all of the control authority that the aircraft can give.

Airbus believes in boundaries and sort of a pilot watchdog. Boeing believes that pilots are responsible enough to use the aircraft effectively.

This basic premise led to the American Airlines Flight 587 crash. The pilot did something outside of the boundary and the plane broke as a response. The plane was not fly-by-wire, so this comment about envelope protection is not completely accurate. At any rate, the pilot should never be able to provide an input that breaks and aircraft.

I bring this up because I was reading an article about the control system for the new Bombardier aircraft, which sort of has a hybrid of those two philosophies. The C-Series pilot will get a warning when he violates the envelope, but he can still do it after the warning.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Heh. In making sure I spelled Congrefs correctly, I found out that my blog is #4 on the list!

In other news...

We need Bush to grow some balls like Swarchenegger. Congress not passing the FY09 budget, that means it is looking like we will have another continuing resolution. That means that we are stuck at FY06 funding levels.

One of the reasons that we choose congress is to pass the budget so that our government can continue to operate. Their job description includes "how to come to compromises to get things done".

Bush, how about you do the same thing that Arnold did, and threaten to put EVERY federal employee at the federal minimum wage until they pass the budget? I doubt that the congressmen will not finish the budget before their 5 week summer break. Its not hot any more in the summer, we invented air conditioning.

Monday, July 21, 2008


I know it!


My nemesis, struck again today.

They did this last time right after I posted on the blog.

I suppose the garlic attracted them...


I think I will put some more hot peppers in the soil, that seems to work.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Garden update

I was reading some random gardening books in the library at a book sale, and found out that you can plant garlic pieces. Sara found some garlic in the back of the fridge hidden behind everything that had sprouted... so, I planted four garlic plants. One garlic plant is in the same pot as the four radishes. The sugar snap peas are looking good, I added dowels so that they would have something to grow on. The radish plants are not making radishes, I don't think they have enough light. What I think are pepper plants are also not growing any bigger.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Alarm Clock First Post

I finally started doing design/testing for the alarm clock idea that I came up with about Christmas last year.

I built the programmer for the AVR microcontroller that I am using. Its the simplest programmer and uses the parallel port. Its basically a parallel port housing with 1k resistors in series to specific pins. That is it. Fits in the housing, so a picture would be pretty boring. I have to remember to apply power to the chip separately.

Which points to my next mini-step, making a stable power supply. I considered just using the 5v lines from my motherboard, but I will probably use a spare power supply that I have. I hooked up a usb hub to the motherboard power, and every once in a while I manage to short it and my computer shuts down. That would be bad in development and I don't want any fires/broken computer.

Pinouts follow:

ColorAVRParallel PortName
Blackpin 1pin 7AVR/RESET
Greenpin 19pin 8AVR SCK (clock input)
Redpin 17pin 9AVR MOSI (instruction in)
Whitepin 18pin 10AVR MISO (data out)
Silverpin 22/8pin 18Signal Ground

I need to check the pinouts on my specific chip, I'll update this page with the chip model number/checked pinouts when I get there.

Reference: AVRDUDE
Its dirt cheap and really basic. Now to find out if it works... LED blinking, here I come!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Cost overruns.


Another program has had a Nunn-McCurdy cost overrun. The Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter now costs $9 million from $5.5 million per unit.

I have a solution.

ANY cost estimate from a military contractor?... DOUBLE IT.

That is closer to the real cost. Use that to figure out if you really want the system.

STOP LYING! The only way that almost every single program can be off by a factor of 2 is if they lie. Faking lower costs just to win a contract is unacceptable. We need to hold them accountable and maybe make an example out of a few companies.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Neighborhood Raccoon

Our apartment complex has a raccoon.

I think my neighbor feeds him. Afraid of humans, but also sort of trusting, I accidentally scared him a few times, and he kept coming back out and staring at me. I was sort of excited and loud, and didn't want to lose him, so I ran toward him in a loud manner. I wasn't sure that it was a raccoon, i thought it might be a cat, although it was pretty big.

Hopefully I can see him again. Now I know what got into some trash that we left outside one day.

The raccoon doesn't dig up my plants, as far as I know. I have caught the squirrels red handed though.

Friday, July 11, 2008

It just might be hot when....

Your bathroom door sticks because it has expanded from the heat.

I didn't follow the exact procedure for changing the a/c yesterday and it decided not to turn back on...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Peachtree Roadrace #2

Andrew pulled some pics off of his phone from the race. They should give you an idea of what it looked liked running along...

At the end he has the lost fishing pic, so definitely check that out ;-)

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Robots and their place in teh world

Diesel Sweeties summarizes an interesting idea I first ran across from Marshall Brain, the howstuffworks guy. In 'Manna' he discusses some ways that we might end up using robots. One is to free ourselves, the other is to enslave ourselves.
Marshall Brain has some good ideas, but also some bad ones. He leans a bit too much toward "going after those bastard fat cats that steal from the common man".

The commie dream may be obtainable using robots. That way, everyone gets to be leadership that profits off of the masses, the masses being robots.

I'm not betting on the commie dream, or it removing money/greed, but I wouldn't mind more folks working on fulfilling work to better mankind.

The transition will probably be rough, I should look at the grocery store cashier and airport ticket agent employment.

Wall-e also explored this concept, with all of the humans being fat beings that just consumed. Consumed food, fashion, and widgets while hovering on robots that moved them around.

If we start displacing workers with robots, but don't have anywhere for them to go, we will eventually run into social unrest. Remember, I am not just talking about physical robots that look humanoid, I am talking about the robots you use every day. yes you! Google. Amazon. Most of the interwebs.

Bet on humanity, we rock.

Counter Intuitive Results about Terrorism

I was reading an interesting paper today, "Modeling Jihad: A system Dynamics Model of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat Financial System", and ran across some interesting points.

1. Most terrorist groups will be in a slow decline until they disappear. The capability of the population to donate to the cause can swing the group around increasing in strength. As noted in the paper, this influences the government's choices on what they can do. Counter intuitively, improving the economic conditions for the poor can serve to strengthen a terrorist group. Say the bottom 10% of the population donates and supports the cause. They can donate 10% of their income which is 100 madeupdollars for the 10% of the population. If you increase their economic conditions, lets say by doubling income, then they can donate 20 madeupdollars vs 10 madeupdollars from before. This might strengthen the terrorist group, but probably won't push it toward growth.

You would have to improve conditions by 2x, but then also halve the support to have the terrorist group stay the same (assuming that strength directly correleates with money)

2. Stopping a terrorist group from extorting money may also be a bad idea. The one thing that seems to switch people fairly quickly to being against terrorists is being mugged by their agents. No extortions means that people can keep supporting them with no ill effects to themselves. The report concludes that it is better to dry up other funding streams first, and let the terrorist actions convince the population.

You actually saw this in Anbar, Iraq. The people decided that AQI was no fun, and the alternative (US) was slightly more fun.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Peachtree Roadrace

Sara, Andrew Howard, and I ran the Peachtree Roadrace (10k) this year.

I don't have any pics, but if Andrew can figure out how to get pictures off of his phone, we will have some.

It was a fun race. We kept the same pace (+- about 1 min) the whole race, 13:39 min/mi. Total time was 1 hour 24 min, 41 seconds.

It was nice seeing all the people that came out on the side, many families cheering Mom or Dad along. Bands were playing and the weather was nice. Definitely got to see peachtree from a different angle and enjoy the city.

First time that I forgot that I was running, and just had fun. It was longer than any run that I have done, and the running became something in the background, like breathing. That was cool.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Concealed Carry in GA

I couldn't believe the headline on Yahoo today, it was not accurate at all. Link leads to the article that I arrived at from the highlighted link in the following screenshot. Article
GA law has legalized concealed weapons for a long time. I have had my concealed carry for over a year. They modified the law to clarify its intent and expand upon areas where carrying is legal.

The lawsuit has been filed because the city/airport has decided that people can not carry in the airport. The argument is about if you can carry up to the security checkpoint or not.

I think it is sort of silly. You can check a firearm in your luggage. That means that you have to take it through the airport. I suppose they think that a teleporter exists, where you send the firearm to a baggage claim. Realistically, thats a silly argument on my part, because it has to be unoperable and in a locked container and all of that. At any rate, then the only people that would legally carry at an airport would then be people meeting someone or picking someone up.

In the end, the state law trumps any local laws. The state preemptively claimed jurisdiction about gun laws and prohibits county or municipal groups from regulating firearms. They can issue as many proclamations that they want. A similar case ended in a summary judgment about carrying in city parks.
A telling quote:'s attorney cited law, which says "No county or municipal corporation shall regulate in any manner? possession ownership, transport, (or) carrying? of firearms."

The full quote from GA Code 16-11-184:

(b)(1) No county or municipal corporation, by zoning or by ordinance, resolution, or other enactment, shall regulate in any manner gun shows, the possession, ownership, transport, carrying, transfer, sale, purchase, licensing, or registration of firearms, components of firearms, firearms dealers, or dealers in firearms components.

I took the time to find the link for you to read law, something that journalists never seem to do (where does it say that parking lots are off limits? (update, its in the case law or so a forum says, I couldn't find it. I did find something else, but they didn't say it was illegal in the parking lot, it just wasn't relevant to the murder case see case law... it shouldn't be that hard to verify what a journalist says)). GA Code 16-11-184

Any time you are citing law, I would argue that you might be on the right side. Change the law or follow it. Making up your own laws is not an option in the United States. Sometimes though, you might find a nice little grey area, see below.

As I was researching this, I came across that you can not carry in publically owned buildings. They may be able to enforce this ban. BUT then! HB 89 (which came into effect today) comes to the rescue in 16-11-127 e)
(e) A person licensed or permitted to carry a firearm by this part shall be permitted to carry such firearm, subject to the limitations of this part, in all parks, historic sites, and recreational areas, including all publicly owned buildings located in such parks, historic sites, and recreational areas and in wildlife management areas, notwithstanding Code Section 12-3-10, in wildlife management areas notwithstanding Code Section 27-3-1.1 and 27-3-6, and in public transportation notwithstanding Code Sections 16-12-122 through 16-12-127; provided, however, that a person shall not carry a firearm into a place prohibited by federal law.

where you can carry in public transportation, unless prohibited by federal law.

GA Code 16-12-123 has parts that have been repealed by HB89, specifically b).

So, you can't carry in public buildings, but you can carry on public transportation as long as you don't break federal law. I would think that a judge would find it against the spirit of the law if MARTA decided that you could not carry in the MARTA terminal. That would effectively bar you from carrying in public transportation. Not really sure what happens there though.

We also need to hold journalists to a higher standard. Headlines need to be correct. Facts need to be checked. With this new fangled thing called 'teh interwebs' which is made of a series of tubes, we can now provide links to relevant things in stories. We can link to law, if the article is taking about it. We can provide a link to where to buy or see any studies, books, or reports that an article talks about.