That other Eric, over at Classical Values, followed the same link I did yesterday, got a much higher geek score than my mere 42; alarmed at this, he referred back to the Polygeek Quiz, which had shown him to be a non-geek just three years ago.
So, I just had to try that one, too:
You are 30% geek
You are a geek liaison, which means you go both ways. You can hang out with normal people or you can hang out with geeks which means you often have geeks as friends and/or have a job where you have to mediate between geeks and normal people. This is an important role and one of which you should be proud. In fact, you can make a good deal of money as a translator.
Normal: Tell our geek we need him to work this weekend.
You [to Geek]: We need more than that, Scotty. You'll have to stay until you can squeeze more outta them engines!
Geek [to You]: I'm givin' her all she's got, Captain, but we need more dilithium crystals!
You [to Normal]: He wants to know if he gets overtime.
Dr. Helen linked to this geek test over at NewSqueak.
On some items, I scored completely non-geeky (World of Warcraft? Wozzat?), and on others their scale didn't go high enough (number of working computers in one's home only went up to 4... heck, I've got 5 powered up and in use at the moment).
It got the answer right, though. My score is... is...
El Reg has a report on the soon-to-be-tested Airborne Laser - a boost-phase ballistic-missile killer carried by an airplane flying in a holding pattern around the launch site.
As a component of Star Wars Classic, this makes no sense whatsoever. First, we couldn't fly the planes close enough to the Soviet missile sites to be effective; second, there were a lot of missiles at a lot of sites, so we'd need a huge number of planes; and third, we'd have to keep the planes on station for the entire remainder of the Cold War.
On the other hand... since the duration of the Cold War, per se, is an increasingly negative interval... this new gadget makes sense for discouraging nuclear proliferation. If the potential launches are sufficiently constrained in time, space, and number, then a few of these planes circling around, suitably defended against SAMs and fighters, could render a small country's ICBM / IRBM force pointless.
It's just the thing for keeping Iran or North Korea from nuking any cities when we invade... or when we support a Chinese invasion of North Korea.
Naturally, the Law of Unintended Consequences will have its say. With a system like this in place, new nuclear mini-powers will have no incentive to throw their resources into developing long-range missiles as delivery systems. Rather, they'll have an incentive to develop better smuggling techniques... as someone (an Air Force officer, if memory serves) remarked years ago, "smuggle the warhead across the border disguised as a bale of marijuana."
Slashdot links to this here Frobs article about Newer Shinier Windows Vista. The author is unimpressed with all the fancy new bells, whistles, and gongs that MS has found it necessary to add.
Well, after all, whattya expect? We'd been hearing for months that the current crop of new PCs were mostly not going to be Vista-ready... because Vista will require the latest super-fancy high-end graphics hardware just to run its shiny new user interface.
When an operating system requires high-end graphics hardware, I get the impression that somebody has lost track of the concept of "operating system."
(As always, Apple leads the way - OS X has way too much animated goofery and too little connection between the UI and what actually goes on - and Microsoft throws its vastly greater resources at making an even bigger version of the same mistakes; look at how Media Center tries to capture the stupidity of OS X's big bouncy thingumajigs, and gets it even wronger.)
Which, now that I look out the window, must be about how long it's been raining heavily.
...and we had such nice weather the last two days of winter!
Oh, well... guess there's nothing for it but to stay here and get some work done (though I'll probably have to venture out into the rain to visit a client site or two, before this storm is done).
* The Navel Observatory, what else?
Update: Wowf! About 3 hours since the original post, and a hellacious downpour just hit. Bits of it were frozen, too - great balls o' ice! (Well, technically, teeny balls o' ice.) Wonder if it's snowing up in the hills again....
Update 2: Yup, this (Tuesday) morning the hills to the southeast of here are well covered in snow.
I don't normally attend "sports" events, i.e., opportunities to sit around drinking beer while watching other people play games with a ball, but yesterday I stopped by the Saturday-afternoon game of the regional FIRST Robotics Competition.
Teams of students had built robots, and teams of teams were controlling teams of robots, playing a variety of basketball.
It was moderately interesting, though I think the fun is more in the building than in the watching.
Naturally, it's got me pondering robot control systems again, and the possibility of little networkable (CAN?) control/sense modules. This leads to late-night Digi-Key searches, and the discovery that the cheapest CANable microcontroller is a 6808 (8 bits, oog), with the second-cheapest being an ARM-core beastie... for less than a PIC??? LPC2119, under $10 in onesies, nice feature set... same family I'm already getting up to speed on for two existing projects. Stuff to play with, later.
Spectator quibble: why is it considered necessary to have lots of noisy artificial excitement? It was bad enough to have it at Robolympics, a smash-'em-up battle event, but at a basketball game? Does it really need the loud nonstop thumpa-thumpa-thumpa? (OK, so the thumpa was occasionally mixed with some identifiable tune, such as Fortuna, Imperatrix Mundi or the Flying Lawnmower Song. It was still gratuitously noisy.)
Actually, I'm a lot more Calvinesque than this indicates.
Almost All Hobbes
You are 10% Calvin and 90% Hobbes
You're a clever tiger with a dash of little boy. A bit pessimistic about human nature, you think most people would be better as meals than as friends, and maybe you're right. At least, I've known several guys who fit that description. But your cannabalistic streak notwithstanding, you're a sensitive, (mostly) patient, and supportive friend. You have a few wild ideas here and there, but over all, you're quite sensible. Finally, my guess is you're the kind of person who gets along well with others, but who really needs space to be alone, like me.
My test tracked 2 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
Turns out, though, that it's merely the plans that have been unearthed; apparently, British Rail had secretly patented a sort of pulsed-fusion flying thingy, back in 1973.
I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised; somewhere around here, I've got a (rummages through library) 1965 British Rail book on the Direct Generation of Electricity. Magnetohydrodynamics and all that - didn't the Dick Tracy flying garbage cans use MHD? So, maybe it's not that much of a leap from trains with alternative power-generation systems to flying saucers....
Insty links to this story about a new remote-controlled gun turret.
Yes, it's interesting, and almost certainly a good idea (I'd been thinking along similar lines myself, a few months back; this has obviously been in development longer than that, so I can't blame a lack of tinfoil for someone else coming up with "my" idea).
From the article:
The idea for CROWS has been around for nearly half a century.
Er... nearly half a century? I immediately associate this idea with H. G. Wells... see this excerpt from "The Land Ironclads," published just over a full century ago.
(A quarter megabuck each, weapon not included, seems kinda steep. 'Course, there's no doubt a huge amount of paper that needs pushing, and development costs to pay off, so I guess it's not out of line, assuming development wasn't paid for up front.)
Here I am, reading the morning Register, and I come across this article on how the ITU figures ISPs need to take the lead in fighting spam.
The ITU is calling on ISPs to draw up enforceable codes of conduct that
will mean service providers take a tough line in enforcing policies
against any customer caught spamming, the Financial Times reports.
Codes of conduct. Yeah, that's the ticket! Just like all those enforceable codes of conduct that make up International Law. Like the one that's eliminatedgenocide.
C'mon, the way for ISPs to stop spam is technical! Some random customer connects via your network, and you don't allow port 25 connections except to your mail server! If he wants to use Yahoo or Hotmail or Gmail, he'll be using a port 80 or 443 connection anyway.
There's just no reason for Joe User to be making SMTP connections to any machine that isn't one of his ISP's own mail servers. The ISP's mail server can enforce, e.g., a limit on messages per hour (unless, perhaps, the customer has informed the ISP that he's running a mailing list), and screen for obvious spam/virus/worm content.
For users who actually want to run their own mail servers (looks in mirror), at least make 'em ask to have port 25 unblocked (which the unwitting owners of zombie machines aren't going to do).
In searching for information for a project, I came across the name "Digi-Data."
Once upon a time, back when dinosaurs roamed the datacenter, one of my job functions was diagnosing and repairing Digi-Data tape drives. It was a fantastically simple mechanical design: each reel was mounted directly to a big honkin' DC motor, and the capstan was mounted directly to a third, smaller motor. Servo circuits played with the reel motors to regulate the position of the spring-loaded tension arms. No vacuum columns, nor any of that other weirdness commonly found in 9-track tape land.
I've still got a bunch of the motors from "not economically repairable" drives squirreled away somewhere.
Yes, this is the same company - still in business! Established 1960, did business with Data General, and their web site displays the familiar logo. They don't seem to be peddling 9-track tape drives, though, nor the sort of product I was looking for.