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Showing posts from June, 2004

Our Friend, the Meter

This evening, I learned thatone meter equals 39.3700787 inches. While this may come as no surprise tosome people, it was one to me - for years, I had mistakenly believed a meter was 39.77 inches, and now I know it's basically 39.37.Of course, I'm not alone in my confusion. A bit of research on Google revealed quite a few different conversions from meters to inches. Here aresomeof them:
38 inches according to a page at Arkansas State University and another at Microflex Technologies.38.16 inches according to a rounding-happy math teacher at Norfolk Collegiate School in Virginia.38.37 inches according to Honeywell's Sensotec folks.38.8 inches according to some numerological babble39 inches according to Fife Products and some folks who sell quilting products.39.14 inches according to the specifications on a measuring wheel for engineers. (uh-oh!)39.15 inches according to an October 30 2002 entry in a blog.39.21 inches according to Richard Bowles.39.27 inches according to pag…

Peek-a-boo Moray

While skindiving, I noticed a nice red pencil urchin by a head of coral. Swimming closer, I discovered that there was also a Puhi Paka (Yellowmargin Moray, Gymnothorax flavimarginatus) "guarding" that particular area. Given that morays tend to have quite a lot of needle-sharp teeth, I decided to not get too close. Canon PowerShot S20, Ewa-Marine D-MM enclosure, 3-4 meters depth. I took several shots and chose this one. At first, it looks like it's just a photo of some coral and underwater scenery... surprise, it's not!

iMac and PowerBook G5: Heat is not the problem.

Apple got a lot of buzz for their Power Mac G5 in 2003, as did IBM for the PowerPC 970 chip inside it, made using a 130nm process in a shiny new highly automated fabrication facility. There was also a lot of buzz about the Xserve G5in early 2004, which took a while to actually start shipping due to difficulty getting enough functional PowerPC 970FX chips, made by IBM using a new 90nm process. Now there's buzz about the iMac G5, which had originally been planned for the "back to school" summer buying season, but is now expected to launch at the end of August and ship in mid-September. And of course there will be buzz about the inevitable PowerBook G5, at least until Apple announces and ships one.
Anyway, a lot of the buzz is along the lines of "G5 chips dissipate so much heat that it's hard to fit them into small spaces like 1U rackmount servers, iMacs and PowerBooks." Compared to G4 chips, this was certainly true of the original 130nm PowerPC 97…

That VIS place I keep mumbling about

I took this photo just after sunset, from the top of a cinder cone on Mauna Kea. This is the Visitor Information Station at the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy, located at 9,300 feet elevation. Yes, it's on (more than a bit of) a hill. Inside the building are a whole bunch of exhibits, computers, a video projection area with seating, and of course a gift shop that sells all kinds of nifty stuff.

Outside on the patio and in the parking lot, a half-dozen telescopes are set up for the evening stargazing program. They are, from left to right:
Orion 8-inch newtonian reflector on a dobsonian mount.Orion 4.5-inch newtonian reflector on a dobsonian mount (behind the 8-inch).Orion 6-inch newtonian reflector on a dobsonian mount.Meade 16-inch LX200GPS cassegrain reflector on an alt-azimuth fork mount.Celestron 14-inch cassegrain reflector on a Losmandy equatorial mount.Televue 102mm apochromatic refractor on an Astro-Physics equatorial mount.The Meade, Celestron and Telev…

Subtle Honu

During a quick dip in the ocean the other day, two Honu (Green Turtle, Chelonia mydas) swam past me. I squeezed off a bunch of shots, but only one caught a turtle far enough from the camera for its entire body to be in the frame - they get close, sometimes! Canon PowerShot S20, Ewa-Marine D-MM enclosure, 2-3 meters depth.

On a clear night, you can see... a lake of fire?

I've mentioned before that I volunteer at the Visitor Information Station of the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy. To call Onizuka a "world-class" facility would not be exaggerating, at all - more than ten nations on 5 continents are involved in it, and the 12 observatories it supports include four of the ten largest optical telescopes in the world, as well as the largest dedicated infrared and submillimeter-band telescopes. The telescopes are among the highest terrestrial telescopes. A 1998articleinOutsidemagazine by Richard Panek gives some idea of just how extreme this all is.Even theVISis pretty extreme - there aren't a lot of places in Hawaii you'll see tour buses and vans discharging hordes of tourists... in arctic-style parkas! On a clear night, the temperature drops to about 40 F (that's under 5 C), and there might be a good stiff breeze to contend with as well. But a clear night at 9,300 feet, with a dark sky above and basical…

Vanquished: the NetCam

Remember the strong-willed camera I was ranting about before? Well, it wound up working!Working, that is, as long as the person accessing it is on, or VPN'ed into, its local LAN.Great. Just... great.Now I know what brand of web cameranotto buy.

When Good Marketers Go Bad.

The folks at Apple have a reputation for cranking out well-designed, well-integrated products, and generally marketing them in a way that's pleasing to the eye and all that.
An example of this integration is the Apple Display Connector, which carries a DVI signal, USB channel and power from my Power Mac to my Apple Cinema display. There's only one cable coming out of the display, which cuts down nicely on clutter.

Like all of us, though, Apple marketers sometimes have a bad day. And when that happens, look out!

Several of my acquaintances and colleagues have been discussing the fact that PowerBooks include a mini-DVI port, and an assortment of adapters to connect that port to various things, but not an adapter to connect it to any of Apple's line of flat-panel LCD displays, which all use ADC.

Apple does offer a $99 DVI to ADC adapter, which takes DVI and USB from a computer (be it a PowerBook, the secondary DVI port on a Power Mac, or indeed any computer, Apple or not…