Is it worth the time–a great analysis!

Geeks especially have a propensity toward spending time making a task more efficient and less time consuming.  But how many of us have ever analyzed how often that task needs to be performed in order to make the time and effort spent optimizing it worthwhile?  I haven’t, I sheepishly admit.  Fortunately, xkcd.com came to the rescue!

Is It Worth the Time?

Internet Explorer End Of Life (lifecycle) dates

Usually, Microsoft is pretty good about letting you know about the lifecycle dates on their products.  For some reason, Internet Explorer seems to be the exception to that rule.  If you look at Microsoft’s reference document on Internet Software Lifecycles, you’ll see that they list all the Internet Explorer version dates as “Review Note”, and the note says “For support dates for specific Internet Explorer 6 and operating system versions and their service packs, visit the Lifecycle Supported Service Packs site at http://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle/#tab2.”

Nowhere that I was able to find on Microsoft’s site do they actually list which version shipped with which O/S.  C’mon guys, why does this have to be made so difficult?

After some digging, I’ll save you the effort if you are interested to know.  NOTE: these reflect the last date and O/S for each version, and the final end of support date.  Deployments for prior versions of Windows will hit end of support prior to these dates.

IE6 – XP – April 8 2014 end of extended support

IE7 – Vista – April 11, 2017 end of extended support

IE 8 – Win 7 – January 14 – 2020 end of extended support

IE 9 – Win 7 – January 14 – 2020 end of extended support

UPDATE 10/21/2013:

IE 10 – included with Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012, and available for Windows 7.  It will not be available for Windows 8.1 or Windows Server 2012 R2 – October 2015 end of support.

IE11 – included with Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2, and available for Windows 7.  It will not be available for Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012 – Jan 2023 end of support.

PAL-V ONE–an interesting entry in the flying car realm

PAL-V Europe NV started in 2001 to design a roadable aircraft.  What they came up with is very interesting indeed.  It’s a two-place (two seater) gyroplane which behaves like a souped-up 3 wheel motorcycle on the road (yes, it leans!)

There are always compromises when trying to come up with a machine that works both in the air and on the road.  Historically, companies working in this area emphasize the air, and give you a “roadable” machine which has pretty lousy performance, but gets you from your garage to the airport, and that’s about it.  PAL-V, on the other hand has really worked on the road part of the equation, producing a vehicle which delivers high performance (112mph), has good range, and seems like it would actually be fun to drive.

As far as the airborne side goes, an gyroplane is an interesting approach.  It is a rotary wing craft, but the wing is not powered, it rotates from forward air pressure.  This means you can’t land or take off vertically, but it is a lot simpler and cheaper than a helicopter’s rotor mechanism.  It is quieter than a helicopter as the blades spin much slower, it takes off and lands at low speeds, and can’t stall.  In the event of an engine failure, it can be auto-rotated to a safe landing.  It’s designed to fly below 4,000 feet in uncontrolled VFR (visual flight rules) traffic.  They say it will do 112mph in the air as well as on land!

Roadable high-performance gyroplane

Terrafugia flying car–getting closer to reality!

Terrafugia has been working on some interesting things in the flying-car realm.  I wrote about them a couple of years ago, but now we are getting closer to being able to actually go out and buy one of these.

Driving to flying, and back to driving again

Here’s some interesting inside-the-cockpit footage:

Inside the cockpit

Now, they have announced that they are working on a hybrid-electric VTOL car!  At the moment, it’s at the concept stage, but it certainly would be really cool if they can get it off the ground (er, sorry, I couldn’t resist)

VTOL hybrid gas/electric

The Atacama (aka Ata), Chile Humanoid (Sirius movie)

According to an article in the Huffington Post, the DNA for what looks like a 6 inch space alien has been classified and found to be human.

Hollywood publishers originally said that the documentary would reveal that the DNA of the creature could not be medically clasified.  In a rare stroke of honesty (much to the chagrin of UFO entusiasts), the film “Sirius” features a scientist who concluded that the little humanoid is in fact human.

Atahumanoid

Aviation Trust Fund to be used to keep control towers open

According to Forbes: After a week of mounting pressure from airline lobbying groups and air travelers outraged at flight delays caused by across-the-board Government spending cuts, Congress fixed the problem by preparing legislation (which the President said he would sign) to allow the transfer of revenue from the FAA’s Airport and Airway Trust Fund to cover air traffic controller salaries and prevent the closure of control towers.   Contrary to what many commenters have said, this action was not a rescue of the aviation elite at the expense of social welfare programs.  And no money will be diverted from DOT’s budget for other programs, such as highway improvement or bridge safety.  The Airport and Airway Trust Fund is never used for these other programs and it’s misleading for commenters to imply that there will be a negative impact on these other programs by this transfer of funds.

I applaud this decision, and I believe it is a good stop-gap to allow control towers to remain open and preserve the safety and efficiency of aircraft traffic.  Assuming this legislation passes, it is good that an accident did not have to occur before something positive was done about the situation.  However, this fund was not set up for this purpose, and it seems to me that it would be wrong to continue to redirect funds in this way for the long term.  This should give the FAA time to re-evaluate and to propose cuts to meet their new budgetary requirements without compromising safety, the way their reckless and irresponsible tower closing proposal did.

Hyperloop, electric cars, and philosophy–Elon Musk

This is a really neat interview with Elon Musk.  In case you’ve been in a cave for the last 20 years, Elon founded Space-X, Tesla, and is one of the more creative and brilliant entrepreneurs around.  He seems to be a very intelligent yet genuine person, as you’ll see in this interview.  He has an interesting philosophy on creative design processes and

One of the ideas he’s spoken about recently is something he refers to as the Hyperloop.  This is apparently a new mode of transportation which is supposedly very fast, accident-free, and low cost.  He visualizes using this technology to link major cities.  As he’s a bit on the busy side with his other ventures, his plan is to release this into the public domain so that others can pick up the ball and run with it.  How cool is that??

Hyperloop, electric cars, and philosophy–Elon Musk

FAA tower closing plan–Irresponsible and Inane!

With the government budget sequestration, many departments in our government have been forced to make budget cutbacks and adjustments (and not before time, if you ask me – governmental spending has been out of control for years).

As a private pilot, I find one department’s response to be particularly disturbing.  As soon as sequestration looked like it was probably going to happen, the FAA released a petulant sounding 5-yr-old statement staying that it intended to close most of the contract-based control towers at airports in the USA.  Really? Is that the best they could come up with for things to trim with a budget reduction?

Now that sequestration has happened, the FAA is standing behind this bizarre and irresponsible approach to budget cutting.  They are planning to close 149 active control towers nationwide (out of 238 total)!  According to Craig Fuller, president and CEO of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) “The White House does not understand the consequences of these actions, or they do and they simply do not care,” Fuller said. “Either way, this approach is dangerous and should not stand.”  Speaking to a group of more than 100 pilots at an AOPA town hall meeting at DuPage Airport outside of Chicago, he goes on to say “We are on the eve of one of the most unfortunate and unnecessary actions ever taken by the Federal Aviation Administration,” Fuller said. “The FAA should use the flexibility it has to avoid a deep, across-the-country closure of air traffic control towers based on a flawed formula that shuts down towers because they serve general aviation.”

I wholeheartedly agree with Mr Fuller.  The FAA is behaving completely irresponsibly in this matter.  There are other things for them to trim other than control towers which are directly responsible for traffic safety into and out of our airports.

This is a picture of the brand-new control tower at Frederick Municipal Airport in Maryland.  It was opened last May with $5.3 million in federal government funds.  Now, this is just one of the towers on the chopping block by the FAA.  This seems the height of absurdity to me.

What does the FAA say about all this?

The FAA says it is facing an untenable situation. By congressional mandate, it must cut nearly $600 million from its nearly $48 billion budget this fiscal year. Because the majority of its 47,000 employees are air traffic controllers, it is impossible to cut its budget without affecting controllers, the agency says.

The FAA is furloughing employees, eliminating midnight shifts at some control towers and reducing maintenance on non-critical facilities. In an effort to affect the fewest travelers, the FAA said it is targeting lower-volume airports — those that have fewer than 150,000 operations a year (a takes off or landing is an operation) and fewer than 10,000 commercial operations.

The 238 towers fall under those thresholds, including 49 FAA-staffed towers and 189 contractor-staffed towers. The FAA cuts to be announced Friday focus solely on the contract towers. 

This is not surprising – contract towers have never been well liked by the FAA and they aren’t considered “part of the family” by the agency.  Typically contract towers are less expensive and more efficient than FAA staffed towers (is that much of a surprise?)

The FAA claims that these tower closures will not impact safety. ROFL! Oh, there will be an impact, but most likely it will be the crunching of metal as two planes collide, causing loss of life and property.  The FAA plans to reduce flight volumes to help, which means that flights to major cities such as New York, Chicago, and San Francisco could experience delays of up to 90 minutes during peak hours.  This will of course have a ripple effect across the country.  If you delay one airport, then you delay the airport where the flight originates also.

It is time for the news media to get this into the public eye.  It makes no sense at all, and something dire is going to have to happen before these buffoons are exposed.  This does not have to happen!  We cannot allow such irresponsible actions on the part of the FAA.

Inane act of the year award winner!

This clever woman found a snake in her back yard.  Her very bizarre response was to throw gasoline on it and light it on fire.  It predictably ran way, set a pile of leaves on fire, which then set her house on fire.  Her house was completely destroyed, and part of her neighbor’s house was destroyed.  I’m really not sure anybody will be able to beat this in terms of stupidity this year!

Here’s the story: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/woman-house-burned-down-snake-she-set-fire-182236352.html