Flying snakes – very cool aerodynamics

Here’s a really cool article with video on “flying snakes”.  Actually, they don’t really fly, they glide.  The mystery is exactly how do they do it?  These researchers attempt to shed some light:

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/flying-snakes-secret-revealed-20101124.html

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Microsoft Lync Rollout

I attended the rollout webinar today.  Microsoft was going on about how wonderful the “experience” is, and how it’s HIGH DEF don’t you know, and the quality and ease of this new communication system is unmatched.

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Nice job, guys.  I enjoyed the experience of audio dropouts, video dropouts, and a generally disappointing experience.  Hey, next time maybe ditch Silverlight and go with a technology that works!  How about picking something with with a PAUSE button?  That'd be clever.

California Elections – Prop 19

Now that the elections are over, I’m left scratching my head.  This is California, right?  The “Granola state”?  How could prop 19 not pass? Hellooooooo?  Here's a link to an opinion on CNN.

For those who weren’t paying attention to the elections, prop 19 was a proposal to legalize Marijuana.

Just for perspective, I’d like to state that I don’t personally use Marijuana.  However, I don’t care one whit whether or not other people do.

Once you strip off all the crazy and inaccurate propaganda (the most infamous example, “Reefer Madness” is actually hilarious), you are left with basically an equivalent to alcohol, but with a couple of advantages: People who are stoned, KNOW they are stoned and would rather sleep or eat than drive.  People who are intoxicated with alcohol frequently misjudge their impairment, and that’s what leads to accidents.  People who are stoned tend to get very passive and laid-back.  People intoxicated with alcohol either want to tell you “I love you, man” or pick a fight.

So now that prop 19 has not passed, we’re going to continue to spend a bunch of tax money on enforcing, incarcerating, trying, and applying people and efforts to enforce something that not even the law enforcement types really want to bother with.

The criminal types will still continue to thrive in the black market for the “wacky tobaccy”.  Is this really an industry we want to encourage?

Then, there are the medical aspects.  My father died from a type of brain cancer that has responded well to cannabis treatment in other patients.  I take that rather personally.  Because of all the propaganda and silliness, it’s taking an inordinately long time for the medical uses to become accepted.  It is great for pain management, treatments for certain types of cancer, and a whole host of other things (search the net – it’s amazing).  Why isn’t proper research being done on all this, like it would be for any other drug?  Well, mainly because there is no profit in it for the drug companies.  They want to make something they can patent, and charge a lot of money for.  They can’t patent a natural product, so they’d have to settle for packaging and processing, which has a much lower profit margin.

Windows – a very rude O/S

Microsoft Windows – all versions, seem to suffer from a similar malady.  Any application can ask to have their window sent to the front at any time.  In my opinion, this is a poor behavior.  Take this scenario for example:

I fire up application X which is a really big, bloated application and takes quite a while to load.  Since I’m bored waiting for it, I switch to my email program and start to compose an email.  Part way through typing, the main window for application X rudely barges in front of my composition window like a spoiled 5 year old (Me, look at Me, Meeeeee!).  At this point, I don’t want to look at that window, I want to finish my email.  So, I have to click back on my email window, regain my train of thought, and finish my email.  I click send, and NOW I want to go use application X, which should have been waiting just beneath.

It seems to me that if the user is doing something in a window, other applications should not be able to preempt that.  At the very most, I’d have designed it so that an application requesting “front” would get promoted to just behind the active window.  If the user isn’t typing, clicking, or whatever, then by all means, let it come to the front.  This would still interrupt a user who was reading, but the only way to fix that would be to keep track of events.  You’d have to track that the user invoked a program, but then brought another window to the front, and so when that invoked program opens it’s window, it would open behind the one the user manually brought to the front.  This is a bit more work, but ultimately, the “right thing to do”.  Computers are supposed to do what we want, when we want them to do it.  If I have manually brought a window to the front, then I want it to be in front.  Is this too much to ask?

Other windowing environments (such as X) handle this differently.  They aren’t “rude” in the same way, but on the other hand, I find their “focus” system to be a bit annoying (you have to have the mouse cursor IN the window you are typing into).

F-16 vs C-130

A C-130 was lumbering along when a cocky F-16 flashed by.
The jet jockey decided to show off.

The fighter jock told the C-130 pilot, ‘watch this!’ and promptly
Went into a barrel roll followed by a steep climb. He then finished
With a sonic boom as he broke the sound barrier. The F-16 pilot
Asked the C-130 pilot what he thought of that?

The C-130 pilot said, ‘That was impressive, but watch this!’
The C-130 droned along for about 5 minutes and then the C-130
Pilot came back on and said: ‘What did you think of that?’
Puzzled, the F-16 pilot asked, ‘What the heck did you do?’
The C-130 pilot chuckled. ‘I stood up, stretched my legs, walked
to the back, took a leak, then got a cup of coffee and a
Cinnamon roll.’