Intel's Ronler Acres Plant


Silicon Forest

Saturday, November 17, 2018


Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018) - Official Trailer - Paramount Pictures
Tom Cruise is at it again. The stunts are spectacular and true to the Mission Impossible tradition, totally over the top. I wouldn't be surprised if he gets killed making one of these movies.

The fight scene in Paris was amazing. The helicopter chase scene in Kasmir would be more amazing except it's a little hard to follow. It's going so fast and they are going through such contortions that it's a little hard to tell which way is up. The cliff hanger at the end is an amazing progression of bad to worse to no-way. But you know our hero will save the day, and he does.

There are a couple of bits of philosophy that might be about anarchy, but I think they are just some gobble-de-gook that the screenwriters came up with because it sounded cool. Any similarity to Scientology is just coincidence. or is it? Come on conspiracy buffs, get those mental gears going and give us a theory.

$20 pay-per-view on the big screen TV in our room at the Fairmont Kea Lani on Maui.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Catching a Lyft to Hawaii

First time taking Lyft on our own today. We took Uber when we were in San Francisco a few years ago, but one of our kids arranged that. SWMBO installed the Lyft App a couple of days ago and arranged for a ride to the airport. $50 more or less. Last time I checked parking at the Economy lot at PDX was $10 a day, so it’s going to cost us a few bucks more, but no schlepping bags onto the shuttle bus, nor driving for miles to the back of beyond to find a parking space, plus I don’t have to remember where the heck I parked the car.

The Lyft driver was entertaining. Born and raised in St. Johns, he’s lived in Seattle and Las Vegas and now lives in Cornelius with his brother and two yappy dogs. He trained as a chef and a front-end software developer, but he makes more money driving for Lyft than he can make in either of those two occupations. He rents his car ( a Mazda 3) from Hertz for $209 a week, but Lyft gives him a rebate of $180 if he gives 105 rides a week. Lyft takes 25% off the top of the fare plus $2.50 per ride. He puts 50,000 miles on his car every year.

When he was a kid, it was a popular sport with street racers to go up on the Fremont bridge in the middle of the night, like 3 or 4 in morning, block off all lanes while one guy would do donuts in the middle of the bridge. Eventually thiis activity made the national news.

Lombard is popular with street racers because it is a long straight section with no traffic lights and, so far, no cameras. Street racing has dropped off recently, possibly because the police take a dim view of it.

I sometimes wonder why it took Uber and Lyft so long to get going, but now that I think about it, I realize thay depend on their customers having smart phones, so they had to wait until a sizable percentage of the population had them.

Taxis are really a criminal racket. Don’t know if all cities follow New York’s model, but New York is (was?) a real mess. To operate a taxi, you needed a medallion, and medallions cost $70K. The vig on that is going to be a couple hundred bucks a week, which really cuts into the amount a driver can earn. So I am glad taxis are going the way of the coffee cartels.

Our flight left PDX around sunset, so there was absolutely nothing to see, not that there would have been anthing but water anyway. There were two babies on the flight. One was pretty quiet, the other screamed and cried about half the time. Some of his rants sounded like ‘I bite you’. There was a child sitting behind us who sneezed a few times and whenever she did, it sounded like a shreik.

Where does all the noise come from? We’re cruising along at 500 knots and the noise level in the cabin is a dull roar. You can’t understand someone speaking quietly unless they are right next to you. Yes, jet engines are very loud, but is all the noise coming from the engines? Or is some of it coming just from the air rushing over the fuselage at 500 MPH?

They distribute tablets to people who want to watch movies. The seats have USB outlets on the back for charging your phones. The pocket on the back of the seat in front of you is now made of coarse netting instead of solid fabric.There is also a second pocket near the top that holds the magazine, menu, air sickness bag and safety card. This pocket has a single support strap to hold the materials, so it isn’t really a pocket either. The seats only recline about two inches. Not hardly worth bothering with. The headphones they distribute with the tablets are disposable. Can’t be bothered with cleaning and sanitizing them I guess. One overhead luggage bin appears to be dedicated to small oxygen cylinders.

How did Captain Cook discover the Hawaiian islands? The big mountain is 3 miles tall, so from the top of the mast of a sailing ship you should be able to see it from 150 miles away, which means there would be a 300 mile wide window where they would have been able to see it. But what are the odds? A few miles north or south and they would have missed it completely. Weird, man.

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Man in the High Castle

The Man in the High Castle Season 1 - Official Comic-Con Trailer | Prime Video

We just finished season one and it just occurred to me why conservatives are such stick-in-the-muds. It's because they realize how fragile our civilization is, how easy it would to be to tip it into darkness and destruction and how bad that would be. So anything new and different needs to be measured against whatever upsetting effects it might have, and since there is no way to tell what those effects might be, the conservative approach is to go slowly.

A comfortable life is a rare thing. We look around at our neighbors and community and everything looks fine. But for a good portion of the world things are not so good. Famine, murder and mayhem are the order of the day for a zillion people every day. Having a comfortable life is the gold standard for civilized people.

This show is very annoying. The lead couple (Frank & Julianna) are not your cool, calculating secret agents, they are a young couple that have gotten drug into maelstrom and are trying to cope as best they can. Stir in conflicting loyalties, double agents and double dealing and I began to see how they might be a bit confused as to just what to do. James Bond never has this problem. Of course, James Bond gets to rid the script, so he knows who the bad guys are from the beginning.


How To Draw Mushrooms On An Oscilloscope With Sound

Yet another obscure subculture of people who draw pictures by feeding audio signals to an oscilloscope. A post on Reddit got me started, a comment pointed to this page, where I found this video. This one gives a pretty good overview of the basics. Creating a signal that is pleasant to listen to and generates some sort of image is a bit of a trick.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Armistice Day

Anthem Veterans Memorial
I've seen a bunch of posts about Armistice Day today. I wasn't going to say anything, but then this picture caught my eye. Wikipedia has the details.

WW1 was a disaster of epic proportions. I suspect that it was at least due in part to the population explosion of the 19th century. I suspect that the violence we see everyday is due to our natural propensity for hate. It would be nice if we could eliminate that, but it is part of our nature and no doubt played a large part in getting us where we are today. So maybe it's just something we are going to have to live with. The best we can do is to channel that rage and aggression into non-destructive endeavors, but even that may backfire on us. Keep building new things without destroying any old things and pretty soon you are going to be walled in on every side. And then what are you going to do, Bucky?

Saturday, November 10, 2018


X-bracing inside garage
If I have been a little light on posting lately it might be because I have been busy helping patch up younger son's garage. It really needs a completely new roof and siding, but we don't want to get into that until the house has been brought up to snuff, so we are just patching up the garage enough to get through the rainy season. Plus we raised the 'ceiling' by replacing the ceiling joists with some X-braces. Biggest problem this week is getting the dumpster load of debris certified as 'asbestos free'. Criminently, it's going in the landfill. Who cares if it is full of asbestos?


Kinescope Recording of Big Shot-2 Satellite Balloon Suborbital Inflation

Back in the early 60's, NASA's Project Echo put a couple of very large balloons into orbit. Echo 1 was 100 feet in diameter and Echo 2 was 135 feet in diameter. I remember looking up at the night sky when I was a little kid and seeing them sail by. Dots of light is all they were. Or maybe that was Sputnik. Whatever.

Before they launched these giant mylar balloons into orbit, the launched a couple of balloons 250 miles into space to test their inflation scheme. Low earth orbit, which is where the International Space Station is, is about 100 miles, so they were well up there. This was back in the 60's, so putting something into orbit was a real stretch. Launching something straight up was much easier. Putting something in orbit requires accelerating to around five miles per second. Sending something 250 miles straight up only required reaching a velocity of around two miles per second. Much, much easier.

The first one (Big Shot 1) failed when "the balloon was torn apart due to rapid inflation". The second one (shown in the video above) was a success. This video comes to us through a Rube Goldberg combination of technology:
A Kinescope is a film recording of a television screen. It really is that simple: a film camera aimed at a TV. But why? Primarily because early videotape was unreliable, expensive, and low quality. Many early television broadcasts were recorded via Kinescope before videotapes became available. NASA used Kinescope to record live feeds from space off of video monitors. - The Unwritten Record
The balloons themselves were pretty amazing.
Unlike Echo 1, Echo 2's skin was rigidizable, and the balloon was capable of maintaining its shape without a constant internal pressure. This removed the requirement for a long term supply of inflation gas, and meant that the balloon could easily survive strikes from micrometeoroids. The balloon was constructed from "a 0.35 mil (9 µm) thick mylar film sandwiched between two layers of 0.18 mil (4.5 µm) thick aluminum foil and bonded together." The balloon was inflated to such a level as required to slightly plastically deform the metal layers of the laminate, while leaving the polymer in the elastic range. This resulted in a rigid and very smooth spherical shell. - Wikipedia
I think what this means is that they used enough pressure to slightly stretch the balloon material. For a big balloon like this, you would need a great deal of pressure to stretch the whole thing. On the other hand, you have an enormous volume of gas doing the pressing, and the material is very thin (.0007 inches, less than a sheet of typing paper), so maybe they only needed a small amount of pressure. In any case they used enough pressure to stretch the aluminum so it stayed stretched (kind of like stretching a slug of aluminum into a beer can), but not so much that it ripped the mylar film.

Morse Code Decoder

I tried decoding the beeps in the video. They sound like they could be Morse Code, but I couldn't make much sense of it. Seems to be something like N-R-F-R-E-0 repeated over and over again.

Via Indy Tom