Good ping, poor speed

I miss my home wifi. The hotel we’re in has horrible internet. And I’m gonna end up spending a fortune trying to constantly tether.. It’s gotten to the point where I walk the halls looking for wireless access points and repeaters, and start resetting them just to save the front desk time. Hopefully the appartments we’ll be in next week will be better.

Airfoil FTW

airfoil-mac@2x.png

Not sure how I missed out on this, but I Just discovered Airfoil for OSX and the companion iOS app Airfoil Speakers. This is a pretty fantastic app duo, allowing me to stream music from my Mac to an old unused iPhone which is connected to the stereo in my office without a physical connection. The audio quality is very nice, with only a second or so delay from the time that I change tracks, pause, etc.

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 3.11.09 PM.png

justa.fyi (seriously)

No, the title of this post isn’t rhetorical, I snagged the domain name justa.fyi from namecheap tonight and have it redirecting to my blog now. Such a cool domain, shocked that it wasn’t already taken. Not sure what I’ll end up doing with it, but for now it will point here.

Had another domain in the works as well, but due to regulations from the country that holds that TLD, I need to be a citizen or have a local mailing address to register it. a12s be on the lookout for a ping in the near future.

Where “SCRAM” comes from

The control room harkens back to a more analog era, when instruments on the wall looked like not much more than a piece of spiral graph paper behind glass and there was a noticeable lack of computer screens. There’s also the all-important SCRAM button, for emergency shut-down of the reactor. A museum sign explains the history of the acronym, which comes from an earlier plant, Chicago Pile-1, and a rather rudimentary-sounding emergency system.

The Chicago plant is notable for being the first to reach a state in which its nuclear-fission chain reaction was self-sustaining. Despite that achievement, however, emergency precautions at the time weren’t very high-tech, at least by today’s standards. Those precautions included workers suspending a thin rod of cadmium from a rope so that it dangled above a hole in the reactor. They used cadmium because it can slow down or stop a nuclear reaction by absorbing neutrons, hopefully stemming a disaster. But there was no automatic mechanism to make the cadmium fall into the hole. Instead, a museum sign explains, a “sturdy young male physicist stood by the rope, holding an axe.” (You can’t make this stuff up.) If something went wrong, he’d “swing his axe and cut the rope, plunging the rod into its hole and shutting down the reaction instantly.” That earned him the name “Safety Control Rod Axe Man,” now SCRAM for short.

Add this to the list of jobs I never want to have! Tour the World’s First Nuclear Power Plant via The Smithsonian Magazine. 

Barcode history is probably more interesting than you thought

It had been calculated that only ten digits were needed; the barcode had to be readable from any direction and at speed; there must be fewer than one in 20,000 undetected errors.

Based largely on morse code, and originally intended to streamline the checkout process at a supermarket, the barcode has a pretty interesting history. Iterate, iterate, iterate; and eventually success ensues, as does widespread adoption of new and useful technologies.

Read more about it here, via the Smithsonian Magazine.

Astronaut

My office Friday and Saturday was the Richmond Speedway, where I hung out with Dawn and a couple other NASA folks who were manning a booth demonstrating the Resource Prospector. This is a rover in development that will scour the Moon for water beneath the surface, take core samples, and examine the specimin to determine what’s in it, and if it can be used by man, should we try to colonize the moon.

All in all, it was really great to see how interested the kids were in driving the rover, the questions they asked, and the questions their parents had. Just goes to show that science isn’t boring in the right context, and that kids really do enjoy learning – even if they claim the opposite.

Then this guy walked by: