Archive for the ‘Science/Technology/Medical’ Category

Total Eclipse of the Sun

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Astronomers Studying an Eclipse painted by Antoine Caron in 1571

Astronomers Studying an Eclipse painted by Antoine Caron in 1571

My Jim and I were talking about Total Eclipses of the Sun and when we saw one as a child. He remembered that he was about 7 years old and that it was in the afternoon and he was in the Solarium in his house when it happened; I remembered that it was when I was with my Dad making his rounds in the dry cleaning delivery truck on a Saturday and knew I had to be about 8 years old or so and remembered it being in the afternoon (I thought). But neither of us could be sure what year for sure it was.

We wanted to nail it down, since we both saw it together in two different states together. So, I went to the NASA Solar Eclipse page and started looking in the early 60s for a Total Eclipse. Sure enough, there it was July 20, 1963 (here‘s the page where we found it).

All these years later, we both remembered quite a bit about it … and the deepest part of the eclipse only lasted about 1 minute 40 seconds.

Eclipses can be exciting, maybe even a little bit scary, or may cause some measure of anxiety for a child because they have never seen such a thing happen before in their little lives. Giving them as much information as possible, especially for a curious child, can be a great defense against such anxiety. We loved it. Both of us did, even as children. But both of us had some knowledge of what was going on. Science fascinated us both. I remember a woman from the West Indies who was with me when it happened (we stopped at a Judge’s house at the Jersey Shore on my Dad’s rounds noted earlier, and this woman and her husband worked in the house and were good friends of my Dad), and she said that this could be a once in a lifetime thing. She had only seen one once before in her life.

The next Total Eclipse of the Sun for our area in the United States won’t happen again until 2017 (August 21). Hard to say whether we both will still be here then. But I think it will be really interesting if we could share it together this time, instead of seeing it separately in two different states together like last time. Jim in Ohio and me at the Jersey Shore. We didn’t even know each other back then.

It is on my calendar for August 21, 2017 just in case. 😉

Solar eclipse of July 20, 1963 (Wikipedia)

According to Wikipedia, the next Total Solar Eclipse of the Sun after the one August 21, 2017, (that we could see here in the continental United States) won’t occur again until September 23, 2071.

I am pretty certain we won’t be here for that one, but our grandchildren will be.

Information on Solar Eclipses:

Solar eclipse (Wikipedia)

There are some very good external links on that page as well.

You can even listen to the article in .ogg format in two parts from Wikimedia linked on that page or click on the links below:

Solar Eclipses article in audio format from Wikimedia:

Part 1
Part 2

Solar Eclipses have been interpreted as all kinds of omens, portents, etc. in history; particularly related to battle.

In addition, there are some really interesting observations made including some cool scientific observations, as well as some anomalies as well, such as this from the Wikipedia article:

Gravity anomalies

There is a long history of observations of gravity-related phenomena during solar eclipses, especially around totality. In 1954 and again in 1959, Maurice Allais reported observations of strange and unexplained movement during solar eclipses. This phenomenon is now called the Allais Effect. Similarly, Saxl and Allen in 1970 observed sudden change in motion of a torsion pendulum, and this phenomenon is called the Saxl effect.

A recent published observation during the 1997 solar eclipse by Wang et al. suggested a possible gravitational shielding effect, though there is some serious debate. Later in 2002, Yang and Wang published detailed data analysis which suggested that the phenomenon still remains unexplained. More studies are being planned by NASA and ESA over the next decade.

Very interesting stuff!

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Technorati NEW Look and How to be Safer While Banking Online

Technorati is welcoming readers to a new look and new addition to it’s already great content while continuing to keep a pulse on the blogosphere.

Technorati has added a new section of writer generated content. Matt Sussman writes, “…While we’ll still track and link to the top blogs, posts, and tags, the unique content written by hundreds of bloggers will complement what the rest of [what] the world is saying.”

I am one of the people who are writing content for Technorati’s new blogger contributed content. There are quite a few of us so you will see articles in various channels: Blogging Channel, Lifestyle Channel, Sports Channel, Business Channel, Entertainment Channel, Videos Channel, and of course the Technology Channel.

The New Technorati Technology Channel

The New Technorati Technology Channel

For the new launch, my first contribution is highlighted in Technorati’s new Technology Channel: How to be Safer While Banking Online.

As most of my blog readers (and listeners of our JimmyLee and Bambi Show on CNIRadio.com) know, technology is one of the things that interests me very much; particularly in the areas of security, innovation and gadgets. I look forward to writing more in the new Technorati Technology Channel. My articles will be found here. I will also be contributing in other areas like I do on Blogcritics.

Internet Speed Test | Speed Matters

Sigh…
And we have to pay as much or more than Cox and Charter Cable’s biggest pipe, and WAY more than Verizon ADSL (no matter what speed you get — except FiOS which will not be here till h*ll freezes over) to get that speed on Cellular Wireless and be limited monthly to a 5GB per month Cap. 😦

But at least it’s better than Dialup at 3.6kbps-4.4kbps, eh?

Which, until recently, was all there was until the Cell tower was upgraded/added around here.

Speed Test

How fast are you? Take the speed test to see how your connection measures up.

Our 2007 Speed Matters report was a great success. We received front page coverage in USA Today and in publications across the country. We helped launch statewide broadband projects in Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia. And the test results helped convice the Federal Communications Commission to change its definition of broadband so that they can collect data that is more meaningful – one of the major goals of our campaign.

Take the test today so that you are included in our 2008 report.

Learn more about the speed test.

Ed Bott breaths life back into a $2500 Sony Vaio “brick”

It takes a big hearted computer technician/journalist, Ed Bott to take this ‘$2500 brick’ (as Jeremy Toeman called it – check out the youtube video) back from the dead. (and how many people will have an “Ed Bott as Jeremy also said in the video on the page).

Ed Bott couldn’t even use the restore disks because of all the crapware that Sony put on it! So, basically he had to use a clean install from a Vista Retail version and then call Microsoft to validate it. And he also had to go looking for drivers for most of the hardware. He couldn’t just use the ones that had come with the Vaio because they were flakey!

And it’s not just this one from 11 months ago. Ed got another one direct from Sony. Thankfully it was more stable with Vista SP1 with all the crapware so he could at least get rid of the crapware and then update the drivers but even that experience wasn’t without incident.

Normal average users would not know how to do this! They will need a technician to do this stuff for them! It’s no wonder Jeremy Toeman and others like him were/are so upset with their new OEM computers running Vista!

From Jeremy’s blog posting: “Until a PC company follows any of this advice, Apple will continue to gain market share, and here’s why: Virtually all MacBook users today are happily recommending others to try MacBooks, with a predictable, reliable recommendation. PC users cannot as easily do the same. I had a great Vaio, then a terrible one. I’ve used Toshibas before (great – in the 90s), a Gateway (wasn’t bad), and 3 Dells now (one good, one bad, one ugly). But they are all vastly different.”

But OEM manufacturers weren’t the only problem from day one with Vista. It’s just the latest to surface. Vista had trouble with upgrades as well and that was uglier than the OEMs. And alot of that had to do with drivers — oh, and non-functional software! And don’t forget many gamers programs!

Even Ballmer recently stated that Vista was not done yet, errr, “A work in progress.”
This was much worse than the XP situation when it came out (which was pretty bad in itself). WinXP SP1, actually it was more SP2 that finally corrected things for WinXP. But the problems continue to plague many who try to upgrade to SP1 of Vista. Of course to prevent many of the problems resulting from upgrading to SP1. They are saying it’s best to upgrade FROM a clean install to have the best results.

I sure hope they do a better job with the next one (Windows 7) — but I am not holding my breath.

Rogue Flash ads pushing malware

Sunbelt Blog posted an article entitled Rogue ads pushing malware – how it works. Here’s the video that shows what’s happening:

At Sunbelt Blog’s website, Alex Eckelberry continues to talk about the Flash .swf ads that are being used to push all this malicious content after throwing the user back and forth all over the web utilizing techniques that are big with Web2.0 interactive and mashed up content:

This is not a trivial problem, and the most important thing for publishers to do is to be extremely careful when accepting new advertisers (and be wary of tricks these people use, like giving fake references), and then keep a close eye on the advertising as it’s running (and hopefully some good tools can be developed for publishers to use to check the content of ads for malicious redirects before posting).

Must read for all Web Surfers.

Legitimate sites like the Major League Baseball site that had at one time recently been unknowingly spewing this type of bad content which was infecting visitors’ computers (see the article) were just trying to keep their visitors/users interested using innovative Web 2.0 features — bringing in and displaying, aka Mashup (web application hybrid) content such as articles, news, videos, ads and more from various sources on the Internet. In the process, something occasionally happens on these legitimate sites. Bad things are being injected.

Thanks for the heads up Alex!

Speed DOES MATTER on the Internet!

If you spend time on dialup versus broadband (even at the entry level for throughput and bandwidth limitations that many providers in this country pass off for broadband), you realize very quickly that you forgot how slow it was and you are not going back there!

Well, for many of us in this once great nation, we have no choice but to daily use dialup, or have to spend hundreds of dollars per month on fractional T1s, or full T1s if fractional isn’t available, or two phone lines to the tune of believe it or not with only extended calling (and you really need extended calling to get an ISP that has even a semblance of reasonable rates) which runs about $45-$46/mo PER LINE (because there are no breaks on a second line), just to get a MAXIMUM of 3.6-4.4K+3.6-4.4K or 11.2K analog, not digital.

But wait there’s more. Then you have to pay an ISP for dual line dialup! In our area, it would put us at about $100 a month for 11.2K of analog dialup bandwidth.

This is downright idiotic. Every day you hear about another area that’s already bursting with broadband, getting even more bandwidth down the pike!!! And here we sit on dialup! Still getting the same stupid rhetoric from Verizon, “Maybe in a year or two.” At that rate, after 8-9 yrs of asking, we should be on FiOS by now, right! NOPE!

Still on dialup.

And we are trying to run a home-based business this way believe it or not!

I have talked to COX.net, and after a very nice lady said she would have someone come out for a look see and then they would get back to me, I am still waiting to hear back … it’s been at least 2 months since she said they would call back. I guess I will have to call them back.

Charter.net is only 5-6 miles down the road, Verizon about 4 miles down the road, and from what I understand Cox.net brought fiber to within 3 miles of here and turned the corner to to the schools.

Broadband is so close you can almost taste it … but they won’t come into our small town.

According to Sen. Joe Biden, although we’ve led the world in educational standards historically, in the last 20 years, the rest of the world has caught up with the U.S. with “warp speed. Some of them have gone beyond us.”

That’s why Sen. Joe Biden’s talk that I found on SpeedMatters really struck a chord with me. I am so tired of not having broadband at our home. Here’s a link to the Youtube video of Sen. Biden’s talk.

EDIT: Of course you’d need broadband to take advantage of seeing the YouTube video … unfortunately!

DirectX 10 Hardware Is Now Obsolete

A friend today was telling me about a situation with new video cards, DirectX 10, games like Bioshock that are really frustrating to Gamers.

The copyright holders/developers of Bioshock apparently have an activation revoke tool. And I am sure they are not the only ones!

Most gamers knew that they were waiting for the changes in Vista to make gaming work right in Vista, but I don’t think they expected this!

If you want proof of the abuses of copyright holders and software developers and how they are abusing their place in the world through Vista the Enabler, apparently Bioshock is one to take a peak at.

Say you have a gamer who buys the game. He currently has a GeForce 88xx PCIe video card on a Vista system. He runs Windows Update which in turn installs the new updates for DirectX 10…which apparently shuts off (for no apparent reason) the eye candy the card is fully capable of doing in the game, and had before the update.

Out of frustration, he buys the next version of video card that supports the new updates to DirectX 10 …. for $549!!!

Now he figures he can go back and play Bioshock and really get a great game going! But NO!!!! HE goes back to play Bioshock only to find his activation was revoked for a change in hardware!!!

So after the third time changing hardware, he now has run out of activation credits.

Now he has to purchase the game again.

Then I go to do some searches in Google to see if others are having this type of trouble, and low and behold Slashdot has this: DirectX 0 Hardware is now Obsolete.

DirectX 10 Hardware Is Now Obsolete
Posted by Zonk on Sat Aug 11, 2007 05:41 AM
from the shouldn’t-have-blinked dept.
Windows Graphics Hardware Games
ela_gervaise writes “SIGGRAPH 2007 was the stage where Microsoft dropped the bomb, informing gamers that the currently available DirectX 10 hardware will not support the upcoming DirectX 10.1 in Vista SP1. In essence, all current DX10 hardware is now obsolete. But don’t get too upset just yet: ‘Gamers shouldn’t fret too much – 10.1 adds virtually nothing that they will care about and, more to the point, adds almost nothing that developers are likely to care about. The spec revision basically makes a number of things that are optional in DX10 compulsory under the new standard – such as 32-bit floating point filtering, as opposed to the 16-bit current. 4xAA is a compulsory standard to support in 10.1, whereas graphics vendors can pick and choose their anti-aliasing support currently. We suspect that the spec is likely to be ill-received. Not only does it require brand new hardware, immediately creating a minuscule sub-set of DX10 owners, but it also requires

Lots of very interesting comments at Slashdot on this.

All those folks that said, you don’t know what you are talking about. That I can still do everything on Vista that I could on XP and Win2K … read it and weep.

I kept saying it is not now! It’s later. Vista is the Enabler. The copyright holders and developers will not want to ‘sqeeze’ too hard till they have a decent number of suckers, errrr, users on Vista before ‘squeezing.’

Of course this is really not the first time (see WGA and other DRM issues, etc), but somehow all the other times was some sort of fluke that quietly gets fixed, or oh, that’s just the way it is with Vista. But now things are starting to change for users, eh? How many users will be affected by this do you think?

What say ye, now?

By the way, thumbsup to ID Software and others who create their games for OpenGL so it can be ported easily to other OSes like Mac and Linux/UNIX. And not be hit by this Microsoft operating system centric DirectX lockin crap.

Thanks Charlie for the confirmation so I could go looking for examples of this!

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