Archive for December, 2008

Hermie’s Here

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

HermieXmasThis fine fellow used to live across the street, but the people moved away. He’s been living under the tarp that covers the wood pile.

Recently he he has decided that we are acceptable people and has moved in with us, rather than just mooching our food outside.

E. Jim has a similar situation with a cat they call Boots. I have too many damn cats as it is, but Hermie is a sweetheart. He follows Erica around and sleeps with us on the bed. The other cats could care less about us, but Hermie needs lovin’ all the time.

I guess we’ll keep him, although I’ve asked the other cats to vote one of their number out of the house.

The Infinity Concerto – Greg Bear

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

infinityconcerto I have received disparaging words from an unnamed sister-in-law about book reviews on my blog, so this will be brief.

I have always been a fan of Greg Bear, in spite of his novels being too long. The Infinity Concerto; not so much. I prefer hard science and I believe that Bear writes hard science fiction better than fantasy.

The basic story of the Infinity Concerto is that a boy enters the world of Fairy based loosely on Celtic mythology. Bear tries his best to create hard rules, but in a magical world that is difficult. I amused myself by deciding that the third law of thermodynamics didn’t hold in the land of the Sidhe, and then stopped thinking about science.

In a world where nothing is impossible, nothing is very interesting. I felt that Bear continually fabricated a new solution out of thin air whenever the protagonist got in trouble.

The book was well written with good characters and some interesting ideas, but was not my cup of SF. I am, however, reading the sequel, The Magic Serpent. There are entirely too many words where nothing much happens, but I want to find out how the plots all come together. I’ll have a review of The Magic Serpent by early next week. I may move these book reviews to another blog to satisfy in-laws only interested in cat pictures.

I am still on the "B" author row of my collection of unread books. The holidays have cut into my reading time. I am spending all of my spare moments on programming projects. I expect to have my iPhone app done any day now.

Free eReader Stories

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

I managed to convert a story to eReader format. I was able to download it to the free eReader app that I downloaded from the Apple App Store.

Next I need to add formatting and some cover art. The simple program that I found doesn’t really let you do anything. The default eReader font is a little small.

Free eReader Stories

PHA Close Approaches To The Earth

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) are asteroids that will pass very close to earth. The link is to the list ordered in ascending distance order. Aphophos will pass Earth at about 21,000 miles in the year 2029. This is very close, and I think will be very scary. I will be 78 years old then. There’s another close one in 2027 when I am 76.

The top three asteroids on the list will pass within the orbit of the moon. I hope that they have done a calculation so that we will know if one of them hits the moon. Splash from a lunar impact could be almost as dangerous as the asteroid hitting Earth.

(The distances are in Astronomical units (AU). 1 AU is approximately the mean distance of the earth from the sun = 149597870 km = 92955810 miles.)

PHA Close Approaches To The Earth

Edd Cartier 1914-2008

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

I am saddened to learn that Edd Cartier, one of the great artists of the Golden Age of Science Fiction, passed away on Christmas Day.

I met Edd quite by accident when he and his son were having a garage sale. I was lucky enough to buy some of his work and get it signed and personalized. I have since exchanged email with his sons a few times.

After I met the great man I began seeking out and collecting his art work. I have a shelf of old magazines and illustrated books with Edd’s fantastic drawings.

The photo is Edd Cartier the day I discovered him.

I hate this whole grow old and die thing. It does not seem right that the world should lose a talent like Edd Cartier. He lived a long and rich life, but still, the world is a poorer place without him.


eReader on the iPhone

Friday, December 26th, 2008

Robert J. Sawyer, a darn good SF writer, coincidentally posted about using the iPhone as an eBook reader today. He seems to like it a lot. I downloaded the iPhone eReader app today and I am going to download the conversion utility next.

e. Jim pointed it out to me. I had already read it this morning, but it didn’t sink in. Thanks, Jim.

This iPhone thing is going to keep me busy.

Robert J. Sawyer – post: eReader on the iPhone

The Closet of Lost Technology

Friday, December 26th, 2008

Every once in a while Justine cleans out her closet, and I get a shot at some neat pieces of old hardware that she doesn’t want anymore.

Justine, Erica and I went down to New York City to do the Christmas Dinner thing at the NY Athletic Club on Central park South. It was, as usual, very classy, although this time, it seemed a little raucous. This may be because we had a 12:30 seating, and there were lots of kids running around the ballroom.

We started with champagne and I had the Salmon. (I was turkeyed out, and I don’t eat beef, now). Everything was good.

On the way home Justine handed over a computer bag from her Closet of Lost Technology. When I got home I discovered a MacBook Air, an older Apple iPhone, and a fancy Blackberry phone (no charger).

I am not normally an Apple guy, although I got used to the Mac OS when I was teaching. These are very, neat toys, however, and I’ve already thought of ways to put them to use.

First, iPhone apps are extremely hot and if you can program using the iPhone’s arcane SDK you can name your own price. iPhone programmer is the top paying job in my field right now, so I downloaded the SDK and I am going through the tutorials. I should be able to write an real app before New Years Day, and after that I can see if I can pick up a few gigs.

One good thing about having the MacBook Air is that the SDK requires a Mac to run it (my only Apple at the moment is a ten year old Blueberry Mac). I will have to puzzle out the Mac OS and connect to the internet so I can install the SDK on the Air. I will be able to design my apps on other computers, compile them on the MacBook and then test them on the iPhone.

Another interesting use of the iPhone is that you can convert stories to the the eReader format and upload them to the iTunes store, where they sell well. I read somewhere that readers are downloading 10,000 stories a month in eReader format for the iPhone. At 99 cents a story, I might be able to make some money. The conversion utilities are all free so I am going to give it try.

The iPhone has a little time left on it, and I have been getting Justine’s phone calls. It runs out some time in January, so I have a window to do some testing. After that I will probably hook it up with a goPhone plan at $5 a month, just for testing. I don’t make many calls, and I can’t see myself using the iphone to check email that often. I have another cell phone that I want to convert over to pay-as-you-go, but I think that I might just retire that phone and go with the iPhone.

What Star Trek (original series) Character are you?

Friday, December 26th, 2008

I hate these time wasters, but it’s Friday at work and there is no one here to keep tabs on me.

What Star Trek Character Are You? (The Original Series)

James T. Kirk

The Famous and Infamous Caption of The U.S.S Enterprise

Personality Test Results

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I am not Kirk! Please, no! Anyone but Kirk!

Star Finder

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

I want to get more into Astronomy. I had some experience with Google sky so I created some databases and connected them to images. I have about 250,000 stars and their locations. I also made some nice pages of things like the messier objects, the Herschel 400 and the Arp peculiar Galaxies.

I am also working on the NGC list of galaxies.

Databases is what I do best.

Click on it and explore the Messier Objects, they are very cool!

Star Finder

Birdhouses in the snow

Friday, December 19th, 2008

Justine asked to see her birdhouse so I took some pictures in the snow. We have a dozen birdhouses on the property. I kept finding new ones, but I didn’t walk too far in the back. We have six inches of snow.

Snowy Friday

Friday, December 19th, 2008

I took a couple of days off, but it snowed today and I was mostly stuck inside all day. I’ve done a little, putting up lights and wreaths and I am going to see if I can find the tree lights, next.

I went outside briefly and took some pictures. I am trying to embed a picasa slide show:

Lots of Winter Pictures

Friday, December 19th, 2008

I am cleaning out the various cameras here. I put some of them on a Picasa album here:

Some interesting pictures —

When Larry and I went to see Cadillac Records, we got there a little early. Larry spent the time annoying some nice girls trying to sell bath salts and other smelly things. They worked hard flirting with Larry and trying to sell him something. Of course, he didn’t spend any money and when we went by later one of them gave him the finger.

There is a mouse at work that leaves me little presents every night.

Furry in the snow showers that we had around Thanksgiving.

The usual suspects at work. This is our Christmas lunch. Programming attracts a variety of cultures.

There are a bunch of arty pictures of the backyard in the collection.

Here is a Battenfeld tree farm picture.

Newdy Wootist

Monday, December 15th, 2008

From writer Adrienne Ray: A Newdy Wootist one who believes in the world according to the media.

This would be a person who thinks that reality is anything that appears on TV – the only correct science is that which is expressed in the media. It is a faith in the sitcoms, soap operas, reality TV shows, and MTV DJs over and above pre-TV religion or science.

Either I am spelling it wrong or Adrienne misspelled it. The phrase does not Google, but it is such an interesting sounding expression that I have no doubts that it will appear on in the next few weeks as the latest internet Wortverbindung.

Wortverbindung is an interesting word all by itself. It might mean Link Word, phrase, or Word Combination, but it seems to describe well the little phrases that weave in and out of the web zeitgeist.

Extra Sensory Perception by J.B. Rhine

Monday, December 15th, 2008

I picked this up for a quarter and I have been dipping into it while waiting in the car. It is not worth reading from end to end. I can’t believe that anyone ever put much credence in Rhine. He likes to confuse anecdotal evidence with scientific method. Rhine never gives hard numbers from what I read, and his approach to studying ESP seems naive.

Rhine and the Duke experiments are often referred to in Science Fiction. John W. Campbell, Jr. seems to have bought into Rhine hook, line, and sinker.

A quick look on Wikipedia tells that some of Rhine’s assistants fudged the data so it would look better. If there is ever a scientific study of ESP it would have to be done much differently than the Duke experiments. Rhine’s results have never been duplicated. He only published his good results, and those are suspect.