Intel's Ronler Acres Plant


Silicon Forest

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Catch 22

Get Fuzzy by Darby Conley

What's the deal with Argentina?

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Photographer: Diego Levy/Bloomberg
Argentina is the only country in the world that was 'developed’ in 1900 and ‘developing’ in 2000.
Once upon a time, Argentina was a very rich country. There is little disagreement that this time was in the period before WWI. Level of per capita income in 1913 in:
  • Argentina (USD 3,797 in 1992 US Dollars) compared favorably to that of 
  • France      (USD 3,452) and 
  • Germany  (USD 3,134).
Extracted and paraphrased from an article on VoxEU dot org by Nauro F Campos 20 December 2014. He goes over a number of factors and theories to that try explain what happened. Near as I can tell they made some bad choices. You'd think they would learn. They've got a new head of the state oil company and he seems to be making some progress. Or not. We shall see how it does.

Some people have been suggesting that El Presidente Cristina Kirchner might be getting a little flakey. 

On one hand I am inclined to believe this: 'Yes! That's the problem! That woman is nuts! Get her out of there and get the right man in there and things will quickly improve!'

But then I realize those suggestions may not have any merit, and they might have been made:
  1. just to create a fuss so as to garner more attention for the people making the suggestions and so make them feel important and/or increase their ratings, which leads to increased advertising revenue, or
  2. as part of a political attack to further destabilize Argentina, or raise opposition to El Presidente.
Financial contortions seem to be the biggest news coming out of Argentina these days. That and oil, which is basically the same thing.

Saturday, December 20, 2014


A toe tapping romp through (mostly) vintage cigarette TV advertising with music by Asleep at the Wheel. Also featured is the earliest filmed ad for Admiral Cigarettes, an 1897 Edison film, and a Fred & Barney from the Flintstones smoking Winston Cigarettes.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Post SONY Security

The last couple of days I've been getting phone calls from insurance agents wanting to talk to my wife. There got to be so many of them I started to wonder what was going on. When I inquired, the agent of the moment tells me that my wife had requested an auto insurance quote. Well, that's weird. When I tell my wife about this she denies ever asking for anyone for such a thing.
     The number of calls and emails from headhunters have also jumped up, which makes me think somebody tickled my file. Could all this have been triggered by the North Korean hack attack on SONY?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, blogger has changed their 'I am not a robot' test. Used to be you had to type in some numbers or letters that only a true human [tm] could decipher from a picture. Now all you have to do is check the box. Curiously, the box is not a picture but an html construct. What you see above were cropped from screen shots.

Chromebook bonus: you can crop the screenshot when you make it, you don't need to take a separate step. Magic key combination: ctrl-shift + funny square light bulb lying on its side symbol, right above the six key. Now where do I find the icon for that key? And what is it supposed to be?

U-Boat 977

Bought this book on a recommendation. Showed up in a padded envelope yesterday. The package was so thin I didn't imagine it could be a book, but here it is. Look at the price on the cover: 35 cents! How old is this thing? Written in 1952, this copy printed in 1957. It is basically intact, but the pages are thoroughly yellowed. I don't expect it to survive much longer.


Dollar mouse shipped direct to my house from Singapore
I bought a refurbished Toshiba Chromebook to take with me to Argentina. I really need something to put underneath it to raise the back edge so the keyboard is tilted toward me, but that's my problem. It has a touchpad, which I loathe. Fortunately I had this mouse (above) that I had purchased on a whim because one dollar, are you freaking kidding me? Ok, it might have been two dollars, and it took a week or two to get here, but still. Seems like it would have been cheaper for the company to just throw it in the trash rather than to pay the postage, but I dunno, maybe getting your trash hauled away is really expensive in Singapore.
    It worked fine for a while, but then it started acting really flakey and I thought, well, what did you expect for a dollar? But then it went back to working okay, and then it went to being flakey again, and this time I realized it was because my left hand was reaching across the keyboard to the number 8 and 9 keys and I was letting my hand rest on the touch pad. So, nothing wrong with mouse, it's just the touch pad giving me trouble. Again.
    Big advantage of mouse over touchpad: right click. There's probably some key combination that will allow you to preform the same function with the touchpad, or there might be some magic finger gesture you can make, but you know what? I don't care. I have a mouse and I know how to use it so that's what I am going to do.


Bill is... concerned, about this reentry trajectory.
I got to thinking about the Orion spacecraft the other day, in particular splashdown and recovery of the capsule. The US Navy had a ship standing by and they were able to successfully retrieve the capsule, which is good. But then I got to wondering about how accurate was the splashdown? Was it within a few yards of the predicted point of impact, or a few miles? Or should we be talking about hundreds of miles? I mean the thing is traveling 5 miles per second, it wouldn't take a very big mistake to have you end up on the wrong side of the world. Even if you miss your landing site by only 100 miles, it is still going to take the recovery ship hours to get to you, and that could lead to a sticky situation. One way to compensate would be to deploy several ships in the vicinity, but that would raise the cost. Sending even a small Navy ship out has got to be expensive. I wouldn't be surprised if a destroyer cost something like a million dollars a day to operate. Makes that million dollars a year to field a soldier in Afghanistan look like a real bargain.

MX re-entry vehicles over Kwajalein, following their launch aboard an MX missile some 30 minutes earlier from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, October 1985.
     So I started poking around, looking for answers, and not finding much of anything. And then, snap, I realized this is probably all classified because of nuclear warheads and ICBM-s (Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles). You don't need to be real accurate with ICBM-s because, well, nuclear bombs. Still, you would like to be within a mile or so of your target. You can bet the military has spent billions on this very problem. When I started looking into this from the ICBM angle I found all kinds of information, everything that is except how accurate they are.
    The big factors affecting reentry are the time when fire your retro-rockets, and how much you slow down. You want to be accurate about this because a little too much or too little, too soon or too late, can easily kill you. But after you've fired the retro-rockets there isn't much you can do except pray.
    Except I seem to recall something about Orion being able to adjust it's attitude, which could easily affect it's trajectory, except how can you tell? GPS will be useless as the fireball you generate as you plunge into the atmosphere pretty much ruins any chance to sending or receiving any radio communications. Well, how about inertial guidance? That used to require big heavy chunks of equipment that was marginally accurate and marginally reliable, but I think we've gotten better at it. So it's not inconceivable that Orion was able to steer itself quite accurately.
    Once you deploy the parachutes, you kind of lose your steering capability, but you also become much more visible, so the pickup crew should be able to find you. As if they haven't been tracking you on radar since you appeared over the horizon ten minutes ago.

Minuteman III attacks Kwajalein

This video has some odd bits, but it also has some good shots.

Other posts about Orion. Most of them are about the spaceship, only a couple are about the airplane.
A couple of other posts about reentry.
Some posts about inertial navigation.