My New Toy - The Beast

As an engineer, I feel the need to build stuff all the time, and it's not always software. Aviation is another passion of mine. If I can't fly the real ones, the radio control models work for me. After a long layoff from the hobby, I jumped in again with both feet. The best part is that my kids are onboard as well.

I love biplanes -- always have. The full-size Beast always spoke to me, especially given that one of the best RC pilots in the world, Quique Somenzini, contributed to the design and then produced an 89" version. The big Beast is more than I can store and transport, but when The Beast 60e came out I jumped on it. At a wingspan of only 58", it is far easier to manage.

What a blast to fly! I'm giggling the whole time flying it, and my kids want to learn on their trainer so they can have a chance to fly it. It's a win-win!

Here is my third flight of my Beast. I was by myself for the first couple, so no video there. I'm still getting my flying fingers back and trimming the plane, so I'm much higher than I would normally be.

Some of my fondest memories growing up are building and flying radio control airplanes with my father. Building them was as much fun as flying them. Unfortunately, once I started living and working in the city, I was no longer able to pursue the hobby. That doesn't mean I lost my passion for aviation. I've been fascinated by aviation forever. As a kid, I would ride my bike to the library every week to eventually checkout every book they had on aviation and the space program. That fueled my love of technology as I got older.

Here is an early project. This is an early model called the Deception. It was referred to a "pattern ship" because it was designed to trace patterns in the sky. It had a 60+" wingspan, retractable gear, and a 0.60cu in motor turning an 11" prop 16,000rpm. The bird would easily clock 100mph and climb straight up out of sight.


Disappointed in Apple

I've been using Apple products since the early 90's. It started with a Mac Iici, and it moved on from there with one stretch where I left. Unfortunately, right now I'm starting to see similar issues  to the last time I left. Back when I left last time, quality was becoming a problem. Lately I'm seeing the same thing. The issues are relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, but they are a pain. More than the pain factor is the fact that the same two things have been broken for months. Internet searches reveal that I am not the only one.

Now, I'm not exactly inexperienced in the world of technology, and I have not been able to solve the issues. I can't imagine what a typical consumer is doing when confronted with basic functions not working.

Problem 1: AirPrint stopped working. I've been using AirPrint from iPads and iPhones basically since it came out. That all changed once iOS 7 came out. Now, it works only once in a while. All devices report that they can no longer see my AirPrint printer (Epson XP-610). I've tried everything from forgetting the network, resetting the network, unplugging, rebooting, etc. Once in a while it will work, but the majority of the time it doesn't. Months! I don't print much on iOS, but my family does, and it drives them nuts. What makes this especially annoying is that the fallback position runs square into problem 2.

Problem 2: iCloud can't open files. In theory, iCloud has this great feature. You open and work on a document on your iPad, and then you move to the Mac to complete it. Unfortunately, I rarely am able to get it to work. This is really fun when my daughter spends an hour on an HW assignment, but she can't print it due to problem 1 (above). Like the smart girl she is, she tries to switch to the family Mac, but she is stopped in her tracks when iCloud informs he that it can't open the file. Like problem 1, I can get this to work sometimes by jumping through a lot of hoops (logging out of iCloud, various reboots, clearing of cache, etc.). However, after a little bit of time, it usually goes back to not working.

Bottom line is this is really annoying. Theses are pretty basic features that need to work every time.

Get on it Apple!

Too cool - Andromeda if it were brighter

Saw this around the web. Supposedly, this is what the Andromeda galaxy would look like if it were brighter. I can see Andromeda just about every night when I go out with the dog. Seeing it like this. however, would be another experience.

Andromeda If It Were Brighter

At first, I thought this was fake, but various sources are confirming it is in the neighborhood.

It is unclear where the image came from, but we do know it is a composite from a shot by Stephen Rhan. Even without Andromeda, it's a nice image.

Stop Sending Passwords in Emails!

As you may have noticed from my About Me, I build software, and much of that software requires serious security. Whether it be health data or educational, data security is king. What I can't understand is why companies that claim a good privacy policy send me my password in an email. Whether it's temporary or not, it's still bad. Even worse is when a company sends me my password long after I signed up. Right away, I know they don't use a one-way hash to store their passwords. There's no way you should be able to decrypt my password.

Security 101: No one other than me should know my password. Ever! If you must send a password, make it temporary and force me to change it. Always store it as a one-way hash seeded with a really long, random string.

It's simple. If you send me my password in an email, I will not do business with you.

Have a nice day.

My New Favorite Podcast

I am unfortunately in that group of souls that have a long commute. I can't control where my great job is, but that doesn't mean I like spending so much time in the car. To pass the time, I look for interesting podcasts, and I've stumbled on one that has me fascinated. Dan Carlin's Hardcore History is pretty amazing.

Unlike most podcasts, HH is incredibly detailed. The latest, Blueprint for Armageddon I, is over three hours on the events leading up to WWI. I've spent some time reading about WWI, but I learned a ton of new information from this podcast.

I'm now getting through "Death Throes of the Republic, Parts I-VI". I've only made it through part I so far, but it's fascinating listening to all the details that lead to the fall of the Roman Empire.

So, if you're into history, and you have some time on your hands, I recommend checking out Hardcore History.

Source: http://www.dancarlin.com/disp.php/hharchiv...

My New Site

I moved my blog from a self-hosted Wordpress site to Squarespace. This gives me more flexibility, and it allows me to start posting photos and such. Hopefully, this will give me more incentive to post more.

Video: Behind the Scenes at Giant Keck Telescopes

Keck in Motion from Andrew Cooper on Vimeo.

OK, I've said before that I worked on the Keck Telescope (see this post). I love seeing what is still a favorite project of my professional life. Those 36 (now 72) mirrors were the result of a ton of great engineering and a lot of painstaking work. I'm proud to have been part of it.

Keep an eye out for all the maintenance required to keep the telescope operating at its peak. Also, remember that even though Keck is located at arguably the best place on the planet for an optical telescope, it still only operates at its absolute best for one day a year. The conditions have to be just right.

Enjoy!

More Bletchley Park

Saw another new post about Bletchley park getting a grant to fund restoration efforts and new exhibits. As a techie and a student of history, Bletchley park and Building 26 have always been fascinating to me. This is where Turing (of Turing Machine fame) got his start. This is where the modern computer was born. This is where thousands of lives were saved by cracking codes during WWII. Great stuff. Some interesting links found on Boing Boing today:

 

What is truly amazing about all this is that some is still classified, and don't forget that everything was destroyed after the war to preserve secrecy. Rebuilding the bombes and creating the exhibits required a lot of investigation. If you can, read the acknowledgements in The Secret in Building 26.