Sunday, April 25, 2010

Aircraft DSW

Adapted from a true story by an SR-71 pilot:

Our SR-71 was on a routine training flight over California, listening to ATC chatter. Most of it was general aviation checking in, things along the lines of "Tower, Cessna Tango 195, what's my altitude and ground speed?" "Tango 195, tower. I have you at 105 knots at flight level 100.". For the uninitiated, that's 105 nautical miles per hour (about 121 mph) at 10,000 feet altitude.

Then over the radio came "Tower, this is Dusty Five Two, requesting an altitude and ground speed check. Over.". Dusty 52 was the lead element in an F/A-18 flight. We knew they were just trying to impress the civilians, F-18s have a ground speed indicator and don't need the tower to tell them that. "Dusty 52, tower. We show you at 575 knots at flight level 450." came the reply.

Just as I was about to make a remark, I heard the click of a mike being keyed and the laconic drawl of my back-seater. "Tower, this is Aspen Two Zero, requesting altitude and ground speed check please. Over.". There was a pause, and then came back "Aspen 20, tower. We have you at 1982 knots at flight level 800.". "Thank you, tower. Aspen 20 out.".

There was no more traffic from the F/A-18s.

Friday, April 23, 2010

So you need a typeface

Courtesy of Caprine on LJ: the flowchart for choosing a typeface. I have to agree about the path to Comic Sans, although the path to FF Din is amusing too.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sudden rainstorm

All of a sudden we've got another rainstorm outside. This is weird, it's been a long time since we've gotten this many rainstorms this time of year. Not that I'm complaining, mind you.

Testing a cross-post

Let's see how Windows Live Writer works. I've got it configured to cross-post to LJ and IJ as well as posting to Jeran's Den. WLW may be from Microsoft, but it's one of the first editors I've seen that looks like it allows straightforward cross-posting of entire entries.

I've also got Live Messenger set up, now I need to collect, confirm and configure my ICQ and AIM identities. I seem to have forgotten passwords.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

New coffee maker

The Keurig B40. I got the extra cup+filter that lets me use regular ground coffee in it, so I'm not limited to the pre-packaged K-cups. I've also concluded that I don't like French roast coffee. I've got the rest of the sampler pack to go through, and a couple of bags of ground coffee to hold me over until I can get whole-bean from Henry's.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Avatar and earthquake

Went to see Avatar yesterday with Dean and Lia. The previews were punctuated by an earthquake. Magnitude 7.2, centered south of El Centro. It happened right during a part of the Clash of the Titans preview that had lots of bass, so we weren't sure immediately if it was an earthquake or just the sound system.

As far as the movie, it was good. The most impressive thing is that you can't really distinguish the CGI from the live action. The CGI doesn't have the traditional CGI look, it looks like live action. Of course you can't find actors 9 feet tall, and I dare you do to an ikran live, but it doesn't look computer-generated. Oh, you can spot it when the CGI and live-action characters interact, small things like skin doesn't depress like it really should when a CGI character touches a live actor, but you have to look really really close to spot it. And as Dean said, if you're looking that closely for flaws you're missing the point of watching this movie.

I did notice a lot of parallels with Aliens beyond just having Sigourney Weaver in it. Selfridge is an awful lot like Carter Burke. Trudy Chacon reminds me, both physically and personality-wise, of Pfc. Vasquez. Jake Sully reminds me a lot of Cpl. Hicks. I shouldn't be surprised considering who directed both. It works, though.

One thing you'll notice is that the avatars really do resemble their actors. Much of that's from the way the CGI was done. It's all motion capture, but taken to the next level. The capture uses a lot more reference points, and unlike traditional mo-cap it also includes capture of the face. And all this is used to completely drive the CGI models. The end result is CGI aliens that look and move realistically, even down to the fine movements of facial expressions. That realism is one of the things that makes the CGI work as well as it does.

All in all, I recommend seeing this movie.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fool's Day

And so it begins. Hint, guys: if you're a news site, flooding your front page entirely with April Fool's stories is not funny. It's just annoying. Yes, Slashdot, I'm looking at you. A few stories sprinkled in, that's funny. Nothing but joke stories, that's just going to make me shake my head and go elsewhere for the day.