archive for August, 2005

Link Roundup: Aug. 5, 2005

Hillary vs. the Xbox
This is a great open letter to Hillary Clinton and all of the other people that want to make video games out to be worse than they really are.

Explore Flickr
Flickr just came out with some great new features. The best of which are clusters and interestingness. Clusters let you search by a tag like always, but then it also groups together other related tags into… well… clusters. Interestingness is some measure of the popularity of pictures on Flickr. It’s a great way to find stunning pictures quickly and easily.

Songs to Wear Pants to
This guy will write a song for you on request. You can make a request and it might or might not get turned in to a song, or you can pay a small fee to have a song written. It looks like he creates a few per week. It seems like a great way to get some practice and have a lot of fun.

If you have a cameraphone, why not get an account on Scoopt. If something newsworthy happens and you’re there to snap a picture, they’ll try to sell it for you and split the profits 50/50. Sounds like easy money for them, and a great way to connect “citizen journalists” with more traditional media. It’ll be interesting to see if it works out and how many copy-cat agencies spring up.

The End of DSL Competition
The FCC has ruled that companies like SBC don’t need to lease their lines to companies like EarthLink. This is good news for government sanctioned monopolies and bad news for everyone else. On the other hand, it will make it easier for the telephone companies to compete with cable companies. We’ll have to wait for wireless broadband (where more than one company can supply to an area at a time) before we see any real competition again.

Flight Lessons: first Van Nuys trip

When I got to the airport this afternoon, I didn’t know if I’d be able to fly. The clouds were covering about half of the runway at about 800ft. My instructor said that we could fly to Van Nuys (VNY) and do pattern work there.

We did all of the pre-flight stuff and were on our way. To get out of Santa Monica, we made basically a right U-turn and stayed just below the clouds until we were clear. I followed the 405 over Sepulveda pass and in to VNY.

Van Nuys has two parallel runways: 16R and 16L. There’s a documentary about VNY called “One Six Right” that’s just about to come out, but… that’s another post. We were cleared to land on the smaller runway, 16L. After flying at Santa Monica, 16L looked like a little toy runway, but it’s almost as long as what I’m used to: 4000 ft. instead of 5000 ft. The big difference is the width. I’m used to SMO’s 150 ft. wide runway and 16L is only 75 ft. It turned out not to be a problem, but that first landing seemed crazy. It’ll be interesting when I start going to even smaller airports (VNY is the busiest General Aviation airport in the country).

Everything went pretty well. I wasn’t very happy with a couple of my landings, but most weren’t bad. I made my first turn (crosswind) after taking off way too early the first time up and almost cut someone off. Luckily they were a few hundred feet above us and we saw them in time to get out of the way.

Oh, the other big thing was that we practiced doing a forward slip. To do a slip, you turn the plane one way (left or right) with the ailerons and go the other way with the rudder. If you do it right, the plane will fly along a straight line, but your nose will be pointing to the side. Since the air is hitting the side of the plane, it causes a lot of drag and is a good way to lose altitude without speeding up. We only did it once, but it’s not something I really need to know how to do well yet.

After our last landing at VNY, we switched seats for the flight back. The weather in Santa Monica had turned overcast at 500 ft. so we had to go IFR (instruments) and my instructor didn’t want to try landing IFR from the right seat today. It’s kind of weird having to fly the whole way back on instruments since we were in the clouds for less than a minute. Once we got through the airport was easy to see and we came right in.

Where did the weekend go?

I can’t believe that the weekend is already over. My dad and step-mom came down for a visit and to check out the new place. Yesterday we went to Zuma beach, my office, and Santa Monica airport. I was smart enough to put sun screen on my face, but I didn’t bother on my legs. I ended up burning the backs of my legs and my feet. When will I ever learn? Today we just hung out in the morning, and they left a little after 10:00. Jesse and I went to Lupe’s for lunch. After lunch I went flying (as you can see below). We watched a little TV during dinner then watched Airplane (homework assigned by my flight instructor). Now, it’s time for bed — I’m exhausted. Maybe next weekend we’ll just sit around and relax.

Flight Lessons: landing with wind

Just a quick note on my flight today: it went well. I got another 6 or so landings in. It was pretty windy which made it a little more tricky than usual, but I think I did ok. On a couple of my landings, I flared too soon and really dropped down to the runway. I can’t wait to try it out some time when it’s not so windy to see how I do.

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