archive for November, 2005

Flight Lessons: Practice, Practice, Practice

Today, my instructor had me fly to Van Nuys, and Agua Dulce. We mostly worked on soft field takeoffs, and short field landings.

I messed up when choosing which which way to land at Agua Dulce initially. When I overflew the airport it looked like the wind sock was flat, so I chose runway 22 (the normal runway). By the time I’d made it around for landing, the wind had picked up and was blowing the wrong way (really, I was flying the wrong way). I was coming in way to high and way too fast with the tail wind and had to go around. I did the same thing again before my instructor told me what I was doing wrong. I reversed my pattern and had a lot better luck. My landings weren’t pretty, but the plane was still flyable when I was done.

Once we were done at at Agua Dulce, we did some simulated instrument work over Santa Clarita for about half an hour and then headed back. On the way back, we practiced an engine out for the first time. I think I need a lot more work on the types of things that will come up on my checkride and really focus on accuracy.

Pillow Interview

A few weeks ago I was interviewed by Dru Sefton about a pillow I once had. Apparently, she found I comment I made on Darren Barefoot’s blog. The result: Rest Your Head on a Small Ecosystem.

This is the third interview that I’ve done that has made it into a real news story (one about the game Majestic, and one on next gen game consoles). I’m not sure what makes me such a great mark for journalists, but I try to have fun with it. In this story, I knew that there was no way that I wouldn’t come off looking a bit dumb, but hey… we all have our moments.

Future of the Web

There has been a lot of news lately about the future of the web. First, let me drop some links:
Disruptive changes from Microsoft
Yahoo! Local/Maps
Sun and the Office
Yahoo and Tivo
Google helps
OpenOffice

Firefox gets it’s 10%

Microsoft is finally acknowledging that the web is for more than buying books, reading the news, and keeping in contact with friends. The web is more than just a fun place to hang out, it’s a place for building applications — applications that would traditionally be built for Windows.

Most people see Google as Microsoft’s biggest challenger. They’re giving far too little credit to Yahoo. Sure, Google has some snazzy new applications like Gmail and Google Maps, but Yahoo has a calendar, shopping, games, Flickr, Tivo integration, and a lot more. They’re not exactly slacking off. Don’t get my wrong. Google is still a major threat to Microsoft, but they’re not the only one. Sun is working on making it easier for people to share documents, while Google is working on OpenOffice — a cross platform office suite.

I wonder what most people really use use their computers for on an average day. I’d guess that checking email and surfing the web are fairly universal. Saving and pictures, listening to music, and managing finances probably rank pretty high. Managing a calendar and word processing are very important, but typically only at work. How much of this can be done on the web? Okay, maybe it all doesn’t work as well in a browser as you’d like, but we’re getting there.

The really interesting thing (at least to me) is that by far most of these new, cool, web applications run equally well on Internet Explorer and Firefox. If the day comes where the vast majority of what people use computers for (say, 95%) can be done in a browser, then what operating system you’re using doesn’t matter so much. Microsoft realizes this. They also realize that people want to use open standards based documents. Well, most probably don’t understand what that means, but they know they don’t want to be locked-in to one vendor.

I don’t expect Microsoft to give up very easily, but I do see them working on a good Plan B by providing web based services. I’m not sure how long it will take for this trend to mature, but when it does it could mean very good things for consumers.

Forbse Time Capsule

The Forbse Time Capsule (via BoingBoing) is yet another way to send yourself an email in the future. I still prefer my own delay mail (mentioned earlier because it allows you to choose a specific date. Oh well, there’s is fun too.

Happiness

This morning, on the way in to work, I heard a debate on the radio about desire. One side of the argument that was being made is that desire leads to suffering. The debater was very clearly advocating that the easiest way to become happy is to be happy with what you already have and not to desire any more. I think he was confusing happiness with satisfaction. This view is also extremely short sided, and in a sense hedonistic.

Of course, it’s not as simple as that. He mentioned Buddha’s experiences both as a rich, and as a poor man. He said that Buddhism teaches “the middle road” between fulfilling every desire and depriving yourself in every where. In reality, that middle road could be very wide as long as your not at either edge which would teach you almost nothing. Maybe that’s the point and it’s just another koan.

What I don’t understand is why someone would think that you can’t be both happy and unsatisfied. Can’t we accept a little suffering now if we expect it to bring more joy and happiness in the future? Even if we go our whole lives replacing one goal with another — always wanting more — can’t we still be happy in the process? Maybe the real key is throwing away your junk.

Weblog Usability Guide

I’m not sure how I mist posting this earlier. Jakob Nielsen‘s Weblog Usability is a nice little set of guidelines for blogging. I think it’s a pretty good list. Let’s see how many of the typical problems I’ve managed to avoid:

1) No Author Biographies
I have a bio on my About Me page. It’s not great, but it’s better than nothing.

2) No Author Photo
I was guilty of this, but I’ve since added a picture to my profile. One thing that bugs me about author pictures is that they get out of date very quickly. If you have a photo online, please try to keep it fresh.

3) Nondescript Posting Titles
I think I do a pretty good job at avoiding this.

4) Links Don’t Say Where They Go
For a while, I had a page here that simply listed all of the links that I’ve posted. Because I’ve always planned on being able to do this, I always try to make the text meaningful.

5) Classic Hits are Buried
I’m not sure that I have any classic hits yet. I have a sidebar item for one-year-old posts, but that hardly counts. If I ever get some hits, I’ll be sure to make a sidebar listing them.

6) The Calendar is the Only Navigation
My posts can be found by date or category, and with the search box.

7) Irregular Publishing Frequency
This is probably my biggest problem as far as blogging goes. It’s probably also the biggest problem for most bloggers.

8) Mixing Topics
I suppose I’m guilty here too. Just look at my categories, they’re not exactly focused.

9) Forgetting That You Write for Your Future Boss
I don’t think I’ve made this mistake. If someone doesn’t like what they see here, then I probably don’t want to work for them anyway.

10) Having a Domain Name Owned by a Weblog Service
Not a problem with ApeJet.

Final score: 7/10 right. I’ll work on it.

Utopia

Nick Bostrom recently wrote a Letter from Utopia. If you have a few minutes, it’s worth checking out. Many people believe Utopia is impossible. Many stories (especially science fiction) present what appears to be utopia only to reveal later that it’s actually dystopia. I don’t want to criticize those stories, but we should remember that just because we’ve been trained to skeptical of claims of utopia, doesn’t mean that it’s not something we should strive for.

Flight Lessons: Done with Another Page

Yesterday we went out to Simi Valley to practice. It was all stuff I’d done before, but it’s been a while and I definitely needed a refresher. Here’s what we covered: slow flight, stalls, ground reference maneuvers, recovery from unusual attitudes, and flying by instruments.

The flight also finished off another page in my logbook. Here are my current totals:
Cross-Country: 13.6
Day: 43.9
Night: 3.3
Actual Inst: 0.3
Simulated Inst: 1.8
Dual: 38.6
Pilot in Command: 9.1
Total Hours: 47.7

XML-RPC Ping

I’m testing out using XML-RPC to ping Technorati and Weblogs.com. From what I understand, Google Blog Search uses sites like these to know what to index. This should give my blog a little more exposure.

Update: It looks like it’s working. It just seems to be annoyingly slow when I post.

Update 2: My posts are showing up on Google’s Blog Search! When is Yahoo! going to release a blog search too?

Back from Above All Software

I just got back from a trip to Above All Software in Redwood City. I think the trip went really well. They have a really great product that will make it easier for us to do integration. More important than the tech, I think we learned a lot about our own company and what we need to do to be successful.

When we got into town on Wednesday, we had some free time to drive up to San Fransisco and hang out. We spent most of the time in the car just driving around, but we did stop at Coit Tower, Fort Point, Ghirardelli Square, Sony Metreon and had dinner at The Stinking Rose. It turns out that They Might Be Giants was playing at Bimbo’s 365 Club. Unfortunately, the other guys weren’t interested in going. Still, we had a lot of fun.

I miss Northern California. The weather was beautiful, though a bit chilly. The air was clear with nice big clouds scattered about. The Above All office and our hotel were right next to the San Carlos airport, so I got to jealously watch small planes take off and leave. I’d love to live up there, but it’s way too expensive.

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