archive for April, 2006

Failed Flight

Jes and I tried to go flying today, but it just didn’t work out. The weather looked like it would be ok for local work, overcast at 5000′, but just before take off we ran into some problems.

I went through the pre-flight inspection like normal, and taxied over to the run-up area. The run-up went fine, so I requested and was approved for a taxi to the runway. Unfortunately, or fortunately as it turned out, there were four or five planes coming in for a landing that I need to wait for before taking off.

While we waited for a couple minutes for the traffic to clear, we both noticed a buzzing sound every few seconds. It almost sounded like the wind gusting against the stall warning vain, but the pitch wasn’t quite right.  Slowly the buzzing turned into more of a pulsing alarm like sound and grew louder, and we realized that it was coming from the cockpit radio speaker.  We tried to figure out what was causing the sound by turning some equipment off, but I didn’t want to do too much testing while waiting for the tower to clear me for take-off.

When the tower did call us back, they’d lost our request and asked us what we wanted.  I requested to taxi back to the run-up area.  The controller said it would be a bit before he could do that and got another plane out before us.  Once there was a small break in the traffic, he asked be to quickly taxi across the runway to do the run-up on the north side.  By then, the buzzing had become quite loud (even with our headsets on) and constant.

In the north run-up area, we tried turning off all of the radio equipment and turned it back on, but the problem persisted.  We tried checking out a few more things, but it was pretty clear that we weren’t going to get it fixed, and if anything, the problem was getting worse. I requested to taxi back to parking and explained that I was having a radio problem.  The controller was very nice and helped us get back to parking.  Once I had the plane parked and turned off, I tried checking out the radios one last time.  It was find for about 30 seconds, but then the problem returned — even with the engine turned off.

I went ahead and wrote up a problem report in the plane’s notebook.  When I got home I called the maintenance captain and explained the problem.  Now the plane in grounded until a radio mechanic can check it out.  Hopefully they’ll find the problem and have the plane fixed soon.

LAN Party

I went to a friend’s LAN party. It was held at a nice little house in Burbank. I arrived at about 11:30 and set up my computer. I was the first guest to arrive, but since I had hand to install a bunch of software, it turned out to be a good thing.

By a little after noon, more people showed up, and we started out with Command & Conquer Generals Zero Hour.   I hadn’t really played C&C before, but got up to speed fairly quickly.  After a few rounds, we moved on to some classic multiplayer Half-Life mods.  If I remember right, we played Team Fortress and Deathmatch before finally moving on to Counter Strike: Source.  I’m not very experienced at any of the games we played (some were for the first time), so I had a real disadvantage in not knowing any of the maps.  I tended to hang out at the bottom of the rankings, but still had a great time.

I ended up staying late enough for dinner and leaving at about 10:30.  I wasn’t the first to leave, but I wasn’t the last either.  I got the impression that the gaming would likely continue until 4 AM, and I just wasn’t up to it since I wanted to get some stuff done today.  I’m definitely looking forward to the next LAN party, and may have to throw one of my own at some point.

Oblivion Main Quest

I finished the main story line in Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion yesterday.  A couple weeks ago I created a new, more balanced, character.  Since then I’ve been focused on getting through the main quest as quickly as possible.  By the time I finished, my character was level 11 and I had 24.5 hours of game play.  I’m sure it’s possible to get it done faster, but it would be hard to do it your first time through in less than 20 hours.

After my first character that just dabbled in the main quest, I was impressed to see the extra attention given to the main quest compared to the guild and side quests.  I’m sure the developers put in several times as much work on the main quest as any of the other quest ladders.

If you’ve been playing Oblivion and avoiding the main quest, don’t put it off too far.  You’d really be missing out on one of the best parts of the game.  One word of warning: by completing the main quest, you’ll cut off many gateways to adventure.  You might want to look for a mod that leaves you more options.  Once you’ve finished the main quest, there’s no going back.

I’ll probably create a third character that’s even better balanced, and that makes more liberal use of mods.  I’ve already gotten about 50 hours of play time out of Oblivion, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I got another 50 before I move on to something else.

Thinking about Learning Spanish

I’ve been thinking about learning Spanish lately. I took a year of Spanish in High School, and did terribly. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about learning foreign languages. After French and Esperanto, it should be relatively easy. Living in Southern California, there should be plenty of opportunities to use any Spanish skills that I’m able to develop.

If anyone has learned Spanish outside of school, I’d be happy to hear how it went and any suggestions you have. If you learned it in college, what book(s) did you use? Were they any good? Any advice is welcome really. Thanks.

Five Minutes with Google Calendar

Google Calendar is now live (and in beta, of course).  I went ahead and signed in with my existing Google Account and created a repeating event that takes place on the 2nd Wed. of every month (for Air-Spacers).  The process was quick and easy.

Just by browsing through the features, I’m pretty impressed with what they have at launch.  You can share your calendar with other users (anyone want to share with me?).  Notifications are available via your phone.  Existing calendars can be imported from several different sources.  And of course, you can search your calendar.

The only really big thing that seems to be missing is integration with hand-held devices such as Blackberries.  Even with that limitation, I think Google Calendar will be huge — at least as big as Gmail, and possibly bigger because it offers new ways to communicate between users.

Akismet is Working

I activated Akismet a couple weeks ago and the first comment spam leaked through today. I hadn’t even realized that I’d been getting spam until I checked the logs. So far, it’s been correct 19 out of 20 times (95%). Not too bad. Thanks Akismet and WordPress!

More Backup Applications

Found on digg:

WinBackup 1.86

Cobian Backup 7

Both are free and recommended by digg users. I haven’t tried either of them myself, but they both look much more complicated than ApeJet Backup 2. Use whatever works best, but whatever you do, don’t go without backups.


Schmap is travel guide software that you can download for free. It’s currently in beta, but looks promising. They use Creative Commons licensed images pulled from Flickr in their guids — that’s how I heard about them. So far, five of my pictures have been selected for use in the Seattle and Washington D.C. guides.

I haven’t tried using the software for actually planning a trip yet, but it looks like a great resource. There are some things that I don’t get. For example, why is it a downloaded application instead of a web based application? After all, most of the content seems to be HTML rendered with an embedded IE control. Why don’t they have a simple guide downloader built into the application? Where’s the user contributed content (comments, reviews, etc…). And of course the big question how are they going to make money on it? Will it get covered with ads, will they charge companies to be listed in their guides, or are they going to try selling their guides directly to consumers? Time will tell.