Two Famous Big-plane Barrel Rolls

(Originally posted on 2016-11-19)

A barrel roll is a 1g maneuver. If done right, there’s no stress on the airplane, or more accurately, the stress is identical to that of not doing any aerobatics at all.

It’s so gentle that that late Bob Hoover doesn’t even spill his drink while pouring it:

Here’s Tex Johnston’s famous Boeing 707 Dash-80 Prototype Roll:

By Boeing Dreamscape (Flickr: Dash80TaxiTestK62712-5) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Boeing Dreamscape (Flickr: Dash80TaxiTestK62712-5) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Target Shooting: Members Only? All Are Welcome.

(Originally posted on 2015-11-15 as /archives/10597)

NRAI was on a shooting team with Brian Kubricky. The NRA included Brian in one of their advertisements. I was there when they took Brian’s photo for the ad, so I want a copy. The only copy that I could find online was this little photo that Dr. David Serlin included in his “Members Only” essay for thefeministwire.com. Members only? Punny.

In it he talks about how “preserving the status of heternormative masculinity – is one of the more familiar tropes of industrial modernity” and stuff. I think that he believes that gays, disabled people, and women, are only welcome in certain sports if they can look manly while holding a enormous rifle in front of a lake. Nothing could be farther from the truth in the case of this particular sport.

You should probably go read his essay first. [Jeopardy theme plays in background.] OK? All done? Here goes:

I sent an email to Dr Serlin with my thoughts below. He sent a very nice reply. I won’t quote it here, because it’s not appropriate to quote another person’s email publicly.

Dr Serlin also sent a hi-res copy of the ad.

EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES

Brian Kubricky and Beth B. were two of our top shooters. Their scores were some of the highest in the United States. The sport is inclusive: men, women, wheelchairs, or not: we were all equals.

Beth wasn’t in the ad campaign, but as Dr. Serlin mentioned, it did include another woman. It’s a sport that had equal opportunities for women, and disabled people, before Title IX.

MASCULINITY?

Your job is to slow your breathing, and slow your heart. You shoot between breaths (at first), and between heartbeats (as you get better). You must completely relax under pressure. It’s the least violent sport that I know of: even bowling involves throwing something. This does not.

I used meditation to improve my scores.

There are shooting sports that simulate tactical situations, and there are shooting sports that simulate hunting (such as skeet), but this isn’t one of them. There is nothing particularly masculine about it.

The photographer took the photo in the high school basement. It’s an indoor sport, but that’s the best background that the photographer had on hand. Brian wore the clothes that he wore. The symbolism wasn’t intentional

ENORMOUS RIFLE?

The rifle looks big because it’s designed to be stable. It’s only a .22 caliber: one of the smallest. It has soft recoil (no kick). The competition involves shooting pieces of paper at 50 feet. It’s challenging, because the center of the target is the size of a pencil eraser. I didn’t realize that the rifles look big until [Dr Serlin mentioned it.]

HERE’S ANOTHER WOMAN

Here’s a video about shooter Amanda Furrer. Her sport is a has a different distance, and more shots, but otherwise is very similar to what we did:

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CTOE Live @ JP Bruno’s 4/22/2016 Full Set

(Original Posting Date: 2016-05-01)

Steve Newton has been sharing New York Capital Region music with me. I will post some of the best examples here.

CTOE describe themselves as metal. They’re chunky late-80s-early-90s metal: like back when the difference between hardcore and metal was hair length, and everyone mixed styles. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Wow, I just realized what CTOE means, and it’s not Common Topographic Operating Environment, nor is it Centro de Tropas de Operações Especiais. I can’t understand what those guys are singing about, but it’s certainly not obscure military acronyms.

Here’s more than one hour of music worth listening to:

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Finite State Machines Advice and Finite State Analysis

(New posting on 2016-06-04; originally posted as /archives/4698)

By Dainis (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
If your business logic starts getting complicated, it might mean that you should use finite state analysis and design. This technique is very popular for the artificial intelligence systems used in video games, and there are a number of finite state machine frameworks out there for Java, but they are all pretty heavyweight.

How does one create a lightweight state machine, and what is finite state analysis anyway? The ACM published a paper called “The Art of the State” by John F. Cigas in 1992.

In the paper Professor Cigas describes how to do finite state analysis, and how to implement your state machines via a loop surrounding a switch statement… that’s it… its that simple.

Please read the paper. If it doesn’t make any sense, then ask me how this is used, and I will show you. Please go to this page to get the PDF: http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=134541 The technique basically orders complex if-this-or-that-or-this-or-that type logic into the simplest form possible, and its really easy to do.

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How Enterprise Software Is Sold, and Delivered, Today

(Originally posted on 2008-11-23 as /archives/1557)

Computer systems: By Agiorgio (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
I see-and-read way too many presentations that both start with doom-and-gloom, and then overstate the case that the author wants to make. This seems to be the only way that software consultants know how to begin a presentation: “Information is getting harder and harder to manage.” No its not. “Software is getting harder and harder to write.” No its not. “The sky is falling!” Actually, no its not.

“Our software will help you manage your Enterprise.”

Or your software will cause headaches and heartaches for countless people.

Your future client will read reports by an “independent” technology research firm. Then she will hire a consultant, and ask that consultant to write an evaluation of all of the available enterprise software applications for a given need. (Here is what Doug Savage has to say about this. Cluck, Cluck, Bawk!)

The consultant will produce a large report that says exactly what the independent technology and research firms say, in spite of the fact that neither said consultant, nor any employee of the research firms have any practical experience with the enterprise software in question.

Here is why:

  1. There are only a couple of large independent technology research firms. They don’t have the resources to become experts with every product, so they do their research by meeting with the vendors and viewing their presentations.
  2. This gives the product vendors incredible leverage. That’s why you can look at the descriptions of three completely different products where one started as a document repository, another started as a code versioning system, and another started as a Web UI toolkit. These products’ architectures have little in common, yet they are all called Enterprise Content Management Systems, and they all have the same listed features. Those feature lists are written to satisfy the independent technology research firms’ evaluations, and really tell you little about a given products’ actual capabilities.
  3. CIOs and other executives subscibe to, and read, those independent technology research firms’ evaluations.
  4. Then those executives hire the consultants. They ask for the consultants evaluations, but they really are looking to validate what they already believe. Consultants quickly figure this out after hearing “But [Insert-Name-Here] Research said” a couple of times. The consultants learn to mimic what the independent technology research firms say, in spite of the fact that the original research is based on little more than writers watching PowerPoint presentations.
  • Here is a universal piece of advice: never buy anything unless you get to prototype with it before you write a check.

Your future client will then ask the consultant to write a request for proposal (RFP) to send out for bids. That consultant will write the RFP in such a way that only his company can fill all of the “requirements” in time.

You will charge your client $1.5 Million. You will first ask for more, and after weeks of negotiations you will convince your client that you can go no lower than 1.5 Million, and that nobody gets your software for less, meanwhile all of your clients are actually paying 1.5 Million, plus training, plus development, plus support, plus travel, and the pluses just keep on coming.

  • I worked with one product at three different companies. Each of the company’s managers told me something like, “They normally charge X, but we got them down to 1.5 Million instead, because they really want our business. They won’t do that for anyone else.” Oh. Really.

Your client will spend many times the expected amount on employees and consultants. These people’s job will be to manage the mess that you create, and you client will have to live with that mess, lest she admit that she wasted millions on your “Enterprise” software.

You will convince your client that the mess was actually caused by her incompetent employees, in spite of the fact that her employees are actually proud, hardworking, well trained, and intelligent. You will then provide high-priced consultants to replace your client’s employees.

  • What else can they do? In some cases the enterprise software vendor’s management team is in survival mode, and will continue passing-the-blame-to-their-customer until they have a mature product.
  • In some cases, they may truly not know that their product doesn’t work, because the support team is filtering-out the bad news. This happens when you measure support success by how quickly problems get solved. The tickets get closed quickly, but the root problems rarely get solved, because that takes too long.
  • Either way the vendor has no incentive to admit that their software is actually not stable.
  • I once worked for a consultancy that was helping an energy company implement a new content management system (CMS), and the CMS vendor’s chief technologist simply repeated, “You have the DTD. That’s all you need” over-and-over again in front of the client. What we were asking for was the proprietary query language’s (non-SQL) documentation. Imagine if you had to learn a language with nothing but a description of the noun-verb-noun syntax. No dictionary. No thesaurus. No books. No teacher. No examples. Nothing. That product was not ready to be sold, and the chief technologist was able to seed doubts about us  simply by saying, “You have the DTD. That’s all you need” over-and-over again. That product was highly recommended by the two large independent technology and research firms.

Your client will put up with this “gladly”, because how else is she going to explain why she wasted so much money on your “Enterprise” software, when there was actually something better out there for free such as:

If you are going to write enterprise software, then start out by solving the hard problems, because the easy problems are already easy. I don’t know how many vendors told me, “We can do session management!” So? Anyone that knows what a Static Class and a Hashtable is can write a session manager in an afternoon. “Our sessions can survive a reboot!” OK, anyone that knows what a Static Class is, and also knows how to embed a relational database can create a session manager with sessions that survive a reboot. Solve the hard problems for me.

Before “SOA” made integration “easy” it was “N-tiered”, before that it was “RAD”, before that it was “CORBA”, before that it was “OOP”, before that it was “SQL”. Then there were all of the “Managements”: “Document Management”, “Content Management”, “Service Management”, etc. Obviously a couple of these technologies matured to the point where they helped enormously, and others didn’t. Either way integration will never be easy.

Project management, and software engineering are incredibly difficult, and that’s what makes this work interesting. If it were easy, then there would be no way to get me sitting in front of a computer screen for so long. Doing this stuff well is a true reward.

I have been meaning to write this essay for years, but I never bothered, because I didn’t believe that anyone would read it; it would be lost in a sea of more exciting tech news. The truth is that it caused a spike-in-viewing during what is traditionally a slow-day here.

Then there is the worry that a potential employer would see this world-view as negative.

Ironically it was an anthropologist’s (Dr. Michael Wesch) video that inspired me to finally write the essay. To see many of the real advances in the Web-realm presented in a few minutes, made clear many of the non-advances. The video’s name: “Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us” sounds provocative, but the video looks optimistic to me. I suspect that different people see a completely different message in this video depending on their background, and that’s cool too.

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Too Much Stuff In A Car Story

(Originally posted on 2007-07-04  as /archives/38)

During my freshman year (1986) I lived in Hood Hall (under my old name: W. Paul Caligiuri). Some other guys that lived there would circle the place for hours in an old white convertible. I think it was a 1959 Cadillac deVille.  When it was time for a dorm picture, the driver drove the car over, and offered for us all to get in it, and on it, in the tradition of how-many-people-can-you-fit-in-a-phone-booth? Folks opened the doors afterwards, but they wouldn’t close.  For a few seconds people were trying to figure out what was wrong when I loudly said, “That thing is shaped like a ‘U’!”  Needless to say we never saw that car again.

Why this image? I like it. It’s a wrecked car. No, it’s not the one in the story. John Allan [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Under God

(Originally posted on 2007-10-07 as /archives/110)

By daveynin from United States (Pledge of Allegiance plaque) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Many people don’t realize that the pledge was originally inclusive of all beliefs.  Here it is:

I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Kay sent me a link to Jon Meacham’s New York Times editorial: A Nation of Christians Is Not a Christian Nation.  Jon is the Editor of Newsweek, which has become very open to discussions about faith under his watch, and the author of American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation.  Here is Jon’s Newsweek article about the subject: God and the Founders.

Here is a quote from Anna Quindlen’s: Indivisible? Wanna Bet?

So let’s go to the history books, as citizens of this country so seldom do.  The Pledge of Allegiance started in 1892 as a set piece in a magazine, nothing more, nothing less.  It was written by a man named Francis Bellamy in honor of Columbus Day, a holiday that scarcely exists anymore except in terms of department-store sales and parades.  The words “under God” were nowhere in it, hardly surprising since Bellamy had been squeezed out of his own church the year before because of his socialist leanings.  His granddaughter said he would have hated the addition of the words “under God” to a statement he envisioned uniting a country divided by race, class and, of course, religion.

Those two words went into the pledge nearly 50 years ago, and for the most deplorable reason.  It was the height of the Red scare in America, when the lives of those aligned or merely flirting with the Communist Party were destroyed by paranoia, a twisted strain of uber-patriotism and the machinations of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, after whom an entire vein of baseless persecution is now named.  Contrary to the current political argument that “under God” is not specifically devout, the push to put it in the pledge was mounted by the Knights of Columbus, a Roman Catholic men’s organization, as an attempt to counter “godless communism.” President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill making this law, saying that the words would help us to “remain humble.”

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Don’t eat burning matches. Do join The Rolling Stones.

My science teacher once accused me of trying to steal magnesium. He told us to cut off a piece, and then said that I was cutting off too much, and I must be trying to steal it.

Well, I cut off _exactly_ how much he told me too. I asked, “Why would I steal it?” He said, “Well it burns good.” Riiiiiiight. And I would know this how? There was no YouTube in 1984.

Well, it only took me about 20 years to realise that this conversion had nothing to do with magnesium, and everything to do with what another teacher was saying about me. I am slow when it comes to relationship stuff.

The magnesium-loving teacher had been my rifle team coach for years, but by this time he had completely written me off, and for good reason. I was nearly incapable of keeping friends, and I had quit varsity shooting to play in a rock and roll band.

The shooting could have easily won me a full scholarship, (if I had good grades, and was accepted by a school with a shooting team, neither of which happened). I was really good. Good enough that nobody on any competing team ever outscored me (I was really only competing with my own team, which was one of the best in the country.)

What did rock and roll earn me? Some talent-show battle of the bands failures, and the ability to perform at open mic night. (Meanwhile some of my teenage friends here on Facebook became successful, professional, musicians.)

Later on that period, I entertained that science teacher with my burning match trick, where I eat… a burning match. There’s not much of a trick to it, I simply eat a burning match (who needs magnesium to entertain? Not I.)

(Kidz DO NOT TRY TO EAT A FRICKIN’ BURNING MATCH, I have seen this not end well for people that thought they knew how I did the trick. Don’t do it. Don’t steal magnesium. Don’t burn magnesium, and don’t join a rock and roll band, unless they are The Rolling Stones. You can always join The Rolling Stones.)

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