edschweppe: (Eve from Wall-E)
The BBC reports that a group at Princeton University has a working prototype ... of a flying carpet:
The 10cm (4in) sheet of smart transparency is driven by "ripple power"; waves of electrical current driving thin pockets of air from front to rear underneath.

The prototype, described in Applied Physics Letters, moves at speeds of about a centimetre per second.

Improvements to the design could raise that to as much as a metre per second.

[ ...]

The advantage of this kind of propulsion, he argues, is that unlike jets, propellers and hovercraft, there are no moving components like cogs and gears that rub against each other.

"The ideal use would be some kind of dusty, grimy environment where moving parts would get gummed up and stop," he explained.

That said, he laughingly admits that with the existing materials, a flying carpet powerful enough to carry a person would need a wingspan of 50 metres - not the best vehicle to take on the streets just yet.

On the other hand, preliminary calculations suggest that there is enough atmosphere on the planet Mars to send floating rovers scudding over its dusty surface.
Martian magic carpet rovers. Now that's a cool concept.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
About a month ago, my work computer suffered a hard drive failure. The Current Paying Gig's support folk got me a new workstation [1] and I started reinstalling stuff on it. All was well, until I tried to reinstall Microsoft BizTalk 2006 R2. The installation went without a hitch - but once the installer finishes installing, you have to run the BizTalk Configuration Manager (which, amongst other things, builds the half-dozen or so databases that BizTalk relies on). So I let the installer launch the configuration manager for me and watch it start up ...

... and almost immediately crash. First, I get a popup with the remarkably useless error message "Attempted to perform an unauthorized operation". Then clicking OK gives me a different error popup saying "An unexpected error occurred in the Configuration Framework (in Main). See below for a detailed explanation" with the so-called detailed explanation consisting of the one line "Object reference not set to a instance of an object. (Configuration)". Clicking OK on that dialog brings up the infamous "your application died, would you like to send debugging information to Microsoft?" dialog.

Not what I needed.

I tried all the obvious steps - uninstalling and reinstalling, talking to the other folks in the company who use BizTalk (all two of them), searching the Web and the Microsoft site in particular for similar situations - and came up with an awful lot of nothing. Finally, I called in the big guns; last Wednesday, I opened up a Microsoft support ticket. A few hours later, I was on the phone with a BizTalk support engineer, walking him through the problem. When he saw the failure for himself, his immediate response was "Wow. I've never seen that before." I took that to be good news and bad news; the good news being that at least I'm not crazy and the bad news being that this isn't going to be a simple fix.

And it wasn't. Rather than bore everyone with a blow-by-blow description of all the debugging steps, I'll skip to the good news. Late this afternoon, we tried another iteration of installing from scratch, with the BizTalk guy watching over my shoulder [2] - and this time, the configuration manager ran perfectly.

So, after nearly a month, I once again have a working copy of BizTalk on my workstation.

Whew. Now I can get my frustrations the normal way - by having the business decide to change the requirements on me, well past the last minute.

[1] Actually, it took a few iterations before I got a new workstation that I could actually install stuff on. But that's a different rant entirely.
[2] So to speak. We were using Microsoft's Easy Assist to share my desktop with him, and it worked pretty well.
edschweppe: (Eve from Wall-E)
A really neat Flash game, courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] txanne:


You'll need headphones for this if you're in a public area, as music is a key part of the gameplay. But it's gorgeous.

And this is apparently just the demo version ...

(edited to fix link. Need moar coffee.)
edschweppe: (whiskey tango foxtrot)
Of which there are quite a few:
* Criminal Minds has been preempted tonight ...
* ... by the Grammy Award nominations show. (Not the actual awards show, but a nominations show.)
* I spent most of this afternoon on the phone with Microsoft, trying to figure out why my BizTalk installation keeps blowing up whenever I try to configure it ...
* ... and I'll be spending most of tomorrow morning doing the same thing ...
* ... while the project managers at the Current Paying Gig seem to think that they'll magically finish the remaining two-thirds of the modules in the one-quarter of the remaining time.


(Yes, compared to much of the rest of the world - or even much of the rest of my flist - my problems are small potatoes indeed. Still, what's the point of a LiveJournal if you don't occasionally use it as a grousing pad?)
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
And Fred Phelps loses - badly:

What do you do to make a bunch of soulless nutcases abandon their post at the Convention Center? Send in the pirates!

Yep, the cuckoo Phelps hate group walked the plank this morning after a happy bunch dressed like pirates and holding signs saying "God hates shrimp -- Leviticus" and "God hates cotton-polyester blends" stood opposite them at the corner of Markham and Scott streets. The group, made up of Central Arkansas Pastafarians, waved swords and growled "Arrghh!" in a manner that would have made Abbie Hoffman proud.

With cars honking and waving at the pirates and a TV crew giving them all the attention, the Phelps group -- with a child in tow, sadly -- picked up their "fag" epithets and went away. Pitiful.

The power of the Flying Spaghetti Monster combines with that of Talk Like a Pirate Day, and hatred is defeated. At least for one day.

edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
In our last episode, Jeff (the Verizon tech who was supposed to fix the fiber problem) had not arrived by the time Verizon said he would, but he had eventually called and said he was on his way. He did in fact, eventually, arrive. (Although not until he had to call me again and ask for directions. I guess Verizon doesn't let its people use Google Maps.) Whereupon he discovered that (a) he needed a splicer and (b) he didn't have one.

So we waited some more, until somebody ran a splicer out to Jeff. Whereupon he went off and spliced something, and discovered that splicing the something did not fix the problem. So he called in and spent several minutes in Verizon AVR menu hell until he could get through to a real person, who did something or another in the back office, which eventually led to my service being restored. Which is a Happy Thing for me.

OTOH, I was down for nearly twenty hours, due to some failure in Verizon equipment somewhere. And Verizon's customer "service" organization managed to make promises to me that it couldn't keep, regarding repair time.

Ah, the wonders of modern telephony. Wasn't competition supposed to improve things?
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
The Verizon tech who was supposed to be here between eight and one to fix my broken fiber?

Well, he just called. (Please note timestamp; it is almost two local time. Two is later than one.) He's about thirty minutes away, and will be stopping first "at the hub" to see if "somebody stole [my] light".

Previously, I'd called Verizon again around 1:25. Their automated voice response system made me waltz through menu hell for a while before finally admitting that it'd be at least five minutes before a human could speak with me; would I like to hold or have their human call me back? I chose to have them call me (rather than further drain my cellphone battery). Five minutes later, sure as shooting, their automated system called me back - and put me on hold for a couple of minutes until someone in the call center was available! Not that the someone in the call center ("Matt") was particularly helpful, or in any position to be so; all he could tell me was that the local dispatch center had assigned the ticket to the tech. He thought that the tech's previous job had run longer than expected, but he couldn't tell - nor could he actually call the tech and find out. He said I should get a call from the tech within half an hour.

After I got off the phone with the call center guy, "Dave" (another Verizon employee - not the tech) called, to let me know that the local dispatch center had contacted the call center to say that the tech had in fact been assigned the ticket. Not terribly helpful to me, but it was sort of nice to know that Matt wasn't completely blowing smoke at me. Two minutes after Dave called, "Jeff" the tech called.

So now we wait. Some more. Guess I really didn't need to get much accomplished today, did I?
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
At the moment, the latter.

A little while back, I had Verizon's FiOS fiber-optic Internet and telephone service installed. It's great for fast Internet access (although it doesn't speed up sites with slow/overloaded servers) and the bundle included some nice phone options.

Unless, of course, the wall unit that connects the phone and router to the fiber decides not to play anymore. It's blinking "FAIL" at me, and naturally the only idea Verizon's help desk had (unplug the battery-backup unit and let the wall box reboot itself) was of no use.

Fortunately, cellular service is unaffected, so I was able to call Verizon and report the issue (and get a walkthrough on rebooting my wall box). But I have to sit here until Verizon deigns to send a technician out to look at the wall unit - "sometime between eight and one". Arrgh.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
The Mars Phoenix Lander has successfully landed on the red planet. Congratulations!

No word yet as to whether the Phoenix lander will be signing up for a LiveJournal account. (Of course, [livejournal.com profile] spiritrover hasn't updated in almost two years, and [livejournal.com profile] opportunitygrrl's last entry was eight months ago ... )


May. 22nd, 2008 10:38 pm
edschweppe: (moi)
Not in my diet, but my home Internet connection is now fiber-optics to my living room.

This doesn't speed up all Web browsing, because some of the places I surf have slow servers. But oh boy does it speed up the higher-end sites, where the delays were due to getting bytes through the network rather than off the servers in the first place. And Remote Desktop into work now just flies.

Which is a Good Thing, since local gasoline prices are now pushing US$4/gallon. Spending a day or so a week not driving to work is looking more and more attractive.
edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
US politics are plenty silly, but this scene out of Russia is priceless. Gary Kasparov, the former world chess champion who is trying to organize an effective opposition to Vladimir Putin and his cronies, was giving a speech when ... not really work-safe YouTube behind this cut )
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
I get the occasional phishing email - of course, since I set Thunderbird to display in plain text, the phishy stuff is pretty obvious. But yesterday, I got one where all the purported ebay.com URLs were actually going to aitch-tee-tee-pee-slash-slash 0xdc.0x50.0x21.0xc9 slash whatever - which, if my hex-conversion and DNS lookup skills are any good, is somewhere in South Korea.

I forwarded it to spoof@ebay.com, and they just replied:
The email you reported was not sent by eBay. We have reported this email
to the appropriate authorities.

Maybe they'll catch themselves a phisherman ...
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
The next time someone proposes a system architecture in which one needs a GUID from table A in database Alpha to look up a different GUID in table B of database Bravo to look up yet another GUID in table C of database Charlie in order to find the information needed to display a report ... push back. Hard.

Sometimes the Current Paying Gig drives me nuts.

(On the other hand, the LiveJournal spellchecker suggests "GU-ID" as an alternative spelling for GUID. I'm imagining tens of thousands of delirious fans chanting "GU-ID! GU-ID! GU-ID!" as the action unfolds before them.)

(Or the other other hand, the LiveJournal spellchecker doesn't recognize that "LiveJournal" is properly spelled. How many years have they been live, again?)
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Now, don't get me wrong. I like Swiss Army knives and other such multitools. I know that they're never the best tool for the job, but they're easy to have readily to hand - and the best tool for the job isn't terribly useful if you don't have it when you need it.
Still, this beast is overkill )
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Finally, after much goings back and forth with Verizon Wireless' "automated" activation lines (which, for reasons not known to humanity, kept transferring me to customer service reps), I have a working cellular broadband access card in my laptop and can browse, email, and suchlike wirelessly.

This is partially just pure geekiness, but it does have the practical benefits of (a) allowing me to get work done outside of WiFi hotspots and (b) getting me Net access that doesn't rely on connecting with client networks. (The latter is particularly important when the client is stuffy about security.)

The fact that I can, theoretically, surf for porn without worrying about corporate nanny filters is, of course, completely irrelevant.


edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Edmund Schweppe

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