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Tech journalist since the dark ages. Windows Secrets, LangaList newsletter, Windows Magazine (NetGuide, Home PC), Byte, Popular Computing, yadda yadda yadda. Google me, if it matters.

This feed is mostly personal interest; it's NOT my professional writing. There's tech here, yes, but also lots of general science and some politics and weird humor thrown in.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


via: Scott Bateman ( https://twitter.com/Disalmanac )

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A message from the Department of Irony:

Is there a word for "terminal lack of self-awareness?"

(This is the guy who said " Tide goes in, tide goes out, never a miscommunication. You can't explain that."  And he works for Fox. Sigh)

Via MediaMatters (@mmfa):

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Great photo; bad smell.

Two interesting events from deep space:

The landing site for Philae, the Rosetta cometary probe's lander, has been chosen; and Philae will attempt its touchdown on Nov 12.

In celebration, Rosetta took an impressive selfie, which also shows gas venting from the comet:

ESA scientists also announced that they've analyzed those gases boiling off the comet, and learned it was a mix that includes ammonia, methane, formaldehyde, hydrogen sulphide, hydrogen cyanide, sulphur dioxide and carbon disulphide.

This was described in New Scientist as a combination of "rotten eggs, cat urine and bitter almond."

Or, as the ESA succinctly states: "If you could smell the comet, you would probably wish that you hadn't."

It's amusing, but also scientifically interesting because this discovery strengthens the theory that the Earth was seeded from space during its earliest years not only with water (about half of the water you drink every day was originally in comets) but also with the organic compounds that set the stage for the later development for life --- and us.

About the selfie: http://www.gizmag.com/rosetta-philae-update-selfie-landing-site-confirmation/34430/
More pix: http://www.gizmag.com/rosetta-philae-update-selfie-landing-site-confirmation/34430/pictures

About the gas analysis: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/rosettas-comet-smells-really-really-bad-1-180953149/ and

5 Punctuation Marks That Look Nothing Like They Used To

Interesting article for language geeks.

Example: The question mark (?) was originally written sideways, combining a full-stop period (itself an innovation) with a tilde-like mark to indicate a rising tone of voice:

Lots more, written by "Shady Characters" typography maven Keith Houston: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/keith-houston-/post_8467_b_5989482.html

Saturday, October 25, 2014

68 years ago: The first photo of Earth, from space

68 years ago yesterday, on October 24, 1946 a group of soldiers and scientists in the New Mexico desert put a camera on a captured V2 rocket and — when the film was recovered — saw something never before seen by human eyes: Earth, as seen from space.

Full story, more pix and videos:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Exploring New England: NH Foliage

New Hampshire's foliage peaked a little early this year: Tranditionally, peak foliage is on the horribly-misnamed "Columbus Day" --- a misbegotten holiday, if ever there was one --- but this year the leaves in the Lakes region and southern White Mountains had just gone by.

But it still made for a very pleasant ride on a intensely bright and sunny Fall day.

We started by heading up the west side of Lake Winnepesaukee, stopping in Laconia for a view of the MV MT Washington departing on its regular circuit of the lakeside towns.

Photo location: Weirs Beach, here (43.606821, -71.458063), looking northeast.
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We meandered across the north side of the lake and took small roads through small towns to Albany and Chororua, whose eponymous mountain is supposed to be the "most photographed mountain in New Hampshire." I don't know if that's true, but it is certainly scenic enough.

Photo taken here (43.896637, -71.233225), looking mostly North, across Chocurua Lake.
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From there, we headed to Rt 112, the Kancamagus Highway; an officially-designated "scenic byway (map).

Although the foliage, at elevation, was past peak, the views were still nice.

Photo taken just east of Kancamagus Pass; here (44.023498, -71.491813), looking ENE...
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...and just west of Kancamagus Pass, here (44.026470, -71.495647), looking mostly West.
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We then had a bit of an adventurous ride on the Sandwich Notch Rd (designated by the Forest Service as Forest Road 98); a very rough and mostly unpaved two-track through deep forest. The road was first built in 1801, and is largely unchanged today.

The road was open (unbarred), but officially designated "unpassable" due to erosion. However, my car (though small) is all-wheel drive, and I'd driven it through the Yukon and Alaska to the Arctic Ocean a few years ago, so I figured it'd be able to manage a bit of New England forest.

I didn't take pictures --- I was busy driving, and the road is very closed-in, in deep woods, anyway. But it was fun.

Not my photos, but to give you the idea:

Satellite view: https://www.google.com/maps/@43.8569419,-71.528043,1284m/data=!3m1!1e3

Sandwich Historical Society info

I don't miss living in New Hampshire, but I'm glad it's nearby. :)