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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.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Hats (c. 1930, NY garment district)



Saturday, July 26, 2014

Hilarious: Wikipedia Blocks 'Disruptive' Edits From US Congress

The biography of former U.S. defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld was recently edited to say that he was an "alien lizard who eats Mexican babies."

story:http://news.slashdot.org/story/14/07/25/1516259/wikipedia-blocks-disruptive-edits-from-us-congress

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Embracing "the mark of the tool" in photo-editing

Interesting article on image manipulation (with some gorgeous graphics) on what happens "... When instead of advancing towards the senses, the image recedes beneath the mark of the tool.....”

Example:

That's actually Van Gogh's Irises, reworked. 

Article and images: "Why Are We So Obsessed With Editing Photos Beyond Reality?" http://bit.ly/1yDeNRu

Props @kineticamuseum, @CreatorsProject

Friday, July 18, 2014

Big fish, little fish... (Part One)

First, the little fish: The herring count* officially closed.

The final talley: 31,063 herring observed at the ladder.

That extrapolates out to a herring run of around a rough quarter-million or so:


While this appears to be a modest uptick in the run year-to-year, the error bars are large.

With only three years of counting, it's actually possible there's been no change at all, or even a slight decline:


They need more data points before they can firm up the information, but at least the early trend appears to be good.

Thus endeth the thread on the little fish.

===============

*Herring count info/previous posts:

http://fredlanga.blogspot.com/2014/04/herring-5-fred-1.html

http://fredlanga.blogspot.com/2014/05/herring-farts-really-video-and-other.html

http://fredlanga.blogspot.com/2014/05/herring-5-fred-31.html

http://fredlanga.blogspot.com/2014/05/my-likely-last-herring-counting-gig.html


Big Fish, Little Fish... (Part 2); whale watching on Stellwagen Banks

I was on a very successful whale-watching cruise last weekend.

And yes, I know whales aren't "Big Fish" in any literal sense.

But the "big" certainly pertains. Here's one of my shots from the cruise: Compare the size of the tail to the size of the boat. Whales are huge animals.


The trip left Gloucester and headed out to the Stellwagen Banks National Marine Sanctuary (http://stellwagen.noaa.gov/). It's an area at the border of Massachusetts Bay and the the Gulf of Maine; a giant pile of submerged glacial sand that was abraded off upland New England and deposited offshore during the last Ice Age. A similar pile of sand, Cape Cod, is more familiar to humans because it's still (temporarily) above sea level. Stellwagen Banks was once also above sea level, but is now about 100 feet (30m) underwater.

Stellwagen is rich with sea life. Part of it is that the relatively shallow water allows sunlight to reach the top of the Banks. Part of it is that the Banks are a physical obstacle to ocean currents, which causes mixing of the colder, nutrient-rich waters from the north with the warmer waters of Massachusetts and Cape Cod Bays, and the tropical gyres spinning off the Gulf Stream.

To baleen whales --- like the two pods of humpbacks (that's humpback tail, above) and a minke we saw --- the summertime Stellwagen waters are a free buffet.

I recorded a GPS track of the trip. Here's the overall schematic, so you can orient yourself:


Here's a closeup of just the on-water part of the tip, with a seafloor overlay, so you can see the track in relation to the Banks.


That knot of looping gps tracks at the lower end of the Banks is where we found the whales; feeding off the southern Stellwagen boundaries.

Closer still:


Here's what it looked like above water:

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Here's why they're called humpbacks:
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The humpback is also notable for two very long, wing-like pectoral fins; and for its strong association with Stellwagen in particular and New England in general. In fact, the humpback's scientific name is Megaptera novaeangliae"big-winged New Englander."

The "big wings" --- the pectoral fins --- are largely white, which makes the whales easy to spot even when they're shallowly submerged, such as when they're deep-breathing near the surface in preparation for a typical 5-10 minute feeding dive. Note the white (greenish, after filtering through the water) area to the right:

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The whales put on quite a show:


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Here's a brief slideshow of the whole trip, starting in scenic Gloucester harbor and heading out to sea; with lots of whale shots.

Set the slideshow speed to "fast" for best effect:

http://s225.photobucket.com/user/flanga_bucket/slideshow/Jy%202014%20whale%20watch

Stellwagen Banks are on most "top 10" lists for whale watching. Commercial tours leave from Boston, Gloucester, Salem, Provincetown, and many other New England coastal towns and cities.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Solstices and equinoxes, from geosynchronous orbit

North is up. Upper left: Northern winter solstice. Lower left: northern summer solstice. Upper right: spring equinox. Lower right: Fall equinox.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tweet o' the evening


"Dick Cheney has an op-ed piece in the WSJ about Iraq. Also, check the health section for advice on leading a balanced life from Gollum." -- @pourmecoffee

http://twitter.com/pourmecoffee/status/479071490818994176

Radar cross section of the Greenland Ice Sheet reveals skyscraper-sized formations


"Here's what the researchers think is occurring: Water that comes from melting at the bottom of the ice sheet, or water that streams down from the surface along crevasses and tubular shafts called moulins, refreezes at the bottom of the ice sheet. Over hundreds to thousands of years, the refreezing process warms, softens and warps the ice above the base of the ice sheet, creating the giant jellyroll-like structures discovered using radar. These structures could be up to 3,280 feet (1,000 m) in height, Bell said. They get bigger and are more common as the ice sheet narrows into the ice streams headed out to sea."

More: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/17/greenland-ice-sculptures_n_5503710.html
.

I had no idea the soccer/football ball had changed so much, and so recently.

The first world-cup ball (1930; laced, with T-shaped panels; shown deflated):



1970 model (mixed pentagonal/hexagonal panels):



2014 model (six freeform panels):



http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/06/13/sports/worldcup/world-cup-balls.html