We’re continuing to swab the deck of this pesky news chum. This time, we’re making some things that might be of retirement age walk the plank. Let’s see if they sink or swim:
- The Boeing 747. One of the books I keep rereading from the early 1970s deals with the birth of the Boeing 747. After 45 years, the old lady of aviation (of the current “models” in heavy use, only the 737 is older) may be ready to retire. It’s engineering is from the past: people are astonished when they see the analogue instruments. The flight controls are all dependent on old-fashioned mechanical linkages. A 747 captain once explained that, if hydraulic assistance on the control yoke is lost, you can still put your feet on the instrument panel, give a big tug and wrench the plane about the sky. You cannot do that on a solid-state Airbus. Airline economics have also changed: International flights can now avoid the big hubs and go directly on long, thin routes between secondary cities. The first generation of high-bypass turbofans made the original 747-100 possible, but it was only ever economical when fully loaded, its efficiency tumbling disproportionately as seats were left empty. In the 45 years since its first flight, engine reliability has so dramatically improved there is no need for four thirsty engines. In any case, the fundamental appeal of the original 747 was its range rather than its capacity. Boeing’s own efficient long-range modern twinjets, the 777 and 787 have made it redundant. And the A380 makes it look crude.
- Quicken. If you are like me, you probably have years and years of data in Quicken. I think I started using it back in 1994, perhaps even a bit earlier, with a version running on MS-DOS. Well the markets have changed, and you and I are dinosaurs. All the cool kids use online money management, and Intuit (born of Quicken) has put Quicken on the market. Intuit has decided to focus on its small business and tax software, represented by QuickBooks and TurboTax, respectively — both have strong cloud- and subscription-based businesses — and is ditching Quicken because, as a strictly desktop product, it has neither. Some predict Quicken to be dead in two years. After all, the three units Intuit plans to sell — Quicken, QuickBase and Demandforce — accounted for less than 6% of the firm’s fiscal 2015 revenue, and just 2% of its net income during the same period. For the last 12 months, Quicken contributed just $51 million to the company’s total revenue of nearly $4.2 billion. They want a buyer that will keep the brand up. It will be interesting to see. I still use Quicken — and their long-retired Medical Insurance Tracking software — and it would be a pain to transition that data (and the data does not belong online).
- Vinyl Records. On the other hand, vinyl records (which were written off for dead), are seeing a comeback. The NY Times reports that the business of record pressing is now experiencing so many orders they cannot keep up (warning: autoplay video). The problem: how to capitalize on the popularity of vinyl records when the machines that make them are decades old, and often require delicate and expensive maintenance. The few dozen plants around the world that press the records have strained to keep up with the exploding demand, resulting in long delays and other production problems. It is now common for plants to take up to six months to turn around a vinyl order. Still, vinyl is a niche market, albeit a valuable one.
Music: The Slightly Fabulous Limelighters: “Aravah, Aravah” (The Limeliters )
Continuing to clear out the links… here’s a collection of news chum all being related by the theme of travel or travelling:
This is a busy busy time, and the chum is accumulating. To whittle it down a little, here are some articles related to things that fly:
It’s Saturday, and that means it’s time to clean out the accumulated links. As I’ve got about an hour before I jump into the Fringe, let’s get going:
- Saving a Dying Jewish Language. No, I don’t mean Yiddish. I mean Ladino. Here’s a neat article on how a Turkish newspaper is working to save Ladino.
- Kill the Lawn One of the big pushes here is LA is to get rid of the lawn. But what is really involved? Here’s a first-person account of an adventure in grass removal.
- Just Keep Building. Here’s an interesting article of local interest: 188 more homes are planned for Porter Ranch.
- I’ll Have it On Ice. If you know me, you know I primarily drink two things: water, and iced tea. Here’s an article about how iced tea became a thing.
- Just Cram It In. Airlines are a great example of an organization that doesn’t fully think out their problems… or perhaps they do. They want more revenue. So they institute check in bag charges. As a result, people start carrying on more, slowing boarding and not leaving enough space. Their proposal: make the carry-on bags smaller. This will force people to pay for checked luggage (which is what they wanted in the first place).
- Don’t Put It In The Fridge. A really interesting article on what fruit you should refrigerate and what fruit you shouldn’t.
- Travel Tips. One last piece from the Times: Why you should carry two wallets when you travel abroad.
- Pen-is Envy. Get your mind out of the gutter: it is pronounced pen-iss, for I’m envious of this: Levenger’s L-Tech 3.0 Stealth, a serious fountain pen.
- I’m Free. I’m Free. No, I’m not. Lastly, Twitter will be lifting the 140 character limit (yay), but for messages, not tweets (boo)
Well, it’s late Saturday night, and I’m home from my first Fringe show. That writeup will be tomorrow morning — tonight, it’s time to clear out the links so we can make some news chum stew. Are you hungry yet?
- Windows 10 is Coming. Quick, get a Dixie Cup. OK, so it’s an old joke and in bad taste. But we’re talking Windows here. Seriously, if you have a Windows 7 or Windows 8 system, you might see a new little icon so you can sign up to get the latest and greatest Windows when it is released on July 29. You’ll have a year to upgrade for free. So I’ve got a collection of articles that I found of interest on the upgrade. First and foremost, there are a number of features that will not work or will be removed when (if) you upgrade. Second, here’s an article on what to expect when the upgrade happens. Supposedly, you’ll need to do a clean install. What I haven’t seen yet is how well the upgrade process works for an in-place system, or seen a good list of what other older software will not work. My advice: You’ll have until July 2016 to request the upgrade. I’d suggest waiting a good two months and letting everyone else be the guinea pig.
- Apple, are you listening? Having talked about Microsoft, let’s now talk about Apple. This week brought the news that Microdia will be selling a 512GB micro-SD card for around $1000 (and you can expect the price to go down as others start manufacturing, plus there are reminders that the extra-capacity SDXC format allows for up to 2TB cards. OK, Apple, here’s your challenge. Do you want to win back all the people that loved the iPod Classic for their music? Do you want to prevent these folks from migrating to any of the other large capacity players? Here’s a simple answer: sell an iPod Touch that can take a micro-SD card up to 2TB. Not only can folks store their music, they have room for loads of apps, and loads of photos (they will be grabbed by photographers). Think of all the money you can make backing that up to the cloud.
- Water Water Everywhere. Here are three articles related to water. The first explores how to find the control room for the Bellagio fountains. There are loads of facts in the article; my favorite was the following: “The water they use for the fountains is a self-sustained source that used to be used for the old Dunes golf course before they took it down.” I had read in another book on Vegas that Wynn bought the land for the Bellagio because it had its own springs. Speaking of piping water, when you hear Budweiser, what do you think of? I know, watered-down beer. Did you know in emergencies that AB doesn’t add the beer (of course, how would you know?). Seriously, those of us in LA know that AB canned water during the big earthquake. Well, with the recent damage in Texas, they switched to canning water as well. Lastly, I found a real good collection of stories at the Times on drought gardening.
- A-One. A-Two. If you are security aware, you turn on two-factor authentication whereever you can. But how do you do it? Here’s an article with information on turning on two-factor authentication on over 100 sites. In particular, it links to a step-by-step guide to turning on two-factor authentication.
- Illusions in the Air. Here’s an interesting (well, to me) discussion of Avatar Airlines, an airline that is too good to be true. Just like the recently panned (and rightfully so) Bitter Lemons Imperative (plus one, two, three), here’s an idea that might have sounded good on a surface read, but when you dig deeper, it is fraught with problems. This really goes to show why you need to think an idea out thoroughly before you put it on the net. [I didn’t earlier today, and learned my lesson]
- A Burnin’ Issue. OK, Grammar Geeks. Here’s one for you (h/t Andrew D): Which unicode character should represent the apostrophe? The answer is easy to get wrong, as the Unicode committee did. They chose ’ (U+2019), which is RIGHT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK (as opposed to ‘ (single quote)), as opposed to ʼ (U+02BC), which is MODIFIER LETTER APOSTROPHE. Why is this significant? The former creates a word boundary; the latter does not. Now you know why your capitalization routine changes it’s to It’S.
The smell of stew cooking in the crockpot reminded me I need to post a stew of my own; with vacation and such, it’s been a few weeks. So let’s clear out those links…
- Burger Continental is Gone. We discovered this as we returned home from the Ren Faire a few weeks ago: BC has closed their doors. No more can Adrian, their long-time waiter (and one of the owners, from what I’ve heard) flirt with my wife. They were a reliable dinner when we were going to the Pasadena Playhouse. I’ll miss them.
- Airline Safety, Take 1: Fitting In The Butts. As we all know, airlines are squeezing passengers closer and closer together, both through thinner seats and decreased pitch. The big problem: That may not be safe. A consumer advisory group has asked DOT to look into the matter.
- Airline Safety, Take 2: Reading the Signs. An interesting airline risk has just come to light — significant if you are flying Boeing 787s. It appears there is a software glitch that could cause power units (APUs) to go into failsafe mode after running continuously for more than 8 months. Specifically, if all four APUs were started at the same time, and run for 248.55 hours… they shut down. 248.55 just happens to be the point where a signed 32-bit integer holding time in hundreths of a second overflows and goes negative. No problem: That age old advice still works: “Have you tried turning it off, and back on again?”
- Cleaning Out the Stash. One of the problem when your parents die is cleaning out what they left at the house. That problem turns weird when you discover their adult stash — i.e., their porn collection. Yes, your parents think about sex — who do you think made you the horndog you are? Yes, I’m looking at you. Luckily, there is an adult bookstore in London that will take that porn off of your, umm, hands.
- Ah, Catherine the Great. As you probably remember, I loved Steve Allen’s Meeting of Minds. Therefore, it is with sad news that I report the passing of Mrs. Steve Allen, better known as Jayne Meadows, who started in numerous episodes. She made it to 95 and had a good life. I thank her for her contributions.
- Security and Maturity. Here’s an interesting metric: Brian Krebs on measuring a company’s security maturity level.
- Damn. Yesterday was National Naked Gardening Day. Here’s an interesting article on a garden rework in Beverlywood that not only saves water, but grows vegetables. For future reference…
- Where to Go For Dinner. Another “for future reference”: Here’s a listing of 20 recommended places to eat in the Valley. We’ve actually been to about 2/3s of these.
- But What Will I Watch in Hawaii. I don’t know what you did when you visited Hawaii in your college years, but I…. programmed. I have fond memories of listening to the Jerry Lewis Telethon (back in the late 1970s, mind you) and programming for the UCLA Computer Club. Today’s children will have to find something else to do: MDA has cancelled the Labor Day Telethon. I’ll note that it had really gone downhill without Jerry Lewis and the folks he drew in, and MDA parted ways with him a few years ago.
That’s your stew for this Sunday. Now go work out….
I’ve been fascinated by the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, and the fact that there has been absolutely no evidence found from the aircraft. I mean, there are even crowdsourcing efforts to examine satellite photography! Malaysians are praying for a solution, and the Malaysian government “welcomes all help to trace the missing flight, including from “bomohs,” or shamans, as long as their methods conform to Islamic teachings”. Me? I’ve been just waiting for the conspiracy theories to pop up, and Time Magazine kindly obliged me. Their theories are:
- Ghosts. Relatives and friends of the plane’s passengers said they were able to find their loved ones on a Chinese instant messenger service called QQ, reports the Washington Post. Others tried calling the vanished passengers’ phones and heard ringtones even though the calls were not picked up. Many thought the phones might still be on, and more than 100 of them signed a petition to the Malaysian government to hurriedly investigate. That led more suspicious observers to fire off rounds of irrational theories. Did the mysterious ringing indicate the passengers had been kidnapped and are still alive somewhere? Or was it the supernatural at work?
- Aliens.“If we never find the debris, it means some entirely new, mysterious and powerful force is at work on our planet which can pluck airplanes out of the sky without leaving behind even a shred of evidence,” said one blogger. Was it an alien abduction? others ask.
- Predestined. Reddit is rife with commenters fixated on the numerical coincidences of the flight’s disappearance. “Interesting numerology,” said one Reddit user, RedditB. “Flight 370 disappears on 3/7 while reportedly traveling 3,700 km. Flight 370 flew at an altitude of 37,000 feet when it was last reported using flight tracking software. Luigi Maraldi, age 37, was one of the individuals whose passport was stolen. Malaysia Airlines is one of Asia’s largest, flying nearly 37,000 passengers daily. As of today, we are beginning the 37th month since the Fukushima tragedy, which is located on the 37th degree and initially caused 37 injuries at the plant.”
- North Koreans. Others have argued the jet was hijacked by North Koreans and flown to Pyongyang. One Reddit user, Nickryane, claims the plane had enough fuel to fly to North Korea and remain within cell phone range. The dictatorship hijacked a jet in 1969, so Kim Jong-un would be pulling an old card out of the deck.
- Illuminati. One guess points to the supposed vortex energy points on the earth’s surface that Illuminati “and/or ancient aliens” who can control the energy grid. Commenters and bloggers emerged to point to occultists and nefarious shadowy figures who helped down the plane.
You gotta love any theory that includes the Illuminati.
In reality, though, I’m surprised there hasn’t been any evidence. I would think that even with a mid-flight explosion, there would be some larger pieces that would survive and splash down, and there would be some components that would float. Even with a mid-flight explosion, the black box should survive. If they landed the plane whole in the ocean, there would be something that would be floating and visible. I just think they aren’t looking in the right places.
Then again, perhaps Amelia Earhart needed a new plane.
Today has been a travel day for me: LA to Charlotte to Baltimore. In fact, I saw the aircraft in my userpic (i.e., the US Airways A319 in PSA livery) on the ground in Charlotte, and I flew on the US Airways Piedmont legacy A319 from CLT to BWI. I really hope that the “new” American Airlines preserves the US Airways legacy fleet, adds an AA eagle craft to the fleet, and reaches back to add Air Cal, Reno Air, and TWA to the legacy fleet. But I digress…
As today was a travel day, I figured an article about airplanes was appropriate… and so, here’s an article about Yak Hunting. Specifically, an article about hunting down the remains of a Yakovlev Yak-40 in Liberia and conducting an urban exploration of the aircraft. Cool.
But I can’t do a single link to an article — I need to do things in threes. So I did some more searching. I found a really interesting article on a aircraft boneyards, focusing on what is done with both old military and commercial aircraft. I also found this article focusing more on the military boneyard near Tucson. Even more interesting is this article I found on how they recycle the parts of an aircraft. Alas, I couldn’t find the article I wanted to find: an article from Airliners Magazine from quite a few years ago about dismantling an old 737 and how they did it.
I also found an interesting article on the death of Evergreen International Airlines. More aircraft for the chopping block, so it seems.