2005-09-23

Blogger Now Has Pictures

Hey - blogger has added a way to upload a picture - without using Picasa/Hello/Bloggerbot! Cool!

A picture I took while geocaching last weekend:

Astronaut has one-way ride to station

Due to a sanction the US government has against our space partner Russia, over concerns that Russia was providing space and missle technology to enemies, NASA is forbidden to buy lauches from Russia. Russia's contract to fly missions to the Space Station is completed with the next launch. Because of the grounding of the Space Shuttle, and the delay of repairs due to the hurricanes, that will mean the astronaut going up, will not have a defined ride home for the end of his 6 month scheduled stay.

He has stated that he is willing to stay up as long as he has to.

The US is hoping Russia will continue to fly mission out of good will.

While Russia has been a very good partner in the space program, it is well known that they are financially strapped. While I would hope that they would help out if there was an emergency, I don't think we can really count on them to do much out of good will.

So, that means our government needs to make an emergency exception. Add it to some of the Katrina emergency funding. But it doesn't look like they will rush into it.

Hmm - any Reagan era Contra fund money left around that can be slipped to them under the table?

2005-09-19

Geocaching Update

Thursday evening, my eldest son decided he wanted to make a Geocache of our own. We had been working up to it for a little while now. We had small notebooks for logbooks. I had saved a couple of 3 pound plastic picnic salad containers. We had some pirate themed accessories to go with our geocache nickname of 'WitzAbout Pirates'. My eldest son was really enthused about making the geocache that evening. He collected up a whole bunch of toys - older, but in good condition. So I printed out the geocache introduction sheet and gathered up the pieces needed. We headed down to a park about a mile away from our house. We parked in the lot, near the playground, and looked around for places to hide the cache. From my point of view, there were not a lot of choices. It was a pretty busy area, with a playground, 2 different ball fields - softball and soccer - and at the intersection of two pretty busy streets. I did not see any place near the playground that seemed good for the cache - short of the rocks in the middle of the parking lot. All the trees near the parking lot had branches that were high, and mown grass up to the trunks. I had spied some bushes and trees a the corner of the park when we were driving in. That seemed like our best bet. I found a spot to hide the cache - ironically right near where both roads meet. It seemed like a pretty high traffic area. I felt bad that I would be making fellow cachers look a bit suspicion when going after this cache. But my son really wanted to place it in the park. I wanted it someplace that would not likely be spotted and picked apart by non-cachers. So we placed it is a shallow hole hidden in the bushes/trees area (you don't want me to give away all the secrets, in case a cacher reads my blog for hints! ;-) )
We went home, and registered the cache online. My son helped me fill out the form and write up the description. He was so excited, he decided he would check the cache each week. He put a note up on the calendar for each Saturday. He was willing to walk the mile each way to check this cache. It was looking like geocaching might just get him out more often, beside dragging him to find geocaches.
Friday morning I checked my email. It turns out the cache didn't qualify because it was burred. I was tempted to debate the issue, but instead, I decided to change it. I went back down on my way to work. I got some rocks to build up a little hiding place for the cache. I think it came out pretty well. It should look pretty obvious to a cacher, but should hopefully be well hidden from causal observation. The cache was also not far from a high school too, so I knew it couldn't be too noticeable. So I updated the notes on the geocache site. Checked Saturday, no update. Then I noticed in a different color that I needed to send a special message to the admin so they knew to recheck the listing. Doh!
The admin listed it at 1:15am. Sunday morning I saw it was approved! A little later we noticed the first find! Wow! They said they were going to put in a travelbug, but could not fit it. I guess we filled it a bit too well! :)
By the end of the day, we had 4 visitors - cool!
We decided we wanted to hide another cache. I didn't think we had enough good stuff to fill another cache, so we went to the dollar store and stocked up on stuff for both creating a cache and for trading at caches in general.
After shopping, we tried to find a new, 2-stage cache. The first piece was a micro-cache that leads to the main cache. We spent about a half hour or so looking and looking for the micro. We have had very bad luck finding micro-caches. Maybe there is some secret that we are missing. I know that with regular caches, I'm starting to have a good eye for seeing manually placed items that indicate a cache. I'm wondering if I just have to work my way up to being able to see the same kind of clues for micro caches.
We went off to hide the new cache in a different part of town. This time along a hiking trail. Against a pretty busy place, so I hope the cachers will forgive us for making it a bit out in the open.
This time I had taken along my laptop. I had pre-loaded the data needed to continue geocaching without needing to be online. So we drove a bit down the road to another cache I'd been wanting to find for a while. It was next to a small lake. The lake was a bit hidden and a bit higher than you might expect. It was a cute lake, a nice place for a geocache. One of the great side-effects of geocaching is finding all sorts of places I didn't really know about before.

View our profile2005-09-19 1:00pm - just checked the geocache site again - our second cache was approved!

Geeky News - IBM Behind 2 of 3

Reading a new article on CNN, about the new Xbox 360, I learned something interesting about IBM. It seems they are not limiting themselves to Business machines these days.
While Apple is jumping ship to Intel from the Power-PC chip, not one, but 2 new games systems are jumping over to IBM.
Microsoft and IBM co-designed the chip for Xbox 360, based on the Power PC chip.
But IBM also co-designed the chip for the next Playstation, PS3, with Sony and Toshiba, also includes a Power PC processor.
Not a bad deal position for IBM - involved in the chips for the two big game consoles. I wonder if they can get an inside to the next Nintendo game console too? :)
The original Xbox was built with PC-based components, including Intel processors. By going to Power-PC based chips, that means that supporting the older games will have to be done in an emulation mode or they will have to include an intel-based instruction set in the new console. The good news is that they have said the new system will support the old games. The question becomes if the old games will play OK.
And Playstation will also have to answer if they will support old games. I give them a lot of credit for supporting first generation Playstation when they built the PS2. I hope they continue the support into the PS3.

I find it pretty funny everytime I hear the name of the new Xbox console. Calling it Xbox 360 is a very odd choice. The 360 series of computers was a line of mainframes from IBM back in the 60s. It was the previous architecture to the 370/390 series of mainframes out now (390 is a superset of 370, but the 370 is not based on the 360). So calling it an Xbox 360 makes me think of the old mainframes from before my time. And with IBM in on the project, it makes me wonder if the Xbox 360 has the hidden ability to run old 360 mainframe code? :) The Xbox 360 probably has more processing power than the 360 series computers, so in theory I'd guess it is a possibility. Will the Xbox that comes out after this one be able to run today's mainframe applications? :)

2005-09-13

Weekend Stuff

I went geocaching over the weekend. I was spurred by the fact that I had a travelbug* from the previous weekend to put back in circulation. So I headed out to an area in town I hadn't geocached in before - leading to the Pulpit Rock area. I'd hiked it once from the West 5 years ago, during the first few weeks I had moved to Colorado. I could not get anyone else interested in going, so I was heading out on my own. Having looked at the area with Google Earth, I decided to try using my bike. Coming from Academy, it made for a pretty easy trip. I wound up having to abandon my bike a few hundred feet from the caches. Well, it was easier on the bike at first. But I didn't realize that the last cache I wanted to hit was up from the first 2. Quite a bit up. Very far up the back of Pulpit Rock. I wound up pushing my bike slowly up, taking probably close to an hour. But I knew there was a dirt trail that lead to streets from having hiked it 5 years ago. It turns out the last cache was along the dirt road, so that wasn't bad. I thought I would have to work my way out to the main streets, taking quite a few miles to get back to where I parked. But I was very, very pleasantly surprised to find the street I was on curved around to where I parked in about a mile - taking less than 10 minutes. It nearly made up for all the extra time pushing my bike took. But the worst thing was that I forgot the travelbug, and hadn't realized it until I was at the first cache - and I didn't want to go back then. I had figured I could pop it into another cache afterwards. But I didn't have enough time.

*travelbug - a special item that has 'dog tags' with a special tracking number - that is designed to be moved from geocache-to-geocache - sometime with a specific task such as making it from coast-to-coast.

Sunday, my wife had her grand opening of her new Massage Office. It went ok. It was find as a party to introduce the office to colleagues and a few friends. It was not as successful as a marketing event, to draw new clients. But overall it went well.

Later in the evening, I wanted to go geocaching again, to try to get rid of the travelbug. It was a spiderman figure, that my middle boy wanted very much to keep. So I really wanted to get it planted before he made it disappear. I didn't take all the papers with me. Just the coordinates of a new, smaller cache near home, and the coordinates of another in the same basic area that would work if I couldn't find the new one. I managed to get the coordinates reversed, and wound up heading for the known cache. It was at that point that I realized that again I had left the travel bug in the car. It was getting towards dusk. If I'd had the bug, I would have just placed it in the known cache. But since I didn't I turned around and went back to the car. The first thing I did when I got in the car was to put the travelbug in my pocket.

I drove to the coordinates of the newer cache. On the way, a dog decided to cross without looking. Luckily I had plenty of room. I stopped, and saw a girl looking for the dog. She was calling for an adult to come help her. She said she was okay and told me I could go. I was willing to wait for her to cross. But she was waiting for the adult, so I drove carefully on. The dog stayed to the sidewalk as I passed. After a short drive through back streets, I found I was very close where a trail crossed a street. I parked, and saw there were 2 trees right near the coordinates, and nothing else really nearby. But it still took me a while. After about the 6th pass around the trees, I finally found it. I squeezed the spiderman travelbug into the container, signed the log, and placed it back. It was getting a bit dark by this point. The sun had been behind the mountains for at least 20 minutes. But I was pretty satisfied. I had found 4 more caches for the weekend.

I went on the geocaching site yesterday, and saw a person had trouble with the 2 trees cache - so I gave them some hints. I read about a brand new one not too far from my house, and I think I got my eldest interested in finding it. But he did not have a good day at school - so it will not happen today.

2005-09-06

Balloon Festival Pictures

Bookcrossing

What do you get when you cross the idea of geocaching and reading? Leaving a book out in an open place for others to find, read, and pass on.

Sorry Denver, Colorado Springs leads the state in number of books 10-to-1 Bookcrossings in COS

Labor Day Weekend

I went Saturday and Sunday morning to the Hot Air Balloon Festival . And to the Balloon glow Saturday night. I took a huge amount of pictures Saturday and Sunday. It was wild to see the balloons dip into the newly refilled lake. I'll have to post some pictures soon.

Yesterday we did some Geocaching. We managed to find all 5 out in Falcon.

Wacky Fired Winner

A man fired last year from a Highlands Ranch Colorado (Southern Denver Suburb) company won a contest for the oddest firing. He was fired a month after he ate 2 slices of pizza left over from a company event, unaware that other employees planned to take home the left over pizza.

Crazy stuff.