Life of Pi–great movie!


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We watched “Life of Pi” last night (family movie night). It is a really good movie. I really enjoyed the overall concept and the cinematography was simply amazing. Ang Lee, who is famous for more violent movies (Jackie Chan) really showed a deft touch around the concepts of the book in his movie.

Conceptually there are a number of things I’ve been covering in my more serious blog recently. I was greatly inspired by a piece in the Washington Post around Manipulators. It doesn’t matter what you call them, they are out there waiting to catch you when you are unaware. Today I was thinking aloud about the perfect office.

One of the reasons for two blogs is that this one is my family blog (kid updates stuff like that). The other blog remains my more serious attempt at topics and concepts that are important to my job, but also to me.

I realized the other day that for the better part of the first 4 or 5 years that I blogged I always had music playing while blogging. Since moving to Maryland I’ve stopped that. I am not 100% sure. If you had asked me 10 years ago I would have said I write better with music on. Now I wonder if in fact that is true. Not, mind you that I think I am writing better now, just that I wonder if music was as critical to the process as I used to think.

Time to get rolling…

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

How do I blog every day?


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A friend said yesterday I don’t know how you blog everyday. The answer is normally I am writing my blog two or three days in advance and then buffing and polishing them, or changing the order of publication. That however has changed in the past two months, and I am now literally writing my blog on the fly every morning.

So now my blogs are live day of, fresh from the sea. That means you don’t have to check the freshness date of my blogs anymore, they are as fresh as fresh can be. It also means they are probably more topical in that I am now finding information from yesterday’s news!

That is an interesting concept – freshness dates on blogs. For example, my kids all started their blogs (see links above) and haven’t really written anything since the first post or so.

Fresh isn’t always good (Zucchini – it sucks no matter when you eat it, although I hear my father “your taste buds will mature.” Sorry dad – no squash for me.)

Fresh also means you get blogs like this on occasion where there really isn’t anything to write about except the very process of blogging. So to answer my friends question how do you blog every day?

I sit in my chair, stare at the screen and hope something comes out.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

NASA rambling and basement cleaning


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I am a NASA junkie. I acknowledge that and accept my personal designation. I love everything NASA. The other day I was talking to a co-worker who used to work at NASA. He talked about a study that had been done at one point where NASA looked at all the businesses they had created that were worth, per product, more than a billion dollars each. (the best night of NASA watching – seeing Neil Armstrong step on the moon, 30 second delay but nearly live with my dad at 2 am in the morning).

The number if you think about it is amazing. While the transistor radio was already around, the world of communications changed because of NASA. But the thing that was amazing to me is what NASA did that in the end impacted the personal computer even more. DSP or digital signal processing chips were actually a critical need for NASA. They were processing hundreds of gigabytes of imaging data every day, and if you think back to the computers of the 80’s that wasn’t their strong suit. Sure, today you can get 4 gig of video ram on a laptop but back then you had 640k to work with and that includes loading the network, video and other critical drivers. The original Pentium chips that became the standard very quickly suffered for horrible floating point issues so math (ie image processing) was arduous well into the mid 1990’s.

If only NASA had sold stock.

I sold my old telescope. It pained me to do so, but I hadn’t used it in a long time (2 years) so it fit into my new rule (no use, no longer in basement). Since Barb won’t let me move stuff upstairs if I don’t have it in the basement, I don’t have it. There are more things heading the way of the dinosaur soon.

Its nearing Cherry Blossom time in DC, although frankly it feels to freaking cold to be spring.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

is there a middle ground?


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I find myself in the middle of an argument. I understand the second amendment of our constitution and I believe it should be upheld. I do however, wonder about the need for rapid fire weapons and large ammunition magazines. I have in the past enjoyed firing weapons at targets. It’s a fun thing to see how well you can do at various distances.

I support the right of people who like to hunt, and know many people that do. They kill their limits and pack the meat into their freezers and enjoy various dishes they themselves procured. There was a time not to long ago when in fact you needed to do that to survive. Trophy hunting I don’t support but that is a personal choice.

You wouldn’t go out and kill a deer with 100 rounds of ammunition. Would you?

So I guess I as I said am stuck in the middle of this particular event. I support the right of those who have and wish to bear arms. I would however, like based on current events to have assault type and large magazines banned from direct sale. I do support universal registration of guns and the presentation of that registration when you buy ammunition. I think anyone who buys 1000’s of rounds that isn’t a dealer should be flagged in the system and their use of that ammunition should be noted.

Like I said, in the middle.

It seems sad that there isn’t a middle ground being presented right now. Hopefully in time it will happen.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Does your dog bite?


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My mother and I used to watch the original pink panther movies. I am not sure why that popped into my head this morning except that Luke said “my dog bites,” when I walked by his room this morning. He didn’t want me to turn on the light he was “resting” before school and used Dylan as a threat. That lead me to ask him of course “Does your dog bite,” he answered “only fathers” and my brain was off to the races. I suspect there were many people who regretted my mom and I in the theatre for those movies, we laughed out loud at virtually every joke in the entire movie and some of them were literally a laugh a second.

I am downsizing the basement as we type. Well I type you read. Slowly but surely getting rid of stuff I don’t use anymore. Goodwill must think I am a hoarder based on the stuff I have been giving them, maybe I am.

Yesterday with the newest patch I finally got SimCity working on my laptop. I am dying for the new version of SimEarth. Barb bought me that game in 1993 for Christmas. She tried to take it away a few times because I became an addict for awhile. Between SimEarth and Playmaker football I played computer games a lot back then. Kids, jobs and age have slowed that habit but the new SimCity seems like a cool game so far – the graphics are simply amazing.

The cool thing is it is something that the bean and I can talk about. Its too pedestrian a game for the gamer crew (N &L) they are all about guts and glory in their video games.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Oh to live in interesting times…


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Interesting blog stat – for the past month I have averaged more views per person than I did any month in the past 2 years. To date my average is 1.4 to 1 (views to people). For the past month its been closer to 2.5 to 1. That is nearly double my normal rate. I would like to say it’s the stellar writing but I suspect its just people that haven’t read in awhile catching up.

I am slowly but surely reducing the crap in the basement. Next to go? Xbox racing wheels. It seemed like a good idea at the time but in the end, not so much. I think we used them a total of three times.

As much as the kids use the Xbox I suspect that is in the end wasted money for the wheels. However, the Xbox itself has become the secondary entertainment device throughout the house. I still watch on my kindle and my iPad, but the kids do everything from Netflix to Amazon Prime Instant video’s on the Xbox.

When I was a kid we had maybe 4 stations. Now admittedly we lived in southern Indiana where not a lot happens but the average back then was not many stations. If you lived in a larger city you got a couple more stations (we got the three networks from Indianapolis and then a PBS station from Indiana University).

Today there are 100’s of stations with all sorts of bizarre and interesting shows.

I guess the Chinese curse really did work we are living in interesting times.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Another Shameless review–Logitech TV Cam HD


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I have been playing with the new Logitech Skype HD camera. It connects to Skype and to your television.Itt is really a very effective camera (shows roughly 1/2 the living room) and frankly have a good microphone. I only do Skype calls with a few folks, but it is nice to be able to sit in a comfortable place and do a call other than the computer.

What I like":

  • Setup was a breeze
  • HDMI Connection worked very well
  • Created a new Skype ID and had it operating in less than 10 minutes.
  • Camera takes great video
  • Audio was decent considering how far away the device was when we were talking

What I didn’t like:

  • With our last 5 hour power failure it didn’t remember the ID or password, would like the option of using a great Logitech Keyboard rather than the on-screen keyboard.
  • No capability for an on table Microphone connection
  • Camera is fixed no rotation to speaking people, so you have to get everyone in the screen up front.
  • Price is a little high (199) to make this a huge success for most people…

I do maybe 10 Skype calls a month so overall it was a good addition. There are a number of products in this space that are exceptional and continue to get better. But you can’t go wrong with a Logitech product. They are well made, solid and frankly just work. Frankly though, this is not a gotta have category of gadgets. It’s a nice to have addition however if you are in the market.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow