Archive for May, 2006

Conspicuous Consumption on the Deck

Posted in Cooking on May 28, 2006 by Mike Procario

I loved to cook on the grill. I got a cheap gas grill about 4 years ago and I use 3 to 4 times a week during the warm weather. Of course some people just like to show off their expensive equipment.

Though they have actually cooked on the grill only three times since they installed it, it has been a hit with Mr. Petrullo's friends, who congregate around it at parties and give it a going-over like a pack of high school boys around a Corvette, Ms. Petrullo said. "They like to lift up the hood and play with the knobs," she said. "They open the doors underneath, and they open the fridge next to it to check it out."

I have learned that my grill does not heat evenly. When I am making small items like burger or brats, I have rotate them around the grill so that each item spends some time on the back left side of the grill which is hottest. I could get a benefit from a better grill, but they don't let you try out the grills at Home Depot, so I do avoid getting stuck with another left handed grill?

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Picasa for Linux

Posted in Photo, Technology and Software on May 26, 2006 by Mike Procario

I use Picasa for my photo management and editing. I find it has just the right level of features for my use. I use the cropping, redeye fixes, the auto contrast, and the fill light features most often. Well it is now available for linux. I will download it tonight and try it out. If it works as well as the Windows version, I will have once less reason to but into Windows. Now if Apple would just release a linux version of iTunes.

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The LHC Is Coming! The LHC Is Coming!

Posted in physics, Science on May 23, 2006 by Mike Procario

The Large Hadron Collider should begin operations next year, and we are hearing more and more about it in the popular press. Lawrence Krauss compares it to Gothic cathedrals.

The medieval cathedrals pushed the limits of available technology, involved the craftsmanship of literally thousands of skilled workers, and took generations (and sometimes centuries) to complete. Modern particle accelerators require decades from conception to completion and involve scientists from about 80 countries, speaking dozens of languages, whose separate handiwork must mesh together perfectly on the scale of thousandths of millimeters.

I am planning to visit CERN in July for the first time in over a decade and I am looking forward to seeing the detectors, CMS and ATLAS, while the are still being assembled. Once they start operating no one will get near them except for periodic maintanence periods.

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Use the Source Luke

Posted in Technology and Software on May 21, 2006 by Mike Procario

I have a friend who built Root on his linux box from source. Root is an object-oriented data analysis framework, which is popular in high energy physics. Terrible name for a program that runs on Unix.

Well, I couldn't let someone else in the office out-geek me. I downloaded and built it from source also. I did an install to /usr/local and I had to add the root library directory to /etc/ in order to get it to run. Now I have to find a use for it.

I then saw that vim 7.0 was released. I dowloaded the binary for Windows and it is nice. I wanted to run the same version on my Ubuntu box, but a package is not yet out. Perhaps it will be out on verision 6.06. I downloaded the source for vim 7.0 and set off to build it. I got the console version up and running very quickly, but I also wanted the gui version. I found the necessary switch for configure, but I did not have the necessary libraries and includes installed. I wanted to have the gnome version of vim and installed all of the gnome libraries, but it still did not work. I had to install the gtk2 libraries also. It is now up and running.

I used to build all sorts of things from source. We used the gnu tools heavily when we first moved to unix in the late 80's. The GNU verision of make was much nicer than the vendor's versions. Emacs and gcc were also things that we needed to build from source.

It seems to have gotten harder to build from source since so much software nows depends on many external libraries. I remember when I first starting using gnucash. The authors recommended not trying to build it yourself. They said it was high up on the software food chain.

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I Could Have Been Famous

Posted in Science on May 20, 2006 by Mike Procario

Scientists are the rock stars of Asia according to an article at Japan, Korea, and China were all mentioned in the article. Of course it is not just any scientist. You have to have a Nobel Prize to reach rock star status, but some of that prestige must rub off on the poor woorking stiff physicists like myself.

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People Do Not Like Using Old Computers

Posted in Technology and Software on May 10, 2006 by Mike Procario

A new survey of European workers show that they don't just dislike old computers but they actually take more sick leave. My computer is starting to show its age, and I am getting frustrated with it. The laptop that I bought for myself is newer, faster, and more pleasant to use. 

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Smarter Airline Boarding?

Posted in Travel on May 9, 2006 by Mike Procario

Soem airlines are hoping to improve the rugby scrum that they called boarding. Of course they are not doing this to make your flight more pleasent. They are doing it to improve profitability. 

"An airplane that spends an hour on the ground between flights might fly five trips a day," he explains. "Cut the turnaround time to 40 minutes, and maybe that same plane can complete six or seven flights a day." More flights mean more paying passengers, and ultimately, more revenue.

The problem will be the frequent flyers. They want to sit in the front, so they can get off first. They want to have a place to store their carry on bag and it should be be very close to their seat, so they want to get on early. All of the schemes seem to rely on boarding people in the back early and then moving forward. There are some that rotate from back to front to keep people who are getting seated to be as far away from each other as possible.

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