Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Throw another bacon rasher on the barbie

I have a problem with a bubble wrapped world, and it is not because kids will never learn from mistakes. I think bloggers of the past have covered this comprehensively and we are beyond that now. Just like observational jokes about shopping trolleys, toilet seat wars, and airplane food are overused.

My sadness from bubble wrapping the world in particular stems from the fact that there are no mad scientists left in the world. Where are the mad schemes playing out in sheds and pushing the boundaries in science and engineering? Where has the spirit of invention gone? It has all but left. Or has it?

Crazy backyard experiments have been all but eliminated by councils, local governments and national authorities by screaming "terrorism!" at everybody, but there comes a day when the every-man steps up. 

And he steps up with the goal to create a blow torch out of bacon.

Theodore Gray recently "committed [himself] to the goal, before the weekend was out, of creating a device entirely from bacon and using it to cut a steel pan in half".

Why? Who cares! That's why!

The Mr Gray wasn’t getting results, talked to the chef, and then added a side serve (read: nozzle) of vegetables. Now he has a nutritiously balanced blow torch that can be served in schools under health kicks.

How awesome is that? A couple bits of prosciutto, some cucumber, pure oxygen and you have a thermal lance that can cut through steel pans. What drives a man to try a project like that? I bet it was medicinal.

MacGyver never made anything that cool, but the airplane out of a cement mixer is close.

But I hear the food they served was terrible...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Last call for Mr Robotto your flight is boarding

The flight has now closed, can all passengers put their packages back in their ports.

The world’s first airport for unmanned aircraft is opening in Wales. But due to logistic reasons, officials have decided to just build one on land. The West Wales Airport in Aberporth, real place, has dedicated 500 miles of airspace to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in an effort to encourage firms “who are currently banned from testing in the US except in restricted airspace”. There has been lots of interest from a company called Cyberdyne Systems developing a new AI product called Skynet; it looks promising.

The Welsh Government especially is hoping that the new classification will create and develop local industries in Wales not related to sheep and bogs for a change. They are calling this the first step to getting human and robot piloted craft together in the same airspace. The aerial-racial segregation has ended.

The US, who are keen to not let a good thing go by, said in reply that “it will have its new rules for testing UAVs in commercial airspace out by 2025”; well past Judgement Day.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), or Fuck All Allowance as it turns out, limits drone aircraft testing to operating less than 400 feet and within line of sight of the operator. Scientists have only been able to test parameters on their RC Helicopters so far, so the idea of dedicated airspace is promising. The FAA says that there is experimental airspace available, but bureaucracy must be maintained even when in massive debt, and they have to be notified three weeks in advance before any flight.

As people from all around the world get used to the idea that there will be an integration of manned and unmanned airports, there will have to be some reclassification of some of the procedures around checking in. The computer check-in terminals for carriers will actually be for computers checking in. Where humans can do electronic checking in will be relabelled “Cost cutting exercises to annoy, delay, and make you line up twice”. Carriers admit that it is not very catchy, but marketing are coming up with snappy alternatives and will most likely have Richard Branson’s face all over the poster.

The future is happening already, people are no longer batting an eyelid at robots fighting for us, but yet I still have no hover skateboard. Where are the government funded grants for hoverboards? Michael J Fox had one; I wonder what happened to that?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Smile like you mean it

As a contracting engineer, I go to new sites often and I spend a lot of time meeting new people. The one thing I have found is that if they have no contact with you what so ever, it is still good to be nice and to smile. They will think you are trying to sell them something, which technically being a contractor I already have, but it never hurts to be nice. Or so I thought.

At a site recently I would run into this one lady often as we worked in the same atco-hut-make-believe-office, but she had nothing to do with the job I was there for. Going by my own philosophy, I would smile to her in the corridors (or in between cubicles) and do the small talk in the kitchen when getting a cup of tea. But I was stuck, now every time after that I had to smile and say hello.

I could pass her up to five times a day, and obligated to say hello to her every time. Sometimes I would even bust out the "long time no see" joke, which is a winner if you want polite laughter and nothing more.

I have no idea what her name was, or probably still is, nor do I feel I need to know. It will just descend into an awkward situation for some reason or another I can tell. I probably overlooked her one day when distracted by thought and automatically be an arse. She did suffer from ducks disease, so very easy to overlook.

I do not want to be an arse Sam I am, I rely on people liking me for performance reviews, and I do genuinely find people interesting. The only thing I could do is just to keep smiling. Smile like a maniac at everyone even when half a shit day has passed and the afternoon forecast is worse. So yeah, take that lady; even if you are having a bad day, you’re going to cop one of these bad boys :)