About Me

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I live in the Florida Keys. I've been in the military and worked inside the Beltway. I've had 22 technical books and two novels published. I fly, boat, dive, shoot, and swim pretty damn well.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Beautiful Piece of Work from Popular Mechanics


Popular Science and Popular Mechanics influenced and really swayed my entire life. I grew up on the electronic adventures "Carl and Jerry" in Popular Mechanics" and "Gus Wilson" and the "Model Garage" in Popular Science. See this link for an update and a look back to Gus!


"Carl and Jerry" really influenced my life!


Who would have thought that Popular Mechanics could re-invent itself so well? IF ONLY PC Magazine and other publications I worked with had been so savvy! See this link for a beautiful story from the vivid and dynamic modern version of Popular Mechanics!

A Super Plan for a Lunar Shot

I do not agree with those who say that space exploration is a "waste' of money. In my view, the business of government is to pump money. Pumping it into scientific exploration is a hell of a lot better than pumping it into "targeted" social programs that usually have many downside "unforseen" impacts.

I would rather enjoy the benefits of technology than the drag of sociology. Space exploration is (far better!) science than is sociology. THIS ARTICLE from Popular Mechanics is interesting! Worth reading.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Newspaper Comments on Generalship

"It appears we have appointed our worst generals to command forces, and our most gifted and brilliant to edit newspapers. In fact, I discovered by reading newspapers that these editor/geniuses plainly saw all my strategic defects from the start, yet failed to inform me until it was too late. Accordingly, I am readily willing to yield my command to these obviously superior intellects, and I will, in turn, do my best for the Cause by writing editorials - after the fact." Robert E. Lee, 1863

Those of you who think this quote is too good to be true will be interested in the "Urban Legend" research concerning the quote at Snopes.com At the very least, it was attributed to Lee during his lifetime, so it seems quite legitimate. Although it is often copied, re-phrased, and variously attributed. I'm certain that the very same thing occurred to various Greek and Roman field generals in times BC. --FJD
See : http://www.snopes.com/politics/quotes/robertelee.asp

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Google Earth to get Sharper Images

I love Google Earth for flying and boating. Even with a GPS, finding an unfamiliar airport can be frustrating. Taking a look at the airport on Google Earth before you leave home gives you a much better set of references than that dot on the GPS.

(Aside: When will I get a HUD in my GA aircraft that will point out the damn runway? I understand that some GMC cars now have HUD options for the radio, etc.)

According to Reuters, DigitalGlobe, provider of imagery for Google Inc's (GOOG.O) interactive mapping program Google Earth, said a new high-resolution satellite will boost the accuracy of its satellite images and flesh out its archive....

The new satellite "will offer half-meter resolution and will be able to collect over 600,000 square kilometers of imagery each day, up from the current collection of that amount each week..." See THIS LINK

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Finding Steve Fossett: Fascinating Tech App

Some of you might have seen this from other aviation sources, but it's worth repeating if only to marvel at the technology. Amazon.com is somehow cooperating with Google Earth and asking anyone and everyone to visually scan current images of the Steve Fossett search area to look for anything unusual.

See http://www.mturk.com/mturk/preview?groupId=9TSZK4G35XEZJZG21T60&kw=story

This is a fascinating story of technology and sociology. From the perspective of my age and history, it is mind blowing. Anyone in the world can help find the man missing in Nevada from any computer in the world. Fascinating.

Yes, yes, there are a dozen possible objections from those critical of anything. Why him? Why don't we use these resources for World Peace or something? Yeah, yeah. But, it takes little steps and this use of technology is ....jaw dropping.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Dynon Jumping Angle of Attack Indicator

Overall, I am very (very) happy with my Dynon D-180. I should have put a D-10A on the other side for my co-pilots, but that's my poor planning to "do over".

The only complaint I have is with the optional angle of attack indicator. The movie below shows this fluttering AoA indication. I'd appreciate any comments on "should it be that way".

Note that we have changed the pitot, checked the tubing, and that I am just one revision behind on the Dynon firmware update. (Hey, it's a problem today finding a laptop with a serial port!)

Anyone out there with AoA experience that cares to comment?


video

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

How Did They Make This Movie?

I received this movie "Off the Internet" in email. Credit for film production and creation is to Bruce Branit and Jeremy Hunt. It has a great airplane scene that isn't real, but sure looks real! Does anyone know the background of this movie and particularly how they made it? It's impressive and funny. Enjoy. -- FJD
video

Monday, September 3, 2007

Excellent Insight into the US Military in Iraq

Many of us are frustrated by the negative reporting from Iraq and by reporters who will not leave the "Green Zone." I recently heard an NPR reporter say "It's too dangerous to travel in Iraq" on the air.

Well, there are independent reporters (maybe not "Journalists"... A term I have come to regard as elite BS) who do travel the country finding good stories. One of the best, "Talking with Heroes" combines text with audio recordings. The site takes some time to go through, but if you are interested in military matters, it is a great site to visit on a regular basis. See http://talkingwithheroes.blogspot.com/ I highly recommend it!

Copied from "Talking with Heroes" is this list of other independent reporters in Iraq. On a personal note, I frequently contribute (through PAY PAL) to Michael Yon linked below. His stuff is worth paying for.

Michael Yon - Former Special Forces soldier
Wesley Morgan - Student at Princeton University
Matt Sanchez - Former MarineBill Roggio - His non-profit, PMI, supports several embeds)Michael J. Totten - Civilian analyst
Laughing Wolf - Civilian, and career independent journalist (preparing to go)
abd the Big Daddy of milblogs, Blackfive.