With Wings As Eagles: Craig P. Steffen's Blog

that old time religion

2007 March 26 18:59

At my hotel in Manchester, the only wireless available is bought separately from the room.

It's not quite what I'm used to, but it does Ok. I can't hold an ssh session open reliably from here to the states, but that has nothing to do with their company. There's enough latency on trans-Atlantic internet routes that there's probably not a lot to be done about it.

However, ebay totally fails to load here. I tried turning off loading images, same result. I tried a couple of different browsers, no dice. What I finally ended up doing is logging into a server I have in the US and then using elinks, a text-mode browser. This is what ebay will look like for me until I get back to the states:

I'm not sure how viewing photos works in elinks, so I don't know that I'd want to do any shopping that way, but it's quite adequate for checking on auctions that are under way. Sometimes, those old arrow-key and tabbing skills come in handy. :-)

the currency of the realm

2007 March 26 18:37

On the road in Manchester, England. Yung Li plug adapter is earning its keep:

On the way here, I travelled through the Atlanta airport, which I'd always heard bad things about. I found it Ok, if rather spartan. Now that pretty much everyone travels with cell phones and laptops, power plugs are something that one looks for in airports. The Atlanta airport puts a whole bunch of counters with rows of plugs in the food area, which seems like an emminently sensible thing to do to me. They also have free wireless in that area.

The gate area only had a few power plugs, one of which I grabbed. You had the pay for the wireless there, but the view was nice:

luggage surcharge

2007 March 24 04:57

I ran across some interesting numbers in Soyuz: A Universal Spacecraft (a recent birthday present). In its section on the Progress supply spacecraft (which is an uncrewed variant of the Soyuz) it mentions that it takes 15-30 kg to sustain a person in orbit for a day. I suppose that includes food, oxygen, air handling consumables and clothes. Elsewhere in the book, it says that a Progress costs $23 million to build and launch. The Progress has a dry cargo capacity of 2500 kg.

Using the lower limit of 15 kg per day per person, that works out to be about $140,000 per person per day in orbit. That's the sustained cost, which does not count the cost of getting the space station/vehicle in orbit or getting the person there in the first place.

from the other side of the screen...

2007 March 21 08:23

I had my second long instrument flying session recently. I've made an effort to talk informatively about my flying experiences and not too much about just me...but I'm pleased to say that my instructor has basically run out of stuff for me to do in the instrument training, and I still need to log more than an hour of instrument instruction before my check ride.

The instrument flying is becoming fun; I'm sort of good at it. A lot of learning to fly has been a feel sort of thing, which are new experiences (as compared to Flight Simulator, for instance). However, the instrument training is more cerebral, like a video game...and that I'm fairly practiced in.

The assumption is that a student will do a bunch of preparation before the test; it's required to do at least three flight hours within 60 days before. The only thing I have left before that process is the night training. The required night training includes at least 3 hours flying, a cross country flight of over 100 miles total distance, and 10 take-offs and landings. I think we can do it all in one flight, but I'm not entirely sure.

With some luck, I might get my certificate in May sometime.

not all those who wander are lost

2007 March 20 10:40

Don't you hate it when you can't find something you know you have? I hate that, and I hate it even more to buy something that I know I already have.

However, after much crashing about the house and muttering, I found our UK to US electrical plug adapters:

Since I went to the effort to find them, I decided to do a brief bit of research, in case I (or someone else) wanted to buy them or ones like them. The specific plug pictured here is a Yung Li YL-6015. There are lots of companies that make adapters that will physically mate one nationality of plug to another. I find that they tend to be chintzy. However, these are very solidly made, and judging by the stamping on it, they conform to the electrical standards of both countries, including the in-plug fuse that's used in British wiring.

Oddly, I went searching for a place to buy those plugs, but I dont' seem to be able to find anywhere. The one place I could find at all was signalandpower.com, and they don't have an ordering page. I ordered these plugs in the spring of 2004, so I don't know where I went to order them; I do, though, seem to remember having to call someone. Signal and Power's contact page doesn't work, but they do have a phone number; maybe I just called them up and ordered them.

Disclaimer: These plugs, like most of their kind, only convert the plug style not the voltage! When in another country, only plug electrical devices into these plugs that are specifically rated for multiple voltages. My laptop power supply, for instance, says "INPUT 100-240V, ~1.0A, 50/60Hz". It will work fine on British 240V 50Hz AC power.

I will take the finding of these to be a good omen for my work day. Which means that I need to get to work. Excuse me, and have a nice day.

Oooh! Shiny!

2007 March 19 08:52

The beetle still dies until it's warmed up, which is about three minutes. As a first attempt to fix that, I want to do a full tune-up procedure sometime. To do that, I need to be able to set the timing. So that I can check the timing, I installed a nice new aluminum crankshaft pulley. This ended up like most things; I had to do it twice having figured out what I did wrong first. (I will create a write-up on what to look out for in this upgrade.)

Here's the original and the new pulley. Notice the spacer in the upper right hand corner of the photo. I didn't put that on the first time, so I had to pull the new pulley back off yesterday, then put the spacer on, then the pulley again. The car is now re-commissioned.

The engine compartment after a Sunday's work. The pulley is in and functional. Notice the new black air supply hose on the left side of the compartment. I tore the hose on that side, so I decided to try some generic pre-heater hose. It's much more reslient than that paper-thin aluminum foil hose that's there. I'll replace all the hoses with that soon. By the way, the hose clamps with the key-adjusters so that you can take them on or off without a screwdriver? A totally brilliant product that I will be buying many of.

a voice in the wilderness

2007 March 02 23:02

During the discussion about Linux in the past couple of days at Wil Wheaton's blog, I posted with an offer to send anyone a set of install CDs if they want to try Linux out but for some reason don't want to burn the disks themselves.

I'm re-iterating that offer on a new page on my web site. The more the merrier!

Why use Linux again?

2007 March 02 07:08

A couple of posts and some lively (but civilized) discussion about why people use Linux and how to get started over at Wil Wheaton's blog. Judging by the response, he may continue this series in his column over at Suicide Girls.