Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Mad Science: All Science Edition

“Another toy / to help destroy / the Elder Race of Man,
forget about your silly whim / it doesn’t fit the plan.” 
- Rush, 2112
Coming off the flu, I’ve been in a very, “go along to get along” kind of mood.  I was sick, and since then I’ve just sort of wanted to survive until I felt better.  
But then I had a “West Point” dream last night, and now, well, all bets are off.  
A “West Point” dream is a dream like the kind where you dream that you’re the only one in the office who’s naked, except it’s set back at the Academy and is about something ten times more ridiculous than mere clothes.  Anyway, the one last night was even more ridiculous than that, and now I’m ready to straight up Fight The Power.
Alright, so there was this guy named Bob, and he had a job as a computer programmer working in LA.  And what Bob did was this--he outsourced his own job.  He hired a computer programmer from China to basically do what he himself was supposed to do, allowing Bob to then spend his days onFacebook and watching cat videos of YouTube.  
Bob was, of course, considered to be the best programmer in his department.  I imagine that it wasn’t even close.
The weird thing about this, to me, is that Bob still came into the office every day.  But he did.  He came in day-in and day-out and just... wasted his time.  All day, every day.  
His sub-contractor, meanwhile, did Bob’s work remotely by logging into the company’s secure server from China, which is how they wound up catching Bob.  The company thought it was getting hacked by the Chinese government, figuring that Bob’s credentials had been compromised somehow since Bob himself was such a model worker.
Needless to say, Bob was fired recently.  No word yet on whether or not his Chinese counterpart has continued to do his job.
The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) is like a tent for space, and NASA is testing it now as a way to cheaply and easily expand theInternational Space Station (ISS).  Essentially, you can just stuff this giant sack into a tight cylinder, shoot it up there, and then blow it up, and voila!  There’s your newest room in the ISS.
Cool idea, right?  I’d love to know what the module’s skin is made out of, but it must be pretty damned thick, right?  I also wonder if you have to take plates or something like that to line the outside of this thing once it’s inflated.  You know, to protect from radiation and whatnot.  
I’m also wondering whether or not Bigelow Aerospace is at all related to the Bigelow Tea Company.  The Bigelow Tea Company is headquartered right here in Farifield, Connecticut.
Anyway, I was reading yesterday that Bigelow is hoping to use its tech to create commercially viable civilian space habitats for tourism and extra-national (i.e. non-US) space exploration, with an apparent price of something like $25 million per astronaut for a 60-day space mission.  
It’ll be really interesting to see how that all plays out.  And whether or not they eventually decide to drop a few of these things on the Moon.
While we’re talking about weird new tech things, Lenovo has a new Chromebook out, the Thinkpad X131e Chromebook--not to be confused with the regular Thinkpad X131e, which is a Windows machine--that the company intends as "a rugged design for the classroom environment."  Supposedly, the Chromebook design has the same general specs as the Windows design, but it runs the Chrome OS and prices out at $429.

The Lenovo X131e Chromebook
I’ll admit that I’m a little curious to know what purpose the bigger processor and hard drive have in a Chromebook, but it’s hard to see why you’d want to pay $200 more for a Chromebook than you really have to, especially for classrooms.  I mean, yeah, mine is no Toughbook, but then again, the thing weighs all of two-pounds, and I bought it first and foremost because it was light.  And yeah, I grant that you wouldn’t necessarily want that in a classroom environment, but I still can’t believe that just the extra plastic and shock absorption in this new version are worth more than, say, an extra fifty bucks.  

In any event, my Chromebook works great, but as I’ve written, it’s functionality is strictly limited, and I don’t see how you’d change that in a machine that can’t install software, regardless of what hard drive and processor come equiped on the machine.  I mean, it doesn’t take a mainframe to runGoogle Drive and surf the Internet--that was the whole point of the exercise.

If you’re wondering, I finally, finally started feeling like myself yesterday afternoon.  And yeah, it looks like I really did have the flu.  I mean, I didn’t get tested or anything, but it certainly seems like I had all the symptoms, and God knows that it’s going around up here right now.  Still, I probably didn’t suffer as badly as I could have because I’m in decent physical shape, and I’ve bounced back pretty quickly, so I suppose I have little to complain about.  
Still, being sick sucked a lot, and trust me, watching a Star Trek movie marathon while you’e got a fever is not recommended for your long-term mental health.  The dreams you have...  

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got this week.  
We’re gonna try Tri Practice again tomorrow, hopefully with 100% fewer casualties this time.  But we’ll be running, so wish me luck.

Also: I took the Ravens (+8.5) and the Falcons (+4) this weekend, both opposite of the other guys in the office, giving me a chance to catch up.  So you can wish me luck with that as well.

Have a great weekend!

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