Good news for windmill operators

Good news from a long-term experiment in Norway: painting a single blade of a power-generating windmill may reduce fatal birdstrikes by as much as 70%. This is certainly an experiment that bears replication, especially at facilities that (1) keep careful records of birdstrikes and (2) care enough to make the effort. It’s pretty sad that the Norwegians spent 7 years on this, and few other researchers got on board with it. If this were clinical research for a debilitating disease, mobs would be clamoring for more trials.  Bird conservationists should be outraged at the pace. Of course, they’re not even … Continue reading Good news for windmill operators

A Riverwalk Outing

I’d seen some news photos and heard rumors that the Stay at Home Directive in San Antonio had an unexpected side effect:  the San Antonio River is clearing up!  My wife and I took a a quick trip downtown to See the Elephant, and behold! It ain’t crystal clear, but you can certainly see the junk on the bottom, and how shallow the river is (SA safety tip:  If you fall in the San Antonio River and can’t swim, just stand up.  Then go take a long hot shower.) The Riverwalk is pretty much deserted and closed for business, with … Continue reading A Riverwalk Outing

Old Software Never Dies…

…it just keeps byte-ing.  All of a sudden, with payroll and government financial systems being stressed, large institutions are desperate to find COBOL programmers.  Foolishly, they pensioned off all those crusty old codgers, instead of keeping a few on staff to tinker and optimize and untangle all the old code running payroll and inventory and scheduling and… I made Captain at SAC HQ wrangling a room filled with COBOL programmers back in the late 70’s.  Every n00b was given a stack of horribly-written report generators and tasked with (a) making the code beautiful and comprehensible and (b) making it modular … Continue reading Old Software Never Dies…

Holding Steady Will Not Sustain Us

Over at American Digest, Van Der Leun gives us a “view from the trenches” that tells us how to Reopen America: Holding Steady won’t be enough to save us. It won’t be nearly enough. To save ourselves we have to find a way to save that couple’s small restaurant. Their restaurant is one — only one — speck, one spark of a myriad. And those are the sparks, those are the embers that we must somehow tend until we can to free the flames we’ve imprisoned in our lackadaisical lockdown. Fail at that and the automobile food lines at Panda … Continue reading Holding Steady Will Not Sustain Us

Sticky post

Oh, and in my spare time, I invented TeX

Writing in Quanta, Susan D’Agostino has a fascinating interview with the computing-est of all computer scientists, Donald Knuth.  Who continues his Everest-like trek up his monumental Art of Computer Programming.  This (intrinsically) never-to-be-completed opus to the mathematics and techniques of algorithms was, for many of us, the first introduction to formal analysis of algorithms and Dr. Knuth.  But woven into the creation of ACP was the invention of TeX, the world’s most marvelous computer typesetting system. TeX was only supposed to be for my secretary and myself. Phyllis [Astrid Benson Winkler] was a wonderful secretary. She could read my handwriting … Continue reading Oh, and in my spare time, I invented TeX

Captain Tom Shows Us How It’s Done

Captain Tom Moore, HMRA (retired), cooked up the idea of a 100-lap charity fundraiser to celebrate his impending 100th birthday.  100 laps around his garden, with a walker (he IS 99). His goal was £1000 for the NHS. Word got out.  Right now he’s raised £13 million. In a just world, Captain Tom’s birthday celebration would be treated with a drop-in visit from the Queen. Tip from the outrageous KdT at Splendid Isolation. Update:  Captain Colonel Tom didn’t get a royal visit, just a birthday card.  And a call from PM Boris.  And a promotion.  And TWO flyovers.  And raised … Continue reading Captain Tom Shows Us How It’s Done