Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Election nonsense

Ok, now that that's finally over.
Pardon me while I get on my high horse for a second.
I get to have a whinge every now and then, just as so many have been whining about this political bs for six months or more.
My turn:

Please take a moment to step back and realize something ok?

This media "drama" is fictional.
Every election is a "close race"... even when it's not (as this one wasn't).
Anyone remember Sarah Palin? Yup, that fiasco was supposedly a "close race" too... yeah, NOT.
The media makes money when you watch them... and no one watches a sure thing. Not that this was a "sure thing", but it wasn't "close" either.

Splitting hairs?
303 to 206 (electoral votes)... Close my ass!

Easy to say after the fact, right?
Well... I was saying it before the fact as well... if for no other reason than to remind you of it now.
It's a fabrication.
Unfortunately, we'll have an other "close race" in four years... regardless as to whether or not it's actually close.

See you then.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Geek Alert

Sorry non-geeks.... this probably won't make much sense, even though I'll try to speak English as much as I can.

Ok, so as much as I love my netbook... it just can't keep up with the level of video editing I want to do. I mean, I can get by if I really need to, but I've got to pull some tricks to do it. So I went on the quest for a netbook that was up to the task. Unfortunately, even the one with the hottest graphics card doesn't have a "real" graphics card.

So, I was left looking around in the "over 10inch screen" land... and well, you might as well just get an old laptop at that point. #1 on the list though was a good video card. #2 was sub$500. That's a tall order.

But, I found one.
First thing's first though... dump windows.
I'm a Linux guy... specifically Ubuntu (mostly)... but I've always been on Xfce and KDE. I'd heard of Gnome, but I just thought it was just some other window manager... and... well... it was.

Then came along Version3
Holy crap!

That just ROCKS.
I don't think I'll be looking back.
I'm on an older version typing this and itching to update it (I'm waiting for other updates to complete)


Monday, September 10, 2012

Happy times.
I've struggled for a while to find a power adapter for my Airband Radio (handheld airplane radio).
The original is USA only (110v). I of course need 110/220
It's a 12v radio, but it charges off of 13v.

It's hard enough to find a 13v power adapter.
Trouble is, it draws 1.8amps.
Not a lot of things draw that much current.
You can find 13v plugs, but they'll put out milliamps, not amps.
Looking for a 13v1.8a 110/220v power adapter feels like searching for the holy grail.

As luck would have it... it looks like the AD-360U power adapter for Canon Bubblejet printers outputs exactly that. Easily found on Ebay for $12.

Found it!

My trusty old netbook is dying.
It's a sad time. This little battleaxe has gotten me through a number of years. Last year the hard drive died and I ran it off an SD card for six months before replacing it. But it's really showing it's age now. The replaced hard drive will eventually die (it's showing the very early signs of this already). The wifi loses signal unless the screen is tilted right. The antenna I think is in the lid and the wire that connects it would be routed through the hing and is starting to give up. All this I could live with, but I'm keen to process some HD video these days. Not only because HD has taken hold, but even the low rez output of my cameras are encoded in HD format... and it's the format, not the resolution per se, that the laptop can't handle.

So I was chatting with my friend and explaining how what I actually want might not exist.
What I want is this netbook, but with the guts to do HD editing.

I know what you're thinking, and you're right. Everyone "knows" that netbooks just aren't up to the task... right? For the most part, yes.

Not only that, I wanted a small computer. I love my little 10inch netbook. Hell, I'd LOVE a 7inch one again... well, without the bezzel.

See, they make HD capable "Netbooks" these days... but all they really are is laptops without a CD Rom. Below 11.6inch (mostly 12 for that matter), they can't display HD content (correctly). The screen resolution just isn't up to it. (Literally, it's the vertical pixel density that limits things)

So all the "HD" Netbooks are 12inch screens... no joy.

I searched in vein for something that fit the bill. I found one, but they don't sell it in the States and it's a bit bulky.

Then... I found it.

Now, Asus LOVES to make a million different versions of every model they put out. It can make it a bit tricky to find what you're looking for. That's how I missed this thing...

10inch screen.
HD capable (Nvidia Ion2)
Same size, shape, etc as my current netbook.
Even has HDMI out.

And... because it's not the "latest greatest" HD powerhouse netbook... you can find them for $200.

Happy Times.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Well that was a whirlwind Summer.
Let's see... checking my last post... woops, I left it all on a cliffhanger... sorry.
Yep, I passed my checkride (yeay!).
My life till that point of course was a whirlwind of sorts anyway, but it had the added stress of uncertainty. I knew that after I finished my license, that there were many people that needed me to do some towing for them. And that's exactly how that went.

I flew back to Virginia for a week, then straight out the door and down to Big Spring Texas (ye-haw!) for the Big Spring Hang Gliding Competition... which of course was a riot. I love love love competition towing, so I was a pig in slop.

Then, I went straight up to Claremont New Hampshire to tow for Morningside Flight Park. I've been hanging out here and having a blast with them ever since. I leave Tuesday though.
It's been fun and there's a great crew up here. I'm going to miss these guys.

Last week, my parents and my sister were able to come up. I came out of retirement to fly my nephew for his birthday. I made Mary fly with Eric (the tandem pilot here) though. I took mom up in the dragonfly too (our tow plane). Super fun.

Back to Virginia on Tuesday.
We've gotten permission to start flying tandems out of Accomack County Airport, so #1 on the list will be getting that done.

Fun stuff. Been a hell of a Summer.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Flight test Thursday.
Fingers crossed. Hoping my brain stays functional and the thunderstorms stay away long enough to get it done. (Daily thunderstorms here in Florida, so it's not "if", it's "when")


Saturday, July 07, 2012

Big session at the airport today.
Me and Jason, my instructor, went through the entire flight exam step by step. I'm very happy with my instructor's slow and consistent approach.

I've got the day off tomorrow. Well, mostly. I'll wind up studying a lot. Jason on the other hand gets to work. That guy's run off his feet lately.

Slow day lined up here at Quest as well for tomorrow (the hang gliding flight park I'm staying at). So it looks like mellow is on the menu... and I'm not complaining.


Thursday, July 05, 2012

Gaining traction!

I'm down in Orlando Florida getting ready for my Private Pilot checkride (exam). I'm finally making progress with the help of Jason Ameter, the owner and chief instructor at Apopka Aviation
I can't say enough good things about Jason. He's got a very well deserved reputation. So hopefully, if I can avoid being too much of a moron, I might actually get this done. Fingers crossed.

I'm staying at Quest Air in Groveland.
For those just tuning in, I used to work at Quest in the winters before I started going to New Zealand. In fact, it was at Quest that I first heard of the job in NZ.
Unfortunately, it's the middle of Summer here, so there's not much going on. This does help me a bit as I've got little to distract me from my studies. The weekend will change that a bit, but the big action is down in Texas right now where two of my mates just smashed the hang gliding open distance world record. You can read more about that on the Oz Report (the defacto source of hang gliding news).

Ok, fun stuff.
I actually get to get some sleep tonight! I've been getting up at 6am lately to get over to the airport by 7. The good instructors are always busy ;)
Tomorrow though is my study day. So, sleep in, then hit the books hard.


Sunday, July 01, 2012

Coro Street?
So, for some odd reason (I do this every couple years), I decided to see if TV was as bad as I remember it. After many years of on-demand style "TV" (Netflix,Hulu,etc), broadcast/cable TV pretty much... well... in a word... rubbish.

Instead of wandering the 1,000 channels (not kidding, 1k+), I just plug in channel one and see what's on the first ten or so.... when I stumble over... Coronation Street???

This will tell you how little I know of Coro Street... I only know it from NZ... to me, it's a local NZ soap opera that it seems all the Kiwi's are hooked on. The US version would be something like Dallas maybe.

I had no idea it was Brittish... haahahhahahaa... till I just had it on and thought... damn... that's no kiwi accent! That sounds brittish/scottish/something-else.

Anyway... might have to see what's available on TV1 through the net now that I can pull up internet on my TV.

Ok... looks like this is all automagic now.

My blog should post to Facebook and G+ now. So people that follow my blog (Hi JK) don't have to join FB or G+ just to find out what my dumb ass is up to.

We'll see how it all pans out.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Now my blog posts to my website and G+
This makes life very easy for me. It would be even easier if it posted up to FB, but that's the "competition", so that won't be happening. I wonder if I can find a clever way around that.

Anyway, Fireworks starting... I think I'm heading to the roof to check them out.
Oh cool!
Google has taken over Blogger, so now I can update my blog with G+ happiness. So much easier!
Hrm... lets see how the img thing works...
Happiness... is an unrestricted Class 3 medical certificate.

First some catchup...
Been visiting my family up in Western NY while I awaited word from the FAA. Since I had a "Special Issuance" (Restricted) medical, I had to deal with major red tape to fly.
Part of it grounded me for June while I awaited a signature.
Well... those days are over! (After a mere 6 years)
I now have an unrestricted Class 3 medical. Happy times.

So I'm off to Florida on Tuesday to finish up my US Private Pilot License. (you can't get one without a medical certificate)

Then, back up to Virginia and, if the timing works out, New Hampshire.
But first, I've got my Dad's 70th birthday party tomorrow.
It's been fun getting my brother going again on a paraglider too.

After nearly three weeks "off", I'm ready for the circus again.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Desert Rat

I am the desert rat.

I'm living in the desert that they call Arizona... just South(?) of Phoenix. For the next month and a bit, I'll be living in a little trailer on the airport grounds of a run down little airstrip called Phoenix Regional. The main runway's pretty cracked, so we use the taxiway instead. It's owned by the local Indians. I guess there's issues with who fixes the pavement or who pays for it or whatever. At the end of the day, it's a nice mellow airport.

There's a guy here that's getting back into teaching GA in his old Cessna 120, which for those unfamiliar is a tail dragger. My kind of plane :)
So I'll be finishing up with him when he gets it all going this week.

Today, the wind blew. and blew and blew. It's supposed to back off tomorrow, which will be good cuz we've got a pretty busy day lined up.

Good stuff.

Monday, April 09, 2012

WARNING--- Geek Rant

Remember kids... when installing a new OS, remember to reset your BIOS to enable the hard drive that you've disabled to save power first.

Let me try to explain that.
The hard drive on my laptop died a bunch of months ago while I was in New Zealand.
I decided I'd just run things off the SD card until I got back to the States (yes, you can boot your computer off an SD card instead of using a hard drive). In the mean time, I told it to stop trying to fix the internal hard drive... I set it to "disable" the drive.

Well, now I'm back in the States.
I jumped on Ebay and picked up a new internal drive and installed it.
When I went to put the operating system on it... it would install, but I just couldn't make it boot off it.????

It wasn't until I realized that I'd still had it disabled in the BIOS that I was able to get things running. This is after much bashing away on it. There was a distinct "YOU IDIOT!" moment of course.

But now, it's ticking along quite nicely, and I've gotten really good at setting things up in the mean time, so this will have a bitching setup at the end of it all (rather than just the "functional" one I was going to go with).

Cest La Vie

Sunday, April 08, 2012


JK would be proud.
I passed my written with a 95%, but that's pretty easy to do as all the answers to the US test are published. There's 600 of them, but they're published.
What she'd be proud of is that I didn't study the published answers for the flight-planning questions, which also happen to be the hard questions. Now, I did buy an "electronic flight computer", which can do all the calculations for you. But the cool part in all this is that it's still in the box. I just busted out my old metal "wiz wheel" E6B fligth ruler and did it all by hand. It was easier than bothering with the electronic gizmo.

Off to Phoenix on Wed for a few months.
Got a gig lined up flying tandem and tow out there. Should be fun.
Then back here to Virginia.

Saturday, March 31, 2012


Ticking along with my PPL.
Found a local instructor and we're brushing off the dust and rust.

BTW JK... you'll be very proud.
I was very much dreading having to re-learn the E6B. I just knew I'd forgotten everything. But it was time to knuckle down and get back to it. My CFI even had a cross country for me to plan... a real one. We need to fly over to see the examiner. Oh how spoiled we are in Queenstown! I miss having a towered airport with an aeroclub (run by my mates) in my back yard. So nice.

Out comes the rulers and E6B... and... WTF?... hang on... I know how to do this!
I dug up an online flight planner helper site and checked my work... somehow I'd even gotten it right.



I don't update this much, but I know my friend JK checks it here and there, so I'm going to slug up something from time to time for her and the other non-FaceBook people out there.

Back in the States.
Melatonin by the way is some AMAZING stuff!
It usually takes me 2 weeks to get over the jetlag when coming to the States. When heading to NZ for contrast, it takes a few days for the big bits and before the week's out, I'm totally over it.

When I come here.
The first three days are nothing short of Hell. I've done this for seven years, so I'm well familiar with the process. No matter what I do, I'm going to bolt up wide the hell awake in the middle of the night. This isn't just waking up mind you... I mean wide awake. I can even tell that my blood pressure is higher. I'm up, and there is no chance what so ever of getting back to sleep. So I suffer through that for a few hours... then the rest of the world wakes up. I'm starting to "feel it" a little by then... but the sun bolts me back up. I'm in "zombiland" for the next bunch of hours as my body is both exhausted and awake at the same time. The exhaustion eventually, and thankfully, takes over and I pass out again in the early afternoon. I'll wake up in the early evening from this... ARRRRG!!!! So I'm nice and rested and can't get to sleep at a normal hour... thus the "double sleep" cycle continues.

I absolutely HATE the first three days back.
After that, things slowly start to fix themselves and I can almost sleep through the night by the end of the first week. It's one of the very few things that has made me not like travelling. Some years I'd find ways to break up my trip and visit friends along the way. This helped a bit and I enjoyed the hell out of seeing my friends.

This year however, I had no choice.
Time wouldn't allow for stopovers. I had to be back for my doctor's appointment so I can keep my pilot medical. No if ans or buts.

I'd heard of melatonin before. It was said to really help with jetlag. But there's a million things out there that are supposed to help.

Then, my cousin Devin who was having sleep problems posted up that he had tried melatonin and it really helped.

So when I got back. I went straight to the drug store and picked some up.

It's no magic bullet that kicks the jetlag, but damn if it doesn't take the sting out of it!
And I mean it works bigtime.
The first night, I still woke up... but it was a drowsy wakeup, unlike the bolt up stuff I'm used to. After an hour or so of emails, I went back to sleep.
The second night, I don't think I woke up.
By the third, I was sleeping easily through the night.
Night four and I stopped the melatonin and slept easily through the night.

I've been back for a bit over a week and I'm well past the jetlag.
Happy times.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Back flying planes. Woot.
Didn't bother with pics, sorry. I'll get to that next time.
1 hr in a Piper Cherokee with the local CFI Charlie Simanski.
Not too shabby having an airport 5 minutes away.