Sunday, December 31, 2006

Moths drink the tears of sleeping birds

This issue of New Scientist has some fun annual summaries. A year of invention, astronomy, environment, videos.

New Scientist - The World's No.1 Science Technology News Service

powered by performancing firefox

Monday, December 18, 2006

Pythons and Iguanas, Oh my!

Yesterday while going to the local barbecue place to get some take out I had to stop to let an Iguana cross the road in front of me. Now I read this article and all I can say is South Florida is an interesting place to live.

Burmese Pythons Wreak Havoc In Everglades, Animal Detectives Probe Exotic Snakes' Harmful Effect On Native Species - CBS News

powered by performancing firefox

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Amazing Mars Robots

These little guys were designed to last 90 Martian days. They are now in their third year of operation. The team that designed, delivered, and manage the Mars Rovers deserve a lot of credit. This also says a lot for robotic exploration of space. A manned mission could never have sustained such a long data collection mission.

Astronomy - Mars rovers roll with discoveries - David J. Eicher

Friday, December 15, 2006

Mad as Hell

This is my latest letter to my Congressman E. Clay Shaw. I tried to be courteous and not let my anger become embedded in my language:

To say that I am upset at the present state of our country is an understatement. I am also very angry that our president and the Republican Congress rule the American people as though we were the great unwashed mass who cannot see through the political rhetoric. A democratic society is based on bipartisan debate. Beginning with Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America" the Republican party has been focused entirely on iron fisted control of our congressional and executive processes. We are now in a hopeless situation in the Middle East. The country is deeply in debt as a result of the President and a subservient Congress leading us unilaterally into war. I believe our servicemen are suffering and dying needlessly in a no win situation. It is time to say we made a mistake and get out. Forget trying to salvage this mess politically. Just say we were wrong and get out. Had we focused those trillions of dollars spent in Iraq on becoming an energy independent nation we would be way ahead of the game. As it is now we can still be held hostage by oil rich countries. Let's change that. America is a creative and innovative nation. Given the right incentives by government we can attain an independence from oil. Bring the troops home to their families. Focus on innovative energy sources. Admit mistakes and change the course of our ship of state.

I retired three years ago from the South Florida Water Management District. While I applaud Governor Bush's leadership during the many hurricanes that impacted Florida I was appalled at the rough shod way his appointees used their chainsaw methods on the staff at that agency.

I had the privilege of being a part of the agency when it held a world wide reputation of excellence. I personally hosted many visitors from other countries who traveled to the USA to see how we did things. Very quickly after taking office the organization came under the scrutiny of Tallahassee. Executive Directors were appointed one after the other and in my personal area of work we had an unbelievable number of directors over a short period of time. I have purged the number from my memory but it was a number that would be jaw dropping considering the short period of time that the leadership in the IT Department changed. Staff was gutted and replaced by contract workers. Morale plummeted while, in typical Republican fashion, the leadership announced proudly that morale was at very high levels. Kind of like the "Mission Acoomplished" speeches we heard all the time from our leadership in Washington.

I have visited the agency several times since my retirement and am reassured that the work of managing the water supply in South Florida goes on at a very professional level. Each time I visited I was saddened to hear of the loss of more long time staff however and observed that morale was definitely decimated by the events of the last few years. I am very proud of my service at the District and can only hope that the organization will return to the point that the employees can speak proudly that they work there and can feel the pride once again of working in a creative environment. The organization has a complex and difficult mission. I believe it will prevail just as our country will once we return to a true bipartisan form of government. The nation has spoken. Let's see how Washington and our own state of Florida respond.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Webtv/MSNTV Alternatives

This writer at Endgadget is pretty objective in his analysis of Webtv and MSNTV.

I have not seen a PC running the Media Center Edition of Windows XP but it appears to provide a quite nice and similar interface as Webtv but also provides the power of a PC. Some of our users at http:.// use the Media Center edition of Windows XP. I am not bashing the Webtv product as I think it is a great idea. But, one should always consider that the day might come when Microsoft
will no longer support the product. Hwoever, if you run Media Center for Windows as an option to MSNTV/Webtv, you open yourself to all of the problems of running a PC such as viruses, spyware, and disk maintenance. Endgadget says:

This is a nice-to-have product that simply won’t command its price for most users. Microsoft (or a competitor such as Opera Software) would serve consumers well by offering a good TV browser into other initiatives, particularly XP Media Center. It would be a great complement to the standalone TV-optimized Web sites being created for Microsoft’s modern-day living room beachhead.

If the day ever comes that they no longer support the devices there are many, many, options available. For example, I can build a diskless PC that runs a web browser entirely from a CD in the CD drive that provides a state of the art web browser and a TV display. All of this can be done for less money than a Webtv or MSNTV costs. It can actually make use of those $25 PCs one can pick up at garage sales or other used computer sources. This option of running a web browser from a LiveCD in the CD drive does not even require the system to have a hard drive. One only has to be able to configure the Bios to boot from CD. In addition, the fact that it runs using the Linux operating system means that even older computers run quite nicely and since it is running entirely off of a CD there is no possibility of viruses or spyware. It works quite beautifully and IMHO has many applications where web browsing and email are the primary uses of a computer.

This concept was used after Hurricane Katrina to get web browsers up and running quickly and inexpensively. See and It works really well. I know because I have tried it by burning my own CD and running it on my the PC I am using to type this. With a web based email account such as Gmail and the use of Google Bookmarks you have a nice, inexpensive web based browser for little or no money. So if you know someone with an old computer that wants to get rid of it after buying a new whoopdy do super duper machine tell them that you will gladly take it off their hands and run the Booth CD on it. You will be able to tell your friends that you have a PC but have none of the problems associated with them. It is a Win Win.

Click here for the complete guide to mastering a BoothCD to your custom needs at Matt's Tech Blog.

powered by performancing firefox

Spies have not caught up with the Nerds

This article reveals that all of the three letter intelligence agencies are still woefully far behind us nerds who use instant messaging, email, and blogs to keep up with friends and family or to work on virtual projects with others. What we take for granted is impossible to do if you work for one of these agencies acoording to this article. While not a surprise, it is disappointing to read that this is a reality. I would have reacted the same way this new hire at one of the agencies did. He was extremely disappointed after being hired to find the limitiations of his computer. Things he took for granted at home on his own PC were impossible at his new workstation. How sad that we are spending money dropping bombs in Iraq when our real salvation lies in a combination of a strong defense but an even stronger intelligence capability. That, of course as we say, is IMHO.

powered by performancing firefox

Friday, December 01, 2006

Not-So-Glamorous Energy Conservation

After considerable research on how to lower our home's use of energy I ran across this article that validated what I had discovered. I wish I had found this sooner but the good thing is that we are implementing almost all of these things in our home. We have not had the changes in place long enough to know how much difference it is making but we will post the improvements as the monthly bills come in.

powered by performancing firefox

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Who knew?

Who knew this stuff was in place? I guess I have just not been reading enough, hours a day is not enough?, or the present administration does not promote this enough. This appears to be a fairly comprehensive approach to solving our energy problems. The only aspect of this plan that I disagree with is the use of Ethanol. But, note the tax incentives for both hybrid and clean diesel vehicles. Watch for the new generation of diesels to start appearing in 2008.

Advanced Energy Initiative

powered by performancing firefox

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Swirling Plastic Vortex

A swirling vortex of discarded plastic objects exists in the Pacific Ocean that is endangering sea life.

Swirling plastic vortex menaces sea life -

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Surgery No Better for Sciatica

Interesting new study about using surgery for sciatica as opposed to other appproaches. Study reveals surgery is no better.

My Way News - Studies: Surgery No Better for Sciatica

powered by performancing firefox

Monday, November 20, 2006

Global Warming Skeptic?

Read the link at the end of this regarding a professor who claims that each of us could make small changes in our homes to reduce the need for the Kyoto Protocol.

We brought our attic insulation up to R30 last week. Part of our plan
to reduce our own carbon footprint. So far, even with the temps
dipping down into the upper 40's we have not had to turn on any heat.
The house is so well insulated now that the heat from our computers,
lighting, stereos, and tvs is enough to heat the house. Last night at
one point the AC kicked in. I had to adjust the thermostat to allow
the temps to fluctuate a bit more. I wonder how many houses are poorly
insulated. Ours, had virtually no insulation in the attic. The
previous owners, an elderly couple, must have paid to have it insulated
because there were traces up there as if there was a token effort to
apply insulation. FPL estimated it to be R2. With the rebate from FPL
this only cost us about $400 to do. If everyone brought their
insulation up to R30 do you know what that would do to our national
energy (oil) consumption? This is a cheap thing to do with major
impacts on your energy consumption (read your monthly electric bill).
Send this to your friends and maybe they will upgrade their insulation
thereby reducing our national dependence on oil. - Alberta - Global warming hot air?

powered by performancing firefox

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Solar Energy in Tibet

Capacity of solar generators in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous
Region tops nationwide, sources from Dorje Tsering, head of Tibet
Office of Science and Technology said on a work meeting held in Tibet.

Tibetan solar energy capacity tops nationwide

powered by performancing firefox

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Snidley's Shared Items

I use the Google Reader to monitor a bunch of RSS newsfeeds. The software has a neat feature that allows me to click an item to share it. It automatically creates the page below so if you go there you can see my shared items and perhaps by doing so it will free up some of the space and congestion in your email inbox.

Google Reader - Snidley's shared items

powered by performancing firefox

Freeing Space in Gmail

Here are some good tips for freeing up space in your Gmail account. The concept applies to all email accounts even if the commands are not the same.

How to free up space in Gmail - Lifehacker

powered by performancing firefox

DVD Rips

A great summary of ripping DVDs. Also good justification for doing so. Legal or not?

Hack Attack: One-click DVD rips - Lifehacker

powered by performancing firefox

Google Earth Blog

Interesting use of Google Earth by Amazonian Indian Tribes:

Google Earth Blog: Amazon Indians Using Google Earth to Protect Tropical Forests

powered by performancing firefox

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Cummins and diesels

There are more diesels on the horizon for us consumers. Honda is
developing a high efficiency diesel that meets the new tougher
standards. Volkswagen is re engineering their already incredible
diesel engines. Detroit is also working on them. Right now, head to
head, the diesel wins out over the hybrids in terms of total cost for
the vehicle's lifetime. VW is not marketing a diesel in 2007 but in
2008 they will have them available again. Another advantage of diesels
is that they can run on biodiesel. Ethanol and the E vehicles are a
kind of snake oil solution put together by politicians. Already, the
ethanol problems are surfacing. The alcohol, basically it is just
moonshine, is eating away the seals in pumps and storage tanks. Diesel
has been around for a hundred years and is proven technology. Do you
see any hybrid 18 wheelers?

powered by performancing firefox

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Monday, November 06, 2006

Here is a sample of our new flight simulator scenery for the Bahamas due for release this week. This scenery is for the Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 and is available for free from . Professional quality scenery developed by hobbyists for hobbyists.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Zero Energy House - Front View

Zero Energy House - Front View
Originally uploaded by Skrobotic.
This concept makes a lot of sense to us. As Skyrobotic says, "How can you make affordable housing and then saddle the owner with atrocious energy bills." I am paraphrasing a bit but that is the concept. This is a neat proof-of-concept for a zero energy house.

Simulation of Discus Launched Glider with CRRCsim

This is a video capture of a short flight using the CRRCsim on my PC. This simulation is very realistic incorporating actual physics and airfoil characteristics of each aircraft model design. I use a 4 channel RC transmitter connected to my PC via a Simblast interface cable to fly. It is a great way to hone your skills or to try different aircraft models. This flight was a model of a discus launched, hand launched like Olympic discus throwers.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

FMS Slow Stick Simulation

This is the ever popular Slow Stick RC model in FMS, Flying Model Simulator. I am using my old Tower 4FM transmitter connected to my PC through a simblast cable interface

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

FMS Swyft/Seeker Simulation

Here is a short video of a simulated flight using FMS, Flying Model Simulator, using my RC transmitter hooked up to my PC with a Simblaster cable. This cable uses the training cable connector on the transmitter so I can use my regular RC transmitter to practice using the sim.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Museum Donations

My cousin, Robert L. Brown, was instrumental in coordinating the contribution of many family artifacts to the South Carolina State Museum. The paper in my home town published an article abou t the donations and I publish it here with permission of the author, Leslie Cantu, and the Sumter Daily Item.


Item Senior Staff Writer

Sentimental types often preserve treasured keepsakes to remind them of grandparents or other relatives who've died, sometimes passing the items down through several generations.

But after the passage of several decades, what do you do with a World War I uniform, or a Mexican general's chaps, or a trench warmer?

Sumter native Robert L. Brown and his cousin, Robert T. Brown, now a resident of West Pa
lm Beach, Fla., decided the best thing they could do would be to share those now-historical items with all South Carolinians by donating them to the S.C. Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum in Columbia.

Despite the Civil War focus of its name, conferred on it by the Daughters of the Confederacy who started the museum in 1896, the museum focuses on South Carolinians' roles in all military actions and is expanding its 20th-century collection.

It's expanding physically as well, adding a 4,500-square-foot space, about a 50 percent increase, that should be complete in time for the November 2007 opening of a World War I exhibit in conjunction with exhibits at the McKissick Museum, Historic Columbia Foundation, South Caroliniana Library and S.C. State Museum.

Brown said donating his grandfather's possessions was the right thing to do, though it took many hours of discussion between the cousins and their wives before they could decide to part with the heirlooms.

Eventually, though, the question of family fairness, the fear the items could one day end up on eBay and the desire to share a small piece of history led them to make the donation.

"You don't own history. You're a steward of it," Brown said. Knowing the items are now professionally tended is also a comfort, he said.

Brown donated more than 30 items from Robert Tillman Brown's time as a captain in World War I, including his uniform and swagger stick and items he picked up on the battlefield.

His cousin donated embroidered chaps believed to belong to Trinidad Rodriguez, a general and right-hand man to Pancho Villa.

Exactly how the family came by the chaps is lost to history, Brown said. His grandfather, a member of the 118th Infantry, was sent to Texas as part of a contingent attempting to capture Pancho Villa, a Mexican outlaw and revolutionary who had attacked Columbus, N.M.

His grandfather always said the chaps were given to him, Brown said, but he doesn't know why his grandfather was picked as the recipient. As a child, the question never occurred to him, and now it's too late to ask. But research has turned up some information, he said.

Rodriguez was killed some time before Brown's grandfather arrived on the scene, so it doesn't seem likely the chaps were pulled from his body and given directly to the young South Carolina captain. Instead, it seems the chaps were too valuable to be buried with their owner.

"What we suspect now is they were simply passed on to another officer, who I don't know. He's been lost in history," Brown said.

When that officer was killed, Brown said, his grandfather ended up with the chaps, which in turn ended up in his cousin's closet in Florida.

For years, Brown displayed his grandfather's items around his home. An Air Force lieutenant colonel who retired from Shaw Air Force Base in 1988, Brown has always had an interest in history, as well as an abiding respect for his grandfather, a man who always did the right thing.

The elder Brown served in the South Carolina House before becoming county clerk. He worked to help the poor and create humane living conditions for inmates on the chain gang, Brown said, all the while maintaining his presence as a take-charge disciplinarian.

"To my cousin and I, and to the family, he was a giant. ... he was referred to as The Chief," Brown said.

The museum is currently scanning photographs Brown loaned that help document the artifacts' history.

Museum spokeswoman Jai Cassidy Shaiman said Brown has been a great supporter of the museum for years. He donated his great-great grandfather's cavalry carbine and helped get the 5th S.C. Cavalry Regiment flag returned to the state in the 1990s, she said.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Glider Flying

I sold my radio controlled helicopter. I was able to fly it reasonably well but new very early on in the process of learning to fly it that I would never become a highly skilled RC heli pilot. Why? Maybe my age, slowing reflexes and other things combined with the fact that, while fun, it was contrary to my personality. Too much effort to stay in the air. I mean, just the concept of helicopters. I am a glider pilot and love the harmony of a non powered plane using the thermals and air currents to stay aloft. The maintenance was very high as well. I wanted to fly not work on the thing all the time. So, I sold it and recycled the money into a hand launched radio controlled glider.

I came from a background of building model airplanes from childhood so I was used to the construction aspect of the hobby. I was not used to the modern techniques of cyanoacrylate glues, carbon fiber spars and components, foam wing cores and all of that. Thanks to the Scobie Pulchter's Liftworx Swyft's incredibly detailed instruction manual all went reasonably well.

In addition to learning new construction techniques I had to learn a new launching technique. DLG, discus launched gliders, and HLG, hand launched gliders, are not your father's hand launched gliders. Or in my case, not the model gliders I was used to as a younger man. These high tech marvels require an Olympic style launch and achieve remarkable heights just from a human powered toss. My little Swyft often reaches a hundred feet of altitude just from a sling into the air. Amazing, and great fun.

Here is a little video that my friend Rick made of one of my launches and a short flight. I edited it and added a bit of music for drama. Could not resist. Here are two versions. One of them should work for you:


Monday, August 28, 2006


Ernesto put a kink in our travel plans. We had planned a trip to Tampa this week but yesterday the forecast track was directly to Tampa so we put things on hold. The forecast track has steadily shifted to the east. I think the high pressure area out in the Altantic keeps weakening allowing it to curve more to the east. Today I think we will continue to prepare to go. If it continues to shift to the east and looks like it will travel the SE coast then we will head out early in the AM for Tampa. I put up a few more shutters this morning. I already had about 80 percent of them up. I just cannot be taking them up and down all season.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Business 2.0: How Australia got hot for solar power - Aug. 2, 2006

Business 2.0: How Australia got hot for solar power - Aug. 2, 2006

Interesting that this appeared in the site as one of the best business ideas in the world.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Thunderstorm Bubbles

Thunderstorm Bubbles
Originally uploaded by rbrown3rd.
Check out these giant bubbles that were percolating in the atmosphere of South Florida today. It is on such a grand scale. Makes one feel rather insignificant. Be sure you read the comments under the image and click on the animation link to see the action.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


Summer is here. The high temperatures and humidity have made at least some of our residents happy. These are our Angel Trumpets or Brugmansias which have been blooming their little hearts out. We have to keep them well fed while they are so productive. So, we fertilize every other week. Some of these were cuttings just a few months ago. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 08, 2006


The Mothership is back in her docking station. We arrived yesterday around 4 pm. At the same time a severe thunderstorm or squall line arrived. We could see it ahead of us when we were about a mile from home, a big, black, fast moving, nasty looking cloud. We even heard a few spatters of hail as it swept across our path. We stopped on the street in front of our house waiting for the storm to pass by. Connected to our wirless network in the house we were able to use the laptop to check out the radar at and could see that the squall line would move out over the ocean soon so we waited. Stay tuned for more of our adventures in getting a new throne installed in the Mothership.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


I recently ran across this online word processor. It is pretty nice in that it allows collaboration and access to documents anywhere on any computer. It even works on Webtv and MSNTV. Now you can have a full featured word processor on your set top box. Here is the information that I got after signing up. For more information go to

Hello bob,

Welcome to ZohoWriter, your friendly on line word processor!

  • Create, format, & edit documents online with a powerful WYSIWIG editor
  • Access & share your documents from anywhere using just your browser
  • Lock your documents while in shared mode
  • Post to your blogs (Blogger/Typepad/LiveJournal/WordPress) from within Zoho Writer
  • Export your docs in word, pdf, sxw, odt, txt, rtf & html formats
  • Periodic auto-saving of your documents to prevent data loss
  • Spell check, tag your documents for ease of use
and do much more....

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Air France 747 Landing

Here's another neat Princess Juliana Airport landing video. This time a 747.

St. Maartens Landing

This is still my favorite Google Video. The guy taking the video hits the dirt as the Air France flight passes overhead. The Princess Juliana Airport at St. Maartens in the Dutch Antilles is probably the most famous spot for plane watchers.

Back at "The Cove"

The Mothership is parked at Tranquility Cove again. We took our time and made the trip in our usual casual two day pace. See this link for a map of the last leg.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

49.9 Miles Per Gallon

Automotive News

Interesting road test by Automotive News. Jeep Commander, Chevrolet Corvette, Hona Accord Hybrid, Toyota Prius and VW Jetta TDI. Can you guess which one got the virtually 50 mpg? The hybrids? Guess again.

To read an interesting discussion thread on this topic go to this link.

For an interesting discussion of why diesels are better than hybrids go here.

The Standard - China's Business Newspaper

The Standard - China's Business Newspaper

This is an interesting article addressing trends in diagnostic medicine. Researchers are developing tools that can analyze your breath to identify disease or health problems that you might have. This combined with the research actively underway to engineer new drugs based on the human genome or DNA paints a picture of the amazing things that under development in medical science. Maybe Ray Kurzweil is on target in his book "Fantastic Voyage" in which he discusses ways to stay in good health to take advantage of these developments. By staying as healthy as possible we will prolong our lives which will allow us to benefit from these new developments.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Ethanol: A Tragedy in 3 Acts

Ethanol: A Tragedy in 3 Acts

Ethanol is not the saviour that everyone thinks it is. It is only being promoted because our political leaders have decided that it is a good option. The reality is that it is probably not the best option after all. There are many negatives to choosing it to replace fossil fuels. It truly upsets me that our lives are being run by uninformed people in power who make decisions that affect our lives without consulting with the experts before diving into a huge public relations campaign for an option that seems to be a poor one.

I have not read enough to have a good perspective on this but to begin with ethanol fueled vehicles get a 25% to as much as 40% drop in mileage. The governments calculations of savings are based on ethanol fuels selling for 37 cents a gallon less than gasoline whereas in reality right now it is selling for around 13 cents a gallon less. The estimated annual operating costs of vehicles actually is higher using ethanol. Personally, I am going for a VW TDI Diesel next time around. They are far simpler than the hybrids, get better mileage, and last longer. The problem with hybrids that I see is the battery replacement a few years out. That might cost thousands of dollars. If you really look into it the simpler diesels are better and actually get higher mileage than the hybrids. The moves to find alternate fuels is good but everyone seems to be rushing head over heels down the slope dictated by hasty governmental decisions and ad campaigns.

VW to drop 3 diesel models for '07

VW to drop 3 diesel models for '07

Since the US standards for emissions are the strictest in the world, VW will not be delivering its diesels to the US as options for their 07 models. They plan on having the diesels back in the 08 lineup with engines that meet the US standards. Read the article all the way through. Very interesting. This is going to make used TDI Jettas even more valuable.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

PBS and Credit Card Banking

This PBS show gives a new perspective on South Dakota. The Marquette Decision by the supreme court allows loan conditions to be exported to another location. For example, if a loan is made in South Dakota at 25 percent interest then that interest rate can be exported to Florida at the same rate. This transferrable "usury" rate resulting from South Dakota and other state laws opened the door for credit card loans. If you have a credit card you should watch this show. Are you a "revolver" or a "deadbeat?" The meanings of these words are upside down in the credit card world. Worried about the NSA monitoring your phone calls? That is nothing compared to the data that the credit card companies are mining from us.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Scientific Activist: Reporting from the Crossroads of Science and Politics

The Scientific Activist: Reporting from the Crossroads of Science and Politics

Good grief. If we can't determine that a candidate for an appointment to a government position has false claims on his resume's how can we find terrorists?

Hansen is really on to something here, and instead of the story being about a 24-year-old lying, it should be about this: how did this guy, who already had dubious qualifications, make it into NASA with such an obvious lie on his resume? To work for a federal agency, including NASA, extensive background checks are usually required. If I was able to uncover the truth about Deutsch in one phone call, then he must have been placed in his current position without any investigation, due to his loyal service on the Bush presidential campaign.

Do I feel good about having this administration doing wiretaps on people while telling me to "trust them?" I don't think so. I guess by posting this I will have Men in Black knocking on my door. Well, if they do we will just serve them some fresh banana bread and ice cream.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Remember this?

I know you all remember these famous Terry Tate commercials. Ouch!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Latest News

The grandparent role has been a major focus for us. We also have some work going on revamping our landscaping and irrigation system in our front yard. We have eliminated most of the grass and are creating a tropical look and feel with masses of ferns and other tropical plants. I have, for a long time, realized that I can no longer do major jobs such as digging, moving large plants, etc. due to my arthritis. One of my neighbors runs a landscaping service. I talked to several of my neighbors who use his company and they had high praise for service So we let our old "Mow and Go" service go and hired him. In effect, we now have a gardner and the yard is beginning to show that. Once the major revamping is done, he will go back into maintenance mode and that frees me up for doing special things such as fertilizing, trimming, and planting of detail plants. That is the stuff I enjoy and can do and the new service will take care of the mowing, major edging, and weeding.

I have been working very hard on administering two of my websites, http://fs-freeflow.Com and http://fs-odg.Com . These sites as you can See are techically based flight simulator sites and I am the technical administrator by self assignment. I have been developing automatic database backups for the two sites as none existed until now. They are driven entirely by databases and those databases contain all of the site info.

One of the sites had a major catastrophe in which they lost the entire site and I had to rebuild the database as well as implement the backup routines. I don't enjoy this work as much as other aspects of the effort but it had to be done.

At the same time I have been revamping our personal web site as you know to convert it to a database driven site. The main reason for that is that in the long run it will be easier to manage. In the process of converting it over I am trying to make it more coherent while transferring a lot of the info from the old site to the new. I am using a software package that once fully implemented makes changing the content a breeze.

I have restored about 75 feet of our 175 feet of fencing that got blown down in the hurricane. I feel that I am getting old after wrestling With 8 foot fence sections and fence posts. I was able to use much of the old fencing on the side yard but the back was totally destroyed and must be built back from scratch. Home Depot cannot keep prebuilt fence sections on the shelves because they are in such demand due to the hurricanes.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Google Cube a Rumor or Reality?

This is one of the more interesting rumors floating around about new products. This one is regarding a supposed new product that Google is developiing, the Google Cube. This sounds very much like the Webtv and MSNTV devices that are out there now. Those set top boxes were the result of an interesting concept many years ago to produce an easy to use and inexpensive device that allowed browsing the internet, sending and receiving email, and displaying digital photos and playing music files. The development of this device has been slow. The potential of the concept is great. It sounds as though Google may pursue something that could inject new life into this small niche market. Read the article below from CNN for a very interesting discussion of the rumored, "Google Cube."

Tracking the elusive Google 'cube' | | CNET

Sunday, January 01, 2006

2005 was a full and active year for us. Bob continued flying his radio controlled helicopter through the spring. Bob also became very involved in a flight simulator scenery development project. You can see the results at We had the usual hurricanes to run from. One of them, Dennis delayed the big trip we had planned to drive out west and up into Canada. Dennis was a close call for us causing power outages and the usual wind and rain but it passed far enough south of us that we did not evacuate. That trip did take place and if your browse the Blog archives you can find a lot to read about our adventure. We had to cut it short because our new granddaughter, Amanda, was due to arrive and she did on September 29. We went through the eye of Hurricane Wilma, a category 2 storm. There were major power outages and structural damage throughout South Florida. We are thankful that all we lost was our fence. The house came through ok although inspection revealed that we almost lost our screened pool enclosure. Contrary to our storm plan we stayed put and moved the Mothership up close to the house. After the storm we evacuated to Dunedin, Florida for a couple of weeks until power was restored in our home town.

Today, the first one of 2006, we are thankful for good friends and family and all of the adventures that we have been on. We wish all of our readers a Happy New Year!