Today I flew N1806G (see aircraft) again with Dave. This time we followed through on the plan from last time. We headed down to Frazier Lake airport so that I could practice landing on the big wide grass runway there.
Arriving at Frazier Lake, I flew over the field once to get a good look at it. I'd never been lower than about 3,500 feet there before. There was little wind, so I setup on a right downind for runway 23, cut the power to idle at the end of the runway, made my base and final turns, and drifted over the approach end of the runway. Down low, I flared and let the plane settle itself onto the ground in a 3 point landing.
Damn, that felt good. :-)
Landing on the grass was fun and seemed very easy. I taxied back to the beginning of the runway to take off and do it again. The second landing was similar to the first.
Dave wanted to see one more, so I did it one more time. I was a bit higher in the pattern this time and didn't quite compensate, so we touched down a bit farther down the runway. But the landing was still quite respectable.
With three landings done, we headed back toward San Jose. Got the ATIS and called the tower over UTC, clearance for landing on runway 31 Left, and landed with a very minor bounce. I don't know why, but landing on the grass just felt more natural.
With the Web 2.0 conference next week I won't get a weekday lesson, and Dave's out next weekend. So my next lessons will be in two weeks. One will be another morning session to practice landings on a hard surface runway. The other will be a late afternoon session for crosswing landing practice on runway 31 at Hollister, an aiport I know well.
As part of my 30 Day GMail and Yahoo! Mail Challenge, I'm posting the good and bad of my experiences so far--now ~4 days into it...
Earlier today I was with a small group entering a conference room for a meeting that I can't tell you about. The group that was leaving the room had apparently been working on a 3 year plan.
I thought that was quite amusing and made a few jokes about how even a 3 month plan is a stretch. Luckily, I'm not alone in thinkng that 3 year plans are built on shaky ground. Adam Bosworth just posted a link to a talk he gave about why SalesForce.com is doing so well.
His summary slide sums it up this way: not because of intelligent design, but because of intelligent reaction. (And not because of a great 5 year plan.)
Listen to the talk. It's a good one.
The folks over at Jot are on a roll this week.
First off is JotLive, which just launched. It's a nice free version of their Wiki product that you can try out just by creating an account. Just playing around with it for a few minutes, you get a feel for how much more usable it is when compared with some of the older Open Source Wiki products (TWiki, for example). If you're using another Wiki regularly, go try it out.
Ken Norton also pinged me to help them beta test another product they might be launching. I can't say what it is yet, but it's very, very cool. I knew right away what I'd use it for if I could have a version behind our corporate firewall. More on that later, I hope...
As part of my 30 Day GMail and Yahoo! Mail Challenge, I'm posting the good and bad of my experiences so far--now ~2 days into it...
I have reported all the feature requests and/or bugs via the send feedback link in the Yahoo! Mail Beta.
Itís been a long time coming but the wait is nearly over (and well worth it). If you havenít been following MySQL 5.0 development very closely, the MySQL 5.0 Release Candidate has the following major new features:
I could write a lot more about several of those and may do so at some point. If you've been waiting for any of those features, give 5.0 a try. They're looking to get all of those last minute bugs squashed ASAP.
More details available in MySQL 5.0 in a Nutshell. Give it a try!
Oh, and speaking of open source... Check out Open Source Goes Corporate in this week's InformationWeek. I had a chance to talk with Larry a few weeks about how much MySQL, Apache, FreeBSD, PHP, Linux, and other Open Source software we use at Yahoo!
With the mental downtime that came with my laptop being offline most of today, I had an idea. The effort required to reinstall all my software is non-trivial. What if I didnít have to go through all of it this time? What if I tried to live as much of my digital life as possible on the network rather than on my desktop or laptop?
In thinking about it, Iím certain I can move several things on-line. Iíll start with the most important of those: my email.
I have a working laptop again and Firefox is running with the necessary preferences and extensions. However, I havenít yet reinstalled Thunderbird. Iím thinking Iíll wait at least a month before I do. Instead, Iíll use this as a chance to do a real-world comparison of GMail and Yahoo! Mail (the new one). And since they'll be my only options, I'll learn the real downsides of using hosted email first hand.
For many months now, Iíve been automatically sending copies of my personal email to my GMail account and copies of my work related email to my Yahoo! Mail account.
So the goal it so use web based mail exclusively for the next month or so. In doing so, I expect Iíll learn A LOT about both products, document the interesting bits here, and get a step closer to seeing Sunís vision of the network being the computer.
Iím sure itíll be frustrating, but I think itíll be incredibly useful.
Meanwhile, if you were expecting a response from me, you might want to resend your message. Thereís some email that might not be easily rescued.
Wish me luck... :-)
One of the odd things about the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements for a pilot certificate is the medical. There is no medical exam required for glider pilots, but if you want to fly a plane with an engine (and combustible fuel), you need one.
This morning I paid the requisite $95 for 20 minutes of a doctor's time and a few sheets of paperwork. We chatted about flying for a bit, took blood pressure, poked around, reviewed medical history, and so on.
The end result is that I now have a third class medical certificate and student pilot certificate good for the next three years. The only restriction is "holder shall wear corrective lenses" which is fine with me. I'd be pretty uncomforatable flying without my glasses on!
The FAA's Aeromedical Institute provides an Aviation Medical Examiner Directory that can be used to find a local examiner. As far as I can tell, most of them are family doctors who became pilots and realized that this requirement is a nice little goldmine. It's a bit more papwerwork for them, but there are always pilots who need medical certification or re-certification.
One more thing to cross off the TODO list...
Mental note: the glass of water goes on the *other* side of the keyboard.
My laptop took a drink of water this morning and is now, hopefully, drying with our friendly IT folks.
Luckily my old (P3-866) BSD box here has Firefox on it and I had my work email setup to forward a copy to my Y! Mail account. So I can at least get some stuff done.
Sigh. As long as the hard drive is intact, I'll be happy.
It may be the closest thing to flying like a bird: catching thermal lifts and soaring, rising or descending at will over breathtaking scenery.
It also does a reasonable job of explaining our sport to those unfamiliar with it.
"Because of its geographic and atmospheric conditions, the Truckee area is one of the five or six best places for soaring on Earth," says Joe Silvestri, manager of Soar Truckee Inc. "The scenery is especially beautiful, and long flights in the summer months are easily attainable because of the tremendous lift."
The lift Silvestri speaks of is thermal lift. It's caused by rising currents of air created when the sun has heated the ground.
Those currents are especially prevalent over mountainous terrain. Even though invisible, they are easily sensed by an experienced pilot, who will usually do his best to maneuver to stay near the core of the thermal, letting it carry him higher until it begins to dissipate.
There are other types of lift, such as ridge lift and wave soaring, but thermals remain the name of the game.
Without them, a sailplane would have no way of gaining altitude. With them, pilots have been known to soar for more than 1,000 miles.
There's a lot of good info pulled from local experts like Joe Silvestri of Soar Truckee.
It is a very well done article if you don't know much at all about glider or the sport of soaring. Make sure to scroll all the way down on that page to see some of the pictuers that go with the article.
Our plan was to head down to Frazier Lake airport for some practice on the big grass runway there. However, it was "airport day" at Reid Hillview airport which meant the airport would be closed from 1:30pm to 2:15pm. Since our plane was needed by someone else at 2:00pm, we couldn't just stay out late. So we decided to cut our lesson short and head to South County airport instead.
We took off on runway 31 Left and I got us up to 2,500 feed and followed highway 101 down to South County. I overflew the field to get a good look at the windsock while Dave pointed out the two pattern entry points (one for right traffic on runway 32 and the other for left traffic on runway 14). The wind was favoring runway 32 and it was time to try my first landing there.
I cut the engine back to 1,500 RPM on the downwind leg and Dave told me to cut the power back to idle when we were abeam the numbers. I turned base at the overpass, and then final when lined up for the runway. The first landing was pretty good. Once on the ground and rolling, I gave it full power again and we headed back up for another.
At 1,000 feet, I turned crosswind and then downwind to go for another landing. This time a Cessna was in front of us and flying a really big pattern, so I extended to follow him in. I wasn't quite sure when to cut the power. I made a guess on final and floated toward the runway. A quarter mile out I realized I was going to come up about 50 feet short, gave it a bit of juice, and then proceeded to bounce the landing.
I hadn't flared enough and came down a bit too fast. Then I swerved a few times after applying full power (more right rudder!) but managed to make it off the ground before ending up in the grass. Upon reflection, I figured out what happened. On my second landing I had actually been thinking about what I was trying to do instead of just doing it.
Once back in the air, I headed to UTC, chatted with some glider pilots, got the ATIS, and called the tower for a landing clearance. The landing back at Reid Hillivew was a bit more professional.
For the next lesson, we're again planning to head down to Frazier Lake to land on the grass strip.
Saul Hansell, in a multi-page New York Times story titled "It's Not TV, It's Yahoo" describes Yahoo's new media plans and a few of those leading them. In doing so, he does something that many journalists neglect. He looks at the company's overall strategy. You know, the stuff that makes us different than those we're so often compared with (Microsoft, Google, etc.):
Mr. Semel describes a strategy built on four pillars: First, is search, of course, to fend off Google, which has become the fastest-growing Internet company. Next comes community, as he calls the vast growth of content contributed by everyday users and semiprofessionals like bloggers. Third, is the professionally created content that Mr. Braun oversees, made both by Yahoo and other traditional media providers. And last, is personalization technology to help users sort through vast choices to find what interests them.
Hey, check that out... Terry's talking about bloggers.
"You are not going to have 1,000 channels, you will have an unlimited number of channels," Mr. Semel said. "So you aren't going to use a clicker to change channels."
Anyone who's been reading a lot of blogs for a while understands what an unlimited number of channels feels like. It's not "just a search problem", is it?
As the amount of new stuff out there mushrooms even more, what do you think Yahoo could to do help make it easier to find the content you want?
Being the idiot I am, I opened my big mouth a couple weeks ago when I should have just kept quiet. When someone was talking about "all these people who've never been through media training and are representing us at conferences..." I remarked that I've never been through the official
brainwashing media training.
PR Person: You haven't?!?
Me: (uh oh)
As a result, I'm spending all day Friday in a small room with some other folks for media training. Well, except for lunch. I'm supposed to have lunch with Simon before he heads back to London.
I got a copy of the agency's agenda for the day, and noticed a few things:
While I really don't know what to expect, I hope this will answer a lot of questions I have about why spokespeople act the way they do when they're in front of a camera or microphone. A lot of it has long puzzled and frustrated me. Like, why are yes/no questions every answered with a 'yes' or 'no'?
I ran across a Slashdot story that confused the heck out of me, and I work for one of the companies involved.
Buying all or part of AOL may be the first part of the master plan, as Google relies heavily on the advertising pages that come from Yahoo, since it now syndicates its search to Google.
I can't figure out what that means. As far as I cannot tell, Google does not rely on advertising pages that "come from Yahoo" (whatever that means), nor does Yahoo "syndicate its search to Google."
Can anyone out there figure out WTF they're getting at?
I'm surprised that people are still emailing me to ask "when are you gonna write something about the new Yahoo! Mail?"
I figured that with Walt Mossberg saying:
I've been comparing the new version of Yahoo Mail, which claims to be the leader in Web mail, with Gmail, the challenger Yahoo most fears. My verdict: The new Yahoo Mail is far superior to Gmail. Yahoo more closely matches the desktop experience most serious email users have come to expect.
...and PC Magazine saying:
...there's no question that Yahoo! is set to make a big leap forward with its new Web-based mail product. We'll hold off on a rating until the official release or at least the full public beta, but from what we've seen and tested so far, Yahoo!'s competition may soon have some serious catching up to do.
...and the AP saying:
Overall, I find Yahoo easier to use, and it's quite impressive for a product that's only weeks old. I expect even more features by the time a final version is released.
Well, I figured that the cat was pretty well out of the bag: the new Yahoo! Mail kicks a lot of ass. For lots of people out there, it's going to be the first web-based replacement for Outlook or Outlook express they've ever seen.
And it's got some serious "WOW" factor going for it. I still remember when Ethan turned on my access a few months ago. I was at home packing for my trip to Parowan when he gave me the URL. The interface loaded up and I just thought... wow!
It was slower back then and has some bugs but it was already clear that it was going to move expectations up a level or two.
Oh, and if you look at that screenshot, you'll see that there are over 42,000 messages in my inbox. The product still works well with a big volume of mail.
Now stop asking when I'm gonna write about it! :-)
BTW, It is a closed beta right now but that should change soon. In the meantime I've asked the Yahoo! Mail team if I could give out a few "invites" so faithful readers could try it out. No response yet, so no promises. But let me know if you think you could really use it...
I had my fifth Citabria lesson this morning. Dave and I took N5032 up for an hour to practice some low flying ground reference exercises.
We went down to a field to the west of highway 101 and just south of an IBM complex and Dave asked me to fly a rectangular pattern at 1,000 feet following some roads. The first time around, he showed me the corner markers to use when making my turns. The point is to get used to flying in the traffic pattern and staying close to the runway. And if there's any significant wind, you get used to crabbing into the wind to maintain a straight ground track relative to the runway.
After a few circuits, he pulled the power and said "you just lost your engine! Where are you going to land?" I suggested a field roughly 3/4 a mile away, just ahead of us. He countered that suggestion with one we had just passed. To demonstrate, the took the controls did a base and then final turn, and slipped us down nice and low as if ready to land. Six feed off the ground, he put in full throttle and gave me back the plane.
I flew the rectangle a few more times and then we moved onto flying S turns across the road. He demonstrated a few and then I did 6 or 8 of them to get the hang of it. Finally, we did figure eight turns across a road. It's really just a variation on the S turns, so wasn't hard to pick up.
From there, we headed back up to UTC, picked up the ATIS, called the tower, and got a clearance for landing on runway 31 Left. I managed to land the plane nicely but didn't quite have the tail down. Dave told me to pull the stick all the way back, and we jumped back into the air a few feet when I did. Whoops. We should have let it slow down a bit.
Initially it seemed weird to be flying only 1,000 feet above the ground and going 100 miles per hour. But it didn't take too long before that seemed reasonable. Let's hope I manage to keep the fear of getting low that all my glider flying has bread into me!
For the next lesson, we're going to head down to Frazier Lake (just north of Hollister) and do some landing practice. That'll be fun. :-)
I guess they're trying to be a little bit more like Yahoo every day.
Woohoo! Simon is now officially a Yahoo. This has been in the works for a while and I found out it was a done deal when I ran into him on campus yesterday.
That reminds me of a picture I snapped on the day of his interview...
He's gonna be playing with the Flickr team for a while. How could he turn down a job like that? :-)
Of course, I wasn't. Neither site bothered to link to my blog post about it (for fear their readers would form their own opinions, perhaps?) or the surrounding context--the two stories I quoted heavily in my own post (1, 2).
What I was commenting on is bundling of one download with another and, more specifically, the fact that one installs the other or makes "helpful" changes (like default search engine or home page) by default rather than being an opt-in process.
Of all the people I asked recently, nobody can find any evidence that I was writing about spyware, adware, or malware. Well, nobody except the folks at Slashdot, I guess.
If you read the BusinessWeek story carefully you likely get what I was complaining about. But not so on the short tidbit posted to Slashdot. Luckily the average BusinessWeek reader is likely to be a bit more thoughtful about such things.
Is Slasholes a word yet?
At least I've got a place where I can attempt to correct their lack of information (and links). Guys, this is 2005! We're supposed to link to sources we cite on the web. Didn't you get that memo?
The funny part is that I really expected to hear from Yahoo! PR, Legal, or Terry Semel's body guard (just kidding) about this stuff. But I didn't. Not a peep. I did hear from a lot of my co-workers and it sparked several very interesting discussions. But nobody from on high said, "you know, we really wish you hadn't written that." Maybe it's because they know that I know that already.
No, the thing that got me... motivated enough to say something now was seeing my name and my words used on Slashdot to paint the company I work for in a more negative way than is justified.
Sorry to disappointed the rationally thinking Slashdot crowd, but there's no adware, malware, or spyware in our software. If you want to perpetuate the "Google is Good but all other Big Companies are Evil" thinking, feel free. But try to use facts instead of fiction. It really makes you look more lame than you already are.
If you're a My Yahoo! user, point your browser to this URL:
and you'll be greeted by an OPML representation of your subscriptions.
The catch is that you need to be already logged in--that is, you need a valid Yahoo! cookie for it to work. If you're already using My Yahoo! regularly, that's a non-issue. When a more web services friendly login/auth API appears someday, you'll be able to automate the process to backup or sync your subs with a blogroll, etc.
Following the Web Accelerator debacle, Google wants another crack at your entire internet traffic. This time, its through the Google Secure Access client.
Located at wifi.google.com, GSA connects you to a Google-run Virtual Private Network. Your internet traffic becomes encryptedwhen you send it out, decrypted by Google, the requested data downloaded by Google, encrypted and sent to you, and decrypted on your maching. This has the effect of protecting your traffic data from others who may want to access it. GSA's FAQ describes it as a Google engineer's 20% project.
From the FAQ:
Google Secure Access is a new product that is only available at certain locations in the San Francisco Bay Area. We are constantly working to improve this product.
A regional test deployment. Add this to the GoogleNet bids and you've got some interesting afoot at the Circle K, huh?
Wikipedia lists 31 common cultivars of Apple and I've only tried a small handful of them--maybe 8 or so. But I'm already quite biased in the apples I like and dislike. Much of that is probably due to growing up in Toledo, Ohio not far from MacQueen's Orchard.
Every fall we'd get copious amounts of recently picked Jonathon Apples. As a result, I'm pretty picky about the size, texture, firmness, and taste of the apples I eat. Sadly, I can't find a good source for Jonathon apples in the Bay Area. Know where I can find some?
For whatever reason, Whole Foods carries some excellent Fuji Apples from New Zealand that are in season for a sizable chunk of the year. Today I noticed that they have some organic Jonagold (a cross between Jonathon and Golden Delicious) apples in stock. I got a few and was thrilled to find that they're excellent. The Jonagolds are lager than Jonathons but have a very similar taste and feel. They're now on my short list.
Once in a great while I crave the taste of a good Granny Smith Apple, but it's hard to find really crisp ones without the terribly thick skin that many varieties have.
What's your favorite apple?
Lance and I took up the DG-1000 on Saturday to see where we could go. After some struggling, we found that it was difficult to climb much above 12,800 feet. There were large areas of sink near Mount Rose and the good lift appeared to be only near the hot rocks and on the ridge leading to Verdi Peak.
About an hour or so into the flight another pilot called that he had contacted wave over the Truckee landfill at 12,500. We were just heading back from Verdi and went straight to the landfill. We contacted the weak wave and spent the next few hours exploring it.
The wave wasn't particularly strong or widespread, but we did our best. Eventually some of the nearby moisture came over and helped to form rotor clouds that would cycle every 10 minutes or so. That made it a bit easier to find the lift bands.
Our total flight time was just over four hours. I've posted the photos from the trip, including a few shots of the rotor clouds that appeared over Northstar.
The Summer soaring season is clearly winding down. The days are shorter, the thermals are shorter and weaker, and it gets downright cold at night in the mountains. About half the glider trailers have already left Truckee for the season. Pretty soon we'll have the brief Fall season, which can bring nice afternoons of local soaring near Hollister. Then it's time to gear up for the late Winter and early Spring pre-frontal wave and post-frontal thermal soaring.
Today's lesson was rescheduled from Wednesday (see Lesson #3) when we had magneto problems. However, just before I arrived the right brake on the Citabria we were to fly gave out and Al needed at least an hour to work on it.
Again all the other Citabrias were busy, so Dave suggested we take up the Champ instead (see aircraft). The Champ is an ancestor of the Citabria but is lighter and has a smaller engine (85HP in this case).
While I'm not fond of the heel brakes, I found the Champ easy to fly. It's a simpler cockpit (no electrical system but we have a battery and radio), which is fine by me, and just a bit twitchier on the ground. But once you get it in the air, it's a fun little plane.
Oh, since there's no electrical system, starting the engine requires someone to turn the prop by hand. How retro! :-)
We taxied over to runway 13 Right and took off. The Champ got into the air in no time and drifted a bit in the light crosswind. I was surprised by how much it drifted but didn't have trouble fixing it. We climbed up to 4,500 over our practice area and I did a few turns to get a feel for the plane.
With my turns over, Dave asked me to do a few stalls: power on and power off. From there we went into spins again. He wanted to see good 3 turn spins and recoveries both left and right. So I did 4 spins in total (2 of each) and was starting to feel a tiny bit dizzy. Power plans spin quite a bit differently (faster, tighter, and more steeply) than the gliders I'm used to.
Mission accomplished, we headed back to the airport and got a clearance to land on Runway 13 Left. While turning base the tower instructed us to change to 13 Right, so I did that. We had a bit of crosswind on landing but I managed to get us down to a nearly 3 point landing without any bouncing. Yay!
Back at the tie-down area, we gassed up the plane and I got a spin endorsement in my log book. Woohoo!
Next time up we're going to work on ground reference stuff.
It was just a matter of time--24 hours in this case.
When Google's Blog Search launched, I did the same thing I've done with every other blog search service: subscribed to a feed that produces matches for "zawodny", another for links to my blog, and one for "yahoo".
Within 24 hours I was seeing an average of 2-3 spam blogs showing up when I checked the results. Apparently the spammers have decided that Google's Blog Search is too attractive to ignore.
The other night one of my co-workers said, "you know... blog means 'better listings on Google', right?" Remarkably, I had never heard that before. But it didn't take more than a few seconds before it was my favorite phrase for the week. :-)
On my way home tonight (well, last night technically--it's late) from the SDForum Audio Search event, I managed to get a flat tire in highway 87. I got off one exit short of the one I'd normally take to get home.
A quick call to AAA yielded a tow truck 20 minutes later. Rather than tow me home so that I could deal with changing it in the daylight and out of the traffic (that was my plan), we moved the car about 1/4 mile and the guy just did it on the spot.
Now I've gotta deal with getting the blown tire repaired. It looks like I ran over a small nail or metal sliver on the way past some of the major construction that's been going on the widen the highway.
I guess with the Citabria engine trouble earlier, this hasn't been my day for transportation.
Oh, check out Yahoo! Instant Search. Someone's been playing Ajax on our search page.
Today's flying lesson was.... short.
It was decided that we'd take up 03G for some more spin training. I did the pre-flight, we pushed the plane out, got in, and I started the checklist. Everything was cool so I asked for ground clearance and was told to taxi to runway 32 Right. (Hey, I'm doing my own radio work now!)
We arrived in the run up area and I did the pre-takeoff stuff. One of the final steps is the mag check. Switch off the left magneto and observe a 100 RPM drop on the engine. Flip it back on and see it return to normal. Repeat for the right magneto.
However, when I killed the left mag, we lost 400 RPM or more. I repeated this a few times to confirm the problem and then Dave tried a few things. But nothing worked, so I asked for clearance back to the hangar so that Al the wonder-mechanic can check it out.
All other planes were occupied, so we're going to reschedule for later in the week.
If you're into podcasting or audio search (and in the Bay Area), drop by Yahoo for the SDForum Audio Search event tonight.
Join SDForum on Wed, 9/14 at Yahoo's headquarters in Sunnyvale for the inaugural Silicon Valley Search SIG, where our first meeting will be an overview of the audio search market and an in-depth look at podcasting startups, directiories, and tools.
With the raging popularity of iTunes, the announcement of Yahoo Audio Search, and the sudden upsurge in podcasting -- not to mention recent notable venture financings for startups like PodShow and Odeo -- the audio search & podcasting market appears to be heating up fast.
Our program will feature an interview & perspective with larger players in the audio and podcast market, as well as a sneak peek at some of the up & coming audio startups who are making headlines. We will also feature product demos by our speakers as part of our meeting, and perhaps some new feature announcements as well.
I'm believe Doug Kaye will be recording the evening for IT Conversations, so you should be able to find it there as well.
Long time Googler Matt Cutts is celebrating one month of blogging.
It’s been a blast though. I’m delighted to see that over 440 people are subscribed to me on Bloglines. Jeremy Zawodny has about 4215 subscribers across his feeds. So I hit over 100 milli-Zawodnys in just a month–woohoo!
Heh. When did I become a measurement unit? :-)
Matt also asks what we'd like him to write about.
Wow, Mark read some of Steve's recent blog posts (ones that I found myself a bit confused by) and wonders What's with Steve Gillmor?:
At this point, I had to conclude that Mr. Gillmor has no clue what the heck he’s talking about.
And concludes his ranting by offering ZDNet some advice:
Hey ZD Net, you want to get some good eyeballs on your site? How about becoming a tech-centric blog aggregator or republishing good articles written on the blogosphere? You could probably pay these bloggers less than you’re paying your staff and they’d almost certainly put out better and more relevant content.
What do you think? Is Mark right?
In related news, Mark switched from Google AdSense to YPN. Mark, I'm seeing your ads.
I had my second Citabria lesson this afternoon. Dave and I took N5032 up for an hour on this nice sunny Saturday.
Takeoff was normal, except that I really need to use more right rudder at that high power setting. We made a downwind departure to the south. At 4,500 Dave had me practice a few more steep turns. When I demonstrated that I could do the turns wihout gaining or loosing more than 40-50 feet of altitude, he was happy and moved us on to some stalls. We did power on and power off, both turning and straight ahead. He also asked me to stall the plane with the power at idle, keep the stick all the way back, and then just fly with the rudder. That was an interesting experience. The plane flopped around quite a bit and I thought for sure it was going to spin, but it never happened.
That was really just good foreshadowing, since we worked on spins next. Unlike the gliders I've spun, the Citabria spins rather quickly and doesn't require and forward stick pressure during recovery. I believe we did a total of three spins, one to the left and two to the right.
With that out of the way, he showed me what happens if you try a full power on stall and never let up on the stick. In that situation, the plane goes all sorts of crazy but never gets out of hand.
We concluded our fun over the hills with a demonstration of a loop. I was surprised to learn that he used a loop entry speed of 140 miles per hour. Considering what we can get away with in a glider, that seemed a bit high.
After that we headed back to the airport. It was fun to try judging how quickly I needed to descend so that we'd get back at the right altitude. A few miles out, Dave asked me to bring the power back to idle. I did but soon realized we wouldn't quite make the runway (probably 200 feet short). That's apparently second nature from all my glider landings. We gave it a little juice a bout a mile out so that we'd clear the fence and setup to land.
Over the runway I tried to get the plane slowed down and into a landing attitude. I just pretended it was a big glider that liked to be stalled on landing. It worked pretty well. I stalled about two feet too high so we landed harder than I'd like, but it wasn't a "hard" landing by any stretch of imagination.
After we taxied back to the tie-down spot, I asked how much of the landing was him and how much was me (I've noticed him on the controls a few times but wasn't sure if he was helping on landing or just following along). He said it was basically me and that I had the landing mostly figured out--at least for landing with a slight headwind.
Next time we fly he wants to do a few more spins and give me a spin endorsement. Heh. I guess we're not doing things in the "normal" order for a new student, but it's all the same to me. At some point I'm sure we'll worry about more mundane things like radio communication and landings. :-)
In a guest blog post on Om Malik's site, Robert Young brilliantly lays out the changing dynamic between companies and communities as more of tomorrow's content and services move on-line.
I'm going to quote it heavily here because he's saying things which are very important to me and the work I try to do...
There’s a certain level of what (for the lack of a better phrase) I will refer to as cognitive dissonance when you run a business based on community. And that’s that you quickly realize that the members of the community feel strongly that the service belongs to them, and the control that you, the corporation, think you have is actually, in large part, an illusion.
After all, a community, by definition generates its own content, its own style and culture… it’s all by the people, for the people. As a result, if you’re an executive at such a company, you oftentimes feel more like a politician than a businessperson. To do anything that would suggest that you, as the corporation, owns and controls the service (and in effect, the community) is, well, akin to heresy. This is something Rupert Murdoch will have to contend with, as the new owner of MySpace.
As the worlds of media and technology collide with a force that can split an atom, such cognitive dissonance is a natural by-product of the fact that more and more content (and code) is being produced by the people themselves. At the same time, with the increasing digitization of media, the definition of “distribution” is also changing from channels previously rooted in the physical world to one where people themselves become the new distribution channels via tightly and loosely-coupled social networks connected together by the universal language of IP and bits.
It wasn't until I read the article a third time that I made it to the end and realized he closed with a compliment to Yahoo! (I got sidetracked writing this post before I made it to the end.)
It won’t be the corporation that locks its customers into a walled garden any more; instead, it will be the people themselves who create their own high switching costs. For instance, if you are an eBay seller, your switching cost is not so much the relationship you’ve created with eBay itself and the store you set up, it’s the reputation and trust you spent years building with fellow members of the community. Similarly, if you are a member of MySpace, it’s not the web-page and blog you spent time constructing, it’s your social network of cyber-friends you’ve cultivated and accumulated over time.
At the end, the lesson is one of a paradox. As the power shifts increasingly towards community, the corporation loses its grip on the traditional means of control. Yet, by letting go of control, the corporation creates an environment where the community willingly creates its own switching costs. Such changing market behavior, which is structural and permanent for any industry being usurped by the Internet, must be met with a corresponding shift in corporate mindset. Otherwise, a “generation gap” will exist between the members of management themselves (old vs. new media), as well as the company and its market. In my view, if there is one company that seems to grok such dynamics better than anyone, and is in the process of executing superbly against these new set of challenges, it’s Yahoo!
When I first skimmed the article, I decided that it did an excellent job of summarizing why I get into many of the arguments (I mean "discussions") that I do at Yahoo. I've got one foot inside the company and the other firmly planted in the community. The two are often at odds and, more often than not, I side with the community.
This makes some people at Yahoo very unhappy, but I really believe that it's in the best interest of Yahoo. I'm not doing it just to be a pain in the ass. Some people are really good at running a business. I like to think that I do a decent job of representing community interests when I try to do so. And making sure the community is heard loud and clear inside the company walls helps keep us honest. That's why I say many of the things you read here.
The two camps need to better understand each other.... somehow.
The transition from the old way to the new is not easy, but we're making real progress. Some groups are getting their heads around it faster than others. Having the Flickr folks in the Yahoo family helps. Flickr is all about community. The same goes for Chad, Danah, Alex, and many of the others who've joined Yahoo this year, either through acquisition or relentless pursuit of them. The more community-minded folks we hire, acquire, and breed, the better off we are in this brave new world. There will be more before this year is over.
If there's a good way to make sure everyone at Yahoo reads Robert's post, I'd like to find it.
Apparently it's not as bad as he expected coming from Washington. Excellent.
Alex: welcome aboard. It's good to know you made it here in once piece. We should do lunch sometime soon.
After having put it off for too long, I had my first flying lesson today in a plane with an engine. I recently joined as a student member at Amelia Reid Aviation at the Reid-Hillview Airport just a few miles from my home.
I met my instructor Dave Gray (see instructors) this morning and we chatted for a few minutes about my flight experience so far, goals, and so on. Before long we headed out to the line to check out N1806G, the beautifully restored 115 horsepower Citabria I had booked for our lesson (see aircraft). We performed a quick pre-flight and walk around inspection before getting comfortable in the cockpit.
I was immediately struck by how good the visibility is in the Citabria. I expected to see far less over the nose in a tail dragger. The seat was comfortable and the stick had a surprising range of motion. The rudder pedals seemed easy to work, but the heel brakes were a bit awkward. They are just a bit farther from the pedals that I'd like for ease of operation.
The panel is spartan and that's the way I like it. The fewer instruments to distract from flying, the better. However, in the air I noticed the lack of a vertical speed indicator (VSI). That meant I had to make approximations of our climb/descent rate based on how much the altimeter was moving.
Once oriented with the cockpit, we checked the weather, ran down the checklist, and started up the engine. It wasn't as loud as I expected. I then got my first crack and driving the Citabria on the ground. By keeping the engine RPM around 1,000 I was able to steer with the rudder and not deal with tapping the brakes.
I took us down the taxiway and over to the run-up area where we could make a last check of everything, run up the engine, and get our takeoff clearance from the tower. Moments later I was pulling out on to runway 31 Right. Once there, I applied full power and began the takeoff roll.
The first few seconds were dominated by applying a bit of right rudder and raising the tail. As soon as I had the tail up, Dave told me to gently pull back on the stick. As I did, the plane lept into the air and started climbing. I was impressed at how quickly we were off the ground.
We made a right turn and then another to head southbound on our downwind departure. After climbing for a bit, we were at 4,000 feet and I got to practice a few things. Turns, steep turns, rudder work, turning stalls, power off stalls, and full power stalls.
I enjoyed the way the plane handled. It was fairly easily to guess how it was going to react to various control inputs. And, again, the visibility was great. The thing that surprised me most is how little speed I picked up in stall recovery. The gliders I'm used to flying will accelerate in a hurry when the nose goes down.
Dave said I was doing very well and before long we were heading back toward the airport. Along the way he talked a bit about spins and I told him that I had spin training in gliders. He then said something that made my day:
Do you want to see a barrel roll?
I think I answered "of course!" but I'm not entirely sure of that. So he took the controls, dove to 130 knots, and demonstrated the roll. It felt less dramatic than I expected.
We got our clearance for a straight in landing on runway 32 Right and headed in. A few miles out I pulled the power back to idle and we descended nicely. Dave asked for a slip to get us on to a better approach and I found that the Citabria slips quite nicely.
The flare and touchdown weren't perfect. I bounced a bit but they weren't hard bounces. :-)
From there we taxied back to the tie-down area and put the ship away.
I had a blast flying the Citabria. It's clear that I'll need to work on a number of new flying skills, I was impressed with how easily it flew and how little time Dave spent on the controls. Other than demonstrating a few things in the air and helping with a bit of the rollout, it was all me. And that felt damned good.
I can't wait to get back up in the air this weekend!
Okay, this is too cool. The Nikon Coolpix P1 is an 8 megapixel digital camera with built-in wifi support. Imagine not having to hook up your camera to a cable or even pull out a memory card to transfer pictures. Instead, you can simply transfer them directly to your terabyte home storage network.
I hope this is a sign of many things to come.
Once they start building in GPS and automatic lat/long encoding in the EXIF data, I'll be upgrading. Camera, Wifi, and GPS. Three great tastes that go great together.
Robert Scoble woke up and smelled the coffee earlier today:
Yahoo just became a powerhouse in social software.
But then says this:
Luckily Yahoo hasn't quite figured out what the center of the social software world is gonna be. And I'm not gonna give them a roadmap to figure it out. Oh, damn, I just did. A map. Heheh.
People. That's the center of social software. ;-)
But seriously, do you think we haven't figured it out? Great, that's more time before Microsoft takes it seriously...
A few weeks ago I wrote about My Recent Switches and said:
From iTunes to Yahoo! Music Unlimited. I'm totally addicted to subscriptions. Paying $6 a month and getting nearly everything I want kicks ass. I sold the iPod last week but still have the Shuffle. Yahoo! wins.
Well, I'm still loving it. So I decided to say a bit more about this. Yahoo! Music Engine (YME) has a killer feature that I suspect a lot of folks never noticed: synchronized music collections.
It's like this. I have a Yahoo-issued laptop that I use at work and quite a bit at home. But I also have a really nice Dell PC as my home desktop. Both have YME installed. If I add five Meat Loaf tracks to my collection on the laptop, they're automatically downloaded to my desktop PC next time I start YME on it. Of course, it works in both directions.
As the number of intelligent devices we own grows, synchronization (and replication) is going to become more and more important. This sounds like a little "nice to have" feature, but for anyone who listens to music a lot and has more than one computer, it's a big time saver.
Steve Lavine, the CEO of Transparnsee, is in town this week and I had a chance to talk with him for an hour or so this afternoon. During that chat, he gave me the green light to show off something I'd seen a few weeks ago when it was still in development.
Transpaensee has put together a technology demonstration using digital camera product data from a popular technology publisher. The goal was to build an interactive shopping aid that lets you explore the universe of a cameras using whatever attributes you like to slice the data: price, resolution, editor's ratings, size, etc.
When he talked me thru the demo on the phone, I was very impressed. The site worked the way I wanted it do. The last few times I've shopped for a digital camera, I knew the key featues I wanted and had to jump thru many hoops to figure out what the landscape looks like.
The really slick part is that the fuzzy matching means it's harder to back yourself into a corner when exploring the products. If there aren't many exact matches, no worries. The software provides the next best matches so you can see what's nearby. Example: finding all the 5.0-5.9 megapixel cameras that have firewire (screen shot). There are two exact matches but several close matches are included below them. By ajusting the "megapixels" or "interface" sliders, I can control which feature is more important in my shopping and refine them on the fly. And, for complete control, I can click the "show form" link to unvil all the controls.
That makes it an interesting mix of searching and browsing. It's like having an intelligent guide by your side at a large electronics store. You still get the ability to drill down quickly but that doesn't completely shut you out of looking at what's nearby on the shelves.
Anyway, I can't do the demo justice just by writing about it. (Yeah, I know I said something like that last time I wrote about Transparensee.) Go play with it. Try the sliders. Drill into the various dimensions. See what you think. I really like the quick refinements I can perform.
Keen observers will note that we already provide some functionality like this in Yahoo! Shopping. If you look there for digital cameras, you can drill into various buckets like "over $400" and then further dive into "canon", for example. And then there's SmartSort, which takes a similar but different approach.
Anyway, it's cool to see better interfaces becoming available across the board. Given the amount that on-line commerce and listings will grow in the next few years, there's a lot of incentive to get this stuff right.
[Disclaimer: I have a very small financial interest in Transparensee. Of course, I have a much larger one in Yahoo! and never felt compelled to say so. Funny, that.]
Or, put another way, "Who taught you to search?"
Earlier this year I visited Yahoo! Japan to participate in a Search Symposium they hosted. While there, I had a chance to give a presentation (translator and all!) of my own about some of the cool stuff we'd been doing at Yahoo! Inc.
The day was very informative and fun for the folks who attended, including many students, hackers, and aspiring business folks. But when it was over and I was headed back to California a few days later, I couldn't get one presentation out of my head.
One of Yahoo! Japan's long-time surfers presented a search tutorial. Starting from ground zero, he explained how indexing the web works (at a high level), how search engines work, strategies for searching, advanced query syntax and operators, etc. He was teaching the audience how to search.
That caused me to think back a couple years to when I was working on some software that analyzed query logs for Yahoo! Search. I noticed over and over that, as a human, I could easily spot query patterns (over the course of a session) that clearly indicated someone was having trouble.
I wished that someone could have been watching the query stream and stopped the user to say "hey, I see what you're trying to find.... try this instead." I felt like there was a missing link.
I think education and training are that missing link.
We search engines try to make the world look all simple, uniform, and tidy. There's a little text box you type into and a button you can hit to get what you want back. Except that it doesn't always work that way. Many times people don't find what they need on the first try or two. But they don't know where to go next, how to refine a query, or what their options are. There's no librarian to help. Few of them will ever see our Advanced Search page or realize they can restrict searches to a subset of languages.
The question I started this ramble with is largely rhetorical, since I know that the vast majority of folks have never been "trained" to search in any way. But I suspect many would benefit from even 10-15 minutes of education.
Are schools handling this yet? Or do they mostly assume that the search box is self-explanatory?
A friend is looking for someone to help him start up a company in San Francisco. He says:
I'm looking for the perfect co-founder to help me build a company. Most importantly, this person must be smart and know how to get stuff done. This person should be a relatively experienced software engineer with 5+ years developing web apps. Experience with consumer financial apps and/or payments is a plus. A entreprenuerial spirit and desire to innovate would round out this candidate's profile.
So what's the idea? Well, I can't tell you too much about that just yet. I can tell you that it's a consumer-facing web app that will help people with their personal finances. I've worked for 6 years creating personal finance products for the web (3 @ Yahoo! Finance and 3 @ Yodlee). I have a small, spartan office in Potrero Hill in San Francisco.... so I've got that going for me. :-)
If you're like me to put you in touch, email me a quick intro (unless I know you already, of course).
Not a bad way to spend the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, if I do say so myself.
Scott and I took up the BASA DG-1000 and had a decent 3.2 hour flight. We released at 8,400 over the hot rocks, thermalled up to about 13,000 before punching into wave near Northstar.
From there we explored the wave for a few hours and shot a few pictures. It was chily up there, but it's getting to be late in the season.
Here's hoping we get to fly again tomorrow... :-)
I've been playing with Icerocket Blog Search a bit this morning, mostly because it's been a while since I last looked at it. And it's partly 'cause someone at work has asked me about their Link Tracker feature.
And speaking of results, I'm quite fond of their SRP (Search Results Page) layout. For example, this page shows links to my blog. There's not a lot of extra junk on the page, but it does provide some really useful detail. I especially like the default ordering by date and nice labeling of and separation of days in the results. I also find far less spam in Icerocket results than in some of the other blog search tools.
Have you been using Icerocket much? If so, what do you especially like or dislike about it?
In CNet's article Yahoo IM users get more than they bargained for:
If you're one of the tens of millions of Yahoo users asked to upgrade your instant-messaging software this week, be on your toes: The update can open the door to unwanted PC houseguests--and setting changes--by default.
By accepting Yahoo's "typical" installation of YIM with Voice, it will also download Yahoo's Search Toolbar with anti-spyware and anti-pop-up software, desktop and system tray shortcuts, as well as Yahoo Extras, which will insert Yahoo links into the Internet Explorer browser. The IM client also contains "live words," which will automatically show an icon when the user highlights words online and then hyperlink to Yahoo search results, definitions or translation tools. Finally, the installation will alter the users' home page and auto-search functions to point to Yahoo by default.
On Make You Go Hmm:
Wonder if Jeremy Zawodny, Russell Beattie or any of their other blogging employees will address these installation practices? Do they agree with them? Like/dislike them? Or are they hoping this story gets buried with the holidays and other more pressing stories in current news? It takes stones to stand up when your company is doing something wrong and IMO, this is very, very wrong. I sure hope somebody internally over there is complaining about these questionable software installation practices. If they aren’t complaining, I hope somebody is at least questioning them.
Do I agree with those practices? No.
Do I like those practices? Hell no. It's insulting and disrespectful. I've aborted software installs or upgrades when they try to pull this stuff. In fact, I just had this happen yesterday.
I'm sick and tired of this crap. I don't know which company started using this tactic, but it's become the standard operating procedure for lots of software out there. And it sucks.
Leave my settings, preferences, and desktop alone!
Why do companies do this? Money. And when your competitor does it and you don't, you're letting them take advantage of an "opportunity" that you are not. (An opportunity to piss off your users, perhaps?)
Remember pop-under ads?
I don't know what it's going to take to get companies to stop this crap either. Do you have any good ideas? I'd love to hear 'em.
[Insert standard disclaimer about not speaking for my employer here.]
I was looking at my referral logs recently and noticed a couple hits from google searches for "lesbian spanking stories" hitting one of my pages. Wondering what the heck could have cause Google to think I had written about lesbian spanking stories, I checked the page.
Sure enough, there was an old bit of comment spam I had missed. Amusingly, the spam didn't provide any links back to the pr0n site but did put me relatively high in the ranking for that search phrase.
Heh. I guess that spam backfired.
Anyway, that led to a few more comments I missed. So, thanks to lesiban spanking stories, I now have a bit less comment spam.
Who'd have thought?
A few folks said they're like a way of commenting on them. I've got a solution for that coming soon, so stay tuned. If nothing else, this has been a fun little MT hacking project.
Thanks for the public and private feedback. It sure beats trying to read minds...