Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Mostly not about 2002 JF56

Well, today's the big day. The New Horizons probe will zip past the dinky asteroid 2002 JF56 today, on its way to Pluto. We aren't going to get any pretty pictures, though, since the asteroid's too small and far away for that. If they get more than 2 pixels worth of asteroid, it'll be a big surprise. The whole exercise is really just an engineering test, a practice run for later. Oh, well. So really, when I said today was the big day, I was kind of exaggerating for dramatic effect.

Updated: The first asteroid pics are out, and I've got 'em here.

And with that, I've completely run out of asteroid-related material. Here are a few other fun tidbits I've come across:

  • Researchers have discovered a new species of fly in a forest in Scotland. Let's all say hi to Ectaetia christii. That last link is just a reference to the researchers' original paper, and not to the paper itself, because it doesn't seem to be online anywhere. This may be because the paper dates back to 1997. The media's presenting it like it's a brand new species, but it isn't. The actual story: the fly isn't new, but it appears in a comprehensive new book about the area, titled The Nature of the Cairngorms: Diversity in a Changing Environment. To be fair, the BBC story does mention the 1997 discovery a few paragraphs in, but the headline is "New mountain species discovered", not "New Cairngorms books is released". And to be fair, it's standard Old Media practice to have someone else write the headlines, so the article's author probably isn't to blame. But still. If the BBC can flub something like this,
  • Apostropher suggests a simple way to defeat government surveillance. The graphic is kind of funny, and I'd use it here except that it doesn't have anything to do with asteroids, which is what this post is supposedly still about, except that I ran out of material.
  • A new Pew Research survey shows the rest the world doesn't like us very much. Even less than they did last year, believe it or not. Here's a previous Pew article trying to explore the reasons behind this, based on actual survey results, not just the usual ideology-driven vapid opinions.
  • A Slashdot thread about whether native compiled code is becoming a thing of the past. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I grind out C++ for a living, with occasional forays into Java, and in the past I've held the usual C++ prejudice against interpreted languages. I always said they're too slow and lack crucial features, and the only people who use 'em are effete web designers and toolbelt-wearing IT monkeys, neither of whom count as Real Engineers. I figured web designers were basically marketing folks at heart, and working in IT is one step away from the mailroom or the company motor pool. Now I'm not so sure about all that. I've been playing around with Ruby lately and it's awfully schweet. Even lowly old JavaScript has more power than I thought, if Google Maps is any indication. Heck, for that matter take small stuff like the collapsing tree stuff I recently added to my right sidebar here. This isn't the first time I've messed around with tree views. In a previous job, we pulled off the same trick by writing an ActiveX control, I kid you not. There was some VBScript and ASP glue involved too, but we tried to do as much of the work as possible in C++, because we felt it was the Right Approach. Don't worry. I've completely repented of all that MS stuff now. You won't be seeing any ActiveX controls, VBScript, or .NET stuff here anytime soon. Compiled code isn't going away, certainly, but I'm starting to think its use will be increasingly restricted to certain esoteric specialties: Kernel coding, embedded applications, device drivers, stuff like that, similar to what happened with assembly coding many moons ago.

    Ironically, at that same former employer, our web designers at one point cooked up a fancy "desktop look", as a blatant copy of Desktop.com. I thought the whole thing was a crazy idea at the time, I mean, who wants a web page with 5000 lines of JavaScript? It drove dialup users absolutely batty, and it was abandoned after a scant couple of weeks or so. Now I'm starting to think that in some ways they were just ahead of their time. Let's not revise history too much, though; it was a really poor effort, ill-conceived and badly executed, and it would be considered just as awful now as it was then. But at the time I thought the whole idea was an evolutionary dead end, and I was wrong about that part.
  • Ok, ok, I didn't get around to posting about the Stanley Cup Finals last night like I sort of promised I'd try to do. I did catch the last part of the game, just enough to see Carolina win and go up 3-1 in the series. Oh, well. We don't have an NHL team of our own here in Portland, so I don't have a permanent favorite team. I'll follow a team for a while if I like the way they play the game, or if they have a player I like, usually a goalie. When the playoffs start up, we each pick a team to root for. This year I picked Buffalo, and my wife picked Edmonton. We were kind of hoping they'd meet in the finals, but it was not to be. Last time around, we both picked Tampa, and they actually won, which is quite unusual for us. Usually we pick underdogs, and it turns out that underdogs are called that for a reason, most of the time. Anyway, the big attraction with Edmonton was watching Dwayne Roloson at work, and now that he's injured, we've both lost a lot of interest in the series. It's been an oddly lackluster series anyway. I can't put my finger on it.

    The first hockey game either of us saw was the last game of the cup finals 10 years ago, when Colorado beat Florida for the cup. This was the famous triple overtime goalie duel between Patrick Roy and John van Biesbrouck, and we just sat there with our mouths open the whole time, amazed by the whole thing. We've been hooked ever since.
  • I'm not a bicycle nut. I don't have anything nice to say about Critical Mass, and I roll my eyes at the whole bicycle culture thing we supposedly have here. Be that as it may, this is just a great, great story, if a stereotypically male one. If they were doing this in cars instead, someone would probably be dead or in jail by now.
  • I also usually roll my eyes at hardcore audio geeks, but this turntable is just cool. Mostly because it uses a Mars rover moter. Why? What do you mean, "Why"? In the world of high-end audio, there is no "Why".
  • Wouldn't it be great to have a mom who grows hops? Mmmm... hops...
  • Today's entry in the "WTF were they thinking???" department: Three lists of the ugliest cars ever. And more opinions.
  • And finally, after a bunch of unrelated items, we're back at asteroids. Here's NASA's page about their Asteroid Radar Research program. It's a well-kept secret, I guess because there aren't any rockets involved, and there's very little congressional pork to be had. I've been checking this occasionally for a number of years now. They used to post images on the site as soon as they came in, but they don't anymore. I'm not sure why, but they're probably just trying to keep a lid on prepublication data or something. Still, they've gone in the opposite direction as their colleagues at the Cassini and Mars Rover projects, who post raw images on the net on a near-daily basis. Oh, well. They're just asteroids, after all, so it's not the end of the world, except when it is.

Updated: For a while now I've been meaning to do a braindump of my Firefox bookmarks about beer. So here they are. I haven't gone back and verified that all the links are alive at the moment, so your mileage may vary. Enjoy (or whatever):

News & Reviews

Celebrator Beer News : November/December 2004
The Northwest BrewPage
Oregon Brewers Guild
Michael Jackson's Beer Hunter
All About Beer
ProBrewer.com: An Online Resource Serving The Beer Industry
Opinionated Beer Page Home - beer reviews with a punch
Master Brewers Association of the Americas
My Life Is Beer!
Wesi's Beer World: Beer ratings for brews from Switzerland, United States, Mexico and England
Stephen Beaumont's World of Beer
The Brew Site: It's all about the beer


Home Brew Digest
BrewingTechniques Online
Home Distillation of Alcohol
Gluten Free Brewing Grains...Good, Bad and Otherwise
Mark Brooks (Norway)
Yeast - gaianstudies.org
Cindy Renfrow - Culinary & Brewing History Links
fermented foods
Rye-bread Kvass - Brot-Kwass
Herstellung von Kwas
web-Tariff No2.pdf (application/pdf Object)
Beer Manifesto - Beer Style Sheet
Your Free Beer Art History Online Reference and Guide
Beer Details, Meaning Beer Article and Explanation Guide
Bierbörse - Types of Beer
Beer World - Greece


Fermented Red Rice (Ang Kak) and Monascus pupureus. Chronological.
Article_Michalova_buckwheat.pdf (application/pdf Object)
BYO - Could you please cover the major types and strains of barley used in brewing?
Major Acids in Some Food Materials.PDF (application/pdf Object)
Fresh Patents-Method for producing ethanol using raw starch patent apps
ET 9/98: Yeast rises to a new occasion
Molecular Analysis of Maltotriose Transport and Utilization by Saccharomycescerevisiae -- Day et al. 68 (11): 5326 -- Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Introduction to Carbohydrates
Winemaking: Strains of Wine Yeast
Corrosion by Beer


Consolidated Beverages - Supplier of quality malt to brew pubs and microbreweries
BrewSource.com -- The Source for Making Beer
- Beer Making Kits, Wine Making Kits and Supplies
Global Beer Network
Destila v
CABRI: Yeasts
Madeira Wine, Fine Wines Online !! Taylor & Norton
The Ultimate Beer and Brewery Resource: What Ales You
BeerBooks.com - Find any book on beer!
Virginia's Most Complete Home Wine & Beer Supply
Beer Necessities


Indiana Beer - Beer News, Calendar, Beers, Brewpubs, Bars, Liquor Stores.
Michigan Beer Guide, The Guide To Craft Brewed Beer in Michigan
Real Beer New Zealand :: Home
Benelux beerguide: Beer styles - alphabetical overview
SNAFU ( S. Nevada)
French Brewpubs
MaitreBrasseur.com, brasserie et bière artisanale

No comments :