Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Friday, March 04, 2011

Dear IT people,

I think it's wonderful that you've discovered how to write a script that will push updates to my work PC.  Having a common, supportable configuration is a worthy goal.
Unfortunately, you've yet to discover the fact that my PC has an actual user who is trying to get work done.  Sometimes, this user might even be writing profound and important thoughts that our company will sell to its customers.
Given your lack of ability to discern when such activity might be happening, please do assume that it is.  That way, you won't be tempted to pop up an absolutely useless dialog box that steals focus away from the task your user is attempting to complete, while simultaneously causing the user in the next cube to scream in frustration, because his train of thought just got derailed too.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New Social Media Site

Just joined a site called Empire Avenue, seems to be sort of an aggregator of social media linkages with your blog feeds.  Has features that let you invest in other people.  Will it catch on?

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Garden Tour 2010

Originally uploaded by kmadams85
Mrs. Adams has built an amazing garden out of our yard, and we've been asked to participate in the Delanco Women's Civic Club annual garden tour. This is one of my favorite photos of the spring.

More here on Flickr.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Blogging from Android

Recently acquired a Droid and would like to be able to blog from it. Not finding any decent apparently, and the web page does not really lend itself to a mobile device. Suggestions welcome.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Brought to you by the United States Government

Our Legislative and Executive branches want to "fix" the national health care economy by creating a national health care system. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth has gone into creating several multi-thousand page bills describing the requirements for such a system, and by all accounts the legislators in the majority leadership are quite pleased with themselves.

My family worries about these efforts, because we cannot believe that the government is capable of acting more efficiently with our money than can we. Recently, we were presented with evidence to support that belief, in the form of another large, government-run quasi monopoly, the U.S. Postal Service. You see, in early December we had ordered a gift via an affiliate of They shipped with a somewhat unique system, UPS Mail Innovations, using UPS for the long-haul from California to New Jersey, and the Postal Service for the last mile of delivery to our door.

The UPS portion of the delivery went pretty smoothly, crossing the country in a day:

  • Dec 7 2009 Mail Retrieved From Shipper
  • Dec 7 2009 Received at UPS Mail Innovations Origin R. Cucamonga, CA
  • Dec 7 2009 Processed at UPS Mail Innovations Origin R. Cucamonga, CA
  • Dec 8 2009 Transferred to UPS Mail Innovations Destination Logan Township, NJ
  • Dec 10 2009 Received at UPS Mail Innovations Destination Logan Township, NJ
  • Dec 10 2009 Manifested (Postage Paid)
  • Dec 10 2009 Entered USPS Facility SOUTH JERSEY, NJ
Great! Logan Township is only 40 miles from here, we should get our package any time, lots of leeway for wrapping and such. Alas, it was not to be. Since entering the USPS facility in South Jersey, our little package of less than a pound has been recorded in the postal service's tracking system no less than EIGHT times.
  • Electronic Shipping Info Received, December 10, 2009
  • Shipment Accepted; December 10, 2009, 5:16 pm, BELLMAWR, NJ 08099
Oh great! I thought. Bellmawr is even closer (25 miles), hope to get this package tomorrow.
  • Arrival at Post Office, December 12, 2009, 4:33 am, NEW YORK, NY 10013
What? Why did it (1) go to New York and (2) take 36 hours to travel less than 100 miles?
  • Sorting Complete, December 12, 2009, 9:19 am, NEW YORK, NY 10013
  • Out for Delivery or Available at PO Box, December 12, 2009, 9:49 am, NEW YORK, NY 10013
So, to whom did they give it for delivery? Given that it is addressed to my home in the 08075 zip code, I am perplexed.
  • Processed through Sort Facility, December 14, 2009, 1:22 am, NEW YORK, NY 10199
OK, moving in the right direction, I guess. Looks like the carrier returned it and then the oncoming shift Monday morning processed my package.
  • Processed through Sort Facility, December 16, 2009, 8:10 pm, JERSEY CITY, NJ 07097
Except that they sent it to the wrong sort facility! Jersey City doesn't handle our mail, Bellmawr does!
  • Processed through Sort Facility, December 22, 2009, 11:29 am, BELLMAWR, NJ 08031
Ah, now we're back in the right neighborhood. If Bellmawr processed it this morning just before lunch, I should expect it tomorrow, right? Oh, wait, remember what happened last time!

Given that something as simple as timely delivery of a small package over a distance of 40 miles escapes the capabilities of a government "enterprise" like the Postal Service, how can we expect that a government mandated "solution" to a problem that doesn't affect 80-90% of the population will be effective? The simple answer is that we cannot. What we can expect is an ever-expanding scope of government until it bankrupts us as a nation.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Valour-IT Auctions

The annual Valour-IT fundraiser has received some interesting donation items, lead by Team Navy with an excellent selection of books and prints. The auctions are being run on eBay. You can bid on all of these books:

And, what I think is absolutely the coolest item up for auction so far, a lithograph of the Galloping Ghost of the China Coast (picture below), signed by artist Ted Wilbur and RADM E.B. Fluckey, Medal of Honor awardee for his actions in command of USS Barb (SS-220) during World War II.

Go bid now, these items are going to move! All proceeds from these auctions go directly to providing technology to assist our wounded warriors in their recovery.

Rumor has it that more items will be coming as well, so stay tuned...


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Missile Defense

Over the past six months, I've had the privilege of supporting the Japanese Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense program in a relatively minor role. My team was responsible for much of the pre-flight analysis that lead up to this:

October 28, 2009
Japan/U.S. Missile Defense Flight Test Successful
The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and the United States Missile Defense Agency (MDA) announced the successful completion of an Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) intercept flight test, in cooperation with the U.S. Navy, off the coast of Kauai in Hawaii. The event, designated Japan Flight Test Mission 3 (JFTM-3), marked the third time that a JMSDF ship has successfully engaged a ballistic missile target, including two successful intercepts, with the sea-based midcourse engagement capability provided by Aegis BMD.

It's always gratifying to see something that works the way the engineers predicted, even more so when you've been involved in the process. BZ to everyone involved!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Project Valour-IT

Project Valour-IT helps provide voice-controlled/adaptive laptop computers and other technology to support Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines recovering from hand wounds and other severe injuries.

  • Voice-controlled Laptops - Operated by speaking into a microphone or using other adaptive technologies, they allow the wounded to maintain connections with the rest of the world during recovery.
  • Wii Video Game Systems - Whole-body game systems increase motivation and speed recovery when used under the guidance of physical therapists in therapy sessions (donated only to medical facilities).
  • Personal GPS - Handheld GPS devices build self-confidence and independence by compensating for short-term memory loss and organizational challenges related to severe TBI and severe PTSD.
These seemingly small items can make a big difference in the recovery of an injured soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine. Please take a moment to click the thermometer in my right sidebar and donate to the cause through Team Navy! The fund drive is open NOW through Veterans' Day, November 11, 2009.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Battle of the Sibuyan Sea

Sixty-five years ago today, the US and Imperial Japanese navies fought in the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea, a single day's engagement in the longer Battle of Leyte Gulf. The Japanese battleship Musashi met her doom that day.
Thank God for the bravery of the sailors who fought that day, and may He have mercy on the souls of those who perished.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Health Care Bill before Congress appears to be an interesting place to read this bill. Everyone needs to read it and understand what its approximately 1,036 pages contain.

I've added a widget in the right column that should take you there, or you can just use this link.

Another interesting way to look at this bill is to parse its content. A useful tool for that purpose, Wordle, generates a graphical depiction of the most common terms in a text. Here are the top 100 words of consequence from the bill:

Wordle: HR3200

I think it's very interesting that the most frequently used term is "Secretary," as in the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Most of what will come of this bill is in the hands of a Cabinet member, and the responsibilities created in the bill will add to the power of the executive branch. This will require further scrutiny.

Sunday, July 05, 2009


Originally uploaded by kmadams85
So, we got my daughter a cell phone when she entered middle school. Last summer, she discovered texting and ran up an interesting but not painful bill. So we get her a plan that allows 250 messages a month, for the same $5 it would cost to block SMS to her phone.
Money well invested, I thought. Until this month, that is. In the chart, you can see the huge!!! increase in text usage when school let out for summer - from 20 per day to 60 per day, both incoming and outgoing. One thousand, nine hundred seventy-nine since the billing period started on June 8th.
The phone now sits on my desk. There it shall stay, until she presents a plan to pay back the family budget for her wretched excess.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Regaining Contact, the Hard Way

Galrahn has the latest on the story of USS John McCain and her towed array collision with a Chinese submarine:

These details tend to confirm what many of us previously speculated regarding the incident. It is kind of obvious that when a submarine accidentally rams a towed sonar array, the submarine is being tracked by the ship, although it also suggests the submarine was tracking the ship as well.

This is all interesting from a technical Navy point of view, but one point in the Navy Times' latest article piqued my curiousity because it didn't make sense.
The Associated Press reported that the collision took place 144 miles from Subic Bay, potentially placing it in the Mindoro Strait.

If the incident was in international waters, why would AP conclude that it took place in a strait that is inside the Philippine Archipelago? Where did this incident really take place?
Knowing that Google holds the answers to all questions, I decided to break out my trusty copy of Google Earth. Also, it wasn't clear if AP was reporting statute or nautical miles, so a little plotting was in order:

[Click to enlarge]
The red circle in this plot is 144 nautical miles, while the white is 144 statute miles from the center of Subic Bay. The Mindoro Strait is off to the south, and in my mind was probably not the location of this incident. Interestingly, there appears to be a feature located right on the 144 nautical mile ring, just a bit north of due west from Subic. That's Scarborough Shoal, a small clump of atolls and reefs claimed by both The Philippines and the People's Republic of China.
So, could there be more than just a little BUMPEX going on here? It gets curiouser as you look closer - literally. Take a look at this zoomed-in image of Scarborough Shoal from Google Earth:

Google and its imagery providers don't generally obscure things unless they've been asked to do so by a government. Is there some relationship between this incident and something a government doesn't want people to see? I certainly can't answer that question, but I hope someone else can.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

USS Iowa - 20 years

Hard to believe it's been 20 years since the terrible day that saw forty seven of my shipmates give their lives in service to their country.
I last wrote about Iowa here. I don't think I can ever forget those men, the events of that day, or the weeks that followed.
Captain Fred Moosally's words from the memorial service have always stuck with me:

I remember turret two. I remember their faces as they toiled at their guns, sweating an honest sweat that comes from young men dedicated to a great cause. Who chose to serve, to grow, and to learn with others, while securing a place in history for generations after them. I remember their strong hands as they wielded their great charges with an energy I could marvel at. The energy of their youth which they channeled towards their love of freedom. I remember as they talked among themselves, looking so much like sailors of our past. Sharing the exuberance of the times and the dreams of the future. I REMEMBER TURRET TWO.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Historical Irony

A friend forwarded this little beauty this afternoon:

Does anyone find it ironic that the ship the Navy dispatched to the Somali coast to deal with the pirate threat is the USS Bainbridge, a ship named after a Navy Captain who in 1803 ran his ship aground while pursuing pirates off the coast of Africa?

This has all happened before...