Wallpaper image number 3,209

I have plenty of pictures in my high-resolution desktop background and lock screen slideshow rotation – 3,209 photos and 2.7GB to date – but I’m always adding more, confirming that I’m a rather visually-oriented person. This latest addition is Sergio Tapiro Velasco’s 2017 NatGeo Travel Photography contest winner of Volcán de Colima in Mexico.

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Almost as good as Carlos Gutierrez’s photo of Chaitén in Chile back in May 2008:

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Here are some more images from my wallpapers folder – several taken by me. Click on any one to enter the gallery, then there’s a “View full size” button for each picture at the lower right, which you may have to scroll down to see.

Five-point landing

Here’s one of several good reasons why the Lunar Module had both a descent stage and an ascent stage: Apollo 15’s five-point landing, which dented the descent engine bell quite a lot. The other bits strewn about are not landing damage but simply the detritus from unpacking and setting up equipment. Tidiness was not a concern.

 

Why did this damage occur? The rear leg of the LM landed in a five-foot deep crater, resulting in a fairly steep landing angle of 11°. To wit:

Jiminy Cricket on a velocipede

Back on the 4th of July, I referenced the worst air crash in history in my post on Clipper Young America. As you may have read, just three days later an Air Canada A320 nearly landed on a taxiway at San Francisco International Airport, a taxiway on which there were four aircraft. Had it not aborted in literally the last few seconds, 7 July 2017 would likely have become the new date of the world’s worst aviation accident.

You may have also read that the aircraft was lower than 100 feet when it aborted, but just reading that probably didn’t give you the heebie-jeebies like this animation I just put together from the images in today’s NTSB update on the incident:

Yeah, that’s ACA 759’s landing lights illuminating UAL 1 and PAL 115 in the third frame.

In post-incident interviews, both incident pilots stated that, during their first approach, they believed the lighted runway on their left was 28L and that they were lined up for 28R. They also stated that they did not recall seeing aircraft on taxiway C but that something did not look right to them.

Pardon me, I’m just going for a little lie-down.

Tony Trischka & Skyline Live in Japan (1983)

I’m loving this US$23 video capture thingamabob.

25-song performance by Tony Trischka & Skyline at Mido Kaikan in Osaka, Japan on 21 November 1983. Four or five years after it was released in Japan and then went out of print, I serendipitously got my hands on what I think might have been the last copy of this tape in the US. Happy days!

SET 1:
1. Vanished/Don’t Cry Tex
2. Drunken Fiddler
3. Wishful Thinking
4. Shiloh
5. Heart Needs a Home
6. True Life Blues
7. Frostbite
8. Just Pretend
9. Child’s Play
10. Stranded in the Moonlight
11. Steam
12. Late to Work

SET 2:
1. Purchase Grover
2. Lifeline
3. Whoa Me
4. Shenandoah Valley Breakdown
5. Heartbroke
6. Pour Tessa
7. I Can’t Believe
8. Man in the Middle
9. Weary Cowboy
10. Elbow Room
11. Ticket Back
12. Kentucky Bullfight
13. Limehouse Blues

All the modern conveniences

I discovered the other day that my standalone DVD recorder had made the Q sign since the last time I used it years ago, possibly due to a blown capacitor, apparently a common problem of aging with the model I had. Rather than just replace it, I thought, “Maybe video capture on PCs has come a ways since I last looked into it.” Years ago, video capture most often involved a PCIe card in the PC and the results could easily be mediocre, with dropped frames and other artifacts if you didn’t have quite a powerful and therefore expensive PC. It was more reliable to instead plug the VCR into a standalone DVD recorder, so that’s what I did back then.

And so video capture has improved, to the point of being ridiculously easy. For US$23 – a couple hundred dollars less than capture cards of years ago – I now have a much more convenient way to digitise VHS tapes, bypassing the old DVD recorder middleman and directly producing MP4s. It comes with editing software and works very nicely indeed.

There are no worries these days about performance and poor quality captures. Yesterday, my four-core/eight-processor/16GB machine – US$900 two years ago – was simultaneously doing all of the following without any performance degradation. In fact, the CPU usage hovered around 25-30% throughout.

  • Downloading 11GB of a TV series at about 3MB/second
  • Continuing the BitLocker encryption of all of my 5TB offsite backup drive, including unallocated sectors for safety
  • Writing 20GB of a few series of another programme to a Blu-ray data disc
  • On the 2nd optical drive, ripping the last 100 CDs I’d never gotten around to digitising, about one every four minutes; they’re all in the dumpster now along with the DVD recorder
  • Merging seven parts of one episode of “The Story of English” I’d downloaded from YouTube (eight episodes are there in full, but episode 3 is split up); five more old tapes went into the dumpster
  • Capturing audio/video from a 2-hour VHS tape to test the TOTMC device and saving to an MP4 file

The first major project will be to digitise W.C. Fields and Rita Hayworth films I have on the VHS tapes pictured below. To that end, my VCR is now on a short bookshelf shelf right next to the PC for maximum convenience. I believe I have about a third of the films below in digital form already and will investigate before I start.

How’d I get so many W.C. Fields films? Well, it certainly wasn’t because they were all available on video. A good number of these weren’t ever released on tape but were broadcast regularly on Sunday mornings by a local TV station many years ago. They had some rare ones and I got every one they aired during that run, editing out commercial breaks in real time.

Fun with maths

Some months ago, I got a tad annoyed at dealing with 5-pound bags of ice in the freezer, mainly because when I’d go in for some, almost inevitably one or two chunks of ice would slide out and skitter across the floor. So, I did a little ice volume calculation and measured the depth of the freezer shelf and figured that this item was precisely the ticket, and I mean really precisely, as if it were made for just this task though no one mentions it.

I had a slight frisson of satisfaction when I put that first bag of ice into the container and found the lid was just able to close, and the container fit like a glove on the shelf, with the tabs under the back end of the container hooked around the back of the shelf and holding it in place. A bit of packing tape – which still sticks when frozen – on the back end of the lid turned it into a hinged one.

Shocked, I tell you

Amelia Earhart ‘Lost Photograph’ Discredited

“The photo was the 10th item that came up,” [Kota Yamano] said in an interview with The Guardian. “I was really happy when I saw it. I find it strange that the documentary makers didn’t confirm the date of the photograph or the publication in which it originally appeared. That’s the first thing they should have done.”

Allow me to postulate: Could it be that they did little research because finding the original source of the photograph carried a high probability of ending their project right quick-like? Maybe better to leave it as a mystery, eh? Or, since this fellow found it in under half an hour, maybe they did find it and, perhaps not being completely familiar with how the internet works, hoped no one else ever would, but this is a horribly cynical view that, in court, I’ll deny I ever had.

Also discredited: The overwhelming majority of media that’s always willing to unquestioningly present every new Earhart theory as near-gospel – National Geographic included. Even now, after the source was found to have been published a full two years before Earhart’s ’round-the-world attempt, NBC News…well, gee, they still aren’t sure: “Questions Raised Over Unearthed ‘Amelia Earhart’ Photo”. Yes, questions such as “How is it that anyone bought into this hogwash in the first place?” and “So you’re saying NBC News was once a respected institution?”

The thing I’ve never fully understood is why the most likely scenario by far, of Earhart and Noonan running out of fuel and ditching in the ocean, seems so unacceptable to those who prefer castaway and prisoner stories. Is it just too bleak, too sad? Look, sometimes real life is – why not accept that?

History Channel’s PR department is desperately trying to figure out how to spin their bozo behaviour into something positive, but will probably instead try to misdirect by quickly announcing a new series on the mysterious connections between ancient astronauts, sharks, and Hitler, waving their arms as they yell, “No, look over here! Historical sharks!”