Categories
Geek

AT&T 3G snafu in Seattle

TechFlash confirms what I Twittered about last night:

We’ve been experiencing ongoing problems trying to connect to the Internet using AT&T’s 3G network via our iPhones over the past two days. As it turns out, we’re not alone. iPhone users in Seattle report sporadic service

I had an important call scheduled for 8am today; at 8:10am my interlocutor emailed to say that he’d tried to call twice, but my number was busy. Fortunately the third time was the charm.
AT&T blamed a software upgrade. Sounds familiar….

Categories
Aviation

A morning at Boeing

I spent this morning visiting the Boeing plant in Everett and looking around the Future of Flight center. Herewith a few notes and photos, probably of interest only to hard-core aviation geeks. Click the thumbnails for full-sized images.
I got there just after 9, and was scheduled to take the 10:00am plant tour. While waiting, I checked out the exhibits and gift shop:

Rolls Royce Trent for the 787
Rolls Royce Trent for the 787
P&W turbofan
P&W turbofan
P&W turbofan
P&W turbofan
727 cockpit - dials galore!
727 cockpit - dials galore!
727 cockpit - FE panel
727 cockpit - FE panel
787 fuselage section
787 fuselage section
787 fuselage section - edge detail
787 fuselage section - edge detail
Mock-up of 787 cabin space, inc. bins and windows
Mock-up of 787 cabin space, inc. bins and windows

Before joining the tour, I had to stash my camera, cellphone, Kindle, and other gear into a storage locker. This was expected, but still frustrating: the whole thing is very photogenic! After the obligatory pep talk and orientation film, we took a bus over to the assembly building (the largest building in the world, as we were incessantly reminded). We started at the west end, which normally handles 747 assembly, and which is in transition right now. There was one more or less complete 747-400F in the building. which we were told was the last of the 747-400 production line. (This might be ln 1419 for LoadAir.) Over on the subsection assembly side, there were two nose sections in an early stage of assembly for the first 747-800F aircraft, but that was about it. Since the 747 area is fairly quiet, they were using the space to kit out two of the 787-800 test aircraft. One will eventually go to Japan Air; the other is destined to be the static test airframe.
As we emerged from the tunnel at the west end of the building, a Dreamlifter taxied in and parked. We got back on the bus, and drove up to the east end, where the 777 and 787 assembly takes place. There were six 777s in various stages of completeness, from an Emirates 777-200F (ln 788), with engines and landing gear in place, to a British Airways 777-236 (ln 791) that was still just a collection of fuselage sections. On the 787 side, we could see four aircraft, headed up by an ANA ship with engines fitted and flight test instrumentation in the cabin.
90 minutes after we’d started, we were back in the Future of Flight gift shop, with a CD-ROM of promotional materials in our hands. I retrieved my camera and headed up to the roof area:
Panorama of the Boeing Everett complex and airfield
Panorama of the Boeing Everett complex and airfield
Flight line, include aircraft for LAN, BA, and Cargo-B
Flight line, include aircraft for LAN, BA, and Cargo-B
Boeing 747 Dreamlifter N747BC
Boeing 747 Dreamlifter N747BC

Categories
Global phenomena

Keeping calm….

Charlie Stross offers some useful links for those who are worried by the emerging pandemic.

Categories
Politics

Defining "liberal tolerance"

Russell Blackford takes on Terry Eagleton’s bullshit, and in doing so gives us a particularly good definition of liberal tolerance:

A liberal is not someone who takes the contorted view that her own viewpoint is no better than others on offer (that would be a vulgar and implausible sort of relativism). She is someone who takes the principled political stance that, although she considers her comprehensive worldview (perhaps a rationalist one, but perhaps even a religious one of some sort) to be superior, she will not attempt to impose it by means of fire and sword, as long as others do not attempt to use fire and sword to impose their views on her.

Generally speaking, liberals are even prepared to tolerate (at least up to a point) those who do not reciprocate. That’s a practical necessity in modern societies because it may well be that the majority of religious and similar groups are not totally prepared to reciprocate. They do so only with reservations.

There are, of course, difficult issues about how far liberals should tolerate the intolerant, such as Catholic cardinals with theocratic tendencies. However, the general assumption is that individuals and groups which advocate intolerant laws and social arrangements will themselves be given a broad measure of tolerance. That doesn’t mean that they should receive credence or be immune from criticism or beyond satire.

Categories
Art

David Macaulay at the Tacoma Art Museum

Even though I’ve been in Seattle for nearly three years, I’ve never visited the city with which it shares an airport: Tacoma. I’ve driven though Tacoma on the way to California, but that hardly counts. I’ve always thought of Tacoma as relating to Seattle in the same way that Providence, RI relates to Boston: either could have become the prime location in the region, but the loser was doomed to play second fiddle. Both Tacoma and Providence are interesting, but neither really compares to its northern neighbour.
The idea to visit Tacoma was spurred by coming across an ad for an exhibit at the Tacoma Art Museum on the work of David Macaulay. I’ve been a huge fan of his, ever since his first book “Cathedral“. The exhibit is absolutely first-class, and includes many working drawings, outlines, paper models, and drafts for reworked projects. A large number of the pieces were simply thumb-tacked to the wall, just as if they were in the artist’s studio. The exhibit also included the video of Macaulay’s talk at TED about his Rome project, which helped to put many of the working drawings into perspective. Hmm – “perspective”. Bad choice of word. If you watch the TED talk, you’ll understand why.
The Tacoma Art Museum is small, but the exhibits were first class. I loved the series of Salvador Dali etchings in an exhibition on the evolution of surrealism; some seemed close to early Picasso, which surprised me. A collection called Speaking Parts included a quite outstanding piece by Dennis Evans called “Writing Lessons”. If there’s a downside, it’s the over-exposure of Dale Chihuly glass, which is frankly not to my taste. (There’s a dedicated museum of glass just down the road; why couldn’t all of his overwrought neon whorls and orgasmic sea anemones be kept down there?)
We didn’t stay long; after a quick lunch, we had to head back up to Seattle. But I suspect that we’ll be returning soon.

Categories
Religion

In the tradition of the Inquistion…

Andrew Sullivan identifies one of the architects of the Bush/Cheney torture policy: Edward Whelan, who – incredibly – heads up the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

The presence of devout Catholics authorizing the waterboarding of a human being 183 times in a row really does help put theoconservatism into a new perspective, doesn’t it? Speaking of which, where are the Catholic bishops? They can manage to get into the news opposing a commencement speech by the president, but when incontrovertible evidence that the Bush administration tortured prisoners emerges, the silence from the top is deafening.

But the Catholic Church today has become fixated on two beliefs – the evils of modernity, and the primacy of obedience – and two issues – abortion, and homosexuality. Nothing else matters to the hierarchy. Nothing.
UPDATE: Whelan claims that the reports are erroneous, and Andrew has withdrawn his accusation. But the broad conclusion – that the christianists are deeply hypocritical and only care about issues that have cultural leverage – is still true.

Categories
Blogosphere

Internet-Age Writing

Internet-Age Writing Syllabus and Course Overview

As print takes its place alongside smoke signals, cuneiform, and hollering, there has emerged a new literary age, one in which writers no longer need to feel encumbered by the paper cuts, reading, and excessive use of words traditionally associated with the writing trade. Writing for Nonreaders in the Postprint Era focuses on the creation of short-form prose that is not intended to be reproduced on pulp fibers.

(Via Ozan)

Categories
Blogosphere

"Speaking of Clouds" #1 on Google… already?

I’m somewhat amazed to see that my new tech-only blog Speaking of Clouds is already the top Google hit for the search “speaking of clouds” (out of 5.5M hits) after just a couple of days. And I haven’t done any SEO work on the site; I’d better dive in and make sure that the metadata is the way I want it.

Categories
Business

CloudSlam'09

I’m “attending” the CloudSlam’09 “virtual conference” on cloud computing all this week. I’m also liveblogging my thoughts on the conference over at my new blog, Speaking of Clouds.

Categories
History

The end of an era

Here’s Jonathan’s allsun@ email announcing the Oracle acquisition of Sun.

“To me, this proposed acquisition totally redefines the industry,” wrote Jonathan Schwartz this morning to Sun’s employees in a company-wide email announcing the acquisition of Sun by Oracle. Among other remarks, Schwartz adds: “Let me assure you [Oracle is] single minded in [its] focus on the one asset that doesn’t appear in our financial statements: our people.”