The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Monday, February 03, 2003

“And how does this save us money?”

Cross-range maneuvering is no longer possible by 50,000 feet. You're locked in, wherever you're going. Now you have company. Fighter planes—“chase planes”—have picked you up. They're swarming all around you, snooping around the hull for damage. Eighteen miles from the runway, you finally slow to subsonic speed. Now you really have some options. At this low speed and altitude, you could punch out safely.

At 12,000 feet, the plummeting begins. Nose down at 24 degrees to the horizon, 30 degrees in some flights. Feels like a dive bomber. That DC-9, the one that makes your knuckles white on commercial flights, comes in at three degrees. Thirty seconds out, you can raise the nose back up. Now you have one and only one chance to lower the landing gear. No time to cycle them. If the gear don't lock, that's it. The chase planes are coming right down to the strip with you, following your every move like baby ducks. They snoop around the landing gear. Locked? If not, the chase pilots have a couple seconds to tell you to bail out.

Via Scripting News, 5 … 5 … 3 … 2 … 1 … Goodbye, Columbia

The excerpt is talking about the landing of a shuttle. In fact, both the take-off and landing of a shuttle is pretty scary when you read about it. The article itself is from April of 1980 and goes into the cost overruns NASA incurred building the shuttles and how they aren't even that cost effective.

I remember hearing the arguments as a kid—especially the bit about the tiles, all 33,000 individually made and placed tiles per shuttle. So brittle that you could crush them in your hand. And the payload? Lucky to get a full 65,000 pounds into space. The Saturn V could lift 250,000 in a single shot (and in fact, the later stages of a Saturn V were used to construct Skylab in the mid-70s, which I suspect was bigger than the current Internation Space Station).


The shuttle is good at getting people to and from space (that is, when everything works correctly). I don't really see why we had to abandon the disposable rockets for those times when really large payloads have to go into space (like space station modules or even geosynchronous satellites) and leave the shuttle as a primary people mover.

But politics and budgets won.

Just what constitutes an email address?

In my general following of links while reading an article, I come across one of those annoying banner ads made to look like a pop-up message from Windows (which stick out pretty badly, given that I'm not using Windows) that said my current session-id (my very own session-id) was picked as an hourly winner for some prize or other. Interested in what the punchline would be (and not fearful at all about unwanted pop-ups since I have that disabled in Mozilla, and since I'm not running Windows or IE I don't have to worry about my machine being taken over by rouge Active-X web applications) I started clicking.

Oh my, a form asking for personal information and an email address. Okay, fill in obviously bogus information and a dead email address, and keep on clicking. I pass up offers to win this or that or fill out this form giving some other marketing company my personal information to win something else until I come across the Publishers Clearinghouse $100,000 dollar online giveaway. On yet another whim I decide to check the “Official Rules:”

For this promotion, one online entry is allowed per e-mail address. Subsequent entries from a given e-mail address will not be eligible.

So, they only allow one entry per email address. Okay, but …

Write-In Entry Instructions You may write in as often as you like to enter our ongoing Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes at the address below. Sweepstakes eligibility will be based on date the write-in entry is received. Just mail each entry separately. We do not accept entries from a third party or entries sent in bulk.

I can understand their reasoning for this—it takes more effort to physically write in than it does with email, but it doesn't take that much more effort to obtain multiple email addresses—especially if you own your own domain (or control mail for multiple domains). I can easily cobble up a few thousand email addresses to spew their way. Heck, I can even automate the submission process.

But … could I legally win? By their own rules, it states that only one entry per email address—there isn't anything that says one entry per person.

“Why yes, your Honor, I do have 23,532 email addresses … spam you know … ”

Ah, but see, they have the money to take this to court if it doesn't go their way; I don't.

Which is probably keeping me from doing such a thing.

Upate later today

Reading further, not only is the end date for submissions December 31st but the odds of winning are 1 in 95,000,000.

The Florida State Lottery has better odds at 1 in 14,000,000.

But they do say you can enter as often as you like.

But not from the same email address ...

Hmmm ...

Well, it's the thought that counts …

Valuable lesson learned: check the box before you buy!

Saturday I went to CompUSA to buy Spring a digital camera for her birthday (which is today). Wrapped it up, and hid the package for her to find when she returned from work.

Only there was something missing: the camera!

Sigh …

Off to CompUSA later today …

Obligatory Picture

[It's the most wonderful time of the year!]

Obligatory Links

Obligatory Miscellaneous

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