Military Surplus, Military-Grade Awesome

Top Gun – The movie makers Mig of choice

Can you name all the movies that F-5's have pretended to be Migs? I can't.

Formation of three aggressor F-5E aircraft of the 527th TFTS, RAF Alconbury, U.K., on Jan. 15, 1983. (U.S. Air Force photo)

No aircraft signifies fake MiG’s more than the Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter in Hollywood.  During the late seventies and up until early nineties it would be featured in countless movies as the enemy. Naturally the truth is stranger than fiction on several levels.

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Military-Grade Awesome

Top Gun – Heinemann’s Hotrod the Douglas A4 Skyhawk

One gets physical with the pilots while the other checks out the rubber hoses.

 

Welcome back to the Top Gun posts. One of the unlikely stars of Top Gun was Jesters ride. The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk deserves far more than one post. Although it has already graced this site in several forms. What Top Gun showed us is its grace as a very unlikely fighter. A role it was never meant to do until a redesign very late in life.

 

Continue reading Top Gun – Heinemann’s Hotrod the Douglas A4 Skyhawk

Atomic Hangovers, Military Surplus, Military-Grade Awesome

Top Gun is thirty

 

Top Gun 1 Gizmodo

 

It’s been thirty years since Top Gun first premiered. Now that you feel nice and old then lets go back to remembering those fun years when nuclear devastation hung over our head.
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User Input

User Input: Cutting The Cord (Again)

Once upon a time, we did a post about the wild, crazy and revolutionary idea of cutting the cord. At the time, we were talking about the idea of getting rid of your landline telephone. Amusingly, when we wrote that, it was still a pretty weird idea, and a great many people were still insisting on keeping theirs. Now, though, times have changed. In fact, I think Techie and my elderly parents are the only people I know who still have one.

Oh wait, actually, that’s not true. I actually have a landline now as well, although I have no idea what the phone number is, and I think I’ve only ever received one phone call on it. I only have it because my internet provider gave a percentage discount on my overall bill if I bundled multiple services together, and the amount of the percentage they would deduct was greater than the cost of a basic landline. So by adding a service, my bill got cheaper.

And in fact, the reason I had to go that route in the first place is the simple fact that I’ve cut all other cords altogether. I was reminded of this fact when I received a phone call from my cable internet provider, asking if I was aware that I seemed to have “accidentally” cancelled all my television services — almost three years ago.

Don’t I realize, they asked me, all the magnificent programming I was missing? No, I explained, I have Netflix.

Ah, they countered, but the news! I couldn’t watch the news! To which I explained that you could actually find the news on the Magical Mystery Internets.

Ah, but sports! Surely I missed watching all my favourite live sports! 

After a lengthy argument where I attempted to explain that I had precisely no interest in any of those sportsball matches or even the slidy-fighty-icy-punchy stick-disc game that’s so popular up here in Canada, they gave up, apparently quite angry with me.

Which begs the obvious question: How far have you gone in cutting the cord, and how attached do you remain to any other anachronistic throwbacks to the early days of telemedia?

[Image Source: The Designer Monologues]

User Input

User Input: The Next Generation

keyboardTechie and I got ourselves into a lengthy and rambling discussion last night, which actually started with a conversation about Star Trek, and how the “advanced” user interfaces shown on the various TV series’ felt dated now. In the era of Tony Stark’s advanced gesture-based user interfaces, with fancy flying holograms and a cheeky AI to aid him, Star Trek’s clicky-buttons and non-multitouch-enabled touchscreens feel pretty out-of-date.

But, at the same time, as I sit down to type this, I type it on a solid, old-fashioned USB keyboard. Granted, it’s one of those low-slung Apple models, which it seems I am completely alone in preferring over all other options, but the basic functionality is no different from those original clicky-clacky IBM things that certain commenters used to use to drown out all conversations on Drunkcast calls.

So what of it? Is it ever truly realistic to think that we’ll switch to multitouch screens, or hand-wavy Ironman gesture computing? Or, if we’re honest, when the Enterprise actually launches in a few hundred years, will we probably still be using a reliable old keyboard?

[Image source: Josh]

Moments in History

Stone Age Thinking

I still start off my day on the Far Side.
From The Far Side to The Flintstones to The New Yorker, the popular imagination puts the invention of the wheel back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. (Uphill both ways, in the snow, same 3rd grade teacher as your parents, etc.) The Paleolithic Era, the actual stone age, starts rougly 63 million years after the last of the Cretaceous dinosaurs. It spans 2.6 million years from when early hominids began to use stone tools to the end of the last ice age. But stone tools are not good for precise stone work, and did not advance much beyond hammers, axes or spears, and needles during this period. Stone wheels are out. The earliest wheels were almost definitely wood.
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Brainings, Free Range Technology, Idiotic or Inspired?

3-Bit Video Abstraction Project

My employer makes a nifty little 12-volt LED light that contains separate RGB (red/green/blue) diodes. It’s  3/4-inch in diameter and intended for rugged, outdoor environments — specifically decorative use on carnival rides. The cool thing is that it can change color on command. It has four separate wires — one power plus three separate ground leads — so that the three colors are independently controllable. The result is that the unit can display the eight colors of the 3-Bit RGB palette by powering the diodes alone and in combination.

I began thinking about taking the technology for driving LED matrices and scaling it up to use this light. I thought an LED monitor of sorts made from the company’s products might be an intersting promotional tool, such as at trade shows. The larger lens size and greater viewing angle would make it more akin to an incandescent scoreboard than a desktop circuit board. That would be fairly well suited to scoreboard-style scrolling text and simple animations, but what if you want to display video?

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Old School Gaming

Slow Dance – Grim Fandango Retrospective

[youtube]https://youtu.be/QRB6Likh478[/youtube]
It’s appropriate to roll a movie preview first. Grim Fandango is deeply influenced by classic films. From a structure in multiple acts, to the characters, to the title cards, the story and settings have references and influences coming out of the woodwork. But that’s the only reverence found in the Land of the Dead. The plot unfolds like a free-wheeling conversation that leaps from the Aztec afterlife to Art Deco to film noir to hotrodding to carrier pigeons to beatnik poetry and riffs on all of them with wry criticism, jokes, and fine threads.
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A-T Technology Death Pool

A-T Technology Death Pool

sony_betamax

“Way back on the 2nd of January, 2012 AD, we asked you to try and predict what technologies would find their final resting place this that year.” As far as I can tell from a few minutes of thorough research, that 2012 Death Pool posted by engineerd™ was the last time we asked for technology prognostications. Many of the predictions from that year actually have yet to die, perhaps most notably BlackBerry, who is still hanging on. So much so that we can even recycle the text from that year!

“Blackberry remains on life support this year. RIM, despite a failed tablet, has managed to stay afloat and is currently touting Blackberry 10 the Priv running Android as a company saving platform. Is it really going to save the company, or is it just another Palm 2.0 final gasp of air? Unfortunately for our little morbid game, we have to wait until 2013 the rest of 2016 to see if the coffin gets closed.”

Other than our favorite Canadian “smart”-phone maker, other predictions from that year included wristwatches, standalone GPS units, network TV, Kodak, point-and-shoot cameras, SiriusXM, and netbooks.

Now let’s fast forward to 4 years later. Will this be the year any of those previous guesses finally give up the ghost? Is it finally RIM’s year, for real this time? Or is there a technology secretly hanging on that you think will finally depart the land of the living this year, much like Sony’s scheduled blow to BetaMax–yes, that Beta, who knew?

Fire up the old What If Machine, and let us know what technology will meet its doom in the upcoming year!

Moments in History, Technostalgia

The Sensible Calendar You Can’t Have

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Did you know that calendar reform was seriously considered at the beginning of the 20th century? Proposals similar to the one above were were actually getting traction in the interest of efficiency during the Industrial Revolution. There were many combinations of proposed changes endorsed by various groups and individuals, but the one above — the most radical overhaul — was the most logically elegant.

Ideally, as this line of thought goes, the year should be divided into 12 equal months of exactly 30 days. Each date would fall on the same day of the week every year, and every quarter would start on a Sunday and end on a Friday. There would then be a special holiday at the end of each quarter, which would be designated as a Saturday, but not part of any month. Immediately after the June holiday, there would be an additional holiday (usually called “World Day”), which would be neither a day of the week nor of any month. In leap years, Leap Day would be in essence an extra World Day at the end of the year. The one quarterly calendar above would be sufficient for the whole year, year after year. These extra dates could be written and accounted for with “Holiday” as the month, and numbered 1-5 (1-6 in a leap year). Sure it would be odd to have extramonthly and extraweekly days, but would having a birthday on 6/Hol/56 really be any more awkward than 29/Feb/56?

Unfortunately, the momentum for international cooperation was somewhat deflated by a little thing called the First World War. Furthermore, conservative Jews and fundamentalist Christians were among the biggest opponents of these proposals, because they felt that having days that fell outside of a 7-day week was in opposition to the 7-day sabbatical cycle God laid out in Genesis.

In any case, it’s all water under the bridge. Nowadays, so much automated computer software has been coded around the existing Gregorian calendar that the idea of a new system is neither practical nor as desired.

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