Sep 272016

Well, that was fun. After leaving a comment on a post on this blog, I noticed that there was a notification alert on the little dashboard… one of the plugins (W3 Total Cache) needed to be updated. Updating a plugin is typically a matter of hitting one button, waiting tens seconds, then moving on with life. This time? It killed the blog. So I’ve spent about the last hour on the phone with tech support getting it back up and running.




And so, unrelated image:


 Posted by at 1:55 am
Sep 212016

So, last few days I’ve been impressively ill. Started with I believe some dandy allergic reactions to some really bad air quality… some farms were burned to the ground around here a few days back, filling the house with the smoke of burning fields (fields of burning ragweed and poison ivy, seemingly. The allergies seemed to transition smoothly into a cold or flu, which I am finally starting. to crawl out of. Still feel like garbage.

So, in lieu of standard terribly deep philosophizin’, here’s a metal cover of “Everything is Awesome.”




 Posted by at 6:43 pm
Sep 162016

The past week or more, Raedthinn has been acting a little “off.” Picky with his food, verbally  complaining much, sleeping in seclusion. A few days ago I finally noticed something wrong with his top left fang. For lack of a better description, it appeared to have Fang Cancer. So yesterday he went to the vet who declared “really bad tooth decay.” Today I picked him up, sans one fang. So after having lost a fang and a half last year, and one more today, he’s now down  to a fang and a half.

This displeases him.


 Posted by at 10:23 pm
Sep 092016

Not philosophical trouble or political issues, but technical troubles. While out today, I got an email from a reader saying he couldn’t get in… instead was presented with a captcha thing that didn’t work. So I checked on my phone, which normally pulls up the blog just fine… and got a “can’t connect to server” on both the blog and in general. At the same time, I was getting notifications that comments were being posted, so clearly *other* people were getting in just fine. When I arrived home, the blog pulled up just fine on my netbook, and now it works fine on the phone. So… what the frak. Anybody else see something like this?

It has been more than a year since the last major blog fiasco. I suppose it’s about time, so if sometime in the near future the thing collapses again… well, you’ve been warned.

By the way: my security software keep telling me about such-and-such ISP that has been blocked because of attempts to log in to the blog dashboard. The ISP is in Ukraine, and I have the funny feeling that no good is intended.

UPDATE: just got an email that someone in Ottawa, Canada, couldn’t access either the blog or the root website, getting instead an “ERR_CONNECTION_RESET” message.

 Posted by at 3:25 pm
Sep 012016

UPDATED: See more at the end.

Sure, “crazy” and “stupid” are obvious. But I’m thinking more along the lines of “vapid.” There’s something about the woman’s voice here that I find to be *really* grating. Not just the insane worldview on display, but just the voice itself, the speaking style that seems… I dunno. Like, omigawd, old-school Valley Girl but with a dash of stoner thrown in, so that her *voice* sound… what? Lazy? How to describe it?

Take a look at the video after the break and despair.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 11:58 am
Sep 012016

Well, this ain’t good. During propellant loading operations, an explosion occurred at the Falcon 9 launch pad, destroying the rocket and the Amos 6 communications satellite.

Details are fuzzy, but some reports suggest that it was the hydrazine propellant for the *satellite* that was the cause of the explosion rather than the Falcon 9 itself.

Explosion at SpaceX launch pad destroys rocket, satellite

So far, very little to go on. All the videos I’ve seen start well after the explosion; not too many people were filming the rocket at the time, as nothing was scheduled to happen right about then. I’m sure more will come out later. The engineer in me say “probably just one of them things, sometimes mistakes are made or mechanisms fail,” but the more paranoid part of me wonders about:

  1. It was an Israeli satellite. There are people who don’t like the Israelis.
  2. SpaceX’s recent successes have irritated some big-money competitors, who have had to crank out new designs of their own in order to compete. They won’t be saddened to see SpaceX take a hit.

So, which would be worse? Bog-standard engineering/operations failure… or sabotage?

UPDATE: Video of the explosion itself:

Time between visible explosion and audible is about 12 seconds, so the camera is probably about 2.5 miles away.

Here are some craptacular screenshots from the above video:

spacexexplosion 1  spacexexplosion 2 

Note that the explosion seems to originate from just below the payload fairing…

  spacexexplosion 4spacexexplosion 5

The explosion starts up top, and you can see it march down through the booster, bursting the tanks.

spacexexplosion 6

A few seconds in, you can see the payload fairing drop. By this point the booster itself is long gone; it seem like the fairing was actually being supported by the tower. Note that the top of the tower is now bent over.

Since the explosion originated below the payload shroud, my guess is that the *payload* didn’t initially explode. Looks like either the upper stage or the feed lines leading into the payload. In either event, it’s damned odd to have an explosion at the point in the process. A static discharge event? A hydrazine leak onto something catalytic?

 Posted by at 11:20 am