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Andrew Reid
Works at NIST
Attended Queen's University
Lives in Washington DC
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Andrew Reid

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Today's ride. I'm taking another day of vacation, to decompress a bit, and got a ride in. The weather was pretty good, but I still ran out of steam around 20 miles or so. The original plan was to go all the way to Lake Needwood and then come back via Metro from Shady Grove, but I got to the Viers Mill Road bridge, and decided I was fading sufficiently quickly that I should bail out to the Rockville station.

If you examine the elevation profile, you'll see that I bought myself a pretty tough climb from miles 15 or so to the end at mile 18. I may well have been better off pressing on to Lake Needwood along the nice shady creek path, but then you have the same issue getting to Shady Grove metro.

Also, the map is a bit incomplete, after I got on the metro at Rockville, I took it down to Farragut Square and had a nice food-truck lunch (Koobideh on pita, from a Persian vendor), and then, rested and fed, was able to make the short climb (1.3 miles, about a 100ft rise) back home.
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Andrew Reid

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I am unavoidably reminded of Tibor's Tractor:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqZGBawsg8k
 
Agrobot
The "Agrobot", an unmanned agricultural tractor, was successfully tested out on a farm in Russia's Ryazan Region
http://vimeo.com/182931324
The "Agrobot", an unmanned agricultural tractor, was successfully tested out on a farm in Russia's Ryazan Region . The drone-tractor was developed…
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I forgot about Tibor's Tractor, but what a great episode. I was naturally compelled to watch "What Fits Into Russia".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXqKkYYALMU

"It is a shame to cover up the beauty of the Ukraine."
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Andrew Reid

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Today's ride. I am taking a bit of leave, extending the labor-day weekend, and getting in some bike time.

The map is a bit misleading, the visit to 17th and K around mile 20.7 or so was a lunch stop, courtesy of one of the many food trucks that congregate at Farragut Square weekdays at lunch time.

Although the square of course has four corners, there was only one taco truck (and a Korean one at that), and it wasn't even at a corner, it was along 17th Street.

I personally had a beef banh-mi sandwich from a Vietnamese truck, which was quite nice (the sandwich, I mean, the truck was a bit shabby.)
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Andrew Reid

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This certainly seems to be in the spirit of things.

If I cook it myself, I can ensure that it comes out properly penguin-shaped. Win!
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I grew up in Calgary, and picked up, somewhere somehow, possibly in school, that a "desert" is any place where evaporation exceeds precipitation, so that many places on the leeward side of a mountain range, including the dry prairie on which Calgary sits, could be considered deserts.

This is not, it turns out, the actual geographical definition of a desert, which has to do with the availability of moisture, but also the predominance of sandy soil and the ability to support various types of flora and fauna. Calgary, though very dry, does not qualify in any useful sense.

Nevertheless, Canada does have a desert, and it is in the rain shadow of the Rocky Mountains -- it's the Okanagan valley. Anyone who has driven through it on Highway 3, as I did twice a year for several years, knows that it's a pretty deep valley, and has at least one informal characteristic of deserts, namely that you can use it to diagnose car problems -- if any bit of your car is at all marginal, you can count on it to fail and strand you in the most hostile possible environment. My old, faithful 1982 Honda Civic overheated rather badly one time on Anarchist Summit, the route by which you climb out of Osoyoos when you're heading east, and after that, I could always use the temperature gauge as an uncalibrated inclinometer. Built character, that's for sure.

The actual article is about how the Okanagan desert ecosystem is threatened by invasive species, and has some interesting history, along with descriptions of efforts to restore and revitalize it.
Most people don't even know Canada has a desert - the Okanagan is an anomaly in a country known for snow. But the Okanagan Desert is threatened - scientists and indigenous people are now working to protect the ecosystem.
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Indeed, you are correct. I'm either becoming less of a pedant, or losing my mind, or both.

According to an embarrassed and hurried Google search just now, it looks like the mountains to the west of Osoyoos might in fact be a bit of the Cascade range that pokes up into Canada: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Cascades

Lovely map and article here: https://opentextbc.ca/geography/chapter/9-2-introduction/
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A bunch of famous language inventors did an AMA on Reddit yesterday, which I found pretty interesting. I read a book a few years ago, by +Arika Okrent , "In the Land of Invented Languages", which was a pretty good summary of several interesting angles on this, including pretensions to universality, hopes for uniting all mankind, and so forth.

For the show business types in the AMA here, of course, there's not much universality, mostly it's about how to strike the right balance between convincing alien-ness (or seeming historical authenticity) and comprehensibility and feasibility for actual actors to perform and keep in their heads.

These people also have a new production in the works, "Conlanging: The Art of Crafting Tongues", which sounds pretty cool.

Geeky fun.

Also, I'm sure I've shared this before, but:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOt5_WjssV0

Bonanza bleeny!
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Andrew Reid

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So apparently it took Evel Knievel's Skycycle X-2 42 years to cross the Snake River Canyon, but it actually did make it.

So, let's see, now we need to find Elvis, and get a new Bruce Lee movie released, and we'll have the 1970s nailed down.

h/t +Matt McIrvin https://plus.google.com/+MattMcIrvin/posts/CWvRnSphc4v
Stuntman Eddie Braun has recreated Evel Knievel’s Snake River Canyon rocket bike stunt in every technical way but one—Braun actually succeeded. He is the first to pull off the jump in the 42 years since Knievel’s attempt was mired by a parachute malfunction.
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It is good for 70's completionism, but the stunt has always bugged me as being so completely divorced from an actual motorcycle jump.
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Apparently, the Canadian province of Alberta is practically rat-free.

I have a vague recollection of having heard about this, but certainly not when I was growing up there in the 1970s and 80s. It's come around again on Futility Closet, and apparently it's generally true, wild rats are very rare in Alberta. I would imagine that the number isn't actually zero, I'm sure they ride in on trucks and freight trains from time to time, but the number of sightings is indeed pretty close to zero.
Rats have pretty well overrun the globe, but there’s one exception: Alberta, Canada, which has waged a successful war against the critters for 50 years. Owning rats is forbidden to Alberta residents; they can be kept only by zoos and research institutions. The province maintains a rat control zone 600 kilometers long along its eastern border, staffed by eight professionals, and any rats they find are poisoned, gassed, or shot. “Alberta is the onl...
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And right behind me in the G+ queue is this one from NatGeo. I can attest that Alberta definitely has Raccoons.

https://plus.google.com/+NatGeo/posts/KnyHz6onFrV
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I have a bunch of low-traffic things I follow on G+, presumably because at one point they looked interesting, one of which is the Subaru Fan Club.

Today, they posted this picture, as part of a promotion associated with the 100th anniversary of the US National Park Service.

I am not 100% sure, but it looks a lot like the Trans-Canada between Banff and Lake Louise. I'd bet a dollar or two that the prominent square-ish mountain in the distance is Castle Mountain. Something I am 100% sure of is that the WRX in the foreground has Alberta plates.

So, passing on a technicality? It is a national park, but not one that's part of their promotion.
Go #Subaruing in a #NationalPark for free from Aug. 25-28.http://prks.org/1jKwBYh (photo courtesy: Damian Human)
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Yep, definitely Alberta plates. I don't think it is Castle Mountain based on a bunch of google image searches and some noodling around with google street view. It seems like Castle Mountain is too isolated and too far from the road to get such a view. And any closer roads aren't 4 lane.

The trans-canada sure does look generally like that. The (orange?) signs in the distance might be a hint. Maybe not so many spots where the two directions of the road are at different levels.

Go for a click-drive down that road and you'll find it. It'll be just like the real drive but without the fun.
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From Donna Yates on twitter, via +Jennifer Ouellette (also on twitter, as well as this here Google machine), apparently a small Spanish publisher, Siloe, has negotiated for the right to publish a facsimile of the Voynich manuscript.

This is obviously a trifle niche, for those who feel that having a physical replica is interesting or useful, and are willing to part with several thousand Euros to get it. This publisher evidently specializes in facsimiles, and has apparently pledged to reproduce very stain, tear, and hole. Useful for instructional purposes, I suppose, or as a stunt double in certain circumstances.

Seeing this motivated me to confirm what I thought I knew, namely that images of this document are already freely available on-line -- they are, one of the sources is the Internet Archive, here: https://archive.org/details/TheVoynichManuscript

For extra hilarity, that particular interface has a "read this book aloud" function, which I couldn't help but try out -- from that perspective, it seems to be primarily a story about a typography, a gripping tale of percent and caret.
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I'm pretty sure the Voynich Manuscript is in public domain. If the author's death should be more recent than the last 75 years, let his inheritors prove it.
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+David Anders linked to this Hackaday article earlier today, about the early days of getting non-phone-company accessories on to the phone system, and the legal battles surrounding that.

Tossed off lightly in the article, but followed up on in the comments, was this bit:
> Also in 1968, a company called Codex introduced the first 9600 baud modem. The 125-pound device had 66 PC boards and required tuning to work upon installation and any time the phone line changed. A pair of modems cost about $46,000 and required special cooling, like much of the gear in those days.

So 9600 baud in 1968. Presumably the 66 boards and tuning was because it was essentially a 1968-technology DSP, figuring out the line characteristics and customizing the pulse shapes so that they were recognizable on the other end.

Additional info here -- I haven't actually read this yet, but it looks like it's probably worth sharing: http://www.historyofcomputercommunications.info/Book/1/1.1-BeginningsModemCompetition-CodexMilgo56-67.html

Edited to add: The link above is in fact disappointing, it's a reasonable timeline of the personalities involved and their goals, but I was hoping for a technical description of the operation of the Codex device.
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Comments also have a link to an interview with the modem's designer:
http://archive.computerhistory.org/resources/access/text/2016/04/102738129-05-01-acc.pdf
Some good details in there, not that I can really put them together into a picture of how the device worked.
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A surprising bit of data, via r/DataIsBeautiful.

The site links to a web tool where you can pick a country (or the world), pick a year, and then see how many people are older or younger than a given age for those parameters.

I am familiar with the sizable demographic bumps that are already in place in various countries in the world, it's something one learns about in international development circles, and it was a small part (too small, probably) of the NAFTA conversation back in the day.

Nevertheless, I was still surprised to learn that a bit more than four out of every five people in the world are younger than I am.

The "percent younger" numbers are smaller for much of the first world, as expected, but also surprising to me was that the US population is not that much younger than European countries. I had the more-or-less uninformed expectation that US international prominence and higher-than-European immigration rates made a big demographic difference, but that doesn't seem to be borne out.
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Scientific computing
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  • NIST
    Scientific computing, present
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Canada - Calgary - Vancouver - Chicago
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Clever. Maybe clever enough.
Introduction
I studied computer science and physics at UBC, and have never really let go of either. I read a lot. Geeky, but not in a debilitating way.
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I know how much wood a woodchuck would chuck, but I'm not telling.
Education
  • Queen's University
    Physics, 1989 - 1994
  • University of British Columbia
    Physics, 1986 - 1989
  • University of British Columbia
    Physics and Computer Science, 1982 - 1986
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