Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Server Migration

Sunday, April 26th, 2015


After much soul searching, I did move portions of this blog to a new server.  This is not for the faint of heart … the new server still does not work as well as the old one (missing our permalinks, for instance).  However, it works well enough.  It took a minimum of 12 hours of my time to get it to work here … and I am stopping now.

I moved email to an outside service, since that is mission critical.  The blog here has been largely dormant since I entered law school, but I still want it to function.  It’s rather like a very public family album and I don’t want to lose it.

This server should keep it safe through April 2019 … at least that’s the advertised expiration date.

Best, Ed

p.s. Three hours later, the dishes are washed and I got the permalinks to work.

Daniel Birthday Rocket Launch

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Drone is Back!

Monday, March 14th, 2011

After a six week absence, due to extreme work conditions, the AR Drone makes a re-appearance Sunday morning at the Steussy Ranch.

Japan’s Nuclear Reactors

Monday, March 14th, 2011

I have a surprising number of friends and colleagues living in or visiting Japan right now. The biggest concern is the safety of the nuclear reactors that have been affected by the earthquakes. I intend to point people here as a resource for information, such as I have it.

The best advice I’ve heard is to seek out potassium-iodide pills. The Japanese government is talking about distributing them; if so, people in the area should take them. My understanding of the mechanism is as follows:

  • Radioactive iodine is released into the air and water in a damaged nuclear facility
  • When ingested by a human, the iodine is taken in by the thyroid
  • Radioactive iodine has been linked to incidence of thyroid cancer

By taking potassium-iodide pills with a rather large dose of iodine, the “safe” iodine gets taken up in the thyroid. If radioactive iodine is ingested later, it is not taken up by the ‘full’ thyroid, but is instead safely excreted by the body. In the real world, during the Chernobyl disaster, areas where the population received potassium-iodide pills went for years without incidence of thyroid cancer. Population in affected areas which did not receive the pills were subject to epidemic levels of thyroid cancer.

Table salt in some areas is fortified with iodine, particularly for populations that don’t eat sufficient quantities of fish. However, the amounts of iodine in this salt is extremely low and insufficient for prophylactic use in a nuclear emergency.


  1. The best data I’ve found on Japan’s nuclear sites is here, the World Nuclear News website. A brief look around the site and its supporters makes me think that it is an industry mouthpiece. However, it does have up-to-date news and it does give technical details in non-jargon English. YMMV. They also have a Twitter update here.
  2. UPDATE 3/14: This is the single best general overview of the situation from a scientist/engineer, here.
  3. Details on the potassium-iodide uptake in a nuclear emergency are here.
  4. 3/12/11 1pm PST update. A blog post by Michio Kaku, a physicist, on the situation here.
  5. Best up-to-date news service is Al Jazeera English, here.

I’ll update this site with other data as I have it.


  • I am not a doctor. Don’t take medical advice from amateurs like me.
  • I am not a physicist. I do have an undergraduate degree in physics, but never worked in the field. See here.
  • I originally did the research on potassium-iodide uptake when I moved my family to within 20 miles of a seaside Southern California nuclear plant in 2004. We lived there for six months.
  • I am neither a nuclear power proponent, nor do I oppose nuclear power. I’m neutral on the subject.

Busy, busy

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Just spent a week in San Francisco at the Game Developers’ Conference (GDC). I stayed with Dan, Hongli, Angelina and Carina. And I got to see Jack. It was a great trip!

More AR Drone

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Flying over the house again!

Yes, the AR Drone made another appearance again today. We buzzed kids and neighbors, flew over the house and had two wrecks (and recovered from both). Take a look!

The Drone is Back

Monday, January 17th, 2011

And, with health returned to the Steussy Ranch, we have also received a repaired and reconstructed AR Drone! We’re being very gingerly with it now, since it was in the hospital for a long time.

About to Launch!

Look! It flies!

AR Drone in Temecula

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

Nic’s big present to the family was this UFO-like flying machine (which I had seen and flown before, see here and here). It’s a complicated, expensive and very fragile machine – but boy is it cool when it works!

Below is the feed from the camera onboard during a flight over the top of our house.

More time spent repairing than flying

UPDATE: The drone is currently dead. Parrot customer service has quickly responded with an offer to repair. Will update as news comes in.


Monday, October 4th, 2010

I really wanted to blog about this months ago, but held myself back. Around July 4, I started on a diet. It’s strictly a calorie restriction diet, run on a website or a iPhone/iTouch/iPad called LiveStrong, a Lance Armstrong sponsored site.

Every time you put something in your mouth you enter it into the site. It gives you a running tally of exactly how many calories you’ve consumed.

You preset your activity level (“Lightly Active” for me), current weight and goal. I set mine at losing one pound a week, which didn’t change my diet all that much. I eat less for breakfast and substantially less for lunch, but have a normal evening meal. I’m down 15 pounds, my blood pressure is lower than it’s been in a decade and I’m running more and faster. I’m five pounds off my goal, returning to my college weight, and I want to achieve that by Thanksgiving. No problem.

Some surprises in the calorie counts. Alcohol is surprisingly low in calories, especially when compared to sugared soft drinks. Store-bought bread has a very high calorie count, though Gabi’s homemade bread is much better. Mayonnaise, cheese and salted almonds are all high in calories and off my list unless I’ve gone jogging that day.

Processed foods in general are bad, but I don’t get too many of those. Gabi homecooks just about everything, and we can pin down calorie counts from the individual ingredients. Gabi started a more aggressive version of the diet later than I did. I can really tell the difference, though most people probably can’t see the change yet.

Anyway, the link is here. Strongly recommended.

Mad Men

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

The three best minutes of TV I have ever seen

Summertime. Gabi and I watch one or two TV shows every night throughout the year after the kids are in bed. Our favorites (24, Lost, Fringe, Survivor, CSI) are all in reruns or canceled now. Summer is the time to find a newish show, one that has been on-air for awhile which we’ve heard about but never watched. One that we can see from the beginning of the series. We discovered 24 and House this way in previous summers.

This is the summer of Mad Men, a biography of advertising men in New York, starting in March 1960 and moving forward. It can be viewed as science fiction in reverse: everyone smokes, everyone drinks too much, no car seats or seat belts in cars, no cellphones, no computers, no internet, and dozens of other things we take for granted.

But concept and setting do not make a show. Personalities do. Writing does. And this is one of the most finely written pieces of TV I have ever witnessed. And it begs my imagination to try to describe it in any cohesive way, other than to say I like it. The clip above (linked here) is so fine and elegant and moving, but I can’t tell you why, since it requires viewing the previous 12 episodes to know why, simultaneously on four or five different levels, this presentation is so hard for Donald Draper.

Part of my attachment is, no doubt, the passing of my father this year, for this is his era. In 1960 he was 36 years old, the same age as the protagonist, Donald Draper. While the show is clearly a reflection of our time, it is my father’s world being shown. Smoke. Martinis. Scotch. And more.

Nine hours before we watch the next episode.