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Eunoia, who is a grumpy, overeducated, facetious, multilingual ex-pat Scot, blatantly opinionated, old (1944-vintage), amateur cryptologist, computer consultant, atheist, flying instructor, bulldog-lover, Beetle-driver, textbook-writer, long-distance biker, geocacher and blogger living in the foothills south of the northern German plains. Not too shy to reveal his true name or even whereabouts, he blogs his opinions, and humour and rants irregularly. Stubbornly he clings to his beliefs, e.g. that Faith does not give answers, it only prevents you doing any goddamn questioning. You are as atheist as he is. When you understand why you don't believe in all the other gods, you will know why he does not believe in yours.

Oh, and after the death of his old dog, Kosmo, he also has a new bulldog puppy, Clara, since September 2018 :-)

Some of my bikes

My Crypto Pages

My Maths Pages

. made by Jseger-LeCoultre
Tuesday, January 29, 2019

50 years on ..... the moon

This year we will be celebrating the USA landing on the moon 50 years ago (July 20, 1969, UTC time). So the HNF, the world's largest computer museum, will be having a special exhibition of inter alia space-borne computers. I'm hoping to see the computer that landed in Tranquillity Bay back then; but in the announcement article in our local newspaper I could only recognise the Gemini's computer. We shall see; I'll blog about it when I go to the HNF exhibition later this summer.

Back at the time, 50 years ago, I missed seeing the actual moon landing live on TV because reasons. However, soon afterwards three silver medals were minted here to commemorate it and I bought a set which now have almost 50 years of patina on them.

I offered the HNF to let them display these original coins, but they are only showing the spaceborn hardware. Oh well, my goodwill was there :-)

Of course there are various moon-landing conspiracies floating around. The most popular insist that it was faked and made in a secret studio in Hollywood, or maybe area 51 :-) My own favourite is that NASA suppressed about 45 minutes of audio because of Neil Armstrong saying "Look over there, by the crater wall, they're watching us!" . Ooooh, gives me shivers down my spine ;-)

Of course, the USA has lost the technological ability to visit the moon, even having to hitch rides from the Russians to visit the ISS which is only 400 kms into space. So it was left to the Chinese to put a robot onto the rear side of the moon recently. Wonder what/who they'll find there? ;-)

Comments (2)
Engrumpled Curmudgeon (Canada) wrote " In today's digital world, particularly in what hacome known as Industry 4.0 (which started in Germany) digital twinning technology has really taken off. Surprisingly for many who weren't around 49 years ago NASA made the very first use of digital twinning when the Apollo 13 service module, which the command module depended on, ran into serious difficulties on the return journey when an O2 bottle exploded.. For those unaware of what digital twinning is, it is essentially making a digital copy of all the functioning elements of a machine, such that you can run test scenarios on a computer without affecting the operating machine. Today manufacturers are putting sensors all over their machines and gather immense amounts of data per second, but in April of 1970 the computers were much slower and the complexity and volume of data was nowhere near as large. However it was this digital twinning - running simulations in Houston, that allowed the serious malfunction to be overcome. :) See here."
Petra asks "How big are those coins? They'd make an ideal V-Day present for my space-geek partner." Together they weigh 125g (on my kitchen scales), so the silver alone is worth €70+ : mail me your offer, Petra :-)

Friday, January 25, 2019

Challenging Amazon's Scout delivery robot

How do robots cope with everyday situations? Not just Amazon's simplified ones?

Let's watch the video at Amazon's Scout delivery robot and then ask the developers some questions (I don't expect Amazon to answer any of these satisfactorily).

Here are some of my questions about Amazon's Scout delivery robot, going beyond the simplified environment of their ad (linked above), starting with the easy ones :-

  • Can it open & close (& relock) the garden gate?
  • Without letting the dogs out?
  • Can it climb the front steps?
  • Can it ring the doorbell?
  • Can it read multiple bell-pushes to see which one to press?
  • Can it verify the correct recipient?
  • Does it record who took delivery?
  • Can it take (recorded) delivery receipts?
  • How does it cope with an obstructed sidewalk/pavement?
  • How does it cope if the sidewalk/pavement ends?
  • What about potholes? What if it falls off the kerb?
  • What if it falls over? Can it get up again?
  • What if kids deliberately box it in for fun?
  • What if it is involved in/causes an accident?
  • Can it call the cops? Can it obey police instructions?
  • Can it identify itself? Call (HQ) for help/further instructions?
  • How does it stop itself being stolen?
  • How does it stop its contents being stolen?
  • What if there is no sidewalk, just rough terrain?
  • Can it cope with snow? With flooded areas? Steep slopes?
  • What about remote sites? What is its range?
  • Does Amazon pay the postman's unemployment benefits?
  • etc...etc...
As you can see, I remain sceptical because my human postman can do all of that, even come in for a chat and a cuppa, and more, cf. Charles Bukowski's "Post Office" ;-)

What questions do you have about Amazon's Scout?

Comments (2)
Schorsch (D) asks "So it only delivers to one customer then goes back to the depot for the next package? Otherwise how does it stop the first customer taking the packages for the 2nd, 3rd etc customers?" Yupp, sounds inefficient either way.
Ed (US) said "From the video it seems it just rolls along the sidewalk and waits outside your house there." Yes. I'm assuming it then calls you to come out and pick up your package. So you struggle to your feet, grab your rollator/walker/Zimmer-frame, waddle out the door, somehow have to negotiate the front steps while trying to hold an umbrella in the pouring rain, finally reaching the robot after 20 mins where it has been waiting with the lid open allowing your packet to get soaked. It then times out because you were too slow and rolls off down the street to the nearest trash can at the bus-stop, where it lobs your soggy packet, missing the trash can and causing an accident in the traffic. Meanwhile, the rain has soaked inside and the robot short-circuits setting the bus-stop on fire so that the waiting passengers run away into the rain missing the bus.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Watch this space

Geneva is currently hosting the SIHH trade fair, showing timepieces for the rich, very rich, and more-money-than-sense people who brag about their expensive mechanical wristwatches. I shall not be attending.

You can e.g. pay (only) 2¾ million Euros for one of three watches. For this money, you also get a Rubidium atomic clock weighing 35 Kg which you can use to synchronise and calibrate your mechanical wristwatch. How (im)practical is that?

Or you can pay 955,000 € for a Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillion Westminster Perpetual made by Jaeger-LeCoultre. Almost quartz accuracy?

Or you could save your money and just look at your mobile phone perhaps?

Regular readers of this blog will know that my own interest in timepieces focusses on non-standard displays. So let me show you some of these from last year's trade fair.

There were two skeletons, by Chanel and Tag Heuer respectively, which I quite liked.

There were some with even more way-out non-standard displays, here are three from L2R : Mille, Vacheron Constantin and Van Cleef and Arpels.

Then there was the bejewelled inner-solar-system watch also from Van Cleef and Arpels and for comparison a legible standard display from Jaeger le Coultre.

Of course all of these cost in the four digit range; there's no way I could afford any of them. Besides, when I retired I took off my (simple but very legible quartz) wristwatch as an expression that I was now master of my own time ;-)

Apropos own time : consider the poor photon. It travels at the speed of light and thus it does not ever experience the passage of time. It is created and - from its own point of view - is destroyed in the same instant; just somewhere else. Were it conscious it would think it had teleported. When we observe the cosmic background radiation we observe (and thus destroy) photons which originated just after the Big Bang (aka First Light). Now is eternal. And never, depending on your point of view.

Comments (3)
Engrumpled Curmudgeon (Canada) wrote "I wore a watch until I quit my bartending job in February 1997 - since then not at all. If I need to know the time I'll look at my cell phone or my computer :)" Same here, Doug, and the SatNav on the bike & car have accurate time too if I need it while on the road e.g. to make a ferry connection.
John (UK) asks "Have you read Feynmann's paper on there perhaps only being one electron which just shuttles back and forth through time?" So, going backwards it's a positron? Yes, but I don't believe his hypothesis.
Schorsch (D) asks "What does SIHH stand for?" It's French : Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (International exhibition of advanced clock-making).

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Information Overload :-(

Sometimes I feel I'm being inundated with stuff I may (not) need to know. Take yesterday for example. My doc prescribed me a new kind of pill. So I need to check whether it interacts with the pills I already have to take. Yes, I know the doc should do that, but I like to double check myself (am I paranoid?) So I get to read the accompanying little leaflet. Some leaflet! Size A0, in small print, double sided. Information Overload!

If you already take N pills, then there will be N*(N+1)/2 pairs of possible interactions for N+1 medicines. Some may be contra-indicated. Not just that, each pill may conflict with some (combination of) foodstuffs too! And what about your individual allergies?

Surely there must already be an App to do this cross-checking for you? Or am I going to have to write it myself? Anybody got any tips for me (other than : just trust the doc)? Yes, I do know there are web-based cross-checkers, but who knows if they are discreet? I'd prefer a solution local to my phone because of concerns about data privacy.

TL;DR As if the Information Overload were not a problem, after I opened the medicine package, it turned out to be a RED pill :-(

Comments (2)
Cop Car wrote " At least Alice got to choose what she took. I guess you can always refuse to take the red pill. Advice: I don't know how things are in your neck of the woods; but, in the States, our Pharmacists are trained and authorized to give us information about possible interaction among medications and foods. I've frequently used this bit of advice, myself, having learned from my late, beloved, pharmacist father-in-law." Theoretically yes, and that's their excuse for keeping all your medicine data :-( In practice, it rarely happens; then they'll just pull out the two data leaflets (as shown) and read them to you :-(
John (UK) remarked "I expect you are only used to THOSE blue pills ? ;-)" Neat how the blue pills are stamped with a V, presumably V for Vitamins ;-)

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Suffrage Centenary :-)

Haven't been able to blog for a week because my laptop died (the SSD fried itself). It has taken until now to get everything (almost) working again. So today's blogpost should have appeared on thursday, the 100th anniversary of women getting the vote here in Germany.

The photo above, originally B&W then subsequently hand-coloured, shows German suffragettes campaigning for the rights (active and passive) to vote. In 1919, with the advent of the Weimarer Republik after WW1, women got these rights. The B&W photo below shows some first female parliamentary representatives in Weimar in 1919.

The German post office and the national mint are celebrating this with a special memorial stamp (letters, 70c) and a 20 Euro memorial coin.

But don't think women had it easy to get to where we are today! Up until 1958 married women required their husband's permission to work. He could withdraw this permission with zero notice :-( Up until about 1960 he could deny his wife permission to get a driving licence. It was not until 1962 that married women could have their own bank account. And it took until 1969 that married women could operate in a legal capacity, spending larger amounts of money to buy stuff, without his permission.

Rape in marriage only became a crime in 1969, against the will of 138 parliamentarians. Not until 2001 could women serve in the armed forces with weapons, since 1975 they had only been used as nurses and secretarial staff.

Comments (2)
Cop Car wrote " Very nice posting, Stu. Thank you. Germany was a bit ahead of the USA in most (or all?) of the rights you mentioned, or course. By 1976 we women of the USA had them, and it felt good!" New Zealand was first, but sadly there are still some islamic countries where women have no rights :-(
Petra (A) wrote "I thought there were more women in the Weimar parliament than in your B&W photo?" Yes, 37. It seems the photo only shows one party's women.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Puncture :-(

Childhood bicycle aside, this is only the third puncture I've ever had. It's been forty years since the previous one! Luckily, never on a motorcycle, always on a car.

So yesterday during my morning walk-around the car, it turned out there was a (wood) screw in the front left tyre; I wonder where I got that, hadn't driven on a building site, so where? Thus I drove SWMBO's car yesterday.

This was a used car I'd bought last year, turns out it had no spare tyre nor an inflation set :-( But the tyre dealer from the neighbouring village (Atteln) came by at dusk, removed the wheel, found the puncture, took the wheel, vulcanised the tyre and remounted the wheel all within a half-hour. That's what I call service! So I tipped him generously :-) Thankyou, Mr. Koch!

Comments (8)
Ed (USA) wrote "We call that 'a flat' here." In proper (UK) English, a flat is a single-storey apartment.
Engrumpled Curmudgeon (Canada) wrote "Back in the late 70's the rear tyre on my CB650 blew out just north of Laguna Beach CA (I was there for the superbike races.) Fortunately I kept control." Scary!
Schorsch (D) wrote "Punctures are rare these days. So cars have no spare tires. Just inflation kits (like we good bikers carry)." Saves weight too.
Petra (A) asked incredulously "You do a walk-around check of the car daily?" A habit from my days as a flying instructor. Turn on the lights, walk-around check to confirm they're all working, no punctures (sic!), look under the car for any fluid leaks, that's all. Similar for the motorcycle, but check the fuel tank level too, no loose bolts etc. 15 seconds for my peace of mind.
Petra (A) asked further "No oil check then?" When I fill the tank, so about every 400 miles.
John (UK) said "Boring, boring, boring! AND anal-retentive!" Sorry.
Liz (UK) wrote " Only three punctures? You must be lucky or have very good roads. Mini has - I don't know what they call it but if you get a puncture you can still drive." Run-flat?
Peter (UK) wrote " I recently had a slow puncture..(what they are calling #brexit) (dave allen green does a legal assessment) did not know about the new format for earlier cars was to have a locking bolt (not nuts) but I had no instructions had to go all the way of pumping up every time I went out before I got round to solving the situation." My Porsche Oldtimer has locking bolts too, but luckily I still have the key :-)

Chews-day, January 8, 2019

Eating in Church :-)

As a young lad, I was told that eating in church was a sin. So SWMBO and I sinned last thursday when we went for lunch in a church; well, a deconsecrated redbrick Russian Orthodox one, in nearby Bielefeld. It has now been converted into an upmarket restaurant and event location.

We sat in the nave where SWMBO had a good view of the original stained glass windows. The chancel held comfortable chairs where you could sit to read or take a drink. Sometimes musical events are held of an evening, we were told, and there is e.g. a concert grand piano in the chancel, for classical music while you are dining. I believe the organ had been decommissioned.

The bar runs the length of the nave and serves devilishly delightful drinks ;-)

The nave has tables instead of pews. But they are a bit too close together, making access for servers and diners slow. No crosses left on the walls, so that Jews and Muslims and, yes, we Atheists all feel welcome here too :-)

The food was excellent. A crossover menu, asian / european. We had beetroot soup for starters, but it was a bit too sweet for me, who had been expecting to get it Russian style. For my main dish I had Surf and Turf, Shangai style, which is very spicy. No chopsticks offered though, just the usual cutlery. The vegs were all al dente, very crunchy indeed :-)

We were so satiated from this that we skipped dessert, but also because my favourite desert was not on the menu here :-(

So yes, eating in church was also gluttony, a delicious sin. But this is a church that even I, a militant atheist, can recommend ;-) Expensive though.

Comments (5)
Barbara (UK) asks "That first sentence sounds interesting; do tell us the story behind it!" In another blogpost, OK?
Ed (USA) opines "It would be great to have an organ jazzing when U eat!" There used to be a pizza place in Portland, Oregon, called The Organ Grinder, with a 4000+ pipe Wurlitzer organ in the centre , dining on 3 storeys. I once heard Jimmy Smith(?) playing there. Still have the LP. Did you know that multi-talented Donald Knuth has a pipe organ at home, going through all storeys?
Petra (A) grinned "Bacon cookies? Wow! I'll bake some right now!" Mmhhh!
John (UK) asks "Haven't you mentioned this church before?" No. That was St.Aegidious in Hannoverisch-Munden, a much older ex-catholic church with the grave of the travelling surgeon Dr. Eisenbart (=iron beard) in the graveyard. We often stop there for breakfast when on a sunday motorcycle tour eastwards. A much simpler menu, other than cold breakfasts they only do soup and Alsatian tarte flambée. Cheap though. However, turns out they are moving the cafe´ to the old bridge over the Werra in the spring of 2019, so no longer in the old church there :-(
Liz (GB) wrote " One of the chapels here has been converted into a curry house. Good food but always cold there as impossible to heat up. I think God would have preferred people to eat in there rather than go and watch x-rated films which is what it was showing before it finally closed as cinema. That one looks very lovely though." So, not just the curry was hot ;-)?

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Watt a great idea, condensed version

On this very day 250 years ago (1769), the great scottish inventor James Watt was granted his patent for a steam engine with an energy-efficient separate condenser, a significant improvement over Newcomen's steam engine (which didn't have a separate condenser). This is regarded as the beginning of the industrial revolution.

Photo of Watt's first condenser, now at the Science Museum in London, UK

A Watt's Beam Engine can be seen at Loughborough university, UK

Comments (1)
Cop Car wrote " Here in Kansas, we watch beam pumps out in wheat fields or rangeland pumping out oil. Similarly, I could watch them working in small plots (with lots of storage tanks) in the Los Angeles environs. It was quite a sight from the road: ocean in one direction, oil pumps in the other." The one shown above is afaik 200+ years old.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

A New Year Resolution for all of us

Actually, this was the same New Year's Resolution that I made for 2018. Maybe I'll be able to achieve it better in 2019 (fat chance!). It should, of course, apply to all of us, especially that tiny D. in the last photo.

My other - more minor - resolutions for 2019 are :-
2) Lose 8 9 10 kilograms weight, get fit again with more stamina.
3) Ride my motorcycle more again; health issues interfered in 2018.
4) Live this year as if it were my last (more adventures), and fifthly
5) Don't make resolutions I can't keep ;-)

What are YOUR new year resolutions 2019? Mail me with a comment please.

Comments (1)
Petra (A) has "Two resolutions : 1) Waste less time with my mobile phone, and 2) Use less plastic, as you suggested last year." Both good ideas :-)

Recent Writings
50 years on the moon
Amazon's Scout
Watch this space
Information Overload :-(
Suffrage Centenary :-)
Puncture :-(
Eating in Church :-)
Watt a great idea...
A New Year Resolution
Reading text books :-)
The Bethlehem Myth
Ideal Xmas present...
Spiegel-gate :-(
Santa's little dears
Censored in OZ :-(
... Interesting Times
This pencil...
Blogroll changes
Galileo saw Neptune!
Bar bet questions
Attractive numbers
InSight on Mars :-)
Bigger than you'd think
"I am a jam donut!"
Marriage made in heaven

Ain Bulldog Blog
All hat no cattle
Back Reaction
Balloon Juice
Cop Car
Earth-Bound Misfit
Fail Blog
Finding life hard?
Greg Laden
Mostly Cajun
Observing Hermann
Starts with a Bang
Yellowdog Grannie

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Blog Dewey Decimal Classification : 153
FWIW, 153 is a triangular number, meaning that you can arrange 153 items into an equilateral triangle (with 17 items on a side). It is also one of the six known truncated triangular numbers, because 1 and 15 are triangular numbers as well. It is a hexagonal number, meaning that you can distribute 153 points evenly at the corners and along the sides of a hexagon. It is the smallest 3-narcissistic number. This means it’s the sum of the cubes of its digits. It is the sum of the first five positive factorials. Yup, this is a 153-type blog. QED ;-)
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