Monthly Archives: January 2007

NASA Ames Research Center

Today I chaperoned a school field trip to NASA Ames Research Center here in Silicon Valley. The educational program focused on wind tunnels and some aspects of creating vehicles for space travel. Overall it was interesting and seemed to hold the kids’ interest pretty well. Of course I volunteered because I’m interested in this great facility right here in our backyard. Anyone commuting near highways 85, 101, or 237 in Mountain View has seen this facility’s impressive buildings.

Tonight I did a little digging to see what kind of online information I could find. The official Ames Research Center site looks very NASA-formal, but didn’t seem to have anything interesting.

A little more digging revealed the Ames Wind Tunnel site which has the pictures shown below and some more technical data on two of the active wind tunnels. It looks like the full list of wind tunnels on site includes:

  • 80×120 (feet) subsonic
  • 40×80 subsonic
  • 11×11 transonic
  • 9×7 supersonic
  • 8×7 supersonic
  • 12 foot pressure tunnel

(I had to look up ‘transonic’ to learn it covers the range of speeds just below and just above the speed of sound — about mach 0.8 – 1.2. Subsonic and supersonic are the speeds below and above the speed of sound, respectively.)

Today we got a personal tour of the 80×120 tunnel which is the largest in the world. Its last test was in 2003 with the parachutes for the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Discovery. At that time, the tunnel was going to be closed down due to budget cuts, but in 2006 the Air Force signed a 25-year lease to operate the facility with a focus on helicopter testing.

The smaller wind tunnels are part of the Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel complex which is registered as a National Historic Landmark. It looks like this facility is still quite active in part because they can achieve supersonic speeds.

40- by 80-Foot Tunnel Construction, 1943, NASA Ames F-18 High Alpha Test, 80x120 Wind Tunnel, 1993, NASA Ames National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex, 80x120 Wind Tunnel, 1986, NASA Ames

Map links: Microsoft Live Google Yahoo!

San Jose Sharks Close Discussion Board

It looks like the San Jose Sharks had enough of the problems with trying to keep a clean community discussion board and finally shut theirs down:

The Sharks Chatroom has been shutdown indefinitely due to repeated inappropriate abuse of the system. This decision is in response to the high volume of postings containing sexually explicit language, cyber sex links, junk mail, unacceptable or inflammatory language and more. We do not wish to have the Sharks organization, our fans, or our sponsors associated in any manner with this material and, considering the many youth who regularly visit, wish to avoid serving as a conduit for those individuals attempting these improper communications.

The San Jose Mercury had this to say about it:

For months, a random check of the board would show porn links on as many as a third of the threads on the front page. But behavior among the core fans is a problem as well; there’s a good chance that if not for the Sharks’ message board, the booing of the Canadian national anthem in May never would have happened, because that’s where some of the more idiotic “fans” pushed the move.

Personally I never used the discussion boards, but from what I gather it seems they didn’t have much of a registration process and were trying to moderate everything with one employee (who undoubtedly had other tasks to tend to). It sounds like they (the Sharks) were also trying to exert too much control over the discussion content. Hopefully they’ll be able to re-launch a discussion forum with better registration and more community policing and a more realistic approach as to letting the content be what it’ll be and just live with it. - Find Music from TV Commercials and more!

A few recent searches for songs used in TV commercials has led me to which is all about “…music used in television commercials, film trailers, movie soundtracks, tv shows, video games and more.” The site is basically built around a forum, a weblog up front (albeit updated only monthly) and a generous supply of advertising. The forum is where the action is — for everyone looking for the music behind a certain commercial, there seems to be several who have the answer.

Tonight I was searching for the new Cadillac commercial and found it was “Punk Rocker from the Teddy Bears” (buy their album Soft Machine on Amazon).

Later I wanted to check the Cadillac site for the commercial and, sure enough, it is available online (along with the music info, go figure). Check it out on the Cadillac commercial page, choosing ad “Roll :60”.

Yahoo! Messenger for Windows Vista

Yahoo! Messenger for Windows Vista

In conjunction with CES this week, we are showing a preview of a new Windows Vista version of Yahoo! Messenger. This client was created from scratch to take advantage of Vista technologies, particularly the user interface and display. Because they started fresh, the team was not hindered by the existing design and was able to test some new concepts for personal interactions. Check out the site to see some screenshots and to watch a screencast given by Josh our product manager.

I’m sure the difficult part will come soon as the team decides how much of today’s Messenger client needs to be brought over to the Vista client as well. A lot of that functionality isn’t sexy, but is very popular with our users: chat, conferencing, stealth settings, etc.

Some initial reactions from: