Sunday, August 31, 2008

Picasa to offer image recognition

Personally i am a Flickr user but Picasa is also a highly useful image upload and storage site, and as it is a Google site you can be reasonably assured it will still be around in a few years and being part of the Google network ties you into their searches, maps and other toys. Picasa is about to be improved however and one of the new toys looks very impressive : image recognition. The Guardian writer uploaded some images and Picasa apparently used image recognition to group photos of the same person together. Personally most of my photos are of plants but i'm sure it will be able to do plant recognition too.

Something to keep an eye on (literally) for sure. Best watch for news on the Picasa blog.

Going where no virus has gone before

A computer virus has infected computers on the International Space Station. The virus, Gammima.AG, however hasn't infected the main life support systems or ejected the crew into space but rather 2 laptops belonging to the crew. NASA are investigating how it got aboard but the thinking it may have been on a USB drive taken up by one of the astronauts. Computers on the ISS are not directly connected to the internet so the virus, a password swiper, won't be able to send any captured passwords back to it's master's den. Yet anyway.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dead Media isn't dead!

The Dead Media Project was a site i always enjoyed but for years it was not updated and i feared it was dead itself, but now it finally shows signs of life! Though they are looking for a new maintainer, i admit i am tempted. What is the site? Well its a collection of notes from a mailing list dedicated to "the deceased, the slowly-rotting, the undead, and the never-lived media".

GTF flight testing completes phase 1

Phase 1 of Pratt & Whitney's Geared Turbofan (GTF)'s flight testing has been completed. Over the course of 12 flights the engine, on a 747 testbed, amassed 43.5 hours in a number of altitudes "exploring the full flight regime". Phase 2 will take place next month on an Airbus A340-600 to continue tests and also to explore acoustic performance. GTF engines are intended for the future Mitusbishi Regional Jet and Bombardier CSeries regional airliners. Airbus and Boeing have not, as yet, announced if they will use the GTF though if it indeed does offer 10%+ improved fuel burn compared to existing engines then it is only a matter of time.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Not Classic Jetliners (8) : Fairchild-Dornier 728

The Fairchild-Dornier 728 was a good design scuppered by a failing company and only 1 was ever built and never flew. Fairchild bought Dornier in 1996 and publicly announced the 728 soon afterwards to supplement the 328JET. It was intended as a family of regional jets with a design similar to the A320 and 737 able to carry between 55 and 100 passengers.

The first prototype was completed at the end of 2001 and rolled out early the next year. By then 8 customers had placed orders for 125 aircraft with options for over 150 more. The plan was to begin delivered in 2003. However in April 2002 Fairchild-Dornier collapsed and filed for insolvency, even before the neat little 728 could take to the air. Major orders were cancelled soon afterwards.

A Chinese company has shown interest in buying the project but its unlikely now the project will ever come to anything. Especially as the only completed 728 has had it's wings cut off so it could be transported to the German aerospace centre DLR. Two other fuselages were also built.

Return of the barrage balloons?

One of the blogs i read regularly is Eagle Speak, especially the weekly "Sunday Ship History" which is a historical retrospective. Earlier in the world it was on the use of barrage balloons for anti-aircraft defence.

A good read as always but at the end i noticed with interest in the late 1980s it was suggested by the USAF to use barrage balloons to stop enemy aircraft from flying too low to evade anti-aircraft defences.

That was something i didn't realise about barrage balloons, they were not really intended to trap aircraft with their wires (though it was a bonus if they did) but it was to force the enemy aircraft to fly higher to make them more vulnerable to AA fire and compromise their ability to carry out their attacks.