Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Monday 3 August 2015

The ink on the Iranian nuclear deal isn't dry yet, but already American and European companies are starting to benefit:

Iran plans to buy as many as 90 planes per year from Boeing and Airbus to revamp its antiquated fleet once Western sanctions are lifted, its state news agency IRNA quoted a senior aviation official as saying on Sunday.

"Iran will buy a total of 80-90 planes per year from the two aviation giants in the first phase of renovating its air fleet," said Mohammad Khodakarami, the caretaker director of Iran's Civil Aviation Organization, according to IRNA.

"We will purchase planes from Boeing and Airbus in equal numbers," Khodakarami was quoted as saying, adding that Iran would initially need to add at least 80 planes to its fleet each year. That would mean a total of 300 planes within five years, he added.

So over the next five years, the U.S. and Europe will get a small ($2 billion) bump in GDP. And Iran will have flyable civilian airplanes again, but no atomic bombs. Everyone wins!

Monday 3 August 2015 15:42:42 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | World#

I've had a lot going on over the past couple of weeks so posting has been a little slow. I spent yesterday at the Bristol Renaissance Faire, following Saturday night's Pentatonix (and, right, Kelly Clarkson) performance, following running around during the day Saturday trying to get everything done ahead of both those events.

I'm a little fried. I'm also apparently slowing my average posting rate, having failed two months in a row to post 40 times. Before June 2015, the last time I failed to post 40 times was in November 2010, during my last month of business school.

Things are moderating, however, and I should resume the usual schedule soon.

Monday 3 August 2015 12:10:12 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Blogs#
Friday 31 July 2015

After two of the remaining four diagonal runways at O'Hare close later this month, the airport is planning to experiment with alternate landing runways to reduce noise:

The city has developed a concept to rotate the designated "fly quiet'' runways at night to abate noise. Instead of planes flying over the same air corridors night after night, the rotation of runways — on possibly a weekly basis — would move the worst noise impacts from one community to another, aviation officials said.

The experiment would start, pending FAA approval, after diagonal runway 32 Right closes Aug. 20, officials said. Diagonal runway 32 Left, which is scheduled to close in 2019, would be among the runways used in the rotation during the interim, officials said, adding that numerous runway combinations might be applicable to help spread out the noise.

Only one arrival runway and one departure runway are needed nightly, officials said.

Even when only east-west runways are used late at night, air-traffic controllers will be asked to direct pilots to make turns when they reach the appropriate altitude after takeoff so that noise isn't restricted to communities east and west of O'Hare, officials said.

Runways 32R and 22L are hardly ever used anymore, so the closure won't really change current operations at O'Hare. But the opening of 28L at the south end of the airport will give visitors to Chicago an extra 15 minutes of taxi time, just like 27R provides.

At least it will be a little quieter in some of the adjacent suburbs. Sometimes.

Friday 31 July 2015 16:16:54 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | Chicago#
Thursday 30 July 2015

Via Schneier, a new paper by researchers at Google discussed the differences between the ways security experts and non-experts treat online security. Not surprising, experts have better habits.

When asked about the security practices that most matter to them, experts talked about multi-factor authentication, password safes, and getting the latest software patches, while non-experts worried about anti-virus software and changing passwords frequently:

The most common things-you-do responses from each group varied, with only one practice, using strong passwords, in common within each group’s top 5 responses. While most experts said they install software updates (35%), use unique passwords (25%), use two-factor authentication (20%), use strong passwords (19%), and use a password manager (12%), nonexperts mentioned using antivirus software (42%), using strong passwords (31%), changing passwords frequently (21%), visiting only known websites (21%), and not sharing personal information (17%).

The security practices mentioned by experts are consistent with experts’ rating of different pieces of advice, when we asked them to rank how good these are on a 5-point Likert scale. ...[M]ost experts considered installing OS (65%) and application (55%) updates, using unique (49%) and strong (48%) passwords, using a password manager (48%), and using two-factor authentication (47%) very good advice (the highest Likert-scale rating). Other advice that was not frequently mentioned by experts in the top three things they do, but ranked high in this multiple choice question of the advice they’d consider good, included turning on automatic updates (72%), being suspicious of links (60%), not entering passwords on links in emails (60%), and not opening email attachments from unknown people (55%).

Generally, non-experts favor convenience over security—which is consistent with human behavior in just about every situation in life. Just look at cash, for example: it's demonstrably the least-secure way of transmitting wealth generally available, but people still use it frequently because it's a lot more convenient (and—no small irony—private) than using more-secure methods like credit cards.

The authors suggest that making good security more convenient may be the answer. But until average users get burned enough, they'll still use the same dictionary-word password for OKCupid that they use for their bank's website, just as they'll still hand their credit card to the waiter rather than demanding table-side chip-and-pin readers like Europeans use. Defense in depth? Maybe later.

Thursday 30 July 2015 15:30:07 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Security#

Just some of the news stories I haven't got time to read this morning:

I will now continue doing tasks from two jobs ago while I think about things I'd like to do for my current job.

Thursday 30 July 2015 10:11:26 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | Chicago | US | Software | Cool links#
Wednesday 29 July 2015

We're well into our fourth day in five above 30°C, but around lunchtime a front passed that dropped the dewpoint from 22°C to 9°C. What a difference. It's still hot, but at least it's not so sticky. Walking home from trivia last night I practically swam through 25°C air with a 23°C dewpoint and lost two belt sizes along the way.

The Climate Prediction Center guesses that August will be cooler than normal, as will September and October. And I guess one week of every year we just have to take the heat. Today's dewpoint drop is very nice, though. It almost makes me want to spend more time outside. Maybe by October...

Wednesday 29 July 2015 15:32:24 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Tuesday 28 July 2015

I really love my camera:

Tuesday 28 July 2015 14:19:26 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Photography | Travel#

While in Phoenix, I took an unscheduled side-trip to Rúla Búla in Tempe:

The bar features prominently in Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid series, which one of my oldest surviving friends turned me on to about a year ago. In the series, the protagonist frequents the bar, including at one point to buy a shot for Jesus. (Yes, that Jesus, in one of the funniest scenes in the novels.)

Since I was only 18 km away, I just had to make a field trip. I did not, alas, have the fabled fish and chips, so I'll never know if they're better than the Duke's.

Tuesday 28 July 2015 13:59:53 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Kitchen Sink | Travel#
Monday 27 July 2015

Why would anyone go to Arizona in July? A geas. On Friday I visited Park #26:

The trip also gave me a chance to take my 7D Mark II for a spin. Sitting 18 rows behind the Diamondbacks' dugout, I was able to get photos like this, no problem:

Let's take a closer look, yes? This is at ISO-3200, 1/500 at f/5.6, from about 100 meters away:

Cool, right?

More photos of the game and of my field trip to Tempe later.

Monday 27 July 2015 14:50:45 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Photography | Travel#
Saturday 25 July 2015

Louise Brown, the first test-tube baby, is 38:

On this day in 1978, Louise Joy Brown, the world’s first baby to be conceived via in vitro fertilization (IVF) is born at Oldham and District General Hospital in Manchester, England, to parents Lesley and Peter Brown. The healthy baby was delivered shortly before midnight by caesarean section and weighed in at five pounds, 12 ounces.

Before giving birth to Louise, Lesley Brown had suffered years of infertility due to blocked fallopian tubes. In November 1977, she underwent the then-experimental IVF procedure. A mature egg was removed from one of her ovaries and combined in a laboratory dish with her husband’s sperm to form an embryo. The embryo then was implanted into her uterus a few days later. Her IVF doctors, British gynecologist Patrick Steptoe and scientist Robert Edwards, had begun their pioneering collaboration a decade earlier. Once the media learned of the pregnancy, the Browns faced intense public scrutiny. Louise’s birth made headlines around the world and raised various legal and ethical questions.

So far, more than five million babies have been born through IVF.

Saturday 25 July 2015 09:14:06 MDT (UTC-06:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Friday 24 July 2015

For some reason—and rest assured I will ask, because I'm really curious—we're flying at an unusually low altitude right now (7800 m—officially FL240), and dodging clouds. I'll post the FlightAware track at some point so you can see the waltz we've just danced over central Colorado.

I know future generations will look back on my glee about posting a blog entry from an airplane whose geo-tag is derived from looking at my mobile phone's GPS feature, but allow me this moment. Look where we are. Look where we're going. It's stuff like this that gives me optimism about our species.

I'm not optimistic about tonight's game at Chase Field, though. Neither the third-place Diamondbacks nor the last-place Brewers has done much to excite fans this season. (Though as a Cubs fan, I'm happy to see the Brewers lose.) I have a plan B, if the game doesn't go well.

Friday 24 July 2015 17:11:33 MDT (UTC-06:00)  |  | #

So far Chicago has had a milder-than-normal summer, with only a couple of over-32°C days and a lot of rain. Given our greenhouse gas emissions, that will change:

The NASA climate projections offer a detailed view of future temperature and precipitation patterns around the world at a 15.5 mile (25 kilometer) resolution, covering the time period from 1950 to 2100. The 11-terabyte dataset provided daily records and estimates of maximum and minimum temperatures and precipitation over the entire globe. It integrates actual measurements from around the world with data from climate simulations created by the international Fifth Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, or CMIP, which is a standard experimental protocol for studying the output of coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation models.

The result? Pretty warm:

I won't be around to experience an average annual temperature around 30°C. Unfortunately, given the effects of climate change on our food and water supplies, not many others might be either.

Friday 24 July 2015 12:20:01 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Geography | US | World | Weather#
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David Braverman and Parker
David Braverman is the Chief Technology Officer of Holden International in Chicago, and the creator of Weather Now. Parker is the most adorable dog on the planet, 80% of the time.
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