David M. Kelly

Character-based SF and more…

Free FictionWant to check out some of my writing at no cost? Not sure if I’m worth reading or not? Looking for something to fill a bit of idle time?

Take a look at my free fiction, available in three different downloadable formats.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve just had a couple of toes and part of my foot amputated after it got badly infected. While recovering I have been told to keep my legs elevated to maintain the best circulation possible and I also can’t put any weight on that foot for at least the next six weeks. So I’m pretty much bedridden for the duration.

Actually I’m not fully confined to my bed. During the day I move downstairs (sliding ignominiously down the stairs on my arse) and take up residence on the couch in the living room so I have easier access to food and the bathroom. It’s amazing how not having use of a leg changes your perspective on things!

Before coming home we had a contractor friend install some grab bars in the bathroom (Thanks Mike!) so that I could manage that side of life a little easier, but I could already forsee other problems, not least being how do I continue to work both on my writing and potentially my day job as IT project manager. To do those things I need to have reasonable access to my computer in a way that’s comfortable and flexible.

I looked at a number of overbed tables, but none of them looked very suitable for what I wanted (not to mention they were pretty ugly and reminded me far too much of my recent stay in hospital). Then I came across the Airdesk site. This company makes apparatus specifically designed to mount laptops and other computer hardware in a way that is flexible and attractive.

After perusing their site I sent in an order for the basic set-up plus a tall pole (recommended for people wanting to use multiple monitors, which I may) along with an extra keyboard shelf and the second monitor arm.

So today everything arrived. I had to wait until my wife got home as I couldn’t  really move anything around on my own, but with the help of the instructions we soon had everything set up and I am now happily typing this post using the Airdesk frame.

Everything is extremely positionable: I can set it to clear my legs completely (which was a problem with the lap tray), there`s a little shelf for a mouse or whatever you might want to put on it, and a sturdy base that easily slips under the couch. Perfect! I can add a little tilt to the keyboard to give me a better typing angle and it all swivels freely with fingertip pressure.

One slight thing to note. The accessory shelves are made from a transparent polycarbonate type material and very clear. This looks attractive but I found my optical mouse didn’t work on it at all. This can be remedied by leaving the protective shipping paper sheet on (or sticking it back on in my case!) or of course you could use a mouse mat.

I was a little skeptical when I ordered (I always am to be honest); it looked a little too good to be true but I`m pleased to be surprised at just how well it works. The company offers different options and alternatives for tablets and other devices, so if you`re looking for something in this line take a look. They may just have what you need

 

I’ve been working towards my first, very modest adventure in self-publishing   for a few months and am now at the last hurdle paperwork wise. But over the last few weeks I’ve also  been dealing with some painful foot injuries. Imagine my surprise then that I now find myself writing this while recovering from surgery to remove two toes and around a quarter of my left foot!

Needless  to say this has  been very much “out of the blue” and extremely traumatic, to put it mildly.

The wound on the left foot was infected and had a lot of “necrotic” tissue Continue reading

The recent NASA award for Crew Transportation was somewhat suspect and as I noted in my earlier post, the cost of the Boeing proposal was inexplicable high when weighed against others.

I’m not the only one who feels that the decision was flawed; the Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), who submitted plans centered around its Dream Chaser project has now filed a challenge to the contract award. Part of the company’s release states:

While all three competitors were found to be compliant and awardable under the criteria set forth in the request for proposal (RFP), only two proposals were selected (Boeing and SpaceX), one of which would result in a substantial increased cost to the public despite near equivalent technical and past performance scores.”

So a rough translation would be: “How come you gave Boeing so much money for services that we could provide at a fraction of the cost?”

That seems pretty straightforward to me. It’s also interesting that on the same day that SNC submitted their appeal, NASA announced a Request For Proposals for a second round of cargo resupply contracts.

Something smells very bad in the Space industry right now and it makes me angry and embarrassed to see these political games being played out in this arena.

So the Higgs has been found, and although early investigations pointed to possible discrepancies that could result in new physics theories, these have been subsequently ironed out. As a result, the Higgs now fairly solidly confirms the Standard Model.

The Standard Model has been around for about fifty years and describes how matter is made up, consisting of Leptons, Quarks and Bosons. So far there are six Leptons, six Quarks (grouped together as twelve Fermions) and five Bosons, including the Continue reading

NASA has a long history of making goofs (or “poor decision” making if we want to be more formal) over the years. After all it’s a government organization so anything forward-thinking, innovative or bold will get quickly squashed under the fat boot of bureaucracy and risk-aversion – despite any claims to the contrary.

So it should really come as little surprise that NASA’s competition to find a commercial supplier of space crew ferrying to Low Earth Orbit has resulted in the choice of two companies: SpaceX and Boeing.

The choice of SpaceX is admirable and not entirely unexpected; the company already privides NASA with non-crew launch services using its in-house systems and has been dedicated to developing access to space since its inception in 2002.

Boeing is somewhat less obvious. Although they have Continue reading

A while back I wrote about how the U.S. government is handing millions of dollars over to private fruit growers in Florida to fund research that the fruit growers should pay for. Well now there’s another example closer to home. The Canadian government just announced it is “investing” $6.7 million in “Earth Observation products”; euphemism for giving more large cash handouts to private companies.

According to the write up twelve (12) companies will receive contracts all suspiciously around the $550, 000 mark. So closely aligned are these figures, you might almost wonder if there is some kind of extra scrutiny that comes into play around the $600, 000 mark that they want to avoid. Not only that, but some of the numbers are laughably over-precise: $568,260.05, $551,871.95 and $537,994.29 are just some examples.

The projects include a pipeline monitoring system, which the announcement clearly indicates will benefit “pipeline developers and operators” with the development being carried out by a private company in BC. There’s also a rapid response monitoring system for mines, oil and gas fields being awarded to another BC company, also a direct benefit to those “poor” resource industries. In fact there are quite a few of these systems that benefit “oil and gas and mining companies” along with “pipeline developers and operators”, so many in fact that you’d think that those companies didn’t have two nickels to rub together. Several projects directly benefit the Forestry industry too.

One project is so blatant that it beggars belief – “Development of a Commercial End-to-End Interferometric Processing Capability for Environmental Monitoring” which is being awarded to PCI Geomatics, in Quebec. Imagine that, the Canadian government is paying a private company to develop a commercial product from which the company receives all the benefit!

If any of this seems to smell, that’s because it does. It stinks of graft. It stinks of corruption deep at the heart of the Canadian government, whether dressed up as “scientific research contracts” or any other misleading phrase. I wonder how much scrutiny the owners and operators of these companies could stand up to.

 

A few days ago I saw this news story. It discusses how SpaceX is challenging a patent Blue Origin has obtained on “Sea landing of space launch vehicles”.

Not only has SpaceX already carried out test landings at sea, but this concept has been detailed several times previously by other groups, including NASA and the Russian space program. So to grant a patent in this case is rather ridiculous. For a patent to be awarded, the subject is supposed to be “useful, novel and non obvious”, but these seems to be entirely absent from the Blue Origin claim.

As others who work in the IT field will know, this kind of patent troll is all too familiar. The only people to gain from this will be Continue reading

A recent article announced that the U.S. Government is going to provide $25 million per year (up to $125 million) plus millions in other funding to fund research in to a cure for Citrus Greening. A disease currently threatening the citrus industry, especially in Florida where almost all of the orange groves are infected to some extent.

The infection is spread by the Asian citrus psyllid, a form of lice, that feed on the trees and infect them with bacteria, turning the fruit sour and ultimately killing the trees. As a result the citrus industry is facing it’s lowest crop yields in twenty-nine years.

According to the article the citrus industry in Florida alone is worth $9 billion and employs 75,000 people.

So shouldn’t the citrus industry itself be funding this research? They’re the ones who will ultimately benefit after all and $25 million represents a meager quarter of a percent of the industry’s value.

What this amounts to is simply your hard-earned tax dollars being handed over to private companies Continue reading

I read an interesting piece recently about how not teaching handwriting appears to lead to a lack of creativity and overall learning ability. The idea put forward is that the brain develops more pattern recognition ability and cognitive skills by learning to write the “old-fashioned” way. Tests carried out show that the brain’s learning centers are not activated to the same level in children that learn “writing” through tracing of letters or just by computer typing. Even more significantly the studies also show that these effects seem to cascade over time with children who aren’t taught handwriting skills performing at lower levels in later life.

In these days of Google-Almighty and the general vogue for making everything “easy,” we seem to have completely lost sight of Continue reading

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