Ironic Icealert

February 3rd, 2011

At my place of employment, The Icealert System™ (trademark of Icealert, Inc.) was installed this fall at all of the doorways and the entrance driveway. The Icealert System™ display turns from white to blue when the potential for ice occurs. Now, I live and work in Iowa. We expect it to get cold. (It was a high of 13 degrees Fahrenheit today–which is below freezing, and a bit below the average of  31 [which is still below freezing]). So I was interested to see how The Icealert System™ would be helpful in such a climate where there are extended days, perhaps weeks, where it doesn’t get above freezing. I have been waiting for a day like today and was prepared with my camera phone to take this picture.

Snow covered Icealert indicator

The Icealert System™ indicator is showing “blue” because there is a potential for ice. Well, I guess there is more than potential, as half of the indicator is obscured by snow! This “obscured by snow” indication is not listed as a feature of the indicator on the The Icealert System™ web page. (In fact, in the pictures of the indicator on the companies web site, none of the picture show the indicator in snow.) This snow indication may be a hidden feature of the indicator–sweet.

This kind of reminds me of The Weather Rope. It is typically a board with one end of a small length of rope tied to the board and the other end of the rope is left dangling. There is some variation of this legend included on the board:

Rope Weather
Still Calm
Moving Windy
Wet Rain
Shaking Earthquake
Gone Tornado

I got Froyo last night…here

August 20th, 2010


My Droid received the Android 2.2 (Froyo) release last night. Last night I was here, at Folly Beach, SC.

Airplane Flying Handbook in EPUB format

August 6th, 2010

I have completed converting the Airplane Flying Handbook into EPUB format, a type of digital book. The Airplane Flying Handbook is an FAA publication designed to teach basic piloting skills. I used the Airplane Flying Handbook in ground school when I was studying for my private pilot certificate. You can purchase the EPUB version of the Airplane Flying Handbook in my store.

The digital version contains all of the content from the paper version. But since it is digital you can easily search for terms using your reader. (It still has the index from the paper version too.) I found it to be very convenient to read on my Droid phone, an Android based device, using a program called Aldiko. Having the book on my phone allowed me to make use of my idle time: it was very convenient to open the book on my phone and read a couple pages as time allowed. I have provided a little screen tour of the EPUB Airplane Flying Handbook rendered by Aldiko, captured from my Droid phone. Read the rest of this entry »

Comic for every GA pilot who flies on a commercial flight

April 14th, 2010

xkcd recently posted the perfect comic showing how every GA (or sim) pilot who has to fly commercial, I think, wishes the system worked:

Seat Selection

Seat Selection

Quote from “Authentication is Secondary” by Bob Cringely

February 4th, 2010

From “Authentication is Secondary” by Bob Cringely:

“Remember that all the authentication in the world will not protect against a privileged user doing the wrong thing. It’s just that logging may help to determine what happened after the fact.”

First post using WordPress for Android

February 3rd, 2010

This post was created on Droid phone using WordPress for Android. You can find more details about the app at

High speed abort, Friday the 13th, and 6660

November 13th, 2009

Being an aviation geek, I found my situation this afternoon/evening interesting. I was in Denver, CO, at a technology conference and coming home today. I was on United flight 6660 to Cedar Rapids, IA. Today’s date was 11/13/2009 and the day of the week was Friday. As the CRJ jet operated by SkyWest was gaining speed on takeoff, the takeoff was aborted. The aircraft, after slowing down, pulled off of the runway. The pilot came on the PA system and said that we had to abort takeoff because a warning light came on indicating that one of the deicers was overheating. In his 10 years flying, he had never had to perform a high speed abort. But he reassured everyone that we were never in danger of going off the runway since the runway at Denver is 3 miles long.

Using a Maven profile to run a test program

August 25th, 2009

This is a new (to me) trick for my programming toolbox. I discovered (copied) it from the Apache CXF project. (I don’t know if they originated it or not.) Basically, you can use a Maven profile configuration in your pom.xml to easily run a test program in your project that has a public static void main(String[] args) method. I discovered this technique reading the README.txt of the Apache CXF sample “java_first_jaxws“. Here is what the Maven command looks like:

mvn -Pserver

Here is what the profile configuration in the pom.xml looks like:


When the “mvn -Pserver” command is executed, the exec-maven-plugin will run the demo.hw.server.Server class. The id identifies the profile id used in the mvn command after the “-p“. The mainClass element defines the class with the main method to execute. The exec-maven-plugin does all of the hard work. One of the benefits of this technique is the standard Maven classpath for the project defined in the pom to build and unit test your software is used to run the mainClass. This comes in quite handy if your program uses many jar files. I used to use a Windows batch file (copied from the Tomcat startup script catalina.bat) to run little test programs. This Maven profile technique is much easier to use for me, since I use Maven for most all of my Java development.

Running pfSense on my home LAN

July 4th, 2009

I just got pfSense running on my home LAN. I had a cheap Walmart/Everex PC that wasn’t doing anything. And with the three day weekend I realized that I could use it to create a better home network. I added an Ethernet card that I had plus a new Linksys 10/100 Ethernet card that I found at my local Target for $11.99. This gave the computer 3 network interfaces: WAN, LAN, and Opt1WiFi. I have DSL service, so I hooked the WAN interface of the computer to the DSL router. The WAN interface gets a DHCP address. I hooked the LAN interface to an Ethernet switch that I had around. The LAN interface is configured with a DHCP server. I can hook a laptop into the LAN switch, get a DHCP lease from pfSense, and access the WAN interface out to the Internet.

Yeah, yeah, this could also be done with a typical router like the Linksys WRT54GL. Well, I do have a WRT54GL, which I hooked to the Opt1WiFi interface on the pfSense server. So the WRT54GL also has a concept of a WAN<->LAN interface. In my new configuration the WAN side of the WRT54GL is receiving a DHCP address from the Opti1WiFi interface and the DHCP service of pfSense. The LAN side of the WRT54GL is providing addresses via WiFi (which is how I am posting this from my laptop).

So why have both the pfSense server and the WRT54GL? What the 3 interfaces of the pfSense server allow me to do is separate the WiFi traffic from the LAN. I can add a firewall rule in pfSense to only allow the WiFi traffic from the Opt1WiFi interface to the WAN and block access to the LAN. This will allow me to have services on the LAN network interface that are protected from any WiFi connections.

But what if I want my laptop, connected over the WiFi network, to access my home LAN network? I believe that there are a couple different ways the pfSense will allow me to do that. But that is another task for another time. Because at this time, there isn’t anything (yet) running on my new LAN network segment.

Successfully accessed Facebook with OpenID

May 23rd, 2009

I have successfully accessed Facebook with my OpenID. I learned that Facebook was acting as an OpenID relying party, meaning Facebook will accept some other credentials than ones provided by Facebook to access your Facebook account. I discovered this capability when reading the post OpenID’s Tipping Point. It was very easy to set up. Here are the steps I went through in Facebook to link an account via OpenID:

Settings -> Linked Accounts -> Add a new linked account: -> OpenID…

I then entered my OpenID URL and clicked “Link New Account”.

Using OpenID to access Facebook is a little bit different than other apps that I have used to authenticate with OpenID. To use OpenID to authenticate to Facebook, you actually authenticate with your OpenID provider first before accessing Facebook. Then when you access Facebook, it recognizes the existing OpenID authenticated session and proceeds to take you to your Facebook “Home”.

This is a great enhancement to Facebook. It makes it much more convenient for me to access the application.