Adblock fixes for Poughkeepsie Journal

I finally got around to figuring out how to fix Adblock (Chrome or Firefox) with the Poughkeepsie Journal site. Without running adblock, I find their site completely unusable. Because their design team does truly crazy things with javascript (and not in a good way), basically all the controls on the site don't work (including the search box) with default adblock. It turns out that by adding the following exception to your Adblock rules, you get most of that function back:

@@||http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/odygel/*

And now you can do things like go to page 2 of a story, or even use the search box, and not be assaulted by popups and half page expanding ads that push all the content off the page.

The Dutchess County Rail Trail Expands

Yesterday, a new 6 mile section of the Dutchess County Rail Trail opened. This means that we can now ride out our front door, and in less than 3 miles get onto 8 miles of scenic ride with only 3 at grade crossings the entire way.

I managed to get out there tonight after work, though given that it was the first ride of the year, cheated and drove to the entrance. 1:45 and 16.5 miles later, I'd ridden down to Hopewell Junction and back. While I didn't end up with any riding companions, My Tracks apparently has a new feature where it speaks to you after every completed km or mile (depending on your units) with total time and averages. That freaked me out the first time, but I got used to it as a nice cadence.

Here is my own track from tonight:

View 2011-05-26 18:00 in a larger map

And the trail map for people in the area that might be interested:

Well worth venturing out, it's a great ride.

Nothing prepares you for a Shuttle Launch

No matter how many times you've seen a Shuttle launch on TV, you are not prepared for the event in person. This was made even better by being surrounded by fans and enthusiasts of the US Space program. The only other experience I've had that came close was being at the Olympics in 2000. But this was more intense, because while I enjoy the Olympics, I dream about space travel.

We arrived at Kennedy Space Center at 3:30am, our scheduled entry time. And set up chairs and blankets amongst a sea of people, finding a space deep in the crowd. Imagine Woodstock for science buffs, and you are getting the picture.

From the Kennedy Space Center you can't see the pad directly, as there are a row of tree in the way. You can however see where the Shuttle would be coming up. As the clouds came in and out you got a nice bat signal effect.

As dawn broke, the most of the planets we visible, as they are all hanging out in the morning sky. You can see Venus right over the sign, and Jupiter higher up. I also finally saw Mercury naked eye for the first time, which our horizon up here makes difficult.

The crow was ready as the sun came up, but we still had hours of wait time at this point. We passed the time by going on the Shuttle Experience, which was a really great simulation.

As the clock kept moving forward, our MC's for the day, kept saying things were looking better and better for launch. But then again, launches have been scrubbed with 3 seconds to go. When we came out of the scheduled hold and started from T - 9:00 (where there are no more scheduled holds) the crowd all leaped to their feet. The energy was amazing. Once we passed T - 5:00 I started recording, so here is the crowd and launch from my perspective:

The launch happens at 4:30 and you can heard the rumble at about 5:30 (remember the speed of sound is much slower than the speed of light). Even in it's brief visibility, it was amazing. The moment I first saw that jet come above the trees I was brought to tears. We humans can do amazing, incredible things, when we bring our collective will together.

Shuttle Launch Adventure

So many of my adventures over the last 10 years have been because I met and made such a good and diverse pool of friends while I was at Wesleyan University. These adventures have taken me visiting to Puerto Rico, India, England, and Germany (twice). Next up on this long list of adventures is going to try to see the penultimate shuttle launch, STS-134, starting on Monday. My friend Shoshe, fellow physics major at Wesleyan, stayed with the field and is now working on a PhD in planetary science (i.e. geology of Mars) at Cornell. She and her family had gotten some passes for the launch at Kennedy Space Center, and after various delays, it turned out they had a few more passes than people that could go. She offered one to me, and I jumped at the opportunity. At the end of the day there was even an extra one past that, so Ben's joining as well.

I've got a one way ticket to Orlando, and hotel reservations for the week. There is a launch window every day next week, so that will give us a decent chance to catch the launch, assuming there are no long term mechanical failures like the last delay. Very much looking forward to this adventure, and I'll be sure to post pictures once it's over.

Hidden City Ticketting

I knew that Airline pricing was pretty crazy, but I didn't realize it was this crazy:

Passengers flying to or from airports that are dominated by a single carrier — like Memphis, Newark or Dallas/Fort Worth — pay fares 20 or 30 percent higher than at non-hub airports. The prices are even more inflated when you’re flying from a smaller city with a limited number of flights. A nonstop one-way ticket from Des Moines to Dallas/Fort Worth is $375 onAmerican Airlines, for example — more than the $335 Delta will charge you to fly from Miami to Anchorage.

But what happens when you’re interested in flying American from Des Moines to Los Angeles, which hosts a more competitive airport? That flight is only about half the price ($186), despite its being more than double the distance. Now, here’s the trick: American flights from Des Moines to L.A. have a layover in Dallas. If you want to travel to Dallas, the best way to get a reasonable fare is to book the flight to Los Angeles instead, and simply get off the plane at Dallas.

There is an article on NY Times with a great graphic showing route comparisons. I wonder if this becomes enough of a thing, how the airlines will react.

 

Ebook pricing

I really love my Kindle, and I'm happy I bought it. I haven't completely given up on real books though. One of the reasons why is evident below:

This is not a new book, it's a year and a half old. The Kindle price is higher than a brand new hardcover. This isn't actually Amazon's fault, the price here was set by the publisher. If Amazon had it's druthers all these ebooks would be $9.99 or less (and they were until they lost that fight with publishers).

I'll probably read this book, but I won't buy it for the kindle. I'll either get this from the Library or buy a used hardcover which I can then give to my parents as reading material. No incremental revenue to publishers, no additional sales.