Monday, July 25, 2011

Our Favorite Tablets

The Apple iPad remains most people's favorite when it comes to tablets (and iPod Touches & iPhones).

The name-brand helps -- as well as the build-quality and great integration of hardware and software.  Adobe Flash remains unavailable on these Apple products, so in addition to the Apple tablets and iPods, here are some our other favorite tablets (particularly if you use websites that need flash).

Although not a full-fledged color-tablet, the Kindle remains one of our favorites.  The "experimental" web browsing and free 3G service makes the Kindle very valuable when you are on the road (especially if you do not have a smartphone to check your email).

This helps to save the cost of a cellphone data-plan (if you are a heavy-user of the internet, the Kindle browser may not be good enough for you, but for simple email and checking of news and sports scores, it works fine).

The less-expensive version of the Kindle does NOT offer the 3G service.

The Barnes & Noble Nook Color offers a beautiful 7-inch color display and it's browser will give most users the capabilities they need while they are on the road.

Although it doesn't offer free 3G service like the Kindle, it's browser is more functional -- and uses an Android-based operating system.  The most recent upgrade to Android makes flash available to Nook Color users.  Some folks use an SD upgrade to make the Nook function like a full-fledged tablet (with access to Android Market).

For just under $400, you can get a full-fledged tablet with flash capabilities from ASUS.  The ASUS Eee Transformer offers a 10.1-inch screen and has great reviews.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tablets -- and the lack of Flash

Here's a good article on the reason why Flash is not readily-available on most tablets.

"The Real Reason Why Flash On Tablets Hasn't Happened Yet"

So why aren’t we seeing Flash-enabled browsers on tablets? Plenty of manufacturers have announced Flash capability but we’ve seen little evidence of it running well. Unfortunately, it turns out that Flash Wars is more than just a bit of industry politicking: there are some very tricky technical problems to implementing Flash on an embedded processor – and it’s not going to be solved by locking programmers into a room and yelling “fix it!” at them.

Flash was designed in the mid-90s for PCs and the new Internet era to display multimedia content in a web browser. It decodes video in software, combines the video and graphics in software, synchronizes the video and audio in software, handles Internet dropouts in software, and copies the results as fast as possible into the web browser. It relies on the CPU being fast and handling RAM accesses very quickly.

Read more:

Friday, July 8, 2011

Space Shuttle Facts

With today's last shuttle launch, we wanted to revisit some fun shuttle facts:

Here's some video from a distance (just light in the sky) -- but still amazing to see and a great memory (from a launch we saw two summers ago)...

Some Fun Space Shuttle facts:
  • On the launchpad, the shuttle is the same height as the Statue of Liberty but weighs 3 times as much (4.5 million pounds).
  • The shuttle burns more than 10 tons of fuel per second during takeoff. That's more than 1,000,000 pounds of fuel a minute!
  • At liftoff, the temperature inside the shuttle's engines are two-thirds the temperature of the sun's surface (Sun's surface temp is 9800 degrees F; sun's center is much hotter, at 25 million degrees F).
  • 0 to 60 mph in about 5 seconds. Sports cars can match the shuttle, but the shuttle is fighting gravity (UP) and has 4.5 million pounds to move!
  • If the space shuttle didn't roll backwards soon after launch, it would lose communications (blocked by fuel tanks), astronauts wouldn't have a clean line of sight if navigations went out, and fuel efficiency wouldn't be as great.
  • At 10 seconds (T+10 seconds) - the shuttle is traveling 900 mph. The speed of sound at sea level is 742 mph. At an altitude of 20,000 feet, the speed of sound is 660 mph (Mach 1).
  • 30 seconds - 1,200 mph; main throttle is turned down (to get through denser part of atmosphere more smoothly and with less stress on the shuttle).
  • 48 seconds - 1,400 mph; main throttle up as shuttle gets to thinner atmosphere. Fighter jets fly at this speed (Mach 2 or faster).
  • 1 minute - 2,000 mph
  • 2 minutes - 3,600 mph
  • It takes the shuttle 2.5 minutes to leave earth's "generally recognized" atmosphere of about 62 miles (100 km). (The atmosphere gradually thins, so there's no hard line that separates the earth from space.)
  • 5 minutes - 8,000 mph
  • 8 minutes - 17,500 mph, it's orbiting speed. That's 10 times the speed of most fighter jets.
  • To put this speed in perspective: a commercial airliner takes 6 hours to fly from NYC to LA. A fighter jet can travel the 2,500 miles in less than 2 hours at top speed. The shuttle would do this in less than ten minutes.
  • The shuttle orbits the earth in about 1.5 hours.
  • The shuttle must cool down and "rest" for 40 hours before they can open the bay doors and go outside.
If you are lucky enough to be in Central Florida for a rocket or shuttle launch, visit the Kennedy Space Center for an up-close view. You can also get good views from Titusville (Space View Park) or Cocoa Beach. Due to the delays, we just watched from Orlando (40 miles away) instead of Titusville (13 miles away).

Video from Titusville: