Saturday, December 24, 2011

College Football Playoff

Every year around this time everyone from casual fans to coaches discuss the problems with the Bowl Championship Series(BCS) and how they would fix it. Of course I have an idea and here it is:

A 16 team tournament featuring the conference champions from all 11 conferences, yes even the WAC and Sun Belt, plus the top 5 at-large team in the Bowl Championship Tournament rankings. The difference between these ranking and the current BCS standings is the fact that my ranking have no human polls which takes that element out of the rankings.

2011 Final Rankings:
The teams highlighted in yellow are the at-large teams.

Based on the rankings the teams in the 2011 Bowl Championship Tournament are:
LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma St., Stanford, Arkansas, Boise St., Oregon, Kansas St., Wisconsin, Clemson, TCU, Southern Miss., West Virginia, Arkansas St., Northern Illinois, Louisiana Tech
The at-large team come from the SEC(2), Big 12, Pac-12, and Mountain West.

The teams are ranking based on their place in the poll and matched up just how they should be in a 16 team bracket. The 1-16, 4-13, 5-12, and the 8-9 match-ups are in the East bracket while the other four game are in the West. The brackets swap each year and defined by the location of the 2nd and 3rd round games. The East bowl games are Outback, Capital One, and Orange and the West bowl games are Rose, Cotton, and Fiesta. The seventh bowl game is the Sugar bowl which this year is hosting the championship game. They rotate around each year so each bowl gets the championship once every 7 years and a semifinal game every 3-4 years. The 1st round game take place at the home of the highest ranked team which encourages team to play well during the season to get an extra home game.

Here is the bracket with the 1st round match-ups.


December 22 1st round games:
  • West #8 Northern Illinois at West #1 Alabama, at Bryant-Denny Stadium
  • East #7 West Virginia at East #2 Stanford, at Stanford Stadium
  • East #6 Southern Miss at East #3 Arkansas, at Reynolds Razorback Stadium
  • West #5 Clemson at West #4 Oregon, at Autzen Stadium
December 23 1st round games:
  • East #8 Louisiana Tech at East #1 Louisiana State, at Tiger Stadium
  • West #7 Arkansas State at West #2 Oklahoma State, at Boone Pickens Stadium
  • West #6 TCU at West #3 Boise State, at Broncos Stadium
  • East #5 Wisconsin at East #4 Kansas State, at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium
A number of intriguing games and over the next couple of day I will be making predictions for all of these games and eventually crowning a BCT champion.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

RIM to get ride of Blackberry?

At one point a few years ago the cool phones out there were Blackberries. They were the top choice of business people and many kids wanted them as well. Since then Apple has released it's hugely popular IPhone and Google has developed it's Android OS which is used in tons of the newest phones. These two developments have dropped RIM, Blackberry's maker, market share to around 9% down from 24% last year. There may be a day soon were Blackberries don't exist anymore but will RIM go down with the ship?
Not if they have anything to say about. From this article on MSNBC RIM is looking to become the IBM of the mobile phone world. RIM just announced Blackberry Mobile Fusion which is security software aim at its Blackberry phones as well as IOS and Android phones. Fusion can handle all the apps, password and other software currently being run on all of the phone it supports. It also can wipe the memory of a stolen or lost phone and is set up to keep people from leaving Blackberry Enterprise Servers, which are used by many businesses. Hopefully this software will be a success and give RIM time to revamp it's phone line to compete with Apple and Google because losing a company that has such a great history in phones would defiantly hurt the industry.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Change in Technology Interview


For extra credit my History 341 professor asked us to interview an elderly relative about how history has changed in the last 50 or so years. I decided to interview Mary Meah, who is a longtime family friend and previously served as my brothers and I’s nanny back in the day.
Can you give me a quick rundown of your life and how you ended up in Florida?
I was born and raised in Portsmouth in southern England and grew up during World War II. My son was a soccer coach and he came to America 34 years ago. He coached in Chicago as part of an exchange program. At the end of the program he wanted to come back full time and he did, finishing high school and getting a soccer scholarship at a small college. I came to Florida for the warm weather after living in Colorado for a number of years. I’ve always wanted to come to America ever since I was a child. It started when I would see the American sailors in Portsmouth and that created an ambition to come and live in America.
What is the biggest change in technology for you in the last 50 years?
Definitely in the medical field, it phenomenal the way people live much longer now. Back in England sixty was really old and now many people live into their nineties. The MRIs, heart transplants, and such have been vast technological advancements.
How was the technology different in America than it was in England when you moved here?
  • For a start obviously everybody had to have a car and they were much bigger than they were in England. The roads were very different and the freeways blew my mind.
  • When I left England approximately half of the people had a telephone in their house while in America everyone had a phone.
  • Television was very different, when I left England there were only two channels and they wouldn’t come on till the evening. But they seem to be catching up every time I go back. When I originally came England was 7 to 10 years behind America in technology.
  • When I was growing up we didn’t have a fridge until I was 18 and it was so tiny that the only thing in it was a bottle of milk and butter. For food we would just go out buy it and then eat it immediately.
What one piece of technology do you wish you had 50 years ago?
Well I got to say the computer for the knowledge you can get. All we had was the library to get all of our knowledge.
Tell me a story about technology in your life?
We didn’t have a telephone when I was growing up. The first phone I had was for my hairdressing business. Most of us just used telephone boxes, which was within 3 or 4 miles of our house. The only people that had telephones were business and the wealthy. Cars and telephone seemed to go hand in hand. My father was extremely nervous about picking up the telephone, he basically wouldn’t. Even when I asked him at my business he wouldn’t pick it up because he was nervous of someone being on the other end of the line. It wasn’t just him, a lot of people felt the same way about phone because most of the time it was bad news that would be passed over the phone. The most important events were transmitted by telegrams and were delivered by a telegram boy, my family would be afraid to get the door because they didn’t want to hear bad news.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

SCRIW

This weekend The Hitchhikers attended the first annual South Carolina Robotics Invitational and Workshops. I was able to convince the team to go after all the fun that I had at TNT last month. I volunteered to ref the event to get more experience before next season. After the long drive down Friday night, including a stop at FU to visit Lauren, we were all up before 7 so we could arrive at the venue right around when it opened at 7:30.
After we got to Columbia High School and got all settled in I went to go check out the field and was told by the event organizers that the SC/NC head ref, Terrell, who was coming to SCRIW to head ref was at a Lego League event and wasn't going to be in until the afternoon and until then I would be filling in as head ref. Naturally I accepted and got to train the rest of the refs and scorekeepers. Overall the event went really well and I once again really enjoyed being on the field crew. Even when Terrell arrived just near the end of qualifying he was cool with letting me continue to head ref and was more than happy to help.
Getting to see how another offseason event, besides TNT, is run was interesting especially since I am trying to put together an offseason event in North Carolina. It also showed how spoiled we are at TNT, not that SCRIW was badly run because it wasn't. At SCRIW the AndyMark guys were running the field and the rest of field crew was a bit shorthanded, while at TNT Krunch basically supplies the entire field crew made up of alumni and mentors. It showed me that not only do you need enough teams but you also need volunteers and hopefully North Carolina has them.
As for team 2059, we went 2-4 was seeded 17th and 17 and was not selected for elimination. It wasn't really that disappointing to me because I was working, what I was really disappointed about was the fact that we seemed to have the same problems, with the robot and the team, which we had at North Carolina. Despite having a bunch of new students and 6 months to work on the robot we still aren't up to our potential. Hopefully we can correct these problems and get the team firing on all cylinders by January.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Atomic Bomb Dismantled

Yesterday workers in Amarillo, Texas removed the uranium from the last B53 nuclear bomb. This marks a huge moment for this country because the B53 were the largest nuclear bombs ever created by the United States. The B53 which is the size of a minivan weighed in at around 5 tons and was 600 times more powerful then the atomic bomb that killed 140,000 people in Hiroshima, Japan. The size was due to the inaccuracies of older nuclear bomb, newer bombs are smaller but they are also better aimed to reduce collateral damage.

While the nuclear bomb was one of the most deadly technological advances of all time the science behind it cannot be ignored. Before nuclear bombs were created near the end of World War II nuclear reactions were completely unknown to the world. Through the development of nuclear bombs like the B53 we have been able to harness the power of nuclear reactions for electricity which releases less pollution then standard coal-fired power plants.

The dismantling of the bomb is part of the United States larger effort to reduce and possibly eliminate all nuclear weapons throughout the world. The two countries with the largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons, the United States and Russia, built most of them during the arm race that was the Cold War. The rest of the countries that have nuclear weapons recieved the technology from one of the original two countries. The UN has been trying to reduce the number of nuclear weapons and hopefully the START treaty that the US and Russia signed will lead these countries to reduce their nuclear stockpile as well.
For a list of state with nuclear weapons click this link.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

High-Speed Rail

During the late 1800s if you wanted to travel long distances trains were the way to go. Trains helped to shape the United States and make it what it is today. With the invention of air travel, which was much faster, trains fell out of favor and mainly served to transport cargo. The combination of rising gas prices and the recent recession have seen a rebirth of travel by railroad. Amtrak has shown record ridership over the last year and is looking to expand routes.

The other type of rail travel that has been gaining steam is high-speed rail. Basically high-speed rail is just the same as normal passenger rail except that the trains travel an upward of 200 mph compared to 60-80 mph. It has caught on in Europe and Japan because of the proximity of large cities in those two areas. Trying to recreate that success in the United States the Obama administration identified 10 high-speed rail corridors ranging from the California corridor to the Empire corridor. Both my hometown of Tampa and my current city, Raleigh, were featured in potential corridors. Tampa, as part of the Florida corridor, recently had the high-speed rail cancelled because of potential cost overruns. Raleigh, as part of the Southeast corridor, is still working on the rail route from Richmond. While high speed rail is really interesting and I have always been a big train fan, I just don't see the potential reward for the cost unless there is already a route between the two planned locations.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tempest 'n' Tampa 2011

After a one year break Tempest 'n' Tampa(TNT) returned with a new venue and of course a new game. Now that I'm an alumni/mentor I came back and volunteered as a referee. This was the first event that I have ever reffed at so I was a new experience for me. Overall I thought it went very well and was a lot of fun. Plus I got to ref with a couple of my good friends, Bryan Gallo and Michelle Hawley, plus head ref Alex Sims and Gabe Salas which made it all the more fun.
Other than calling penalties, disabling towers, and handing out red cards TNT featured it's trademark lock-in Friday night. Most of the games are reserved for the team but I as well as the rest of "Team Staff" got to demonstrate a couple of the games and compete in human LogoMotion and Oink, Oink, Boom. The only problem with the lock-in was the fact that I got like 3 and a half hours of sleep and I had to ref all day Saturday.
As for the competition, congrats to 233, 744 and 665 on winning TNT and to 801, 1592 and 1251 for 2 hard fought finals matches even though 1251 lost their CRIO power cables. For 233 and 744 winning an event once is pretty impressive but to win the same event 3 out 4 years is incredible.
In conclusion despite taking a year off TNT was just as good as ever and I was awesome getting to spend some time with my robotics friends that are at college, Bryan, Michelle, Jonell, Will, Lauren, Cat, Alex and anyone else I forgot.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

This Week in Fantasy: Week 1

This is a new feature that I will be posting every week during football season. Basically I will go over the past weekend's football specifically focusing on fantasy. This year I am playing in two fantasy football leagues. The first one is the Shimberg Fantasy Football League which is made up almost exclusively of family member and I have been playing in for 6 or 7 years. New to the fantasy plate this year is The League which is one by one of my friends. I am mainly going to focus on the SFFL only going over my game score and current standings from The League.

Shimberg Fantasy Football League:
Jacob's Jaguars(Jacob): 146.9
Josh Freeman's Jew Fros: 120.88

Connor's Champs: 160.16
Chase's Stone Crabs: 151.98

I am a certified lifeguard: 122.92
Rhett's Rebels: 116.06

Jared's Juicers: 115.72
Andrew's Armadillos: 98.98

Wyatt's Winners: 113.0
Kyle's Kryptonite: 115.46

City Attorney's Legal Eagles: 89.18
O-bro's Hobos: 49.96

For the week I had the 2nd highest point total 14 less than Connor's Champs. My top scorers were Kenny Britt who had 42.6 with 136 rec yards and 2 TDs and Philip Rivers who had 335 yards passing 2 TDs and 2 INTs. Right now I am tied for 1st place in division 1 with Connor and i am a certified lifeguard.

The League:
Yoda's Jedis(Jacob): 102.96
Griffins: 64.48

For the week I had the fifth highest score and my top scorers were Josh Freeman with 17.56 and Reggie Wayne with 16.6. As in the SFFL I am tied for first place in the standings.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Future of Outer Space Exploration: Part 2

In part 1 I talked only about the United States, in part 2 I am going to focus on other countries. The countries that will be profiled are Russia, the European Space Agency, China, and Japan.
Russia:
Currently Russia is the only country that participated in the ISS program operating manned spacecraft, Soyuz, which was developed by the former Soviet Union to take men to the moon. First tested in 1966 the Soyuz spacecraft has operated 110 flights over the last 45 years. The current Soyuz-TMA has been improved and modified many time since the original Soyuz A. On top of the Soyuz the Russians also operate the Progress unmanned cargo spacecraft. For all intents and purposes it is a modified Soyuz that is designed to get carry cargo and burn up in the atmosphere during reentry. Currently Russia is working on developing a new manned spacecraft, Rus, that would replace the Soyuz. A design has not yet been decided on, but when one is it will probably 3-4 years before a manned version is ready to launch.
European Space Agency:
The ESA is made up of 19 European countries and Canada and mainly focuses on satellite launches with their Ariane 5 rocket. The ESA has also launch two Automated Transfer Vehicles which are similar to the Progress but three times larger. Three more launches are planned at 17 month intervals. As for manned spacecraft the ESA is looking info modifying the ATV to handle a crew three for ISS crew missions and potentially a mission to Mars.
Japan:
Japan's only spacecraft is the unmanned H-II Tranfer Vehicle which has been launched twice in the last three years. The HTV is used to resupply Japan's Kibo modules on the ISS. Kibo is made up of three modules and makes Japan's contribution the third largest after the United States and Russia. Japan has made no progress when it comes to manned space flight but they hope to have a lunar mission ready to fly by 2020.
China:
China is currently operating manned and unmanned spacecraft. The manned spacecraft Shenzhou has launch 7 total mission with three of them being manned. More missions are planned including docking Tiangong 1 space station which should launch sometime soon. Two larger space stations are also planned as is a lunar mission by the end of decade.

It may look like a lot of countries space programs especially China are moving ahead of the United States now that the Space Shuttles are retired. What I think is happening is that all of the Space Agencies are going through the same trial and tribulations that we went through during the space race of the 1960s. Our space program has been flying for almost 50 years and has developed more types of spacecraft than anybody including the only reusable spacecraft ever. There is no real need to worry because we are closer to having craft ready to go the moon than anybody.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Future of Outer Space Exploration: Part 1

In class on Wednesday we began discussing Angle of Attack and the topic was brought up about whats next for NASA and space travel now that the Space Shuttles have been retired. From the brief comments that were made in class it became apparent to me that NASA has been flying well under the radar with what it is up to. This is the complete opposite from how all of the programs in NASA's history have been operated with tons of media coverage throughout the programs.
With the last Shuttle flight completed and the cancellation of Constellation program the future of NASA is up in the air. NASA is right now working on developing a heavy lifting Space Launch System to eventually fly to near Earth Asteroids and Mars. What will fly on top of that launch system is another major shift in NASA's policy, a reliance on commercial companies to build and operate rockets and spacecraft. I made a mention of this in my post about the launch failure of the Russian Progress spacecraft, here. One of the two companies that won contracts for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services, COTS, Space X was briefly mentioned, but right now I want to talk a little about the other company, Orbital Science and their Tauras II rocket and Cygnus spacecraft.
Orbital Science, normally called Orbital, was founded in the early 1980s and mainly focused on launching satellites. In 2008 they began to develop the Tauras II rocket and unmanned Cygnus spacecraft to fly 8 cargo missions to the ISS. The first Tauras II flight was originally going to take place in 2010 but has been postponed until at least the fourth quarter of 2011.
The other company that won a COTS contract with NASA was Space X out of Hawthorne, CA. Space X uses a Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft to complete their missions to the ISS. As part of their 12 cargo flight contract Space X has to fly 2 test flights to the ISS to test out all of the systems of the spacecraft. The second of those two flights with launch in November and if everything goes well the first private unmanned cargo flight to the ISS will take place next year. On top of that crewed Dragon capsules should be ready to test in a year of two.
As for Mars NASA is working with Space X to get a Dragon and new Falcon 9 Heavy rocket for a low-cost mission to Mars that would launch by the end of decade.
So far I have only talked about cargo and ISS crew flights and have made no mention of private sub-orbital and orbital space planes like the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo. Most of these planes are not yet spacecraft because they are not designed to leave the atmosphere. Virgin is looking to start flights next year and soon anyone will be able to go into space.
Part 1 has focused on the future of United States space travel, part 2 which should come either tonight or tomorrow will focus on what other countries are doing when it comes to space travel.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Moon Landing Lunacy

I'm tagging this in tech in history even though it doesn't really have much to do with technology or history except that it took place in 2009 and that was the first year of the NI control system which is pretty cool technology, but I digress. On July 20, 1969 Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon and 40 years later to commemorate this historic event the FIRST Robotics Competition dedicated its 2009 game, Lunacy, to the Apollo moon landing. Now some of you may ask what the FIRST robotics competition is and the answer is this:
It all started in 1989 when inventor Dean Kamen, well known for inventing the Segway, founded For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, abbreviated FIRST, to get more students involved in science and engineering. In 1992 FIRST created the FIRST Robotics Competition(FRC), which is FIRST's flagship high school robotics program. Each January high school student, parents, and engineering mentors gather all around the world to watch the FRC kickoff which reveals the game challenge. Teams then have 6 weeks to design, build, and test a 120 lb fully functioning robot from scratch before they have to ship it to the regionals. Teams that perform well at regional qualify for the Championship event, which has over 350 of the over 2000 FRC.
For more information on FIRST check out their website.
And now back to what this has to do with the moon landing and technology in history. While I was in high school I was involved in my high school's FRC team, Team Krunch 79, from 2007-2010. As previously stated the 2009 game, Lunacy, was dedicated to the moon landing and had a number of features that you would find on the moon. For more check out the game animation courtesy of YouTube:
As you can see it was a very fun game to play.
The main reasons I am writing this post are to link a couple of interesting parts of my life, show that technology is every, and to get FIRST out there so maybe you'll check it out think its cool and come to an event during the 2012 season.
And now I leave you with my favorite Krunch match from 2009 courtesy of thebluealliance.com:
video

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Progress Launch Failure

This story slipped through the cracks of most major news outlets, but it made the news section on Wikipedia and it piqued my interest. Even better than that it is pertanent to class at the moment because we are read Angle of Attack, which is about the Apollo program. This past wednesday a Russian Progress unmanned spacecraft was launched for the International Space Station. During the third stage of ascent the Soyuz rocket carrying the Progress shut down meaning the Progress didn't achieve orbit. This Progress named M-12M was carrying over 6000 pounds of food, fuel and other supplies for the ISS. The ISS crew is not in any danger at the moment because the last shuttle mission left them almost a years worth of supplies.

This failure, the first with the Progress spacecraft, should have been bigger news because of the recent retirement of the American space shuttles. Without our own spacecraft we have to rely on other countries, mainly Russia, to resupply and change crews on the ISS. In my opinion, this launch failure so close to the last shuttle flight shows that other countries aren't as capable when it comes to space travel as the United States, who had zero launch failures during the entire ISS program.

Luckily for the United States we may not have to wait long for our own spacecraft to once again rendezvous with ISS. In November private contractor Space X will launch its second Dragon cargo spacecraft, this one with a mission to dock with the ISS. While the Progress launch failure is shocking and a little worrisome for NASA the ISS will survive and continue to operate at full speed while the Russian space program corrects their flaws with the Soyuz launch system.

Friday, August 26, 2011

787 Dreamliner

In a ceremony today at the Boeing facility in Washington state the FAA awarded 787 "Dreamliner" certification and allows Boeing to begin delivery next month. The first 787 will be delivered to Japanese airline All Nippon Airways. After that Boeing will deliver the other 826 orders that were placed during the design phase of the aircraft. Fifty-five different airlines have placed orders for 787 including Continental and Delta Airlines.
Development of the 787 began in 2005 and the first flight took place at the Boeing plant in 2009. It is the first commercial plane to use carbon fiber components to reduce weight and increase fuel efficiency, a building model that was soon followed by Boeing's main competitor Airbus with their A350. With new technology come new problems and the 787 is no exception. Included in these were supply chain problems and National Labor Relations Board claims of a nonunion facility in South Carolina. Despite these problems the Boeing 787 is ready to fly and sets the bar high for all future commercial aircraft.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Difference between Knowledge and Information

It took me a little while to find a good example to show the difference between knowledge and information as explained in chapter 5 in the Social Life of Information. This was until last night when I was watching my suitemate Elijah play NBA 2K10. I began having a discussion with him and another suitemate Devonte about the NBA, who the best player is and why everyone is so down on Lebron James. Now both Elijah and Devonte watch a lot of basketball and are big fans, while I watched 1 regular season game and zero playoff games this past season. All of my information comes from watching Sportscenter in the mornings so I don't have the same knowledge that they do. The discussion went on for over an hour and at times did get a little heated, but overall it was an excellent discussion.
This is a good example of what the Social Life of Information was explaining because while I knew a lot of information about basketball I didn't see what was taking place during the game and couldn't really keep with my basketball fan friends. At the end of the discussion I informed then that I have very little knowledge of basketball and despite that I think that I handled myself much better than Monk did in the video clip showed in class on Aug. 22.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Apollo 18

Tonight while I was watching TV I saw a trailer for the new movie Apollo 18 which come out on September 2. The trailer contained footage of a secret 7th manned mission to the moon. Other trailers have shown a dead cosmonaut and the men being attach by an alien. This movie seems relevant to class because right now we are reading Angle of Attack which is a book detailing the first part of the Apollo program mainly focusing on the North American corporation. Many of the men profiled in Angle of Attack would have been involved with this secret mission having been involved throughout the program.
Apollo 18 shows how a big event in history, like the moon landing, can continue to have a large effect on the world even though it happened over 40 years ago. Many movies over the years have used the moon landing as an intregral part of there plot, for example earlier this summer Transformers: Dark of the Moon portrayed the moon program as a mission to examine the remains of the Autobot ship the "Ark" which crashed on the moon in 1961. Since the moon landing and the space race that built up to it were such momumental events in human history I forsee many more movies involving the moon and the Apollo program. I will try to get out and see Apollo 18 when it comes out in theaters next week.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

First Post

Hi, if you don't already know me I'm Jacob Paikoff and after months of waiting I have finally joined the blogosphere. I don't really expect anybody to read this for a little while except maybe my mom but I doubt it.