General Archive

Friday, March 6, 2009

Casio EX-F1 - First Impression of the High Speed Video

We recently purchased a Casio EX-F1 where I work. This is a pretty high end digital camera, mostly intended for still photography, but we basically bought it for a single reason - to record high speed video. You see, we do a fair amount of testing on new propeller and rotor designs. These spin pretty fast, and if there's a problem, things can happen too quickly for a conventional camcorder to capture much. We've always wanted to use a high speed video system, but traditional options are expensive and a bit out of our budget. The cheapest traditional system I found was $5000, with prices more typically in the 5 figures, and going up into 6 figures for high end systems. So, when the Casio EX-F1 came out, offering high speed video at under $1000, I researched it, and decided that it would be a good option for us.

I took the camera home with me for a weekend to figure out the settings, and we've started using it at work, so I've had a chance to see how it works. I haven't exhaustively put it through its paces, but I figured that my first impression might still be valuable to some people. And even if you aren't considering purchasing this camera, high speed videos are still cool to watch.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

TAKS Test Day

Test Anxiety, from http://cms.colum.edu/psychobabble/features/Once again, it's time for the TAKS Test - a single test that elementary school students must pass (within 3 attempts) in order to move on to the next grade. No pressure or anything.

I didn't grow up here in Texas, so these tests were a foreign concept to me when my daughter started taking them, and didn't seem like such a bad thing. Sure, I'd taken standardized tests in elementary school, but they were never so important. But with these tests carrying so much weight for the students themselves, bonuses the teachers will receive, and funding the schools will receive, teachers end up training students specifically to take these tests, rather than giving them a better well rounded education. Since 3rd grade is when students have to pass the reading TAKS, for months part of my daughter's homework last year was to read a minimum amount every week. I actually thought the reading was a good idea. But as soon as the students took the TAKS, that homework disappeared. The students were not being made to read to broaden their vocabulary, improve their comprehension, or foster any type of love for reading. No, as I later found out, they were just being trained to improve their reading endurance, so that they'd be able to get through the test. In fourth grade, it's the writing TAKS. A couple weeks ago I was asking my daughter what she'd learned in each subject that week. When I asked her about science, she said that they weren't doing science anymore, they were just using that time to practice for the TAKS.

Man, the sooner Texas gets away from this type of testing, the better.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Happy Fastnacht Day

Doughnut Picture from Wikimedia CommonsDepending on where you are in the world, you may call tomorrow something else, like Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day. But from where I'm from in Pennsylvania, it's called Fastnacht Day. Traditionally, you make potato based donuts, called fastnachts, supposedly as a way to empty your larder of all the fatty, sugary foods in preparation for the Lenten fast. My elementary school even used to give out donuts with the lunches on this day. So, in celebration of Fastnachts, here's a recipe on my main site on how to make fastnachts, and a link to the (not so thorough) Wikipedia article.

You're supposed to wake up early to make the fastnachts on Tuesday morning (they're freshest that way), but I usually make them the night before. They keep pretty well in a brown paper lunch bag. I also like to put a little bit of powdered sugar into a ziploc bag, and a mix of granulated sugar and cinammon into another one, to coat the fastnachts just before eating them.

Doughnut Picture from Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Merry Christmas!However you decide to celebrate the winter solstice, I wish you a happy holiday. And if you don't celebrate anything, just have a good time, anyway.

BTW, with this being a short work week, and with my parents coming in to town next week, I won't have too many lunch breaks to work on this blog. So, I'm taking a brief hiatus. Don't expect any new posts from me until next year.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Another Childhood Goal Accomplished

Woohoo! My first patent:

Rotor Collective Pitch vs. Mu to Control Flapping and Mast/Rotor Tilt to Control Rotor RPM

I guess I'm now officially an inventor. However, when a kid can patent his swinging method, I question just how much confirmation a patent actually is.

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