10 Mile Paddle

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This gallery contains 16 photos.

Sunday, I did Charles River Canoe and Kayak’s Shuttled River Trip from their Nahanton Park location. You meet at Nahanton Park in the morning, and they drop you and the kayaks ten miles upstream, at Charles River Park, a small turnout along Route 135.

The scenery is very nice along the way, and the weather was perfect. Some parts are very wild looking — you’d never know you were close to civilization. In other parts, you’re drifting under bridges and past some very impressive homes. Continue reading

Apple v. Samsung

It didn’t take the jury nearly as long as expected to return a verdict in the Apple/Samsung case. They had a lot of questions to answer, but it didn’t take them long to answer.

One of the most interesting things about the trial has been the publication of many of Apple’s earlier iPhone and iPad prototypes. This is something I’ve been wanting to see for years– it’s always interesting seeing how something has evolved. I’ve long wanted to see how the Aqua user interface used in Mac OSX evolved, prior to its first public release in one of the developer previews.

More importantly though, the parade of prototypes showed that Apple had done the work. They clearly showed that the devices hadn’t sprung magically from Steve Job’s brow; there were a lot of false tries and dead ends involved before they converged on the final designs. In addition, the prototypes demonstrated that the final solutions arrived at were not obvious, and they were not just the development of prior art.

If Samsung had been able to show a similar set of prototypes, they could have made a claim for convergent evolution — things that serve the same purpose tend to end up working the same way. They couldn’t; and Apple was able to introduce emails from Samsung discussing their own designs in light of the iPhone design. I think this 1-2 punch of the Apple prototypes and the lack of similar preliminary work was enough to cook Samsung’s goose.

Neil Armstrong

It was a shock to hear that Neil Armstrong died yesterday; it seemed like it was not so long ago that we watched him step out onto the lunar surface.

Of course, it has been a long time. I was nearly ten that Sunday in July; and very much into the space program. I read as much about it as I could, watched all the launches, and of course, there were the models. Dad and I built a model of the Saturn V together, and I’d also built a larger scale model of the three Apollo modules. I clearly remember the Gulf paper model of the lunar module, and I remember ‘flying’ it–with the aid of a string– from the Cape house stairs.

We were on the Cape that Sunday in July for our two weeks. That year, dad had picked up a secondhand mast, and he and my uncles were setting it up as a flagpole.

I remember running into the house around four to watch the coverage of the landing– with Walter Cronkite, of course. This was in the days before cable, and the picture was snowy and staticky. But I remember when they landed.

What I don’t remember noticing–whether it was because I was only nearly ten, or because of the crummy reception, or because Cronkite himself didn’t remark upon it, was what a near run thing it was. They landed with only about 30 seconds worth of fuel left. Armstrong had noticed the computer was taking them down into a field of boulders, and took over manual control of the Eagle to land them safely.

Once Eagle had landed, I went back outside, where Dad was finishing the installation of the flagpole. They’d set the base of it in concrete, and scratched into the wet cement ‘JULY 20 1969 – ON THIS DAY, MAN LANDED ON THE MOON’. The flagpole and inscription are still there.

The original official plan had called for the astronauts to take a nap between landing and doing the moonwalk. But soon, it was announced, they were going to go ahead with the moonwalk sooner — around 10:30. I begged to be able to watch it, but it was past my bed time, and off to bed I had to go (sulking). Soon, though, Dad came back up stairs, and told me I could watch it after all.

Being the Cape, reception was poor. And it took longer than expected for them to completely vent the Lunar Module, and for Armstrong to work his way through the tight front door of the LM. But eventually, we saw his shadowy figure bouncing down the steps of the LM, and onto the the front footpad.


Neil Armstrong was something of an accidental hero; his place as the first man on the moon is partly due to the happenstance of the astronaut rotation, and the influence of previous events, like the Apollo 1 fire, the deaths of the original Gemini 9 prime crew several years before, and changes to the program sequence, like the insertion of the lunar orbital Apollo 8 mission. And unlike the early European explorers, there is no one person responsible of the success of the Apollo missions. Neil Armstrong was simply the most visible (and somewhat reluctant) face of it. And yet, on the last few moments of the descent, it was his skill and levelheadedness that took them to the surface.

He was an intensely private man. His crew mate, Michael Collins, once described the crew of Apollo 11 as “amiable strangers”, communicating only the technicalities needed to get the job done. By way of contrast, his successor on Apollo 12, Pete Conrad, was very much of an extrovert, and insisted on bonding his mission into a “crew-crew”. I sometimes wonder if Armstrong would have preferred to have commanded one of the later missions instead, where the glare of publicity was less, and there was more focus on surface operations. The only exploring Armstrong got to do was a brief one minute run to the edge of a crater, near the end of the space walk.

On the other hand, he was a test pilot, and Apollo 11 was essentially the last of the test missions, where NASA was figuring out how to land a man on the moon. (I still remember the commentary on the fact that when the Eagle landed, they didn’t know exactly where. Later missions were able to land much closer to target).

Its been 43 years since Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, and nearly 40 years since Gene Cernan left it. Cernan’s still the last man on the moon, something that would have been considered shocking back then. Someday, however, someone will go back there, and Cernan will yield his title.

Neil Armstrong, however, will always be first.

Medflight Motorcycle Run

I took part in the 5th Annual Medflight Motorcycle Run today. The run, which benefits the operations of Boston Medflight, started in Canton at noon. This year, the route was different. Instead of going down Bay Road to Easton and Mansfield, we went through Sharon, back roads to Route 27 in Medfield, before looping back via Routes 16 and 135.

I put the iPhone in the map pocket of my tank bag, intending to get a GPS track, but the sun fried it! ( temporarily). Next time, I put something white in the pocket to keep it cool.

When we got back, they had a barbecue, and then the helicopter arrived. It’s amazing how much wind it kicks up. I got a good video of it landing, but it’s only visible in Safari– when I tried to convert it to formats other browsers can read, it cam out upside down. So much for embedding video with the iOS version of WordPress…

East Coast Divers Annual Picnic

Today was the East Coast Divers Annual Picnic at Sandwich Town Beach. They’ve been doing it the first weekend in August for as long as I’ve been diving, and probably before that. For the past several years, it’s been co-hosted by several other dive shops. There were around 200 people there, including a bunch of familiar faces. This year was the last year Paul Adler was hosting; Nick and Alex are taking over the store at the end of September.

Sandwich Town Beach is a very easy dive site once you have all the gear on the beach.  A lot of people gear up at their cars in the parking lot; I’ve done that myself some years, but this year, with the heat and humidity, I felt it was better to gear up on the beach. It’s a sandy beach, with a gentle slope down to the water. It’s on Cape Cod Bay, near the canal, so there isn’t much surf. Underwater, it’s a mix of sand and clay. The clayey parts are filed with holes and burrows created by the animals there.

This year, I was diving with Henri Menco and JP Falcone, both of whom were on the Bonaire trip with me. Henri did the first dive, and JP did both dives.

The thing that struck me this year was how many jellyfish were in the water. There were tons of the them; little ones about half the size of your hand. I tried several times to get pictures of them, with mixed success. The best ones, with the strobe pulled in closer to them, have quite a bit of backscatter; the others are too dark.

Aside from the jellyfish, there were several flounder, some crabs, and a couple of small lobsters. JP saw a large lobster in a hole in the second dive, but couldn’t get it out.

After the second dive, I did a drift though the tidal creek that runs behind the beach; if you hit the tide right, which I did, the outgoing tide will take you through the marsh. Near the end of the drift, I saw a striped bass right below me.