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February 2006 – Stephen Skory

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Month: February 2006



Presidential Seal

When I become president I will mandate through Executive Order that all electronics that include a clock have some sort of mechanism to keep the clock accurate. There are many ways to do this already. Computers that connect to the internet can use Network Time Protocol (NTP). Cars and anything else that will be outside on a daily basis can use the Global Positioning Service (GPS). Anything within the lower 48 states, and much of Canada and Mexico, can use the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) time broadcast out of Fort Collins, Colorado. Cell phones also keep very accurate time because they're in constant contact with the towers.

Sure, there are devices that may not ever go outside (GPS), won't be hooked up to the internet (NTP) and can't receive the NIST or cell tower broadcasts because they're in the basement. But there are ways around this. Put micro-repeaters on powerlines so anything within a neighborhood that is plugged in can receive the time. With careful engineering, even a battery-operated wall clock in the deepest basement could tune into the subtle signal that pulses in the wall circuitry. Put bluetooth in wrist-watches (cell phones already have it!) and create a kind of NTP for timekeeping devices. Just as long as the deeply buried gadget comes in contact with an approved wristwatch often enough, things should work out.

Casio Waveceptor Watch

I don't think I'm the only one with this dream. This last weekend I purchased at a local Target a Casio WVA105HA-1AV Waveceptor Wristwatch for about $55. Every evening it tunes into the NIST broadcast to keep the clock milisecond accurate. A quick comparison with other Casio models tells me I paid about a 100% premium for the Waveceptor functionality, but that cost would go down with all the volume following my executive order.

Remember, if you want this to be reality, vote for me! And do try not to forget, because I'm not even eligible to run for president for nine years.




My avid readers may not have noticed that I have added a Cool Websites category to this non-blog blog. There I have put all my navel-gazing website posts, as well as my posts on Yahoo! Mail Beta. This new category will be used for posts about cool websites, like this one, or any other I feel inclined to write about.

I have just discovered a new website, digg.com that I think is pretty cool. It's not that new, so you've probably heard of it already. I was introduced to it as an alternative to Slashdot, and I like what I've seen so far. The links seem fresher than Slashdot, and if you make your own account it keeps track of the stories you like, or that you "dugg." You can "digg" a story by clicking on the "digg it" button next to any posting. The more people that digg a story, the more likely it is to show up on the homepage.

I suggest you go check it out and see what digg is all about. I think I'll add it to my list of daily websites, along with Slashdot.

UCLA Road Race

UCLA Road Race

On Sunday, February 12, I raced the 2006 UCLA Road Race held in the Mojave desert, northeast of Los Angeles. Two years ago I got third in this event (in Mens Bs), but this time, I had no such luck. Unfortunately, prior to this race, it had been probably three weeks since I went for a ride as long as the race, due to sickness & other distractions. I simply don't have the endurance right now that I need to have. I ended up getting dropped a couple times, chasing back on, but finally getting dropped for good and doing the final lap alone. I got 20th place, which wasn't last place, but it is a regression from the 3rd I got before.

If you go to the Motionbased.com link, just beware that the heart rate information is unreliable. There were some power lines over the course that messed with the heart rate reception the whole time. My teammate Adam (who got an excellent 2nd place) reported that his speedometer, which uses wireless transmission like my HR monitor, didn't work at all for much of the course.

Below is the Google Earth view of my ride. You can download the KML file for this ride if you feel so inclined.

UCLA Road Race
My GPS tells me that I climbed 1,820 meters over the four laps of this race, which I believe. This is a tough course that somehow the above image doesn't seem to show. The highest point on the course is 1,425 meters above sea level, so altitude plays an important role. Below is the elevation profile for the four laps. It's pretty clear that this race is for the climbers.

UCLA Road Race Elevation Profile

One thing that is interesting to note is the black line just in front of the red line is part of the California Aqueduct system, which brings water all the way to LA through the high desert.