My Grandfather’s Flight Data Recorder

My grandfather, Elwood Jack Rosenbauer, passed away yesterday. What many of you probably don’t know, because it is sadly under-documented, is that he lead the team at Lockheed Aircraft Service Company which pioneered the reusable and highly durable flight data recorder that is still in use on commercial and private aircraft today.

The flight data recorder is always on for the duration of the flight, recording cockpit and radio conversations, as well as metrics like altitude, airspeed, and fuel flow. Able to survive the most extreme of crashes, the flight data recorder is invaluable in investigating and preventing aircraft accidents.

Regarding their advances in the field of flight data recorders, my grandfather published Modern Aircraft Accident Investigation Equipment and Techniques in the Winter 1981/82 issue of Lockheed Horizons. Considering that these were only printed once, and that I can’t find a single copy of this particular issue online, Sarah and I have transcribed his article for historical purposes. A copy of the original article can be downloaded from the same page.

“[T]he overall activity of accident investigation, and particularly the role of the airborne flight recorder, are of vital concern to aviation. The accurate recording of critical factors of aircraft performance has proven invaluable in aircraft accident investigation in helping to pinpoint the cause of an accident and in instigating measures to prevent future recurrences.”

So, the next time you’re on an airplane, remember that something my grandfather helped to design is watching over you, improving your safety on future flights, and avenging you should anything tragic happen (though I hope it will never come to that).

James and Grandpa Jack

Ouya Review

Ouya Video Game System
Ouya Video Game System (Photo credit: KaR]V[aN)
It has only been a week since I purchased an Ouya, and I’m actually happy to have a gaming console in my home again. I have had a very strained history with gaming consoles as of late. I loved my NES, SNES, and N64. I then moved to the PS2, which was ok, but the majority of the available games weren’t as fun as they were in Nintendo’s ecosystem, so I picked up a Wii. The Wii eventually became old news and I picked up an Xbox 360, but I had the same trouble finding a game I really liked as I did with the PS2, so I picked up a Wii U, which was just one big mistake. The Wii U suffered from buggy software, slow hardware, and a complete lack of games. It’s hard to fall in love again with the Nintendo ecosystem of games when there is simply a lack of games period. Over the years, I picked up plenty of games that I enjoyed on my iPad, so I considered my days of console gaming to be over, until I picked up an Ouya.

I instantly felt at home on the Ouya. Not only does it feature a ton of games which harken back to the pre-Wii Nintendo era that I was so fond of, but you can also grab a wealth of fully functional emulators for the Ouya, all the way from arcade to N64. Speaking as simply as possible, the Ouya is a powerful Android phone with no phone bits that uses your TV as its screen. Plus, because the Ouya doesn’t run off a battery, it can crank the maximum performance out of its hardware while running anything that can run on Android, and that’s where its charm lies.

Games that run on Android or iOS are very similar to the size/scope and design sensibilities or what ran on the pre-Wii Nintendo consoles, because that’s pretty much what the hardware supports. It may not sound like much these days, but these devices are phones, not huge blocks of hardware that sit under your TV. The Ouya itself is no bigger than a coffee mug. Take a coffee mug and place it on top of your fancy Xbox or Playstation, then think about that for a second.

Will the Ouya ever run games like Halo 4 or Battlefield 3? Of course not, but it can run Towerfall, Knightmare Tower, Shadowgun, and 350 other games, including a variety of older console emulators. Why hunt for new games when you could just play all of the games you used to love, back on your TV with a controller in your hands, just like the old days? Well, it’s still worth it to try the new games. Just take a look at Towerfall for a moment.

That’s the type of fun, stylistic, and rapid local-multiplayer game that I miss. Remember local-multiplayer? If you’re fond of it, there are quite a few local-multiplayer games available for Ouya. Are you worried about trying games you’ve never heard of before? Don’t be! The Ouya marketplace requires that developers make a portion of their games free to play with an in-app purchase to unlock the entire game (though there are plenty of 100% free games). Curious about a game? Try it for free. Don’t like it? Delete it. Like it? Pay to unlock the entire game, sometimes for as little as $0.99. No more need to buy $50 discs that you can only sell back for $20 once you realize that you made a huge mistake.

Speaking of price, the Ouya is only $99 with the controllers priced at $49 (one comes with the console), though most games in the Ouya marketplace support the current Playstation or Xbox controllers, so you could pay less for a generic one of those. With a $99 console and free-to-try games for as little as $0.99, the Ouya vastly undercuts any gaming console on the market today as far as price goes.

If you long for the games of your past, or games like the ones from your past, grab an Ouya today! You won’t be disappointed.

New Theme with Larger Text

I was previously using Superhero on this blog. I really liked the design, and I had customized it quite a bit. Well, call me crazy, but I’m really starting to like large, readable text. I wear glasses, and I can see quite well, but I really enjoy reading when I can comfortably lean back in my chair and read what’s on the screen without squinting or leaning forward. While I loved what I made under Superhero, I was never happy with the text size, and the design itself just looked odd with the text boosted to comfortable levels.

Ryu is a gorgeous, minimalistic, and simply huge theme. I really hope that you can lean back and comfortably read this, because I sure can. Besides simply being designed for large text, Ryu is a single-column theme, so you have no distractions off to the side. As a blogger, I love sidebars. As a reader, not so much, so I decided that it was finally time to let go of the sidebar. Instead, you can find my widgets tucked away in Ryu’s super-handy top navigation panel. Plus, Ryu does this rather fascinating trick with the background colors of image posts, which are automatically selected to complement the image. Go ahead, check out my image posts, but please come back.

When I say Ryu, most of you are probably thinking of Ryu from Street Fighter. Well, this theme has nothing to do with that, so to celebrate the new theme, here’s Guile’s theme covered by Smooth McGroove, because Guile’s theme goes with everything.