Well, as anyone living in Edmonton knows, the weather in our area has been, well… rather crappy. Cold, rainy, windy, it feels more like the fall than waning summer. And through it all, I’ve persisted in cycle commuting, mostly because it allows me to justify (excuse) a rather gastronomically decadent lifestyle. Consequently, I’ve found myself caught in more than a few showers over the last few weeks, resulting in much dampness, and, oddly enough, a bit of inspiration.
Now, a favorite show of many folks, myself included, is Mythbusters. They attempt to perform “scientific” experiments to verify or debunk various myths, preconceived notions, and so forth. Now, one of the topics they tackled was: Does moving faster in the rain keep you dry, or get you wetter? Well, in their “experiment”, I seem to recall they found little difference between slow or fast walking, which I found a little surprising, and during a recent bike trip, I found myself pondering how it is they could have found the results they did.
Meanwhile, I’ve also been digging more deeply into the joyous language that is Smalltalk, specifically the Squeak implementation, and a related web application framework called Seaside. However, I’ve been at a loss for a small-scale project to hack up that would allow me to flex my rather atrophed Smalltalk muscles. And so it was that, a couple days ago, while cycling home in the rain, I realized, why not simulate a person walking through a rain storm, and determine whether the Mythbusters results were accurate?
Now, before I get into the details, I should point out this really is pretty non-scientific. I’m sure there are details that I’ve missed which make this simulation completely unrealistic. But, it was fun. :) Now, a bit of explanation about my methodology. First, the simulation is two-dimensional, since I didn’t think the added complexity of doing a full, 3D simulation would generate sufficiently different results. Second, rather than moving my subject through a shower of rain drops at varying speeds, I decided to apply a uniform direction vector to the drops themselves (basically move the drops instead of the subject… the effect is the same, but the implementation is a lot easier). With that said, the experiment is set up as follows (note, these parameters are all configurable, but this is what I chose… they’re entirely arbitrary):
- The rain drop spawn field is 20m by 20m.
- The rain drops are created at a rate of 80 every second, distributed randomly across the top of the spawn field.
- Rain drops fall at the terminal velocity for a typical drop indicated [http://www.grow.arizona.edu/water/raindropvelocity.shtml here] (6.25 m/s).
- The subject is a rectangle approximately 6 feet tall by 6 inches wide.
- The subject’s walking speed varies from 1 to 8 m/s, stepping 0.25 m/s per experiment.
- The subject “walks” a fixed 20m during each experiment.
- Each experiment was repeated 10 times and the results averaged (since rain drops are spawned in random positions).
The final tallies can be seen in the graph below:
Granted, it looks a bit noisy, but the general trend appears to indicate that moving faster through a rain storm helps keep you drier! Though, the advantage does seem to level off (it looks like a roughly exponential decay, to me, with the limit at some non-zero value). Remember that, folks… the weather doesn’t look like it’s going to improve. :(
Incidentally, working on this in Squeak has been quite enjoyable. The richness of the class library made many tasks far easier than they would be in other languages, and the ability to fix bugs as I go, and then continue running the code is, to say the least, incredibly cool. And, frankly, I think Smalltalk is the most elegant programming language I’ve ever worked with. :)
Found an oversight in my simulation, but the above graph now reflects the latest version. In short, I had to make sure the playfield was populated with raindrops before beginning each walk. Otherwise, the subject could complete the walk before a drop ever fell low enough to hit him!
Woo! I win a gold star!
Finally! Stupid power outage frying my stupid PSU. Well, that or it was already dying, and the power outage just made that evident. Oh, and then there’s the stick of RAM I discovered was bad. BUT, all is now well. Until the next thing breaks.
Turns out, after I upgraded to Apache2, I neglected to re-enable the suEXEC module, which meant that any attempt to save content to the wiki would have failed. My apologies to anyone who may have attempted to post a comment on any pages (for example, the savsender discussion page).
Geez, three weeks since my last update, and… well, frankly, not a whole lot has happened. Odd how, when you become an adult, your life suddenly becomes a lot less interesting from day to day. However, it goes without saying that at least a couple noteworthy things have happened, otherwise, why the post, other than to regurgitate my varied and disconnected thoughts into the digital ether?
So, what news? Well, first off, a photo from the garden. A while back, I decided it was about time to get some various plants planted. This included the usual garden, a mix of the everyday peas, carrots, spinach, and some zucchini, with rogue dill fragrantly invading the empty spaces, a hill of potatoes, just a few to see how they do, some sunflower plants, and last but not least, berry bushes, specifically raspberry and saskatoon. Well, in the weeks following, much has been afoot. The sunflowers are at least six inches tall, the various garden vegetables are coming along quite nicely, but most importantly, my raspberry bushes have started bearing sweet, delicious fruit. And to prove it, I even have a photo!
Incidentally, these are just the most recent of the ripened berries. I’ve already enjoyed a couple early fruit, and let me tell ya.. they are delicious.
Meanwhile, on the technology front, I finally decided to take the plunge and by my very own laptop. To be honest, the fact I hadn’t done this already was just a little bit ridiculous, and after spending many hours hacking away on the company tanktop (big, hot, heavy, and ugly), I finally decided the time was right to just buy one.
So, what did I buy? Well, I could’ve gone for a regular ol’ consumer laptop, something fairly inexpensive and functional, but such gear tends to be a little heavier, have poorer battery life, and most importantly, be somewhat fragile. So I decided to splurge on some gear that I knew would be heavy-duty, light weight, and generally capable of withstanding the abuses I’m likely to put it through.
I bought a Lenovo (previously IBM) ThinkPad. The T61, to be precise, which is the latest model in the T-Series.
Now, I know, ThinkPads tend to be a bit pricey, but for that, I got:
- A titanium roll cage,
- Best-in-the-business keyboard,
- Good battery life, which is even better with the Ultrabay battery I purchased,
- Quite thin and light, at just shy of 5 lbs,
- Quiet as heck.
Basically, exactly what I was looking for.
As for specs, it’s a 2Ghz Core2Duo, 2GB of RAM, 120GB hard disk, 1440x900, 14” wide-screen display (I would’ve prefered 1400x1050 standard-def, but they can’t be had… apparently the LCD manufacturers are shoving wide-screen displays down laptop manufacturers’ throats), nVidia Quadro NVS 140M video chipset, 802.11abgn, and a DVD-RW. Plus the usual assortment of USB ports, VGA out, a pair of PCI-Express slots, the Ultrabay, modem and NIC, etc.
As for software, it came loaded with Windows Vista business (which, for the record, isn’t nearly as bad as people claim, though I turned off Aero and SuperFetch pretty quickly), with the usual assortment of goodies, such as Office, and to my surprise, SQL Express 2005. In addition, after shrinking my NTFS partition by 40GB, I threw Ubuntu Gusty in, which, after a rough start, has worked fairly well (although sound doesn’t work at all, and I can’t adjust the screen brightness within X, which is pretty irritating). I even got suspend-to-RAM working after a bit of fiddling with settings in xorg.conf. I must admit, as a desktop OS, Ubuntu performs quite admirably, and is easily the closest I’ve seen to a truly mass-accessible Linux distribution.
So, overall, an excellent and worthwhile purchase! Of course, that basically blows my toy budget for the rest of the year.
I lied. The bastards gave me a trial version of Office. Oh well, OpenOffice it is!
It was a beautiful friday afternoon as we stepped out of the office tower, a hot breeze wafting to our noses the scent of trees laden with brilliant white and pink flowers, their pedals littering the ground below. Overhead, a bright, blue-grey sky was pocked with puffs of white clouds, the seeds of the thunderheads which would loom dark in the eastern sky that evening.
Stepping into the sunlight, we passed a line of dark red mailboxes standing like sentinels against a wall of rough, pink granite. As we rounded the corner, I looked up to see the sign for Scotia place, the red text advertising the various services provided therein:
Now that’s what I call service!