You’re A Sack Of Potatoes

Ends up, we are all like a lazy sack of potatoes, at least when it comes to RF. Boeing calls it Project SPUDS or rather Synthetic Personnel Using Dielectric Substitution. Apparently they are good substitute for real human bodies when testing wireless networks on planes. Fill the seats with sacks of potatoes and test away.

Nice to know there’s actually a little truth to that old cliché.

Ares I Rocket Test

Ares I Rocket Test

NASA posted some video of the first stage of the Ares I rocket being test fired out in the desert. 22 million horse power. As powerful as this rocket is, it doesn’t compare to Ares IV and of course the Saturn V.

I get the impression you don’t want to be anywhere near the business end of this thing when it’s lit:

During the test the flame exited the rocket motor out of a nozzle at about mach 3 and burned for approx. 123 seconds and the temperature of that flame approached approx. 4500 F. This is approx two-thirds the temperature of the sun’s surface. At this temperature steel does more than melt, it boils. And sand that was placed around just aft of the rocket motor got hot enough to actually turn to glass

Benchmarking And Testing Browsers

When people talk about open source they often talk about the products, not the process. That’s not really a bad thing (it is after all about the product), but it overlooks some really interesting things sometimes. For example open source tools used in open development.

A few months ago Jesse Ruderman introduced jsfunfuzz, which is a tool for fuzz testing the js engine in Firefox. It turned up 280 bugs (many already fixed). Because the tool itself is not horded behind a firewall it’s also helped identify several Safari and Opera bugs. It’s a pretty cool way to find some bugs.

The WebKit team has now released SunSpider a javascript benchmarking tool. Something tells me this will lead to some performance improvements in everyone’s engine. How much will be done for Firefox 3.0 is a little questionable considering beta 2 is nearing release, though you never know. There’s been some nice work on removing allocations recently. So just because it’s beta, you can’t always assume fixes will be minor in scope.

Another test that many are familiar with is Acid 2 which essentially is checking CSS support among browsers. Ironically this one too was released when Gecko is somewhat late in the development cycle.

Efforts like this really help web development by allowing browser developers to have a baseline to compare their strengths and weaknesses. Having a little healthy competition as motivation can be pretty helpful too 😉 .