Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Welcome to the 21st century Matt!

I find it somewhat amusing that as a self-professed 'techie' that I suddenly find I have been COMPLETLY passed-by in the high-tech revolution. I'm an electronics guy after all, and it seems I'm quite alone in this un-tech-world. I finally realized this while sitting on a United Airlines flight coming back from Virginia after Thanksgiving.

Apparently they don't show movies on flights anymore, assuming everybody over the age of 4 now has their own entertainment. They apparently now offer wifi on flights (free for some content, and pay for other) and it seemed like I was the ONLY person on the entire airline without some high-tech gadget in their hand. Well, except for my wife...she is also a passed-by person, but she somehow SLEEPS on pretty-much every flight she has ever taken. So yes, there I was, actually holding a..... GASP...PAPER BOOK!


Even the kids all had phones or tablets in their hands, or electronic games (I can't tell the diff). Adults had either phones, tablets or laptops, and were watching movies, surfing, emailing, buying stock and/or saving the world.... and whatever else they do with their time on the device of choice. My cell phone is a CELL PHONE. Yep. It does take pictures tho..which is a huge upgrade for me. I've only had this phone about a year...it's a Tracfone pay as you go. I only got it as my last Tracfone quit working properly (I couldn't find service in what I consider to be the antichrist of a remote location...LAX). This 'new' phone is an "internet capable" phone. I didn't even know what that meant when I bought it...I thought it was a "smart-phone". Had no idea what that meant. Turns out "internet capable" and "smart-phone" are two different animals. Yes, my new phone has a few little gadget-app thingges on it, but overall it's not really any better than my old phone that was just a phone.

And so...having realized how far behind the tech-power-curve I am, I FINALLY jumped into the water. I bought myself an Amazon Kindle Fire HD (a little Xmas gift to myself). Sitting at my bro-in-law's farm back in VA, he has one and it was pretty amazing. It's not only a Kindle reader, but  basically a small tablet too. And it's CHEAP! (well, compared to laptops and such, and even other tablets). It arrived yesterday and I played with it last night some. I sure have some learning to do. This little doo-dad probably does a zillion things that I don't know. Just the "app" world is overwhelming. Also I was looking at kindle books to buy, and realized that I don't even know where to start. But I did buy a copy of Fatty's new book on Kindle (and paperback too...autographed for my collection). I figure to load that, and maybe a few others in the near future. Also I get a free 30 day trial of Amazons "Audible" which is audio books. I can download any 2 audio-books for free (they are a bit pricey to me to pay 'full price'). I like to use these when I travel long distance by car...such as over the Xmas holiday when I'll be putting in another 1700 miles or so in about 8 days.

And along w/ the new Kindle, I also realized I need a smart-phone. Problem is, I don't want to PAY for a smart-phone (the contract). But now Tracfone has Android smart-phones. So yep, I bought one of those too! It should be here TODAY! And along w/ all the obvious benefits of a smart-phone, the one I really like is I can set it to "hotspot" and it will provide the wifi for my Kindle when I'm not at home. And being as I don't see myself as a bigtime 'surfer' and such, I'll only pay for the data I actually use (I can get a 2 gig data card from Tracfone for $50...though I have no idea how long that will last). I know I loaded 800 talking minutes on my old phone MANY months ago, and I still have about 600 of them left (which will transfer over to the new phone). And being as I will now have a smart-phone I'll really have to start learning this app thing. I know there's a gazillion of them out there...free ones, paid-for ones...how on earth do I know what I even need or want?

So anyhow...I have jumped into the deep-end of the tech world just like THAT. BAM! Now I just need to learn how to use them. Is there such a thing as a "tablets and smart-phones for dummies" book available? Maybe it comes in a Kindle version...hopefully I don't NEED the book to GET the book...wouldn't THAT be a cruel twist of fate!

Wish me luck!



  1. Irony Matt, a tech guy needing a book on tech stuff, irony

  2. It's a murky deep irony Jim....VERY deep and VERY murky.

  3. At the moment (around 1pm on Thursday) we are still a "GO" for this evenings launch (here's the story about it...cut and paste into your browser:


    I'm still at home, I don't go in today until 3pm (I'll be on-shift when/if the launch occurs...but as we are with the payload, I don't go home after the launch...it's a few hours before the vehicle will be where it's supposed to be...I can't leave until then).

    The only thing in our way is the weather...this big storm is fast coming down on us...it's drizzling right now, and a bit breezy already. Launch is supposed to be at 7:17pm tonight...but the forecasters only give us a 10% chance of conditions favorable for launch. IF it doesn't go, then we try again tomorrow (I HOPE it goes...I want my LIFE back!) We've been QUITE busy this last 2 months or so with this vehicle. Keep your fingers crossed!

  4. OK...it didn't go due the storm (in your best Gomer Pyle voice, think "surprise, surprise, surprise!) EVERYBODY in the entire US knew this storm was heading towards us...but they didn't bother to "scrub" the launch until 1:30PM for crying out loud (which means I was sitting at home NOT ready to go to work). I got into work after RUSHING in around 2pm, so here I am, 8pm at night with 2 more hours to go for my 8. I'm all alone (albeit with lots to do), but I kind of feel like I should go re-enact the Tom Cruise "Risky Business" guitar/underwear scene up in "Mahogany Row" (where the managers live). THAT would be something...I happen to have my MP3 player with some Bob Seeger on it...hmmmm.

    ANYWAY, I now get to try this again TOMORROW...same bat time, same bat channel. And I HOPE HOPE HOPE it goes...it will be spectacular when it does (the Atlas V 541 variant will be the most powerful one we've launched here at Vandenberg...541 means it has a 5 meter fairing (the solid-shroud over the spacecraft protecting it from the atmosphere, which is only needed about 2.5 minutes or so when it's then jettisoned to save weight), 4 solid rocket motors and the 1 Centaur 2nd-stage (with newly upgraded motors). Keep your fingers crossed. And you can watch the launch live on spaceflightnow.com...it's supposed to go at 7:13pm pacific time tomorrow (Friday).

  5. I've been trying to get here all week to chat & still no time today. :(

    Good luck tonight Matt, I hope it's a GO!

    Before I need to skedaddle - anybody watching XMAS movies on TV? Any faves? Movie-movie & TV-movie categories!

    Any I doubt you're into this, Matt but the White House Xmas show on HGTV is this Sunday at 8:00 PM eastern time (not sure when it airs on West coast). I LOVE that show & look forward every year to see that year's theme & decorations. Pre 9/11, us regular folks could actually take the Xmas White House Tour & see all the decorations in person. Man, THOSE were the days, my friends! I thought they'd never end...:) :)

    Later gators!

  6. The launch was a SUCCESS! Beautiful and clear night-view here from the roof of the Headquarters building (where I've been sitting all afternoon, "just in case" something breaks). There were some clouds that were a threat earlier (they won't fly thru cumulus clouds as they can release lightening that can strike the rocket)...but they stayed far enough away for the launch. Now we can all relax a bit next week before the holidays...and go back full-tile early next year for our next launch (L45).


  7. Matt, I was on the SB Airbus Friday evening as the last stage of my very long trip home from Spain (camp was great!) when someone saw the rocket in the sky and alerted everyone on the bus! We were around La Conchita at the time and had a great view! Well done.

    On another kind of funny and cool note - our little Sara Best is a registered nutritionist now and I've signed up for her January 10-day detox program! I've wanted to do this for quite some time and when I saw Sara's ad for it on FB, I just knew it was calling to me! Will let you know how it goes.

  8. Hey Cathy, glad camp went well and you're safely back home!

    I always wondered how cool it would be to be on an airplane and see a launch...(tho I'm assuming the "Airbus" was an actual bus and not the plane?)

    Glad to hear Sara is doing well...I see stuff on FB now and then (I'm not much of a FB user...don't really know much about it, nor have time to sit and do whatever it is I would be doing IF I knew what to do). Jeannie is a master FB'er tho...she can sit for HOURS doing whatever it is.

  9. I'm sorry that I missed the launch (internet feed). I saw a rocket sail by once when I was living in Encinitas, that was SO cool!

    Cathy, glad you had a great time and are safely back home. Hope that we hear from you more often! Would love to hear how Katusha differs (or not) from the other teams you've worked for.

    Matt, I think I've mentioned before, I join you in tech ignorance bliss. What you saw at the airport, I see at work (where most everyone is some 30 years younger than I). Any downtime, my coworkers are staring at their phones.

    I use Net10, although as soon as I use up all my current time I am switching to the sister company Tracphone since for as little as I use it, it will be a much better deal. And..also switching to one of the cheapie Androids from a "web enabled" phone that is pretty useless for that. Since I carry the phone more for emergency use, who knows if I will ever use any of the "smart" functons? Maybe for comparison shopping? But it was so inexpensive, and might prove useful to have, it seemed a no-brainer to finally join the 21st century (as far as cell service goes, I am not ready to give up my land-line!) My biggest complaint with these phones is the difficulty of using touch screens -- a problem that I have with devices at work too-- for some reason (cold hands? low chi?) these devices don't sense my touch about 50% of the time. I carry a pencil for dialing etc.

    My daughter gave me a Kindle for my birthday last summer. Much to her chagrin, I haven't used it -- not once-- since she gave it to me. I don't think that she realized that although I was once a prodigious reader, that isn't true anymore...the newspaper is about it. I wonder if that "hotspot" feature is on the phone that I bought....I will have to check into that.