Big Dave’s Blog

  • Video: Behind the Scenes at Giant Keck Telescopes

    Keck in Motion from Andrew Cooper on Vimeo. OK, I’ve said before that I worked on the Keck Telescope (see this post). I love seeing what is still a favorite project of my professional life. Those 36 (now 72) mirrors were the result of a ton of great engineering and a lot of painstaking work. […]

  • The Amazing Men That Salvage Large Ships (video) « Sea-Fever blog

    The Amazing Men That Salvage Large Ships (video) « Sea-Fever blog.Long ago, I posted about a company that handles high stakes salvage. I was browsing around some boating news, and I happened on this video of the operation I described. There isn’t much new info, but I thought I would share. Enjoy.

  • More Bletchley Park

    Saw another new post about Bletchley park getting a grant to fund restoration efforts and new exhibits. As a techie and a student of history, Bletchley park and Building 26 have always been fascinating to me. This is where Turing (of Turing Machine fame) got his start. This is where the modern computer was born. This […]

  • An Amateur Astronomer’s View of the Space Shuttle Discovery Cozying Up to the ISS

    An Amateur Astronomer’s View of the Space Shuttle Discovery Cozying Up to the ISS.This is pretty amazing. This guy, Rob Bullen, guided his 8.5″ telescope with a Cannon 40D BY HAND to get this photo of the shuttle about to dock with the ISS. The level of precision to guide a telescope at a moving target […]

  • Media Server Fun

    Back when I moved into my current house, I took the opportunity to setup a media server. In my old place, there really wasn’t a good place to set one up, so I would dig out a CD or two (out of 1000+) each time I wanted to hear something. As you might expect, that […]

  • John Harrison and the Longitude Problem

    It’s been a while since I read Longitude by Dava Sobel, but I happened to catch another documentary on the story recently. It reminded me again about this amazing story of science and perseverance. As an engineer, I can’t help but admire John Harrison for his scientific method. It’s also a description of an iterative […]

  • Software: Utility vs. Joy

    How many software packages do you use that give you joy? How about simple utility? How about both? My guess is there are far fewer that provide joy and even fewer that provide both. I have dozens of applications that provide utility only. For example, I use OmniFocus and EverNote constantly. Both apps have become […]

  • Software Lifespan

    How long should our software last? I’m sure that there are software packages out there that were built decades ago, but I’m talking about packages still being actively updated and sold. Personally, I figure if I get 5-7 years out of system before a major refactor of some part of it, then I’m doing great. […]

  • YAGNI and the Crystal Ball of Software Architecture

    YAGNI and the Crystal Ball How often have you been involved in a project, and someone starts a statement with “It would be really cool if … ?” The second I hear that, I find myself evaluating what comes next with high degree of skepticism. First of all, it usually would be “really cool,” but […]

  • Using Thinking Sphinx

    I recently had an instance where I wanted to add full-text search to an application. I’ve used Lucene, Solr, and a few others in past lives, but this time I wanted something just as functional but a little more lightweight. After looking around I settled on Sphinx, and so far it’s worked great. By itself, […]