Vodafone’s coming to town, they’re gonna get Hutch

BBC claims that Vodafone wants to buy a controlling stake in Hutchison Essar. Vodafone already owns 10% of Bharti Airtel. Is this good news? Frankly, I couldn’t give a damn, unless this means Hutch’s service miraculously gets much better. I’ve already spoken about why I won’t use Hutch or it’s puppy Aircel.

On the bright side, all those fellows with the English Premier League t-shirts will finally find out just what those words on them mean. Yeah, now you know that that footballers name isn’t O2 because that would mean that this guy is named after your phone company.

Forwards, crushlists, accounts to be deleted, revisited.

Back in August, I blogged about forwards and crushlists. A little examination of the traffic to this blog showed that some 700 people have visited searching for exactly that.

Therefore, I feel obliged to ensure that they do find what they want here. :) Some questions by commenters on that post were wiped when my db got wiped and the backup was before those comments. In any case:

The message: (some variants start with a #C_var_crsLst=1 {1,0} )

C_var_crsLst=1 {1,0}

Send this to every one in your friends list, and you should be able to
see the crush lists of everybody in your friends, it actually works

That message is just another joke, it really doesn’t work. Go ahead and palm it off on your friends and pretend you didn’t fall for it and wouldn’t have anyway because you don’t want to know everyone else’s crushlists.

As to the general public who wonders why people keep lists of people they have crushes on, it’s some kind of a feature you have on Orkut where you decide that that person who may be claiming to be someone they’re not is actually very attractive. Personally I believe it is meant to be some kind of a ‘bookmark’ thing (because hey! If you can’t remember who you have a crush on, then there’s something really wrong, sir), but that’s how it is used, I think.

There I’ve answered everything. Now if anyone else claims that I am Fuka or Suka or somebody else, no I’m not and I’m not related to them either.

Ground Effect Vehicles, Ekranoplans and GEVs of the past.

The Cold War and its accompanying arms race between the United States and the USSR have left us a world of military development history to follow, and the subsequent abandonment of many projects by the USSR after its collapse leaves me, at least, with this rather sad feeling. In any case, one of the most interesting projects (and my personal favourite) was the ekranoplan which was a type of aircraft that utilised an aerodynamic phenomenon called “Ground Effect”.

What is Ground Effect?

Image showing how vortices get degraded closer to the ground.
Basically, what Ground Effect does is it increases the lift to drag ratio of the aircraft when it is within a certain distance of any plane surface. Most sources quote this distance to be somewhere around a fourth of the wingspan of the aircraft. It occurs when the wing’s close proximity to the ground causes an increase of pressure (sometimes called a ‘ram effect’) underneath the wing which acts similiar to an ‘air cushion’. In addition, in usual flight at higher altitudes, trailing vortices are formed at the wing tips of an aircraft which reduce lift. As the aircraft gets nearer the ground these vortices have less space to develop and are less well formed. At ground effect heights the formation of these vortices is constricted and so lift is increased.

To sum up, Ground Effect is caused by:

  • High pressure between the Wing and plane surface.
  • Trailing vortices at the wingtip being blocked from forming fully.

Usage in the Past:

During the Second World War, pilots who found that they were running low on fuel or who had lost engine power partially flew very close to the ground to economise on fuel. It is unlikely that they knew of the Ground Effect though.

DornierBack in the 1930s, the Dornier Do-X, the largest aircraft of the time was touted as a flying boat (flugschiff) and claimed to be a massive seaplane. However, the only way the Do-X could cross the Atlantic all the way in the air was if the pilots kept the hull just above the wavecrests. It is likely that they were taking advantage of Ground Effect at that height. This is a perfect example of how Ground Effect could be used.

Spruce GooseIn 1947, the massive (largest wingspan of all time) Hughes H-4 Hercules only ever flew once, at a height of 20 m. At this height (less than a fourth of its 97 m wingspan), the Hercules would have been experiencing Ground Effect and many critics say that it did not indeed have the power to accomplish normal flight. It also featured in the movie The Aviator which had more people actually checking out the real Spruce Goose.

And then there were

The Ekranoplans

Ah, lovely things, positively beautiful and with a fascinating story to tell involving top-secret plans, failed designs, rare sightings and development stalled by halted funding. The ekranoplans were planned as Wing-in-Ground-Effect aircraft (WIGs) and there was a whole set of them. A couple of them were:

The KM

The KM is probably the best known ekranoplan and is nearly always mentioned when the topic comes up.
KM Ekranoplan - The Caspian Sea Monster
Dubbed the Caspian Sea Monster by Western Intelligence (who could never figure out what it was) when they saw it there, and shaped like some clipped-off model plane, this titanic craft (more than 300 feet long) came into being some time in the 60s. That’s 540 tons of metal travelling at more than 400 km/h at a height just a few multiples that of a human. Unfortunately, the last of this kind crashed in 1980, the same year that R.A Alexeev, their designer, died.

The Lun

Ah, the Lun, fearsome anti-ship cruise missile bearing defender of the ‘motherland’. A Lun ekranoplan at rest Only one Lun was ever made, because funding was cut after the first was produced. Marshall Ustinov’s (he was the Defence Minister) death was the end of the golden run for the ekranoplanes and even though the Alexiev Design Bureau still proposes designs for civilian use, none of them has been put into use. It entered into service back in 1987 and you can still see one docked in Kaspiysk at 42°52′54″N, 47°39′24″E (try Google Earth). Faster than any ship, they were intended to counter American missile cruisers but they never did participate in a conflict.

A-90 Orlyonok

The Orlyonok was not quite in the league of those other two size-wise (only 110 tonnes to the others’ 500 tonnes) but it had a useful purpose, troop transport and naval assault and it probably could have served this well.A-90 Orlyonok at sea It could carry a payload 15 tonnes, 2000 km at more than 400 km/h and would probably have been quite the ultimate troop transport. Originally, there were supposed to be 120 of these produced, though eventually when the funding problem hit there were only 4 made. Of these, atleast two are at Kaspiysk now with no attempt made to keep them serviceable. They can be seen at 42°52′50″N, 47°39′57″E in Google Earth. You can also see more photographs of these here.

If that was interesting, you should visit the following pages which talk about these planes in detail:

Ryzom – An MMORPG blessed by the Free Software Foundation

Ryzom is an MMORPG with a rather strange story, good graphics and a GPL’d engine, NeL. Recently, Nevrax, the company behind NeL and Ryzom, went bankrupt and Ryzom will soon be sold off to the Chosen One. As with most GPL works, there’s a happy little community around the game, and they didn’t want to let go. In fact, they were willing to actually buy all artwork and data for the game and that’s where the FSF stepped in with 60,000 USD pledged for a total of upwards of 140,000 USD to the cause.

The game is free (as in open-source), and if the deal does come through, the game data will probably go under a Creative Commons or freer license. What this means is that though the official server will have a pay-to-play model, any of the private servers will be able to work legally and use all of the work done by the community while being able to easily modify the game if they so wish to. The possibilities are endless! To you freeloaders out there, there you go!

Also, this isn’t just any old game that died out of it’s own lameness. It’s ranked up there with the giants (Everquest, EVE, Guild Wars) and beats out some of the most-touted games there (City of Heroes, WoW, for example) at #4 at mmorpg.com. A giant kitinAlso, the game supposedly only needs a steady bitrate between 2500 B/s (on a highly populated scene) and 250 B/s (on an empty scene) and that should be easily available on the lowest of broadband connections. The graphics are pretty awesome and the provided Ryzom Ring encourages user-made maps and scenarios and in the original game, these were actually accessible on official servers through terminals ingame.

Hopefully, there will be a native linux version if the whole thing works out. Sure it works in Wine, but why not go the whole hog and support that last 3% of the desktop market too :) Well, okay, may be it’s just me being selfish. Still, I’m a long way from playing that game as long as I’m stuck with my graphics card. The game requires a card with atleast 128MB memory. Ah well, perhaps later.

Where did all the changes come from?

Since Marc insists that he be given credit for finding plugins I have decided to humour him. Well done Marc, and I thank you, for there is little I could have done without your help. Okay, fine, no sarcasm, the shoutbox and the Recent Comments was his idea. :)

Also, if you have the chance, get a look at this page in Konqueror or Safari (they have a better rendering engine than either gecko or trident), and have a look-see at the shadows on the titles, they look pretty.