More Junkmail from Bob!

Sunday, January 20, 2002
Important Stuff.


A couple of weeks ago a 747 flew into Houston Intercontinental airport. After landing, the pilot noticed the plane wasn't moving very well. So he added power. Still nothing. Somehow, he missed the fact that the right main landing gear had collapsed and stuck through the wing. Am I missing something?

"After touchdown and rollout, the airplane exited the runway onto a high-speed taxiway. The captain, noticing the airplane was "dragging," applied power with minimal aircraft movement. Further inspection by maintenance personnel revealed that the right wing landing gear had collapsed. The trunnion was found protruding upward through the wing."

The Internet is Falling!

Over the past couple of months there have been fewer domain names on the internet than before. Is the internet shrinking? No, not exactly. There are probably more active web sites now, just fewer registered domain names.

A couple of years ago lots of companies were selling domain names. In the midst of the dotcom boom, a few companies paid hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars for a domain name they wanted. That made a good sales pitch for the domain name sellers: "John Smith registered the domain and was paid a jillion and a half dollars for it by a giant dotcom!"

Like most ideas where you get rich without working, this didn't work well for most people. The domain names are expiring and people are not renewing some of the domains they cherished only a year ago.

Another reason for the decline, according to Dan from, is the Google effect. People don't have to guess at a domain because it's so easy to search with Google. That makes it less critical for a company to own the "prime" domain names.

Google has an interesting site that tells what people are searching for, and other occasional statistics. I must be really out of touch. I don't know who a lot of those people are in the top ten

Satellite Photos For Sale

Whew! We can all buy satellite photos of Afghanistan again. The federal government has been paying a couple million dollars a month to Space Imaging for exclusive rights to their Afghanistan satellite photos since October. They decided not to renew the contract last month.,1367,49863,00.html


Last week a federal judge named Louis in Pennsylvania decided that fingerprints aren't reliable for identification purposes. Funny how he's smarter than all the people who have been using fingerprint identification for years.

I guess this is no worse than O.J. Simpson's judge claiming DNA testing is unreliable. It could be the judges that are unreliable.

Cornell Sues

Cornell University has a new method of fundraising -- lawsuits. Even though they've got a famous law school, Cornell has enlisted the Los Angeles and New York City offices of the firm of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood to sue HP for a 1989 patent concerning parallel computer instructions. The research for the patent was funded partly by the government.

Cornell's patent policy says, "Cornell University's primary obligation in conducting research is the pursuit of knowledge for the benefit and use of society."  Cornell's administration says, "We want a hundred million dollars."

Even Scientific American is writing about stupid patents issued by the USPTO.

Michigan State Manure List

Instead of suing people, Michigan State University is providing a service to the public. You, too, can go to the Michigan Manure Resources Network and find out where to get some manure. You can select from horse, cow, hog, chicken, or even turkey. Get yours today!

Three D's

I would like to point out something that is very important. In the realistic movies Star Trek, Independence Day, and Mars Attacks, there is no reason for all the space ships to have the same "up" direction. Also, if the spaceships bank into a turn it must be to provide positive G's for the people and/or aliens inside, in which case they would bank 90 degrees instead of 45 or so like they do in the movies.

The Klingon ships that occasionally surround Cap'n Kirk always seem to be aligned on the same vertical axis as the Enterprise, and they usually attack from a direction close to the horizontal plane of the enterprise. In real life, in my experience, the Klingon ships are as likely to be upside down or sideways relative to the Enterprise as right side up. In fact, they're twice as likely to be sideways. Star Wars and other space dog-fighting movies seem to have a better grasp of freedom of movement in 3 dimensions, but they still bank into the curves.

Small Packages

The Davy Crockett is a 76 pound  nuclear weapon. It's been around more than 40 years. They built 2100 of them, but they're no longer in "service." It's tiny by nuclear weapons standards, but it still is equivalent to about 10 tons of TNT. That would be pretty scary in the wrong hands.


I use to get stock quotes sometimes. I can export all the stocks I have to their web site and get a quote on all of them at once to see how much money I've lost on any given day. Today I checked it out, and there was a message saying I should review their privacy policy:  "New federal legislation requires us to provide you with a notice of our information collection and sharing practices. By registering with this Web site, you agree to receive our privacy notices electronically."

I usually don't care too much about that, but since it's financial information I thought I better click on the link and read it before I agreed to it for a change.

It was pretty funny. There's a full page of what they will and won't do, but it's all pretty meaningless because of this sentence: "Intuit does not share your personally identifiable information with third parties unless it is related to fulfilling the services you've asked us to perform, or as is permitted by law."

This means I agree to let them pass around my financial information to anybody they want for whatever reason they want, as long as it's legal. The sad part is, I'll probably agree to it.

There are all kinds of one-sided and abusable "click-me" agreements on computers. Borland/Inprise has a particularly good one for its "JBuilder 5" and "Kylix 2 Open Edition."

"12. AUDIT. During the term of this License and for one (1) year thereafter, upon reasonable notice and during normal business hours, Borland or its outside auditors will have the right to enter your premises and access your records and computer systems to verify that you have paid to Borland the correct amounts owed under this License and determine whether the Products are being used in accordance with the terms of this License. You will provide reasonable assistance to Borland in connection with this provision. You agree to pay the cost of the audit if any underpayments during the period covered by the audit amount to more than five percent (5%) of the fees actually owed for that period."

This means any time they want, they can come into your home, get on your computer, and check out your records to make sure you have not made illegal copies of their software. I don't think it will happen, but that's what you agree to before you run their software.

The 100 People World

There's been an email flying around the internet that says, "If we could shrink the earth's population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like the following." I have seen it a few times, and wondered if it was correct. It's not. Some of the items are pretty close, but some are way off. Here is a correction. I know it's correct because it's on the internet.

Airsnort at Airports

In Junkmail 95 I mentioned Airsnort, the program that lets you eavesdrop on other people's wireless networks. Or it lets other people eavesdrop on yours. There are other programs available that do the same thing. The wireless network standard 802.11.b is just not very secure.

Some airlines, such as American Airlines in San Jose, are using wireless networks to transmit passenger information from curbside check-ins to the boarding gates. Some airlines, such as American Airlines in San Jose, are using the wireless network standard 802.11.b to do this.

Some people are getting pretty excited about this. I don't think it's much of a security risk, but then I didn't think the powdered donuts in Jackson county Michigan should have been outlawed either.

Meanwhile, airports are collecting all sorts of "seized items" from passengers. If you're headed to a flight and have something as lethal as a pair of tweezers, you may have the choice of giving up your tweezers or missing your flight. San Francisco airport has seized a ton of stuff, literally. They've finally decided to trash it all.

An 86-year guy named Joseph was having a hard time getting through security at Phoenix. He had a medal. It was a U.S. Medal of Honor he got for shooting down 26 planes in World War II. Joseph, who used to be governor of South Dakota, had his medal of honor with him because he was going to speak at West Point and wanted to show it to the cadets. After about 45 minutes and taking his boots off three times, Joseph convinced them that he wasn't an 86-year old terrorist and they let him and his Medal of Honor onto the plane. This all sounds like it could be exaggerated, but that's what's in this story.

Across the Pacific, China is having some airplane security problems, too. China bought a new 767 from Boeing for their "Air Force One." They had a new interior installed. The interior came with at least 27 satellite activated electronic bugs, all at no extra charge. Some of the Chinese officials involved in the purchase were in big trouble.

Pictures of Today!

My good camera (the Canon Pro90) broke. As punishment I sent it back for warranty repair. I've had my substitute camera, but the picture quality didn't seem as good as it should. Then I figured out today that I have it on medium quality (fine compression) instead of high quality (superfine compression). Oops.

You can usually get better quality by saving the picture on the highest quality (other than raw image format) and then resizing, etc. on the computer. You may also get better results if you crop a high-resolution image and resize it instead of using a digital zoom on a camera.

Mike and I got a new plane on Monday -- a PC12. Our TBM-700 has a new home in Guthrie. Here's the new plane at Death Valley, the lowest airport in North America.


Here's the plane at Leadville, Colorado, the highest airport in the U.S.


There was a slight temperature difference.

Some Colorado plains:


Some Death Valley dunes:


Here's Callisto, one of Jupiter's Moons. This picture was taken last May by the Galileo spacecraft.


And finally, a Colorado Mountain, July before last.


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