May 18th, 2011

The crash of AF 447

You have all read this in the papers. About a month ago the debris of AF 477 was found on the bottom of the Atlantic, after almost two years of its rather mysterious crash. Last week the Flight Data Recorder and the Cockpit Voice Recorder were found, retrieved, brought to the BEA in Paris (read; French NTSB) and read out. Last Monday there was a short press statement saying all data on both recorders was successfully retrieved (50 hours of flight parameters, 2 hours of cockpit conversations). I can tell you a lot of people were holding their breath last week. Would the recorders be found? Would they be in one piece? Would they be salvageable? And then: would they still have and give up their data, after a violent crash and 2 years in 3 kilometers deep salt water. They did. We will know what happened. And we will learn from that and make air travel a bit safer again. A big BIG thumbs up to the French government, Air France, the BEA and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute for their relentless efforts to find the recorders, and to Honeywell for making them so incredibly strong and reliable.

OK, so that was old news (will not go into the question of retrieving the bodies or not). Then, French newspaper Figaro stated “sources close to the investigation stated that the preliminary analysis of the recorders exonerated Airbus”, implying it was a sole act of the pilots or an act of the Gods thing. Speculation immediately went into fifth gear. They were asleep. There was only one pilot in the cockpit when all the bells went off and he panicked, not hearing the gong to open the cockpit door. They incidentally locked themselves out of the cockpit etcetera, etcetera. Oh and of course this information was probably leaked by Airbus, following an agenda to push away the blame they obviously have.

The BEA was the first to respond there was no thing and also marked the entire affair as highly disrespectful to the (228) victims and families.

So what did happen? It was in fact this statement, from indeed Airbus, to its customers:

FROM : AIRBUS PRODUCT SAFETY DEPARTMENT TOULOUSE

ACCIDENT INFORMATION TELEX – ACCIDENT INFORMATION TELEX
SUBJECT: AF447 ACCIDENT INTO THE ATLANTIC OCEAN
OUR REF: AF447 AIT 7 dated May 16th 2011
PREVIOUS REF:

- Ref 1: AF447 AIT 1 dated June 1st 2009
- Ref 2: AF447 AIT 2 dated June 4th 2009
- Ref 3: AF447 AIT 3 dated June 8th 2009
- Ref 4: AF447 AIT 4 dated July 2nd 2009
- Ref 5: AF447 AIT 5 dated July 30th 2009
- Ref 6: AF447 AIT 6 dated April 03rd 2011

This AIT is an update of the previous AIT 6 concerning the AF447 accident which occurred over the Atlantic Ocean on June 1st, 2009.

It has been approved for release by the French BEA who lead the investigation as per European Regulation and ICAO Annex 13 International Recommendations.

Following underwater search campaigns and subsequent operations, the Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) were recovered. Data extraction of both recorders have been performed at the BEA facilities in the presence of two German investigators from BFU, an American investigator from NTSB, two British investigators from AAIB and two Brazilian investigators from CENIPA, as well as an officer from the French judicial police and a court expert.

Data from DFDR and CVR have been successfully downloaded.

At this stage of the preliminary analysis of DFDR Airbus has no immediate recommendation to raise to operators.
Further update will be provided as soon as new significant information becomes available or as soon as Airbus will be authorized to share more information in compliance with investigation rules.

Yannick Malinge
Senior Vice President
Chief Product Safety Officer
Airbus

Read: “We know you are all eager to know if there are issues with our product. We informed you 6 times earlier, including recommendations. The recorder readout did not raise any immediate issues that you should know about with the aircraft. But we will keep you, who after all are flying the plane, closely in the loop.” As would (and do) all OEM’s. And these statements are always approved by the investigation authorities.

Now that is slightly different eh? Going from “…Airbus has no immediate recommendation to raise to operators…” to “Airbus totally exonerated…”. The media. Gotta love em.

Disclaimer: While I love all airplanes and think all OEM’s make the most incredible and often also beautiful machines, I am a mild Airbus fan.

Update: a BEA note describing what they found it is neither an interim report, not an analysis. Scary shit.икони

May 18th, 2011

The spreadsheet

Holy crap. Google’s web based spreadsheet, while absolutely brilliant in terms of working together in the same document (I use it very, VERY often, just for that reason), has always lacked serious spreadsheet functionality. Still, new things crept in like programmed background color etc. But today, I opened it and low and behold: Pivot table reports!!!! Man this is getting serious.

May 11th, 2011

Ubuntu 11.04

I updated to Ubuntu 11.04 today (read, it said: “Shall I?” and I answered “Please do”).

While it took a few hours to download, the operation was relatively painless. However, here are a few words of caution.

1) the user interface has changed and I must say it does need some getting used to. The “start” and “running programs” bars have been integrated to one and it is on the LEFT side, floating in and out. And it is not entirely bug free. Nothing major, more in the realm of slightly annoying. Still, I am not convinced it is an improvement, but lets face it, no UI change ever feels like that the first few days.

2) my ATI video driver, while listed as 11.04 (“Nattty”) ready, refuses to install due to unsolved dependencies. That is sooo 2004. No functionality loss by the way, just slower (dual screen works fine).

3) OpenOffice has been replaced by LibreOffice (a fork created because of Oracle’s bad Open Source Community behavior, good decision). That was a no brainer for me personally, as I switched a week ago.

4) RythmBox (the music player) has been replaced by Banshee. I will hold my verdict on that one, but so far, I am not royally impressed, again on really small, but annoying issues.

So far so good! Will keep you posted.

Update april 30th: I decided against the new interface, even if making the icons smaller (did not want to go below 32×32). Easy to change at login. It is rumored the next version (by definition 11.10) will do away with the old interface, but probably the most serious annoyances, including some programs not behaving very well with it will be ironed out.

I think I can live with Banshee. It has a few pluses too. To an extend it replaces Miro, which is kinda cool. **

For me the most exciting news is, and it probably has nothing to do with this release is that Blackberry Desktop finally works in Virtual box. I don’t know when this happened, but this configuration works for me: Virtual Box 4.0.6 r71344, Windows XP running in it (fully updated), Blackberry Desktop 5.0 Bundle 1682. Note that it is required that in Virtual box the support for USB 2.0, called “EHCI” is disabled. This news does not allow me to ditch Windows completely, but it does allow me to ditch Windows 7 native. Yippee!!.

Update May 11th: re-switched to Unity, the new interface. With the video issues 99% ironed out, it is not too bad. No wild enthusiasm, but doable. Had a serious fight with the Wifi interface (basically it being stuck off). But again, here is the imho more interesting part that, again, is kinda unrelated to the upgrade. I used Simple Backup to backup to a USB hard disk, formatted NTSB. I started to get worried a lot as those backups started to fail because what seems to be a writing error on that disk. I made two rather important changes: I moved the disk to ext4 and I switched to Back In Time. Whoa! Now that is one great easy backup program. I am not into Apple, so I have never used the time machine thingy, but this is said to be the same, Ubuntu style. Me likey! (As usual, installing something in Ubuntu is easy as cake: Open software center, type Back In Time, select it, click Install. Done).

May 10th, 2011

The takeover

It was good while it lasted. Skype has been sold to Microsoft. I will start closing my account. Any good advice on the alternatives? My wish list is

  • chat
  • voice (multiparty nice, but not neccesary)
  • video calling (multiparty irrelevant)
  • multi-platform (Ubuntu and Windows needed, blackberry and Apple stuff nice to have)

Will keep you posted.

Update 1: So far: Google talk for chat, audio and video. Empathy chat client for Ubuntu to connect to it and a few other services (it can actually do Facebook, Yahoo and a small dozen other services). It SEEMS native google video (as opposed to through empathy) is a bit better.

May 7th, 2011

The Norwegian country

Yes, admitted, this writer on the nest has not been to Alaska (yet), but I did vist Norway a few times, including¬† the most scenic “Geiranger Fjord”.¬† Have a look at this wonderful 360 degrees footage.

May 5th, 2011

ADN puts advertisement for “outside” restrurant on front page

Hmmm, So ADN editor/publisher Pat Dougherty, the guy that fired the majority of the ADN staff at the direction of McClatchy corporate HQ, is now running what amount to advertisements for outside corporations using ADN as the outlet. Somebody ought to start something to compete with ADN – just say’n.

икони

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