Friday, December 13, 2013

Web Tools - The 2009 View

This blog was written in 2009 and shared here for historical purposes.

I was recently reflecting on activities I perform that have moved to the web or have been adapted to now leverage the web.  I want to briefly talk about some routine activities that I cannot do without the web.

I am a runner who currently uses a Garmin GPS running watch to track my course, distance, elevation gain/loss, time/speed while running and store the history in the web via Garmin Connect (a pure web 2.0 application – the watch connects via Bluetooth to a USB plug that uploads data directly to the web leaving nothing on the PC).  You can later export Garmin Connect data to any PC if you really want kml or tcx files (and there is a web 2.0 app that will convert tcx to gpx if you want that).
I used to estimate distance/speed with a wristwatch and kept a “my documents” based running log and (much earlier) a “paper” log.
I run on the beach around Port Jeff and check the tides at to avoid starting a course that ends under water.  Beats using a paper tide chart; really beats getting wet.

I log my training runs via twitter ( is joined to so both social networking tools log my exercise/runs).
Sometimes I even tweet about less important things than exercise.

I use a Garmin Colorado hiking GPS for geotagging photos as well as plotting routes and logging waypoints for quick returns.  I export kml files for Google Earth maps with links to my photos.
I used to use topo maps and log notes in a paper journal and keep numerous image directories with “manual” notes files/explanations of what was shot/where/when.
Prior to getting the running watch I used my Garmin Colorado for runs and geotagged photos of the key course elements/created Google maps of various courses.

As a prosumer photographer (that means Canon charges me more for cameras and lens than they charge you),  I share photos via my flickr Pro account and do quick edits of flickr resident photos using web based tools (my fav now is the Picnik web photo editor).
I also use fat client software (ACDSee or Photoshop Elements) for fancier editing but more and more the authoritative source of my images is the web – and I see a time when my permanent images will exist only there.
Gmail is my web email – it recognizes and displays flickr picture references just as it does Picasa (which I used to use).
Previously I managed all my images in several large folders – I still have these as a backup/dump out back (143GB with 73500 and counting photos) but my primary workspaces are web based.

My banking and insurance and investments are all handled via the web – I am not sure I would even know how to go about doing most of this offline.  I certainly could not even find the phone number of the (probably insolvent) financial institution’s computer voice response system without the web.  Oh, I guess I still sometimes use an ATM but more and more I use less and less “paper” money.

I use the web based weight and exercise tracker.  I also use the web site to summarize data to share with my doctor (for its nice looking charts).  Most of my medical records test results are available online and no place else (I am fairly confident of this as my doctor’s office can do NOTHING without their online systems and PDAs).
I can often get free copies of my own records via email but have to pay for any paper copies.

All my own records and indices are maintained in html for a private (home based) set of web pages.  Prior to modern times, I kept my own records in a text log file on a PC or in Outlook contacts.
Many Years Ago (in a time before Lady Lovelace gave birth to computer programming), I used to keep paper notes.

I have been using Gmail as my personal email since 2004 and keep roughly 10k emails that reside in the cloud.  I make email notes of important information that I send to myself because the Gmail search is really REALLY good (beats paper notes that I cannot find once I forget where I put them).  I also have various Outlook pst files for work and personal use but will welcome all mail moving to the web - relying on 20GB spread across too many pst files is just asking for problems.
Before PCs I used a CMS based mainframe email system.  Before that I have heard that you handed your mail to Ben Franklin and I guess he must have used lightning bolts to transmit it thru the ether . . . or something like that.

I welcome hearing your own experiences about depending on web based tools and what you used to do Before Web (send me your thoughts/comments via email and interesting items will be reported in a follow-up blog).

Bill Merrow

Sunday, January 15, 2012

2008 November S Kaibab hike - selected geology highlights

Geology highlights from S Kaibab Trail Hike

Since the trail is named the S Kaibab we start off hike with the top of the Grand Canyon stack Kaibab Limestone

07:44 minutes down the trail we are into the Toroweap

07:45 Looking up from Toroweap we see a nice example of a Toreva block (ok, nice very small Toreva block slide)

07:53 Salt Dome example in the Toroweap – generally Salt Domes form wherever a prolonged period of flooding/evaporation occurs in an arid climate – here salt deposits above the low tide zone of the Toroweap sea are lighter than the rock above and later rose thru the Toroweap.

08:02 after traverse in Toroweap we encounter the Coconino

 begin a rapid descent thru the Coconino Sandstone where we see classic cross-bedding

08:07 Ooh-Aah Point obligatory photo

08:22 More steep descent thru Coconino – slowly as I needed to wait for the sun which I am ahead of at this point

08:55 nearing Cedar Ridge we are in the Hermit Shale.  Notice the Grand Canyon Supergroup (red Hakatai Shale) in the Cremation graben (across the river and below the Tapeats – later we will hike into it below the Tipoff on this side of the river).  The GC Supergroup is eroded away in much of the Grand Canyon but visible/accessible thruout this hike (in fact, we came this way to walk on and thru the Supergroup plus see it in several grabens).  The graben down dropped the Supergroup layers in the distant past so later erosion did not remove it.

Detail showing Hakatai visible across river

O’Neil Butte is a nice exposure of Supai Group Esplanade Sandstone

09:02 Supai Group

09:09 below Cedar Ridge we descend thru the Supai Group

09:29 went slightly off trail to photograph a nice example of a Breccia pipe (formed by collapse of a solution cave where the rubble was filled in/cemented by later sediments) – this is especially nice as the pipe later partially eroded out

09:44 Back on S Kaibab at Skeleton Point we get a good look at the Cremation Graben Supergroup Exposures on the other side of the river – we will be hiking thru this on this side of the river soon

09:52 we hike thru the Redwall limestone – notice the solution caves beside and above the trail

10:14 at base of Redwall photographed a nice exposure of Temple Butte (not as large as on N Kaibab, but this is prettier and I was S not N) – you can also reach out and touch this as it is just meters off the trail at end of last switchback before Muav – the sun was perfect on a great day in the Grand Canyon.  Temple Butte Limestone in the eastern Grand Canyon was deposited in river/stream channels forming a smiley face (do you see that shape in the below?).  It is not generally found as a separate layer in the eastern Grand Canyon (this changes as you go further west).
This purple in this smiley face is not typical of many Temple Butte lens exposures as they tend to weather into a blah slightly purple gray.

10:17 rapid descent thru Muav Limestone

10:51 hiking on the Bright Angel Shale we approach the Tipoff

11:13 hiking in the Shinumo Quartzite we see the Hakatai ahead

11:14 at Tipoff we get a great view of Tapeats on top of Hakatai Shale on this side of river as well as a view of the Hakatai on other side of the river (also in the Cremation graben) to the right is Shinumo Quartzite just as it should be (we just looked ahead and down to skip it for a minute) – the Hakatai was lifted up hundreds of feet above the rest of the Supergroup below it by a normal fault

11:18 house sized block of Shinumo Quartzite with trail blasted thru

11:26 Tapeats Boulder with Shinumo Quartzite pieces in it – oh yes, Shinumo fell off cliff at edge of Tapeats Sea into the Tapeats sand at water edge – Blacktail Canyon has (or had) a boulder in it in 2008 that is similar - see 2008 trip

Discussion of five criteria needed to form the Grand Canyon from lectures by Wayne Ranney (author of Carving Grand Canyon and other Geology texts):

1.    Large expanse of stratified rock (the Grand Canyon layers are known to extend across a very large area – some strata from well east of the Grand Canyon to west of Las Vegas).

2.    Variably colored (pretty/brightly colored in our case) – the different colors help make the strata obvious to non-geologists.

3.    Gently uplifted

4.    Eroded/Exposed by Big River(s)

5.    Dry Arid Environment near sea level (lacking the dry environment natural weathering would dominate and strip many layers completely; if well above sea level any deposits would almost certainly be eroded along with the mountains they lie upon; much of the grand canyon sedimentary rock was laid down in shallow seas or formed as part of near shore Aeolian deposits)

Wayne Ranney and Ron Blakey in Ancient Landscapes discuss and show on maps / images what the southwest US looked like when the various layers of the grand canyon were deposited (at sea level).  These support and elaborate on the five criteria discussed above.  I highly recommend Wayne's books.  

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

9/11 Memorial Christmas Day 2011

We spent Christmas afternoon at the 9/11 Memorial in New York City
Although the museum is under construction, this is a "must see" if in New York.
Tickets are free / available at but plan ahead as there is a significant wait.

Walking into the Memorial site the largest image is that of the new One WTC going up - Freedom Tower

but the 9/11 Memorial is centered on the footprints of the old World Trade Center North and South Towers - you are constantly reminded this is a construction site

 below is the new museum - it is between the old tower footprints
 each tower footprint is surrounded by a low wall engraved with the names of the fallen

south tower footprint - each footprint is a pool constantly replenished by a waterfall

museum is itself still a construction site

 museum and south tower footprint

north tower footprint - note names of the dead are backlit and visible by day or night

museum and new Freedom Tower

north tower pool and museum

site at sunset

as we walk away from the site we see Freedom Tower with coloured lights - Merry Christmas to all 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Magazines I subscribe to and their RSS status

Revised Mar 2104 Magazines I subscribe to/read - rss==in my reader
cIDs authoritative source (drop/add realtime) - this copy less often:
EE Times rss
EE Times Embedded Archive link 

ESD Embedded Systems Design 
EDN Electronic Design News rss 
Electronic Design http://electronicdesign RSS
Design News Sherlock Ohms & Designed By Monkeys - rss
Design News (UBM) - rss
Electronic Products - rss
T&MW Test and Measurement World - rss
VSD Vision Systems Design - rss Boards/Fact Auto
Assembly get paper copy - rss
MH&L Material Handling & Logistics News - rss
HPAC Engineering NOrss
Control Engineering LP;NOrss
Plant Engineering NOrss
IMPO Industrial Maintenance and Plant Operation NOrss KillList
TMCnet rss
ECN Electronic Component News - rss
DE Desktop Engineering - rss
EEandT Energy Efficiency and Technology - rss
NASA Tech Briefs - rss
Military and Aerospace Electronics NOrss follow channels
Avionics Intelligence Newsletter - email
Defense Systems - rss
Lightwave NOrss
Wireless Design and Development NOrss
CED Broadband focus rss
IW Industry Week - rss
Business Solutions - NOrss
LFW Laser Focus World - rss
BioOptics World - rss
R&D Magazine - rss
Chemical Processing - rss
BioPharm - rss
Pharmaceutical Manufacturing - rss
Drug Discovery and Development - NOrss
Medical Design Technology - rss 
Medical Design Briefs - NOrss (was but cannot find now) sister pub of NASA tech briefs
Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry - rss
Suppliers to Medical Industry rss (in gReader; MPMN&blog articles good)
InfoTech Spotlight content at rss
TN TechNet rss (for security notices)
Baseline Mag get paper copy - rss
InformationWeek rss rss
MCM rss
SCMR Supply Chain Management Review rss
PC World rss
PC Mag digital edition Zinio on iPad/PC rss

Monday, November 14, 2011

2011 River Trip Day 16 10/9 exit via Diamond Creek, lavacados photos/story

2011 River Trip Day 16 exit via Diamond Creek, lavacados photos/story

06:28 sunrise
 06:28 last breakfast

07:39 small scorpion in camp
 07:46 Teddy
 07:59 heading downriver

 10:06 takeout ahead
 10:07 pull in and unload gear
 10:27 gear unloaded - next we will derig boats - we all helped

 14:08 route 66 stop for ice cream

 19:40 dinner