the impermanence of modern technology

On a small private airfield in central Florida sits an old prop-driven aircraft, a Convair CV 240 passenger airliner. When I say old, it was first built in 1947 and ended manufacturing the year right after I was born. So yeah, that’s old. I came across this airplane in 2012 under interesting circumstances. As fate would have it the owners who were trying to restore it were at the same restaurant I was at and we just happened to cross paths. One thing led to another and I was invited to go out to observe the aircraft as well as go through their small aviation museum they were putting together. I took my photos and then everything seemed to slip into the background. Later that year I had my left knee replaced, and then early the following year I was hit with my layoff and the long string of events that followed.

I drove back out Saturday into the same general area to go to what used to be a local business that sold planters and other items, such as plant dollies that went under the larger planters. The place was out of business and completely empty. My wife and I recognized that the airstrip with the Convair was just a little ways down the road so I drove us there and went to see if the airplane was still sitting there. It was. I got out with my Pen F and 1.2/17mm and collected a few more photos of the plane. Unlike the first time, there was no-one around and he plane was completely buttoned up.

Of all the parts of the 240 the most intriguing to me are the radial piston engines. These engines were developed during WWII and reached their heigh day right towards the end of the war, right when the very first jet engines were introduced. They were big and powerful and did incredible yeoman duty in both the military and civilian air sectors. There’s a part of me that wishes I had the time and money to pull one out, refurbish it back to working order, and then just crank it up and watch it work.

And if you’re wondering how many passengers this aircraft could carry, it was 40 passengers, all in one class. Would you look at those big, wide, comfortable seats? The only way you’ll get anything like that today is in first class.

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This used to be a working machine, carrying its passengers in relative safety and comfort a half century ago. There are very few left flying, run by collectors. Those that aren’t are sitting like this one, bleaching slowly in the sun.

apple airpods, a simple review

I finally broke down and purchased my very own pair of Apple AirPods. Up to that point I’d believed the Apple hater’s negative hype surrounding the devices, such as it wouldn’t stay in my ears, they would fall out and become an expensive loss, they didn’t work well, etc, etc. My local Costco had them for sale for $130, which was $30 less than the Apple Store across the way in the Big Mall. So on a Friday evening at my local Costco while shopping for groceries (I live such an exciting life) I finally said to myself, said I, “OK”. And thus I walked away with my very own AirPods nestled in with the bags of salad, corn-on-the-cob, and whole wheat baked bread.

When I got home I put away the groceries and then opened up the AirPod box and read the very simple instructions, which were:

  1. Open AirPod Charger
  2. Place near iPhone
  3. Let it pair automagically

And voilà, the AirPod earbuds were instantly paired with my iPhone 8 Plus. Over the rest of the evening and all the next day those pods hardly ever left my ears except to recharge them. I left the AirPod charging case plugged in all the time.

I discovered I could leave my iPhone on its wireless charger while I roamed all through my house (and even outside into the yard) and I never lost connectivity but once, and that was to determine the AirPod’s range limits. Turns out for all practical purposes to be pretty far.

I discovered that no mater if I was standing, sitting, or leaning back, my AirPods were never in danger of falling out of my ears. Not once.

I discovered that if I took one of the AirPods out of my ear to listen to my lovely wife, that the music or podcast or whatever would pause playing until I put it back. That, to me, was an incredibly simple, but incredibly useful feature. I sat there after the first time taking the pod in and out just to watch it work. Yes, I’m easily entertained.

I discovered I could easily pair my AirPods with my iPad Pro first generation just like with my iPhone. I’ve not yet tried it with my Macbook Pro.

Finally, I discovered that the sound coming out of the AirPods is quite good, matching or exceeding anything using the wired EarPods. And with the AirPods, there’s no damned collection of wires that need to be untangled before they’re ready to use.

I’ve not tried the other major feature, integration with Siri. I’m not into anything Siri (or Alexa or “Hey Google!” either).

Right now everybody who’s anybody in tech (or might think they are) are probably shacking their heads and thinking “he should have waited for the second generation.” The internet is currently rife with rumors about the AirPods Second Coming, and while it makes for entertaining reading, they all have one shocking limitation in common: an agreement of when they’ll actually arrive. Oh well.

As for buying trailing edge, trailing edge might as well be my middle name. I can’t afford leading edge anything for two reasons: one, it’s too expensive and two, it’s buggy and will wind up with at least one firmware update before it’s decent, let alone half-way decent. The AirPods were announced/released in 2016, so they’ve had plenty of time to settle down as far as radically new tech is concerned. And don’t kid yourself; in spite of how old they are now, they’re still leading tech and they Just Work.

As a former reviewer who’s name I can’t remember used to say at the end of his review, “Highly Recommended.”