I was teaching an introductory C++ programming course to the graduate
students this semester. This time some students from Civil and
Environmental Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering
department also took my course, to my surprise. I thought this
course was going to be too easy for ECE students. I hope they
learned something from my course. This time, I showed more live
programming in class than last year. If I pre-program sample
codes before the class and just explain what's already written, it's
boring, and everyone falls asleep. In fact, everyone would just
download the course note later time. What's the point to come to
the class? Rather, because I write C++ programs live, I can show
how I think and in what order I construct a program. I also make
typos and mistakes. If I get an error, I let my students find
errors. So, I can make a good reason for them to pay attention.
I thought it's far better than just showing a pre-programmed samples
and explain. I'll see what my students are going to say about
live programming in the Faculty Course Evaluation.
By the way, as for the bowling leagues, I bowled in two different
leagues in this season and made almost top individual score in both
two leagues, although there was no prize for individual score.
My final average in the Saturday-night league was 198, and
Monday-night league 192. However, my teams lost miserably in the
play off, sadly due to my poor performance. In the Monday-night
league play off, I made 211 and won the first game. But, I
didn't have practice shots before the second game although I had to
change the lane. I struggled to get strikes. I managed to
get 178, 24 points below my average, and my teammate got better score
than his average, but the game was tied. In the 2-frame
tie-breaker, we lost just by one pin. That was a good game.
I wish I could read the lane condition better, but it was nothing
miserable compared to the result from the Saturday-night league.
My play off game of the Saturday-night league ended with total
frustration and desperation. During the practice shots, I
noticed the lane condition was way drier than the regular season
games. My ball hooked like crazy. My ball was making a
sharp turn, too sharp, just before hitting the head pin and my ball
went too deep. The results were leaving one pin or splits.
I countered the dry condition by adjusting my standing position, but
after shifting my position to the left by six boards, I ran out of my
options. If I moved to the farther left, my ball simply made a
sharper turn and ended up hitting the head pin too deep anyway.
I had no more option for that condition. We needed to win two of
the three games to go up a level. But, because my performance
was so poor, we lost the first and the third game. I was getting
like 160s and 150s.
We had to bowl three more games to decide the third place, and we lost
miserably again because of my continued poor performance. My
last game was 145. The lowest score of this season.
"Nothing works" was what I was feeling in the last game. I was
in the total helplessness, and there was no fun. I was solely
responsible for the miserable loss of the team. My best bowling
season ended with the worst ending in misery and despair. Why
the hell did I have to deal with such a utterly different lane
condition in the play off games!
Anyways, many things are settling down. I resumed YSFLIGHT
programming. I think I wrote a few weeks ago that I'm trying to
implement user-controllable ground objects. In fact, I want to
make it possible to change a vehicle during the game. It will
enable a mission like, you fly a fighter jet to penetrate through the
enemy air defense line, and then land at a forward base to change to
the attack helicopter and go for the ground-attack mission, and then
board a tank, and so on. This way, the Scenery Editor can become
a mission (an operation rather?) editor.
I also resumed my study of GLSL (OpenGL Shader Language). Rather
I should say I am making a set of functions that let me use GLSL with
comfort. When it is done, I should be able to make more visual
effects in YSFLIGHT. A Shader Language is an interesting concept
to learn, but I have a feeling that it is just a transient technology.
In five or ten years, CPU may be integrated with the graphics chip (or
the other way), and then shader programs will be just a call-back
function written in C or C++.
By the way, I was supposed to fly 2 hours to reach 400 total flying
hours today. I went to Beaver County airport, but the weather
forecast was utterly wrong. It was calling overcast 3500ft by
10am, which was supposed to be good enough for VFR flight. The
reality was overcast 800ft. I couldn't even do touch & goes!
On top of that, nobody bothered to clear the snow on the runway and
taxiways. I walked on the ramp, but I could only vaguely see the
markings. It was not safe to taxi, take off, or land. So,
I gave up and just came back.
Beaver County airport covered by snow.
I could barely see the threshold of taxiway A.
I guess these foot (and tail) prints are of the fox
living in the airport.
It's already December. I flew 49.8 hours in
2009, 47.9 hours in 2010. But, I have flown only 32.2 hours this
year so far. It's getting difficult to reach 40 hours per year
mark. If I fly 4.2 hours, I reach 400 total flying hour. I
hope at least I can get there before the end of the year.
I flew with my teaching assistant a few weeks ago.
Once I climbed up to 8,500ft, but the EGT (Exhaust Gas Temperature)
gauge was behaving strange. The EGT was supposed to come up as I
lean mixture. I am supposed to keep EGT at some level.
There has been decades-long controversy where exactly this EGT needle
should be kept to get the best engine efficiency, but at least I can
say it must not be at lower end or higher end. But, on that day,
the needle stayed at the bottom. I thought because I was
climbing up to 8,500ft. So, I kept leaning mixture. But,
it stayed at the bottom. I got suspicious about the EGT gauge,
and looked at the RPM instead of EGT to adjust mixture. So, I
climbed up to 8,500ft. I like to be high. That was a nice
view. (Read more...)
I have been abnormally busy. I think I was saying something
similar this time last year, too. But, this time, it is really
unusual. I feel as if I were always working except when I am
flying, I am bowling, and I am eating. In reality, I'm doing
some other stuffs also. But my point is I feel that much busy
So, my YSFLIGHT development has been stuck. I'm determined to
add user-controllable ground object in the next release, but that
project has not been moving since a few months ago. I cannot
believe I could add UNICODE support to the GUI module this summer.
Well, that time my teaching hasn't started yet. Maybe that's
why. I'm teaching 60+ graduate students. I can re-use
course note from last year, but I need to make new assignment and exam
questions. My dependable teaching assistants grade homework, but
I grade exams.
And, I was given a relatively difficult assignment from my startup
company. I came up with the solution and will experiment with it
this week. I don't know what else I can do if it doesn't work.
In theory, it works. I am hoping it works as theory tells.
Nonetheless, I at least have time to spare for bowling and flying.
I'm not good at sports in general. But, only one sport I can do
better than other people is bowling. I can say I am good at
skiing, too, since I was born in northern Japan. But, I'm not as
good as other people in my home city. I have JUDO black belt,
well, but you don't have to be super good to get the first-grade black
belt, and mine is first-grade. Anyway, I'm bowling in
League on every Saturday and
Doubles on every Monday in this fall season. On the Saturday
before this weekend, I was able to renew my 3-game total high. I
made 231, 268, and 214 and which add up to 713. I forgot what my
previous 3-game total high was, but this was my first time to break
700. My bowl blasted pins as if it was carrying all my
frustration. In fact, if you look at my score from Young Adult
League only, I made 9 consecutive 200+ games, and on Monday following
my 700 series, I made 256 in the second game of Monday Night Doubles.
I didn't do too good yesterday though. I always hate lane 7 of
that bowling alley. There are pillars left of lane 7, and I am
always distracted by the pillars. In fact, I was getting a lot
of strikes from Lane 8 and a lot of splits from Lane 7 :-P
I made 202 in the third game, but the other two were one hundred sixty
As for YSFLIGHT development, I can resume as soon as the company work
and teaching duty calms down. Well, maybe it will not be until
By the way, following pictures are from the second game of my 3-game
total high series and the Honor Roll board of the Forward Lanes.
They reset the Honor Roll once every a few months. My 289 was on
the board early this year, but that was erased when they reset the
board. I was able to come back in with my 268 and 713.
I have been to Paris France recently. If you think about France, probably what comes to your mind first
is a Rafale fighter or a Mirage 2000 fighter. Or, the Airbus
industry may come to your mind first. (Is there any disagreement?)
To me, France is a country of Concorde along with United Kingdom.
I wish I had enough time to visit Toulouse, where Airbus is based, but I
had only a few days and could not afford it. Instead, according to
my search, Museum of Air and
Space at Le Bourget has a Concorde and is close enough from Paris.
I really looked for seeing another Air France Concorde there.
Annual Wings Over Pittsburgh air show was held on September 10th and
11th at the Pittsburgh International Airport. The air show was
hosted by 911th airlift wing based at the airport. This air show
used to be in June or July, but last year and this year, they chose
9/11 weekend. It happened to be the 10th anniversary of the
terror attack. Holding an air show on this day sends a clear
message to the cowardly terrorists. No matter how bad purposes
terrorists use airplanes for, we never stop flying. We
appreciate aviation rather than be scared of it. One of the
purposes of the terrorists who hijacked the four airliners on
September 11th 2001 was to destroy the public confidence in aviation.
By cerebrating aviation on the 10th anniversary of the terror attack,
we are defeating one of the goals of the cowardly terrorists. (Read
Burning through the Sky
Fall Semester! (About 1/3 done)
I am teaching C++ programming to Mechanical Engineering graduate
students since last year, only in the fall semester. I was
teaching the same course as a co-instructor two years ago, and I am an
instructor (with no co-) since last year. What's special in this
semester is my boss (advisor) is taking sabbatical and not teaching a
course. I end up with teaching 68 graduate students. Half
of them probably wanted to take his course this semester, but since he
was not offering a course this semester, they came to my course.
Maybe I'll have less students next year. I'm enjoying a lecture
in front of big audience, but my teaching assistants need to grade 34
assignments each every week.
In this course, I give three quizzes in total. A student needs
to write some short programs and submit through the web. Quizzes
are open note, open book, open internet, but talking to someone else
is not allowed. Last year I asked everyone to
carry an own laptop, but this time two students didn't have a laptop.
I had to run around to get a C++ compiler installed on Mechanical
Engineering cluster PCs. It looks like a trend. Several
years ago, everyone in the MechE department had a Windows laptop.
If you had a Macbook then, you would have been
looked with curious eyes saying "are
you really in engineering?" But, the
ratio of Macbooks rapidly increased in the past a few years. Now
I guess the new trend is a transition from laptops to tablets. Still
many students would carry a laptop, but soon some will carry only
tablets and use cheaper desktop computers at home or at school for
homework and research. Last decade was really a strange time.
There is absolutely no reason that a PC capable of research and
engineering needs to be in each household. But, the price of PCs
were so cheap and everyone had an equally powerful PC as an
engineering workstations. Probably such excessively-powerful PCs
will disappear from homes and be replaced with reasonably powerful and
cheap computers like tablets. One thing I
learned is next time I should ask C++ compiler installed to the
cluster PCs before the semester starts. I expect more students
without a laptop to take my class next year.
But, this current trend of PC to tablet transition
is a problem for me because PC manufacturers are interested in making
non-PC (powerless) tablets, but they lost interest in developing a
light-weight and reasonably powerful tablet PCs. I've been using
Dell Latitude XT for 3.5 years. But its CPU cooling fan started
making loud noise, and it can break any time. I'm looking for a
tablet PC that is less than 3.5lb (no heavier than Latitude XT), at
least 750GB HDD, Core i5 or faster, and equipped with eSATA,
ExpressCard slot, or multiple USB 3.0 ports. I often think by
drawing diagrams because my research area is highly geometry oriented.
I also need to be able to write programs in C++. Also I care
about OpenGL performance. I often walk from home to CMU or ride
a bus, and I don't want to carry a heavy laptop. None of the
current models satisfy all those requirements. The closest model
is Panasonic Toughbook C1. If only it had an ExpressCard slot
instead of PC card slot, I would have replaced my 3.5 years old
Latitude XT with Toughbook C1. I could have just forgiven that
three Panasonic laptops that I purchased in a row died within a year.
If I carry both a very light laptop and a tablet, probably the total
weight is heavier than 3.5lb. And, I don't have a luxury of desk
space to open up both laptop and a tablet together. I am hoping
someone sells a tablet PC that is light weight and reasonably
I'm trying to follow how I learned programming in
this course. I think it is difficult for a new computer-science
student to learn programming nowadays. I am confident that I
wouldn't understand the value of object-oriented programming if I was
told to use it when I had no idea about programming. When I was
first exposed to programming, I had to use BASIC (not Visual BASIC.
Very old-style BASIC with infamous line numbers.) and assembly
language. There was no structured programming, object-oriented
programming. There was no such thing called event-driven
programming, either. I was thinking it would be nice if I could
use a local variable, which stays local within a sub-routine.
Therefore, when I saw C language, I thought: "How great! I can
use local variables!" Then I learned structured programming.
That allowed me to write longer programs and relatively complex data
structures. But, soon I encountered a problem that when I fix
somewhere I mess up somewhere else. Then I was told about the
concept of Data Encapsulation. I thought "It's great! By
limiting data access from outside, I can fix something somewhere
without breaking consistency of the data structure!" But, that
time I didn't have a C++ compiler. And, I could encapsulate data
structure within a C source file. So, I was doing something
similar to object-oriented programming in C. I don't remember
why I got serious about C++. Maybe that was when I got Visual
C++ 1.1 for Windows 3.1. As I studied forward, I thought "C++ is
incredible! C++ class gives so much flexible control of data
encapsulation! I don't have to be one source code per object any
more!" That's what I felt fore sure. Also I was impressed
by C++ template, too. Some people say C++ template is part of
the object-oriented feature of C++. Maybe, but to me, C++
template is more than that. It gives solutions to whole lot of
things that I wanted to do but couldn't do in C. But, I rather
was interested in making my own class library than using a library
made by someone else. And C++ standard template library was
absolutely a mess then. A sample code that I could compile with
a compiler often didn't work with another compiler. So, I ended
up with making my own class library and using ever since. So, I
learned all of my programming techniques bottom up. Always I had
something I wanted to do and learned the way to achieve it. Java
never interested me because it didn't help me write a flight
simulator. But, I know how valuable those concepts of structured
programming and object-oriented programming paradigms from through my
So, I'm trying to re-create how I learned
programming from 11-years to 22-years old in just three months.
I was trying to give an experience of how messy the program becomes
without object-oriented programming for the first month of the
semester. From next week, I gradually show how such a program
can be cleaned up with object-oriented programming. But, the
quantity of coding will increase because class definitions need to be
written upfront. I cannot imagine an ordinary student can
understand the benefit of object-oriented programming unless he/she
once suffers from non-object-oriented programming (of course unless
he/she is super smart).
Scientists of CERN revealed that they observed neutrinos traveling
faster than the speed of light. Some news sources were reporting
with sensational captions like "End of the Theory of Relativity?"
According to the theory of relativity, if we are able to accelerate to
the speed of light, we are able to go to the next galaxy before we
die, no matter how far the galaxy is. As we accelerate, the
destination galaxy comes close to us. For a stationary person,
the next galaxy can be billions of light-years away, but as we
accelerate to almost the speed of light, the next galaxy will be a few
feet away. Therefore, we will get there within seconds, from the
crew and passenger point of view. However, when we come back to
the home galaxy at the speed of light, we can come back. But,
the time at home will be two times the billions of years after we left
home. It's not good. We just want to spend weekend to look
around in another galaxy. We don't want to miss our friends and
families. This limitation comes from the theory of relativity.
So, if the theory of relativity is proven wrong, we can hope that
someday we can travel through the universe and come back home in a few
But, a not-so-exciting conclusion from this observation can simply be
that the speed of light we knew was not quite correct, and the correct
speed of light is actually what we saw from the traveling neutrinos.
In fact there have been a lot of evidence that supports the theory of
relativity, including nuclear energy. Dr. Stephen Hawking said
in his book that the time delay of a faster-moving clock can be
observed by putting a very accurate timer on an airplane and fly it
over the years. The new observation would change some
predictions of how the universe grow from here and how it looked like
before. But, maybe the theory of relativity stays the
same. With slightly faster c.
Personally, I want scientists to conclude that the theory of
relativity needs major overhaul and that we are able to go to
Andromeda galaxy over the weekend and come home on Monday.
I went to annual Cleveland Air Show during the labor day weekend.
Cleveland Burke Lakefront airport is within 2.5 hours by car from
Pittsburgh. It is easy to make it a one-day trip. What was
special this year was F-4 Phantom II flight demonstration. F-4
Phantom II had already retired from the front line of the U.S. Air
Force and is becoming rare to see it flying. I saw F-4 Phantom II
flying for the last time in 2007 Dayton Air Show.
That airplane was
the Collings foundation. I was using Pentax *ist DS2, which
was a 6 mega pixel camera. Now I am using Olympus E-30.
It has 12 mega pixel sensor, and the performance of the camera is
magnitude better than *ist DS2. I couldn't miss this opportunity.
My primary goal in this air show was to take a definitive shot of F-4
Phantom II. (Read
I was trying to to practice IFR approaches at least
once a month since I received my instrument rating. In reality,
however, I haven't been able to practice as often as I wanted.
This time I haven't practiced approaches for four months since May.
I finally had chance to fly from
PFTC for practice approaches last Monday morning.
I reserved N430U. When I tried to open the
cockpit door, it was locked from inside. The door-lock lever was
not supposed to drop when the door was closed from outside. But,
the spring that holds the door-lock lever was broken, and when someone
closed the door for the last time, the lever dropped and locked the
door from inside. I crawled in from the baggage door to open the
cockpit door. Also this airplane wanted to turn left even at the
level-flight attitude. I had to keep right-rudder pressure all
the time, or the heading drifted to the left. I wanted PFTC to
do better job in maintenance. (Read
We saw many airplane accidents this year (although this year is not
over yet). But, the P-51D crashing into the spectator seating
area in Reno Air Race was the most shocking accident to me. On
the day of accident, high-speed stall theory and mechanical trouble
theory seemed to be outstanding. But, to me, it seems to be a
mechanical failure, more specifically aileron failure. Videos
and a still picture that captured fraction of second before the crash
implied that the airplane was rolling out from the final turn and then
the roll didn't stop. The airplane became inverted, and the
pilot tried a desperate half loopl to get out of the inverted flight.
He didn't have altitude to complete the half loop and crashed.
The video implied that the airplane inverted and then wobbled left
and right. My guess is the pilot was trying to use aileron to
put the airplane back to upright attitude but the aileron was little
effective. The pilot may have decided the only option to recover
was making a half loop. The airplane was flying slight right to
left from the spectators, but the debris flew from left to right.
The airplane was able to invert the horizontal flight path, but didn't
complete the half loop.
The airplane must have completely destroyed. It may be
impossible to assemble the airplane again to see the cause of the
crash. Maybe all we can gather is videos, pictures, and the
debris distribution. I have been to Reno once for an unrelated
conference. I have been wanting to visit Reno Air Race one day.
This was really a shocking accident.
I play for the repose of the pilots and those who lost life in the
Update 9/19: Corrected typo. I mistyped the aircraft
type. It is P-51D, not P-15D. Also, it was determined that
a part of elevator trim tab was torn away in flight. The videos
implied that the airplane made a barrel roll before the half loop into
the ground. Probably NTSB is looking into the last maneuver of
the airplane and may have already re-constructed the flight path of
final moment of the airplane. We will see more of these in the
All aviation pioneers, including Wright brothers, had one goal: flying
freely through the sky like a bird. Souls of humans dreaming of the sky to conquer
gave us wings ever to soar. This phrase is from the lyric of the
U.S. Air Force song with slight modification, by the way. But, one
aviation pioneers, Igor Sikorsky - a.k.a. the father of helicopters, may
have been dreaming of flying like a Hummingbird. All other birds looks
like the origin of airplanes. But, this particular bird, a
Hummingbird, gives me an impression of the origin of helicopters. Of
course, the way it flies only looks similar to the helicopters. It
hovers and even flies backward. The mechanism of flying is totally
different from rotor wings though. (Read
One of my friends recently got his private airman certificate.
He intends to go for instrument rating next, but he needs to build
50 hours of cross country time as pilot in command. In my
time, I made a lot of round trips from Allegheny County airport (KAGC)
to Franklin Venango Regional airport (KFKL). But, visiting
many other airports is much more fun compared to flying to the same
airport over and over again just for building cross-country time.
This time, we planned a trip to Niagara Falls. There is an
airport called Niagara Falls airport (KIAG) near the falls. I
have visited this airport for an air show twice before. The
plan was I was going to fly Beaver County airport (KBVI) to KIAG and
he was going to fly back to KBVI. Since we had an airplane, we
also planned to fly a sight-seeing flight over the falls. (Read
By the way, I flew IFR and flew through a cloud several times on the
way to Niagara falls.
I suppose some of you have already noticed, I am moving files little
by little from the current web server under @Homepage server to
Lacoocan server. @Homepage service charges about $6 per month
for 300MB web space with unlimited transaction, but there was no way
of increasing the capacity beyond that. The new service,
Lacoocan, is also offered by the same ISP, and gives me 1GB with
unlimited transaction for $1.20 per month. I had to scatter my
contents in separate web servers until now, but I'll be able to
consolidate everything in the new server. In case I need to move
again, I'll just have to transfer all the files to the new server and
won't have to re-connecting internal links. That will make it a
lot more maintainable.
I'm trying my best to automatically redirect an access to the web
pages in @Homepage came from a direct link to the new URL, but some
pages will not be visible from a direct link from the outside after
the files are transferred to the new location. And, if you are
linking to a picture, zip file, or anything other than a .HTML file,
your link will no longer be valid. If you have such direct links
(although I don't recommend) please re-link to the new URL.
At least if you are linking to the top page,
URL will be valid, and you are safe. Also there are some
Added videos from the flight on the last Sunday. In one of the
touch & goes, I leveled off, and the airplane sank almost immediately
and settled on the ground, just like I experienced last month. I
couldn't tell much why that happened, but this time I had a camera
taking a video of the instrument panel. I was able to have a lot
better idea on what was going on this time. (Click
here to read the rest.)
This year, I found a nest in Flagstaff Hill. There was a
twist on the day after the young Blue Jays finally left the perimeter of
Flagstaff hill. I really thought one of them was eaten by a hawk.
But, luckily, that was my mistake. As of June 9, 2011 I believe they are now training to
be a good flier. (Click
here to read the rest.)
The cause of my last not-so-good landing is still unknown. I
don't have data to analyze what went wrong. I want to know what
gone wrong if something similar happens in the next flight. I
made a camera mount that I can attach on the side window and record an
instrument video. The video below is from my practice ILS 28
approach to Allegheny County yesterday. (Click
here to read more)
I made a really nice cross-wind landing when I flew
for flower-watching flight, which made me feel good. But, in the
next flight, I ended up with making two not-so-good landings.
First, the following video is from one of my best
cross-wind landings taken when I came back from flower-watching
flight. You can see that the right main landing gear touched the
surface followed by the left gear with roughly one second separation.
In this video, you can see that the right main landing gear touched
the surface roughly 14 seconds after I leveled off. I used
partial flaps (20-degree flaps) setting and kept 10kt faster than
usual approach speed. When I approach in normal configuration
(30-degree flaps and 65-70kt), it takes about 12 seconds from my past
I found a nest of Blue Jays in Flaggstaff Hill near CMU. I am
expecting to see baby Blue Jays in a week or so. Also, I was
able to take some very good pictures of a Red-Bellied Woodpecker.
(This bird is called "Red-Bellied" although it has a red head and
When I flew for aerial photography over the cherry-tree planting
ceremony, I didn't see any blossoms. It was a little too early.
I thought I should fly again later this month to see cherry blossoms
from the air. However, the day after the ceremony, it was warm
like a summer in Pittsburgh. Almost all of the cherry trees
around Carnegie Mellon blossomed then. I thought cherry trees in
the North Park may open their buds in a few days. I decided to
fly again on Thursday of the same week
(Click here to read more.).
I was originally planning to make Scenery Editor official version by
the end of March. But, I made a big progress in my research in
February and had to spend time to write up the document. Then,
the earthquake hit Japan, and the nuclear plant exploded. I knew
whatever idea I came up with would not be implemented anyway.
But, as an engineer, I couldn't stop thinking what should be done to
contain the plant, and I ended up with leaving Scenery Editor
completely unattended for a while.
I re-started looking at the code a few days ago. I was thinking
to support localization bitmaps in Scenery Editor just like YSFLIGHT.
I was making bitmaps manually by Paint Brush, but it was taking too
long. I started writing a short Win32 program that reads a text
file and creates localization bitmaps. I'll make this program
available so that you can make your own localization bitmaps.
Through the process, I realize that I can make an off-screen bitmap
buffer (DIB: Device Independent Bitmap) without creating a window.
If I remember it correctly, when DIB was WinG (when Windows was 3.1) I
could not give a NULL pointer to CreateCompatibleDC, or the program
had crashed. But, now apparently I can give a NULL pointer to
this function. It means that I am able to create an off-screen
GDI Device Context without having a window. I should be
able to make a wrapper class that creates a bitmap from a Unicode
string for Windows, Linux, and Mac OSX, and make localization bitmaps
unnecessary. Just a Unicode text file would be good enough for
localization. I wrote a test program in Mac OSX (Cocoa API)
yesterday, and it worked. It is still very primitive, and I
don't think I can put this feature in YSFLIGHT and Scenery Editor in
the near future, but I probably will put it in by next year.
For the next official release of the Scenery Editor, I would go with
localization bitmaps. I hope I can release it by mid May.
There is a NPO called Pittsburgh Sakura Project, which has been
planting cherry trees in North Park of Pittsburgh. I have been
volunteering for aerial-photography flights of the planting
ceremonies. They had a spring planting ceremony on April 9th
this year, and I flew for taking aerial photography of the event.
For this mission, I flew a practice flight without my wife
(photographer) once, then I flew once with my wife on the back seat,
and prepared for the real run. (Click
here to read more)
For the past few days, news media reported that
some Plutonium was found nearby the power plant, and the
highly-radioactive water is filling the underground compartment of the
plant, as if the situation was deteriorating. Is it so? I
think the situation is slowly getting better.
As for the Plutonium, reactor #3 exploded. The explosion should
have blown some amount of Plutonium included in the spent nuclear fuel
rod. I thought everyone already knew about it. Plutonium
is harmful, but it is as harmful as other radioactive materials.
So, I think we should look at the radioactivity measurement rather
than what kind of substance.
As for the radioactive water leak, after observing this much of the
radiation leak, if the government, Tokyo Electric, and other groups
were really thinking the reactor vessel was completely undamaged, they
must be a historically dumb optimist. Maybe they are. We
already know that they critically lack situation awareness. But,
those idiots are now out of the loop, and those who are working on
containing the reactors should have already taken into account the
damage to the reactor vessel.
So, to me, nothing new about the Plutonium and the water leak.
The #1 reactor once was cooled to 200 degree C. If my
understanding is correct, they reduced the pace of water injection
after they found radioactive water leak. Then the temperature
jumped up to 320 degree C. They again increased the amount of
water injected to the vessel, and now it is around 280 to 300 degree
C. It means that they can quickly cool it to 200 degree C if
they find a way to transfer leaked radioactive water to a temporary
tank. I'm not saying it is easy, but it seems more realistic
than fixing the damaged cooling system. It is clear by now that
the particles of damaged nuclear fuel is in the water. Even if
they repair the cooling system, the pipe may quickly be clogged by
And, I was wondering what they were going to do when the reactor
vessel was pressurized and they could no longer pump water into the
vessel. But, if the water is leaking, they can just pump water
as they are doing right now, and let the hot water leak to the
outside, and essentially make an external circulation for cooling.
They need to come up with a way to collect and process the
contaminated radioactive water, but I think it is more realistic.
Now, U.S. military and IAEA are independently measuring the radiation
level around the plant. So, Japanese government cannot lie about
it, and we can trust the number. Since the number is slowly but
constantly decreasing, we can safely assume that the radiation leak
from the plant is a lot lower than a few days ago. In fact, most
of the leak must be from the explosion that took place in the first
week of the crisis. As long as a reactor doesn't explode again,
there wouldn't be the same level of radioactive-material leak.
And, in fact, if the reactor vessel has a leak, the pressure inside
the vessel cannot go up beyond some level, and vessel may never
explode again. Now, I suppose the focus is minimizing the ocean
and land contamination.
So, no matter what mews media say, I think the situation is slowly
improving. Though, it could take months to stabilize the
facility, and years to clean up the contamination.
I have just confirmed that a friend of mine who I couldn't contact
since the quake and his family are all ok! I couldn't contact
him simply because he had changed his E-Mail address.
NHK (Japanese National Broadcast) has reported that now Japanese
Ground Self-Defense Force is commanding the operation at the Fukushima
Daiichi Power Plant. Also, there is a rumor that the JGSDF is
directly talking with the U.S. military regarding the support for the
nuclear disaster. If I understand it right, now the prime
minister is out of the loop, which is a great progress. It
should have happened earlier. JGSDF crews who are working at the
site should be able to make a lot better decision than the prime
minister. I feel I am seeing a small hope.
I hope it is not too late.
I've been feeling the biggest fury I have ever felt in my life.
People were suffering, the U.S. was offering help, and the prime
minister was messing up. Now, every expert expects that
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant will not become the second
Chelnobyl. I am hoping it is true. But, even if it is
true, this isn't a good-enough news. Japan is a small country.
Even if the uninhabitable area is smaller than that of Chelnobyl, the
ratio of the uninhabitable area vs. total land will be substantial.
Around that uninhabitable area, agriculture and fishing will be
banned. It would be a enormous damage to Japan.
A big accident like this nuclear-plant explosion does not happen
unless an unfortunate chain of events are all connected. If only
one of the event was prevented, the accident would not have become
this catastrophe. The evaluation and research on this
catastrophic accident will begin when the situation is stabilized.
But, what we will see will be stupid decisions that ended up with
connecting the chain of events. We would find that there had
been multiple missed opportunities that could have prevented this
catastrophe even after the power plant totally lost electricity.
Japanese people will also witness the largest injustice in the
Japanese history. The prime minister apparently is a coward, and
he wouldn't take responsibility for the disaster. Tokyo Electric
Power Company executives should be prosecuted for at least
manslaughter. I hope they will be charged for the mass murder
though. But, probably they will pay some money and escape.
And, they are now trying to get that money from the tax-payer money.
There is a town called Cranberry about 45 minutes drive to the
north from Pittsburgh. Toshiba was supposed to build a facility
for the nuclear-energy business. But, this Fukushima accident
may substantially reduce the plan, and the growth of Cranberry may
stall. Losing business is nothing compared to the grief of
losing family, friends, or hometown. Nonetheless, small economic
damagesfrom this irresponsible Tokyo Electric Power Company executives
and the Japanese government might be all over the world in addition to
the deep grieving sadness.
But, such a disaster reminds me of how happy it is to be able to
live a usual, often seemingly boring, life. I rented and flew a
Cessna from Beaver County airport this Sunday. I flew a practice
flight for the aerial photography for the cherry-tree planting
ceremony planned for April 9th. The air was super clear. I
could see Pittsburgh downtown as soon as I took off. I followed
a same course I have flown over and over again at the same 3000ft
altitude. Nonetheless, I appreciated that I was able to fly as
usual so much. On my far right were two nuclear-reactor
buildings of the Shippingport power plant. This plant has been
providing power to the area for long time. I believe the human
needs to learn to control nuclear energy. Someday human should
explore and emigrate to the outer space. As long as we are
staying close enough to the sun, solar energy will supply more than
enough energy, but beyond that, nuclear power will be a crucial energy
source. One of the huge crime of the Tokyo Electric Power
Company is that they cast a fear of the nuclear energy through the
world. It is a crime against human kind.
A moron is bad enough. But, the worst
moron is a moron who doesn't call for help. Such a moron waits
until the situation becomes as bad as it can get and then calls for
help. The current Japanese prime minister, Naoto Kan, is the
textbook example of the worst moron.
Now thousands of people living within 30 kilometers radius of the
blown nuclear power plant are told to stay inside. They are
living in the fear of radiation exposure. The words "help is
coming" would substantially lighten their hope. The U.S.
Department of Defense is ready to deploy up to 450 nuclear-accident
response experts to Japan. Why the hell this prime minister is
not asking immediate full-scale deployment?
This prime minister cannot say one sentence: "Please help Japan from
the fear of radiation with all the knowledge, expertise, and
equipments of the U.S. military." This proves that the current
prime minister is classified as "a moron who doesn't call for help."
Such a proof doesn't help people in Fukushima at all. Thousands
of people are told to stay inside, and they don't have fuel and means
of transportation to escape farther away from the plant. I don't
know how many days I would be able to stay without being freaked out
if I were put in such a situation. The words "help is coming"
would significantly encourage them.
I wish I could spread this message to larger population. If you
read this message, please, please send a message to the white house
http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact and tell the president Obama to
deploy the nuclear-accident response team immediately in full scale
without waiting for the request from the Japanese government. My
message may not be read. And, if I send a lot of messages by
myself, it would be considered a spam, and will not be read anyway.
So, please help us by sending this message to the president.
My friend is now flying a rescue helicopter on
the Japan-sea side, which is away from the nuclear power plant.
I'm glad he is not flying near the power plant.
The power plant seemed to be somewhat stabilized yesterday after the
heroic effort of Tokyo fire-fighting department, Police, and Japanese
Ground Self-Defense force. However, news media are reporting
black smoke is coming out from the plant #4, and white smoke from the
plant #3. The situation is still volatile.
And, the prime minister hadn't asked officially to the U.S. to send
nuclear-accident response team. Even after the situation is
stabilized, people who are affected by the radiation need treatment,
radioactive materials need to be cleaned, and they need to take
damaged nuclear fuel out of the cooling pools and reactors and bring
them to the safe location. Japan needs full support from the
nuclear-accident response team.
Why the hell this Japanese prime minister keeps declining the offer of
support from the U.S.? What is he protecting? Clearly, not
life, health, and happiness of the people. Is he trying to
protect Tokyo Electric Power Company? His reputation?
Political power? Money? Japanese people must remember this
guy is committing a crime against the Japanese people. This guy
should be removed. This guy's political career must be taken
Multiple news sources reported that the Japanese government forced
Tokyo fire-fighter department crews to the plant. They were told
that they went to the plant, or they would be punishment. This
report is a confirmed fact since the prime minister apologized to the
Tokyo governor. Initially, the government was saying it was a
voluntary act. The government said so because they didn't want
to be held responsible. Responsible!? They are responsible
for the disaster already. They are accumulating the crime for
the humanity. Japanese government failed, and is falling apart.
People are suffering. Suffering deeply. And the Japanese
government is blocking the help from reaching the suffering people.
This prime minister is betraying the Japanese people.
I have sent another message to the White House. I wrote that the
Japanese prime minister is in panic and cannot make a right decision,
therefore, please send the nuclear-accident response team without
waiting for the prime minister's request.
You can also send a message to the U.S. government from the following
My message should be buried under the thousands of messages. I
appreciate if you could send a similar message to the president so
that he decides to deploy the nuclear-accident response team in full
All Japanese people, including myself, thank the United States for all
the help. This help has been much needed.
Japanese prime minister SHOULD HAVE asked this help days earlier.
He is incapable of thinking what is needed next and take action ahead
of the event. Before this nuclear disaster, I felt this Japanese
prime minister was an idiot, but I never hated him. Now I hate
him. I am cordially disgusted from the bottom of my heart.
How many hundred thousands people's happiness was taken away by this
Since I am a researcher, I cannot stop thinking about the potential
solutions for containing Fukushima Daiichi (#1) nuclear power plant.
I know I must stop. Unless I really stop, I might get depressed.
But, I just cannot stop. When I have a free time, I find myself
thinking about the solutions.
Heroic Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force helicopter crews told two
important things. One is that tungsten is somewhat effective for
shielding radiation from the reactors. The other is the high
radiation from reactor buildings #3 and #4 are most likely to be from
the direct radiation from the spent fuel rods. Why? If it
was from the radioactive materials floating in the air, shielding one
side of the helicopter doesn't work.
Now, Japanese government should immediately order to build a heavy
truck that has a thick metal plate that can shield the workers from
the direct radiation from the spent fuel rods. Such shielding
vehicle may allow workers come closer to the facility and restore
power and whatever pumps survived the quake and tsunami and blasts.
Also, there is a high probability that the pipe to the spent-fuel pool
is destroyed by the blasts, and it may become necessary to
continuously shoot water to the spent-fuel pool from the outside.
Then, instead of sending people there over and over again, a few
custom-made trucks that has a strong pump and water cannon as high as
the reactor building must be put beside the reactor buildings #3 and
#4, and put pipelines and power lines that can supply water and
electricity to the water cannon from the safer distance. First,
some water-cannon trucks should be built quickly so that it can give
an immediate relief to the police officers, fire fighters, and
Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force crews. Then, more strong and
sturdy ones should be built and brought in so that the truck
withstands future earthquakes and typhoons.
I know, this message will not reach the prime minister. He seems
to really be incapable of thinking what could happen next and what
should be prepared. He cannot think plans A, B, and C. It
is apparent from the fact that he never tried UAV before sending JGSDF
helicopters in harms way.
And, he probably cannot think a drastic idea. Using cruise
missiles should sound outlandish. I know. I still believe
it could be effective for reactor #4 if cruise missiles are used by
the massive number though. But, there is another value of an
seemingly outlandish idea. If you talk about your outlandish
idea to the expert, the expert may say it is impossible, but the
expert could come up withl something else that is possible. It
cost nothing to consult with the U.S. military about whatever possible
way of injecting coolant to the spent-fuel pool no matter how
outlandish the idea is. The current Japanese prime minister
cannot do it.
OK. So, thinking about what should be done only makes me feel
powerless. I should really stop thinking about it. I hope
the U.S. nuclear-accident response team saves JGSDF crews, workers,
fire fighters, police officers, and millions of people. Only
thing I can do is to pray.
One good news was my parents house had internet
connection restored. My home town was shaken by the quake, but
didn't have much damage. But, due to the logistics problem,
still they cannot buy gasoline. But, in this situation, I should
be happy to have my family spared.
I stopped watching real-time news. The scene of Japanese Ground
Self-Defense Force (I pay tribute to them by calling them by their
official name. I no longer call them Japanese Army.) helicopters
dropping water over the nuclear reactor was too painful to watch.
Later I heard the pilots and crews received radiation that was far
less than the amount that could cause health risks. I hope they
really were ok.
But, the current prime minister ordered this Kamikaze mission.
Even without trying a UAV. This man ordered the first Kamikaze
mission since the World-War II. This man has just become the
worst commander-in-chief in Japanese history. It was extremely
unfortunate for Japan to have this idiot prime minister at the time of
the most difficult crisis that the Japan has ever experienced. I
think this prime minister is now already a substantial part of the
But, the scene of the power plant was beyond my imagination.
Reactor building #3 did no longer had the wall. I was thinking
that the cruise missile could fly at its slowest speed slightly above
the reactor building and release the coolant packed in soft capsules,
then the capsule would hit the wall, and the coolant will seep down to
the used-nuclear-fuel pool. But, if the wall doesn't exist, this
doesn't work. It requires a lot slower delivery system. I
think a cruise missile could still be used for reactor #4 and for
scattering boric acid over the reactors.
It doesn't have to be a cruise missile. Delivering coolant to
the reactors from outside the high-radiation zone is similar to the
long-range precision bombing. It doesn't have to pierce through
the reactor core. We are talking about used nuclear fuel that is
exposed. There must be some precision weapon-delivery techniques
that helps the situation. I desperately sent messages to
Japanese government, Japanese Liberal Democratic party, and the
Whitehouse. I hope it catches someone's attention.
I came to my office at CMU. But, clearly
I cannot concentrate. Japan is about to lose 1/3 of the land due
to the nuclear disaster. I have many friends in the affected
area. One still missing. Even those who survived the quake
and tsunami is experiencing lack of food, fuel, and everything.
Unless the reactors are contained, they also need to fear the
According to the news media, the reactor #4 is the current main
concern because workers cannot come close to other reactors due to the
radiation leak from #4. It needs to be cooled by the massive
amount of coolant but nobody can come close to that. At this
point, I think only way to deliver the coolant is cruise missiles.
The reactor #4 has a hole on the exterior wall, and the nuclear
material that needs to be cooled is in the room accessible from the
hole. Tomahawk missile must have a mode that releases the
cluster bomb at the programmed timing. This program can be
modified so that the missile releases the coolant at the best timing
and then fly above the reactor. Coolant can be separately packed
in the plastic capsules so that the cluster-bomb unit can be used as
is, or they should be able to design and make a special container for
Can anyone suggest this idea to the idiot Japanese prime minister?
Unfortunately the current prime minister seems to have no idea on what
the military can do and cannot do. He doesn't know what to ask
to the U.S. military. At least he should immediately ask the
U.S. government to fly a UAV over the plant for 24 hour surveillance.
I'm wearing a jacket with "T-4 Blue Impulse" logo today. Seven
T-4s of the Japanese Air Force's aerobatic team was saved to fly again
as a symbol of re-construction. The day will come.
Doesn't the U.S. Army have a special operations
unit for responding to a nuclear attack? The situation at the
Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant #1 is almost becoming a nuclear attack.
Isn't it possible for the U.S. government to send the unit there?
My important friend is flying a rescue helicopter in the vicinity.
I missed him this January because I was sick. I don't want to
see him in the hospital next time I visit Japan....
I have been continuously monitoring the Internet broadcast of NHK.
My family is ok, and I was able to confirm most of my friends by
E-Mail, twitter, or their blog. But, I am not able to contact
two of my friends who were living on the Pacific coast line. One
of them was living very close to the Matsushima air base, which is now
under water. I hope they just evacuated to the high ground and
temporarily cannot access the internet.
One of my friends apparently is flying UH-60J for the rescue mission
now. In fact, Japanese Air Force mobilized substantial amount of
rescue helicopters to the area. I wish him the best of luck!
I've been using TurboTax for preparing federal income tax return for
the past several years. When my income was simpler, I was able
to fill out all the forms by myself. But, now I have no idea
what I should put in each column of form 1040. And, actually I
am not confident at all in my answers to the questions that TurboTax
asked either. It often asks like "Did you have XYZ during the
tax year 2010?" But, I often have no idea what XYZ is. I
make my best guess to answer those questions, and so far, IRS hasn't
sent me a hit man.
So, I was thinking to do the same this year. I installed
TurboTax and followed instructions one by one, and I reached the
section of Interests and Dividends. Last year I purchased for
the first time in my life some mutual fund, which gave me small amount
of dividend. And, the financial institution I'm using sent me
form 1099-DIV, which showed the amount of dividend I received, and
also showed small amount of tax paid to the foreign country. I
just entered all the numbers in the form to TurboTax. Then, the
next question was a big problem. TurboTax asked "You entered $X.YZ
foreign taxes paid. Now enter the portion of the $ABC.EF
dividends and distributions that was from a foreign country."
It was not a kind of question that I could answer by my best guess.
This amount was not reported on my 1099-DIV form from my financial
institution. I called my financial institution and asked how
much dividends came from a foreign country, but the person who took
the call didn't know. He finally became an answering machine.
He didn't say anything but "We cannot help your tax return. You
should call your tax assistant." I said to him they were
supposed to know how much money came from where. Again, he, the
robot, repeated "We cannot help your tax return. You should call
your tax assistant." That quite bothered me. I'm thinking
about changing my financial institution. If they don't know how
much money came from where, how can they manage our money and give us
good return? The reality was, they didn't care since my
dividends were too small for them. If I were much richer and had
a lot more money in my investment account, I would most likely receive
additional forms that tells exactly how much money came from where.
But, I'm not that rich.
I searched on Google only to find that many people were having the
same problem, but nobody was giving an answer. Most popular
answer to this problem was ask your financial institution. But,
I did, and it didn't help. I was really stuck.
I had been stuck there for a few days, and finally I came up with the
solution. If you are having the same problem, this may or may
not help. If it doesn't work for you, unfortunately TurboTax
doesn't seem to help you. And, try it on your own risks. I
cannot guarantee what's going to happen because you use my method.
The thing is, I am not supposed to tell a false information to IRS,
but I can tell a false information to TurboTax. Let's say I paid
$5 to the foreign country as dividend tax, and my total dividends were
$100. If the foreign country to which I paid tax was a brutal
country and tax 100% of the dividends, my foreign-earned dividends is
exactly same as the foreign tax paid, which is in this example $5.
Or, the other extreme is all of my dividends are from foreign
countries. In that case, my foreign-earned dividends is same as
the total amount of dividends reported on 1099-DIV. So, the
actual number in this example must be somewhere in between $5 and
And, the next question was, did the amount really matter? Since
it was such a small number, entering $5 or $100 to the "foreign-earned
dividends" may not make a single-penny difference in the tax return.
So, I did an experiment. I replied to TurboTax's foreign-earned
dividends question with three different numbers, minimum possible,
maximum possible, and in the middle. And, I saved three PDFs of
a tax return form from the three cases, and compared the contents.
Yes! I was right. The number I gave to TurboTax as
foreign-earned dividends really didn't matter. Although I
entered three different numbers to TurboTax, the final form stayed the
same. All I submit to the IRS are the final forms, and if those
forms doesn't change, it doesn't matter!
So, you can try the same. If your total dividends and foreign
tax paid are both small, say like total is around $100 and the foreign
tax paid is $5 or so, you have a good chance that the answer to "Now
enter the portion of the $ABC.EF dividends and distributions
that was from a foreign country" doesn't change the final
tax-return forms at all. If you try different numbers to this
question, and if you see your tax form changes depending on the number
you enter there, unfortunately you cannot go with my method.
Maybe you need to talk to H&R Block.
And, in fact, at this time, I don't know whether my method really
works. I hope IRS will not send a hit man to me :-)
I flew twice this month.
The first of the two was on 15th Tuesday. I took the morning off, and flew
from Beaver County Airport. The weather was clear with little
wind. I talked to some friends if they were interested in flying,
but none was able to make it. (Or, was my flying skill not
I have started a network server for YSFLIGHT Ver. 20110207.
The address is:
It's on my desk in CMU. If you are accessing from far away,
you may experience some time lag.
The server is running on Toshiba Dynabook T4-495CME, which is, I
believe, nine years old. I was able to run the console server
despite its age. Its optical drive is already broken, and it may
break any time. If it breaks, the server will be suspended until
I find a spare (and that I can use freely) PC. The server resets
every six hours, and changes a field.
The new version of YSFLIGHT is ready for
By the way, I realized that if I compile the program with Visual
Studio 2008, the program no longer runs on Windows 98. But, my
primary developing environment is now based on VS2008. So, I
compiled the program in a virtual machine using VS2005 separately.
If you want to use YSFLIGHT on Windows 98, please try
this executables. I was not able to test this, but I hope it
Thank you very much for your help during the test period.
With all of your help, I believe I was able to make YSFLIGHT more
stable and fun!
I'm still working on the Scenery Editor. I appreciate your
feed back in the Scenery Editor, too!
I do almost every operation on my PC with keyboard. When I use a
mouse, I need to look, point, and click. But, if I do something
with keyboard, I press some keys and done. I don't have to look
at the monitor. It substantially reduces my eye fatigue.
But, certain operations need to be done by a mouse. Especially,
when I am drawing a technical drawing or cropping a screen shot, I
need to use a mouse rather than typing a coordinate by keyboard.
But, a mouse has a serious weakness. It is so hard to point an
exact pixel that I want to click on. If I slow down the
mouse-speed setting, it makes it easier to pin point an exact pixel,
but it takes longer time to move the mouse cursor across the screen.
If I increase the mouse-speed setting, I can move mouse across the
screen faster, but when the cursor comes close to the exact target
pixel, even if I move my mouse slowly and diligently, my mouse cursor
overruns by a few pixels, and it very difficult to move it to the
target pixel and stop right there. After a few seconds of
struggle (just a few seconds, but imagine you need to do it hundred
times) I finally move my cursor to the target pixel and am ready to
click, and I sneeze, or a cat jumps on to my mouse, or an earthquake
hit, and all my effort is jeopardized, and I need to do it all over
again. I feel like to crush my mouse with a hammer when it
To reduce such a frustration, I made this program. If you
download, install, and run, the program will stay in the task bar, and
while it is in the taskbar, you can move your mouse cursor by a key, 1
pixel at a time. You can use your mouse to move your cursor
close enough to your target, and you can use your key for final
adjustment. You can select which key to move your mouse cursor
from a few selections in the configuration dialog, which pops up when
you click on the task-bar icon.
In fact, I found this program to be very useful. I have been
using it for drawing technical drawing in Microsoft Word and Power
Point, and it is a lot easier than before. I should have written
this program before writing my Ph.D thesis (nine years too late :-P)
In particular, Power Point 2007 has a bug that "free hand" does not
snap to the grid. And, Microsoft apparently has no intention of
fixing it. It was very difficult to draw a perfectly vertical or
horizontal line in Power Point 2007, but with this program, I now can
easily make perfectly horizontal and vertical lines in Power Point
So, if you are having a similar frustration day to day basis, please
download this program and try! It is free, but donations are
welcome. You can donate $5 via PayPal from the following link.
Thank you for your support!
I was visiting Japan with my wife from late December to early
January. Main purpose of the trip was to attend a wedding party of
my cousin. Her wedding ceremony was back in October.
This time was a more casual party. If I visit Japan, I also wanted
to see over-the-field training flight of Japanese air force's aerobatic
team, the Blue Impulse, and wanted to see Japanese Navy's YS-11, which
is expected to retire in a few years. However, the wedding party
was scheduled for December 29. Both Japanese air force and Navy
was in the new year's recess around that time, and all regular training
flights were on hold. Earliest possible date that I could see
those airplane flying was January 4th. I had to make a difficult
I was visiting Japan from late December to early January. I
suffered from severe cold, but I made trips to Atsugi Naval Air
Facility and Matsushima Air Base for taking pictures of airplanes.
I'll upload pictures soon.
I'm still recovering from jet lag and left-over cold, but I'll resume
addressing issues of YSFLIGHT test
version as soon as I fully recover.