Category: Fun Fact

Fun Fact: Bright House, I am leaving you for a Loon!

I ran across Project Loon today.  Is it possibly the future of Internet Connectivity?

Just recently, we received a call from Bright House offering an upgrade on our Internet.  It was only a little more a each month.  The catch is that our bill had just gone up for no apparent reason, and come to find out, we had were on a promotion that had just expired.  Whatever this person was going sell (They were really a telemarketer working on behalf of Bright House), was going to expire so that even if it didn’t cost us any extra now, it would 6 months or a year from now.

It just seems like as technology improves, more people get involved, and we get more options (like cell phones and land lines), the price of the Internet should decrease.  Maybe project Loon could change the rising price trend.

Project Loon is a project to use high altitude balloons to carry Internet relay points and provide Internet access across a wide area of the ground.  It would seem that this concept would be cheaper than running copper or fiber to each household and business in an area.  It would also be cheaper than going through a rocket launch to place a satellite in orbit.

Here’s a really nice overview of their project:

The inspiration behind Loon:

Other similar projects

Space Data: According to Wikipedia, Google had considered purchasing a company called Space Data.  From their website, it looks like they already have a functioning high altitude balloon network working in the United States.

Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility: NASA has a facility that has been using similar balloons for research since 1961.

ARHAB: Many different explorers and enthusiasts have dabbled with the balloons.  The group’s website suggests that this is “the poor mans space program”.  Ralph Wallio is one of the pioneers.  For example, one such organization is the California Near Space Project.

Other Uses

While Internet may be their stated goal, I couldn’t help but imagine what else could come of this.  If Google built a network around the globe of these balloons, they could put cameras on the balloons and take satellite imagery of the earth.  Would Google Maps update more often?  Also, could Google provide data about weather patterns and such?

Update: June 2014…

Engadget published an article saying that Project Loon was doing well: One year in, and Google’s crazy internet-by-balloon project is doing just fine


  • Test balloon lasted 100 days
  • Test balloon circled the Earth 3 times
  • LTE added to balloon boosting range and speed


Fun Fact: Hurricanes and Change

I ran across this article yesterday on Engadget, and it made me think about all of the changes this year, this season:

Engadget: NASA to study hurricanes with unmanned Global Hawk aircraft starting this year

Robots Studying the Skies

CC NASA/Tony Landis via Wikipedia

The first change is that NOAA is planning to use these Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk to fly into the Hurricanes.  You can read more about it here:

If you are interested in reading more about the airplane itself, you can find a nice article on Wikipedia.  According to this article, it was first used on Hurricane researching for Hurricane Earl in 2010.   This article lists the instruments install on the aircraft.

RVANew has a great article that details more generically about flying into hurricanes.  Apparently, multiple organizations fly into hurricanes.  You can read about the Hurricane hunters on their website.  They fly WC-130J aircraft.  Then, the NOAA flies WP-3D and Gulfstream G-IV.  Also, NOAA is also working with GALE drones.  You can read more about those here.  According to Dvice, the GALE drones are suicidal missiles!

A Crazy Hurricane Season


cc NASA, MODIS Rapid Response via Wikipedia

According to, this year is supposed to be a calmer.  On the other hand, NOAA predicts a near-normal season.  You can read all about the season as it develops on Wikipedia.

What has surprised me about this season is that we had two named storms before the season officially started.  Hurricane season starts June 1st, but we had Alberto on May 19th and Beryl on May 23.  To my surprise, Weather Underground lists a number of storms in the past before June 1st.  Did you know that in 1908, there was a hurricane in March?  Also in 1954, Alice formed in December.

Dear Drought, why should I mow; Dear Rain, when I am supposed to mow?

CC Tomas Castelazo via Wikipedia

The past month has been very dry.  According to the US Season Drought Outlook, we are in the “Drought likely to improve” area.  According to Florida Forest Service, Valrico received 1.2 inches in April and 0.90 inches of rain in May.  With only 8 days in June so far, we are at 5.9 inches!  Last month, I couldn’t my grass to grow, but now, I am wondering when am I supposed to mow?

I compared the rainfall for May to previous years, and we were definitely below normal!

  • 2011 — 2.5 inches
  • 2010 — 2.6 inches
  • 2009 — 6.76 inches
  • 2008 — 0.6 inches
  • 2007 — 1.5 inches
  • 2006 — 2.35 inches
  • 2005 — 4.14 inches
  • 2004 — 1.6 inches
  • 2003 — 4.57 inches

Fun Fact: Gamers Can Be Eccentric

I just ran across these two different articles from Engadget, and it struck me funny.

First, you can play a more realistic Frogger using technology that can bring the real traffic into the game.  “Real Cars. Real Time. Fake Frog.”  Check it out:

Engadget: Fifth Avenue Frogger brings everyone’s favorite roadkill to New York City (video)

Or, you can play Tetris on the side of a building.  The only thing they didn’t do is take the controls out on a public sidewalk and let passers by play.  Check it out:

Engadget: Tetris takes over MIT building in case of hack as high art (video)

Fun Fact: Do you Lightning Paper?

I came across this interesting Google Tech Talk today about the Cherokee Nation and computers.  I learned that E-Mail is translated into Cherokee as Lightning Paper.  I wonder what spam is?

The other thing that I learned was the way that the Cherokees have adopted technology.  It was interesting to see them using iPhones and video chat.  I also learned that they were one of the first to adopt the telephone because they could use it in their own language.

I take for granted the fact that English is everywhere.  I can go to almost any store that sells computer accessories and find a handful of keyboard options.  I can’t imagine having to using a phone or onscreen keyboard just because a regular keyboard is not available.