Hurricane Sandy – New York and New Jersey Blackout Satellite Images

This is really unfortunate and pretty telling as to the power and fury of Mother Nature – the Earth Observatory at NASA has published images, both before and after, of the East Coast where Sandy came ashore.  You have to see this, it is unbelievable.

So here is the coast before Sandy hit:

and here is the ensuring blackout and chaos post-Sandy:

From the Earth Observatory page on Hurricane Sandy:

This pair of images shows New Jersey, New York, and eastern Pennsylvania as viewed at night by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite. The top image was taken at 2:52 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (06:52 Universal Time) on November 1, 2012. For comparison, the lower image was taken at 2:14 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (06:14 UTC) on August 31, 2012, when conditions in the area were normal.

Both images were captured by the VIIRS “day-night band,” which detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared and uses filtering techniques to observe signals such as gas flares, city lights, and reflected moonlight. In the top image, lingering clouds from Hurricane Sandy are lit by moonlight and obscure much of New York’s Hudson Valley, northwestern New Jersey, and northeastern Pennsylvania. (For a wider view, download the large image beneath each web image.)

Turn on the “view image comparison” button to see the difference in city lighting before and after the blackout. In Manhattan, the lower third of the island is dark on November 1, while Rockaway Beach, much of Long Island, and nearly all of central New Jersey are significantly dimmer. The barrier islands along the New Jersey coast, which are heavily developed with tourist businesses and year-round residents, are just barely visible in moonlight after the blackout.

Along with the scattered electric lights, there is a bright point along the shore south of Mantoloking, New Jersey, that could be fires fueled by severed natural gas lines. Note: It is not clear if the fires reported on October 31were still burning on November 1.

For more views of the storm, visit our Hurricane Sandy event page.

The Earth Observatory has this applet on the website that allows you to move a slider across both images overlaid together, showing a humbling differentiation between the before and after shots:

In order to get this view, go to the Earth Observatory Blackout in New Jersey page and click the “View Image Comparison” button.  It’s crazy how the blackout just spidered across the coast.

How to Get Anything Through TSA’s Nude Body Scanners?

Oh my.

I’ve been pretty critical of the TSA and the Millimeter Wave technology in the past, but I’m nothing like this guy – this man took it upon himself to prove that Millimeter Wave tech doesn’t work.  Check this out:

This video is here to demonstrate that the TSA’s insistence that the nude body scanner program is effective and necessary is nothing but a fraud, just like their claims that the program is safe (radiation what?) and non-invasive (nude pictures who?). This video is not intended to teach anyone how to commit criminal acts, nor is intended to help “the terrorists” — if I could figure this out, I’m sure they’ve long figured it out, and by exposing it to the public, we now have an opportunity to correct it. The scanners are now effectively worthless, as anyone can beat them with virtually no effort. The TSA has been provided this video in advance of it being made public to give them an opportunity to turn off the scanners and revert to the metal detectors. I personally believe they now have no choice but to turn them off.

Please share this video with your family, friends, and most importantly, elected officials in federal government. Make sure they understand that your vote is contingent on them fixing the abuse that 200,000 passengers face from the TSA on a daily basis.

Crazy.  How do you feel now?

(Also, I wonder how long before I get the dreaded ‘SSSS‘ on my boarding passes…)

UK Streets Might Get Mood Lighting

Heyooooo! JimOnLight’s UK correspondent here, coming at you with hot off the press news!

The conversation to dim streetlights during very low traffic levels has been initiated, and it’s causing quite a stir! The Press Association reports:

” Norman Baker, the local transport minister, supported the move as long as safety was not compromised.

In a parliamentary written answer he said: “The level of light reduction will be based upon internationally agreed standards and made in consultation with the UK’s Institute of Lighting Professionals.

“It is right that lighting authorities consider, in the interests of cost-saving and the environment, whether lighting can be sensibly dimmed or turned off, consistent with proper safety assessments.” “

The roads in question are the A roads, the major thoroughfares connecting cities which are not motorways. The Californian side of me would describe A roads as “highways,” while motorways are “freeways.” Kapeesh?

So we like saving the environment, and we like saving money. Why is this such a massive discussion?

Numerous fears including increased crime, automobile accidents, are mixed with financial worries. The conversion would cost a significant sum, and people aren’t sold on MAKIN IT RAIN!

The Telegraph reports:

“…While authorities across the UK are saving £21.5 million per year by turning off nine per cent of lights, the schemes to reduce street lighting cost a total of £106.3 million.

The bill for installing dimming technology or converting lights to part-night operations, which is five times greater than the saving, means some councils will not start seeing the benefits for up to eight years.”

This follows other UK locations, such as the Welsh county of Gwynedd have already experimented in dimming street lights between midnight and 5:30 am. There seems to be much more support of dimming street lights than turning them off. Kirklees and Derbyshire are amongst numerous experiments in turning off street lights, both completely and in selection (1 in 10 seems to be a common cutting ratio). Fears of isolation ensued.

What do you think? Turn ‘em all off and make everyone wear headlamps, selective black outs, dimming, ALL OF THE LIGHTS! @ FL or something else?

 

If you found this interesting, I also posted about the delightfully unexpected results of blue street lights in Glasgow as well as Japan here. I’m imagining these cobalt lamps as urban super heros, stopping crime and saving lives! Neato burrito.

Have opinions about industry standards? Voice them!

PLASA StandardsNo, seriously! Every time that any standard is submitted to ANSI for approval or revision, it is first put into public review. That’s right, I said public. PLASA (formerly ESTA) is who puts forth our entertainment standards. At this very moment, there are 11 Entertainment Technology standards up for public review.

  • BSR E1.21 – 201x, Entertainment Technology — Temporary Ground-Supported Structures Used to Cover the Stage Areas and Support Equipment in the Production of Outdoor Entertainment Events
  • BSR E1.6-2 – 201x, Entertainment Technology — Design, Inspection, and Maintenance of Electric Chain Hoists for the Entertainment Industry
  • BSR E1.39 – 201x, Entertainment Technology –Selection and Use of Personal Fall Arrest Systems on Portable Structures Used in the Entertainment Industry
  • BSR E1.1 – 201x, Entertainment Technology – Construction and Use of Wire Rope Ladders
  • BSR E1.6-3 – 201x, Selection and Use of Chain Hoists in the Entertainment Industry
  • BSR E1.41 – 201x, Recommendations for Measuring and Reporting Photometric Performance Data for Entertainment Luminaires Utilizing Solid State Light Sources
  • BSR E1.18-1 – 201x, Standard for the selection, installation, and use of single-conductor portable power feeder cable systems for use at 600 volts nominal or less for the distribution of electrical energy in the entertainment and live-event industries
  • BSR E1.24 – 201x, Entertainment Technology – Dimensional Requirements for Stage Pin Connectors
  • BSR E1.32 – 201x, Guide for the Inspection of Entertainment Industry Incandescent Lamp Luminaires
  • BSR E1.33-201x, Entertainment Technology – Extensions to E1.31 for Transport of ANSI E1.20
  • ANSI E1.26 – 2006, Entertainment Technology – Recommended testing methods and values for shock absorption of floors used in live performance venues

All of the preceding, except for ANSI E1.26 – 2006, is in public review until October 18, 2011. ANSI E1.26 – 2006 is in public review until August 30, 2011.

From PLASA about the documents, review and voting process:

The draft documents are produced by members of the working groups in the Technical Standards Program. Membership in the working groups is open to all who are affected by the work of the group; membership in PLASA or any other association is not a requirement. Voting members are required to attend meetings, but observer members are not, although they are welcome to attend and to speak on issues if they choose. More information about working groups and an application to join are available under the working groups link.

I’m not certain how untimely the first item on the list, BSR E1.21 – 201x, looks with all of the staging incidents that have occurred this summer, but certainly now is the time for those involved, and even those not directly, to make a stronger standard. Just remember, they aren’t looking for rants – as valid as they may be.

-got fox?

NFPA 101: Life Safety Code

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome David Fox!

Is it ironic that the Life Safety Code is labeled as 101? Everything that is in this code is certainly something that I think could be offered in a college 101 course, if there were such a course path for these codes. This code is revised every 3 years and the latest edition for 2012 was just finalized. It’s so new that you can’t get your hands on it yet, but soon (October 14th).

Though it is not legal code, it is written as such so that any authority having jurisdiction can easily adopt and implement it. Besides, it provides a lot of best practice material. The Life Safety Code is one of the unique codes in the NFPA arsenal that if it is adopted into local code, both new construction and existing structures must comply. In most cases for other codes, anything new only applies to new construction. NFPA 101 is in use in every state in the U.S. and has been adopted statewide by 43 states (see graphic to the right from 2009). So, if you aren’t following it now, you might want to double-check that your aren’t breaking the law. You don’t want to pay any fines for non-compliance in the event of an inspection which can be hefty and can grow in numbers exponentially and nobody wants to pay the ultimate price in the event of an emergency.

This past week I sent out a tweet about one small part of this code – emergency lighting. It’s just one of the numerous monthly inspections that my crew is responsible for at KA. Every month, we check battery back-up fixtures in stairwells and around the facility. We also perform a safety inspection which is primarily focused on electrical safety but certainly is not limited to just that. Pretty much the only thing that we aren’t responsible for is checking the emergency generators for the property. The Department of Homeland Security has this new campaign called, “If You See Something, Say Something.” You can definitely use that in the most general sense when performing any inspection. If it doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t – but don’t stop there, go research it and inform responsible parties. Learn.

Though I cannot recite every word, I’m slowly getting up to speed on the bullet points of the code and every other code out there. It can be mind-numbing for sure, but at least one person in every facility should be deemed the competent party and hit the books. There are many resources available in the form of fast facts or quick sheets. Use them and keep them on hand. Pass the knowledge on to others.

  • OSHA Fact Sheets – yes, they even have a fact sheet about Black Widow spiders, just in case you need it
  • Office of Compliance – these are from the department that oversees safety in the offices of Congress
  • List of NFPA Codes & Standards – nearly every code is viewable online for FREE from NFPA directly after creating an account

This is not the kind of information that makes you more powerful as an individual. This is the information that makes a team powerful. Not everyone sees the same errors or sees them the same way. Not everyone knows something at all. And complacency is not an option when it comes to anyone’s safety.

It is my hope that I’ll make this a thing and have some articles every so often about safety things in our industry. Every day is anew in the safety world and this is just one way that I can help since this is some of my duty as a safety committee primary member at my day job.

-got fox?

BLAZE – Laser Safety Sign Projection for Your Bicycle

Ok, first – this is so effing cool that I am excited to try to DIY my own for those times when I’m out biking in the dark.  My good buddy Erich Friend from Teqniqal Systems in the Dallas/Fort Worth area sent me the initial article about this thing below – Erich is a technology and safety consultant for our industry, and he’s one of the smartest and innovative people I know in this business.

Ok, check this thing out – so freaking cool.  This is called BLAZE, and it’s been invented by a student at the University of Brighton.

Emily Brooke is the inventor of the BLAZE unit, from a press release sent from the University of Brighton:

 

The final-year product design student said: “I wanted to tackle the issue of safety of cyclists on city streets by increasing the visibility, footprint, and ultimately the awareness of the bicycle.”

BLAZE is a small, battery-powered device that is attached to the handlebars of bicycles, motorcycles or scooters, and which projects a laser image ahead onto the road. A bright green bicycle symbol travels ahead of the cyclist, alerting others to its presence. It has the option to be flashing, maximizing perception, and the image is visible even in daylight.

Emily said: “Eighty per cent of cycle accidents occur when bicycles travel straight ahead and a vehicle manoeuvres into them. The most common contributory factor is ‘failed to look properly’ on the part of a vehicle driver. The evidence shows the bike simply is not seen on city streets.”

She said: “Even when lit up like a Christmas tree a bicycle in a bus’s blind-spot is still invisible.

“With BLAZE, you see the bike before the cyclist and I believe this could really make a difference in the key scenarios threatening cyclists’ lives on the roads.”

The image says it all for me above – if you’re riding your bike in town, perhaps especially at night, and you get into someone’s blind spot – that’s it for that bike ride, if not any other bike ride again.  BLAZE is a product that projects a “HEY!  HEADS UP!” sign way in front of you, enough so that people will realize that they’re about to take away your birthday, so to speak.  Or “blow out your candle.”  Or “pee in your cheerios.”  Any of them.

We commend you, Emily!  Awesome innovation!

Happy Birthday, THOMAS ALVA EDISON!

Honey, where’s my car ke-OMG, IS THAT THOMAS ALVA EDISON?  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Thomas Alva Edison!  DUDE!  It’s the “Wizard of Menlo Park!!!”

(actually Tommy’s birthday was yesterday, but I had a gig and I was gone all day so don’t say anything) TOMMAAAAAY!

So, those of you who know Tommy A. Edison (February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931) probably know him for, um, INVENTING THE LIGHT BULB and all.  Tommy Boy and Joseph Swan actually battled it out death-match style on the invention of the light bulb (we all know who it really was), but it turned out that Mr. Edison here was the better businessman and capitalist.  I mean, look at that face – doesn’t it just scream “you can make all the rules you want, I will make money in spite of them” on his face?

Tommy Edison was actually quite the inventor.  He started out as a telegraph operator (apparently termed “brass pounder”) and persevered through some tough times financially to become the holder of almost 1100 patents.  The motion picture camera, the “quadruplex” telegraph, the carbon microphone (in the first telephones) and, among many others, a patent for the “carbonized bamboo” filament.  Joseph Swan was the first actual inventor of the electric lamp, but Edison’s design and research actually turned out a better, more efficient version.  Edison’s bamboo filament was said to burn for over 1,200 hours.  That’s more than some lamps I’ve bought at the store this year!

Big Tom Edison’s also accredited for the invention and design of the phonograph – the “record” player, for any of you crazy kids who don’t actually know what this is.  (I wanted to cry when a young student in Arlington, TX asked me “what this thing is” while holding a turntable in her arms)

Check out a video of Edison reciting his first recording, a voicing of “Mary Had A Little Lamb” in 1927:

Also, another very, very hip video is Edison talking about his invention, the “electric light bulb” and its development:

One thing that Thomas Edison did that is essential to our development as a technically adept species was to implement and develop a mass-production system for industrial operations.  That bit of knowledge he imparted to the industrial trades is revolutionary.  He is also credited with creating the first industrial research laboratory, in Menlo Park, New Jersey.  This place had a little bit of everything – Edison wanted to store some of “almost every conceivable material” in this place so that he and his people could invent freely with no inhibitions.  The Menlo Park facility took two city blocks to house.  Holy geekfest – that must have been almost as awesome as the Mythbusters Studios!

Edison’s Menlo Park lab:

To be fair, there are a couple of pretty un-awesome things that Edison did that are noteworthy, one of which led to the development of the electric chair.  George Westinghouse was one of Edison’s competitors, and probably most well known for alternating current.  Edison and Westinghouse had a pretty fierce and nasty battle over whose invention was better – direct current (Edison) or alternating current (Westinghouse).  In the “War of Currents” that ensued, Tom Edison was so persistent on proving that Westinghouse’s AC was unsafe (regardless of the fact that it was actually better than his DC for long-distance distribution).  Edison and his people publicly electrocuted animals to show that AC essentially killed them quickly.  Yeah, Tommy, that wasn’t very cool of you, dude.  One notable execution was Topsy the Elephant – a Coney Island attraction that killed three abusive handlers over the course of three years.  Edison filmed this event – I didn’t feel good about embedding it in this post, so here’s a link to it, via a post about Topsy the Elephant.  That video on the site is not terribly graphic or anything, but it’s freaky in its own right.  I’d kill somebody that was abusing me like they did you, Topsy.

Topsy was electrocuted with a 6,600VAC source.  Maybe AC triumphed over DC in the long run because of some bad karma Thomas brought on with his war on alternating current.

Thomas Edison was attributed with the following quote, which kinda cracks me up after reading the above research:

The dove is my emblem…. I want to save and advance human life, not destroy it…. I am proud of the fact that I never invented weapons to kill…

So, enough pointing out a man’s flaws on his birthday – thanks for all of the good things you did, Thomas Alva Edison!  Just a few more things we can thank Tommy Boy here for (a non-exhaustive list):

  • the fluoroscope (an x-ray that takes radioscopic images)
  • the stock ticker (well, okay, but really who needs that?)
  • the Lackawanna Railroad’s electric trains (Hoboken to Gladstone, Montclair, and Dover, NJ)
  • Edison General Electric
  • the printing telegraph
  • Typewriting machines (and all kinds of associated parts and pieces)
  • the magnetic ore separator
  • brakes for electromagnetic motors
  • a patent for preserving fruit
  • governors for electric motors
  • the telephone (and other related stuff)
  • the arc lamp
  • a gold extracting process from sulphide ores (random…)
  • wireless telegraphy

Thanks Tommy!  If you ever come back to life, I’m buying the first beer.  If you come back to life as a zombie, I ain’t promising nothing.

Just as something to watch that explains a little more about Edison’s involvement with the Electric Chair, here’s a copy of The Pinky Show – “Thomas Edison Hates Cats.”  There is a tiny clip of Topsy’s execution in there, so just be warned.  The video is, however, presented by a talking cat:

Thanks, Wikipedia, Worldwide School, and Thomas Edison!

Airport Scanners – Got Any Piercings, Folks? TSA’s Gonna See Them

There has been a lot of hubbub about the airport scanning technology after a wannabe terrorist tried to light his own underpants on fire to blow up a jet on Christmas Day of all days.  The argument basically goes like this:

“It’s an invasion of my privacy and my safety for you to see me naked so you can pretend that I’m a risk.”
“No it isn’t, we need to see you naked to see if you have dangerous things you’re trying to bring on planes.”

scanman
Image by ImYourWorstEnemy on Flickr

Hmm.  I really don’t have the desire to “shake everything I brought” in front of the TSA.  Is there not a better way to do this?  Just so you know, lots and lots of politicians are totally on board with this airport scanner thing – as a matter of fact, <sarcasm> trustworthy people with rigid beliefs </sarcasm> like Joe Lieberman, the Demublican senator from Connecticut.  Joe recently asked a question at an announcing hearing about the whole incident over Christmas Day and how we need to have better airport security:

“We were very lucky this time but we may not be so lucky next time, which is why our defenses must be strengthened. What we know about the Abdulmutallab case raises two big, urgent questions that we are holding this hearing to answer: Why aren’t airline passengers flying into the U.S. checked against the broadest terrorist database and why isn’t whole body scanning technology that can detect explosives in wider use?”

Looks like we’ll see them all over the place in no time.

This is a blog about light, so I want to write a few things at least about the technology that have nothing to do with anyone’s opinion.  Taken for face value, the technology is interesting.  It comes in two forms – “backscattering” x-ray (2 dimensional) and “millimeter wave” (3 dimensional) devices, using terrahertz radio frequency.  Interestingly enough, people have health concerns over both of these technologies, and everyone who dislikes the scanners says they don’t like the breach in their personal comfort.

As far as health issues go, the backscattering x-ray devices deliver a very minimal amount of radiation – according to an article by Julia Clayton of HowStuffWorks, backscattering scanners deliver “approximately 0.005 millirems of radiation [per scan per person]; American Science and Engineering Inc. reports 0.009 mrems.  According to U.S. regulatory agencies, “1 mrem per year is a negligible dose of radiation, and 25 mrem per year from a single source is the upper limit of safe radiation exposure”.  Think of it like this – backscattering x-ray are different than medical x-rays because they don’t primarily travel through you, they record the radiation that is reflected off of your body and foreign material on your body.  Backscatter scans are front and back – 2D.

Millimeter wave technology is also interesting with regards to health – the technology uses very, very high frequency radio waves (in the Terahertz range, or T-waves, per Wikipedia, and the scan travels around your body to create a sort of 3D image.  They also measure the waves coming back from your body, but they measure radio waves, not radiation.  The major health issue associated with the millimeter wave tech is on a DNA-level plane – the problem is that no one knows if the technology interacts with double-stranded DNA, which could cause bubbles in the strands, causing all kinds of epic fail.  Here’s a millimeter wave scan – notice the difference between it and the image above, and how the detail is different, less descriptive, but detailed in its own right:

mm-wave

I am not in the business of promoting any of these scanners, believe me – one company who sells the scanners, MilliVision, had an interesting video on their millimeter wave technology.  Check it out:

Something I found interesting came from an article at Wired – you’ve all seen this image below, right?

scanner-woman

This woman shape is actually Susan Hallowell, director of the Transportation Security Administration’s security laboratory.  After she stepped into the scanner and had this image taken, apparently she blushed and said “”It does basically make you look fat and naked, but you see all this stuff.”

For the record, this technology has been used for a long time – at least a decade – for screening South African diamond mine workers after their shifts for theft.  The shame is that the technology is actually pretty interesting, and it’s worth being developed somewhere.  I’m still just unsure that it needs to be developed while people I don’t know who for the most part treat me like I just committed a felony AND get to see me naked.

You know what I think, what do you think?  Is the body scanner too pervasive for you?  Take the poll!

Airport scanners - what's your feeling?

  • This is a total invasion of my privacy, and I don't like it. (43%, 118 Votes)
  • It's nothing they haven't seen before. (26%, 71 Votes)
  • Big Brother is not going to be peering into my undies any time soon. (20%, 55 Votes)
  • Frankly, I'm an exhibitionist, and they can look all they want. (11%, 28 Votes)

Total Voters: 272

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scanner-man

Thanks Wired, Article World, Wikipedia, and Epic!

DIY LED Brake Lights for Bicycle Handlebars

bebl

I read these DIY posts about hacking every day stuff and sometimes I wonder why no one thought of this sooner!

Instructables user WyoJustin has posted an article about making a set of LED brake lights for the ends of the handlebars on a bicycle.  It’s a fairly simple project using an arduino microcontroller and a 3-axis accelerometer.  Clever!  Check out the full Instructable here.

Thanks Make!