Aerodynamics of the Wiffle Ball

Let nobody fool you. Wiffle Ball is deadly serious. Not a realm just for kids in a field or city streets, there are some serious adult level Wiffle Ball leagues across the country. As with the physics of how much a curveball in baseball actually curves, the dynamics of how the multitude of trick pitches work when tossing a Wiffle Ball requires equal analysis comparing how hollow, perforated Wiffle Balls curve compared to the solid baseball.

We skewered some baseballs and Wiffle balls and used a wind tunnel to measure the forces—lift, drag, and side or lateral forces—as functions of things like the airspeed and spin rate. For the Wiffle ball, we also varied the orientation of the ball with respect to the airflow, making our own version of the manufacturer’s pitching instructions.

With perforations on either side of the ball, we found that the Wiffle balls experienced a lateral force that generally acted to push the ball toward the position of the holes. Things got more complicated when the perforations were on the upstream portion of the ball. As shown in the first image below, fog traces the airflow over a ball with the holes facing the flow, with a symmetric wake pattern suggesting that if we untethered the ball it would fly straight. The second image shows the flow over a ball with its holes facing up, and a wake that is deflected upward, meaning that the ball is experiencing a downward force.

I would be equally interested in learning the dynamics of how the hollow, thin Wiffle Bat impacts distance of hitting a Wiffle Ball when compared to a bat that was different in structure.

Photo Source: The Contentious Physics of Wiffle Ball

Tesla Gives FLA Owners A Bump Up

With the current Hurricane Irma situation in Florida, the fine folks at Tesla thought it would be a good idea to ‘flip a switch’ on the software of those who own Teslas down there, so they have a little more range on a battery charge to get outta dodge:

Up until a few months ago, Tesla sold a 60kWh version of its Model S and Model X vehicles — but the battery in those cars was actually rated at 75kWh. The thinking: Tesla could offer a more affordable 60kWh version to those who didn’t need the full range of the 75kWh battery — but to keep things simple, they’d just use the same 75kWh battery and lock it on the software side. If 60kWh buyers found they needed more range and wanted to upgrade later, they could… or if Tesla wanted to suddenly bestow owners with some extra range in case of an emergency, they could.

Source: Tesla flips a switch to increase the range of some cars in Florida to help people evacuate | TechCrunch

Clown Only Screening of Stephen King’s “IT”

Clowns-only screening of IT at The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas.

This is just wrong in so many ways.

The one redeeming element of this idea is how it came about. Back when Wonder Woman was released, the Alamo Drafthouse Movie Theater in Austin, TX held an ‘all women’ screening of the movie. As this screening was announced on Facebook, a snarky commenter, on a lark, suggested they have “an all male screening of Thor:Ragnarock or a special screening of IT that’s only for those who identify as clowns.”

Now that’s listening to customer feedback.

Photo Source: Entertainment Weekly

Multiple Leaks Ahead of Tuesday’s Apple Event

A variety of new details about what Apple is going to announce this week have become available as a result of some surprisingly sloppy work coming out of Cupertino.

Face ID is referenced in Apple’s firmware, and it appears to be the official name for the new way to unlock the iPhone 8 with just your face.

I feel like I’m just getting into the swing of using Touch ID and now they are going to switch it up on us (granted, it appears to only be for the higher end phone)

Apple is also reportedly introducing “Animoji,” which are animated versions of the popular emoji found in iOS 11. Animoji will supposedly use the hardware face scanning features of the iPhone 8 to create custom 3D versions based on your own facial expressions. Apple describes Animoji as “custom animated messages that use your voice and reflect your facial expressions,” and they’ll be featured in the messaging app.

Yawn.

The final leak from the new iOS 11 firmware also shows a new revision of Apple’s wireless AirPods. 9to5Mac reports that it’s not a major upgrade, and it appears that the charging indicator has been relocated to the outside of the case to make it easier to check on battery status without opening the case. An animation shows the refreshed AirPods, and the design looks almost identical to the existing version.

It took them forever to get the ‘original’ AirPods out to market and now they are turning around and changing them. Lends credence to the strategy of waiting for the second version of an Apple product/feature/software update before upgrading.

Apple used to be “Fort Knox” in terms of controlling rumors, leaks and the like leading up to their marketing events (and yes, they are marketing events) but over the past few years these leaks are becoming more prevalent…probably because the folks doing the research are becoming more and more sophisticated. I wonder how Steve Jobs would have handled this?

Source: Leaked iPhone 8 firmware reveals animated emoji, Face ID, and updated AirPods – The Verge

The Week In Tweets

Crashed and Burned

My site has been offline for the past 12 hours or so as there were some major issues caused by a few ‘site optimization’ plug ins that dug a little too deep into the code of the site, thus bringing the site down to its knees. As such, a lot of the wallpapers that I have recently uploaded to the site were blown away as I had to roll back the site to its state several days ago. I will re-upload them to the site but it will take a few days…so please bear with me as I try to recover things.

Fairwell Old Internet Friend

This week marked the end of an era in Internet lore as Yahoo! was officially sold off to Verizon, thus ending its position as an independent company. Over the past 10-15 years, Yahoo! has been the butt of too many jokes and a cautionary tale of how a sprawling, rudderless organization grew too quickly and did not have the leadership and management chops to take advantage of their once dominant position.

Let us not forget that at one time, Yahoo! was THE most dominant online property on the Internet. They had a leadership position in Search, in Email and as a “portal” of content. They purchased Flickr, a once dominant, innovative and highly influential photo sharing site that is today a shell of its former self, a victim of Yahoo! completely missing the mobile revolution. They once owned Delicious, another highly influential web bookmarking service that – like Flickr – introduced the Internet to tagging and RSS Feeds of your favorite internet links. The amount of data that was generated by Delicious was staggering, but Yahoo didn’t see it and that too withered on the vine. And I have not even touched on Yahoo!’s self grown and highly regarded services like Fantasy Sports, Yahoo! Finance and of course, Yahoo Mail.

I won’t go any further in waxing poetic about the opportunities that Yahoo! (not to mention AOL, who they will be joining at Verizon) squandered as they proceeded to get Googled before they ever knew what was happening.

I will, however, leave you with one of the classic Yahoo! commercials from the late 1990s that will bring a smile to your face and make you think back to the wonder and joy of discovery that was present back when Yahoo! was, well, Yahoo!:

The Week In Tweets

The Week In Tweets

Still Bringing The Heat

This past Sunday, I went to NJPAC (New Jersey Performing Arts Center) to see a screening of Young Frankenstein, followed by a ‘conversation’ with Mel Brooks himself…all of 90 years young.

Watching the movie in a theater the size of NJPAC was fantastic. I’ve only watched Young Frankenstein (more times than I can count) at home on TV, so listening to an audience laughing and reacting to the movie was a unique experience. It made me appreciate even more the subltle nuances of Gene Wilder’s reactions, and the classic facial expressions of Cloris Leachman and Marty Feldman. You just don’t get that from watching the movie in your living room.

But the real joy came during the conversation with Mel Brooks after the show, where he shared stories and memories of filming Young Frankenstein: how Marty Feldman kept on switching the shoulder of Igor’s hump until someone on the set noticed, upon which Mel thought it funny enough to write it into the script; how in the grave digging scene, an off the cuff quip from Feldman (again) led to him writing in the downpour of rain as being the only thing that could make digging up a grave worse.

Near the end of the conversation, the host read some questions that the audience got to submit for Mel to answer and there were two interactions that illustrated how quick and brilliantly funny Mel Brooks still is:

The Underwear Question

Audience Question: Mel, boxers or briefs?
Mel (without missing a beat): I’m going to give you an honest answer. Depends.
Brought down the house.

Don’t Kiss And Tell Question

Initial Audience Question: Katie asks if you would consider marrying her?
Mel: I’ll think about it. I’ll definitely think about it
Next Audience Question: Jennifer says that she is a huge fan and was wondering if she could give you a kiss?
Mel (again, without missing a beat): Oh, I’m sorry Jennifer, I’m engaged to Katie now and I don’t think that would be appropriate.
Brings down the house again.

Of course, the most popular questions were: When are “Spaceballs II” and “History of the World, Part 2” coming out?

The Week In Tweets

The Week In Tweets

The Week In Tweets

A Billion Websites In The Naked City

And yet, the vast majority of the traffic goes to the top 100 or so properties.

There are over 1.1 billion websites on the internet, but the vast majority of all traffic actually goes to a very select list of them. Google.com, for example, has an astounding 28 billion visits per month. The next closest is also a Google-owned property, Youtube.com, which brings in 20.5 billion visits.

This just illustrates just how long the long tail of websites is and how many different elements are out there to be explored. Cyberspace has never been a more apt description. The top 100 properties see the vast majority of traffic while the remaining 1.0999 billion sites/properties have relatively small volume of visitors.

Looking at the infographic and the properties that are listed is a really interesting visual into our world.

  • Google takes the top spot with the aforementioned Google, Youtube, Blogger, etc.
  • Facebook and Instagram represent a formidable combination
  • Yahoo, for all its troubles, still is listed as the #5 site online
  • News sites from all different angles have a significant presence with CNN (#22), HuffPo (#49), NY Times (#31), Wash Post (#54), along with Breitbart (#45), Fox News (#50) to name a few.

Click through below to see the original size of the infographic.

The Week In Tweets