Archive for January, 2011

Falling Cats

Saturday, January 8th, 2011

I get behind on my podcast listening, but last night I listened to the recent Radio Lab short ( that brought up that old claim that cats which fall from New York apartments have minor injuries if they fall from low floors, do not fair well from higher floors, and did well again if they fell from very high floors.

First, Neil deGrasse Tyson is right that the data set is flawed.  Lots of things could confuse the issue.  For example, maybe those cats falling from fancy penthouses have personal trainers, are very fit, and are better able to survive a fall, whereas those complacent 6th floor cats might be overweight and are not so suited to falling into the street.

That said, I can’t resist guessing.

I think it mostly comes to velocity on impact.  (What the cat hits also would matter–more on this below.)  Higher velocity is bad.  So falling from a low floor doesn’t offer enough time to get moving fast.  Fall from a higher floor and the cat will be traveling faster on impact.  So what about those very interesting cats falling from very high up?

They are offered a few seconds to try to learn to fly–and motivation to get it right.  I bet that if they hold their front legs just right that under-arm skin can be stretched to catch more wind resistance.   Maybe there is something similar that can be done with the back legs.  Some focused high altitude cats will even learn to steer and avoid landing on, say, the spiked fence out front.

In another nod to Neil, some of the penthouse cats maybe live in buildings with fancy doormen and canvas walkways to the sidewalk–that might be a good thing to aim for.

-kb, the Kent who has never thrown a cat from a window.

©2011 Kent Borg

Nexus One and LM961 Bluetooth Bracelet

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

I recently got an LM961 Bluetooth bracelet to use with my Nexus One phone.

Pretty cool, here are some observations:

  • The diameter of the metal bracelet is big.  I couldn’t figure out how to take out extra links, so I brought it to a local watch repair shop just before closing and asked them to make it smaller.  $10 later, and, um, they were having problems, too, and asked me if I could come back tomorrow.  Okay, I came back, they figured it out, it was still a little big, they took out one more link while I waited (now they had learned the trick), and now it fits.
  • It likes to lose connection to my phone…and then reconnect happily.  I moved it to the other wrist, to make it closer to the hip where I keep the phone, and maybe that helps, but it still loses connection.  I think it doesn’t like being close to a wifi access point.  (They are in the same band.)
  • The US model I got from Thinkgeek at the end of 2010 has a little wall-wart power supply, with a permanently connected cable.  Unlike a British model I have seen pictured: it had a cable that has a tiny coax power connector one end and a USB connection on the other–plus a wall-wart to plug that into.  I wish my model were like that, then I could charge it from any USB jack.
  • Biggest gripe seems to be that it is a Bluetooth “headset”, that is, when a call comes it, I grab the phone to answer, I say “Hello?”, the person on the other end starts to talk, then s/he goes away…and if I look at the phone I see that the “Bluetooth” button is activated in the Phone application.  I tap the button and the audio comes back.  This is a problem.  Possibly this is why the instructions say a short(er) button press answers the phone.  I wondered why I wouldn’t want to just answer the phone on the phone.  Maybe this is why.  I’ll have to get another phone call and update…

I am hoping that Openwatch support for the LM960/LM961 would fix this.

-kb, the Kent who doesn’t like a loud phone, but whose wife doesn’t like when he doesn’t get her call.

UPDATE: I never got it to do anything useful. Dang.

©2011 Kent Borg