Sunday, October 20, 2013

Jessi Combs Sets New Women's 4-Wheel Land Speed Record

I recently got to travel once again to the beautiful Alvord Desert in southeast Oregon to join the North American Eagle team as they continued their assault on the world land speed record. One of the goals for this year's trip was for new co-driver Jessi Combs to attempt to break a pair of long-standing records, the 308 mph mark set at Bonneville in 1965 by Lee Breedlove, wife of then world record holder Craig Breedlove; and the 512 mph record set at Alvord in 1976 by Kitty O'Neal driving the rocket-powered "SMI Motivator."
After just two test runs, on Tuesday, October 8, Jessi broke Breedlove's record, with a two-way average speed of 344.002 mph through the measured mile.
The next day, Jessi climbed back into the NAE vehicle and made two more runs. This time, she went to full afterburner on both runs. With her parents, sister, and "The List" co-host Patrick McIntyre watching, Jessi reached a top speed of 440.709 mph, pushing her two-way average to set a new record of 392.954 mph and making Jessi Combs the fastest woman on four-wheels.
I have created a video showcasing the second of her two October 9 runs, which I posted to YouTube on Friday.
There are also a lot more of my photos on Flickr.
For those curious about the two women's records, Lee Breedlove set her 308 mph mark in her husband's "Spirit of America Sonic 1" jet-powered car, driving on the salt flats at Bonneville. Since Sonic 1 had four wheels, it is considered a "car" and therefore comes under the rules set by the FIA. The vehicle that Kitty O'Neal drove in 1976 had just three wheels and is therefore considered a "motorcycle" and comes under rules set by the FIM.
Also, since it was powered by a hydrogen peroxide rocket engine, Motivator reached its top speed much faster than a jet-powered vehicle, enabling Kitty to go more than 512 mph on the relatively short Alvord Desert. The North American Eagle team hopes to either "coax" a few more usable miles of smooth desert out of the dry lake bed at Alvord or else find another location so that next year Jessi can beat O'Neal's record, making her undisputedly the world's fastest woman. And NAE owner and co-driver Ed Shadle hopes to break the current world land speed record of 763.1 mph, set in 1997 by Andy Green driving the "Thrust SSC."
Since I am at work on a book about the land speed record, I plan to be on-hand when this occurs.

Also, if you would like to learn more about the North American Eagle, Jessi Combs, and the beautiful Alvord Ranch (where the team was graciously hosted by Paul and Toni Davis) check out the following links:

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

HP Expands its Z Workstation Portfolio

While most people were waiting today for Apple to make official what most people already assumed was coming, I was patiently waiting to be able to write about some really cool new stuff that I learned about last week but couldn't write about until today.

Last week, I spent a day in the Big Apple at an HP press and analyst event at which the company unveiled a number of new workstations and display products, including the world's first workstation ultrabook, the HP ZBook 14.
The new HP ZBook 14

Unlike other ultrabook computers, the new HP ZBook 14 is a true mobile workstation complete with an AMD FirePro M4100 discrete graphics card with 1GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory. HP will be offering a choice of Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors. One of the really cool features is that the system automatically switches from the integrated Intel HD Graphics 4400 to the more powerful AMD GPU when needed. Since it's an ultrabook, it comes with a 10-point multi-touch screen. But since it's also an HP workstation, it's ISV certified and comes with HP tools including HP Performance Advisor and HP Remote Graphics Software. It may just be the perfect portable for engineering professionals on the go.

The company also announced two other new mobile workstations, the HP ZBook 15 and ZBook 17. These mark the latest iteration of the company's mobile workstation line, with a name change to clearly identify them as members of the HP Z-workstation family (as opposed to the older EliteBook moniker). The new ZBook 15 will include an option for a super-high-resolution QDH+ 3200x1800 display. Both the 15 and 17 feature a Thunderbolt port as well as optional DreamColor Display panels.
The entire new HP ZBook mobile workstation family
The new ZBook mobile workstations feature 4th Generation Intel Haswell dual- and quad-core processors and next generation technologies from NVIDIA and AMD, including the newly announced Keplar-based professional graphics from NVIDIA. And all three ZBook mobile workstations feature innovative new tool-free chassis for easy upgrades and serviceability.

HP also unveiled updates to the Z420, Z620, and Z820 workstations to include the latest Intel Xeon E5-1600v2 and E5-2600v2 "Ivy Bridge" families of processors as well as memory running 16% faster and 2nd generation Thunderbolt ports for data transfer speeds 4 times faster than USB 3.0.

The new HP Z  workstation family and new Z27i and Z30i IPS displays
Lastly, HP added to its line of professional displays, announcing the new HP Z27i and Z30i displays, which incorporate IPS Gen 2 panels that deliver 100% of the Adobe RGB color space while offering power savings of up to 37% compared to HP's first generation IPS displays.

The HP ZBook 15 and 17 are already available, with the ZBook 14 scheduled to be released in October. The updated Z420, Z620, and Z820 workstations as well as the new displays will also become available in October. I hope to be able to review all of the new workstations and displays as soon as I can get my hands on them, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

File Tabs in AutoCAD 2014

One of the coolest new features in AutoCAD 2014 are the new File Tabs. Located across the drawing area (just below the ribbon), the new File Tabs provide a fast and visual way to switch between open drawings or to create new ones.

When you first start the program, you will see a file tab across the top of the drawing area. With just a single drawing open, you see just one file tab, which corresponds to that drawing. But as you open additional drawings, you will see additional file tabs, one for each open drawing.

File tabs are just one of the new features included in my new iBook, AutoCAD 2014 New Features and Enhancements – Revealed!, published by 4D Technologies/CADLearning. I've uploaded the entire lesson video on File Tabs to YouTube so that you can see for yourself how File Tabs can make it much easier to work in AutoCAD, particularly if you have multiple drawing files open.

If you have an iPad, you can actually download the entire iBook for FREE from the Apple iBookstore. That's right, 4D Technologies/CADLearning has decided to make my new iBook AutoCAD 2014 New Features and Enhancements – Revealed! free this year. So, grab your iPad, open up the iBooks app, and hop on over to the iBookstore. As of today, this is the only iBook available for AutoCAD 2014. So just search for "AutoCAD 2014".
Now that AutoCAD 2014 is shipping, I can finally update my blog with news, tips, and tricks about AutoCAD and some of the other new software from Autodesk (including the new Autodesk ReCap software). So check back.