Thursday, September 24, 2015

A week with Edge

I have been using Internet Explorer ever since I switched back to Windows, and have been satisfied with it. Apart from its end of life status, and a couple of annoying bugs when I have more than 10 tabs open, it has served me well. With the latest Windows 10 update, I wanted to try the next generation browser: Edge.

Going in, I knew that Edge is not a finished product, and that it has a long way until it competes with the other established browsers on the market. Nevertheless I decided to give it a try.

My first experiences with it were positive: it is light weight and very fast, and when I have many tabs open it does not suffer from the same feat as IE does, where the browser hangs randomly and the abominable recover web page ribbon appears at the bottom of the screen.

I was also surprised when I did not end up using the cool new features such as the readability view and web notes as much as I thought. I liked the integration with Cortana through the context menu, which I can use to define terms, and context search within the page.

Because of Edge's maturity level, there are many missing feature annoyances. I miss bookmark syncing between devices, as well as open tab syncing, something I got used to using Safari on the Mac long ago. I also miss the support for extensions, although I am sure these will come in some day.

Overall I like Edge, and I think with every release it will become better. I'll continue using it as my every day browser, however if I were not at Microsoft, I would have probably have gone back to IE and waited to make Edge my every day browser till it became a bit more mature.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Are oranges named after their color?

One of the great side effects of watching educational videos with my son is the wealth of seemingly innocent questions that arise afterwards, and the entertaining web searches to find the answer. One such question is for oranges which came first, the color or the name of the fruit?

Turns out there are a lot of theories online, and the one that rings true is this quora thread on the origins of the name. According to the online etymology dictionary the name of the fruit evolved through trade from the original Sanskrit name for the orange tree (naranga). to the Persian narang, to the Arabic naranj, to the Italian arancia, to the Latin orange, to the French orange, and finally to the current form circa 1300. The name of the color came after that.

Where would we be without the Internet and kids questions.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Why are barns red?

I have always wondered why most barns are painted red. It is always an aesthetic sight to see one while driving in the countryside, both during the lush green days of summer, or the yellow arid days of winter. There is of course a chance that farmers chose the color red for its aesthetics value, but I wondered if there was a more practical reason for the choice.

An online search produced a bevy of results with equally reasonable choices. One of the sites argues that in the older days, one of the practical methods to seal the barn wood and protect it from the elements was to paint it with a mixture of linseed oil, and  additions of milk and line. The red color would come from adding either the blood of a recent slaughter or from ferrous oxide--rust. As the paint would dry it would turn into a dark red color. I buy the rust theory, since there is a lot of rust to be had everywhere, and the blood theory is a bit weird.
The Smithsonian magazine adds a physics spin to the answer, by explaining why rust or ferrous oxide is an abundant material in the universe, and that this abundance is the most likely reason farmers used it in the barn paint mixture. The article explains why iron is abundant through the evolution of stars, as they go from collapse to explosion, and the reactions that combine protons and neutrons into heavier materials as the cycles progress, and finally stopping when the atomic mass becomes 56 (iron). I like the explanation, although it begs the question why the reactions stop at 56. But that's a question for another search.