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Welcome to the Silicon Valley Linux Users Group

Linux - The Operating System of the 21st Century TM

SVLUG Events: Launch Win2K
...on a Rocket

Sunday, February 13, 2000, 2-5PM
DeAnza College (Parking Lot B), Cupertino, California

This event was cancelled due to rain.
The Web page has been left otherwise intact to show what we had planned.

Back in June 1998, SVLUG did a tongue-in-cheek spoof of Microsoft's "Win98 Launch" product introduction event by launching a model rocket with Win98 CDs (cut in half) for fins. It was fun, light-hearted humor enjoyed by all. The rocket literally crashed in the gutter after a couple successful flights. And we said that if Microsoft called their next product's introduction a "launch", we'd do it again.

So here we are - this may become a tradition if they keep using the term "launch". MS's official "Windows 2000 Launch" events will be later that week. We'll launch a model rocket using real Windows 2000 CD-ROMs for its fins on Sunday, February 13, weather permitting. The Win2K CDs are real and were given to SVLUG members at Microsoft's booth at Comdex.

As we had to do last time, we'll hold an informal press conference before launching the rocket, in order to answer any questions reporters may have.

Just as with last time, please remember to differentiate the names of the events. "Windows 2000 Launch" is Microsoft's event. Our event is called "Launch Win2K" or "Launch Win2K on a Rocket." (Launch is a verb in our case.)

We will launch the rocket at the BayNAR rocket club's launch on Sunday, February 13 at 2PM at DeAnza College, Parking Lot B because they have a weekly time with the necessary fire marshal and FAA approvals.

In case of bad weather, the event will not officially be rescheduled. The whole joke behind the Launch Win2K event is time-sensitive and would lose its humor value if it gets too far away from MS's Feb 17 Win2K Launch. However, the Win2K rocket will be launched anyway the next time BayNAR has a launch that isn't weathered out, except without an official event.

I hope everyone has a good time at this event. At 5PM, we'll go to the Round Table Pizza at 1663 Hollenbeck in Sunnyvale for dinner.

Ian Kluft
"SVLUG Rocket Scientist" (or something like that...)

Table of Contents

This is a recreational event of the Silicon Valley Linux User's Group. See the SVLUG Home Page or SVLUG Events Page. For more information about the Linux operating system, see the "What is Linux?" page at the Linux.com portal site. Linux is Open Source software and the only non-Microsoft operating system that's gaining market share.

Intended Ironies

Obviously, the fun of the event is poking some good, clean fun at Microsoft. Here are some of the points to emphasize as you tell others about the launch:

We're spoofing their use of the word "launch"
They called their product introduction event a launch. It was just too tempting not to spoof it.

This may be the only way Windows 2000 will improve stability
Fins provide stability for unguided rockets. The irony here is that MS Windows and NT have a reputation for presenting users with a "Blue Screen of Death". Making Windows 2000 CDs into rocket fins in an ironic way to demonstrate how Windows can contribute to stability.

This is a point many Linux users feel strongly about. Linux has a reputation for rock-solid stability. We know it isn't necessary to reboot your computer when you change the configuration. And there's no excuse to tolerate crashes. Life can be better than that. We're making a point of it.

When the Blue Screen saves you from a crash...
This time the parachute will be blue just to add to the irony. A Blue Screen of Death indicates that a Windows system has crashed. But this blue parachute, if successfully deployed, prevents a crash of the rocket.

Design of the Rocket

This model rocket isn't a pre-designed kit but it is made from easily-accessible rocket parts. The parts include:

  • two or three 18-inch (about 46cm) Estes BT-56 body tubes (number of body tube sections will depend on simulator results),
  • body tube connectors
  • a 6-inch (about 16cm) Estes NC-55 nose cone,
  • an engine mount for Estes D engines
  • Estes D12-7 model rocket engines
  • an Estes launch lug (straw-like tube to hold on to the launch rod),
  • some elastic cord for a shock cord,
  • some cloth for a parachute (blue to represent the Blue Screen of Death),
  • and some 5-minute epoxy to put it all together.
  • Of course, we already mentioned that the rocket's fins are four half-CD's that were Windows 2000 CDs which were given to SVLUG members at Microsoft's booth at Comdex.

Rocketry Safety Procedures

This is probably the most anyone has wanted to see a model rocket crash before it was even built. :-) Feel free to joke about it - after all, the whole event is just for fun. But realize that we'll follow all the National Association of Rocketry (NAR) safety rules.

But bring your cameras and camcorders anyway. Things sometimes do go wrong with rockets and, though it wouldn't be intentional, you could still get what you wanted.

We'll reiterate the answers to some questions that were asked at the June SVLUG meeting when this was quickly announced...

Will the rocket crash like Windoze?
Not on purpose. We're going to follow the safety rules, including a parachute recovery. If it does crash, just like with Windoze, it will be unintentional. If it doesn't crash, that means the blue parachute worked.
Can you make the rocket explode in flight?
No, especially because we'll be launching at DeAnza College somewhat near houses and schools, but also because NAR safety rules don't allow that.
Can you launch the rocket horizontally?
No. That's really dangerous.

2PM Is Only a Start Time

We will launch and recover the rocket several times during the afternoon. So we'll have several chances to feel the suspense of whether Windoze will crash or not. :-)

BayNAR's launches go from 2PM to about 5PM. We will begin arriving around 2PM. We expect to be answering reporter questions in an informal press conference through about 2:30. Then we'll have the BayNAR safety inspector check the rocket and we'll get in line for launch.

Directions to DeAnza College

BayNAR has its drving directions at http://www.baynar.org/launch.html

Directions provided by Rick Moen for the 1998 launch are also still correct:

DeAnza College is at 1250 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino, near the
intersection of I-280 and CA-85 (which is east of San Jose and
south of Los Altos -- west side of Santa Clara Valley).  From either 
direction on I-280, go to Cupertino and take the Route 85 exit 
southbound.  Take the first exit, Stevens Creek Blvd., turning 
left (east) at the end of the off-ramp.  Go one long block on 
Stevens Creek to a right turn onto S. Stelling Road.  In about 
1/2 block, take the right-hand entrance (turning west) on 
Peppertree Lane into DeAnza College's parking lots.  Avoid the 
middle lot "B", directly ahead, which is the rocket launch field.  
Instead, turn left to lot "C" or right to lot "A".
You may want to see the campus map at 

Cooperating with BayNAR - Be a Good Guest

This event is getting a lot of attention. Plan on parking in an adjacent parking lot (A or C). Let the people who have rockets to fly park in Parking Lot B.

Remember that we are guests of BayNAR at their launch site. Follow their instructions if you're given any.

If you arrive after launches have started and are parking in Lot B, be aware that the Range Safety Officer will stop the launches while you drive through the "downrange" area of the parking lot. Go ahead and drive to the far side behind the safety line and don't waste any time finding a space to park - they'll wait while your car is in motion.

Once you're there, stay behind the safety lines. If you don't know us, ask at the sign-up table for the SVLUG or Linux people. They'll know who we are.

Rocketry-related Links

Just in case any of this looked interesting to you, here's enough to keep you surfing for hours. ;-)

Feedback to SVLUG webmasters.