2012 Prometheus Award Finalist

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A young girl sets out to prove herself by resolving a long-forgotten mystery. But when she gets close to the truth, what she thought was a harmless adventure becomes a threat to the future of the independent commercial settlements on Mars.

October 2014
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Raspberry Pi Goes Social Justice Wanker

I guess that Pi Camera I picked up yesterday will be going back to MicroCenter:

I’m not a gamer, so until now the #GamerGate thing didn’t affect my interests directly. If the Raspberry Pi people find it necessary to unnecessarily side with the frauds and malicious liars of the anti-GamerGate brigades, and to do it with such a pissy, condescending, and arrogant attitude, they can make do without my money.

Perhaps instead of marching with the damaged, delusional, and dishonest nutjobs of the “social justice warrior” movement, they should focus their attention on improving their product. And by “improving”, I mean “make it not suck”. If I’d known a month ago what I’ve learned since from bitter experience with an R-Pi B+ (100mA per USB port? [facepalm]), I’d never have bought one of their pieces of crap in the first place. There’s a reason they market their goods to schoolchildren.

A good take on the matter here, along with a number of dishonest comments illustrating my point above.

Humans may only survive 68 days on Mars

Humans may only survive 68 days on Mars.

Tl;dr: Mars One has ten years to come up with Mars-workable versions of common industrial processes and improve the capabilities of 3D printing and desktop machining.

Speaking of the latter – I went to the Maker Faire in Loveland last weekend, and ran into these guys, who are soon to have a Kickstarter for a device which can both 3D print and do light machining: Kanawha Automation.


Braced for Voter Fraud in Colorado

For those who haven’t been paying attention to the out-of-control Democrat-ruled legislature in Colorado over the past two years, it hasn’t only been gun-grab laws they’ve been ramming through: Braced for Voter Fraud in Colorado.

How Coloradans can’t see what the Democrats here are up to is beyond me. It’s not like the Democrats really go out of their way to conceal what they’re doing – they not only ram these sorts of things through on party-line votes, as Fund notes in the article, they twist and violate legislative procedures to do it.

Remember: Colorado is a “model” and a test site for tactics Progressives will use in other states. Including yours.

Of course, part of the reason they get away with this crap is the fact that Republicans in this state are utterly incapable of setting aside their interpersonal and factional rivalries and self-interest to organize and fight against it effectively. Nor are they capable of ejecting or marginalizing psychologically damaged activists who disrupt and discredit any efforts which are made to do so.

Sierra Nevada Teams With Stratolaunch

This looks interesting: Spurned by NASA, Sierra Nevada Teams With Stratolaunch

I’ve been joking since the announcement all SNC needs is to find a dot-com billionaire of its own, and apparently they have (albeit indirectly in this case).


Orion spacecraft crew capsule completed and ready for fueling

Orion spacecraft crew capsule completed and ready for fueling. With “hyper propellants”.

They must have changed over from sedate propellants after I left the program.

I learned today that there will be two passengers on EFT-1, after all – the ashes of two long-time Orion employees who passed away recently.

Razr Burn

Having tried to resurrect mine last fall in hopes of unlocking it and using it Europe (and having just switched from Blackberry to a Galaxy S5 last week), this caught my attention: Razr Burn: My Month With 2004’s Most Exciting Phone.

Her cellphone experience is significantly different from mine.

Maps: I gave up using anything map-related on my past Blackberries. It was faster to look it up on a regular computer and write down what I needed on an an index card before leaving, or to text others for directions if I needed them en-route. I could be directly under a Sprint cell tower in downtown Denver and it would take a minute or more to load/refresh a map.

Digital Cameras: I very rarely ever use the camera on my phone. In offloading my recently retired Blackberry, I found that in two and a half years with the thing I’d taken about 150 pictures. Total. My Razr I think had about a dozen in it when I retired it in late 2008 after two years, and the first Blackberry had maybe three dozen on it in 2011. An increase, to be sure, but nothing compared to the several hundred pictures I will take on any outing involving a real digital camera (or the fact that one of the digital cameras I use is converted for infrared…try that on your phone.)

Threaded Conversations: I suppose she’s right on this, but I didn’t have text message service on my Razr, so I can’t really compare or relate. No, really. I didn’t have text service. That in itself is an interesting then/now comparison.

SMS vs. iMessage: Can’t compare since until last week Blackberry’s messaging app was the only one I’d ever used, Android’s doesn’t seem to be any different, and I will never use one of the iCult’s products or apps. While I don’t understand the nature of her iFrustration, I do feel a little schadenfreude that she feels it. Because cult.

Swiping Tick: Not sure this is the same thing, but I noticed after purchasing a tablet last year that I frequently forget my older Kindle is not touch-sensitive…typically after being momentarily baffled as to why it’s ignoring my swipes.

Battery Life: Amen, sister! Preach it! Just before I replaced my Razr with my first Blackberry, I took a two-week trip to Sweden and Central Europe. And even though it was two years old at that point, I only had to recharge the phone maybe twice. Not that I was using it much, but it was still active the whole time, serving as my watch/alarm clock. The last Blackberry, even after replacing its battery a year ago, needed to be put on the charger every night lest it be dead by dawn. Neither Blackberry traveled well – even starting with a full charge and being turned off during flights, they’d still die in a third or a quarter of the usual time. The S5 seemed to work fine on my trip last week…at least, on a full charge and in airplane mode, with active use during the layovers, it still had about 50% charge at the end of the travel day, which is a great improvement.

I would disagree with her, though, that “being without a smartphone is goddamn miserable”. I frequently forget mine, and have over the past year taken to carrying it in my laptop bag or loose in the car rather than on my person, and typically leave it in the car when I go to places I don’t need it with me for logistical reasons. I even debated getting a dumb phone rather than a smart phone when I replaced my old one last week, and am not entirely sure why I stayed with the smartphone (had they offered simply a phone with text capability and a wifi hotspot with which I could have used my tablet or laptop, I might have done things differently).

One thing I do miss about the Blackberry, however (and the reason I stayed with them for so long) is the keypad. I hate swiping. Hate it. After a week and a half, I’ve given up and just gone to pecking out each individual letter (or using voice entry if nobody’s around) since it’s faster and less frustrating than having to swipe and delete even the simplest words like “to”, “in”, “of”, and “at” three or four times. And even then, since it’s one finger doing all the work over a larger area and there is an almost-but-not-quite imperceptible lag as the onscreen keyboard interprets your taps, it’s still much slower than the phsyical keypad on the Blackberry.

And I still haven’t figured out why tapping the big green “Answer” button that appears onscreen when someone calls you does not, in fact, answer the incoming call…Blackberry had a physical button for that, wisely so I think.




ExoTerra Wins Asteroid Redirect Mission Study Contract

Yep, we got selected under the “Adapt Commercial Spacecraft for the Asteroid Redirect Vehicle” category:
NASA Selects Studies for the Asteroid Redirect Mission

ExoTerra Resource in Littleton, Colorado: The “Multipurpose SEP Module for ARM and Beyond” study will define concepts for an extensible multipurpose Solar Electric Propulsion module designed for launch on Falcon 9.

Congratulations to the other winners on the BAA – it’s an interesting mix, and not quite what we would have guessed as the outcome.

Supersonic Decelerator Test

NASA Is About to Test a Mega-Parachute at the Edge of Space

The system in question is a combination of a large parachute (Supersonic Disk Sail Parachute) and the smaller of two inflatable decelerator designs (the 6m Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator for robotic missions, or SIAD-R). (More here [pdf])

I’ve seen images of the larger SIAD-E a number of times, but didn’t know there was a smaller implementation of the concept. Interesting. As is its cousin the IRVE concept (in a way the inverse approach, using a small nose and large inflatable body, the latter composed of a stack of smaller torii rather than a single large torus).

Marvel and NewSpace

Anyone else notice the cameo by SeaLaunch’s command ship in the new “Captain America” flick?

Maybe I missed earlier reports of it, but it surprised me. But yet it didn’t, given the Iron Man franchise’s habit of cameoing actual aerospace companies and personalities.

Makes me wonder if the Marvel Cinematic Universe people have a “thing” for space.

No Country for Young Men

Richard Fernandez hits on something that bothers me about the mindset of the country: No Country for Young Men

The big giveaway is we as a civilization don’t want to go to the planets any more, because the old don’t want to go anywhere. Imagine clambering into spaceships! The very idea gives us the shivers. Only the young and immortal travel to places where they may never be able to get Ibuprofen…

And in consequence the future, rather than beckoning to us, envelops us like a shroud. America which was famous for optimism, has sold its birthright for a mess of Obamacare and Obamaphones, like an old couple that have given up sweeping and tending a house that grew too big now that the kids have left.

It overstates a bit the part about us not wanting to go to the planets any more, given the number of robotic exploration missions in progress and planned for the next 5-10 years.

What bothers me is that he may well be right about our desire as a nation to settle space. Sure, we have people like Elon Musk and Robert Bigelow and Jeff Bezos routing around the traditional (ie: old) model of manned space being the province of civil agencies and military bodies. But while there is plenty of interest and enthusiasm in industry and advocacy/activism circles for what they’re doing, I don’t get the sense that there is any sort of broader interest in or optimism for the long-term goals that these new players could enable – namely, space settlement.

Instead, the old conflict between robots and humans is cited, as if “exploration” were the sole reason for the existence of everything beyond Earth – look at it, take samples perhaps, but don’t otherwise touch it. “Robots can do a better job exploring.” “Robots are cheaper to send out to do exploration.” “Robots are less risky.” But robots aren’t humans and thus can’t be settlers. The mindset Fernandez describes would seem to cover this – the “geriatric culture”, as he puts it, would naturally prefer safety over risks, and that which fits in their fixed-income budgets to a venture whose costs and benefits can only be guessed at in advance.

This mindset also helps explain the despicable attitude of people like Patrick Stewart who believe that humans should just stay home, sitting in the corner of the universe until they’ve thought about what they’ve done. The argument is that, because we’re so wicked and naughty as a species, we don’t deserve to travel to and settle other worlds – we should be grounded until we learn to behave better and clean up all our messes. What is this if not the thinking of a punitive parent or grandparent, aimed at putting wayward youth into its place?

As Fernandez hints, this is a cultural problem that leads us towards stagnation and decline while others (whose motives and philosophies may be anathema to our own) fill the gap. If we as a nation choose living in the constrained present instead of looking ahead to (and working to fashion) an expanding future, it doesn’t mean others will feel compelled to do the same. It just means we get left behind.