Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Discovery Channel :: Hubble's Fate Decided Soon

Discovery Channel :: News - Space :: Hubble's Fate Decided Soon: "Oct. 23, 2006 -- The fate of what some scientists dub 'the people's telescope' is again up in the air as NASA decides soon whether to squeeze in a last astronaut repair mission to extend the life of the Hubble Space Telescope.

On Friday, NASA engineers will debate the safety of sending a fifth and final manned space shuttle flight to the 16-year-old telescope, probably in 2008. Soon afterward, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin will make the final call."

I really hope they can get a mission up to extend the life of Hubble. Many people still doubt the value of the space program. But I strongly feel that it is something we need to keep pursuing. Especially the viability of Space Stations and the technology for extra terrestrial colonization.

One thing that would be good is if there was a project to clean up the near Earth orbit space. There's so much junk floating around up there it's getting difficult to plan orbital paths. There's even leaking radioactive flotsam. Space pollution is just as real and as significant as anything here on Earth.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Thank you Michael

Well, it's done. The last race for what surly will historicity be known as the greatest race driver ever came to a close Sunday afternoon in Brazil. No storybook ending; Massa won going away, Alonzo took second & the drivers title, Renault edges out Ferrari for the constructors and Michael finished fourth. Oh, but what a forth place finish.

Qualifying started out quite well. Massa set a new track record (1:10.643) leading a Ferrari one/two in Q1. In Q2, Michael scorched the track and reset the all time fastest lap himself (1:10.313). It looked like an all Ferrari front row could be in the making. But then in Q3, the gremlins that have been all over Michael the last two weekends showed themselves. Michael led the line out of the pits but immediately his car died. Seems a fuel pump or something broke and took him completely out of the session. Therefore he gets 10th on the grid. Plus he doesn't get to burn off the fuel that the other 9 drivers did, putting him even more solidly behind the eight ball. Massa took poll while the Renault's slotted in at 4 and 6. Not a good situation for Michael.

At the start of the race Massa took off like a rocket but Michael was a man possessed. He charged up the grid until he was just behind Fisichella. Then made a superb pass on a corner to bring him right into Alonzo's exhaust pipe. But Fisi couldn't let Michael by so he slammed the door on him and, in doing so, caught Michael's left rear tire with his front wing. The resulting crawl into the pits and tire change caused Michael to fall all the way to the back of the line in P17. Now it's really the end of the line for him, right?

Well, no. Michael was dead last, just a couple of seconds in front of Massa and looking like he might get lapped. But now you start seeing why Michael is the 7 time champion and holder of all the significant records in Formula 1. From this point Michael put on a clinic on what it means to be a true driver. Knowing he's lost the drivers championship and will not likely win the race he still drives as if it were his first win. He sliced through the field and tore up the ranks to reach 8th. What a feet! With all that was going on he made it into the points. But he wasn't done. No sir.

In the later laps of the race Michael's Ferrari seemed to have a twitch in it. For some inexplicable reason it would lose power or something on him. It happened at least twice and both of them were at points when he was just about to make a pass. Still, he calmly collected himself and ripped up Interlagos hauling himself past Rubens, Fisichella, and the man who will be taking his ride in '07 Kimi Räikkönen. He made it up to P4 and was climbing all over Jenson's backside at the finish line. To illustrate how much of a competitor he is, Michael set fast lap of the race on lap 70! Given 10 more laps and he would have caught everyone but Massa. If you have a young driver in your life you would be doing them a great service by showing them this last Ferrari/Schumacher drive. That's what it is all about. There was no reason at all for Michael to try and do anything but finish the race, especially after the flat. But he kept racing like it was mid-season and every little point counted.

At the end of the day, Massa won in his home race, Alonzo clinched the Drivers Championship and Renault the Constructors Title. But it was Michael who put on the show of a true champion. Down to the last... Never say die... Racing in the blood...

There are more stars coming up in F1 (Robert Kubica, Scott Speed, Massa, Kimi in a Ferrari, and many new names). They would all do well to watch this last race from Michael. It was a clinic. It was vintage Michael Schumacher. Period.

For more on this go to -Now comes the end. For 16 years he was the pinnacle of his sport. And for those years, I say: Thank you Michael.

Thank you.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Privacy Lost: Does anybody care? - Privacy Lost - MSNBC.com

Privacy Lost: Does anybody care? - Privacy Lost - MSNBC.com: "Someday a stranger will read your e-mail, rummage through your instant messages without your permission or scan the Web sites you’ve visited — maybe even find out that you read this story."

Ever felt like George Orwell was right but for being a couple of decades early?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Top 223 Star Wars Lines Improved By Replacing A Word With "Pants"

Keepers of Lists - Top 223 Star Wars Lines Improved By Replacing A Word With "Pants": "Top 223 Star Wars Lines Improved By Replacing A Word With 'Pants'"

Some of these are priceless. The top five are:
  1. I find your lack of pants disturbing.
  2. You are unwise to lower your pants.
  3. The Force is strong in my pants.
  4. Chewie and me got into a lot of pants more heavily guarded than this.
  5. Your pants, you will not need them.

My head's about to expload

Well, it feels like it anyway. My sinuses are pounding. The pressure feels like my skull is going to crack open. I can't breath through my nose at all and my mouth is so dry my tongue is going to crumble to dust. It's also why I'm up at oh-dark-thirty.

Doesn't help that my son is out of state visiting his maternal grandmother. I don't mind him visiting her, though she's quite senile now. I only mind that he's not here with me.

I think I'm finally tired enough to get to sleep despite my Kopfschmerz. At least I hope I am.

Blogged with Flock

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Jupiter 'White Spot' Turns Red

Discovery Channel :: News - Space :: Jupiter 'White Spot' Turns Red: "Oct. 11, 2006 -- Just a little more than a year ago, the small spot on Jupiter was a pale white; now it matches the reddish hue of its bigger sibling, the Great Red Spot, and boasts 400 mph winds, according to new data from the Hubble Space Telescope."

Man, I really love this stuff. The very first school report I ever did was on Stars. Jupiter is one really fascinating planet.

Monday, October 09, 2006

BBC - My Web My Way - My Web for Linux homepage

BBC - My Web My Way - My Web for Linux homepage: "My Web for Linux

Do you need help in making the web easier to use? Let's look at the many ways you can make your Linux computer, keyboard and mouse and web browser better suit your needs..."

This looks like a nice resource for people who might need help accessing the web due to vision or hearing impairment or other disabilities. Way to go BBC.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Six years and 150+ races

To quote David Hobbs, "Kablammo!"

In the lead with about a fifth of the race to go, Michael's Ferrari did something that it hadn't done since the 2000 season.


The engine let go in a massive puff of smoke, thus effectively crushing the championship hopes for Schumacher. Now, in order to win the drivers cup, he will have to win in Brazil with Alonzo finishing out of the points. They would be tied in points (126 to 126) but Michael would take the championship by virtue of races won (8 to 7). However, the sportsman that he is, he has virtually conceded the championship to Alonzo. Quote, "As for the drivers' (title) it is lost. I don’t want to head off for a race, hoping that my rival has to retire. That is not the way in which I want to win the title."

The 2007 season will see the beginning of the post Michael era in F1. Kimi Räikkönen will take his rid at Ferrari with Felipe Massa retaining the #2 drivers slot. It will be nice to see what the "Flying Finn" can do in a Ferrari. Still, F1 without Michael...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Court rules against gays on marriage

Court rules against gays on marriage: "SAN FRANCISCO A defeat for supporters of same-sex marriage. A California appeals court has ruled the state's marriage laws do not violate the constitutional rights of gays and lesbians."

For some reason this is a hot-button issue for many people. I still don't get it, myself. What's the big deal? What rational reason could there be to not let gays marry? As the article says, they already have domestic partners rights. What reason is there to deny them this one, last, insignificant step?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

World Brain Book - MySpace for baby Boomers

World Brain Book - A Link to Live and Recorded Knowledge: "World Brain Book is a search engine for humans, connecting people around the world.We are a dictionary of human knowledge – occupations, sports, and hobbies – interests and experiences. You can search our site to find someone with information or register yourself."

This looks very interesting. It could be one of the best social interactive and knowledge gathering sites on the Net. It will all depend on how many people join and become active on it. I think people should give it a whirl and see how far it can go.

Blogged with Flock

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Thai junta taking a hard line on rights

Thai junta taking a hard line on rights - Asia - Pacific - International Herald Tribune: "BANGKOK Thailand's military rulers unveiled an interim Constitution on Sunday that extends draconian emergency laws for another year and gives the military significant sway over a civilian government and its prime minister, Surayud Chulanont, a retired general whose appointment was also made official Sunday."

This is what I was afraid of. It is so extremely rare to have any kind of coup, especially a military led one, without a dictatorship resulting. (This makes what George Washington did at the end of the American Revolution even more amazing).

I hope that this beautiful country and wonderful culture don't get crushed under another totalitarian regime.

IBM alphaWorks Drag-n-Drop Web App Builder

Over the years I have seen a number of tools/technologies that promised the ability to build applications without doing any coding. Just drag this and click that and you have a fully functional program. Unfortunately, the promise always far exceeded the product. The closest thing we've had are the Borland tools (i.e. Delphi, Kylix, J Builder) and the Microsoft Visual* tools (VB, V .Net, etc.). You can click and drag your way to an interface and output but you still had to manually glue it all together with code. However, there's a new tool that looks like it will fulfill the promise.

IBM alphaWorks, a little known division of IBM that has been carving out new technology and creating tools for over a decade, has recently started providing Services. One of the services is Web Relational Blocks. From the site:
Web Relational Blocks (WebRB) is a browser-based visual editor and run-time environment that enables developers to visually assemble Web applications without adding any imperative code. WebRB is made for developers of "enterprise" Web applications: multi-page applications, containing non-trivial GUI (graphical user interface) and business logic, whose data reside in relational databases.
They have a demo up where you can try it out. If you are interested in web app development or in need of an Enterprise RAD tool then you owe it to yourself to take WebRB out for a spin. You can build your own apps or import example ones to see how it works. While the interface of the tool and the output app are a little clunky and rough, the functionality is there. I'm sure that once it gets settled the alphaWorks team will pretty it up and give it a nice shiny AJAX-ified GUI.

All in all, WebRB has the potential to greatly impact the world of web application production.