Sunday, May 22, 2005

---Darth Tater, Space Junk over Kazakhstan, Rutan on NASA, Logistics Failures at ISS, Beating the Crane at WalMart, and Other Stories 

Darth Tater strikes back again, or something:
Mr. Potato Head - MR. POTATO HEAD Star Wars Darth Tater Figure
Okay, so I haven’t seen the "Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith ", yet---didn’t line up at the wrong theater two months before it opened in pre-release, and now I can't get into a theater. I'm just too old for this stuff. As far as this blog is concerned, for now, the release of the Mr. Potato Head™ version will have to do. That's a really intimidating potato.

Way more than anyone should want to know about SH:
FOXNews.com - U.S. & World - U.S. Condemns Tabloid's Saddam Photos
Why would anyone want pictures of SH in his underpants?! I’ll second that condemnation! Let’s have some huge riots and trample each other to death! Oh, wait….

Space junk over Kazakhstan:
EurasiaNet Culture - Photo Essay: Kazakhstan's Spaceship Junkyard
This has been around for a while. Someone posted it on a sci.space newsgroup several months ago. There’s something nostalgic about rustic farmers tending their rustic farms beneath a hail of contaminated spacecraft junk.

Traffic jam at Mars, relatively speaking:
New Photos are First of Spacecraft Orbiting Mars
Mars is getting to be a busy place. This is a pretty remarkable picture of Mars Odyssey taken by Mars Global Surveyor. There’s also a very blurry shot of the ESA’s Mars Express.

Rutan on NASA:
Burt Rutan Chides NASA for Dullness, Says Space should be Fun
Rutan’s aviation/space adventures continue to be incredible, but his assessment of the current problems with aerospace is perplexingly off-target. Step off into the unknown and expect to have “fun”? The unknown is an enormous and terribly dangerous place for a playground.
Rutan criticized NASA and it's supporting contractor community for unwillingness to take risks, an inability to excite public interest, and lacking the goals to inspire future explorers, all of which are generally true.
But NASA isn’t dull, Burt, it’s evil .

Logistics breakdowns affect ISS:
Mounting delays stress space station systems - Space News - MSNBC.com
From Oberg at MSNBC. A more detailed account of the problems facing ISS due to the failure of US Shuttles and the imminent financial collapse of the Russian space program. One ironic result of the serious failures of foresight and contingency planning will have the crew “burning” (it’s actually some kind of exothermic decompostion, apparently) the infamous lithium perchlorate cannisters (the “candles”that came close to destroying the Mir station) before they start using up the 100-day gas supplies attached to the US Quest airlock. The Quest is already a monumental embarassment, having failed to be usable as an actual airlock, and further having crippled the US EMU’s attached to its faulty and contaminated plumbing. It now appears that it may not be possible to replenish the oxygen supplies in its tanks, even if the STS resumes flights to the station. I guess Lance Bass is off the hook.

IEEE not in a big hurry for WiFi improvments?:
New Wi-Fi standard takes the slow road | CNET News.com
The article doesn’t seem to mention any improvements in practical, usable security. In my service experience, the main problem which keeps wireless from practical everyday use by normal people is that it takes considerable skill and a lot of background reading to get a even a minimal level of security. As a result, typical wireless users have none. Try explaning standard security setup with WPA encryption on a standard consumer wireless switching router to your grandmother. Speed would be nice, but now IEEE seems to have better things to do, or something.

911 drop-dead date for VoIP:
FCC requires VoIP to clean up its 911 act | CNET News.com
It seems like an obvious requirement for any telephonic system---emergency services are a matter of life and death. It also looks like a working 911 implementation faces a number of serious technical hurdles. Most providers seem to be able to manage it if you pay extra.
It would be nice to have options to POTS and the traditional phone company if they get it all working right. After fighting for two weeks to get a second land line installed, and getting a different price quote for the installation every time I talked to someone else at the phone company, I would really like to see options.

Los Alamos breakdown continues:
My Way News:Los Alamos Management Up for Bids
The ongoing string of scandals and mismanagement at the LANL continues unabated. Many of the people who know how to make the “stuff” work are ready to move on. It’s so bad that a consortium sponsored by the University of Texas and Lockheed Martin may actually be an improvement.
Some of the employees have put together a blog to anonymously criticize LANL management.

E3-2005 coverage:
FOXNews.com - Foxlife - Gaming Big-Guns Unveil New Consoles at E3
I never got to go to E3, even during my two years with a small game developer for mostly obsolete games. I’m not really complaining, though.
The new generations of Xbox, Playstation, and various mobile platforms are getting massive advertising campaigns at the convention.

I never understood what you’re supposed to do with these things, either:
FOXNews.com - U.S. & World - Boy Gets Stuck in Wal-Mart Toy Machine
This one is mostly visual. What’s really heartbreaking is, the kid didn’t even get a toy for his ingenuity.

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