Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Friday, March 24, 2006

  Spacex's Falcon I flies, all too briefly

I mirrored the video of the falcon I launch, here.

If you watch closely, you can clearly see the exaust plume change color on the left, and shortly before the last frames see a perpendicular flame coming from the right side of the engine shortly before the rocket went out of control. There's some fairly knowledgeable discussion going on at NasaSpaceflight.com.

I know that I'm not cut out to be a reporter. All I wanted to do after seeing this was go back to bed and pull a pillow over my head.

Still I remember the rising wave of excitement as the final 10 minutes of the countdown went by.


LC-FTSO Tone checks are good
FTS is ready
Open fuel pre is open
TBC is configured for launch
fuel bleed open and closed
self alignment is successful
turn off chargers... chargers off
antenna heaters off
first stage on internal
gso enable ignition
on internal power supply
the range is green
in auto sequence mode


45 seconds to launch and each controller gave their "Go" almost on top of each other as they were asked... I wish I'd been able to record the final 10 minutes, it would have made a great techno song. As it was I was huddled over my guitar, seeking inspiration, seeking comfort, as the final seconds counted down.

After the video fuzzed out and the sudden webcast disconnection, and not knowing what happened, while hitting reload again and again on the websites, a few geeks gathered in a chat room. It seemed much like the aftermath of a bad football game, where we all struggled to cope, to laugh off the moment...

There are so many hopes and dreams tied up in Falcon's destiny, my own, and others, to Spacedev's three launches, to the first Bigelow Aerospace launch, and to all the follow on launches, whence space becomes affordable.

The next launch attempt will carry the remains of 186 people, including those of James Doohan. If ever this engineer hoped for some sympathetic magic, some power of voodoo to carry a spacecraft skyward, that would be it.

...sometimes you have to crash a spacecraft or two to learn something. Nice try. You got close. Now get up, and fly again.
 

  spacex launches today

I have a good feeling about this one. I'm even going to watch the webcast.
 
Thursday, March 23, 2006

  Vista delay the last best hope for Linux on the Desktop?

Buying a computer or laptop is an either/or proposition. Either you spend a few extra bucks and get a Mac, or you get a PC built around the increasingly antiquated Windows XP.

I don't understand the appeal of getting a x86 based Mac, which has like, no software on it that runs natively, when for less money I can get a Linux box that has thousands more applications available, and a reasonable mouse. But that's mindshare for ya.

Now Windows Vista is delayed past the 2006 selling season.

Back in my days of fire-y Linux advocacy I'd be screaming that this. is. the. biggest. opportunity. Linux. has. ever. had. to be viable on the desktop, to take over an entire market segment this christmas, and why weren't the manufacturers gearing up to take advantage of this next big thing?

Hasn't the supremacy of Linux's development model been thoroughly proved yet?

But I'm tired, and, gorgous as it is, FC5 doesn't play mp3s by default, or, for that matter, wmvs, or support jack (so it could easily do voip and skype), and I just plain can't force myself to care about Desktop Linux for the Masses today.

I confess to having just booted up an XP box to do my taxes, and had a marvelous time watching wmvs from atom...
 
Wednesday, March 22, 2006

  The nokia 770. Webpads. Handheld musings

Note to Nokia on their 770. Nice try, you got close, please try again.

I built something similar back in 2000, around the now discontinued Hitachi Webpad. Like the Nokia 770 it ran X, and gtk (though it was version 1.2). In 64MB it had enough memory to run mozilla and a few other useful applications, like xmms (which had some cool visualizations). The webpad was a joy to use, though a little cumbersome (alhtough the huge touchscreen was great, a wireless usb keyboard would have been nice). I used it daily, heck, I kept it by my bedside for a couple years, hacking on it, reading web pages in bed, and listening to wifi'd music over my headphones, before I reluctantly had to hand it back to my former employer. It's still used as a demo and for testing within that company.

It was also a usb master, which meant memory sticks and keyboards "just worked". This was an age before the GB usb memstick existed, so it wasn't as useful then as it is now... but the thousands of usb devices for every need cry out for small usb master devices.

Example - webpad on top of my synthesizer keyboard - usb midi interface - Bang! instant music studio!

I'd give a lot to get a few of those old webpads on the cheap, but no matter where I've looked, they don't seem to exist. Too bad. The 770 fits right in this niche, but like Russell Nelson sez, first and formost, the nokia 770 needs to be a USB master, period.

I've been watching the slow rise and death of the Pocket PC world. Pocket PC based devices are like Bill Cosby's children - put them down for a while, they forget what they are doing - and, hopelessly tied to their master device (a PC), they don't stand alone well enough to use for their intended purpose - helping people remember things. My linux handheld is a far better system than Pocket PC ever was for remembering things - or, rather, it would be, if, after 5 years of use, the Lithium battery in it would last longer than 20 minutes. (anyone know how to replace the battery in an Ipaq 3760?)

I have a lot of hope for future versions of the Nokia 770 series, I almost got one for my dad as he's spent a lot of time horizontal lately. It seemed like a perfect device for him to use. Maybe next year... tho I hold little hope for the TI-Omap processor to be a truely useful choice for a small box.

My choice for a processor (last year) would have been an ep9302 or ep9307. And I would have been wrong, the software support and toolchain for the ep92xx still - a year later - is not quite mature enough to support a whole product around. (it's getting there, though - I'm quite excited about the new ts7300 - it has a serious FPGA on it....

Another more focused review of the 770 is
here.
 
David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


Resume,Songs,
My new blog, NeX-6, My facebook page
Orgs I like
The EFF - keeping free speech in the world
Musical stuff I like
Jeff, Rick, Ardour, Jack
Prior Rants - Wireless and Wifi in 2015 - not what I dreamed of Saving wifi! Fixing Bufferbloat! Fighting the vend... Virgin Media - Fixing the epidemic of bufferbloat ... 49... and trying to find my navel Wheels down on mars! Tracking the landing of Curiosity, from Seattle spotting NEOs from around venus's orbit Asteroids as lunar orbit resources SOPA is bad news Departing France for England, then 'home'.
Best of the blog:
Uncle Bill's Helicopter - A speech I gave to ITT Tech - Chicken soup for engineers
Beating the Brand - A pathological exploration of how branding makes it hard to think straight
Inside the Internet Mind - trying to map the weather within the global supercomputer that consists of humans and google
Sex In Politics - If politicians spent more time pounding the flesh rather than pressing it, it would be a better world
Getting resources from space - An alternative to blowing money on mars using NEAs.
On the Columbia - Why I care about space
Authors I like:
Doc Searls
Where's Cherie?
UrbanAgora
Jerry Pournelle
The Cubic Dog
Evan Hunt
The Bay Area is talking
Brizzled
Zimnoiac Emanations
Eric Raymond
Unlocking The Air
Bob Mage
BroadBand & Me
SpaceCraft
Selenian Boondocks
My Pencil
Transterrestial Musings
Bear Waller Hollar
Callahans
Pajamas Media BlogRoll Member

If you really want to, you can poke through the below links as well.

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