Monthly Archives: June 2003

Nokia 3650 On The Way

Here I am almost 30 years old and I’ve never had my own cell phone. Mary has had one through AT&T Wireless for around the last four years, but the coverage in town has always been somewhat spotty and I can rarely reach her where she works because the reception is so poor there. As a result we’ve been thinking about changing services/and or both getting new phones for quite a while now.

After hearing a lot of good things about the Nokia 3650 out there in weblog nation (integrated camera, bluetooth, pda capabilities) I was pretty sure that was the way I wanted to go, but unfortunately Amazon only seems to have single user deals. I kept poking around the web though and today discovered that intelenetwireless.com has an offer for two Nokia 3650s for a combine $160 after rebate if you sign up for a year’s worth of the T-Mobile Family Time plan. Yep, that looks about perfect. Time to order.

ZMatrix

ZMatrix

ZMatrix is an animated desktop background which displays streaming characters in a style similar to what was used in the movie ‘The Matrix’.

Looks like it’s a Windows only product, but pretty nifty if you’re looking to jazz up your desktop.

Contacts

I had to put in my contacts for the first time in months today. Of the course the ones I initially put in were pretty crusty with age and lack of regular maintenance so I ended up digging around and finding my supply of pristine unused ones. I have different prescriptions for each of eyes so naturally the two boxes of fresh contacts were in two entirely different locations. Luckily I still had a pretty good idea of where those locations were.

So why did I have to wear my contacts today? The right side of my glasses came unscrewed and the lense fell out. I tried fixing it myself after digging around in my bag and finally finding my collection of very small screwdrivers, but didn’t have much luck. I then compounded the problem by losing the pesky screw on our bathroom floor.

So in the interest of time I went with my contacts and it looks like I’ll be going that route for the next couple days until I can swing by my eye doctor and get the frames repaired. It’s a good thing I played in Hoopfest last June and picked up these contacts as part of my preparations, it made today’s problem much more managable.

Shuttle What-ifs

Documents Detail Shuttle What-ifs

An in-depth NASA study concludes that while the crew of the Columbia might have been able to be saved had the true state of the shuttle been known in time, the shuttle itself was doomed.

Here’s a quote from the article I found especially disappointing:

)The inspection spacewalk itself would have been almost trivial, the NASA team discovered, requiring neither a risky free-flight by an untethered astronaut nor complicated lash-up ladders. The two trained spacewalkers aboard Columbia, Mike Anderson and David Brown, would have been able to do it with their hands.

And speaking of risky space walks, why hasn’t NASA developed any kind of remote controlled camera/mini robot system that astronauts could deploy to inspect the shuttle once they reach orbit? It wouldn’t have to be big, just a video camera (MiniDV size or less), control and transmission circuitry, a small gas tank, and some thrusters to direct where it goes. You could even attach a long light-weight cable to it and just reel it in (carefully) when you’re done. Is there any reason that this couldn’t be developed with cheap, off the shelf technology?

Update: Looks like NASA tested something called the AERcam on STS 87 back in 1997.

The AERCam Sprint free-flyer is a 14-inch diameter, 35-pound sphere that contains two television cameras, an avionics system and 12 small nitrogen gas-powered thrusters. The sphere, which looks like an oversized soccer ball, was released by Mission Specialist Winston Scott during the STS-87 spacewalk and flew freely in the forward cargo bay for about 30 minutes. The free-flyer was remotely controlled by Pilot Steve Lindsey from the Shuttle’s aft flight deck using a hand controller, two laptop computers and a window-mounted antenna.

That’s actually a bit bigger than I was thinking of, but obviously it was just a prototype. In light of the fragile tiles the round shape and padding is a logical improvement on what I was thinking of.

And here’s the official NASA AERCam site: aercam.nasa.gov. It looks like they’re also working on a much more practically sized Mini-AERCam

The nanosatellite-class spherical Mini AERCam free flyer is 7.5 inches in diameter and weighs approximately 10 pounds, yet it incorporates significant additional capabilities compared to the 35 pound, 14 inch AERCam Sprint free flyer that flew as a remotely piloted Shuttle flight experiment in 1997.

That sounds pretty promising. Now can we please make these little guys standard equipment on all future shuttle and space station missions?