Astronauts Run For Escape Pods On I.S.S. | Out Of This World Weekly

A discarded Russian satellite was headed for the International Space Station yesterday, threatening to destroy the station and kill the astronauts. 3 Russians, 2 Americans, and a Dutch astronaut were forced to take shelter in two Soyuz escape craft. NASA said that it could not determine the size of the object approaching the station, although even small objects can cause large damage when traveling at very large speeds. They do know that it was debris from Kosmos 2251 which had already hit an Iridium Communications satellite in 2009 at a combined speed of 42,000 MPH, destroying it and causing about 2,000 more pieces of space junk to be created. As space collisions become more frequent, yet more debris will be created and this will make low Earth orbit an increasingly dangerous place.

While there are some plans to de-orbit dead satellites, nobody seems to be jumping forward with enough funding to implement these ideas. It is unfortunately simpler to just try to forget about a dead satellite than to try to send someone or something into space to try to retrieve or safely destroy it. It has been warned that space travel could be completely unviable due to the massive amount of space junk traveling at extremely high velocities. While current attempts at refueling satellites may make them operational for longer periods of time and makes less launches into space necessary, it seems that low Earth orbit is going to be an increasingly dangerous place to work and live for astronauts aboard the I.S.S. Let’s hope that it doesn’t take a major disaster like the destruction of the I.S.S. or loss of life before methods are put in place to reduce the amount of dangerous space junk in orbit.

WISE Mission Completes Infra-Red Sky Survey | Out Of This World Weekly

The picture you see above is the result of 14 years of hard work on the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission. This mission to map the entire sky was successfully completed with 2.7 million images of 4 wavelengths in the infra-red spectrum, totaling 15 terabytes of data. The data isn’t just a pretty picture, it catalogs 560 million individual objects including asteroids, stars, and galaxies. Many of these objects have never been discovered by any other means, such as type Y stars that are so small and cool that they don’t shine in visible light. With the completion of this mission, we now have yet another set of data that the scientific community can use to understand the mysteries of the universe.

Robot Pole Dancers

It’s Friday! Let’s get this weekend kicked off in style. Without further ado, here’s a video of pole dancing robots:

British robot creator Giles Walker debuted his racy robots at the CeBIT 2012 computer expo. Built from old car parts and controlled by WiFi, these amorous automatons are available for partiers with about 30,000 euros to spare.

Encyclopedia Britannica Cancels Book Production

After 244 years of production, the voluminous tomes of knowledge known as Encyclopedia Britannica will no longer be produced. The editors of the legendary encyclopedia set posted the following on Britannica Blog:

encyclopedia britannica“Today we’ve announced that we will discontinue the 32-volume printed edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica when our current inventory is gone.

A momentous event? In some ways, yes; the set is, after all, nearly a quarter of a millennium old. But in a larger sense this is just another historical data point in the evolution of human knowledge.

For one thing, the encyclopedia will live on—in bigger, more numerous, and more vibrant digital forms. And just as important, we the publishers are poised, in the digital era, to serve knowledge and learning in new ways that go way beyond reference works. In fact, we already do.”

The post concludes with a plug to check out Britannica Online. The premium website normally requires a $70 subscription, but is free for the next week.

At least I never had to see an ad with the old book format…

Star Wars: The Old Republic gets 4 Days 4 Free

Star-Wars-The-Old-RepublicBeen itching to try out EA Bioware’s MMO set a very long time ago in a galaxy far away? Players everywhere get their chance this weekend.

Star Wars: The Old Republic will open its Stargates to the great, unwashed masses for “The Weekend Pass Free Trial”. Catchy name…

“The Weekend Pass Free Trial opens Thursday, March 15th, 12:01AM CT / 5:01AM GMT and ends on Monday, March 19th at 2:00AM CT / 7:00AM GMT. To learn more, visit www.StarWarsTheOldRepublic.com/weekendpass and come back on March 15th to create your account, download the game, and begin your free trial! Have questions? Visit the Weekend Pass FAQ.”

Grab your lightsaber and set phasers to download! And download… and download….

Seriously, the game client is nearly 20GB and demand will, most likely, be high. Bring a book Winking smile

Video: U.S. Navy Test Fires Railgun Prototype

How did you spend February? Chomping on chocolate? Guzzling booze? Shoveling snow? Well, the United States Navy was playing with their latest toy, an electromagnetic railgun.

Long a staple of science fiction, a railgun uses magnets to accelerate its projectile down the barrel of the weapon as opposed to conventional weapons which use combustion (explosions!) to get the bullet moving. This latest prototype comes to America’s armed forces courtesy of BAE Systems, a British defense contractor.

You may have noticed the fire shooting out of the barrel. This is caused by a combination of about a million amps of energy (!), the hypersonic speed of the round, and the aluminum in the bullet reacting with the atmosphere. The odd, hardly aerodynamic shape of the round used is to limit the range of the projectile during testing.

Two Cents Worth on the 2012 iPad

new-ipadYeah, yeah. I tried to skip out on doing this. Ya caught me. I wanted to take advantage of some extra time to really think about how I use a tablet and exactly what the new features of Apple’s latest tablet would add to the experience. Let’s take a look at what Apple is offering up on this year’s iteration of the flagship of the tablet market: The iPad.

So what’s new?

Robot Gas Attendants In Space? | Out Of This World Weekly

The I.S.S. was the setting for a refueling test conducted by a robot this week. The Robotic Refueling Mission, or RRM is a testbed to learn how to correctly repair and refuel satellites in orbit. Satellites have a useful life that is usually determined by the amount of fuel that is carried on board. This fuel is used to keep the satellite in a proper orbit, as there is trace atmosphere in low Earth orbits that eventually drags satellites back to Earth. It is like having an incredibly expensive car with a big, full gas tank that you can never refuel. Making it even more difficult to refuel, most satellites are not set up to be refueled and thus have a triple sealed gas tank that is covered over with protective blankets. While refueling satellites may be difficult, we definitely have the tools to make it possible.

Microsoft Says OnLive’s Windows 7 App for iPad Violates Licensing

OnLive-Desktop-Word_thumbOn January 10, cloud virtualization service OnLive proved they were more than fun and games with the launch of OnLive Desktop, an free, five megabyte app that delivered Windows 7 and Microsoft Office to your iPad. Our launch review found it to be an impressive technical trick, if lacking in any real usefulness.

Microsoft seems even less impressed. Joe Matz, Corporate VP of Worldwide Licensing and Pricing (how’s that for a job title that just screams “I am a tool”?) posted a nit-picky dissection of Microsoft's various licensing policies and states:

“Our licensing terms provide clarity and consistency for our partners, ensure a quality experience for end customers using Windows across a variety of devices, and protect our intellectual property. It’s important to us and to our partners that we’re serious about issues of compliance.”

Matz goes on to blame the media for shedding light on this possible usage violation and states that they are “actively engaged with OnLive with the hope of bringing them into a properly licensed scenario”. The whole post reads more like damage control than any actual statement. I’d wager that some vendor working on a similar product complained to Microsoft.

While virtualization is not a new wrinkle in the classic ‘one user, one license’ software usage scheme, virtualization on the scale of the OnLive Desktop certainly is. Obviously new rules will need to be created to ensure the proper use of programs in this new technology (leading to three more pages in that EULA you never read). It is a shame that this software giant elected to sight the elaborate ‘if-then-else’ terms of currently existing policies as opposed to simply fixing what will, no doubt, continue to be a sticky wicket in the future, especially two months after said product was released.

OnLive Desktop was also released for Android systems last week on the Android Market Google Play.

Minecraft Creator Notch Brings Home a BAFTA

notch-portraitBAFTA, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, has awarded Minecraft creator Markus ‘Notch’ Persson a BAFTA Special Award this year for his work on the wildly successful indie game Minecraft. Programmed single-handedly by Notch  (at least until very late in development) and sold before it was completed in an Alpha test state, Minecraft has gone on to become an gaming phenomenon and created an entirely new business model. Minecraft has gone on to sell over five million copies to date and Notch’s newly minted company, Mojang, is now a publisher in its own right.

BAFTA Special Awards honor “those who has made a significant contribution to their sector and may not otherwise have received the recognition they deserve.” Previous winners include Ridley Scott, Kodak, BBC, The Jim Henson Company, and Rockstar Games.

Original Star Trek Series Continues Its 5-Year Mission Thanks to Fans in Star Trek Phase 2

star trek phase 2Despite what it feels like today, Star Trek (now frequently referred to as Star Trek: The Original Series (or TOS)) was a failed television series. This great juggernaut of sci-fi fandom abruptly met its demise only three short years into its planned five-year mission.back in 1969. Enter donation powered, fan production Star Trek New Voyages Phase II. Their ongoing mission is to bring the promised, yet never delivered, seasons four and five of TOS to viewers everywhere.

Think Phase II isn’t up to the task? You obviously don’t know Star Trek fanboys!

Giant Freakin Robot is reporting that Phase II is now planning to film the unaired script from TOS’ canceled fourth season “He Walked Amonus Us”. The lost episode script was recently uncovered by Norman Spinrad, writer of the legendary “Doomsday Machine” episode and made available for purchase on Amazon.

Slingshot around the sun and join the new old adventures of the crew of the NCC-1701 “No bloody A, B, C, or D” at StarTrekNewVoyages.com. Six episodes have already been completed with two more “Coming Soon”.

Hackers In Space? | Out Of This World Weekly

NASA released information about hackers attempting to gain access to all sorts of classified information and control systems. Apparently NASA was the target of 47 hacker attacks in 2011, of which 13 were successful. Some of these hackers gained “full system access” which includes the ability to edit or delete any files contained on secured computers. They also had the ability to add, edit, view, or delete any or all user accounts. Malware isn’t just a common problem at home, as the agency reported over 5,400 malware infections this year alone. So what is the actual cost? According to the report, all these various attacks “"have affected thousands of NASA computers, caused significant disruption to mission operations, and resulted in the theft of export-controlled and otherwise sensitive data, with an estimated cost to NASA of more than $7 million".

While some of the IP addresses were tracked to China, these hackers could have come from anywhere on the planet. Some previous investigations found hackers from such countries as: China, Great Britain, Italy, Nigeria, Portugal, Romania, Turkey and Estonia. Not only are intrusions coming from foreign countries but sensitive data is being taken when NASA employees have their laptops stolen. 48 laptops have been lost or stolen within the last two years, including some with command and control operations for the International Space Station. Apparently the reason these laptops are not secure is that encryption takes too long. As of right now, there is no technological security monitoring at NASA and it shows. Unfortunately, this means that yet more money will have to be spent on security when we are in a time where funding for actual space projects is rapidly diminishing.

Chevy Volt Production Stalls

chevy voltGeneral Motors announced that they will be suspending production of the controversial Volt from March 19 until April 23. GM spokesperson Chris Lee states that the company is going through a “temporary shutdown” of the assembly line in order “align production with demand”. GM sold 7,671 Volts last year, falling short of its 10,000 cars goal. Soon after, the company stopped publicly announcing sales targets last year. It sold 1,023 Volts in February and 603 in January.

In an congressional hearing on January 25th, company CEO Dan Akerson commented “We did not design the Volt to become a political punching bag, and that's what it's become."

So, what went wrong with GM’s Chevy Volt? It it a political scapegoat? Is the US not ready for plug-in cars? Is it the fact that the Volt is an ugly $45,000 sedan that burst into flames during crash testing? Hmm…

Source: Associated Press

Flight Simulator Fans Rejoice! Microsoft Flight is Now Available for Free!

Flight sim fans have has a lot to be down about since Microsoft closed their ACES Game Studio and shut down the longest running software franchise after 25 years. This week, The House of Gates throws us a bone in the form of Microsoft Flight. The best part? It won’t cost you a dime!

Microsoft Flight Screenshot

No joystick? No worries. Flight works just fine with your mouse as pictured above.

Minimum hardware specs are a dual core CPU @ 2Ghz, 2GB RAM, 256MB graphics card with shader model 3, 10GB hard disk space, and Windows XP SP3 or newer.

Point your favorite web browser at www.microsoft.com/games/flight/ to download and play for free.

Hello Kitty Merch to Die For

Well, this one takes the cake. We’ve featured a lot of strange Hello Kitty merchandise. H. Kit and friends seem to dominate every item possibly imaginable from toasters to cell phone cases. Perhaps it’s time to put a nail in that coffin. What would the ultimate collector of Hello Kitty need to complete crown their collection? What could possibly satisfy the cravings of the Kitty superfan once and for all.

Hello Kitty coffin and tombstone!

hello-kitty-coffin-design

hello-kitty-tombstone
Source: Hello Kitty Hell

Behind the Blog: March 1, 2012

Behind Blog button 2Hi ya! Wow, I sure have been doing these for a while. It’s always kinda hard to come up with the little intro speil. What to say, where to go, what looks good above the page break, stuff like that. It doesn’t really help that I’m going through a bit of a dry spell at the moment. Maybe I’ll just roll the pitch for this article. In times of trouble, go with what you know.

Come with me now and take a look back at all the great stuff we’ve posted here on Growing Up Otaku (GUO if you didn’t know), why we posted it, and how it did throughout the month of February. GUO: So transparent people barely see us.

I hate writing “February”. Something about it just feels wrong.