The $200 million robot, Dextre, developed by the Canadian Space Agency has experiencing a problem with one of it's shoulder joints since being moved in preparation for a Thursday night spacewalk. The shoulder is apparently returning an "unknown position" message, prompting engineers to consider a software patch. This setback comes after a faulty cable threatened the robot earlier in the mission. Dextre is designed to perform regular maintenance tasks outside the International Space Station, things like replacing batteries and wires. The aim is to reduce the number of dangerous space walks that astronauts must now perform. CTV has more here.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
The lead spacewalk planner for the Johnson Space Center, Zebulon C. Scoville called an Orbital Putty test during the most recent space walk “a huge success,” saying “We’re just thrilled with the way it turned out.” The putty was dispensed using a “goo gun” formally known as a tile repair ablator dispenser. The substance has been under development in an effort to give shuttle crews a means of repairing damaged heat resistant tiles before re-entry. The test results will have to be examined further on earth once the crew returns, but the tile repair kit seems to have preformed as well as it did during trials back on earth. The NY Times points out that the Columbia crew would not have been saved by such advances as the hole that proved to be the cause of the tragic re-entry disaster was too large to be fixed in such a fashion. NASA has however, been working hard to limit the amount of foam and ice that contacts the delicate shuttle tiles and the combination of that work and the new repair kit could save future flights. This is a great step, and I love that name... Zebulon! It's fitting that he works for NASA.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Nintendo has been given a 0.3 out of 10 by Greenpeace in its March Guide to Greener Electronics. Remarkably this is an increase over the December ranking in which Nintendo scored a 0.0! Other electronics companies fared better with Microsoft coming in at 4.7, Sony at 7.3, and Samsung and Toshiba tied for the top spot at 7.7! Perhaps Mario and Luigi should be paying more careful attention to what is being flushed down those pipes! Wired blog post here.
Wired's How-to Wiki brings us another practical how-to. With web mail sites such as gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo Mail, comes the inherent risk that you may not have Internet connectivity and thus have no access to your mail messages. Wired hooks us up with some easy to follow instructions on making local backups for these popular web mail services. While you may not be able to send or receive new messages offline, at least you'll be able to access the ones already sent and received!
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
How much extra would you pay for an iPod or an iPhone if it came with unlimited access to music for the life of the device? This is reported to be the nature of talks between Apple and the big music labels, according to the Financial Times. FT.com is reporting that "One executive said the research had shown that consumers would pay a premium of up to $100 for unlimited access to music for the lifetime of the device, or a monthly fee of $7-$8 for a subscription model." It is rumored that Apple is offering something in the neighborhood of $20 per device. The record labels are struggling to remain relevant as bands are opting to go it alone as their agreements run out. The price that they settle on, if a deal is to be made, should be an indicator of just how bad things really are.
The BBC is reporting that science fiction great, Sir Arthur C. Clarke, has passed away at his home in Sri Lanka at the age of 90. Clarke's short story The Sentinel was the inspiration for the film 2001: A Space Odyssey by director Stanley Kubrick and bringing fame to the author.
"Sir Arthur has left written instructions that his funeral be strictly secular," his secretary, Nalaka Gunawardene, was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.
"Absolutely no religious rites of any kind, relating to any religious faith, should be associated with my funeral,"
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Funded by DARPA and constructed by Boston Dynamics, BigDog is a 4 legged robot developed to carry heavy loads over rough terrains. I can't help but be reminded of a deer when I see BigDog move, it's definitely not as graceful but the movement is very similar. Check out this amazing video...
Credit for this find goes to Gizmodo.
Credit for this find goes to Gizmodo.
Microsoft subsidiary, Massive Inc., will announce today the signing of a multi year deal with Electronics Arts Inc. to sell rotating ad space in EA's online games. According to the Globe and Mail, "Massive's technology allows marketers to stream current and constantly updated ads directly into video games played online, either on the Xbox 360 console or a PC." The game company builds blank spaces within it's product for Massive to populate with rotating streaming ads via the Internet. The market for in-game console advertising was estimated to be worth about $12-million (U.S.) in North America in 2007, but that number is expected to balloon to nearly $650-million by 2010. “You're going to see a huge growth rate in console advertising because it's growing from nothing,” said market analyst Billy Pidgeon. “It's more nascent, but it will be important.” What surprises me is that this market is not larger than $12-million already! With the popularity of gaming on the rise and the prevalence of connected consoles, I would have thought that more money was changing hands here already...
Monday, March 17, 2008
The Globe and Mail has an interesting article about the raise of online video advertising and the unique experiences being offered to online video consumers as opposed to television viewers. According to research firm eMarketer, projections say that spending on online video advertising will be tripling to $4.3 billion in 2011. This represents a big increase but still falls well short of television advertising. “It's emotive, rich. It grabs your heart,” said Suranga Chandratillake, founder of Blinkx PLC. “It combines all that is great about TV advertising with all that is great with online advertising” Google and Microsoft are both working hard to find ways to serve up ads in online video while not sending viewers running from what they hate about television. It's getting interesting and the simple fact that the Internet has interactivity on it's side will no doubt push creativity to new levels.
US sales of video game hardware and software are up 34 per cent over the same period last year hitting $1.33-billion in February. “With several marquee titles still to come in the front half of the year, the industry is poised to achieve another year of record-breaking sales despite difficult economic conditions,” NPD analyst Anita Frazier said in a statement. The Wii out paced both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, with February marking the second straight month that Sony beat Microsoft in console sales. Microsoft exec's are saying their stronger than expected holiday season has caused inventory shortages and that's affecting current numbers. “Our manufacturing team guesses five months out. They made their forecast and didn't have as high a forecast as they should have,” said Microsoft spokesman David Dennis. Globe and Mail story here.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
The second of five space walks to assemble a new robotic appendage to the International Space Station (ISS) was carried out Saturday and lasted 7 hours. The new robot, named Dextre (short for dexterous) spent two days protected with a thermal blanket because it was unable to draw power from the ISS because of a faulty wire on it's staging platform. The move was required because it was feared that the -128.88 degrees Celcius temperatures of space would cause Dextre's joints and other components to freeze and stop working. Check out this animation from the Canadian Space Agency and you'll understand where Dextre gets his name, you also get an appreciation for the size of ISS!