02 Feb 2012

NASA's twin Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) lunar spacecraft used a camera aboard one of these spacecraft, called Ebb on January 19th to film the "Far Side" of the moon.  The Transformer Sentinel or the secret Alien Moon base could not be seen however at the altitude the video was taken.  Each spacecraft is identical, the other called Flow.  They are equipped with MoonKam (Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students).  They will be used by students nationwide to select lunar imagery to study. 

In the video clip we see the north pole of the moon as the craft flies towards the south pole.  The spacecraft were launched in September 2011 and fly at an altitude of around 34 miles (55 kilometers).

Far Side vs Dark Side Explained

The terms far side and dark side of the moon are often misunderstood or incorrectly used.  Originally during the Apollo Missions, the term Dark Side was actually used to define the area of the moon on the far side, where NASA would lose contact with the astronauts as their spacecraft circled the moon.  This area of zero radio signals was deemed "the dark side".  The term far side refers to the side that is always facing away from the Earth, due to the fact that the moon is tidally locked with the Earth's rotation.  This means that the Earth and moon both rotate in such a way, that one side always faces the Earth.  A tidally locked astronomical object takes just as long to rotate around its own axis as it does to revolve around its companion.

Another area of confusion is sunlight on the moon.  The moon is already a dark place to begin with, due to the fact sunlight is not reflected very well on the surface, but it is possible to have light on the back side of the moon or on the near side at various times.  For instance, when the Earth has a "New Moon", the moon appears dark and black.  If you were on the surface in that area on the moon, it would not be lit by sunlight.  Likewise the same cycles occur on the far side as well.

Source:  NASA

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01 Feb 2012

There are many rumors floating around regarding Windows Phone 8 code-named "Apollo" due out in the fourth quarter.  Some are speculating that the new mobile OS will abandon the Windows CE kernel (Windows Embedded Compact) in favor of the core NT kernel as with Windows 8.  None of those speculations can be proven thus far.  Interesting speculation, because if it were true, then there could potentially be one App Store for both platforms, similar to Apple, but on to what we do know.   **Update**:  It was recently revealed that there is some truth to these statements, that Windows 8 phone will share some of the same code base and kernel as Windows 8 for desktops.

What is certain is that ultimately Microsoft wants an overall union of software from platform to platform.  This dates back to last July when the president of Microsoft's Windows Division made this proclamation that ultimately there would be a single ecosystem for PC's,phones and tablets.  It was later stated by NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, that he expected Windows 8 to eventually run Windows Phones apps.  The major goal of "Apollo" will be to allow phone manufacturers to create higher-end devices to compete with others like the Samsung Galaxy S3 with more powerful dual-core and higher processors.

Windows Phone 8 will run Windows Phone 7 apps

Many rumor mills out there had it stated that Windows 7 Phone apps would probably be incompatible with Windows Phone "Apollo" 8 apps.  But Brandon Watson a Microsoft representative stated that Microsoft was pretty clear that apps of today would work in Windows Phone 8 during the Mix11 keynote.  The keynote can be found here.  Next, its time to Tango...

31 Jan 2012

Recently, questions have been arising as to whether or not Microsoft is really listening to user feedback regarding Windows 8 development.  If perhaps they have gone the direction of Apple and are just giving consumers what Microsoft thinks consumers want, rather than letting feedback drive the direction.  At least with file management, they seemed to have listened.

One area in particular, is the controversial Windows Explorer Ribbon.  It will now be minimized by default.

There are improvements in cut, copy, paste, rename and delete commands as well as improvements with file collisions and a new look and feel for Windows Explorer.

For instance, if you try to copy a file, it will let you filter out files of the same name, size and time.  Windows will no longer ask you to replace a file if it’s the same on both source and destination.

There are synchronization of key settings and options from one PC to another via Windows Live now possible.

You can also get details on private files quicker.  There is no longer an icon overlay to tell the difference between a private file and regular one.  Now instead, there is a column that tells you if the file is shared, not shared, or private.

Lastly, they have added the ability to pin favorite folders to the Start screen on the Metro interface.  There is also a favorite option for folders.

So at least with file management, there has been some response to feedback.  Frankly, I think Microsoft should have just spent some time, for instance, using the Xplorer2 interface and done the good old Apple technique of "taking something and improving it".  The main point here, is that the Windows Explorer interface is clunky and in need of many enhancements as it already stood.

Time will tell if other areas result in changes as well, particularly the Metro interface as a whole, which has caused quite a stir.  Some argue that the Metro interface really only has its place on consumer tablets, not desktops.  Then there is the question regarding whether the Windows 8 experience should be different on business devices and for that matter, why Microsoft doesn’t use just one SKU for everything, as Apple does.  As we get deeper into the Windows 8 beta, some of these answers will start to become clearer.

Source:  MSDN Blog

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27 Jan 2012

IGN is reporting from sources close to the Microsoft project, that the next version of the Xbox will be derived from AMD 6000 series GPU's, a 2011 released GPU, not a newer AMD 7000 series.  It will be a GPU similar to that of the Radeon HD 6670, with DirectX11, 1080p, multi-display output and 3D.  Mass production of the GPU is supposed to occur in late 2012, followed by the console launch in October or November of 2013.

Such specs give the next Xbox, six times the processing power of the Xbox 360 and performance of around 20 percent greater than the forthcoming Nintendo Wii U.  The Wii U is supposed to have the R770, a chip that should be stronger than that of the 360 and PS3.

Other rumors derived from uncovered Microsoft resumes indicate the new Xbox will have gesture and voice input, possibly a type of integrated Kinect.

Either way, a next generation Xbox has been long over due, this is good news and a hint of what is to come.

Source:  IGN

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27 Jan 2012

Last night on the CNN Florida debate, Newt Gingrich stated: "We want Americans to think boldly about the future," he also outlined a space policy initiative that would cut Nasa's bureaucracy and expand on private space programs.  "By the end of my second term, we will have the first permanent base on the moon," Gingrich also stated.  He mentioned the idea of there being 10,000 colonists and a granting of the 51st state to the colony.  We should note that this statement could conflict with Extraterrestrial real estate agreements that are in the works or that have been established at least military wise.  He goes on to state "We will have commercial near-Earth activities that include science, tourism and manufacturing, because it is in our interest to acquire so much experience in space that we clearly have a capacity that the Chinese and the Russians will never come anywhere close to matching."

Newt's suggestion is not really that shocking considering he has had many other ideas in the past such as a plan to build a space mirror system that would provide light of many moons to illuminate highways on Earth.  This is definitely thinking outside the box, something which seems to be rare these days in America.

27 Jan 2012

 NASA and the Kepler space telescope has found 11 new planetary systems.

This brings the Kepler discovered planet count to 60.  Overall, NASA has confirmed 729 extra-solar planets to date.  Kepler works by monitoring the changes in light emitted from a star to determine if a planet is causing the change.  Kepler is monitoring more than 150,000 stars in the constellations Cygnus and Lyra.  There are 2,300 other planets candidates still to be confirmed with more being added all the time. 

One of these planetary systems is called Kepler-33.  It has a star which is bigger and older than our own sun, with five known planets.  All five planets orbit the star at a distance that is closer than that of Mars to the Sun.  The size of the planets range from 1.5 to five times the Earth's diameter.  It isn't known at this time if they are rocky planets or gas giants.

Source:  Telegraph
Image Source:  NASA

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24 Jan 2012

CES 2012 highlights, Romibo the Therapeutic Robot, SOPA blackouts, Antarctic drilling through ice for a lake, MegaUpload arrests, Invisible Metamaterials and More
*Apologies: During ice drilling bit, i think i said Europa and Saturn, that of course is Europa around Jupiter.

App of the week: Call of Duty Elite, Data Protection Manager 2010

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19 Jan 2012

Romibo is a "do-it-yourself robot for therapy, education and fun" that is being introduced by Aubrey Shick, CEO of Origami Robotics of Pittsburgh, PA, developed at Carnegie Mellon University via the NSF-funded Quality of Life Technology Center (QoLT).

Origami Robotics is a startup company from QoLT that showcased their products at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this year.

Robots such as Romibo have been shown to be highly therapeutic to children and other individuals with social, emotional and developmental disorders.  Robot therapy has been largely unavailable to the public due to the cost involved in the past.  This is where Romibo steps in.  Romibo can inspire kids to build social robots that are "pet-like" in nature and that are also affordable and able to adapt by making programming changes.

Later in this year, Romibo will be available as a kit online.  The kit will contain all the parts needed to create the system, which uses the Arduino open source microcontroller.  It will be able to operate autonomously or with remote control and also feature integration with Android and iPad systems. 

Thanks to its low cost and other innovative features such as viral distribution with online help as well as community workshops, Romibo should help start a new trend in social robot therapy and future innovation.

Read more on Romibo from their official press release here.

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