Thursday, April 30, 2015

Things I think I think...I think.

I know it's been a little while since I've posted anything - darn that writer's block! Of course, I just write for fun...and it's been busy at work you get what you get. I know I generally write about space-related topics, with an occasional tech tidbit thrown in...and this post will continue the trend, with some other items sprinkled-in. I welcome your input and would love to have a reasoned discussion on any/all of the items below.

Soyuz Progress M-27M Failure
Short response: I hate that the ISS won't receive this shipment of cargo and supplies. I know the astronauts aren't in dire need of supplies, but it's not as if everything that was sent was superfluous. I also hate that we have to rely on the Russians for anything. SpaceX's first successful crewed flight to the ISS can't come soon enough, and I hope OrbitalATK is able to quickly recover from the Antares failure. Couple that with ULA's reliable Atlas V and Boeing's forthcoming CST-100, and I hope we never need a scrap of anything launched from 'Mother Russia' ever again.

Long response: Probably best if I just stick with the short response.

Apple Watch
I briefly covered my preliminary thoughts about the Apple Watch in a prior blog post, but now that it's been released, have a changed my mind? No. Well...probably not. Ok...maybe. Crap. I don't know. I'm generally an early adopter, so that drives me towards wanting one. But the smugness that seems to emanate from Apple (more so than usual) over the thing makes me want to throw up in my mouth. Also, I'm still not quite sure how I'd use it. I might rather save my money for something else...maybe a GoPro. Or a new kayak. Or a replacement DSLR for my aging D50. All I know is that it's not taking a whole bunch of willpower to refrain from ordering an Apple Watch...and that might be telling me all I need to know about it.

NASA's EM Drive
Have you seen the news? NASA has designed an "impossible engine" that will open up the stars to humanity! Or so the stories would have you believe. While I'm not an engineer, I'm highly skeptical that this is what people think it is. I don't know why...but I don't believe it. I *want* to believe it...and I sincerely hope that it IS a game-changing method of propulsion...but something in my gut doesn't feel right. Well, it's either that or the refried beans I had with dinner...but I'm sticking with 'skeptical'. Hopefully we'll hear more about it soon - I'm interested to see what others, beyond a small group of "insiders", think about this.

iPhone 6 Plus
I had been using a Samsung Galaxy S4 as my work phone for a year (or so) and often complained about the unwieldy size of the phone and its cumbersome use one-handed. Once the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were released, I purchased an iPhone 6 to replace my iPhone 5 (which was handed down to my daughter) because I thought the 6 Plus would be too big and suffer from the same issues as the Galaxy S4. Fast forward a couple months and I upgraded my work phone to an iPhone 6 Plus (thanks, Dr. Stringbean!)...and I love it. Absolutely love it. I'll admit to being a bit of an Apple fan, but I'm a tech geek, in general. I wanted to like Android...but I never felt "at home" with it. Now that I'm back on iOS on my work phone, I've found my workflow is much smoother - contacting the technicians at the sites is more seamless...sharing files to other users is foolproof...and it's a more polished experience. Couple that with the exceptional display, which isn't nearly as bulky as it might appear, and the iPhone 6 Plus is a great phone. I wish I'd gotten one sooner.

Blue Origin's Test Flight
I don't know about you, but this seemed to come out of nowhere. I had heard nothing of an upcoming test, nor did I really take much stock of Blue Origin. I made the mistake once before not believing in an internet billionaire, and now I've done it again. I guess I really need to alter my perception of the capabilities of these "new space" companies and how quickly they might be relevant. I'm a huge fan of NASA and of a national space program...but maybe it's not so far-fetched to think that private space entities will soon surpass our national endeavors. I'll have to keep my eye on them...and, perhaps, not immediately dismiss the next Musk or Bezos that comes along. These are exciting times.

Our Lady of Perpetual Beta - a.k.a., 'Google'
We're testing some software that allows us to integrate Google's Cloud Print capability into our district's Active Directory infrastructure. It works far better than I expected save for one thing - a user must accept a shared printer via a full desktop browser before the Cloud Print capability will work on a mobile device. Really? That's not terribly convenient, Google. I know 'Google Cloud Print' is still in beta, but that's a pretty big stumbling block. Please fix it.

OK - that's all for tonight. I'm sure there's a bunch more I could have discussed that would bore you to tears, but I'll leave it at that. If there's something that piqued your interest or raised your ire, please leave a comment - I love a good discussion. Until next time, thanks for reading.