GeekSpeak for 2008-10-18

Apple's New Notebooks and ....

Apple’s new laptops are awesome! They’re also horrible. Contradiction? You decide.

Hubble Service Mission Delayed

On sept 27th the Side A Science Data Formatter in the SIC&DH failed.

Advanced Camera for Surveys hit a snag when being brought out of safe mode when the low voltage power supply to the ACS Solar Blind Channel was commanded on, software running in a microprocessor in ACS detected an incorrect voltage level in the Solar Blind Channel and ACS entered safe mode.

The original failure caused NASA to cancel a scheduled shuttle launch to service the telescope. The 15 year old Hubble was designed to be upgraded and serviced to extend its lifespan and take advantage of technological advances. This service mission, the 4th such since Hubble was launched in 1993, was designed to replace all six gyroscopes, install new batteries, and exchange a degraded Fine Guidance Sensor with a new one.

Astronauts would have also installed two new instruments, the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) and the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS). WFC3, which sees in visible, infrared and ultraviolet light, will improve Hubble’s sensitivity 10-30 times.

Hubble’s out-of-commission instruments, the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) and the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). STIS stopped working in 2004 and ACS failed in 2007.

The agency is also considering flying back up components for the recently failed ones which could be installed during the servicing mission.

Cern: Electrical fault caused LHC helium leak - ZDNet.co.uk

24 dipole magnets and 5 quadrupole magnets were damaged when one of 10,000 soldered connections failed on the LHC. They also lost six tons of helium and had to suspend operations for the rest of the LHC’s programed schedule for this year. CERN says they are on schedule for resuming operations during their planned time in the spring.

Quantum Cryptography Pointless

According to computer security guru Bruce Schneier, quantum cryptography over fiber links misses the point. While a fascinating tech, it is not solving the most pressing security problems.

Machine takes on man at mass Turing Test - Times Online

Rollo Carpenter, 43, [is] a computer scientist from Devon, whose program Jabberwacky has spent years developing a conversational style via millions of web chats. Some of its conversational partners confide in it every day; one conversation, with a teenaged girl, lasted 11 hours.

Software prevents phone calls while driving

Aegis Mobility, a Canadian software company, announced Monday that it has developed software called DriveAssistT that will detect whether a cell phone is moving at car speeds. When that happens, the software will alert the cellular network, telling it to hold calls and text messages until the drive is over.

Banjo used in brain surgery

A musician who underwent brain surgery to treat a hand tremor played his banjo throughout to test the success of the procedure.

A surgeon filmed the operation at the Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

Space 'smells like fried steak' - Telegraph

Nasa has commissioned Steven Pearce, a chemist and managing director of fragrance manufacturing company Omega Ingredients, to recreate the smell of space in a laboratory.

His research will be used to help astronauts prepare for the conditions they will encounter in space.

Only 4.13% of Web Sites are Valid

Apparently, a lot of developers don’t know about or don’t care about the W3C’s validation pages.


!Apple Introduces New Laptops
They have blurred the line between the [MB|MacBook]and the [MBP|MacBook Pro]

Positives
[MBP|MacBook Pro]: Two video cards – log out to switch them

Negatives
[MBP|MacBook Pro] now uses Mini DisplayPort instead of DVI

Not a fatal mistake for Apple – they’ll get their way once my computer breaks down, but I’m clutching onto this model for dear life for as long as I can.