GeekSpeak for 2012-10-13

We don't need no stinking rocket engine!

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Falcon9 looses engine and still makes it to orbit, the government is listening in on your phone calls, and can keep doing so, Verizon sells your data, Amazon lists the flaws in it’s Kindle, DNA half-life = no Jurassic Park, more Geek News and calls from listeners.

SpaceX Falcon 9 lost an engine on the way up; Dragon on its way to ISS

Last night (Sunday October 7), SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket with a Dragon capsule full of supplies on a mission to the International Space Station. The Dragon was deployed successfully (as were its solar panels to give it power) and it’s on its way to ISS.
However, not everything went as planned. One of the nine Merlin engines powering the Falcon 9 had a failure 90 seconds into the flight. It’s not clear what happened just yet, but there is pretty dramatic footage of the engine failure; in the slow motion video below you can see some sort of flash and puff of flame at the 30 second mark

Space shuttle Endeavour leaves LAX, now on L.A. streets

The space shuttle Endeavour has left the grounds of the Los Angeles International Airport and is now on city streets, heading east toward Inglewood.

The massive spacecraft, rolling at under 2 mph, left the airport at 2 a.m. exactly. “Right on time, it just cleared the gates,” said airport spokeswoman Nancy Castles.

The weathered shuttle — its blemishes easy to see — took up two of the four lanes of the road as it rolled down Northside Parkway, and a handful of vehicles led the procession, including a truck that had a U.S. flag fluttering behind it.

GeekBit: ISS^3

CubeSats are small satellites about 10 cm (4 inches) on a side and having a mass up to a little over a kilo. Even though they’re teeny, they can be packed with a lot of equipment. Typical mission payloads are pretty diverse, from testing hardware for communications and satellite attitude control, to taking images (and other observations) of Earth, monitoring the satellite’s radiation environment, and even detecting dust in space. Because they’re small and relatively cheap (well under $100,000 including launch), space missions using CubeSats can be done by smaller institutions, including schools.
The picture above is from the deployment of three CubeSats on October 4 – the 55th anniversary of the Sputnik launch, humanity’s first artificial satellite. Two other CubeSats were sent out in a separate deployment as well.

Amazon's Jeff Bezos admits Kindles are sold at cost

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos doesn’t like to reveal much about the Kindle hardware business. When he was asked in an interview with All Things D whether Amazon made money on the new Kindle hardware, ranging from $69 to $499, introduced September 6, he responded, “We don’t disclose the exact bill and materials, so I can’t answer that. But we don’t want to lose a lot of money on the device because then we’d really hate it if you put it in the desk drawer. On the other hand, if you make a lot of money on the device, I believe you haven’t earned your money on it yet, and then you’ve incentivized them [the customers] to stay on the upgrade treadmill that I mentioned today.”
Speaking to the BBC on Wednesday, Bezos came clean on the Kindle hardware question, disclosing that the Kindle Fire HD and Paperwhite sales don’t render any direct profit to Amazon. “Basically, we sell the hardware at our cost, so it’s break-even on hardware,” he said. For contrast, Apple reportedly makes around a 40 percent margin on its WiFi-based iPad, which is priced higher than a similarly configured and less feature-rich Amazon Kindle.

Amazon to users: Hey, the Kindle Paperwhite isn't perfect

Amazon preemptively discloses some potential shortcomings in its latest Kindle e-reader compared with previous models, most likely to get out in front of user complaints.

DNA has a 521-year half-life

“Few researchers have given credence to claims that samples of dinosaur DNA have survived to the present day, but no one knew just how long it would take for genetic material to fall apart. Now, a study of fossils found in New Zealand is laying the matter to rest — and putting an end to hopes of cloning a Tyrannosaurus rex.”

US Supreme Court Lets Wiretapping Immunity Stand

“The US Supreme Court let stand Tuesday an immunity law on wiretapping viewed by government as a useful anti-terror tool but criticized by rights activists as a flagrant abuse of executive power.”

Reading someone's Gmail doesn't violate federal statute, court finds

“In a case decided on Wednesday, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that accessing someone’s online e-mail without their permission doesn’t violate the 1986-era Stored Communications Act (SCA). Though they differed in their reasoning, the justices were unanimous in ruling that e-mail stored in the cloud (like Gmail or Yahoo Mail) does not meet the definition of electronic storage as written in the statute.”

Verizon - will share your data, unless you act...

If you’re the brand new owner of a Verizon iPhone, you’ve got 30 days to opt-out of sharing information including anonymized location data as well as demographics like age, gender, sports teams, dining habits and more. The opt-out was pointed out by Bryan Clark on App.net and shared by Benjamin Brooks.

JavaScript, The Good Parts - Great Book!

Amazingly good book for programers to understand JavaScript.

Makers Factory in Santa Cruz - has classes for kids

Lyle recommends Chris Yonge’s classes at Makers Factory for people to get into computers.


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