Phoenix Mars Lander Is Either Dying or Just Really Sleepy


Phoenix communicated with NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter Thursday. The communication reinforced a diagnosis that the spacecraft is in a precautionary mode triggered by low energy. Mission engineers are assessing the lander’s condition and steps necessary for returning to science operations.

NASA’S Phoenix Mars Lander, with its solar-electric power shrinking due to shorter daylight hours and a dust storm, did not respond to an orbiter’s attempt to communicate with it Wednesday night and Thursday morning

Flinging Cards At Friends

So when grabbing a postcard from a corner shop or a gas station is just too hard or painful for you, here comes to your rescue!  You can’t get any simpler than this website, folks.  A generic interface asks you to submit a picture, choose a song, and enter your recipients email address, and you’re done.  Off goes your cybercard to your intended vict….er, I mean friend.  You can also choose to add a few words of your own before sending it off, just to add that special flavor 😉


I sent one to my wife…she thought it was hilarious!  Check it out!

100+ Incredible Open Courseware Resources for Science Geeks


Kelly from educated me on a gem of a blog article recently with a long list of links to open courseware resources on science topics.

My favorite from the list? It’s gotta be Satellite Engineering which is about the problems, solutions and the basics of subsystem design in engineering spacecraft. It’s by MIT and has topics like “Design of an Artificial Gravity Mars Mission“. How cool is that?

Great work pulling that list together, I’m saving this to my favorites.

Its Ninjas Vs. Freakin’ Zombies! Who Wouldn’t Watch This Film?!


Ninjas vs. Zombies is a film debuting in Tally Ho Cinema in Leesburg, Virginia on Halloween night. If you live in the area, get your butt to the web site and reserve a ticket.

Its ninjas versus freakin’ zombies! Who wouldn’t watch this film?!

This movie has been called:

An episode of ‘Friends’ meets ‘Spider Man’, with a side of Jackie Chan.  Oh – and then bloodthirsty zombies show up and start eating everybody. It draws inspiration from movies ranging from “Chasing Amy” to “Scream”, “Harry Potter” to “Dawn of The Dead”, and a good dose of “Highlander” and “Serenity”


Seven friends, struggling with late 20s, early 30s life, find themselves in terrifying danger when a long-dead loved one is magically resurrected and starts devouring souls.  To make matters worse, three of them have been granted the power of the ninja, and now must lead the fight against a power they cannot hope to vanquish.  If they fail, the undead will overrun their little town, and maybe the world.

What follows is a whirlwind of magic, swordplay, hand to hand combat, gunfire and simmering sarcasm. From high flying flips to a full-on melee, from a claustrophobic last stand to a Star-Wars worthy katana battle, NINJAS VS ZOMBIES is a chilling, laugh out loud, edge of your seat adventure.


[via Zombie Pinups]

City of Ember: How Not to Build an Underground City to Survive the Apocalypse

City of Ember

Bill Murray & Tim Robbins’ new movie, City of Ember, was released about 3 weeks ago. Based on the lukewarm reception it’s had, i take it you missed it?

Sci Fi channel’s editorial column Lab Notes has a breakdown on one facet of the new movie. What the author looks at is how *not* to build a city underground if your goal is to survive Armageddon…in a giant cavern.

See the trailer at the bottom of this post, if you like that then perhaps you’re better off reading the book The City of Ember (Books of Ember) (amazon).

Here’s a summary:

Ember is a city built to last 200 years. The Builders of this city left instructions to the mayors in a box that would open by itself, unfortunately, one of the mayors was corrupt, and tossed the box into a closet, to be forgotten about for centuries. The year is 241. Lina Mayfleet, and Doon Harrow are two children in Ember that find themselves on a mission to save their dying city. For the citys lights are beginning to flicker, and the food supplies are running out.

Doon lands a job in the Pipeworks, to see if he can fix the generator. Lina’s job is simple, she is a messenger, but she soon finds herself in over her head when she discovers the instructions left by the builders so long ago. Her and Doon find themselves on an adventure when they discover the way out of Ember, but corrupt officials, and a treacherous mayor stand against their wishes of saving the city. With courage and heart they brave the darkness, all to help their citizens escape the dying city, and lead them to another world.


5 Reasons Why Luke Skywalker Is A Complete Idiot


Only George Lucas can really tell us why Luke is so danged stupid.

#3 His Insanely Stupid Plan To Rescue Han Solo from Jabba The Hutt:

You: “Okay, if you can just use your Force powers to get in to the palace and all the way to Jabba, then let’s just have you go in right now and get Han out.”

Luke: “No, that’s stupid. I’m going to get myself captured. Because then you see, we’ll be taken to the sarlacc pit and then, when we’re on the skiff, I’ll get sent out first and then R2-D2 will manage to get to the top of Jabba’s sail barge and shoot out my lightsaber, and then with Lando’s help, we’ll just—rescue everyone and then everything will be fine!”

You: “That is the stupidest plan I’ve ever heard of.”

Luke:“I’ve thought of everything.”

India’s Moon Shot On The Way


There goes the neighborhood.

Chandrayaan-1, India’s first spacecraft to Moon, was successfully launched yesterday (October 22, 2008) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR. 

All systems onboard the spacecraft are functioning normally. Further orbit raising maneuvers are planned in the coming few days.

The objective for the craft if to be placed in orbit around the moon and conduct mineralogical and chemical mappings.

Bill Gates’ Mysterious New Company


The graphic above is the logo for Bill Gates’ new company: bgC3. Yes, that’s right, several months after departing Microsoft, BillG is heading up a new company and it’s not too forthcoming with details, though Techflash has talked to an insider to get a sneak peek. I wonder if he’s going to invest in some kind of open source idea or possibly find himself heading up another big money machine.

As you can tell from the bgC3 homepage, there’s not too much to be gleaned about this business.

Possessed Hoarders


I found this short video documentary on compulsive hoarders (wikipedia), people whose lives are dominated by their relationship to possessions. The video is fascinating in a clinical sense, but could be scary or possibly revolting if you’re lacking in empathy for these folks because clearly there’s a psychological issue going on here.

The video is called ‘Possessed’, is about 20 minutes long and you meet 4 very different hoarders. If you enjoy watching medical mysteries or science shows, then I highly recommend watching it.

Plate Armor For Programs, Part 2


A while back, I was given an Ironkey 2gb flash drive to review for GeekNews.  I’ve had plenty of time now to put it through some testing, and now I’m going to lay my experiences out on the line for you.


The unit comes in a slick, stainless-steel, waterproof case that feels sturdy and with quite a heft to it compared to other flash drives I’ve used. The case is injected with an epoxy that covers the circuitry and keeps it dry and shock-resistant. Just looking at the drive itself, you can tell it’s secure, and that any tampering would cause the destruction of the drive. Having only a single seam along the back of the unit is a testament to its apparent strength and protection.

So setting up the Ironkey drive for the first time, it asked me to set up a login and password and configure the secure Web browser, taking just a few minutes. The Ironkey has an internal password generator that can create passwords for you that include normal, alphanumeric, or strong variants, depending on your desire for secure access to the unit.

Setting up your account online was the next step. After filling out the necessary information, and answering a few questions to setup the Ironkey services, I had access to an online password backup, device and software updates and use of Ironkey’s encrypted surfing service, through Firefox. Now I was ready to use the Ironkey!


So now I can plug in the drive in any computer with a USB 2.0 port, and a menu will appear on the bottom right hand portion of the screen, asking for your validation password. Once past that, you have several options available to you. Backup your files with encryption, a password manager, access to your account online, and changing settings. I knew from reading the documentation, that Firefox was included in the drive as a mobile app, so I decided to check that out first. And, true to word, Firefox settings were completely self contained, including cookies, passwords, and any temporary content generated via web surfing to several of my favorite haunts on the web. Plus, I had thought using the secure proxy via Ironkey’s encrypted web service would have slowed any surfing down, but I was pleased to be wrong. It was also handy to port over all my IE bookmarks, that serves as a secure backup just in case!


I spent some time copying files to and from the drive, and was pretty pleased with the transfer rate of 12mb (read) 10mb (write) even though the documentation proposes rates of 30mb (read) 20mb (write).  Taking about 5 minutes to fill up the available 1.6gb of available space, this drive isn’t the fastest I’ve used, but I believe the speed vs. security far outweighs any inconvenience.

Well, I work at home, so security isn’t generally an issue. However, it is nice to be able to lock the drive via the Ironkey menu at anytime, and still leave the drive in the USB port while going off to take care of other things. It’s a nice touch, and relieves me from having to remove the drive and pocket it every time I have to leave my desk. It is a semi-pain to have to type in your passkey again when you want to continue using it, especially if you’re using a 15 digit secure passkey complete with control characters, like me (Did I mention that if you enter your password ten times wrong, the drive circuitry self destructs?). But, such is the life of keeping your data secure.

So let’s say tragedy hits, and you’ve either lost or destroyed your drive. Ironkey offers a secure online backup service that allows you to restore any backed up data onto another Ironkey drive with little difficulty, and you’re on your way back to business once again. How cool is that?

In all, a very handy and secure flash drive in my opinion. Its satin debonair finish and heft definitely give it a class that I find lacking in most similar units. Definitely this would be recommended to those with a wish to keep their data secure in a fast and easy to use package.


Thanks again to Katie Mason, at Ironkey for the opportunity to review this device!