Hubble Saved! Geeks Dance for Joy, In an Awkward, Wooden Manner

Call me a big goofy geek, but I actually teared up when I heard the news today that NASA has decided to schedule a Hubble repair mission for Discovery, reversing an earlier decision. The mission will likely happen in 2008 and should keep Hubble viable until 2013.

The mission is not a trivial one. It could involve up to five space walks and considerable risk to astronauts. What was so touching to me, besides the reversal of the previous NASA admin’s decision in general, was the petition that was signed by dozens of astronauts saying they were willing to risk their lives for Hubble. On the news tonight, they had one astronaut who said he talked it over with his family and they all agreed that it was that important.

When I was a teen, dreaming of space, thinking that we would have a significant presence there by the turn of the century, this was the kind of pioneering spirit that really fired my boosters. Like being called to military service or the ministry, I, like a lot of other geeky children of the ’60s, felt the call of space. So often, that seems like a future which didn’t happen, at least not yet. So, when a little glimmer of this future shows through the Fundamentalist Terrordom we’re so-far calling the 21st century, you can see where I might feel a little swell of hope.

So, Godspeed, brave Discovery. Polish up our space telescope, we’ve got billions of galaxies and trillions of stars we need to eyeball.

Read full coverage of the announcement, mission, and the Hubble, here at


Well-Known Bug from IE6 Remains Unfixed in IE7

This is just mind-boggling to me. According to a piece on TechWeb, a vulnerability that was found (by the same Dutch security vendor Secunia) nearly TWO YEARS AGO in IE6 remains in IE7! It’s the one that could allow attackers to capture your data from what you think is your bank’s or other trusted site’s forms. It was news of this very vulnerability that I used frequently as an example of the sorts of security holes that IE had as I encouraged friends and consultees to switch to Firefox. The fact that it remains unfixed is just beyond the pale.

Read the TechWeb item here.

Worst Games of All Time?

PC World has come up with a list of what they think are the worst ten video games of all times. They’ve been a LOT of crummy games over the years and some of the ones on their list are undeniable (like their #1 pick, ET for the Atari 2600 (above), is a no-brainer), but Prince of Persia: Warrior Within one of the ten WORST? Worse then Carmegeddon N64? Worse than Spice World (PS), the game based on the Spice Girls? And IronSword, the NES game that features Fabio on the cover? And if you’re going to include something like Super Columbine Massacre RPG, then why not Ethnic Cleansing, and other hate mongering titles (of which there are many, enough to easily fill a list of ten)? There are still worthy candidates here, such as the Atari 2600 version of Pac-Man, Shaq Fu, and Make My Video with Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. Oh, and then there’s 2005’s Elf Bowling for the Nintendo DS. That’s right, a commercial console release of the play-for-a-day 1999 freebie Windows title.


Video Game Weightlifting

“Stop playing those damn video games or you’re going to get too buff and muscley!” Now *that’s* something you don’t hear every day, but you could, if video game-based fitness ever catches on (in this case, Tetris Weightlifting). Okay, so that’s not likely to ever happen, but still, it’s an interesting proof-of-concept and relatively simple to implement.


[Via DIYHappy]

“The Most Important Image Ever Taken”

Here’s a pretty nifty YouTube docu-vid of the Hubble Deep Field image. The vid tries to give you a sense of how incomprehensibly immense our universe is. The astronomical mind-bending is unfortunately impacted by a somewhat overly breathy narration and a horrific soundtrack (after the awesome Pink Floyd intro). As one commenter so aptly put it: “78 billion galaxies and we are the one’s stuck with Zamfir flute soundtracks for our short astronomical features.”


Fabric Made from Magnetic Tape

Street Tech’s Court Lensman Jay Townsend send us a link to this fascinating project by an artist named Alyce Santoro. For her “Sonic Fabric,” she weaves 50% prerecorded cassette tape and 50% cotton together to create a fabric that can be made into clothing, handbags, flags/banners. You can then play the (literally) recorded material by running a tape head over the surface of the fabric. With all the talk of SPIME and cradle-to-cradle object tracking, this is a cool and unique way of decoding the history of a recycled material’s previous incarnation(s). (“Hey, I found out today that the armpit of my jacket was once a best-selling Country Western song.”)


How-To: Build a Backpack iPod Solar Charger

Here’s a set of simple instructions for building a portable device recharger using the awesome PowerFlim, flexible solar panels. You can build the project for around US$30 and it involves little more than the panel (@ 6v. 100mA), a 5V voltage regulator, and a USB connector. He calls it an iPod charger, but it could obviously be used with other similar devices. I like how he lists “Exceptionally Good Coffee” as one of the Bill of Materials. Personally, I’ve found that electronics work and coffee don’t mix very well (i.e. jittery hands wielding a soldering iron), but YMMV.


[Via hackAday]

Wii Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be?

The folks at Bit-Tech recently got their hands on a Wii system to really try out some extended gameplay, beyond the hype and distractions of a game booth at a show. They start off the piece with:

“We recently played the Wii and came to the rather startling conclusion that it may not be as good as everyone is making it out.”

And it goes on from there…


JumpDrive that Points to Home if Lost

Here’s another cool script hack, this one for adding an “I’m Lost” to the AutoPlay window when you insert a USB JumpDrive. So, if somebody finds your drive and inserts it, they get a message asking them to send the drive back, your address, and a message like this (you can obviously write your own):

“You will receive a shiny new USB drive twice as big as this one for your trouble. Thanks for your honesty in advance.”


New Life for a Unloved Keyboard Key

On Jim Biancolo’s blog, he’s posted a little script he made for use with AutoHotKey (the free macro/automation app) that repurposes the Insert key (found on most PC keyboards). Here’s what he says:

Y’know how sometimes you go to hit the Home key and you accidentally catch the Insert key too, but you don’t realize it until you’ve typed over something, because suddenly you are in “overstrike” mode rather than “insert” mode? I wanted to kill the Insert key, and immediately thought of my favorite utility, AutoHotKey (upon which I built that Wikipedia AutoCorrect thing). But instead of just killing the Insert key, I thought perhaps I could make it do something useful. So I took the “append” script from here and just changed it to fire whenever I hit Insert.”

So you end up with an amendable clipboard. Now *that’s* useful.

[Via Lifehacker]