The roads I take...
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July 21st, 2011
Atlantis Ending A Historic Era
Today's story on Atlantis is no myth at all, but it's about an era of science, wealth, and great achievements coming to and end - this time all the knowledge and achievements hopefully don't get lost but are used to seed another great era.
When I was a small boy in school, I became a follower of space exploration and a big fan of the Space Shuttle program. I found and still find the idea of a reusable space craft very compelling, one that can bring larger payloads into orbits but also back down. I have lived practically my whole life with the Space Shuttles being the very symbol of human space travel, even though they helped build an even greater icon in the recent decade with the International Space Station. As a huge space enthusiast, it's a bit hard to see that program go away, esp. with no clear picture of the future and surely nothing in the books at all that can replace the capabilities of bringing cargo of that size down or servicing satellites like Hubble in orbit.
30 years ago, creating the technology of the "most complex machine ever flown" was an achievement way ahead of its time, and today it's still unmatched. Still, it showed pretty well that humanity can create out of this world experiences and go beyond what many believe it's possible. Almost on the day 42 years ago the people of Planet Earth showed that with humans landing on the moon, in the last three decades with the Space Shuttle, and in the very recent 10 years with the ISS. I really hope there's more to come, like a moon base and a manned mission to Mars - esp. as I agree with Stephen Hawking that humanity needs to learn to survive outside this planet for its own survival, the risk of man- or nature-made disaster on Earth being too large not to invest in alternatives.
Of course, the Shuttle had its downsides. While it enabled great achievements in low Earth orbit, it couldn't go beyond that. While it was set out to allow cheaper access to orbit, it never gained the frequency needed for that and required way larger investments in maintenance and safety than anticipated, esp. after reacting to the Challenger and Columbia losses. Still, it made the ability to travel to space sound like a commodity enough that most normal people are not concerned with it any more, not seeing an interesting challenge there for humanity or any of our nations. In the end, even that might actually be an achievement, even if it creates problem with financing future space endeavors in harsh times for public budgets of democratic countries.
The end of the Shuttle era should mean the start of at least preparations for a new era, though, and some pieces, like the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, seem to mostly exist already. I for myself recently faded out a legacy program in my life and started into a new one nearer to innovation, I guess my favorite space agency has to do the same - I hope funds will allow for that. I for myself would donate to NASA if I could, just to show my support for their human space programs.
With the final landing of Atlantis, the Shuttle leaves a great legacy of Discoveries and Endeavors, but leaves us and future generations with the great and challenging task of doing even better - and to continue to go where no one has gone before.
By KaiRo, at 14:10 | Tags: NASA, Shuttle, Space | 1 comment | TrackBack: 1
February 3rd, 2010
A Bold New Vision To Go ... Nowhere!
But the tables have turned - the US has an inspired, bold visionary as their new president, who already earned a Nobel Prize for his great achievements in bringing around world peace once and for all. While he backed the old, short-sighted plan for some time last year, he and his administration now goes for the next step and did set up a new, bold vision that will surely inspire thousands of people and give new hope: Humanity will go nowhere!
I think that's finally a clear word and a good way, we all know that we have no business in exploring new worlds or achieve extreme things, we should stick to ourselves and boldly envision to change nothing. Even if some yesterday-minded people like Astronaut Ron Garan still believe the moon is valuable, or that the only chance for long-time survival of the human race is to make sure we can live outside of Earth, as Stephen Hawking likes to put it, those doubters will soon be gone and everyone will cheer for the strong and life-worthy future our all-beloved world leader has dared to set our directions to.
The task set up for public administration is not to boldly go where no private enterprise would, or to lead the world in science and exploration, but to trash already-started promising programs like Constellation and let others do the jobs Kennedy and Bush have wrongly envisioned for NASA. China and India surely agree as well, as they finally have a chance to overtake the US in space exploration and rip away the dreams of those lowly capitalists that still see a Captain Kirk in the future of this world - well, the interplanetary ships might come, but under a strong communist Chinese leadership, possibly backed by Russia.
Obama did come into office with a strong promise of "Change", and we surely are seeing what he was meaning all along. We don't need to go to just "to the moon, mars and beyond" - now we finally have a bold new vision to go... nowhere!
And we, as space enthusiasts and future-orientated humans, fully support NASA in fulfilling this mission.
Yes, we can.
By KaiRo, at 17:29 | Tags: Moon, NASA, Space, Vision | 15 comments | TrackBack: 0
July 23rd, 2009
Thoughts Going Around In My Head
- Geolocation: Why do we have to rely on Google magically knowing where someone might be? Wouldn't it be better to have a community-driven database we all could contribute to, which could give you croudsourced location data?
For example, I know where I am, I can give precise location of both my wifi IDs as well as a range of IPs up to the building, but Google Location Service (what Firefox uses for the internal geolocation module) just tells me I'm somewhere in Vienna. They don't have a way for me telling them my info and improving that information, but an open, community-based service could. And OpenStreetMap would even know full address data for this location. How dull that all our modern technology just tells me I'm somewhere in a multi-kilometer radius around the Vienna City Center.
- SeaMonkey Meetup: The SeaMonkey project has some amount of donations stacked up at Mozilla Foundation, and I think it would be cool to use that to finance a SeaMonkey meetup, paying for accommodation and travel of major contributors as well as the (if needed) the place to do the meetings. Would this be a good idea? Who would come, maybe even if we can't pay for him, in what city should we do this event?
- Contribution Statistics: I have thought a few times about doing a script that parses our Mercurial pushlog at least between releases, and gathers data on how many changesets and +/- codelines people have created and/or reviewed, to get a view of which people are how active in the community. The same could be done for bug triage. The result would be something like Jonathan Corbet's Linux Kernel Developer Statistics.
- SeaMonkey QA: We're really missing someone to lead and coordinate SeaMonkey QA work - Andrew Schultz is quite busy with some strange thing called "real life" nowadays and can't really do that work right now. I'm sure we'd all be quite happy if he could pass the torch and we'd support anyone who tries to do it with all help we can provide.
- Web-based Help and Support Resources: We have some weekness in SeaMonkey help and support resources on the web. While our in-product help is fine, it would be good if a Google search would turn up something helpful and if we could point people to URLs. One partial solution would be to have a script that periodically converts our inline help to usable web pages, and better solution would be to set up a copy of SUMO for SeaMonkey, with a knowledge base and possibly even a web forum - but someone needs to drive that. Any volunteers?
- SeaMonkey Marketing: Even though I'm theoretically responsible for marketing right now, I badly fail on getting anything done, starting from putting a page with a collection of logos and web buttons up, and moving on with all other possibilities of fostering community marketing. This is another area where I'd be happy to have someone come on board and drive this. I'm happy to support any efforts from a technical and project organization POV, but we probably need someone else to lead those efforts.
- Mozmill: Thunderbird is starting to automate tests on Mozmill now, Firefox QA people start using it for smoketests, could someone get it to run for SeaMonkey so we can do those things as well?
- SMILE, Weave, Jetpack: There are more things out there that probably need help: the equivalent to FUEL and STEEL, which we call SMILE, getting Weave to work for SeaMonkey, and last not least, getting Jetpack to work (which probably needs SMILE).
- Parallels: Why does it need to be so painful to run OSX in VMs? And does nobody else run a larger number of VMs, including OSX machines, on Parallels? I don't understand how we can have basic problem like not being able to run more than 8 VMs on one host and OSX VMs being unstable esp. if they have access to more then 1 CPU core and both thing not getting much traction from Parallels devs. It can't be that we are the only customer who see those problems.
- Statistics: I would love to have a lot more statistics on users, downloads, etc. for SeaMonkey and esp. SeaMonkey 2 but it seems to be hard to get the data and tooling that exists inside Mozilla systems out in a way we can use it. I guess Mozilla Corporation is not as open as it could and should be in some areas.
- openSUSE: With the inclusion of SeaMonkey 2.0 Alpha 3 (soon to be Beta 1, they already have Thunderbird 3.0 Beta 3), in the current openSUSE Factory, it looks very much like openSUSE 11.2 will be the first distribution to have SeaMonkey 2 in their official package repositories. Thanks to their package manager Wolfgang Rosenauer for making this possible!
- Moving: I'll finally be moving from a student dorm to my own flat in August, lots of stuff to think about there. Also, the machines building SeaMonkey 1.x nightlies and releases are about to be moved to a different location, Linux and Windows being unavailable there recently is connected to this, I had to clear up how to do this, and some missing responsiveness on the side of my provider contributed a lot to finally deciding to switch providers in that process.
- Vacation: I have already booked the flight for my vacation this year, I'll be away for three weeks in November, traveling through the US gulf region, circling from Houston via New Orleans, Pensacola, Atlanta, Nashville, Memphis, Dallas back to Houston. It will be quite a distance to travel, but it should be manageable and be a good distraction from my usual work, and lots of things to see and experience. I easily get excited when talking about this.
- Music: Sometimes I'd love to be a signer in a local Blues/Rock/Country band, but I hardly find the time to practice the guitar any bit or type the lyrics of my recently written songs into the web database I have for them. At least I come around to some Karaoke singing every week.
- Space: How come that the great things NASA does is not worth more to the public than the half cent of every US tax dollar it actually gets? How come that it isn't worth more to other countries as well? Isn't exploration of new frontiers, world-wide cooperation to do amazing things not because they are easy, but because they are hard, aren't all those things one of the main drivers of what makes humanity great? Are we losing focus in that we are only caring about our own small biotopes and internal affairs and forgetting to expand our knowledge and horizons?
- Test Coverage: It would be so nice to increase coverage of SeaMonkey code with automated tests, but it's proving even hard to require tests for new things added, as we also don't want to slow down progress - esp. when we are already behind the schedules we hoped to follow a few months ago.
- Mozilla 1.9.2 and SeaMonkey/Thunderbird: Mozilla platform maintainers decided to do a 1.9.2 branch very soon now and base Fennec 1.0 on it as well as a Firefox 3.6, not featuring lots of application changes, but some good platform improvements. Some of those changes in the platform would be good to have for SeaMonkey and Thunderbird, but we also know of some problems we'll have there due to doing our experimental builds with mozilla-central all along. Moving over to the branch now would probably delay our stable releases for a few weeks more, but we are already running behind the schedules we wanted to have, so we think it's better to stick with 1.9.1 for now and get SM 2.0 and TB 3.0 out before even thinking of what to do about 1.9.2 - we could either ignore it completely or do smaller-step 2.1 and 3.1 releases on top of it just like FF does with 3.6, but we're not sure what's best. For now, we'll watch it but not actually do anything about it.
- MailNews API refactorings: It would be really nice if we could port the JS-driven folder pane and the various refactorings done for gloda search from Thunderbird to SeaMonkey UI, as those would sync our APIs with theirs and make life easier for add-ons, next to making work with folder and thread panes easier internally as well. Once again, what we're missing is someone to do the work - we are a volunteer open source project after all, and people here tend to work on those things that are fun for them, and of course only in the little free time they have.
- Local Communities: Every face-to-face meeting i had locally with open source developers around here in Vienna was very rewarding, and I should engage much more with those communities. Also, my recent talk for IT businessmen on "project management in open source" was a very exciting and successful thing, I believe I could, with the help of a few fellow open source community people, dampen a lot of FUD that arises with people used to traditional IT business but who are still interested in how thing work "on our side" - which I hope to have proven to not actually be that much different as they often think. By the way, and I got got comments like "Oh, so the suite is still being developed? Nice, I need to try SeaMonkey then!"
By KaiRo, at 16:36 | Tags: geolocation, marketing, Mozilla, music, openSUSE, Parallels, QA, SeaMonkey, SeaMonkey 2, Space, stats, tests, travel | 11 comments | TrackBack: 0
October 27th, 2007
Harmony in Space
While this is a surely a great thing for science, I also think the political dimensions of what's happening here are also just cool: This station is operated by people from the ex-cold-war-opponents Russia and the USA, which are now working closely together there in closely joint missions, 50 years after Russia (or actually the USSR back then) flew the first experimental satellite "Sputnik", started the space age and made the US work hard to compete with them in this area. Cooperation between those nations in such a way makes them talk and do lots of work together and such communication ultimately boosts lasting peace and cooperation around the world.
This is even more so as those two big nations aren't the only two participating here, actually, the cooperative work unites people around the world and equally righted people of different origins - and the new "Harmony" module that was just added to this space station shows that perfectly: Planned by the US, this module was built in Italy, flown up by a woman-commanded NASA crew, handed over with a Canadian-built roboter arm steered by a black-skinned astronaut to a currently (incidentally) also woman-commanded space station, and will connect European and Japanese laboratories to the currently existing US and Russian modules as well as serve as a docking port for future manned missions to the station. The name of "Harmony" sounds really fitting for such a hub of international cooperation.
Even if the ISS projects span countries around the globe already, I hope even more will join in and make the peaceful international space cooperation network tighter. Some rumors tell that China is thinking about joining in in some way, NASA administrator Griffin had talks with officials there last year, though the topics of those talks stay undisclosed at the moment. Views from space made us see how small and fragile our planet actually is, work in space can hopefully make us see how we all can peacefully work together and do amazing things that wouldn't be possible without sharing and combining experience, knowledge and workforce.
This cause is surely worth attention and the help of anyone who has the abilities to support it. And those who can not directly participate should hold it up morally and try to maybe help other projects of open international cooperation, like open source software and the Mozilla project(s).
The spirit of open cooperation and communication is what really brings harmony - to space but even more to everybody down here on on this world.
By KaiRo, at 20:54 | Tags: ISS, NASA, Space | no comments | TrackBack: 0
May 2nd, 2007
Hawking escaping gravity
Stephen Hawking, the famous physicist, who did lots of work involving space phenomena and gravity, did get a bit nearer to space when he escaped gravity in a flight with a ZeroG plane that took off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center last week.
In this case, this was more a free fall than a space experience though, as that flight similar to what astronauts use for zero G training rises to very high altitude before dropping down in a sharp angle so that things and people inside begin floating in a free fall microgravity experience.
It's cool that someone with a serious disease like Prof. Hawking can do such things, and I really hope he can live to do a real suborbital spaceflight with Virgin Galactic in 2009, as he announced at his 65th birthday this year.
By KaiRo, at 13:53 | Tags: NASA, physics, Space | 1 comment | TrackBack: 0
March 10th, 2007
It's all about the planets...
Planet Mozilla is just such a site, and there has been some discussion recently about its administration, with the outcome that Asa is probably owning it now, a new set of peers for that administration has been decided, and we'll end up with this main planet site having the full range of all blog entries of "active Mozilla Community members" and a second feed that only has their Mozilla-related entries. Asa is doing a great job there, and despite of some differences of opinion I may with him from time to time, I'm glad he's taking care of that now.
Additionally, for all of us who are in the L10n community, there's another planet page up on the new L10n server, named as Planet Mozilla L10N.
I'll try to get this blog aggegrated on those planets, at least as soon as I have tag support here and can filter feeds for those where required (L10n, future Mozilla-related-only planet).
In other planetary news, I'm still a bit sad that the next Space Shuttle launch to our home planet's orbit has been pushed out due to damage caused by a hail storm and now can only take place after the ISS crew changeover from Expedition 14 to Expedition 15, which means I have to wait until at least late April to see another hopefully great Station construction mission. I hope they get the second half of P6 solar panels retracted more easily than the first half back on the STS-116 mission last December.
But until STS-117 goes out into orbit, I'll keep hoping their preparations go well and stick to those planets down here...
By KaiRo, at 03:10 | Tags: ISS, L10n, Mozilla, NASA, Planet, Shuttle, Space | no comments | TrackBack: 0