NASA Shuts Down Its Last Mainframe

NASA will be shutting down the last of its IBM Mainframe computers located at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL. The Mainframes used by NASA “back in the day” were large enough to fill a room, while today they are the size of a refrigerator. From NASA’s Linda Cureton:

In my first stint at NASA, I was at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center as a mainframe systems programmer when it was still cool. That IBM 360-95 was used to solve complex computational problems for space flight. Back then, I comfortably navigated the world of IBM 360 Assembler language and still remember the much-coveted “green card” that had all the pearls of information about machine code. Back then, real systems programmers did hexadecimal arithmetic – today, “there’s an app for it!”

There are no listed details on what will be replacing the Mainframes, probably because of security reasons.

via NASA.

Don’t Be A (Phantom) Menace

I went with my son to see Star Wars: The Phantom Menace yesterday on the big screen and in 3D.  And to no one’s surprise, the movie has not gotten any better with the new effects. Menace is easily the worst of the three “prequels” and wins by a nose over the whole Ewok thing from “Return of the Jedi”.

When movies are re-released with new bells and whistles, its always interesting to recollect about what people’s initial reaction was to the movie, to see if time has healed any wounds or opened new ones. With Menace, neither is the case. This release of Phantom Menace is, daresay, a little worse than the original because you have to watch the movie with the stupid 3D glasses on and cringe at the way a movie franchise that SHOULD have been built for 3D demonstrated no redeeming enhancements from the visual effect that felt like it was hacked into the master copy using iMovie.

As in 1999, the one element of awesomeness in this movie is Darth Maul. From an original review of Phantom Menace in 1999, this snippet from Eric Davis at Movies.com sums his presence up:

Darth Maul was — and still is — the greatest thing about Episode I. He’s scary and menacing, and you’re frightened by him. The dude rocks a duel lightsaber, which totally kicked my world’s ass when I first witnessed the ferociously-paced fight scene between Maul, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon — perhaps the film’s greatest sequence — and one of the best Star Wars lightsaber battles the series has to offer.

You are begging and pleading for more of him in this movie…maybe some “never before seen” fight sequences that look stunningly awesome in 3D…something, anything to expand his presence in the movie and make it worthy of the epic series it is part of. But alas, we are stuck with Nute Gunray and a Senatorial debate over taxes that apes those in this Galaxy.

I’ll just stick with the original Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back, thank you very much.

via Moviefone.

Times Square Photoshopped


I was listening to Leo Laporte’s iPad Today on his TWIT network and during the most recent episode (#82) of the show, he and Sarah Lane walked through MacWorld. One of the people they met up with was Bert Monroy, who is a prolific Photoshop artist. One of the pieces of art he did was the above featured Times Square, which is jaw dropping. The actual artwork is 5 feet high by 25 feet wide, its file size is 6.5 Gigabytes, it used over half a million Photoshop layers and it took over 4 years to complete!!

Curses


I downloaded this week’s copy of Sports Illustrated to my iPad (I also found a paper version of it in my mailbox too…very strange concept, this magazine thing.) and to my intense horror, saw that Tom Brady and my Patriots were gracing their cover. How could they?

For those of you uninitiated into the ways of sports superstition and Sports Illustrated, it is well documented that sports teams and athletes appearing on the cover of SI have subsequently suffered athletic failure and injury of all shapes and sizes. For those of you naysayers, read through the list on the Wikipedia page…its too frequent an occurrence to be a fluke.

And beyond the Wikipedia page, just take a look at the image above from my SI iPad app library. Four of the past six covers (including this week’s with the Pats on it) have featured NFL teams in the Playoffs. And what do you know…every NFL team featured on the cover (before this week) have been promptly dispatched from the playoffs – Tebow and the Broncos, Rodgers and the Packers, and Alex Smith and the 49ers.

My only hope that the Patriots don’t end up suffering this same indignity is that SI does the noble and right thing and put the Giants on next week’s cover which comes out ahead of the Super Bowl. Maybe having the Giants on the cover next week will “out-jinx” having the Patriots on the cover this week. I can only hope!

UPDATE 2.1.12: Well, it looks like SI has it out for the Patriots. Coming off of last week’s cover shot of Tom Brady, they went ahead and pulled a double doozy on the Patriots by putting owner Bob Kraft on its cover. That’s two weeks in a row of bad SI cover karma.

Lego In Space


A pair of teenagers in Toronto constructed a homemade weather balloon that they then released into the sky with a few Lego accessories – including a Lego Minifigure. After a bit over 90 minutes up at an altitude of around 80,000 feet, their balloon came back to earth but not after taking several photos of the Lego

Via Make Magazine.

Minimal Desktop Backgrounds

As I spend more time online visiting different sites and evaluating new online services, I have come to greatly appreciate clean, crisp, minimal yet effective user experience/interaction design. I even recently purchased an Apple iMac which has only added to this recent obsession.

Over the holiday break, I began to build up my collection of desktop backgrounds since its so easy to rotate desktop backgrounds on my new iMac. In my online travels, I discovered the great site SimpleDesktops and went a bit overboard downloading desktops from the site. And in looking at the examples on their site, I got inspired to develop a bunch on my own. So, with little fanfare, I would like to share my collection of minimal dekstop wallpapers for your viewing and downloading pleasure. All the backgorunds are sized for a 27″ iMac desktop (2560 px x 1440 px) however you should be able to download them and your Mac/PC should resize them.

Below are a few examples to whet your appetite. I’ve developed several related to Superheros, English Premier League teams, MLB teams, London Underground Tube Stops, and a few Random Ones that strike my fancy. Visit my Sandbox page or go here to see the full collection.

Queen's Park (Map)Queens Park Tube Stop

Harry Potter
Harry Potter

Bat SignalThe Bat Signal!