Amateur balloon hits 30km with pics

Reddit’s web site is a pure time waster by design. This morning I saw this link. It leads to a web site that shows how a hobbyist built a kit and put it on a high altitude balloon. According to his sensors he hit about 30km and has pictures to back that up. Amazing!

This kit (space capsule?) let him take spectacular digital photos that he posted. The kit contained GPS, sensors, digital camera, etc. My favorite part is where the hobbyist Alexei Karpenko states

Also, I have verified that the Earth is indeed round and that space is black.

I can’t see many people running out an getting into this hobby but it sure reminds me of when amateur rocketry using Estes kits was popular when I was a kid.

Head over to that site, the web page details the time line, what was in the kit, and the data and pictures collected.

Update: I guess the site got hit with the Digg effect!  The new URL is not redirecting properly, use this link to get to the Flight 2 web page http://natrium42.elyxa.com/halo/flight2/? .

California is doomed after all

Read this on the Internet today:

“Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding.”

California is in for a real disaster now. As if the wildfires were not enough.

Wow, sometimes it does work out

When I read that newspaper executives were arrested in Arizona and that they earlier were sent a subpoena for “the names and Internet addresses of all people who have viewed the site since Jan. 1, 2004” I was not surprised.

That’s just the type of country we live in these days.

We see our government move political dissent outside of view.

We see the use of tasers when it’s just not called for, when tasers are supposed to be used as a non-lethal substitute for guns. They are not really meant to torment some drunk woman or college smart mouth who pisses people off makes the police angry.

We see irrationality in debates with candidates trying to out Jack Bauer each other.

We have a Democratic party in charge of congress but lack the resolve to do anything other than be the President’s punching bag. Harry Reid will just fold on FISA, telecom immunity, anything the President wants. The Democrats are the Lame Ducks after all.

We see that we don’t torture as long as our government can define what torture is.

Authority has become the theme for our time and disagreeing with authority gets you in trouble. The courts don’t help people, they also defer to authority. Just ask this guy.

So this morning I read that in Arizona the County Attorney did the right thing and I found that to be really outrageous. I’m more shocked that the investigation and charges are dismissed rather than they are there in the first place.

I don’t know why the County Attorney dismissed the whole thing. He could have gone after anything he wants and would have gotten away with it. After all, that is the type of country we live in.

A brown out or “why DR planning is your friend”

My server is in the basement of my home. In Long Island. Where we have brown outs like the one we had today.

The clocks came back and had to be reset but my Linux server apparently did not, or maybe it’s the cable modem. Hard to tell exactly as I am not at home. Fortunately I backup my server every night to a VPS hosted by TekTonic. It’s $15 a month and and serves as a backup DNS server for my domains. It’s not the fastest but it’s good enough for my traffic.

So once again I updated my DNS record for blog.dembowski.net, ran the restore script on the VPS, updated my wp-config.php and poof I’m running.

The best part was that I did this using the ssh client on my Blackberry Pearl! It works but using vi on that small screen is not something I would recommend. I know where all the pieces are but if I we hunting and pecking I would not be able to get the blog up and running.

Once I figure out what is going on with my basement server I’ll do the process in reverse.

Upgraded the laptop to Gutsy Gibbon

Cool Ubuntu logo from www.linuxextremist.comLast night ran the command ‘sudo update-manager -c’ and after a few prompts left the laptop running the distribution upgrade to Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon. This morning I rebooted it at the prompt and poof I’m upgraded.

I usually don’t think that Linux has a real chance on the desktop; it’s just not the consumers choice. But seamless upgrades and making it so easy to use keeps me wondering. No way a Microsoft upgrade is this easy.

Half-Life 2: Episode Two

Half-Life 2: Episode 2 G-Man

I’ve bought Half-Life games since they first came out so naturally I had to buy Episode 2.

I’m about half way through in only a couple of hours. The play is okay and unlike Microsoft games (Halo 2 is still dead on Vista; what a waste) it works very well with my Vista 64 system.

When Half-Life 2 came out it in 2004 it was fantastic. Now 3 years later the graphics are getting a little dated. The problem is that other platforms kept up. Gears of War is visually stunning. Seeing the sharp polygons of the end of Gordon Freeman’s shot gun is distracting and not in a good way. I’ll play with the settings to see if I can get the images to look more realistic.

In the meanwhile the play is good. I’m glad that Valve still puts that ahead of the wiz bang effects.