Falcon 1 Rocket's Maiden Flight Scrubbed, SpaceX Says

From Space.com:
SpaceX officials have scrubbed Saturday's launch attempt of a Falcon 1 rocket.

Larry Williams, SpaceX vice president for international and government affairs, said today's planned launch of the firm's first Falcon 1 rocket scrubbed until Sunday, though details on tomorrow's attempt are pending.

The announcement came just minutes after officials told reporters they had a "good chance" to launch at 8:00 p.m. EST (0100 Nov. 27 GMT). Sunday's launch attempt could begin as early as 12:00 p.m. EST (1700 GMT), SpaceX officials said.

A series of delays plagued today's Falcon 1 launch attempt, including poor weather and liquid oxygen fuel problems. SpaceX officials even extended their planned launch window by two hours - to 10:00 p.m. EST (0300 Nov. 27 GMT) - in order to make today's flight opportunity.

Launch pad workers were troubleshooting a pressure issue with the liquid oxygen loading tanks for the Falcon 1 rocket, which is making its first flight for the private launch firm SpaceX from its Kwajalein Atoll launch site on the Pacific Ocean.

Falcon 1 launches today

SpaceX's maiden launch of the Falcon 1 rocket will take place today at 1pm PST. It looks like the military is again to blam for the delay, this time the Army Space and Missile Defense Command. Of course, when the military is testing out missle defense systems, you don't really want to be launching a rocket at the same time.


Webmasters who didn't think when they registered their URL

Here's a list of some funny URLs, where the designer didn't thinking about how people would read the name of the site:

1) Who Represents?, a database for agencies to the rich and famous:

2) Experts Exchange, a knowledge base where programmers can exchange
advice and views:

3) Looking for a pen? Look no further than Pen Island:

4) Need a therapist?

5) Mole Station Native Nursery, based in New South Wales:

6) Gas central heating anyone?

7) New to Milan and you need electric light? Why not sign up on-line with


Falcon 1 to Launch after Thanksgiving

SpaceX has announced that their maiden flight of the Falcon 1 rocket will take place on November 25th.
The private launch firm SpaceX will loft its Falcon 1 rocket on Nov. 25, marking the booster’s maiden flight and hopefully the first of many space shots to come, the company’s chief said Friday.Elon Musk, founder and CEO of the El Segundo, California-based SpaceX, said his firm’s first Falcon 1 rocket will liftoff from its equatorial launch site at 4:00 p.m. EST (2100 GMT) on a mission to orbit a small U.S. Air Force Academy satellite.
This comes after almost a month delay as they were forced to move the launch site due to a conflict with a grounded USAF launch. Let's hope that the delay and the several thousand mile move from California to an atoll in the Pacific hasn't damaged the rocket. SpaceX's low cost launch systems and their plans for the future have a good chance of helping to revitalize the space industry.


Thoughts on the $100 laptop

I've been thinking a bit about MIT Media Lab's $100 laptop project. It's been gaining a lot of press lately, and seems to be generating a mixed reaction. While most people seem to see it as a good idea, a lot are upset that third world nations will be spending the money on computers rather than food and medicine for the poor, or that in five years time there will be millions of these discarded in dumps around the world, slowly polluting the environment.

First, I think those who question the cost are greatly underestimating the potential value of the laptops. Not only do they allow for useful things such as etextbooks, collaborative lessons, etc. but they also help introduce people to technology who would otherwise have a limited exposure to it. Who knows how many kids will be able to grow up and get a job in an office, or working with computers because of these, rather than being stuck behind an ox or working a day laborer.

The other thing to keep in mind is that these are being sold in units of 1 million, so countries that are starving and lack medical care aren't going to be buying them right away. Those that will are larger countries with funds but a large underclass. Countries like China, Brazil, India, Mexico.

The one big mistake I think the project is making is in limiting the sale of the machines to governments only. With the press surrounding the program, there's going to be a lot of people who'd like one, for novelty value if nothing else. I know I'd like one, it would be fun to play around with it and see how moddable it is, not to mention that it would be a pretty kick-ass PDA at a low price. It's perfect for taking notes and writing with, using as an ebook reader, and perhaps even as a casual web browser. The storage is low, but if it could connect to a desktop or internet based storage system that wouldn't be a problem.

The sad thing is that by limiting it to government purchases only they cut off a potential source of revenue. Many people in the US and Europe would be happy to pay $150-$250 for one of these, and the profit could go lowering the cost for developing nations. Also, I think it's pretty likely that we'll see a bunch of these for sale on eBay within a month of the first government purchase - probably for $400+. It's perfect black market fodder. It has a coolness factor in the developed world, it's impossible to get directly, and there are plenty of corrupt people in the receiving countries who could "lose" a crate or to if it means getting a couple hundred bucks each for them.

Of course, all of this assumes that they aren't vaporware and they'll actually get them produced. They seem to want at least 5 million units preordered before production. We'll have to see if enough countries jump aboard, if all of the technical details can be worked out, if the price can be kept low, and if they'll actually be of any use by the time they get produced.


Sony to replace rootkit infected CDs

Arstechnica reports that Sony-BMG will be offering an exchange program for CDs with their XCP DRM software installed. It's a step in the right direction, but it remains to be seen if it will help their public image.
The widespread anti-Sony outcry (along with the class-action lawsuits) has forced the entertainment conglomerate into a move they should have made at the beginning of the crisis—finally pulling the infested discs from store shelves. Those unfortunate enough to have purchased music from Sony and gotten an unexpected rootkit as part of the bargain will be able to exchange their discs for one without the malware.

In the meantime they're offering an uninstall program, however the cure may be worse than the disease in this case.

The root of the problem is a serious design flaw in Sony’s web-based uninstaller. When you first fill out Sony’s form to request a copy of the uninstaller, the request form downloads and installs a program – an ActiveX control created by the DRM vendor, First4Internet – called CodeSupport. CodeSupport remains on your system after you leave Sony’s site, and it is marked as safe for scripting, so any web page can ask CodeSupport to do things. One thing CodeSupport can be told to do is download and install code from an Internet site. Unfortunately, CodeSupport doesn’t verify that the downloaded code actually came from Sony or First4Internet. This means any web page can make CodeSupport download and install code from any URL without asking the user’s permission.


Google Porn?

I'm a big fan of Google.com's Google Print project. I've been playing around with it some, and it looks like they've scanned and indexed a bunch of erotic books along with everything else. What's interesting is that unlike Google Images there's no "safesearch" to prevent these books from coming up in a search. Granted, you'd have to be searching for a term that would be found in an erotic book, but I'm surprised Google hasn't put anything into place to prevent people from stumbling across them accidentally. Eventually it won't just be publishers and authors who are complaining about the site, but parents and Christian-right groups as well.


Blogs tell all

I came across an interesting article at philly.com about Kara Borden & David Ludwig, the murder/runaway/abduction suspect. It seems that someone there did a little googling and uncovered the blogs of the two teens. While I don't think the blogs themselves are particularly interesting, what is interesting is the implications for future reporting and investigations. With the explosive growth in popularity of sites like myspace, xanga, and livejournal more and more people are giving the world a glimpse of their lives. How long before it's routine for a reported to google people they're writing articles on and pull in info from or provide links to their blogs and profiles?

Google Book Rentals?

A report in the Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required) hints that Google may be looking to offer "rentals" of new books via its Google Print service.

Search company Google Inc. has approached at least one book publisher to measure interest in a program for consumers to "rent" an online copy of new books for a week.

According to this publisher, the books wouldn't be downloadable or printable. Those features may be worked out at a later time, he said. Although this publisher said that the proposed fee to end users -- 10% of each book's list price -- is too low, he said it still may represent a significant opportunity for publishers to tap the budding digital-book market.

While the exact shape of any rental approach by Google doesn't appear to be final, the current discussion with the publisher is a strong indication the Internet-search company plans to head in the digital book-renting direction. "Google Print is exploring new access models to help authors and publishers sell more books online, but we don't have anything to announce," a Google spokesman said.

This may be a response to Amazon.com's "Amazon Pages" program and Amazon's plans to allow purchasers of books to receive a digital copy for an additional charge.


European Origin Finding

It's not entirely unsurprising, given the archeological record, but recent DNA evidence has show that Europeans are not genetically descended from the first farmers in the Fertile Crescent.
Researchers led by Wolfgang Haak of Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, argue that their finding supports the belief that modern residents of central Europe descended from Stone Age hunter-gatherers who were present 40,000 years ago, and not the early farmers who arrived thousands of years later.
What does that mean? It would seem that the idea of agriculture - along with crops, livestock, etc. - spread as a result of cultural exchange, not colonization or conquest by the early agricultural societies. Given how bloody our history has been, that's a little refreshing.


I wonder if Indiana Jones ever got in trouble like this....

It would seem that the world of museum curating is not as dull as I thought. A US curator is on trial in Italy for aiding in the smuggling of artifacts illegally smuggled out of Italy, which have since been returned.
Marion True, who quit her post last month, has been charged with handling or receiving the artifacts and will stand trial in Rome on November 19 .

She is the first US antiquities curator to face similar charges in Italy, part of a drive by Italian authorities to fight the plundering of valuable artifacts and art .

The trial is the result of a ten-year probe by Italian investigators .

Prosecutors believe the precious items were taken from Italy to Switzerland, where they were then acquired by True .

They say she was aware the items were looted but that she brought them back to the US regardless, violating international conventions on dealing in stolen art and artifacts .
It's good to see a real crackdown on the trade in illegal artifacts, and that the US cooperating with other governments.

Sony update

It looks like the pressure has gotten to Sony, and they've decided to pull their DRM from future CD's. Not surprising, considering they've even been criticized by the Department of Homeland Security. When they complain something's gone too far, you know you have a problem...

Sony causing more DRM trouble

It looks like Windows users aren't the only one who might have to worry about Sony's hidden DRM schemes -- Sony CD's also contain DRM software that installs on Mac systems, thanks to Media Max. It hasn't gotten as much attention as their Windows rootkit, but it looks like it does something to the Mac kernel:

I wouldn't be surprised if we hear a bit more about it in the future...


Lords of Creation

One of my favorite authors, S.M. Stirling has release two preview chapters to his upcoming book The Sky People, the first in a new trilogy, "Lords of Creation".

The setting looks very cool -- an AH with the solar system as it should have been. Mars and Venus have been terraformed millions of years in the past by unknown agents and populated by Earth creatures over the years. In 1962, the first Soviet probe penetrates the cloud cover of Venus and records a band of primitive humans battling for their lives against neanderthal-like attackers. Flash forward to 1988, and both the US and USSR have established large bases on Mars and Venus in a late 20th century where the Cold War gave way to a Space Race on steroids.

Check it out... http://hem.bredband.net/b104699/books/skypeople/skypeople_cv.html