What I found most interesting in Elon Musk's talk about his vision of spreading humanity into space was his statement regarding all the other stuff he does apart from SpaceX.
He said: "The main reason I'm personally accumulating assets is to fund this."
That may be true. But there is something more to it:
Elon Musk's portfolio of assets (compare his Wikipedia entry) includes an interesting mix of technologies, which all of a sudden look rather different, when taking his recent speech in account - maybe with the exception of PayPal, Zip2 and X.com.
Obviously. This is not related to his vision, but this is the base of it. There were many questions raised, regarding the reusability of Falcon 9's returned stages. I was hoping for the best, but so far never satisfied with the answers. The most valid reason for me was, that SpaceX was returning stages to investigate reusability.
Now, however it seems clear, that SpaceX is using the Falcon 9 as a test bed for their BFR, their Big F**ing Rocket. Launching satellites with it is nice, but mainly fincances the development test bed.
Elon Musk explicitly mentions that the BFR would allow travelling anywhere on Earth within a time span of 25 to 45 minutes, ignoring transfer times to and from the rocket. He also mentions that the booster system is only needed on Earth, not on Mars. Since airplanes are not viable on Mars due to the thin air which would not support wings at reasonable speeds, long range travel on Mars would probably based on rocket technology. SpaceX could be to Mars' what Boeing and Airbus are to us.
This company bundles lots and lots of technologies. The range starts with the electric motors and peaks somewhere around the Bioweapon Defense Mode. For a car, all of this makes it astonishingly Mars ready. Replace the air filter with a proper carbon dioxide scrubber and make the cars maybe a bit more airtight, and there you are. The Mars mobile. It is not as simple as that, sure, but in general an all-terrain Tesla should work on Mars pretty well. Having the know-how to build good batteries should also be nice.
No comment needed here. A mars colony needs lots of power, why not use solar cells. Solar City provides the know how and the inital technology transfer.
Yes, there are issues with Mars being further from the sun and therefore receiving less sunlight, but since the air is so thin, athmospheric losses are low. Exception: Sandstorms. They are not as scary as in the latest Mars movie. In fact, you probably would not even notice being in one, but it would cover your panels with dust and would lower the received energy for a while. All of this can be solved by a (robotic) broom and by having multiple solar energy plants distributed over the Mars surface.
It would be nice to have some kind of cheap transportation system, though, to allow travelling to the different locations. A kind of train?
Mostly ridiculed for the need of a low inner-tube pressure and therefore a vehicle with a pressurised cabin. The tube would have to withstand the pressure of the outer athmosphere and would require lots of pumps to keep the low pressure. All of this might make it a bad transport alternative.
Mars would be very different. Since Mars has a low pressure athmosphere, all you would need is a tube. With holes in it.
Hyperloop might not even be meant for Earth. Elon might want to develop it for Mars. This could be the Mars train equivalent.
There you have it. The full transportation and energy system for a Mars colony out of one hand. Musk's hand.
Not even considering OpenAI's potential, this is a serious collection of technologies and know-how.
The sound card itself runs just fine on a Linux Mint 13 machine. Since Linux Mint is an Ubuntu derivative, my solution should work there as well. Actually, it should work on most distributions if you use PulseAudio. If you are on ALSA, I will give a little bit of advice as well at the end.
Step 1 - Install LIRC package
The soundcard's volume knob sends signals to the operating system, just like infrared remote controls. In fact it comes with a small remote control. For this to work, you need the LIRC software package (LIRC stands for Linux Infrared Remote Control). Use the package manager of your choice to install lirc, or just type in a terminal
sudo apt-get install lirc
At installation you will be asked to select a Remote control and transmitter. Select none for both, we will set it up manually, just to make sure.
Step 2 - Setup LIRC
We need to tell the LIRC service to use the correct driver and configuration file. For this, open the file /etc/lirc/hardware.conf in an editor of your choice. You need root rights for this, so type this in a terminal:
sudo gedit /etc/lirc/hardware.conf
In the file change the lines containing REMOTE_DRIVER, REMOTE_LIRCD_CONF and START_LIRCD to
You can comment the original lines to keep the old settings with a leading #.
I rebooted my machine after this step, just to make sure it works. You should only have to relaunch the lircd daemon with sudo /etc/init.d/lirc restart, but anyway...
Step 3 - Check if it works
Volume changes via the knob still will not work, but let's try first if the knob is being recognised. In a terminal enter this command:
Now turn the sound card's knob or click it. There should be some feedback, probably looking like this:
0000000000000010 00 vol+ RM-1500
0000000000000010 01 vol+ RM-1500
000000000000000f 01 vol- RM-1500
000000000000000d 00 mute RM-1500
Step 4 - Setup .lircrc
Now we will setup LIRC, so it knows what to do when the dial is turned or clicked. Edit or create the file .lircrc in your home directory (not root!).
################################# ## Default file for all remotes
begin remote = * prog = PulseAudio config = volume-down button = vol- repeat = 1 end
begin remote = * prog = PulseAudio config = volume-up button = vol+ repeat = 1 end
begin remote = * prog = PulseAudio config = mute-toggle button = mute end
Restart LIRC again with sudo /etc/init.d/lirc restart
and restart pulseaudio with pulseaudio -k
Try turning the dial and click it, it might already work! If not, proceed with Step 5.
Step 5 - Install PulseAudio's LIRC module
We now need to tell PulseAudio to accept commands coming from the LIRC service. Enter the following command in a terminal and look for a line containing module-lirc
pacmd list-modules | grep -i module-
If there is no line saying name: <module-lirc>, we have to install that missing module and tell pulseaudio to load it.
Install it with sudo apt-get install pulseaudio-module-lirc and open the file /etc/pulse/default.pa in an editor. Add the line
Now we need to restart LIRC and pulseaudio:
sudo /etc/init.d/lirc restart
pulseaudio -k # correct, without sudo
Now, all should work just fine.
Creative Lab's position
Last time I tried this, I contacted the Creative support. They only told me, their policy was not to support Linux and that they did not plan to do so in the foreseeable future. Well, the card is great, but I can only recommend it to people who are at home with the command line and have a basic understanding of the Linux operating system. It is a shame.
To find out all of this, I read through lots of sources. Some of these are:
The Indie Humble Bundle, while a nice thing in itself, gives a brilliant insight into a market opportunity currently being neglected by the major game publishers: Linux users.
While often esteemed as out-and-out freeloaders with hostility to all non-open source software, the HumbleBundle sheds new light on this target group: Guess what, they are not!
The HumbleBundle is publishing games in a new way. The buyer does not only pick the price he is willing to pay, he even details how much of that goes to the developers, charity and Humble Bundle, Inc., providing the publishing service. Often the offered games are multi platform, now even including Android, mostly coded by independent developers. The latest HumbleBundle contained Swords & Soldiers, Canabalt, Zen Bound 2, Cogs and Avadon: The Black Fortress. As charitable organisations the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Child's Play were available for choice. After payment, the user can download DRM free installers for all available platforms and install them on his machines.
Screenshot of the sales details of 'Humble Bundle for Android 2' as of 24th of March 2012 as shown on humblebundle.com
The sales statistics, as provided on humblebundle.com, are definitely interesting.
First you will notice, that the market share of Linux users is larger than that of the Macs! (Predictably, the Windows user segment is the largest). This might not be too ground braking, as Linux users as a demographic group might be more affectionate to the Indie developer scene.
The second, but by far more interesting fact is this: The average price paid by Linux users is 9.76$, which is as good as 70% percent more than your average Windows user is willing to pay, and 40% more than Mac users. The fair business model apparently pays off, especially with those open source freeloaders!
Hey, big publishers! Think you are missing a market here?
(You can read more on the details about the Humble Bundle here or here)
Raspberry Pi, das offene Computerprojekt hat heute seinen großen Tag - und übertrifft dabei alle Erwartungen, allerdings nicht nur zur Freude der beteiligten Händler. Seit heute, dem 29. Februar, wird (theoretisch) die erste Fuhre der etwa kartenspielgroßen Kleincomputer verkauft, die lizensierten Händler RS Components und Farnell erlebten einen unvorhergesehenen Ansturm.
Die britische Stiftung hatte es sich ursprünglich nur zum Ziel gesetzt, einen kostengünstigen Kleincomputer zu bauen, der vor allem in der Schule Kinder zum Programmieren und Basteln zu anmieren und nicht durch hohe Kosten oder altmodische Entwicklungsumgebungen abzuschrecken. Das Ergebnis ist ein mit einem Preis von etwa 26 EUR (basierend auf dem derzeitigen Dollarkurs) beeindruckend günstiger Computer, der keineswegs nur ein Spielzeug oder Kinder-Bastelprojekt darstellt.
Das Gerät verfügt über USB, Netzwerk-Anbindung, Composite und HDMI-Ausgang für Bildschirme oder Fernsehgeräte, natürlich einen Stereo-Tonausgang und einen mit modernen Handys vergleichbaren und 3D-fähigen Grafikchip. Betrieben wird das Gerät mit einem Linux-Betriebssystem. Hier sind Entwicklern aber keine Grenzen gesetzt. Statt Festplatte ist eine SD-Karte als Speicher für das System vorgesehen, durch den Anschluss über USB lassen sich aber natürlich auch weitere Geräte wie WLAN-Adapter anschließen. Die Wiedergabe von hochauflösendem Video ist problemlos möglich, so dass beispielsweise eine Nutzung als kosten- und energiesparendes Home-Cinema-System in Frage kommt - beim Abspielen eines hochauflösenden Videos von der SD-Karte soll sich der Energieverbrauch zwischen zwei und drei Watt bewegen.
Das Projekt hatte in den letzten Monaten mehr und mehr auch internationae Aufmerksamkeit bekommen. In einer ersten Runde soll nun eine Gemeinschaft von Entwicklern aufgebaut werden, so dass zum "echten" Release bereits Software und Anleitungen, Erfahrungsberichte, Foren existieren, in denen unter anderem auch Lehrer und Schüler Hilfe und Tips finden können.
Betaversion des Raspberry-Pi Kleincomputers
Seit 6 Uhr GMT (bei uns 7 Uhr) werden die ersten zehntausend Geräte nun verkauft. Zu Beginn hatte die Firma RS Components Probleme mit dem Ansturm, die Website war häufig nicht aufrufbar. Inzwischen geht es wieder, man kann sich derzeit als interessiert registrieren, ein direkter Kauf ist auf der Seite noch nicht möglich.
Für die Firma Farnell/Element 14 hatte der Ansturm scheinbar die Ausmaße eines DDOS-Angriffes angenommen. Alle internationalen Websites des Anbieters sind seit heute morgen offline oder sind zumindest nur sporadisch nutzbar. (EDIT: Um 14:30 konnte die Seite de.farnell.com wieder aufgerufen werden)
Im Laufe der nächsten Monate soll eine leicht abgespeckte Version mit der Bezeichnung "Modell A" auf den Markt kommen, der preislich noch einmal günstiger sein soll.
Eine besonderheit des Gerätes ist das Vorhandensein von In/Out-Pins, die direkt angesteuert werden können und so den Einbau des Computers in verschiedenste Geräte erlauben soll. Von Schaltern bis zu Messinstrumenten oder Relais kann hier alles angesteuert werden. Die Stromversorgung kann über einen einfachen USB-Ausgang oder -Adapter erfolgen. So könnte man den Raspberry Pi zum Beispiel als mobilen Proxy einsetzen, oder mit Software wie OwnCloud als NAS.
Der günstige Preis und der geringe Strombedarf erlauben eine Vielfalt von Anwendungen, da man den Verlust eines Raspberry Pi leicht verschmerzen kann. So wird schon über eine WLAN-Cloud nachgedacht. Einige Raspberry-Pi mit Solarzelle und WLAN-Adapter könnten tagsüber leicht einen Park in ein großes Internetkaffee verwandeln. Oder elektronische Kunstprojekte, nur lokal über WLAN zu empfangen, vielleicht gekoppelt mit einer Kamera für interaktive Projekte. Geocaches könnten so am Ende einer GPS-Schatzsuche eine Website anbieten, auf der man sich einträgt, Rätsel löst oder Dateien als Belohnung erhält.
Künstler und Kreative sind jetzt gefragt. Sobald Raspberry-Pi nicht mehr überlastet ist und von der derzeit statischen Seite zum normalen Betrieb zurückkehrt findet man alles hier:
Ergänzung: Farnell gab gegen 15:30 Uhr bekannt, dass bereits alle verfügbaren Raspberry-Pi-Computer verkauft seien:
"Following the successful launch of Raspberry Pi Board B this morning we've seen unpresidented levels of interest in this product. Stocks from Raspberry Pi of the initial production quanitiy are limited and these have already sold out. For those of you who have already pre-ordered, we will let you know in the next few days when you can expect your delivery. We're working very closely with Raspberry Pi to ensure we meet the demand as soon as possible. We will be one of the first to have Raspberry Pi's in stock and delivered to you, so if you haven't been able to pre-order, register your interest below so we can let you know as soon as you can order again and keep you updated with the latest on availability."
Update (2011-08): I just set up my good old IBM T40 ThinkPad
with LinuxMint Debian. Which, by the way, rocks! Setup was easy, but the
wireless driver did not work, again.
Well, this time I found out there is a package available via
Synaptic, which installs the missing Broadcom driver just fine. It is
called "fimware-b43-installer". It works for my 4320 chipset and I found
out about it here. Try the link for a full list of supported chipsets and loads of help.
Since this is a never ending story (at least as long as my T40 still works), I will keep the old postings in here:
Anna Symbian, that is a girl to watch out for. According to Nokia, she is quite skilled. Or maybe her sister, probably named Bertha or similar.
According to an announcement on the Nokia forums, Nokia plans to throw away version numbering and rely solely on female names for the upcoming series of symbian versions: "At the same time, software versioning has been streamlined with a clear alphabetic nomenclature, realised through female names, starting with A."
Subversioning will be interesting, maybe with a second name? Anna Deirdre, Anna Eve and Anna Felicitas will be so pleased. And why stick to Anna anyway? Argathea Walburga will as obviously be version 1.23 as Anna Whitney. Also, this seems to be the first time, real geeks will be able to name their daughters after a hardcore piece of software, an operating system (!!) and get a way with it. Let's hope Nokia can save Ms. Symbian and give us a full alphabet of geek-girl names.
I can imagine people all over the world hurry to get all kinds of female names copyrighted now. So, maybe Nokia just goes for the unobvious.
This is my list of suggestions:
Anna Bertha Catava Donata Elektra Finnguala Gerlinda Hermione Imelda Jyotsana Klaudia Lyra Moneta Nena Olga Pietronella Quirina Roxanna Sieglinda Taliba Utah Vuvuzela Witashnah Xena Yara Zona
All these names seem to exist, according to Google :)
While apparently many Android users are experiencing a complete Google Market failure for several days or even weeks, Google, the hardware vendors and online media are pretty silent about this problem. The reason? Most probably everyone is scared to fingerpoint to the wrong side.
Screenshot of affected Android 2.2 phone with stuck download.
The issue: Typically, affected users can use their phone's internet connection (3G and WiFi) without a problem, the whole phone does not show any issues while browsing, or downloading files. The Google Market application can be used to browse and search applications, access the details and start to download the application as always. Only the download does not really start. The usual diagonal bars can be seen (see picture) and the download icon pops up in the notification bar. After a few seconds, the icon vanishes, but the download with its diagonal moving bars stays the same for several minutes or hours, until an error message eventually might show up. The market application stays reactive and the download can be cancelled. The issue affects all application downloads.
Identifying the issue is not too easy, as it seems, that some similar problems can be resolved with clearing the cache of the download manager and the market application. Others can be helped with uninstalling market application updates or logging in to the google talk application. Also, using an alternative or fresh google account seems to help many users, but who wants to loose all bought apps?
Still several users are stuck with an unusable market. So far, there is no official statement, no published reason, the only source of help and information are basically forums all over the net (german forum entries on google forums) or IT news services like heise.
Google issued an online form to fill out. Mails, requesting more information were sent out quickly, but so far it seems to be a black hole, collecting information without any solid response. After sending two additional requested mails with information, the last mail is:
Thanks for notifying us of this situation, which our team of
specialists is currently addressing. I sincerely apologize
for this inconvenience and appreciate your kind patience
while we work to resolve this issue.
While I understand that this can be a frustrating experience,
please rest assured knowing that our engineers are diligently
working to provide an update so as to remedy this situation
as quickly as possible.
I am experiencing this issue myself and so far I could not gather any information on this issue from either Google, my hardware manufacturer (Samsung) or my network provider (O2) where I bought the phone. I started searching the web and was a bit shocked of the lack of information, and apparently most affected users feel the same, according to forum posts (and my own experience), this issue is known for at least three weeks now.
For my part, I will try logging on with an alternative google account and keep contacting the three parties Samsung, Google and O2 to wring some answers out of them.
The Android market application is apparently using https to download apps. On devices, impacted by this kind of issue, https downloads seem not to work, using the stock download manager, as well.
Apparently a full format of the internal SD card does the trick. It was claimed by several non-Google sources, that there might have been an issue with incorrect access rights to some directories after switching from Eclaire to Froyo.
I formated my internal SD card and it helped, I could not verify the root cause, though.
I did some firmware flashing of different versions of 2.1 and 2.2 firmwares and could not recreate this issue. Users with that problem should have a good look at their internal SD's folder structure.
(This is a reminder for me and maybe it is of help for someone out there.)
I needed to disable the digital driver signing "feature" of Windows 7 recently. It is Win 7 professional, so I thought it should not be too hard. Wrong. There was nothing (or only in quite complicated ways) do that via Windows' GUI.
So, here is the command line way:
Open a cmd.exe with Admin rights. For that, you can type cmd.exe in the search field of the start menu. Right click on the cmd.exe entry and choose "Run as Administrator".
Copy paste or type the following command to the shell:
The answer should be "The operation completed successfully". If not, your cmd.exe is probably not running with Administrator rights.
Copy paste or type the following command to the shell:
bcdedit.exe -set TESTSIGNING ON
The answer should be "The operation completed successfully".
Now reboot the machine and the driver signing enforcement should be turned off.
You will be doing this on your own responsibility. If you do not need to switch off the functionality, or if you do not know what it does, then DON'T DO IT.
If this leads to any problems with your machine or with your data, or your fridge starts heating instead of cooling, or your parrot starts talking in some foreign language: It is your problem, I told you so. (By the way, my machine runs fine for months now, with driver signing turned off, so, to my best knowledge, this should be safe.)
The famous NAS systems have a brand new management UI, called DiskStation Manager 3.0. The build is named DSM 3.0-1337 (!)
(c) by Synology
The already feature boasting Synology DiskStations now have a lovely, desktop like, 'multi tasking' Web UI, which allows to easily manage all functionality of the device in one place. A file manager and a full blown window manager have been added. This is a huge step forward for the already great managing tool.
While the DSM brings a full blown webserver with mySQL, php, several natively supported content management systems and webapps, file sharing compatibility for Linux, MacOS and Windows (CIFS), RAID protection, multiple iSCSI LUN, a media server, surveillance functionality, a backup service, user and group policy management with domain integration, a firewall, IPv6 support, Telnet and SSH access and much more out of the box, you can still expand the functionality by adding a mail server, phpAdmin, or the Logitech Squeezebox Server to the already impressive feature set. It is even possible to add 3rd party software with an easy to use, build-in package manager.
Depending of the DiskStation models, which vary in number of disks and therefore available storage space, processor speed, RAM and size (there are rackmountable versions available), a DiskStation can replace a server (Synology is actually running their webpage on a DiskStation).
If you are looking for home or small business storage and server solutions, have a look at Synology and give it a try.
The Powder Toy is an awesome goal-less, creativity toy, originally created by Stanislaw K Skowronek and now taken to the next level by Simon Robertshaw. It reminds a bit of the classing falling sands games (1, 2), but much more evolved (much, much more). It basically equips the player with a huge set of materials (elements), building blocks and a virtual 2D laboratory in which it simulates a simple approach to electricity, pressure, heat, wind and fire.
The player may save creations on a server or just in a 'stamp' library, to reuse certain design elements. Creations can also be proudly published to the community, which will rate it and eventually develop it further. All of that is solved in-game, without any browser being involved.
Standard creations in powder toy are nuclear bombs, flamethrowers, and basically all stuff that blows up. It is good for a start to get a rough idea. But advanced users build clocks, calculators, collections of logical gates and pixel-by-pixel creations of sub-miniature logics and electronics.
There are currently only videos of the old version like the one below, which will give you a first glance of what this is about, but if you keep looking for 'The Powder Toy' on youtube, the new version should show up pretty soon.
The powder toy includes an auto-update to new versions, which currently show up on a near-daily basis. The development process is fast and open to suggestions of users. There is a forum, that is closely reviewed by the main developer himself.
You can download The Powder Toy from the website http://powder.hardwired.org.uk. While you are there, create an account to enable saving from The Powder Toy. It is all free and the forum and development is very active. The powder toy is available for Mac, Windows and Linux!
I should issue a warning, though: The Powder Game is a serious health threat, it is highly addictive. Once your first creations get mostly-green ratings, you will find yourself worrying over single pixels/particles for serious amounts of time, just to improve your creations.
Edit: The Powder Toy recently opened its gates to other developers.
The free space flight simulator Orbiter by Martin Schweiger is now available to download in its brand new 2010 version (the last major version had been issued 2006). Orbiter allows you to fly your own spaceship into orbit. And if you want to, it brings you to the planet or it's moon of your choice. You can build your own space station, create and fly downloaded scenarios or just watch the beauty of earth from space.
Being a space flight simulator which allows to fly a space shuttle in atmospheric approach or the imaginary Deltaglider IV with horizontal lift off, Orbiter is also a more and more enjoyable flight simulator.
2010's changes concentrate on graphics and openness for 3rd party developers, including API support and an embedded scripting language. The graphics were partly visible in the beta versions and are a huge step forward for Orbiter, the physics and the atmospheric model have been reworked or upgraded.
With well known 3rd party developers releasing new models synchronous to the new 2010 version, a nice orchestrated roll-out has been done here.
One thing that is still disturbing is, that Orbiter still does not provide native sound output: You will have to download and install Orbiter Sound from Dan's Orbiter Page if you want to hear your rockets roar. Installation is easy, but I just don't understand the reason not to pack the plugin right into the standard release.
Gladly Orbiter sticks to its roots: Installation is mainly unpacking everything in a directory of choice. This allows running different versions of Orbiter for testing.
If you are into flight simulations, this is a must.
While Opera calls the beta version 10.50, the feeling is that of a major release.
The User Interface is slick and slender and fits perfect to the current trend to reduce overhead screen space. While this is an assett for any user, it addresses especially owners of netbooks. Windows 7 and Vista users will like the neat integration into their OS, using transparency effects similar to Google's Chrome browser.
Opera 10.50 Beta offers lots of transparency
engine. With the new vector graphics library "Vega", graphics,
transitions, scrolling and all other animations are made smoother, more
A Linux version is currently not available, but the first impressions
on windows systems are good. Speed, always one of Opera's big
advantages, is now taken to a different level. Launching Opera on a
windows 7 test system took 3 seconds, while FireFox needs 6 seconds.
Opera 10.50 is a definite beta. Some features are not fully
imlemented yet, but the general experience makes hungry for more.
As always, the beta can be installed parallel to a stable release of
Opera to allow testing.
While using the 10.50, a crash could
be reproduced: While using the
web management console of a Synology DS-209, Opera
always crashed after some minutes.
It was a long time with a lot of silence. Now I quickly want to share a little gem I found:
Orbiter is being actively developed. The new version has been called Orbiter 2009 until now, but it is being updated to 2010. First screenshot can be seen here.
If you never heard of it: Orbiter is a realtime space flight simulation, created by Martin Schweiger with a definite focus on realism. It is highly extensible, there are hundreds of plugins and add-ons available.
Delta Glider IV in flight
Delta Glider IV Cockpit
The space ships are sporting a virtual "glass cockpit" or come with 2D and sometimes 3D cockpits.
One famous space ship is the DeltaGlider IV. Check out the author's Gallery for some beautiful picturers. I will be posting some more updates and infos, but for now: I am back :)