Tag Archives: iPad

Winning Science September 18, 2013

I know we’ve all heard this one before, but Voyager 1 has officially left the solar system, at least until they make another announcement. Launched in 1977, Voyager 1 is the first manmade object to travel beyond the confines of our solar system and into interstellar space. Considering Voyager 1 has taken 36 years to get to where it is, it’s not likely its going to have any company any time soon.

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This thing is getting some great gas mileage.

Keeping with our space theme, we have news from SpaceX. The commercial space flight company is going to be performing a second static test of their Falcon 9 rocket. Due to some anomalies (love that word, especially when it involves space) during the last test, they’ve decided to perform another one. Unfortunately for them the test will be pushed back until the end of the month due to Air Force’s testing of ICBMs.

At least it turned out better than the early days of NASA.

Today is the release of iOS 7, which by the time you are reading this has probably somehow bricked my phone. But for those of you who are not as unlucky as I am, we’ve found a handy little guide to help you prep your phone prior to updating. They provide some common sense kind of stuff like backing up your pictures and videos just in case.

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Well at least my phone will be a very attractive looking brick.

Finally, Popular Science has answered a question that I’ve had since I was a kid; What happens if you put rocket fuel in your car? Turns out, not much. I’m kind of disappointed

It's not nearly as funny as this will end up being.

It’s not nearly as funny as this will end up being.

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Star Trek Tech

One of the biggest reasons for my lifelong love affair with Star Trek is the amazing Star Trek technology. Since the very beginning, Gene Roddenberry imagined Star Trek as an idealized future for humanity, where we have been able to set aside our petty differences and work for the betterment not just of mankind but an entire alliance of alien races as well, by using their incredible technology. This fantastic vision has helped inspire several generations of Trekkie engineers to try and develop the wonderful devices that lead them to fall in love with the show in the first place. Being an engineer myself, it’s kind of fun to think about what we have already been able to achieve and where we still have to go.

THE PADD

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One of the simplest and most ubiquitous pieces of tech found on the Enterprise is the PADD. A small data entry device, slightly larger than a book and about as thick as a yellow legal pad, they are used for everything from writing an official report to serving as a catalog for wedding dresses. When Star Trek writers want to make it look like a character is hard at work, they usually show them half out of uniform, sleeves rolled up and a table covered in PADDs.

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In January of 2010, the late, great Steve Jobs announced a new Apple device. Not just inspired by Star Trek, the iPad has been almost completely ripped off Star Trek.  It even had almost exactly the same name and bore more than a striking resemblance to the Star Trek device, albeit a bit larger. Flash forward to 2012 and a few iPad models later, Apple announced the iPad mini, which is now basically the same size as a PADD. This is one of the few times blatant plagiarism is absolutely acceptable.

UHURA’S EAR PIECE

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Not as universal as the Pad, this little device is much more iconic. A quick Google image search for Uhura will come back with hundreds of images of her sitting at her station wearing her ear piece. It’s so iconic in fact that it was also included without change in J.J. Abrams 2010 reboot. Although essentially gone by the time of The Next Generation, for 1960’s America this ear piece was quite the impressive device. They had never seen a wireless device this small that would so easily fit into someone’s ear.

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Those of us living in the 21st century, however, see this all the time.  We call it a Bluetooth headset. People in their mid-twenties or older remember that when Bluetooth first came on the market, it was used almost exclusively as a hands free devices for phones.  This lead to many humorous moments trying to figure out if someone was on the phone or if they were crazy and talking to themselves (especially if the conversation got particularly heated).  Now we’ve grown use to seeing this, but in the early 2000’s it was pretty damn funny.

HOLODECK

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This is honestly as glorious as it looks.

In the pilot of The Next Generation, Riker goes to find Data on the Holodeck, a room where the entire environment, including interactive characters, is artificially generated. The system started off very basic, but as the show progressed (and budgets increased) entire episodes would be set on the Holodeck. This simple room allowed the crew of the Enterprise to visit far off alien planets, fantasy worlds, or various historical periods (Worf in the Old West was one of my favorites). Frequently these episodes would end up revolving around something going wrong with the Holodeck, so much so that even the show made a joking reference to it in an episode of Deep Space Nine.

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I hope I look this good when I’ve been dead 16 years.

In April of 2012 at the Cochella Music Festival the audience was treated to a surprise performance by rapper 2Pac. This appearance was a huge surprise because 2Pac has been dead for sixteen years and this unbelievable feat was accomplished through the use of holograms. While it isn’t the Holodeck yet, it is a considerable advance in holographic technology. This same technology is being used in Japan to create an entirely artificial pop music star, Hatsune Miku. We aren’t that far away from completely interactive worlds that we can explore.

What Star Trek Tech do you want to see make its way to our modern world? Let us know down below in the Comment section.

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Filed under Andrew Hales, Geek Life

Review: Star Command

After a long day at work I relax by partaking in a little gaming, and now that I have an iPad mini, I can literally partake in a ‘little’ gaming. I decided to take the mobile gaming plunge by diving into Star Command.  This RPG is relatively new—released the beginning of May 2013 by Kickstarter—and it is pretty fantastic.  So far in the game I’m finding the mechanics very enjoyable.

The player controls a ship and its captain, going on Star Trek style missions, fighting aliens and earning tokens that can be used to recruit new crew members and upgrade the ship.  There are a lot of great self-aware puns and jokes throughout the game (like expendable security crew members wearing red shirts), but they aren’t so often or ridiculous that the game feels campy.  Most of the game uses very simple graphics with big pixels, but the vivid colors make them really enjoyable.  The rest of the game has crisp, cartoon-like graphics used in a sparse and tasteful manner.Image

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According to recent updates on the Kickstarter page, the game’s producers have been listening to user feedback and have a list of changes they intend to incorporate into the game to fix minor issues.  I’m also hoping to see some wonderful new gameplay additions.  This is an all-around great game because of its simplicity, aesthetic appeal, and great sense of humor.  It also doesn’t hurt that in an era of freemium games, this is a self-contained game with a nice, low sticker price of $2.99.

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Filed under Andrew Hales, Game Reviews, Gaming