Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Carnival of Space #137

Just a quick post to let you know that this blog still has a pulse - faint and irregular, but like that poor chap in Monty Python and the Holy Grail who gets thrown on the plague wagon, "I'm not dead." I'm thinking that right around February 12 or so I'll start to have some time and mental energy to think about blogging again.

In the meantime, there's a lovely Carnival of Space to explore over at One Astronomer's Noise. There are links to a number of interesting looking blog posts as well as a few references to the movie Avatar, which I'm dying to see. Busy as I am right now, I actually tried to see it twice - bought tickets and everything. Once was a user error (we bought tickets for the 2D version by mistake and decided to see a different movie and see the 3D version later). The second time I was in the theater watching previews with the 3D glasses when the digital projector broke. Bummer. We got replacement tickets for that and I hope to see it soon. It sounds like a great escape, but for now it's back to the reality of PowerPoint and meeting planning.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Parrot AR.Drone: Too Cool!

I love getting cool apps for the iPod Touch, even though in many cases I don't end up using some apps very much. This is especially true for games - I've gotten a number of free and 99 cent or so games, but I rarely end up playing them more than a couple of times. I'm really not a big gaming person, though I did go through a 6-year period of intense flight sim usage in the 90's (a slight exception). I love "airplane and space stuff" but even in that category (flight sims, lunar landers), I never really got hooked on any iPod apps.

This one could be different, though it will require a substantial external hardware investment. Assuming the price of the Parrot AR-Drone isn't too ridiculous, I'm looking forward this year to getting a small quad-rotor helicopter that comes equipped with two video camera and a WiFi hub. The flying WiFi hub lets you connect to it from an iPhone or iPod Touch and fly the helicopter by tilting the iPod while you watch the view from its nose-mounted video cam beamed back to the display!  Battery life will probably be an issue since this small remote controlled thing will use its power to transmit a WiFi signal and to power the video cameras and other on-board electronics in addition to the four rotors.But still - it looks amazing. If you are "remotely" interested in this sort of thing, check out the videos. It's being developed by a French company and I guess they introduced it at CES in Las Vegas last week. They apparently already have an application developer kit so there will be various "augmented reality" apps for small-scale aerial combat along with who-knows-what.

A flight sim that really flies! How cool is that?