Tuesday, November 30, 2010

2001: Aries at Clavius #3

2001: Aries at Clavius #3, originally uploaded by FlyingSinger.
I just renewed my Flickr Pro account for another year and was looking through my "photos" (most of them are actually Orbiter screen shots). This is one of my favorites, recreating a scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey (using the great World of 2001 add-on). The Aries moon shuttle is making a near-vertical approach to Clavius Base. The animated dome is retracting.

Interview with The Creator...

...the Creator of Orbiter, that is. This is another late-to-the-party thing for me as an unfortunately inactive Orbiter fan (hey, I've been busy) - a June 2010 interview with Dr. Martin Schweiger, the creator and maintainer of the wonderful, free Orbiter 2010 space flight simulator.

Cheap Music Binge

I like the week of Thanksgiving because it's a good time to stock up on cheap MP3 albums at Amazon. In the past week I've bought a few MP3 albums for just $1.99, some of them amazingly good. I'm especially loving The Suburbs by Arcade Fire and the latest X5 classical collection, "The 99 Most Essential Violin Masterpieces" (it's gone up to $2.49 but still an amazing bargain). Most of the pop/rock albums are back to regular prices now.  But many of the X5 Classical collections are still available for $1.99 or so.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Orbiter 2010 Patch 1

 To top off an already busy and exciting year (my older daughter's wedding, finishing my second CD, building an addition on our house), my company was acquired a month or so ago, and now I am busier at work than I have been in years. Evenings, weekends, sleepless nights, travel, culture shock, O.B.S. (Obsessive Blackberry Syndrome) - it's quite a ride. I'm hoping the major transition will only last for a few months so I can eventually get some brain cells back for other things like songwriting and blogging (seeing as this is only my second post in November and it's the 29th).

In the meantime, I did spend a little time this past weekend catching up on Orbiter 2010 developments, including the release at the end of August of the first patch for the 2010 version (I only missed it by three months). In addition to various bug fixes and minor improvements, Orbiter 2010-P1 offers optional celestial background images (not my cup of tea) and the surprisingly dramatic feature of localized light sources, such as docking lights on a spacecraft (see Flash video capture above), or rocket exhaust lighting up the launchpad. As an "optics dude," I especially admire these dynamic lighting effects.When combined with higher resolution Earth textures (L11 for all of Earth, L14 for Florida) and other visual tweaks, Orbiter's 3D space world is more beautiful than ever, and as always, free for the downloading. I haven't had time to look at add-ons, except to notice that the always amazing Shuttle Fleet and ISS Fleet have already been updated for Orbiter 2010.

I've got a couple of weeks off from December 20 to 31, so I'm thinking of running through my Go Play In Space book in Orbiter 2010, to make sure everything works and maybe even do some minor (or even major, if I get inspired) updates to create a third edition of Go Play for Orbiter 2010. Stay tuned...

The picture below shows the improved Earth surface night lighting, at least for Florida (where daylight L14 textures are provided). It looks pretty cool.

Sitting On Top of the World

This has to be one of my absolute favorite space photos, a picture of astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson looking at the Earth through the recently added cupola windows on the ISS. Reminds me of the old blues/Cream song "Sitting on Top of the World." I would love to experience that view someday. This was NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day on November 15.