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Updated: 2 hours 45 min ago

Falcon 9R failure due to faulty sensor

Fri, 08/29/2014 - 18:21

Last week’s explosive failure of a Falcon 9R test rocket was due to a sensor failure in one of the engines. The test vehicle didn’t contain the multiple sensor voting system used in the commercial Falcon 9 rocket.

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said in a statement Tuesday that the cause of the prototype rocket’s demise was a “blocked sensor port.”

Garrett Reisman, who heads SpaceX’s effort to develop a private space taxi for NASA astronauts, said Wednesday th (more)

More on Iceland

Thu, 08/28/2014 - 18:16

The situation in Iceland is getting worrisome. There are signs that magma is moving from the Bárðarbunga volcano to the Askja volcano. This means that both volcanoes could erupt. More information, and even more speculation, in the comments section.

More worrisome is the possibility that deep magma may be forcing its way to the surface and that could lead to a much larger (more)

Complete Feynman physics lectures online

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 06:23

The complete Feynman lectures on physics are now online in a multi-device friendly HTML5 format. The three volumes cover the core of physics and although some topics, like quantum physics, have advanced quite a bit since Feynman gave the original lectures in the 1960s, they are still a landmark publication. Fair warning: to really understand these, you’ll need to know some calculus and algebra – first year university level should (more)

10 tips to become a Wikipedia master

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 05:15

Although Wikipedia may not be a perfectly authoritative source for research, it is still an incredibly useful resource if you’re aware of its limitations. It’s also a very deep resource with many features that most people never touch. Gizmodo has published 10 tips that will help you master Wikipedia. For example, I didn’t know you could do this:

1. Create ebooks and PDFs for offline reading

Wikipedia has a built-in Book Creator tool that you can take advantage of (more)

Iceland bears watching

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 19:31

It seems that one of Iceland’s major volcanoes may be getting ready to erupt. There’s been a lot of seismic activity under Bardardunga, indicating that magma is on the move. This could mean an eruption is imminent, though the scale of such an eruption is difficult to predict. A worst-case scenario isn’t likely but (more)

What’s new in DITA 1.3

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 05:41

DITA keeps evolving. The DITA Technical Committee is hard at work finishing DITA 1.3, which should be finalized sometime next year. They recently presented a webinar outlining what’s new. If you don’t have the time to watch the webinar, you can view the presentation slides {PDF), which are quite detailed.


2014 Hugo Award winners

Sun, 08/17/2014 - 18:20

The winners of the 2014 Hugo Awards have been announced at Loncon3, the World Science Fiction Convention in London, England. In true sfnal fashion, the award ceremony was streamed live over the Internet, and this time there were no glitches due to over-zealous copyright bots.

Ann Leckie won the Best Novel award for Ancillary Justice. It’s obviously the book of the year, as she also won the Nebula Award for it. I am a bit surprised that Robert Jordan didn’t win for his immensely popular Wheel of Time series. I was glad to see Charlie Stross win Best Novella for Equiod, par (more)

More Falcon 9 ocean landing video

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 11:04

There’s video of the Falcon 9 ocean landing after last month’s ORBCOMM launch, this one taken from a chase plane. Unfortunately, the cameraman missed the actual moment of splashdown, but it’s still an impressive video.



Tue, 08/12/2014 - 05:45

We watched an interesting movie on Netflix the other night – Womb. It turned out to be a drama about a woman who bears the clone of her dead lover and what happens as a result. Yes, it was technically SF but the emphasis was on the F, not the S. The acting was excellent (both former Doctor Matt Smith and Eva Green who is in the series Penny Dreadful) and the cinematography superb. It was much, much better than the IMDB rating would indicat (more)

Who is speaking up for Canadian English?

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 08:53

When I was in university, one of the assignments in my linguistics class was to come up with a list of words that were specific to the part of Canada I was from. It was a harder exercise than it might seem. At the time, there was no dictionary of Canadian English to crib from, and there isn’t one now – the last specifically Canadian dictionary, The Canadian Oxford Dictionary, was last published a decade ago.

The Globe and Mail looks at who is keeping track of Cana (more)

Met Museum of Art puts 400K images online

Tue, 08/05/2014 - 11:00

More good news for art fans. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has put 400,000 images of its art online and free for downloading and non-commercial use. Given that the art is now free of copyright, I don’t see why there should be any restrictions on use, but that’s the way they’ve set it up. OpenCulture has more details and some links worth checking out related to the art.

On Friday, The Metropolitan M (more)

Interview with Peter Watts

Mon, 08/04/2014 - 18:02

Peter Watts is one of the best SF writers around. If you haven’t r ead his Starfish trilogy or Blindsight, do yourself a favour and grab a copy. Even better, get his new novel, Echopraxia, when it comes out at the end of this month.

Clarkesworld has a long interview with him in which he discusses the new novel, science (he’s a marine biologist) and (more)

Free Phish webcast tonight

Sun, 08/03/2014 - 14:15

Here’s a treat I’ll be watching this for sure.

The countdown is on: tonight’s FREE webcast begins in just 7 hours. To celebrate the close of Summer Tour with everyone, Phish will offer a totally FREE live webcast of their sold-out show TONIGHT beginning at 7:45 PM ET (4:45 PM PT) from Encore Park in Alpharetta, GA at


Derek McCulloch and Anthony Peruzzo on Displaced Persons

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 18:52

Next week, Displaced Persons, a graphic novel by Derek McCulloch and Anthony Peruzzo hits the comic stores, with general release later in the month. I mentioned earlier in the month that you could look at a preview of book online. Now you can read a long interview with the author (Derek) and artist (Anthony).

I’m really excited that this book is finally coming out. I was an advance re (more)

MIF2GO now free, open source

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 18:47

MIF2GO, the fine FrameMaker plug-in to cnvert FrameMaker to Word, is now free and open source following the death of OmniSys founder Jeremy Griffiths. This was posted on several mailing lists today by Carolyn Stallard:

FrameMaker plug-in Mif2Go is available for download, at no charge:

Join the new Mif2Go list:

DITA2Go is available for download:

Join the new (more)

SpaceX Falcon 9 ocean landing video

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 05:24

Here’s video of the SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage landing in the ocean after the last launch. Good video this time, but they need wipers for the camera lens. I can’t wait to see them bring one back to the Cape.


One small step

Sun, 07/20/2014 - 13:35

July 20, 1969.


Free ebooks from Scriptorium

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 19:09

As well as offering various content strategy services, Scriptorium Publishing have been publishing a series of books about aspects of technical communication. Several of these are now available as free ebooks in EPUB format. You can download copies of Technical Writing 101, DITA Style Guide and a couple of others. Print versions are available for some of the editions through Amazon and other vendors.

Kudos to Scriptorium for making these available for free.


Been there, done that

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 05:28

In Why I hate negotiating my telecom package, Rob Carrick describes the annual ordeal of trying to shave a few dollars off his cable bill by spending hours online with a cable company customer retention representative. Honestly, I could have written that article – it’s uncanny how his experiences mirror mine.

If you enjoy buying new cars and setting up mortgages at the bank, then you’ll love nego (more)

Digital First Aid Kit

Mon, 07/14/2014 - 05:29

It’s nasty out there: malware, trojans, botnets, drive-by phishing sites, viruses – and that’s just the stuff from the bad guys. (The good guys, NSA, CSIS, etc. deserve a separate post).

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and a group of NGOs have created a Digital First Aid Kit to help you cope with all the nastiness.

The Digital First Aid Kit includes a secure communications layer, as well as sections on hacked accounts, DoS, seizure of devices and malware attacks on your site and network. You can (more)