Battlestar Pegasus

One of my favorite episodes of one of my favorite 80’s TV shows was the “Living Legend” on Battlestar Galactica. This was a two part episode starting Lloyd Bridges as Commander Cain. It was a great episode because it pit Lloyd Bridges’ Cain against Loren Green’s Adama. Both characters had very different approaches. Cain was gung-ho to attach the Cyclons while Adama was more parental and concerned about protecting the rag-tag fleet.

This week in SciFi channel the new Battlestar Galactica series is featuring a new episode ‘Pegasus’. The description clearly shows this to be a remake of Living Legend. I intentionally did not watch the teaser for the upcoming episode so all my information is based on the description of the upcoming episode. I see a couple of differences right off the bat.

Cain has gotten a promotion to Admiral. And Admiral Cain is a woman — a surprisingly young woman at that — played by Michelle Forbes (Ensign Ro from Star Trek: The Next Generation). This promises to be a really good episode. Adama respects the president dispite her gender and lack of experience now after they have been through some trials. Now enters a young, probably gung-ho, superior officer with a very loyal crew. I’m sure her ship was not about to be decommissioned. She surely has ships and armament to get into the fight. What I will miss is the classic cylon reporting on the “second” battlestar to a very confused Baltar played by John Colicos. I do hope there is some sort of a nod to classic fans — there usually is.

This is the Summer Season finale and it will run 2 minutes longer than normal — watch your DVR. I’m sure we will get stung with a cliffhanger.

It was a cliffhanger. Long wait til Jan. They made Cain into a psychopath. I had to send my son out of the room at one point during the interrogation. 9/24/06 -DB

CDYNE Has the Cool Toy of the Week

I found this link on a SlashDot link. It is a good example of two things. Once it shows a cool thing you can do with SOAP a.k.a Web Services. This link ia available with many other SOAP services on xmethods.com. SOAP are web pages that are designed to be used by other web pages or programs. They expect a formatted question and give a formatted response. They can also be used inside an organization to share information between unlike systems. I have written Java and AppleScript simple programs to fetch and edit data coming from an MS SQL server through a series of ASP.NET pages.

The second thing this URL is a good example of is viral marketing. They have cast it out there for anyone to use. Just put in the license code of ‘0’ and it will work albeit with a small annoying message that will go away if you pay for their service. This is so cool that it virally spreads just from people showing it to other people.

Notify Phone Basic Web Service

So what is it. Well if you have not already clicked on it, I’ll tell you. It is a simple web service that when you invoke it, a computer dials the phone number that you provide, spoofs the Caller ID to whatever you want, waits for someone to answer and then speaks (TTS) the text that you provided. None of the techonologies are really exotic. Its just cool that they have put them all together in one process and are trying to find out how to make money on them.

TTS – Text to Speech has been around for year. Think of War Games (1981). I had a roommate in college who showed off his speech card that he could put in his Tandy 286. It was appartently just released from the Navy as some sort of technology release. It sounded a lot like the computer in War Games even though we were 6 years later. Macintosh System 6 had MacInTalk and Talking Moose. System 7 Pro added voice recognition to the mix all while Windows 3.0 was just trying to figure out how to make your drivers work with your sound card.

Phone dialing – This part is easy. Any modem can do this. I’m sure they are plugged directly into a switch or are doing this VOIP. What I’m interested in is how they are able to spoof the Caller ID. There may be a problem with that. I can certainly understand why they are doing it. It give the person you call a way to call you back withou giving out the phone number for the system. Think of eFax. I was able to spoof Caller IDs both local and out of area. They must have a pretty good bank of phone lines because the call was almost immediate.

I give props to CDYNE for what I will hope is a good product. Think of the potential. You can program reminder messages to a bunch of people and have those personalized messages delivered at a convenient time.

What is it missing? Natually, it needs some sort of confirmation system. Ideally this would be Voice recognition but touch tones would work. I’m sure that there’s some sort of log on the backend that you could query to confirm delivery of your message or even the response to a survey question.

Return of the X-Files

I decided to give a couple of new shows a chance because their promos looked interesting and the started a week before everything else.
Supernatural on WB
Bones on Fox

I watched Supernatural off the DVR while working on other stuff. It did not really keep my interest beyond the first few minutes. After the initial teaser it broke down into an investigation of an urban legend. It was right out of an X-Files episode with the two stars even referencing Muldar and Scully when they saw some FBI agents at a crime scene. The episode has a thread that ties it togeter at the end but it did not succed for me. I removed it from my DVR timer and moved on to the next on the list.

Bones opens up just like Crossing Jordan. Within the first 5 minutes once character has already referred to him self and his CSI partner as Muldar and Scully. That’s just about the time I pressed stop and delete. Why are all these shows just regurgitating the same themes over and over again?

Oh goody, the premier of House is on next.

Stellarium is Cool Software

I’ve always enjoyed astronomy, of the backyard variety at least. I was born after the first Apollo moon landing. I’ve watched as many of the Space Shuttle launches as possible even after moving to Texas.
My first time to see the Milky Way was in 1986 while crossing over the mountains north of Málaga. I was shocked to see so many stars.

In college I took what was dubbed Cowboy Physics, or astonomy which included a lab where we went out in a field and looked at stars once a week.

A few years ago my wife got me a pair of binoculars to go a look at stars in the back yard. I enjoyed all of these experiences but I still find it hard to know what I am looking at. And because a know a little, people are always asking me questions.

I have looked for software and even bought a product called Red Shift. Red Shift wasn’t very well supported. I should have bought Starry Night. Now I have found a Sourge Forge alternative that is great. It is not as comprehensive as the other products I mentioned but the price and implementation are great.

I encourage you to check it out. It runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux. The interface is a little strange. I wish it were not modal. I used Google Maps to get my home Lat/Long. I proceeded to show my son Jupiter, Venus and the moon as the would appear last night. Coming home from baseball practice he looked out the window and point out how the moon was just where the program said it would be.

iPod nano/ROKR

I watched the Steve-Note address yesterday. I had anticipated the release of a new iPod. The iPod nano is beautiful. I have already talked to my mother about getting one but I am concerned about its interface. It only seems to support USB. The documentation does not qualify if that is USB 1.1 or USB 2.0 as the minimum. I do not know if it would be compatible with her Pismo G3 PowerBook. The alternative is a refurbished iPod Mini whith Firewire support, that I know is compatible.
The ROKR is another story. I’ve been itching for a new phone for a while. I have an aging Sony Ericcson T616. I just got my wife a RAZR which is better than I expected. If Motorola had added iTunes to that phone it would have been a hit. I guess I am most disappointed by the formfactor. It seems kind of clunky. It has no camera. With a half GB of RAM, I cannot complain. 100 songs? That’s like carrying around 10 CDs all the time. I think the memory is fine. At this point, I’ll wait for version 2.

Welcome

I’ve been wanting to get started blogging but I have not been happy with the software tools available. I have been writing news sites for years which are essentially just blogs. I had planned on using one of them but never got around to it. I found this tool, Web Wiz Journal. It is very easy to use but it is missing some crucial features that I want. I will use it for now until I have a chance to import this text into my own creation.