Finding the ISS

Space Travel Space International Space Station Iss

If you are interested in space, you may have tried to get away from the city lights and look up at the night sky. One of the bright objects in orbit is the International Space Station (ISS).

The ISS is in a fast orbit of the Earth, traveling at over 17,000 mile per hour. This means that the ISS completes an orbit about every 90 minutes. If you are in a spot that is relatively free of light pollution, seeing the ISS is easy.

To plan ahead for such an excursion you can use the “Spot the Station” site from NASA. You can enter where you will be into the site and it will then give you a list of the dates and times the ISS will be visible from that location. The site also gives you directions as to where to look for the ISS in the evening sky.

You can even sign up for alerts for when the ISS will be passing within view of your location. Taking advantage of this would be a great way to involve kids in STEM activities. For me the current closest location with a list of sighting opportunities is for Georgetown, TX, just a few miles north of where I live. The next viewing opportunities will be at:

Date Visible Max Height Appears Disappears
Tue May 2, 5:42 AM 4 min 26° 11° above S 21° above E
Wed May 3, 4:52 AM 2 min 12° 11° above SE 10° above ESE
Thu May 4, 5:35 AM 3 min 88° 30° above SW 28° above NE

Trailer for “The Machine”

Trailers – The SyFy Channel has ordered a pilot for a new series “The Machine”. This will be a TV series based on the 2013 movie of the same name, the trailer for which is shown above.

The concept will be that the world is being transformed by the emergence of Artificial Intelligence. While we are not there yet, our society is in the process of being massively changed by the growing introduction of robots, AI and Automation. The series will show the struggle between the emergent AI and humanity.

This might be a good series if it makes it through to production.

New Product – DRIFT Wi-Fi

KarmaGo-1-white-530x530

Product Announcement – Karma Mobility of Irving, Texas, providers of the technology that let’s you take Wifi everywhere at a better cost than conventional WiFi providers, has launched DRIFT, a best priced pay as you go service. At $3 per month and $10 per GB used. DRIFT bests the pay-as-you-go market by $17 per month. DRIFT customers also get a credit back for any unused portion of data at the end of each month.

Karma reports account set up is simple and easy and takes only a few minutes. Additionally, DRIFT customers who share their connection get free data while sharing and earn a $1 credit for every guest that connects. Customers can manage their account and data on their phone and via the web with the ability to change their plan at any time. Drift requires no contracts, has no hidden fees and customers can cancel at any time.

Drift can be used across the US in over 460 cities. It uses a 4G LTE connection and falls back to CDMA 3G in the most remote areas where 4G LTE coverage is not available. Users with a 4G LTE connection can download 6-8Mbps with peaks up to 25Mbps and upload 2-3Mbps. CDMA 3G speeds provide Download .6-1.4Mbps with peaks up to 3.1Mbps and Uploads of .35-5Mbps.

Laptops, tablets and phones can all connect within 100 feet of the Karma Go device which is small, sleek and portable weighing just 2.3 ounces and has a battery life up to 6 hours and 220 hours of standby time.

What is Your Learning style?

I came across the article “There Are 7 Types of Learners: Which One Are You?” recently. Those of us in technology and engineering face life long Continuing Education (CE) to keep current with the state of the art. However as we consider the various means of satisfying our CE needs, we need to understand that there are different styles of learning, and what works well for one person, may not for you.

The styles that have been identified are (from learning-styles-online.com: The Seven Learning Styles):

  1. Visual (spatial): You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
  2. Aural (auditory, musical): You prefer using sound and music.
  3. Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
  4. Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands.
  5. Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning, and systems.
  6. Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
  7. Solitary (Intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study.

We each probably have an idea of which styles are best for us, but we can find out for sure by taking an easy on-line test at Memletics Learning Styles Questionnaire. The results can then guide you to the most effective types of CE content for your learning style.

Trailer for “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword”

Trailers – This looks to be a different, and darker view of the King Arthur legend. It reminds me a lot (from this short 2:40 clip) of the “The Return of the King”. It looks to weave magic and medieval combat into the battle scenes. This might be an interesting new view on King Arthur and Excalibur. We will get to find out soon as this fantasy movie opens May 12.

macOS New App Release – Anti Virus Plus

screen800x500

Product Announcement – B-Eng of Fehraltorf, Switzerland has released Anti Virus Plus for Mac. Anti Virus Plus is a virus scanner with advanced features, making it an all-round security software. Besides of regular scans Anti Virus Plus allows several advanced scanning methods as follows:

  • Drag and drop scan: drag and drop any file for an immediate scan
  • Auto directory scanner: newly added files are scanned automatically
  • Adware scanner
  • Scanner for compressed viruses and malware
  • Detection of encrypted viruses, malware, adware and trojans
  • Virus and malware definitions are updated every hour
  • Vulnerability scanner detects loopholes and unsecure security settings
  • Port scanner for advanced security

Christian Schaffner, General Manager of B-Eng, also pointed out that a lot of virus scanners on the market don’t do what they promise. “We found one specific scanner that simply checks the version of macOS and based on that it states that the computer is safe, which of course is no proof for the integrity and security at all. Anti Virus Plus runs extended routines to check the integrity of the OS, and it does it fast.” Anti Virus Plus also contains a browser cleaner and has successfully passed the EICAR test.

Anti Virus Lite, a separate product, is available for $4.99 through the Mac App Store. Anti Virus Lite has passed the EICAR test and is able to detect various other threats than viruses. Its features include:

  • An adware scanner is included, helping to keep the browser free of clutter
  • Detection of viruses that are hidden in compressed files
  • Detection of encrypted viruses, malware, adware and trojans
  • A drag and drop scanner is included, to check specific files by dropping them in the scanner

Anti Virus Plus runs on MacOS 10.11 or newer, and is available for $19.99 (USD). It is available on the website and is a one-time-purchase, which means that there are no additional fees.

Review of “Codename Lazarus”

515LL2ng+sL._SY346_

Book Reviews – “Codename Lazarus” eBook was published in 2016 and was written by A. P. Martin (http://www.apmartin.co.uk). This is Mr. Martin’s first publication.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence and Mature Situations. The story is set in Germany and England during the years 1933-1940 . The primary character is history professor Dr. John King.

King has spent time in 1933 Germany before Hitler rose to power and left just as the Nazis were beginning to take control of the country. Later in 1939 his old Oxford professor called him in to a secret meeting. The professor had been working for British Intelligence and sought King as a new recruit for a secret mission. King agrees even though the though of faking his own death does not sit well. King returns to Germany to find out more about the ever more powerful Nazis before a well conceived hiking ‘accident’ in Switzerland renders ‘John King’ dead.

King, now using the name James Kemp, takes the place of an ousted German who has been leading a spy ring in the UK. King works the traitors, gathering information on each of them and their contacts. The Battle for Britain is at its height and all fear that Germany will soon invade. King finds himself the subject of a search by Scotland Yard’s Special Branch and by a real German spy sent into the UK to revive the spy network.

I enjoyed the 10.5 hours I spent reading this 365 page World War II Thriller. I liked the time scale that the novel covered. The plot was interesting, though not exactly unique. There was intrigue and a little action, though I think more action would have made this a better read. I also was not happy with the conclusion as it left many loose ends. Perhaps a sequel is planned. The cover art is OK, in line with the Swiss accident. I give this novel a 3.9 (rounded up to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

macOS New App Release – VDOMint 1.1

screen800x500

Product Announcement – Macubes of Clayton, New Jersey has released VDOMint 1.1 for Mac OS, an update to the company’s second application. VDOMint provides Mac users with a Menu Bar for YouTube, making searching for new and trending video content a super-fast, effortless process. It is the instant access tool to what’s hot in video format from around the globe.

Working just like a YouTube Spotlight, VDOMint includes a host of features that make it a must-have app for any Mac user with a YouTube channel or interest in viewing videos from YouTube. Its features include a shortcut key setting for go-to, quick access, a transparency setting for the video player, as well as these cool features that make viewing YouTube video content a breeze:

  • Snapping to edges
  • Option to launch at log in
  • Option to loop video on player
  • Adding transparency in player
  • YouTube URL drag and drop over player/menu-bar
  • Full screen setting for player

Following its successful launch of Gridustra, the application that helps Mac users boost their productivity by arranging their windows easily and save time, this is Macubes second application. Offering new UI refinements, version 1.1 now includes Drag & Drop support in Status Bar and Player Window from YouTube URLs, as well as minor and major bug fixes.

Device Requirements:

  • OS X 10.10 or later
  • 64-bit processor
  • 13.6 MB

VDOMint 1.1 is Free and available worldwide exclusively through the Mac App Store in the Entertainment category.

Disney Temps Us with Smells

Disney – In today’s issue of “Now I know” titled “The Nose Knows“, Dan Lewis tell about how Disney has for years been using the “Smellitzer”. This device, for which Disney holds the patent granted in 1984, is able to blow odors at the guests.

Many report tantalizing odors near candy stores, popcorn stands and similar venues. The next time I go to Disney I will be on the lookout for these odors. I think that it is interesting that the Disney engineers have been working all these years to immerse us in a variety of ways when we enter the Disney properties.

Observations on SciFi, Books, Space Exploration, Robotics, and Productivity