Friday, December 28, 2007


Coincidence? 2 sites this morning are recommending the same author: David Anthony Durham and his debut fantasy novel Acacia (he has written historical novels before, but this is his first genre work). He is the guest blogger on John Scalzi's Month of Writers post this morning with the suggestion that he might be a Campbell nominee. Fantasy Magazine also included him in their recommended fantasy list for 2007 (I'm not yet sure if it is a very short list because they don't like some of the other works I've read this year or because they are focusing on books that might be overlooked).

The Chronicle has an article on recycling electronics, reminding me I have a couple items taking up space that I should recycle.

More studios have announced their movies for 2008: Universal (which includes Mummy 3), Paramount (which includes Indy 4, Spiderwick Chronicles, & Star Trek), and Warner Brothers (which includes Harry Potter 6).

Netscape is now officially dead, making this a sad day for those of us who remember the internet before Microsoft joined in. I haven't used Netscape since Firefox was developed, and it hasn't been good since bought up by AOL, but it changed the way the young internet was used. BBC News has a better article on it here.

David Letterman actually reached a deal with the WGA, so when he goes back on the air next week, it will be with writers and not crossing picket lines. Cool! Now for the rest of the production companies.

I like the story about Nin, the 17-year old cat who is retiring as mascot of a New Hampshire meteorological observatory. The last paragraph where they talk about evaluating successors reminds me that most indoor-outdoor cats that I know don't have the sense this boy did to come inside in a storm (yes, Marcus, that includes you).

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Fox and Disney have announced their release schedule for movies next year. There are a few I'm curious about, even a few I've heard about, but I wonder how many aren't listed because they were delayed by the strike.

John Scalzi has been handing over his blog to a guest post by another writer each day this month while he tries to finish a book. Some of the posts have been really good. Today's entry in the Month of Writers is Ellen Kushner, reminding me I really need to read her newest book.

It sounds like Alexander Graham Bell stole the idea for the telephone from an application at the patent office.

Film preservation for digital films is much more expensive and problematic than for film. The New York Times has an interesting article on the problem.

Today has a year-in-review article on spaceflight happenings in 2007, a slideshow of the Best Space Discoveries of 2007, and an article on all of the Robotic Exploration currently going on in space.

From a best technology impact list for 2007 (I don't recommend the entire article because they were entirely too excited about Facebook), I found out about a development I missed earlier this year: Witricity. MIT researchers managed to wirelessly transmit energy to power up small devices. They plan to develop it for recharging small devices without plugging them in (no more cords, adapters, or dead batteries because you can't find the right charger).

Friday, December 21, 2007


CNet dismantled R2-D2 today. has an article today about the F-35, a supersonic plane that hovers and lands vertically.

One step closer to the prize: a privately-built moon lander successfully tested its propulsion sytem yesterday.

Bizarre theory at the Telegraph: Time is running out for the universe. The expansion of the universe isn't slowing down, time for us is slowing, and will eventually stop.

Zach Braff has lined up his next job now that Scrubs is ending. It is a new show called Saint of Circumstance, and the pilot was written by his brother.

SF Signal's Friday YouTube is an excerpt from a 1994 sci-fi comedy pilot called Galaxy Beat. I've never heard of it (and haven't had time to watch the excerpt yet), but the cast is good.

Aptera has their new electric car with a 120 mile range ready to sell next year. The 2nd model, a 300mpg hybrid, will be released in 2009. This article has a video of the test drive included.

There is a 1 in 75 chance that Mars will be hit by an asteroid on January 30th.

UP Aerospace successfully launched a rocket from Spaceport America this week. That makes the 2nd launch this year. It is becoming an actual spaceport.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Starting January 7th, Jon Stewart & Steven Colbert will be ad libbing on Comedy Central. In other words, their shows will be back on the air, but without any writing staff.

ABC & NBC have shuffled their January schedules again.

Harvard researchers have developed a microchip that can detect traces of cancer circulating in the bloodstream. This will help with treatment decisions, diagnosis, and provide more intact cells for researchers looking for a cure.

Under pressure from RIAA, Congress is looking at removing the exemption and making radio stations pay performers of the music they play (they currently only pay songwriters). Satellite radio and internet radio already pay this. It looks like it will be quite a fight, the radio stations are already asking Congress to reexamine the way recording contracts are written.

Toshiba has made a small, self-contained nuclear reactor that can power a city block for up to 40 years. They will install the first one in Japan next year (with Europe and the US to follow). I guess off-the-grid communities have more options now, but it seems strange.

UC Davis researchers have established a date for the formation of the solar system: 4,568 million years ago, plus or minus 2.08 million.

Sam Raimi (Spider-Man, Army of Darkness, etc...) has been named director for The Hobbit.

Borders has an exclusive for the Stardust dvd. It is $3 more than the regular version and includes a 10 page book with Charles Vess drawings (sketches and a painting) from a new edition of the graphic novel. Neil Gaiman's blog has a preview of the cover & comments from Charles Vess.

Researchers now believe that the moon is 30 million years younger than previously believed.

Again, absolutely nothing new on TV tonight.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


While not an official announcement, it appears that USA has canceled Dead Zone and 4400. I've been expecting Dead Zone to end for 3 years, so this wasn't a surprise (and I still haven't gotten around to watching most of the last season, so I don't know how well or badly it ends), but I'm disappointed about 4400. I wanted to see where they went from that finale. Update: now it is official.

Stanford researchers have found that by using silicon microwires in lithium-ion batteries, they can increase the battery lifespan by 10 times (a 2 hour charge instead lasts 20 hours). This will be an amazing advancement for laptops, electric cars, etc.

The Software & Information Industry Association have started a new program to stop pirates. If you unknowingly buy software online that turns out to be a pirate copy, and you report it, they will give you up to $500.

There is absolutely nothing on TV tonight. This is a good time for a book or a dvd.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


The Golden Globes & the Oscars were denied waivers from the WGA. They will be picketing. That means no scripted monologues or quips, a lot of people won't cross the picket lines and actually show up, and NO clips can be shown. The production company is trying to negotiate a separate contract, unlike the major studios who all announced yesterday that they weren't interested in separate contracts.

Peter Jackson, New Line Cinema and MGM have put their differences aside and agreed to make TWO movies based on The Hobbit. They plan to film back-to-back in 2009 and air them in 2010 and 2011. Jackson will produce, but they haven't named a writer or director yet. Jackson says he doesn't have time to write/direct and meet the schedule, but will maintain creative control. According to this article, they plan to have the 1st movie cover the events of the book and the 2nd movie cover the 80 years between that and the start of the Rings.

NBC is already mining cable for new shows. It plans to encore Monk & Psych episodes on Sunday nights in March.

PG&E plans to be the first US company to invest in wave energy, building a wave farm off the coast of Eureka by 2012.

Yahoo Maps has made some improvements. Borrowing from Google, you can now drag-and-drop your route to a different street and have it recalculate the directions. It will also tell you how many miles were saved or added by the change. They've also integrated more business listings & reviews from Yahoo Local.

DVR for tonight:
Life on Mars (BBCA)

Sunday, December 16, 2007


A Pern movie came a step closer to becoming a reality this week. Copperheart Entertainment of Candada optioned the novels.

RIP Dan Fogelberg. The singer-songwriter died of prostate cancer today at 56.

There's a definitive list of Pixar in-jokes and self-references here.

Apparently the posting that Harlan Ellison was annoyed because of Star Trex XI plot elements was a fabrication. A new report has him denying the rumors and saying that a friend who has seen the script has told him that the Guardian of Forever does not appear.

Sir Arthur C. Clarke turned 90 today, and made the following birthday wishes: ET contact, use of clean energy instead of oil, and peace in Sri Lanka.

David Letterman's production company is trying to negotiate an independent deal with the Writers Guild to restart production. The WGA, faced with the AMPTP that shows no sign of wanting to negotiate, is approaching individual companies for separate agreements. However, even if they reach a deal, there is no guarantee that CBS will agree to show new eps, since they are still standing with AMPTP.

Friday, December 14, 2007

12-14-07 Couch Potato Corner

The final 4 episodes of Scrubs will air at 8:30.

If it was facing a normal lineup, ABC's new timeslot for Lost would really annoy me. However, in a strike reduced lineup, it doesn't matter one way or the other. Lost will start up in February on Thursday nights at 9pm (replacing Grey's Anatomy).

The WGA filed suit against the studios for not bargaining in good faith when they cut off negotiations after their demands were not met.

The handwritten & illustrated book by JK Rowling was auctioned for charity, and the winner, paying 3.98 million, was They've posted pics & a review here with more to come.

DVR for tonight:
8pm Ghost Whisperer
9pm Moonlight
10pm Numb3rs

Thursday, December 13, 2007

12-13-07 Couch Potato Corner

Terry Pratchett has announced he has early onset Alzheimer's. Here's the announcement, and here is the AP article, and here is the Guardian article. :(

Want to see Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica) and Joss Whedon working together? Here is some video from the picket lines as pencils are delivered.

Golden Globe nominations were announced. Best surprise: 3 nominations for Pushing Daisies.

DVRs for tonight:
9pm CSI & Supernatural

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

12-12-07 Couch Potato Corner

The SAG awards has received an exemption from the Writers Guild. They will be allowed to have a writer script their one-liners for the awards show.

DVR for tonight:
8pm Pushing Daisies (final episode)
10pm CSI: NY

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

12-11-07 Science/Tech/etc.

Britain plans to install 7,000 offshore wind turbines as part of a goal of having 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Solar thermal power development in California is stalled while waiting to see if a property tax exemption will be extended. filed for a trademark for the phrase NSFW (not safe for work). Even if the trademark were granted, I don't see how it could possibly be enforced.

Life is listing the top 10 scientific discoveries of 2007: stem cell breakthroughs, DNA mapping, brightest supernova recorded, hundreds of new species identified, building a human heart valve from stem cells, "hot Jupiters" discovered, large birdlike dinosaurs found, evidence of the time period early man migrated out of Africa, the world's oldest animal (a 405 year old clam) was found, and a mineral with the chemical makeup imagined for kryptonite was found in Serbia (unfortunately they can't name it kryptonite because of krypton gas).

Somebody else discusses the trials and tribulations of cataloging their personal library. Unlike us, they only had to deal with about 3,500 books, but it is nice to occasionally see someone else going through some of the same issues.

JPL has an interesting article on the discovery of a silica patch by the Mars rover Spirit as it prepares to find a safe spot for the winter.

Hubble has observed its first extra-solar sunset, as a Jupiter-like planet passed in front of its star, giving hints as to the atmosphere.

Umbilical cord blood is saving the lives of babies born with metabolic disorders at Duke University.

The House has voted to make the Do Not Call registry permanent, so we wouldn't have to re-register every 5 years. The Senate still has to approve it.

A new genus and species of dinosaur has been found in Antarctica. It is a massive plant-eating primitive sauropodomorph (like Apatosaurus) from the early Jurassic. There is a brief article here, or the full scientific paper can be read here in PDF.

Scientists think they have found the energy source for the northern lights.

12-11-07 Couch Potato Corner

Gillian Anderson will be hosting Masterpiece Theater for PBS when it returns next year. They are going to focus their lineup into categories (period pieces, mysteries, and contemporary dramas) instead of mixing it all up. The period pieces air first, and several of the shows sound promising: the Complete Jane Austen (adaptations of all 6 books and a biography), My Boy Jack (with Daniel Radcliffe as Kipling's son), a miniseries with Judi Dench, and a new version of Room with a View.

New Firefly/Serenity stuff from Dark Horse comics: a new 3-issue comic series, a hardcover collection of the previous comic series, 2 lunch boxes & 2 Christmas ornaments.

ABC is pulling the last 3 Big Shots episodes from the schedule, replacing them with Private Practice reruns. Wow, the ratings must have been really bad. I can't believe they are actually shelving any scripted programming when there is no end in sight to this strike.

TV networks are reimbursing advertisers for low ratings (NBC is giving about $500,000 each, the quantities for CBS, ABC and FOX were not specified). This is for ratings prior to the strike, when they still had new programming. They are really going to be hurting in the next couple months.

Life on Mars season 2 starts on BBC America tonight at 8pm.

Monday, December 10, 2007

12-10-07 Science/Tech

Scientists have discovered how to make robots bounce on water like bugs.

2008 is the Year of the Spaceship for Virgin Galactic. In January, their new engine will be delivered, and flight assessment starts on their New Mexico spaceport. In July, their model 2 spaceship has a test flight.

Nutraceuticals make me nervous. There is now a cheese that kills tapeworms and a chocolate bar that has more active cultures than yogurt.

Want to know why net neutrality is important? ISPs have started to spy on and modify web traffic. The largest ISP in Canada has started using javascript to insert account messages about bandwidth limitations into websites (Google is the example shown).

12-10-07 Couch Potato Corner

Lone Star Stories has a new issue online that includes a Nina Kiriki Hoffman story.

Negotiations broke off in the strike. It looks like the pilot season is going to get skipped this year, so new shows may get renewed whether anyone watches them or not. (Whether they can ever film any episodes is another question.)

JMS talks about the strike: how the studios have the wrong attitude, so this will take awhile, and how the Lost Tales had sales good enough to generate a 2nd dvd if the strike ever ends.

Brandon Sanderson has been chosen by Robert Jordan's widow to finish the Wheel of Time series. Read the announcement from Tor.

The LA Times posted a best Scifi of 2007 list, none of which I've read, and only the last 2 even tempted me.

Fantasybookcritic is giving away 3 copies of Dragon Harper by Anne & Todd McCaffrey. Enter here (except Laurel, since it is one application per address).

DVR for tonight:
8pm How I Met Your Mother (final episode filmed)

Shows that still have new episodes left:
Lost - 8 episodes filmed - start date not yet announced, probably February
Men in Trees - 11 episodes left
Private Practice - 1 episode left
Pushing Daisies - 1 episode left
Women's Murder Club - 1 episode left
Greek - 8 episodes left
Kyle XY - 10 episodes left - starts in January
CSI - 2-3 episodes left
CSI: NY - 2-3 episodes left
Jericho - 7 episodes filmed - starts 2/12
Moonlight - 2 episodes left
Numb3rs - 3 episodes left
Supernatural - 5 episodes left
Bones - 3 episodes left
House - 3-4 episodes left
New Amsterdam - 7 episodes filmed - starts 2/22
Sarah Connor Chronicles - 9 episodes filmed - starts 1/13
True Blood (Sookie Stackhouse series) - 3 filmed - start date TBD
Chuck - 2 episodes left
Medium - 9 episodes filmed - starts 1/7
My Name is Earl - 1 episode left
Scrubs - 5-6 episodes left
Battlestar Galactica - 11 episodes filmed - start date TBD
Flash Gordon - 7 episodes left - starts 1/4
Stargate Atlantis - 10 episodes left - starts 1/4
Monk - 6 episodes left - starts 1/11
Psych - 6 episodes left - starts 1/11

Friday, December 7, 2007

12-7-07 Science/Tech

The Geminid meteor shower, peaking the night of Dec 13-14th, is supposed to be the best of the year.

Several airlines, including American and Jet Blue, will start offering internet access during flights (not during takeoff and landing) next week. The exact offers vary, from hot spot access for those with laptops to seat-back entertainment system links.

A group in Portland has submitted paperwork to change the name of 42nd Ave to Douglas Adams Blvd. Apparently not as a joke.

Nielsen is offering a copyright protection system for the web. 95% of TV shows are currently broadcast with a digital watermark that they use to determine ratings. Nielsen would scan postings for watermarks to determine if they are under copyright.

12-7-07 Couch Potato Corner

They just announced dvd dates for some recent TV mini-series. Tin Man will be March 11th, and Hogfather will be March 4th.

NBC has announced their new schedule. Starting in January, the only show they will have that I am tempted to watch is Medium (Mondays at 10pm). However, Thursday does list 1 hour of "comedy series" which I will have to check to see when it includes new Scrubs.

DVRs for tonight:
6pm Monk
7pm Stargate Atlantis
8pm Men in Trees
9pm Womens Murder Club
10pm Psych

Thursday, December 6, 2007

12-6-07 Science/Tech

You know about LEDs. Now there are LECs (light-emitting capaitors). Basically, they are large, thin, flexible plastic sheets that emit light when an electric current is applied to them. The company that makes them wants to use them for signs on buses and buildings, lit panels in walls and floors, etc...

Google's Lunar X Prize race is underway. About 350 private-sector teams will compete to land a robotic rover on the moon, explore, and send results back to earth. The prizes total $30 million.

Netflix will be changing their envelopes soon or dropping their profits 70 cents per user. Apparently the soft corners on the envelopes require extra handling, and the Post Office is about to start charging for it.

Further proof that copyrights are a mess: they can't even enforce current copyrights, but Congress wants to boost penalties for infringement. I guess they thought a $220,000 fine for sharing 24 songs was actually low. Who knew?

Along similar lines, the MPAA wants ISPs to install filtering technology to prevent content theft. Even if they could get all ISPs to go along with this, I don't think anyone has managed to make a filter that can determine if a file being shared is copyrighted or not. Until they do, isn't this academic?

Scientists have used skin cells reprogrammed into stem cells to cure Sickle Cell Anemia in mice.

12-6-07 Couch Potato Corner

Stargate: Infinity (a cartoon spin-off series that ran for 26 episodes and I've never seen) will be released on dvd next year.

If you start going through Heroes withdrawals, there are the online comics and a game at the NBC website.

Someone is listing scifi short films from the beginning of film (1894) to the fairly recent. Most of them are linked for online viewing.

CNet has a slideshow tour of Skywalker Ranch, focusing on their sound division.

DVRs for tonight:
8pm My Name is Earl
9pm CSI & Grey's Anatomy
930 Scrubs
10pm Without a Trace (3rd ep with James Marsters guest starring - we missed 601 & 602)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

12-5-07 Science/Tech

The Chinese moon photo has been surrounded by controversy this week, which has now been resolved. Although the photo is real, apparently it is seamed together from several photo strips, and they weren't lined up properly, so one crater has been moved into a new position.

Microsoft wants to help you make stronger passwords by using letters from your word associations for inkblot images. The catch: they will save your inkblot associations. I'm not sure I want Microsoft to know how I think, but it is an interesting way to make a stronger password.

European zero-G lab goes up in space this week to be added to the space station.

PDF 1.7 has become the new ISO 32000 standard.

An English village has asked to be removed from GPS maps because vehicles too large for the road follow the directions and cause accidents.

A new company has formed that analyzes microbes to figure out how they work at a genetic level, to figure out how they should best be used.

CNet has a slideshow on ways to store Wind power for later use (when the wind has died down).

Congress is banning manned exploration of Mars, and The Space Review has an article on how the ban can be beaten.

The ongoing DRM fight got another complication. Since they are making all software that can rip a DVD you own into a digital file for viewing on a portable device illegal (although it is legal space shifting for a CD), now Apple wants DVDs to sell for $4 more and include an iTunes-compatible version. Fair use shouldn't cost extra, but even if it were a convenience charge of doing the ripping for you, it shouldn't be as much as $4.

12-5-07 Couch Potato Corner

Stargate SG-1: The Ark of Truth now has a DVD release date: 3-11-08.

The latest strike casualty is the post-Superbowl episode of House. They were unable to make the planned 2-parter that would lead into another episode the next week, so they are going to play a regular (already filmed but unaired) episode instead.

They filmed alternate endings for I am Legend. If I were more familiar with the original book (or even the first movie), this would probably annoy me.

I have to share this Funny or Die video of animals supporting the writers' strike.

NBC's Saturday strike response: Best-of SNL shows. Unfortunately, most of them are actually best-of-recent-seasons. I might watch the December 29th one though, best-of-SNL-commercial parodies, which goes back to the Bass-O-Matic.

DVR for tonight:
9pm Private Practice
10pm Life

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

12-4-07 Science/Tech

CNet has some great photos of Antarctica today. New NASA sensors have allowed 10x greater resolution than they've ever had before.

Next year the Hubble telescope is going to get one more service call: installing a new camera, spectrograph, gyroscopes and batteries. This should keep it running for another decade.

12-4-07 Couch Potato Corner

Mid-January is as close to a premier date for Torchwood as the BBC will give. I think they're only going to be ahead of BBC America by a week (it starts here 1-26). James Marsters will be in the first episode. The other weird note in the press release: apparently BBC2 is going to air a "specially edited" family-friendly encore version. What do you want to bet that is the version we get in the US?

DVR for tonight:
6pm Tin Man (part 3)
9pm Reaper

Monday, December 3, 2007

12-3-07 Couch Potato Corner

Cable channels have announced their winter premier dates. Kyle XY will return 1-14, Monk & Psych have their holiday eps this Friday and return on 1-11, and Flash Gordon & Stargate Atlantis return on 1-4. Not in the same announcement, but Torchwood season 2 starts on BBC America 1-29.

The creators of Pretender want to revive the show for digital media. No specifics yet, but they will involve Michael T. Weiss in some way.

DVRs for tonight:
6pm Tin Man (pt 2)
8pm Chuck & The Closer (2-hrs)
9pm Heroes (final episode filmed)
10pm Life

Friday, November 30, 2007

11-30-07 Couch Potato Corner

The Broadway stage hand strike is over. Let's hope the writers' strike ends soon too.

I'm actually glad I have shows piled up on the DVR that I haven't watched yet. They are my strike insurance. Most of the shows I watch have either already finished or only have 1-3 eps remaining. (There are some exceptions - see the grid from FutonCritic.) The only shows I watch that will start mid-season are Lost, Medium & Jericho (I'm not counting True Blood, the Sookie Stackhouse series on HBO, or New Amsterdam or Sarah Connor Chronicles for Fox, because I'm not sure I'll like them enough to watch beyond the pilots). It looks like I will have a lot of time to read or catch up on skipped shows & DVDs. I just think it is sad that NBC put out a press release about their upcoming shows, and I am only tempted by one (Medium). I am clearly not their target demographic since I hate "reality" shows.

DVRs for the weekend:
5pm Flash Gordon (they call this the season finale, but it is actually ep 15 of 22 filmed)
7pm Stargate Atlantis
8pm Blood Ties (final episode on TV - the last 2 will be online: 1 this week and 1 next week)
6pm Tin Man (pt 1 of 3 - SCIFI)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

11-29-07 Couch Potato Corner

I never saw it announced anywhere, but apparently Blood Ties was canceled. According to Tanya Huff's livejournal, tomorrow's episode will be the last one on TV. The final 2 episodes will be available online only.

TV Guide announced its Online Video Awards. The winner of the Sci-fi webisodes category was Star Trek: New Voyages, beating Battlestar Galactica and The 4400. I've seen almost none of these, but I think it is interesting that the fan-produced one beat the studio-produced ones.

If you want to read "I, Malcolm" by Nathan Fillion, you have 2 choices. You can buy the book:, Serenity Found: More Unauthorized Essays on Joss Whedon's Firefly Universe, or you can read the online excerpt at USA Today.

DVR for tonight:
8pm My Name is Earl
930 Scrubs
10pm Big Shots

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

11-28-07 mix

Korean researchers have developed a plastic fiber optic cable for use in the "last mile" to connect providers with users. While not as fast as glass, it is still much faster than copper, and can be easily bent and connected with other lines. It is also cheap (using glass is costing Verizon approx. $900 per customer to connect, and AT&T is still using copper from the node to the customer rather than pay).

A new skin patch has been developed that may replace injections for medication. It doesn't go deep enough to stimulate pain, it can deliver multiple types of medication in a single patch, and it controls the timing and quantity of doses with a microchip.

SFGate has an interesting article on the research about organic foods.

I've been looking at the list of 2007 books, trying to decide what to order next, and I will probably revise my earlier post in the next day or two, adding genre or description notes and changing the lineup. I may add some (either from ones I found on the NESFA recommendations list or new authors found in Locus while looking for book descriptions) and remove others that are late in a series I haven't read or I don't think will be Hugo-worthy.

DVRs for tonight:
8pm Shrek the Halls (ABC) - A Shrek Christmas special
9pm Pushing Daisies & Bionic Woman (final episode produced)
10pm CSI:NY & Life

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

11-27-07 Couch Potato Corner

Billie Piper (Rose) will be returning to Doctor Who for 3 eps in season 4 (which premiers on the BBC in March). No word how they'll explain it or if any of the companions scheduled for the season overlap and meet each other.

NBC has picked up Chuck & Life for full seasons. What that means when nobody can write any more scripts is a mystery to me, but still good news.

Kyle XY will return for the 2nd half of its 2nd season on January 14th. It has 10 episodes to play.

Over at the scifanletter blog, they have made a space opera reading list. There are some good books there, although some I didn't really consider space opera, and lots of books are missing, butI still may have to check out a few of the ones I don't recognize.

The Universal Digital Library project has completed scanning 1.5 million works, and made them freely available (copyright permitting) today.

DVRs for tonight:
8pm Bones
9pm House & Reaper

Monday, November 26, 2007

RIP Oliver

We'll miss you.

Oliver was a "feral" kitten living, although just barely, in our Mom's feral cat colony last year. We (my sister & I) were visiting our parents for Thanksgiving of 2006. Our father had just been diagnosed with terminal esophageal cancer and it was far from an ideal hoilday. We went out to the barn with our mom to watch her feed the ferals and a scrawny, half starved, grey and white kitten came right up to greet us. He was covered in ringworm (or should I say, he was nearly bald), in the near freezing weather it was clear he was suffering from the cold. He had a URI, was just skin and bones but he happily let us pick him up and he purred instantly. We immediately named him Oliver, as he was clearly an orphan in need of a healthy bowl of supper and some loving care.

We took him home and told him he could stay with us until he was healthy enough to adopt out. We tried him on more than 12 antibiotics over the course of the past year with no luck in clearing up his URI. We had his sinuses flushed and tried all manner of homeopathic care we could find to treat him. Sadly, he never got healthy, but he did win our hearts. Oliver was a one of a kind kitty who loved to jump amazing distances. He grew tall and lanky, and we called him the "Vertical one" or Oli-Vert which eventually became Vert. He also went by "Snot face" or Vader for his raspy breathing. He loved to perch on the coffee maker (sometimes turning it on) with his shoulder blades sticking up like folded wings, which earned him the nickname "Coffee Gargoyle". He was a happy boy in spite of his chronic URI and we had hope that he would live many long years and perhaps one day grow out of it.

Sadly on Thanksgiving day it became clear that his URI had finally moved to his lungs. He passed from this world while held in my arms during our drive to our Mother's house for the holiday. He is greatly missed in our home.

RIP sweet Vert. We will love you always.

2007 Books for Hugo consideration

Thanks to Locus, I've put together a list of books for us to consider for reading before Hugo nominations. If you want to see the full list (to see what I left off or just have a reference that links to Amazon for each book so you can see what they are), go to:

If you don't yet have a membership to Worldcon next year, get one before the prices go up in January. This is also when they'll mail out the progress reports with the ballots for nominations. No date has been announced yet for a nomination deadline (but March is likely).

(I'm pretty sure the + symbol means that 2007 was the 1st US printing, not the first printing, so it may be an earlier book that is still eligible for a Hugo)

2007 Books I've read and liked:
• Briggs, Patricia • Blood Bound • (Ace, Feb)
• Bujold, Lois McMaster • The Sharing Knife: Legacy • (Eos, Jul)
• Butcher, Jim • White Night • (Roc, Apr)
• Harris, Charlaine • All Together Dead • (Ace, May)
• Kenyon, Sherrilyn • Devil May Cry • (St. Martin's, Aug)
• Kenyon, Sherrilyn • The Dream Hunter • (St. Martin's Paperbacks, Feb)
• Rowling, J. K. • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows • (Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Books, Jul)

2007 Books I know we own, but I haven't read yet:
• Caine, Rachel • Thin Air • (Roc, Aug)
• Gilman, Laura Anne • Burning Bridges • (Luna, Jun)
• Jones, Diana Wynne • The Game • (Firebird, Mar)
• Lackey, Mercedes • Fortune's Fool • (Harlequin/Luna, Mar)
• McKinley, Robin • Dragonhaven • (Putnam, Sep)
• Novik, Naomi • Empire of Ivory • (Ballantine Del Rey, Oct)
• Sanderson, Brandon • The Well of Ascension • (Tor, Aug)
• Scalzi, John • The Last Colony • (Tor, May)
• Traviss, Karen • Ally • (Eos, Apr)

2007 Books by authors we've bought before or who've been recommended & have potential (I don't think we have these, but there are a few where I'm not sure):
• Armstrong, Kelley • No Humans Involved • (Bantam Spectra, May)
• Asaro, Catherine • The Fire Opal • (Luna, Jul)
• Baker, Kage • The Sons of Heaven • (Tor, Jul)
• Bear, Elizabeth • New Amsterdam • (Subterranean Press, May)
• Bear, Elizabeth • Undertow • (Bantam Spectra, Aug)
• Bear, Elizabeth • Whiskey and Water • (Roc, Jul)
• Berg, Carol • Flesh and Spirit • (Roc, May)
• Bear, Greg • Quantico • (Perseus/Vanguard, Mar)
• Bova, Ben • The Aftermath • (Tor, Aug)
• Britain, Kristen • The High King's Tomb • (DAW, Nov)
• Brooks, Terry • The Elves of Cintra • (Ballantine Del Rey, Sep)
• Bull, Emma • Territory • (Tor, Jul)
• Butcher, Jim • Captain's Fury • (Ace, Dec)
• Card, Orson Scott, & Aaron Johnston • Invasive Procedures • (Tor, Sep)
• Cherryh, C. J. • Deliverer • (DAW, Feb)
• Cook, Glen • Lord of the Silent Kingdom • (Tor, Feb)
+ Courtenay Grimwood, Jon • 9Tail Fox • (Night Shade Books, May)
+ Courtenay Grimwood, Jon • End of the World Blues • (Bantam Spectra, Oct)
• Crowley, John • Endless Things • (Small Beer Press, May)
• Czerneda, Julie E. • Reap the Wild Wind • (DAW, Sep)
• David, Peter • Darkness of the Light • (Tor, Jun)
• Davidson, MaryJanice • Undead and Uneasy • (Berkley, Jun)
• Douglas, Carol Nelson • Dancing with Werewolves • (Juno, Nov)
+ Feist, Raymond E. • Into a Dark Realm • (Eos, Apr)
• Feist, Raymond E., & Joel Rosenberg • Murder in LaMut: Legends of the Riftware, Book II • (Eos, Aug)
• Fforde, Jasper • First Among Sequels • (UK: Hodder & Stoughton, Jul)
• Foster, Alan Dean • Patrimony • (Ballantine Del Rey, Oct)
+ Gentle, Mary • Ilario: The Lion's Eye • (Eos, Jul)
+ Gentle, Mary • Ilario: The Stone Golem • (Eos, Sep)
• Gibson, William • Spook Country • (Putnam, Aug)
• Goonan, Kathleen Ann • In War Times • (Tor, May)
• Grossman, Austin • Soon I Will Be Invincible • (Pantheon, Jun)
• Haldeman, Joe • The Accidental Time Machine • (Ace, Aug)
• Hallaway, Tate • Dead Sexy • (Berkley, May)
• Harrison, Kim • For a Few Demons More • (Eos, Mar)
• Herbert, Brian, & Kevin J. Anderson • Sandworms of Dune • (Tor, Aug)
• Hobb, Robin • Renegade's Magic • (UK: HarperVoyager, Jul)
• Huff, Tanya • The Heart of Valor • (DAW, Jun)
• Kay, Guy Gavriel • Ysabel • (Canada: Penguin Canada, Jan)
• Kerr, Katharine • The Spirit Stone • (DAW, Jun)
• Lackey, Mercedes, & Roberta Gellis • By Slanderous Tongues • (Baen, Feb)
• Lackey, Mercedes, & James Mallory • The Phoenix Unchained • (Tor, Oct)
• Lackey, Mercedes • Reserved for the Cat • (DAW, Nov)
• Lee, Tanith • The Secret Books of Paradys • (Overlook Press, Dec)
• Lindskold, Jane • Wolf's Blood • (Tor, Mar)
• Lynch, Scott • Red Seas Under Red Skies • (UK: Gollancz, Jun)
• MacLeod, Ken • The Execution Channel • (UK: Orbit, Apr)
+ Marillier, Juliet • The Well of Shades • (Tor, May)
• McCaffrey, Anne, & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough • Acorna's Children: Third Watch • (Eos, Aug)
• McCaffrey, Anne, & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough • Maelstrom • (Ballantine Del Rey, Jan)
• McDevitt, Jack • Cauldron • (Ace, Nov)
+ Miller, Karen • The Innocent Mage • (Orbit, Sep)
• Modesitt, L. E., Jr. • The Elysium Commission • (Tor, Feb)
• Modesitt, L. E., Jr. • Natural Ordermage • (Tor, Sep)
• Moon, Elizabeth • Command Decision • (Ballantine Del Rey, Mar)
• Niven, Larry, & Edward M. Lerner • Fleet of Worlds • (Tor, Sep)
• Nye, Jody Lynn • An Unexpected Apprentice • (Tor, Jun)
• Pratchett, Terry • Making Money • (UK: Transworld/Doubleday UK, Oct)
• Roberson, Chris • Set the Seas on Fire • (UK: BL Publishing/Solaris, Aug)
+ Roberts, Adam • Gradisil • (Pyr, Mar)
• Roberts, Adam • Splinter • (BL Publishing/Solaris US, Sep)
• Robinson, Kim Stanley • Sixty Days and Counting • (Bantam Spectra, Mar)
+ Robson, Justina • Keeping It Real • (Pyr, Mar)
+ Robson, Justina • Selling Out • (Pyr, Oct)
• Rusch, Kristine Kathryn • Recovery Man • (Roc, Sep)
• Sawyer, Robert J. • Rollback • (Tor, Apr)
• Schroeder, Karl • Queen of Candesce • (Tor, Aug)
• Shetterly, Will • Gospel of the Knife • (Tor, Jul)
• Shinn, Sharon • Reader and Raelynx • (Ace, Nov)
• Simmons, Dan • The Terror • (Little Brown, Jan)
• Sinclair, Linnea • The Down Home Zombie Blues • (Bantam, Dec)
• Sinclair, Linnea • Games of Command • (Bantam Spectra, Mar)
• Slattery, Brian Francis • Spaceman Blues • (Tor, Aug)
• Smith, Sherwood • The Fox • (DAW, Aug)
• Steele, Allen • Spindrift • (Ace, Apr)
• Stross, Charles • Halting State • (Ace, Oct)
• Stross, Charles • The Merchants' War • (Tor, Oct)
• Tolkien, J. R. R. • The Children of H£rin • (UK: HarperCollins UK, Apr)
• Valente, Catherynne M. • The Orphan's Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spice • (Bantam Spectra, Nov)
• Walton, Jo • Ha'Penny • (Tor, Oct)
• Watt-Evans, Lawrence • The Ninth Talisman: Volume Two of the Annals of the Chosen • (Tor, May)
• Weber, David • Off Armageddon Reef • (Tor, Jan)
• Williams, Liz • Precious Dragon • (Night Shade Books, Jun)
• Williams, Tad • Shadowplay • (DAW, Mar)
• Yarbro, Chelsea Quinn • Borne in Blood: A Novel of the Count Saint-Germain • (Tor, Dec)
• Zahn, Timothy • The Third Lynx • (Tor, Nov)

2007 Young Adult books by authors we've bought before
• Bell, Hilari • Shield of Stars • (Simon & Schuster, Apr)
• de Lint, Charles • Little (Grrl) Lost • (Viking, Sep)
+ Dickinson, Peter • Angel Isle • (Random House/Lamb, Oct)
• Gaiman, Neil, & Michael Reaves • InterWorld • (Eos, Jul)
• Jacques, Brian • Eulalia! • (Philomel, Oct)
• Le Guin, Ursula K. • Powers • (Harcourt, Sep)
• Lee, Tanith • Indigara • (Penguin/Firebird, Oct)
+ Marillier, Juliet • Wildwood Dancing • (Knopf Books for Young Readers, Jan)
• Sanderson, Brandon • Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians • (Scholastic, Oct)

11-26-07 Science/Tech

A German heavy-freight ship launching next month will be using a football field sized kite to provide most of their power. It should reduce fuel consumption by 50% and greenhouse gas emissions by 10-20%. Kites have been used before for yachts, but this is the first cargo vessel to use one. The company that makes the kites aims to equip 1500 ships with kites over the next 8 years.

China's moon probe has started to send back pictures. There's an article here, but the pictures only seem to be available on Chinese-language sites for now.

2 Australian firms are going to be making algae (for biodiesel fuel, to burn for power generation, or use as fertilizer) from coal mine emissions. A similar program set up in Arizona had to suspend operations earlier this year because it was generating more algae than it could harvest. I hope they both can get operations going so we can reduce carbon dioxide while generating something useful.

The AMA has adopted new guidelines for talking to pregnant patients about cord blood donation. There will be a greater promotion for public cord blood banking. This should help a lot of people.

Researchers have made advances in transforming adult cells into embryonic stem cells, which allows them to use the patient's own cells to cure them of disease or make new non-rejecting tissues.

One last stem cell article: Stanford researchers are developing a treatment that may allow stem cells to treat immune disorders such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. An injection of antibodies specifically takes out blood-forming cells, which can then be replaced by new blood-forming stem cells. This would eliminate the need (and the dangers) of using chemotherapy and radiation to completely destroy all the original stem cells before a transplant and make it safe enough to use for non-life-threatening diseases. So far, it has only been tested on mice, but this holds great promise.

A Georgia professor is working on curing disease in mosquitoes. Rather than just kill the mosquitoes to prevent them from passing on diseases such as malaria and West Nile virus, he is putting medicines in feeders to stop them from developing pathogens, so even if they bite they won't pass on the diseases. Is it wrong that I'd prefer they were just dead? I hate mosquitoes, disease carrying or not, but I guess this is better for the bats and the environment.

A new company has formed to produce what amounts to a nuclear battery. It is a closed system with no moving parts the size of a hot tub, enclosed in cement, and doesn't require operators. It would be trucked to a site, hooked up, buried underground, and could power 25,000 homes for at least 5 years. I want to know what happens after the 5 years.

11-26-07 Couch Potato Corner

Talks resume on the writers' strike today. Let's hope they can come to an agreement.

The Mercury News has an interesting article about how DVRs are becoming more PC-like. I've noticed the software updates on mine recently (although for the most part they've really annoyed me), but I haven't looked to see if there was USB support (he has a different model than I do, so I'm not sure the features are the same). I would love to get an external hard drive to increase my DVR capacity, even if it was locked to just the single box.

DVRs for tonight:
8pm Chuck & How I Met Your Mother
9pm Heroes & 2.5 Men

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

11-21-07 Couch Potato Corner

The strike may end up killing the final 10 episodes of Battlestar Galactica. Because of the production halt, NBC is suspending the actors contracts (some say against SAG agreements, which will cause more problems). This may make it more difficult to get everyone back for the end, or it could be a way for NBC to cancel the show midway through the final season. If they don't film the ending, there will be a lot of pissed off people (including me). Let's hope this is an exaggeration.

Both sides have agreed to resume strike negotiations on Monday, November 26th. Please say they can come to an agreement.

DVRs for the holiday weekend:
Wed 11/21
8pm Pushing Daisies
9pm Private Practice
10pm CSI:NY

Thur 11/22
9pm CSI & Grey's Anatomy

Fri 11/23
6pm BSG Minisodes (check time)
8pm Blood Ties & Ghost Whisperer & Men in Trees
9pm Moonlight & Womens Murder Club
10pm Numbers

Sat 11/24
6pm BSG Razor (2 hrs + check time)

Sun 11/25
7pm Terry Pratchett's Hogfather (pt 1 - ION - check time)
9pm Hogfather (pt 2 - ION - check time)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

11-20-07 Science/Tech

Google has added another personalization to their maps. You can now move the marker location for your home to point to the door, not just a random place in the street nearby.

A new database at will identify the stars in an amateur photo.

Researchers have discovered that a compound in marijuana may block the progress of metastatic breast cancer. Imagine stopping cancer without radiation or chemotherapy.

CNet has an article/slideshow today about the 10 essential open source software alternatives. Some of these I use and like, some I've never heard of, but the list is good.

11-20-07 Couch Potato Corner

Season 2 of Torchwood starts on BBC America on January 26th. I'm impressed with the quick turnaround. (No BBC start date has been announced yet, but it will probably be only a week or 2 before the US date.)

Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys is available as a free audio download until Saturday. The CD we listened to with just Lenny Henry was amazing. This still has Lenny Henry, but has added 7 other people to round out the cast.

The 4-hour TV movie of Terry Pratchet's Discworld novel Hogfather made for the UK last year will air this week on ION TV. He will have a cameo as the toymaker.

I'm not sure if it is an indication of tastes differing or if I am out of touch, but someone just listed their 25 essential reads for 2007 and there are only 4 books I've even heard of on the list, and none that I've actually bought (although at least one is in my wish list). I may have to research what else he's recommended to see if these authors are ones I should check out.

DVR for tonight:
8pm Bones
9pm House (Reaper is a repeat of the 2nd ep)

Friday, November 16, 2007

11-16-07 Science/Tech news

Garrett Lisi has developed a new Theory of Everything that doesn't involve string theory. Instead it involves a mathematical pattern called E8.

Motion-to-energy batteries are being developed. Charge your cell phone or iPod while walking.

A dinosaur has been discovered that had a mouth like a vacuum cleaner with rows of teeth.

Mozilla is trying to rush Firefox 3.0 into release, but may not have time to fix all the development bugs first. I hope they pause and work a bit longer.

An inflatable habitat designed to be a base on the Moon or Mars has just been sent to the South Pole for a test run.

(I'm in search of a better title for this post. If anyone has any ideas, please comment.)

11-16-07 Couch Potato Corner

Today I'm going to try to have separate posts for tv/media stuff and science/tech stuff. We'll see how it goes. I usually post as I find things in no particular order. Let me know what you think of the change.

It appears NBC is using their "Create Your Own Hero" contest to replace Heroes: Origins. (So much for the hope it was just being delayed.) I'm sure it is cheaper for them, but I'd rather have the writers creating characters that get voted on, not the audience picking attributes they want with nobody making them come to life.

I don't watch his show, but I respect David Letterman for continuing to pay non-writing staff that are out of work for the foreseeable future because of the strike.

TLC is going to revamp Trading Spaces again and bring back Paige. (What they really need to do is bring back the good designers, but it might get me to give it another try.)

DVRs for tonight:
5pm Flash Gordon
7pm Stargate Atlantis
8pm Men in Trees & Blood Ties & Ghost Whisperer
9pm Moonlight & Womens Murder Club
10pm Numb3rs

Thursday, November 15, 2007


The next project for James Marsters will be the villain in the movie Dragonball, based on the Japanese manga series.

Comet Holmes has now reached the size of the sun (actual size, not size as it appears to us). The article at Space has pictures and a sky map of where to look to see it.

DVRs for tonight:
8pm My Name is Earl
9pm CSI & Grey's Anatomy & Supernatural (haven't seen any of this season yet: DVD?)
930 Scrubs
10pm Womens Murder Club

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


This is not a good month for the environment. As we are slowly recovering the bay from the 58,000 gallon oil spill last week, there was a 560,000 gallon oil spill in Russia. 11 ships (including a tanker) sank in a storm on Monday in the strait between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. 30,000 birds have been covered in oil, and who knows how many fish and other animals since the oil sank into the sea bed. When will ship captains recognize unsafe conditions and just stay in port?

A picture of Zachary Quinto as Spock has leaked. He really looks the part.

Researchers have created a very efficient microbial electrolysis cell. Basically, you take cellulose or vinegar or some sort of plant waste, add common wastewater bacteria and a small jolt of electricity, and all of the hydrogen in the original material becomes hydrogen gas that can be used as fuel.

Subterranean Press has put John Scalzi's novelette The Sagan Diary (which comes between The Ghost Brigades and The Last Colony) online for free in both text and audio versions.

DVRs for tonight:
8pm Pushing Daisies
9pm Bionic Woman & Private Practice
10pm Life

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


The UPS in Petaluma will be making its holiday deliveries with electric trucks from Zap.

Al Gore has become a Bay Area venture capitalist. He has joined Kleiner Perkins in financing global warming solutions. They will be funding green technology startups, and Gore will be advising on which companies and technologies are the most promising. He sees California as a model for green tech for the rest of the country to follow.

Too bad the strike is keeping the Colbert Report in repeats, I'd love to see his response to the Virginia election. He was a write-in candidate for a seat on the Soil and Water Conservation Board (but he isn't eligible to take the seat because he isn't a registered voter in that district).

Alexis Bledel (Rory Gilmore) is coming back to TV. She has been cast in a Fox Atomic comedy called "Ticket to Ride" about a woman who moves back home to her wacky family after college while she tries to figure out what to do next.

Pine trees are being cloned for forestry to provide disease resistant, uniform trees. This makes me nervous.

FutonCritic has a much more complete grid of the strike impact on scripted shows (# ordered, # shot, final date scheduled to air so far, # remaining).

I'm glad I don't count on CBS for my news: they are facing a strike too. The strike authorization vote will be held at the end of this week.

The FCC wants to regulate cable. They think that viewership has reached the level where the 1984 deregulation no longer applies. There is now an argument over whose statistics are correct (FCC says 70%, cable says 58%). If the FCC has their way, expect to see them push for a la carte programming, less "offensive" programming, and more control over pricing (to consumers and programmers). While I wouldn't mind lower costs and more choices over channel selection, I want them to stay away from content. I found this at both Yahoo and The Washington Post.

Next month, Buckaroo Bonzai will return as a 2-part prequel comic written by the original screenwriters.

Speaking of comics, ever wanted to read the original Spider-Man, X-Men or Fantastic 4 without tracking down and paying collectors prices for the comics? Marvel is putting them online for viewing (if you pay a monthly fee).

The Japanese moon probe has captured a great new Earth-rise photo in hi-def.

There are rumors (and massive spoilers) all over the place about the new Star Trek movie. Based on the rumors, Harlan Ellison is pissed that they are stealing his material without asking. If that isn't enough of a spoiler, you can find plot spoilers here and details of the reaction here.

DVRs for tonight:
8pm Bones
9pm House & Reaper

Monday, November 12, 2007


NASA scientists are using Stirling cooler technology from the 1800s to design a refrigeration system to keep a probe active on the surface of Venus, where temperatures reach 450C. (Previous probes have lasted less than 2 hours before melting.)

A new antenna has been developed that is made from plasma (the heated gas, not the liquid in blood). It is impervious to jamming and undetectable when turned off. The model shown looks like a curved neon bulb.

A new online book cataloging program has been developed. It is called BookBump, and I'm going to keep an eye on it to see if I want to use it instead of LibraryThing to track my "recently read" books here since Librarything limits the books you can list for free and BookBump has no limits. I'll stick with BookCat for my main library. There's a review on SF Signal today.

The Scrubs finale may never air on TV. There were 18 episodes ordered for this final season. Of those, 11 were written and 10 have been filmed (3 have aired so far), so the final episodes aren't written (although the showrunner knows how he wants it to end. They were given the option of writing an alternate ending and declined. The showrunner believes they'll be able to produce it for the dvd if nothing else.

DVRs for tonight:
8pm Chuck & How I Met Your Mother
830 Big Bang Theory
9pm Heroes & 2.5 Men

Friday, November 9, 2007


Producers from Pushing Daisies and Men in Trees have both said that their final produced episodes can act as season finales if necessary. Pushing Daisies considered it in the writing, and Men in Trees has an alternate ending.

This page has a more detailed chart of how many episodes each show has remaining before we run out until the strike is over. (He lists Heroes as making 12 eps, and I've heard 11 may be the last, so that one confuses me. I hope he's right.) The shortest is Bionic Woman with 3 remaining episodes. The longest is Men in Trees with 14 left.

Comet Holmes has grown to the point where you can see it without even binoculars, let alone a telescope. Look in Perseus (below Cassiopeia and east of Polaris).

Ships with solar sails coming to SF (probably as ferrys) in 2009. Large solar panels will act as sails so the boat can be powered by wind or solar (it also has diesel as a backup).

The Tech Museum of Innovation gave out awards this week for breakthrough devices for helping the environment and emerging nations. Today CNet has a slideshow of the winners (the solar sail ship above is #6).

There are 12 movies that will be in the running for 3 nominations for the Best Animated Film Oscar: Alvin and the Chipmunks, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Bee Movie, Beowulf, Meet the Robinsons, Persepolis, Ratatouille, Shrek the Third, The Simpsons Movie, Surf's Up, Tekkonkinkreet and TMNT. Of these, I've seen one and plan to see another 3-4.

DVRs for tonight:
5pm Flash Gordon (note new time!)
7pm Atlantis
8pm Blood Ties & Ghost Whisperer & Men in Trees
9pm Moonlight & Women's Murder Club
10pm Numb3rs

Thursday, November 8, 2007


BBC America has scheduled 2nd season of Life on Mars to start December 11th.

Japan's orbiting Moon probe has sent back HDTV video and it has been posted as an online movie here.

China's Moon probe has just reached orbit.

A European probe studying Mars has found that an odd terrain near the equator (invisible to standard radar scans) is 1.5 miles deep. It is most likely ash or dust (although ice is remotely possible), but they still don't know why it hasn't compacted as expected.

Brad Bird (writer-director of Iron Giant, Incredibles & Ratatouille) is working on a live-action film called 1906 (rumored to be about the SF quake).

DVRs for tonight:
8pm My Name is Earl
9pm CSI & Grey's Anatomy & Supernatural
930 Scrubs
10pm Big Shots & Without a Trace (crossover with CSI)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


FOX is completely shuffling their lineup. Bones and House are moving, and they've set dates for their midseason shows. (You're out of luck if you like 24: they're holding it until after the strike when all episodes are complete.) Everything is subject to change of course.

Didn't think to check Google Maps before a trip and pull into a gas station for directions? Soon you'll be able to check Google right from the pump! New pumps available across the US starting next month will have directions for popular local destinations and an option to print.

Initial signs show that the strike might be successful. More producer-writers and actor-writers are joining the picket lines than the studios expected. The other unions are being more supportive of the writers than was anticipated. Lets hope this means a swift end, not a continuation until spring when the actors and directors contracts end too.

The LA Times has made a grid which lists how the strike will affect individual shows. Included in the article that led me to this but not the grid: Chuck will be able to complete its 13 episode order, and Heroes may stop at episode 11.

Redwood City has a new Southeast Asian restaurant. Sounds good. We should try it.

DVRs for tonight:
9pm Bionic Woman
10pm CSI:NY & Life

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Time Magazine has an article on Best Inventions of the Year. The iPhone was their best overall, but there are lots of other interesting items on the list.

Scientists have found a solar system with at least 5 planets in it (the 5th was just confirmed). The newest planet identified is in the habitable zone, but is made of gas. They are optimistic there is another rocky planet yet to be discovered that might have liquid water.

NASA has built a full-sized mock-up of the Orion spacecraft (for manned landings on the Moon or Mars). There are pictures at CNet.

There are lots of articles about Android today (Google's planned operating system for cell phones that will make them function more like computers). Chronicle and CNet.

DVRs for tonight:
8pm Bones
9pm House & Reaper

Monday, November 5, 2007


It's official: the Writers are on strike. For scripted series, there are probably enough already filmed to last us a month or two, but expect repeats immediately for Daily Show and Colbert Report.

Astronauts successfully fixed the torn solar wing on the space station.

Ultra-capacitors are getting better at storing power and may start replacing batteries as well as working with them for better efficiency in recharging.

DARPA's robot race of cars without drivers going 10 miles through an urban setting is complete. Stanford's team came in 2nd (Carnegie Mellon was 1st).

Enrico Colantoni from Veronica Mars will be guest starring on Numb3rs in December (already in production so not affected by the strike).

The BBC is playing a 3-part Visions of the Future documentary this week. It sounds fascinating, but no word when we'll get to see it in the US.

There are plans for stackable electric cars (like airport luggage carts) to be available for rent for city driving where mass transit doesn't go. There are some MIT concept pictures and an article about them at CNet today.

Google has unveiled their response to the iPhone.

Several companies have plans to use the ocean to reduce carbon dioxide. New efforts are underway to create a code of ethics that will require permits and environmental impact studies prior to implementation.

DVRs for tonight:
8pm Chuck & How I Met Your Mother
830 Big Bang Theory
9pm Heroes & 2.5 Men

Friday, November 2, 2007


Strike fallout has begun: They are filming an alternate ending for the Heroes episode scheduled to air on December 3rd in case it ends up being the season finale.

Researchers have found a way to make the catalysts for fuel cell batteries more efficient and cheaper - a critical step towards electric cars.

The meteor may not have been what killed the dinosaurs. New research is causing questions about the dating, and evidence is that volcanic gas may have played a role.

Mozilla and Microsoft are arguing about the future of Javascript. Be prepared for pages working differently in the 2 browsers.

A new magnet design could radically change nanoscience and semiconductor research.

JK Rowling has written a new book, but you can't buy it. She has made 7 handwritten copies of the fairy tale book mentioned in Deathly Hallows. One will be auctioned for charity, and she is giving the others away.

DVRs for tonight:
6pm Flash Gordon - some day I'm going to have to watch this
7pm Stargate Atlantis
8pm Blood Ties, Ghost Whisperer & Men in Trees
9pm Moonlight & Womens Murder Club
10pm Numb3rs

Thursday, November 1, 2007


Electricity drawn from common bacteria in dirt. Sounds interesting.

The University of Ghent has come up with electric wires that stretch. This could allow for greater flexibility in electronic devices.

CNet has an article on the interconnectedness between Google and Firefox (conflict of interest?).

They are actually making a 2nd X-Files movie. David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson and Chris Carter will all be involved and it will be released in July 2008.

Eliza Dushku has brought Joss Whedon back to Fox TV. They have signed on to make Dollhouse, a show about agents programmed with personalities for their missions. Dushku's character is starting to become self aware. They have ordered 7 episodes for the fall, but plan to start filming them in the spring (before the actors strike, assuming the writers don't strike first and leave them short of scripts). There's more info here, including an interview and a note that Tim Minear will be involved. (Hopefully that won't be a death sign for it.)

Heroes: Origins has been shelved. Concerned over a writers strike and the slight dip in ratings, NBC isn't going to make the show this season. They may bring it back next season, but this sounds like proof that NBC isn't going to air anything I want to see if there's a strike.

Womens Murder Club got an order for another 3 scripts. They left that order a little late.

Geek pumpkin competition. And a great gallery of pumpkins.

DVRs for tonight:
8pm My Name is Earl
9pm CSI & Grey's Anatomy & Supernatural (as a download or wait for dvd)
930 Scrubs (either this or Grey's will need to be a download)
10pm Big Shots

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

CNet has a photo slideshow of the comet Holmes, which now appears larger than Jupiter.

RIP Robert Goulet. He died yesterday of pulmonary fibrosis while waiting for a lung transplant.

The Ratatouille dvd coming out next week has a special feature that is a first for Pixar: their first hand-drawn 2D animation. It is also their longest short film at 11 minutes.

The alternate trailers for Veronica Mars season 4 are now online at YouTube.

DVRs for tonight:
8pm Pushing Daisies
9pm Private Practice (Bionic Woman is pre-empted by garbage tonight)
10pm CSI:NY & Life

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Mercedes-Benz didn't want to install fire doors in their museum (it would look wrong with the architecture), so they created an indoor tornado to pull out the smoke in the case of a fire. It has been declared the world's largest artificial tornado.

Yahoo has an article on the status of the Writers Guild negotiations since the strike deadline is midnight tomorrow.

MIT scientists have found a way to use light beams as tweezers to pick up tiny objects.

IBM has developed a way to scrape circuits off silicon wafers with water (more eco-friendly than the chemicals or sand typically used) so they can be reused for solar. Recycled silicon will help with the global silicon shortage

DVRs for tonight:
8pm Bones
9pm House (I'm finally caught up so I can watch this) & Reaper

Monday, October 29, 2007


They are going to have a half hour Shrek Christmas special on ABC on 11-28. Timing is to promote the DVD coming out 11-13.

Cute story of a couple who spent their 60th anniversary at the same hotel they honeymooned at for $10 (paid by their 12-year-old grandson) instead of the current $1600 because of an offer for people returning after 50 years with their original receipts.

Two Canadian astronomers have said that they don't think dark matter exists, and they have an alternate theory for how gravity works that explains the observations that have been cited as evidence of dark matter.

The Governor has signed the cord blood bills.

DVRs for tonight:
8pm Chuck & How I Met Your Mother
830 Big Bang Theory
9pm Heroes & 2.5 Men

Friday, October 26, 2007


The One Laptop Per Child project is experimenting with using cows as a power source to run the laptops.

Astronomers have identified hundreds of black holes that were masked by dusty galaxies billions of light years away.

The Senate has approved a 7-year extension to the internet tax ban, including wording that should protect email, IM & file storage that are not linked to an IP access account. The version approved by the House did not have that wording, so it still needs to go back and be approved there before it can be signed off, but they think they can get it done before the old ban expires next week.

NPR (online here) will be playing a 30-second scary story by Neil Gaiman tomorrow.

Cinemax (of all places) is planning a scifi movie-of-the-week series (which may become an actual series) about 5 aliens who crash to earth in 1863 and how they influence mankind's development.

CNet has a slideshow of robot photos from the RoboDevelopment Expo going on now.

Fuel cells powered by the heat in the air? It looks like it is possible and a New Jersey company is working on making it a reality. Cool.

Reaper just got an order for an additional 3 scripts. That means that either new scripts or a full season have been ordered for every new show I've watched except for Womens Murder Club and Big Shots. Although I find them somewhat entertaining (as long as Womens Murder Club doesn't try to call BART "the" subway again) they aren't my favorite new shows for the season, so I think the season is starting well. Knowing how networks work, I expected to have a new favorite killed after 3 weeks.

While trying to find out why the 3rd season dvd for Battlestar Galactica is being delayed until April 2008, it was discovered that the 4th season won't be starting in January or February like we expected. It will be starting in April, so the dvd timing is to link them together.

DVRs for tonight:
6pm Flash Gordon
7pm Stargate Atlantis
8pm Blood Ties & Ghost Whisperer
9pm Moonlight & Womens Murder Club
10pm Numb3rs & Men in Trees

Thursday, October 25, 2007


DVRs for tonight:
8pm My Name is Earl
9pm Grey's Anatomy, Supernatural
930 Scrubs (7th season premier - NBC)
10pm Big Shots

Bionic Woman now has a new show runner. The show runner for Friday Night Lights (who had also done Roswell) has been pulling double duty since Glen Morgan left. The new show runner is from The Sopranos, and I'm a bit concerned that it appears his only SF experience is one ep of Surface.

A distant comet has just brightened by a millionfold. Check it out near the Perseus constellation.

The Discovery Channel recently had a competition to explain string theory in a 2-minute video. Check out the "best".

Scientists have found evidence that Saturn's outer ring was formed by the destruction of a moon.

SciFi has ordered a pilot for Warehouse 13, which they describe as a cross between X-Files, Indiana Jones & Moonlighting. The actual description sounds more like a secret government version of The Librarian, but it could be fun. It was written by Rockne O'Bannon (Farscape) and has one of the producers from Battlestar Galactica.

A plant is being built in Massachusetts to make natural gas from biomass. Sounds like it will be cheaper to produce and better for the environment than traditional sources.

New technology gives us new privacy concerns to think about. As advances are made in digital photography, GPS data, and online mapping, photos can be tagged with data about their location. This is great if the photo is a real estate listing, not so great if you accidentally geotag photos from the party in your back yard. More on the issues here.

Slideshow from GE's clean tech labs. Interesting products being developed.

Lost has a habit of killing characters when the actors who play them get arrested. Let's hope that doesn't continue, because I'd hate to see Daniel Dae Kim leave the show even if he did make a stupid mistake.

Yahoo is supporting alternative energy with the goal of becoming carbon neutral by the end of the year.