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