Friday, September 28, 2007

Roundup for 9-28-07

DVR for tonight:
5pm Doctor Who (SCIFI)
6pm Flash Gordon (SCIFI) - I still haven't seen any of these, but I'm still recording in case I like them when I get around to it.
7pm Stargate Atlantis (SCIFI) - It's back! Yay!
8pm Ghost Whisperer (CBS)
9pm Moonlight (CBS) - New show about a vampire detective. Probably worth a pilot even if the reviews are dreadful.
10pm Numb3rs (CBS)

Someone has summarized all the Heroes online comics in case, like me, you looked at one or two with bandwidth problems, never went back, and are missing some of the character details they reveal there.

Bionic Woman and Journeyman have added cast members.

A preliminary poster has been prepared for the next Pixar movie, Wall-E. I think it looks good.

Next year there will be 2 2nd-generation astronauts in space at the same time. Richard Garriott, creator of the Ultima computer games and son of Skylab astronaut Owen Garriott, will be traveling to the ISS as part of the Russian space tourist program and be met by 2nd generation cosmonaut Sergei Volkov. Cool.

Interview with Jorja Fox about CSI (minor spoilers included).

Cool tech of the day: A photocopier that translates between Japanese and English with the touch of a button.

The College of San Mateo is hosting a free, all day event this Saturday (tomorrow) at their new planetarium. There will be free planetarium shows, views from the solar telescope and other telescopes, demos, jazz and food. Sounds like it could be fun. Event flyer. Website with maps, schedule & raffle prizes.

Two different stories today about DNA sequencing: Scientists are using hair samples to sequence the DNA of mammoths, and researchers have mapped the genome of the pinot noir grape. It has more genes than humans, and more than 100 of them control flavor (double other plants).

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Roundup for 9-27-07

DVRs for tonight:
8pm My Name is Earl (NBC)
9pm CSI (CBS) and Grey's Anatomy (ABC)
10pm Big Shots (ABC) - I don't expect to like this, but I like the cast/crew enough to give it a chance.

A man's wife dies, and the responders see art & science supplies and arrest him as a potential terrorist, confiscate his house and quarantine the entire neighborhood. When they realize that there is nothing toxic on the property, they charge him with "mail fraud" for ordering harmless bacteria. Wow. The full story is here.

This is the 40th anniversary of the handheld calculator. Some history and which models join the Smithsonian exhibit can be found in the article.

More tech history can be found in this article about a tour of the non-public areas of the Computer History Museum. Among other things mentioned, they are trying to restore an IBM mainframe from the 60s. Cool stuff for geeks like me. This is another place, like the aquariums, that I've been meaning to visit since I moved back down here and have somehow never managed to make it to the door.

Martin Scorsese is planning on making a documentary about George Harrison.

I remember the old Beetle Bailey cartoon strips (and books that Dad had), but I never knew they made an animated version until I saw this ad for the dvd set.

Evil. Someone who knows my love for Aztec/Mexican chocolate showed me this tasty-looking item. Yummmmm.

SciFi has ordered a 3rd season (of 13 episodes) of Eureka.

They think of everything. There is now a remote-control robot that will clean gutters.

More info on the sale of SlingMedia to EchoStar.

I understand that networks are looking to develop new shows now the last round is hitting the screens, so they can be prepared when these bomb and die. However, why would a remake of Knight Rider be considered a good idea to anyone?

It is nice to see a human-animal interaction with a happy ending, and the pictures are amazing. Bear rescued from falling off the Donner Memorial Bridge.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Roundup for 9-26-07

DVRs for tonight:
9pm Bionic Woman (NBC) and Private Practice (ABC) - worth pilots
10pm CSI:NY (CBS)

Mercedes McNab (Harmony on Buffy) is going to guest star as another vampire on Supernatural in November. Charisma Carpenter is joining the cast of Big Shots. (Why does a cast and crew I like so much have to be for a show that sounds dreadful? I'll probably end up giving it a pilot.)

Why is it that people still think colorizing classic films is a good idea? Now Ray Harryhausen gets colored over.

Cool science for the day: First zero-gravity surgery robot demonstrates vascular surgery in underwater lab.

Planned projects would increase California's solar power production to 65x current levels.

Slideshow for converting analog TVs to digital.

Slideshow of low cost tech for 3rd world needs. Interesting.

New comet detected that reappears every 4 years.

Like TorrentSpy last month, IsoHunt is going to stop allowing US computers to download torrent trackers from their site. This is caused by pressure from the Motion Picture industry, but I don't see them stopping downloads of movies only. :(

Dawn will rise in the west this week as the spacecraft Dawn is launched to study the asteroid belt.

New studies
show stem cell therapies will slow down liver damage to give the liver a chance to repair itself or give the patient time for a new liver to be found.

Massive underwater kelp forests have been found beneath the coral reefs in the tropical areas of the Pacific (where they never thought to look for them before).

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Roundup for 9-25-07

DVR settings for tonight:
6pm Eureka (SCIFI)
8pm Bones (FOX)
9pm House (FOX) - Really far behind on this show - may or may not watch.
Reaper (CW) - We saw a sneak preview of this and it is GOOD!

Mathematical evidence for the parallel universe theory.

Michael Shanks talks about filming the episode of Eureka that airs tonight.

Interesting new tripod robot design - the STriDER flips while walking.

Roof tiles with built-in solar cells. I wonder how efficient they are, but it is interesting to see a solar paneled roof that looks like a normal terracotta tile roof.

Interesting pictures of caves and water evidence on Mars.

EchoStar (parent company for DishNetwork) just bought Sling Media. I look forward to seeing a DVR with built-in sling-box so you can view your recordings on your laptop, PDA or maybe just a non-DVR satellite box in the same house without buying a separate device and going through another setup.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Roundup for 9-24-07

TV for tonight:
Chuck (geek gets download of spy knowledge - sounds like Jake 2.0 - worth a pilot)
Heroes (finally back!!!!!)
Journeyman (time travel - worth a pilot)
How I Met Your Mother
Big Bang Theory (giving this a pilot basically because it comes between 2 shows I'll watch although I doubt it will be worth a second episode)
2.5 Men

More writer/directors named for Heroes: Origins. Eli Roth ("Hostel") and Michael Dougherty ("Superman Returns") join Kevin Smith ("Clerks", etc.).

TVShowsonDVD is taking a REALLY in depth look at the new Young Indy dvd sets. I would like to rewatch some of these, but it might seem a bit strange to see Sean Patrick Flannery play a good guy. ;) Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Cute story of geeks meant for each other: Marriage proposal in a crossword puzzle.

RIP Marcel Marceau (the most famous mime ever) and Alice Ghostley (Esmerelda from Bewitched, etc.).

Article about all the geeks on TV this fall (or shows aimed for geeks).

Article listing the best geek TV of our generation (#1 is Buffy). As usual with any list, I have problems with the order and omissions, but it is better than some.

New version of Gmail being tested according to ZDNet.

Wikipedia is making changes to become more trustworthy.

Really fascinating article on the top 10 transhumanist technologies (basically future technologies to change the way we live approached from a "we will definitely get this and this is why and how" sort of approach).

Article on Heroes (not to be read until tomorrow because it warns of spoilers).

Cord blood transfusions from siblings cures sickle cell disease and Thalassemiain in 90% of cases.

Low cost, high-efficiency solar panels nearing mass production.

Astronomers have modeled 14 planet types to help them spot an Earth-like planet elsewhere.

New studies show that the Amazon rainforest recovers better from drought than previous models suggested. I guess that gives us some hope.

Arthur C. Clarke comments on the Google X Prize award.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Roundup for 9-21-07

In preparation for the Heroes premier on Monday, EW has reviewed every 1st season episode here.

SyFy portal talks about the expected writers strike and potential actors strike and how SciFi is responding.

Interview with George Lucas about an upcoming Star Wars animated TV show.

The complete Heinlein Archives have been put online according to Slashdot and the Mercury News.

Another new spaceship propulsion technology is being developed: the Mini-Mag Orion.

Someone tried to sell Belgium on eBay.

There's something about reading Stephen Fry review smart phones that reminds me a bit of Douglas Adam's tech reviews from The Salmon of Doubt (but that could just be me).

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Roundup for 9-20-07

Lost will be resurrecting Libby (through flashbacks) in multiple episodes this season.

Student thrown out of Harvard bookstore for writing down book ISBN #s & prices. Since when is comparison shopping worthy of being thrown out of a store? I guess it's a good thing I didn't go to Harvard.

Be afraid: There is a Star Wars Musical online.

Apparently SciFi is afraid of what will happen when they lose Battlestar Galactica (hence talking about splitting the final season over as much as 2 years). They are now talking about picking up the prequel spinoff Caprica after all.

Even more TV on the web options from NBC and ABC.

The creators of Scary Movie, Naked Gun, etc. are now working on a superhero spoof called "Superhero" (duh!) to be released 3-28-08. The cast (listed in this article) is pretty good.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Roundup for 9-19-07

CBS wants to make a US version of Eleventh Hour. Now if they kept Patrick Stewart, that might be OK.

USB 3.0 (coming next year) will add fiber-optic lines for 10x faster rates (to better support USB hard drives).

:-) turns 25 today. That deserves a :-)

Garbage trucks smelling like french fries? They didn't just load up at McD's, they are using biodiesel fuel. I'm not sure the smell problem from garbage trucks comes from the exhaust, but I appreciate their environmental efforts.

Cool science article of the day: Scientists are working on bonding electrons & antimatter to form exotic molecules that can power gamma-ray lasers.

Psych renewed for a 3rd year.

NBC is actually promoting Chuck. The pilot is available as a free download from Amazon, a free rental from Blockbuster, and now a free disk with any TV-DVD purchase at Circuit City (all offers expire when the show airs on Monday).

New satellite launched for gathering Earth images.

2 new John Scalzi books have been announced. Another in the Old Man's War universe, although a generation later, and a sequel to Android's Dream.

Ever wondered what it was like to have cat whiskers? This new headband uses infrared sensors to detect objects nearby and vibrates to alert the wearer something is there. If I ever go blind, get me one.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Roundup for 9-18-07

Brief reviews of new shows from Sacramento Bee. Most of the shows I definitely want to watch got good rankings from them, the ones I've said "I might give it a pilot" are all over the place, and I might be willing to give one or 2 more a chance because they sound better than I thought they would.

IBM is making a free, downloadable office suite to challenge Microsoft. It sounds like a version of OpenOffice (who they just partnered with) with IBM support. Sounds great.

First angel shark born in captivity in SF. Why is it that I like aquariums and I have been living between the ones in SF and Monterey for 4 years now and still haven't gone to either one? I need to change that.

Interview with Naomi Novik about her latest book and the pending Peter Jackson movie, etc.

November 7, 2007 has been announced as the release date for the hardcover version of the Heroes online comics.

Weird but true: Personal jet wing in development.

Lauren Graham has signed a development deal with NBC. So sometime in the next year they will develop a new show for her. Let's hope it is good.

I'm not sure if I would use the email program Mozilla is working on, but after reading this article, I'm glad they are doing it.

New stuff coming from Lee & Miller per the Liad Infodump on her blog. Cool!

New battery being developed for plug-in hybrids could make the technology more affordable.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Roundup for 9-17-07

Somebody has created a list of 50 intelligent SF movies. They've broken it up by theme and left out a few I like (ex. Enemy Mine), but overall it is a very good list. There are some I've never seen that I might actually track down.

Microsoft lost its appeal in the European antitrust lawsuit = $613 million fine. They have 2 months to decide if they will appeal again.

RIP Robert Jordan. In March 2006 he announced his illness, reporting that the median life expectancy was 1 to 4 years, depending on treatment. I am sorry to say that,despite the treatment, he only lived 1.5 years more. He died yesterday. According to this, it looks like he left good notes, so hopefully the Wheel of Time series will one day be completed. He spent 17 years writing it, and I'd hate for it to remain unfinished, and (selfishly) I'd like to know how it ends.

Jay Mohr will be a regular on Ghost Whisperer this season. I guess that means that his pilot (I don't remember what it was) didn't get picked up.

I didn't watch the Emmy awards, but it looks like the only major-category win for genre shows was Terry O'Quinn getting Best Supporting Actor for Lost.

Mars is going to keep 100% cocoa butter in all its chocolate products. The industry is trying to save money by saying that 5% vegetable oil is still chocolate. That just sounds wrong, and I'm glad that Mars (who makes M&M, Dove, Twix, etc.) is standing up to the pressure.

Nebraska Senator sues God (to make a statement that lawsuits where you can sue anyone for anything have become ridiculous).

A group of MIT alumni have made a low-cost solar generator to bring refrigeration to developing nations.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Roundup for 9-14-07

There's a fight over California's electoral votes. I can see dividing up the votes if all other states are doing it, but doing this just in California sounds like Republican desperation and trickery.

Adrian Paul talks about the new Highlander: The Source movie.

Rumors are that Lost, when it returns, will move to Mondays at 8pm. I think this will be a better slot for it, overall.

Cool science award for the day: Photonic Laser Thruster. It could take a spacecraft to Mars in a week instead of six months.

Roundup for 9-13-07 part 2

CNet article about using Torrents to watch TV now that networks (esp NBC) are making it harder to watch them legitimately.

NBC has put all their new pilots on Amazon for free download, and SF Signal is having a poll as to which genre show will be the first to die.

Microsoft is trying to get BBC shows as downloads for the Xbox platform.

Another argument-generating best list - this one is the top 100 women of genre film and television. What I've seen so far seems to at least consider a pretty wide spectrum.

If looking at these photos of beautiful old libraries makes you drool, you too could be a book addict.

Red Dwarf videos have been put online here.

Interesting look at the 8 most common visions of the future in film and why they won't happen.

New free speculative fiction online here. Some new stuff as well as things that qualify for Project Gutenberg.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Roundup for 9-13-07 part 1

Morgan Fairchild will play herself in an upcoming episode of Men in Trees.

Jon Stewart will host the Oscars again next year.

Google is co-sponsoring a $20 million grand prize (with $10 million in other prizes) for an unmanned moon landing by a private industry group.

By analyzing the orbit of Mars, they think it has had 40 ice ages in the past 50 million years (approx. every 120,000 years), with the wobble causing the sun to either dry out the soil or cause ice sheets to form right under it, alternating in location. Wow, makes life seem pretty much impossible anywhere remotely near the surface.

Not all red giant stars act the same way. And some planets could survive the death of their suns. Could Earth? Doubtful, but it allows for some interesting speculation, and none of us will be around to know for sure.

Vampire star found = article about a star that siphons gas from another star close by.

For $1.3 million a year and the loan of their planes for research missions, Google founders will get to park their planes at Moffet Field. I think it sounds like a great deal for all involved (Moffet gets more funds to stay open and active in research, and Google gets airport access right next to their headquarters), but there is concern over just how many flights will be allowed.

New water bottle filters anything under 15 nanometers (viruses are 25), so it can purify the grossest water imaginable without chemicals and can go at least 4,000 liters before changing the filter. Military agencies bought up his entire supply within 4 hours, but I'm sure he'll be making more soon (he designed it for disaster relief).;jsessionid=3R3S1NAZ1X2NVQFIQMFCFFWAVCBQYIV0?xml=/news/2007/09/12/nwater112.xml

Solar aircraft sets records

A stinky weed with an oily seed may be your next source of auto fuel. It is apparently really easy to turn into biodiesel.

Student film version of Rama. (I still need to check out.)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Roundup for 9-10-07

Since there were almost no women nominated for Hugos last year, someone has put together a list of all (?) eligible women for next year's award, so that people will have time to familiarize themselves with the works and keep them in mind when nominating next year. Since those of us going to the Denver Worldcon will be able to nominate and vote, it is something to keep in mind.

Along the same lines, Locus has just released their new Forthcoming Books list. This is a monthly list of books coming out, and a good reference for what is eligible to nominate as well as what to buy.

Article on the accomplishments of the Hubble telescope.

It looks like someone other than Futon Critic has done a detailed review of the new TV season. Check it out if you want another opinion on what may be worth watching.

Indy 4 now has a title: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Roundup for 9-7-07

How do you lose an 8-foot tall Lego man?

The Bionic Woman remake has lost one of its producers: Glen Morgan from the X-Files. I didn't even know he was involved. I wonder what he'll do instead.,0,7733827.story?track=rss

They're launching an online Myst game. Don't they know I still haven't gotten around to playing the last one?

RIP Madeleine L'Engle. First Lloyd Alexander, now Madeleine L'Engle, the world has lost 2 great shapers of children's imaginations in one year.

Firefox passes 400 million downloads. Some people recognize it is the best browser. :P

ITunes wants to lower the cost of TV downloads. Networks want to increase or have variable pricing. Do they not realize that by making their shows hard to find and expensive the are driving them to the torrents?

Telescopes nearly as far apart as the diameter of the earth working together to get a "global" view of a distant galaxy.

Adobe is working on an online version of Photoshop.

Article about the upcoming Singularity Summit, where people will discuss things like what we will do when machines out-think us.

Complete original Outer Limits is a boxed set DVD for a limited time. Hmmmm... tempting.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Roundup for 9-6-07 part 2

They think they've found out what is killing the honeybees, but they still have no idea what to do about it.

Roundup for 9-6-07

RIP Pavarotti. I remember listening to him sing so many times when I was a kid with Dad.;_ylt=Av2JwfkqH0dHr2C14DzJtkKs0NUE

Alyssa Milano will be joining the cast of My Name is Earl.

NBC is going to encore several of its shows on other channels it owns: Bionic Woman on SciFi, pilots on USA & Bravo. Heroes may encore on NBC itself on Saturdays, but unlike last season, there are no plans for any other network to show it.

Two telescopes have confirmed the sighting of tiny building block galaxies.

Weird but true: Some eels have an extra set of teeth in their throat that reach up and pull food down.

Designed to run for 3 months, the Mars rovers have been running for 3 years. (I'm used to things that work the other way round.) They just started up again after the end of dust storms that were blocking their solar panels.;1211831261;fp;16;fpid;1

They've traced the origin of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs. Who would have thought there'd still be enough evidence after 160 million years?

Australia is considering storing stem cells from their athletes to use to help them heal faster from injuries.

Rapid diagnostics using nanoparticles to detect viruses and cancers.

Using lasers to kill viruses.

Networks are considering all sorts of weird strategies, including bringing cable shows to the networks, to fill the gap expected because of the potential writers strike in October.

Dianne Wiest will be joining Amy Sherman-Palladino's (Gilmore Girls creator) new show at midseason.,0,5682511.story?track=rss

Oregon is testing ocean wave power generators. I like the potential for more power in less space than solar or wind without the bird endangerment of the windmills.

Biomass fuel just took another step closer to becoming a reality.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Roundup for 9-5-07

Really cool slideshow for the first commercial space port: Spaceport America to be built next year in New Mexico.

And now for the completely ridiculous: pee powered batteries being made in Japan.

Another top 10 Sci-Fi TV shows list. I think these are designed to start arguments. The order of the shows they include is wrong (backwards would be better) and they leave off some great ones (Max Headroom or Buffy anyone?). I also think the ranking is a little too dependent on what influenced current shows.

Roundup for 9-4-07

Not a surprise after the Royal Shakespeare announcement last week: Doctor Who season 5 will be delayed with the Christmas special in 2008 and 3 specials only for 2009. It still hasn't been decided if David Tennant will return for the delayed season or if they will recast.,0,1277392.story?track=rss

Hugo awards were announced: Vernor Vinge won best novel, Naomi Novik won best new writer, Patrick Nielsen Hayden won best long form editor (new category), Pan's Labyrinth won best long from dramatic presentation, Steven Moffat won short form again for Doctor Who: The Girl in the Fireplace, David Langford won best fan writer for the 20th time (beating John Scalzi by 1 vote), etc.... I really like the look of the award - very appropriate for the first Japanese Worldcon.

Highlander complete series box set now available, and for the first time, they will also sell the box for people who already own the individual seasons.

Robin of Sherwood set 2 (otherwise known as season 3 or the ones with Jason Connery) comes to DVD next month.

Preview video for Star Trek TOS HD-hybrid dvd release. This includes some interviews and side-by-side comparisons of the restoration & changes.

AT&T has found a way to make a fortune from parents. They have a plan that will allow parents to completely control their kids cell phone usage. I think schools may soon require this plan.

Reject-free heart valve transplants grown from the patient's own stem cells in 6 weeks = cool new science.

The 2009 Worldcon will be in Montreal and Neil Gaiman will be the guest of honor. How does this sound for a first non-US Worldcon?

In 2 weeks, SciFi is going to have a Saturday movie that I will have to watch even if I am afraid of what they'll do with the story. It will be Highlander 5: The Source with Adrian Paul.

Nasty rumor for BSG fans. SciFi may split the final season over 2 years: 10 eps in 2008, the rest in 2009. As if the wait until 2008 isn't bad enough.

It looks like there will be a direct-to-dvd sequel to Dead Like Me, but Mandy Patinkin won't be in it, instead we'll get the guy who plays Desmond on Lost.

Example of how crazy our world is: Environmentally friendly cars only being sold in 8 states and not advertised even there.

Pilots for new shows Chuck, Journeyman and Life will be available on a Blockbuster exclusive free dvd rental.

Roundup for 8-31-07

It sounds a bit like friends having a joke together, but Kristen Bell and Clark Duke from Greek say they are forming a band. Well, we know they both can sing, let's just hope they choose better lyrics than that "Darwin Lied" song from Greek (and not quite as absurd as Reefer Madness).

The skywatch alert for tonight is actually 830-9pm (much better than 130-6am for the eclipse). It is supposed to be a good time to see the Draco the Dragon constellation.
However, there is another skywatch alert for early tomorrow morning: a rare meteor shower that could be amazing or could be a complete dud.

Robot Chicken on the Last Unicorn. This is so incredibly WRONG.

Masi Oka commenting on the fact that Bittorrents were used to watch Heroes in France before the TV airdate.

Great casting for the Royal Shakespeare Company, but potentially weird scheduling, delays or a new Doctor Who for season 5. David Tennant and Patrick Stewart are going to star in Hamlet next year. Afterwards, David Tennant will play in Love's Labor's Lost.

XM Radio is going to start doing audio versions of classic books in 30-minute installments, starting with Fahrenheit 451. I don't know how many will be SF, but it probably doesn't matter since I don't have XM radio. :(,0,7607137.story?track=rss

Monday is the Kyle XY mid-season finale, and they promise it will answer some questions but have a cliffhanger. Of course.

There are rumors of ANOTHER Dune movie. I think they've pretty much covered Dune, and I'd like to see them get to another book, but who knows.

Rumors are that, schedules permitting, Zoe Saldana will be the new Uhura.

NASA images are going to be archived online by the Internet Archive. This includes non-digital images like the Apollo moon landings they will have to convert, films, videos, etc.

Anne McCaffrey's website has added a chronological order list. We should double check our BookCat entries for series order.

Preliminary schedule for Atlantis shows no midseason break. Only 4 weeks off during the season for holidays. This is too amazing to be true, I'm sure they'll change their minds. Possible spoiler warning: there are TV Guide level descriptions of the first 8 episodes.

Reminder, if you are interested, TOR is podcasting from Worldcon in Japan (which started today).

Interesting new science development for preventing nasty diseases:

Really good interview with John Scalzi.

Something I bet we all need: Top 10 Ways to Clean Your PC

NBC won't use ITunes for its shows. I hope they provide a good alternative if you miss an ep.

First post

As some people know, I see/hear/read things every day that I forget to mention to people who might be interested. I got tired of "you never told me that" type comments, so a month or so ago, I started emailing a roundup of these items every day or so. I feel like I'm either clogging inboxes of people who don't care or leaving out people who do, so I'm changing my roundup of weird news items into a blog. Read or skip and save your inbox for other things. Welcome to my first blog.