March 10th, 2014
I’ve posted here quite a few times about Elon Musk and SpaceX. There’s a reason for that. Some of you may be familiar with Robert A. Heinlein’s story, The Man Who Sold the Moon and his character, D. D. Harriman. Musk is Harriman for our time, but instead of going to the moon, he wants to colonize Mars. Given what he’s accomplished so far, I think there’s a very real chance he might be able to do it.
In recent weeks, more details have been surfacing about SpaceX’s near and long term plans. They’re exciting.
From Aviation Week, SpaceX Says Falcon 9 to Compete for EELV This Year.
From NASASpaceflight.com, SpaceX advances the drive for Mars rocket with Raptor power.
In the next 10 years, Elon Musk wants to send people to Mars.
By the end of this decade, the 42-year-old CEO and chief designer of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) plans to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). And next year, with the debut of a new Falcon Heavy rocket, Musk is aiming to fly reusable first-stage cores that could dramatically lower the cost of launch.
But for Musk, who founded SpaceX 12 years ago with the goal of colonizing other planets, the immediate future will be devoted to the more mundane task of launching commercial satellites.
SpaceX Co-Founder and Vice President of Propulsion Development Tom Mueller has revealed the company is deep into the development of the first “full flow methane-liquid oxygen” rocket engine. Known as the Raptor, nine of these immensely powerful engines – one or three cores – will be utilized to send SpaceX’s Super Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle (SHLV) uphill on missions to Mars.
March 8th, 2014
I got an email today advertising Paste Magzine. I’m not sure why I got it, but it looked interested so I checked it out. It’s a web-based magazine featuring articles and reviews about movies, TV, music, games, and some tech subjects. So far, I’ve seen several good articles, including a profile of one of my favourite bands, Drive by Truckers and an article about Brian Wilson’s lost bedroom tapes. I’ll be keeping an eye on Paste in the future, although I’ll have to remember to do it since they don’t appear to have an RSS feed, silly people.
March 7th, 2014
This is something that city planners in Toronto should be taking into account, if they aren’t already. The latest climate models show that a warming world will bring more extreme rainfalls over parts of North America, including Southern Ontario. Condensed into a tweet: “Climate models show that in a warmer world, precip tends to be concentrated into heavier events w/ longer dry periods in btwn”.
Climate models project increasing days of extreme rainfall in the Northwest, Midwest, and parts of the Northeast, including some populated coastal areas that are already challenged by inundation and sea level rise. Several major watersheds are predicted to have more days of extreme rainfall by the middle of the century, including the Pacific Northwest, the Ohio River Basin, the Great Lakes, and parts of the Great River and Missouri River Basin. Meanwhile, the Southwest and some other areas frequented by drought are expected to see little difference in the number of extreme rainfall days.
March 6th, 2014
MadCap Flare 10 has been released. At first glance it looks to be an evolutionary release. The major new features being touted are advanced HTML5 output, an HTML5 skin editor, and 20 built-in project templates. There are quite a few other smaller improvements.
TechWhirl has a short first-looks review.
There are a lot of productivity enhancements in this release, which is a good thing. The combination of templates and a skin editor should make things a lot easier for new users.
Update: TechWhirl has publish another, longer review by Flare expert, Neil Perlin.
March 6th, 2014
Adobe introduced ExtendScript with FrameMaker 11, but hasn’t really done very much to promote it’s use. Documentation is sparse and there are only a few sample scripts. For a while, they were publishing new scripts weekly, but that seems to have stopped.
Now Russ Ward of West Street Consulting has assembled a very nice collection of free ExtendScripts designed to help beginners learn the language and how to sue it inside FrameMaker. The scripts are heavily commented and following through them from the beginner scripts to the advanced should give you a good introduction to ExtendScript. Some of the scripts are intended only as demos to be used with sample files, but there are a few that should be usable with any FrameMaker documents. Russ is owed a big thank you for making these scripts freely available – a lot of work went into these scripts.
Here’s the message he posted to the framers list today.
I’ve worked up a set of samples designed to help beginners get started with ExtendScript. This is mainly as a public service, as I felt there was a lack of simple, working samples out there to help new users get started. I really feel that the ability to customize FrameMaker is one of its great strengths and the acceptance of ExtendScript is very important to its future. So, if we want the product to stay competitive, it’s my belief that more ExtendScript usage is critical.
Anyway, I encourage you to get to know it, not just for FrameMaker’s sake, but also for your own professional development. Technical writers who can customize their tools, even in small ways, significantly increa5se their market value. ExtendScript can be tricky to get a hold of at first, even for an experienced FDK developer, but the effort is well worth it.
Enjoy, and feedback is welcome!
March 4th, 2014
It’s time we fell back in love with science is the title of an article in Britain’s The Telegraph and it’s one I heartily agree with.
When science used to tell us things we didn’t want to hear, we listened. Now we stick our fingers in our ears and say “lalalala” before finding someone who will tell us what we do want to hear.
Of course, science is usually right in the end. To take a rather important example, pretty soon it’ll right about antibiotics. Science has been telling us for years not to dose farm animals indiscriminately and demand penicillin for every minor ailment as this leads to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Well, now it’s happening in a big way and, over the next few decades, one of modern medicine’s greatest weapons could become effectively useless. Of course, if you know nothing about science, you probably think alternative medicine will come to the rescue.
And you’ll be wrong. As the American politician Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” So Prince Charles and Gwyneth Paltrow and Deepak Chopra and Oprah won’t help you. But science might.
Remember that – you aren’t entitled to your own facts. The universe doesn’t care what you think. If you don’t understand how it works, you will be in for a world of hurt. Maybe not now, maybe not tomorrow, but eventually it will catch up with you.