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October 29, 2003

Aurora Watch Tonight!

More details on the solar storm mentioned in this morning's update to my Monday post on the matter. May we all have clear skies for aurora observing!

Thanks, Mom!

Update: More on the storm from Reuters.

Dragonfly Spy and Candid Catfish

Rats. Another exhibit I'd like to see but can't, in this case because it's not even open to the public.

The CIA is celebrating the 40th anniversary of their Cool Gadgets Division (sorry, the Directorate of Science and Technology) with an internal exhibit at their Langley, VA headquarters. Among the spy tech are a 1970s laser-guided mechanical dragonfly complete with listening device, a robot catfish of untold function, and a camera the size of a coin.

Which reminds me, I seem to remember reading some young adult-level novel years ago about some kids and their scientist mentor, who operate a mechanical control dragonfly with a whole remote sensorium. Can anyone identify that one? The story might also have involved people being shrunk down to bug size.

October 27, 2003

Watch This Space

Reminder: keep an eye on SpaceWeather.com, as the sun is going crazy with activity at the moment. There are two—count 'em, two— sunspots the size of Jupiter, and they're tossing off powerful solar flares and coronal mass ejections. When one of these heads our way it's Aurora City, and even those of us at 40°N have a chance.

Update: A very large coronal mass ejection took off around 6 AM ET on Tuesday and reached Earth at 1:20 ET Wednesday morning, causing "northern" lights in Texas, California, and Oklahoma (in New Jersey we got rain). There could be more to come!

October 23, 2003

Full-text Book Search at Amazon.com

Amazon.com has indexed the full text of some 120,000 books, and it's fully searchable. This is very, very cool. I wonder if Amazon is going to evolve into the universal library that science fiction writers and futurists like to predict.

A sampling:

Via MeFi.

October 16, 2003

iTunes for Windows!

Oh, yeah. I've been following along here, here, and here, and Apple has indeed announced a Windows version of iTunes with identical features identical to the Mac version, along with lots of new stuff for the iTunes Music Store, and new accessories for third-gen iPods. Here's hoping "identical features" means we second-generation Windows users will get smart playlists!

I'm sorry I can't find a video stream for this. Steve Jobs is using a PC.

Update: Yes! Smart playlists!

Final Update: Apple has updated their site and you can now get more info or download the new iTunes.

October 14, 2003

My Cabbie

My cab this morning was driven by a man named Haque.

October 09, 2003

iTunes for Windows

It looks like Apple's probably going to launch their iTunes Music Store for Windows users next Thursday. This will let the rest of us download songs for 99 cents or so, with relatively reasonable usage rights. If the downloaded audio quality is good enough I'll definitely be happy to buy singles this way.

And here's hoping we'll get a real iTunes desktop app for Windows to go along with the new service. Windows users still lack the smart playlists that have long been available to Mac users (which reminds me: those of us with second- and first-generation iPods still don't have on-the-fly playlist generation, available on third-generation models. <Ahem.>).

Via iPodlounge.

October 07, 2003

Hack Delays Half Life II

Like many PC game enthusiasts I have been very excited about the coming release of Half Life II since downloading the amazing demo footage of the game. I was disappointed when the game was delayed from its initial release date (of last week) to the holidays, but now it's been delayed another four months thanks to some cracker's electronic break-in to the systems of developer Valve Software.

Addendum: Here's more on the story from Reuters.

Another update: Still more from GameSpyDaily.

October 06, 2003

Frog Eggs Falling

I just spotted this: it seems that Hurricane Isabel caused at least a localized rain of frog eggs in central Connecticut.