12,000 MPH Lightshow

Last night around 22:10 central time, the space shuttle Columbia passed over Texas as it made a rare night time reentry returning from its latest mission. If you were out last night you probably saw it. I’d heard it would be visible and was thinking, “yeah, right, just like Halley’s Comet and all those other things that are supposed to be so cool and turn out to be nothing”. Well, folks, this one was spectacular. The shuttle was glowing bright red like one of those flares you see at traffic accidents and it was leaving a glittering white trail behind (apparently this was the thin atmosphere up there being converted to plasma by the friction of the shuttle passing through it). And it was moving really fast (12,000 MPH to be exact). It went from the western horizon to the eastern horizon in just a few seconds. The white trail lasted another minute or so and eventually it faded away.

USB Zoomcam

My latest toy is a Zoomcam USB camera. The challenge is to get it working with Linux. USB support is still in the pre-alpha stages but there is a USB driver for the VLSI Vision CPiA imager which is used in the Zoomcam. The driver is included in the latest development version of the Linux Kernel. I haven’t gotten too much time to play with it yet. Most of my time this week is being sucked up doing perl coding on a shopping cart for one of our web customers.

Wall of Voodoo – The Index Masters

I’m a big fan of Stan Ridgway and I recently picked up a cool CD. Wall of Voodoo – The Index Masters contains a weird little assortment of live, previously unreleased, and otherwise noteworthy Wall of Voodoo stuff. Listening to Wall of Voodoo performing Ring of Fire is definitely odd. You also get to hear them play a live, mutant version of Enrico Morricone’s music from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly accompanied by a really cheesy drum machine.

Another New Toy

This week’s project looks interesting. We have to evaluate some 42″ Gas Plasma displays for a client. We have an NEC PlasmaSync 4200W and Panasonic PT-42P1 at the moment. A Fujitsu and Sony should be showing up shortly. We’re testing both for picture quality using S-Video, composite, and RGB inputs as well as for how well the picture holds up with extremely long cable lengths. Hmmm… maybe the best way to test is to throw a DVD disc into the player and watch a movie or two.

Go-Go’s and Berlin at the Bronco Bowl

I’ve just returned from the Bronco Bowl and my ears are still ringing from excessive exposure to loud music. I dragged Susan out to see the Go-go’s and Berlin. You remember them – a couple of those bands from the 80’s. Berlin was the opening act and Terri Nunn spent most of her time sort swaying around like some sort of weird, Stevie Nicks impersonator. I was suprised by how many of Berlin’s songs I recognized (and had totally forgotten). Eventually the Go-go’s showed up. They don’t seem to have changed much since the last time I saw them in the 80’s. Belinda Carlisle was wearing pink pyjamas – sort of a female Arthur Dent. According to Susan her voice is still flat. Jane is still an insane exhibitionist who talks with a squeaky mouse voice. Charlotte is still the quiet one – she stood off in a dark corner of the stage playing guitar and keyboards and hardly moved during the whole show. Kathy still hops up and down most of the time while playing bass. Gina plays the drums much better than I remember but it’s been a long time. The audience spent most of the show dancing and I did my best though I got the usual complaint that I get from women that I don’t bend my knees. Oh well, maybe I should just stick to programming…