News

September 25, 2014 - And some troubling news for the Linux community today with the announcement that a security flaw has been found in the BASH command shell. This only affects Linux and Unix users, and possibly some Mac systems that were based on these. This flaw allows hackers to take control of a remote computer and operate it as though they were there, allowing them to access private accounts or to steal identities. The best advice right now is to update your computer and watch out for suspicious activities.

September 19, 2014 - This has been a great week for the maker community - today the corporate giant GE has announced a new program to encourage makers, the FirstBuild program, and an interface board to allow individuals to reprogram their smart appliances. Finally my refrigerator can post status updates on its own Facebook account!

September 17, 2014 - Another interesting news release for the maker community today as the Dremel company, long a friend of the amateur make with their rotary tools and attachments, have announced that they are mass producing a 3D printer for the general public. It is still $1000, but the mere fact that they are entering the market is a great sign for the burgeoning 3D printing community. The relevant website can be found here.

September 14, 2014 - As one who enjoys both astrophotography and the maker movement, this article caught my attention this morning. A barn-door tracker with a camera mount, built with LEGO Technic. I haven't tried it myself, but it looks like a fun project for budget conscious astrophotographers.

September 10, 2014 - Someone sent me this link to a category on Archive.org devoted to old Atari 2600 games. The site features an online emulator to play most of the games in a browser, and since it brought back so many memories for me I thought I would share it with everyone.

September 4, 2014 -It has been suggested by fans of my Grandiloquent Dictionary website that I should try crowd funding a project to add a pronunciation guide to all of the 3000+ words that are included in it. That campaign can be found at GoFundMe. As always, the website will always be kept free, but those wishing to donate to this particular project or to donate to offset bandwidth costs may do so here.

September 1, 2014 - A number of people have been asking me if I could provide private tutoring services during the local teacher's strike, as I do tutor college students in math and physics and a few other topics. In reply, while I do not usually tutor high school students, I am going to try to make a few hours available this week for makeshift classes in mathematics,calculus, physics, chemistry, and maybe computer science topics depending on the demand. Of course these are non-credit and there is no benefit aside from learning the curriculum, but if people are interested I will try to coordinate something. Costs will depend on the number of students, the location, and the amount of instruction requested, but can be negotiated once I determine the level of interest. 

August 25, 2014 - In a curious coincidence, today marks two milestones for exploration of the planet Neptune. On this day in 1989, the Voyager 2 probe did a fly-by of the planet and sent back some of the first quality photos of it. And today the New Horizon probe, which is scheduled to visit Pluto next July, will be passing by Neptune's orbit and although it will be significantly further away than Voyager 2 was, hopefully it will be sending back some even better photos using its telescopic lens.

August 23, 2014 - My trusty old bitcoin broker has gone out of business, and I need to convert some soon. Anyone have a reputable broker they can recommend who will buy bitcoins?

August 15, 2014 - I am back from my trip now, but unfortunately it was not a productive journey. Although I did get some good photographs of the supermoon, the clouds and thunderstorms made it impossible to view the Perseids or to photograph any deep sky objects. Perhaps I will head back there later in the year and try it again.

August 10, 2014 - A reminder that the 2014 Perseid meteor shower will be at its peak over the next few days (its actual peak should be Tuesday night). Unfortunately this year they land on the same week as the supermoon, which could lessen the effect. I am lucky enough to be heading to an excellent dark site this year, and hope to have some good photos of the events to share later in spite of the lunar light pollution.

August 9, 2014 - Just a reminder that I will be away from my office for the next week or so, so if there is any pressing business please let me know as soon as possible today.

August 8, 2014 - Congratulations to Bob McDonald, noted Canadian science journalist and commentator, for being honoured with an asteroid named after him. It is a kilometer wide asteroid orbiting between Mars and Jupiter, and was discovered in 2006. More details can be found here

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