A group of space veterans and big-name backers today took the wraps off the Golden Spike Company, a commercial space venture that aims to send paying passengers to the moon and back at an estimated price of $1.4 billion or more for two.
The venture would rely on private funding, and it's not clear when the first lunar flight would be launched — but the idea reportedly has clearance from NASA, which abandoned its own back-to-the-moon plan three and a half years ago.
Golden Spike's announcement came on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 17, the last manned moonshot. Backers of the plan, including former NASA executive Alan Stern and former Apollo flight director Gerry Griffin, were to discuss the company's strategy at a National Press Club briefing at 2 p.m. ET, but some of the details were laid out in a news release issued before the briefing.
A key element that makes our business achievable and compelling is Golden Spike's team of nationally and internationally known experts in human and robotic spaceflight, planetary and lunar science, exploration, venture capital formation, and public outreach," Stern said in the news release.
medcalf writes: Apparently a New Jersey tax court recently held that if a company has just one employee telecommuting from that state, the company is subject to corporate taxation in that state. This has to discourage the use of telecommuting, at least by smaller companies that don't already do business across a lot of states, if it stands. In particular, it could be devastating to the "app economy", where employees of a very small company may each be in a different state. (It seems to me that the ruling and the underlying law are a state usurpation of Federal interstate commerce powers, but that doesn't mean the Federal courts will feel the same way.)
medcalf writes: A new study by Yale's Dan Kahan, et al, suggests that people with more scientific and technical literacy are less likely to see CAGW as a threat. From the abstract:
The conventional explanation for controversy over climate change emphasizes impediments to public understanding: Limited popular knowledge of science, the inability of ordinary citizens to assess technical information, and the resulting widespread use of unreliable cognitive heuristics to assess risk. A large survey of U.S. adults (N = 1540) found little support for this account. On the whole, the most scientifically literate and numerate subjects were slightly less likely, not more, to see climate change as a serious threat than the least scientifically literate and numerate ones.
medcalf writes: Is Google using its mobile OS position to suppress competition to Google's other services? According to a lawsuit by Skyhook: yes. Skyhook's claim is that Google forced Motorola and another provider, possibly Samsung, to use Google's location services instead of Skyhook's. I have not been able to find a response to the suit by Google.More at Businessweek.
medcalf writes: Tom Tom has released Star Wars voices for their GPS units. Darth Vader, C-3P0 and Yoda are currently available, with Han Solo apparently coming. The joke in the title, by the way, is from the "studio recordings" of the voices.
medcalf writes: The Guardian's Charles Arthur calls attention to an idea from Poorly Rendered for a way that Adobe can show that Apple is just wrong about Flash on the iPhone: produce a version for jailbroken iPhones. If they can do so with good performance and security and stability and good power management, Apple's largest public arguments become untenable. But could they meet that technical challenge, when they have not yet delivered Flash working well on any other mobile platforms?
medcalf writes: Ars Technica has an opinion piece by Sarah Rothman Epps on the iPad and other potential tablets as a new paradigm that they are calling "curated computing," where third parties make a lot of choices to simplify things for the end user, reducing user choice but improving reliability and efficiency for a defined set of tasks. The idea is that this does not replace, but supplements, general purpose computers. It's possible — if the common denominator between iPads, Android and/or Chrome tablets, WebOS tablets and the like is a more server-centric web experience — that they could be right, and that a more competitive computing market could be the result. But I wonder, too: would that then provide an incentive for manufacturers to try to lock down the personal computing desktop experience as well?
[A] large number of developers seem to think that they have the right to make software for the iPhone (or for anything else) in Flash, or in another high-level environment of their choosing. Literally, the right, not just the convenience or the opportunity. And many of them are quite churlish about the matter.
This strikes me as a very strange sort of attitude to adopt. There's no question that Flash is useful and popular, and it has a large and committed user base. There's also no question that it's often convenient to be able to program for different platforms using environments one already knows. And likewise, there's a long history of creating OS stubs or wrappers or other sorts of gizmos to make it possible to run code "alien" to a platform in a fashion that makes it feel more native.
But what does it say about the state of programming practice writ large when so many developers believe that their "rights" are trampled because they cannot write programs for a particular device in a particular language? Or that their "freedom" as creators is squelched for the same reason?