Curiosity rover has successfully landed on Mars!


One of the very first images received from the Mars Curiosity rover after landing on the evening of 5 August 2012 Pacific Time.

“linearized” version of one of the first images from the Curiosity rover


image of Curiosity’s descent during parachute phase taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter


NASA’s Curiosity rover has, after a tricky process, successully landed on the surface of Mars.  It gives me hope to think that our species, with its intelligence and capacity to achieve great accomplishments, will also be able to achieve solutions to the serious crises our Earth is facing right now due to the actions of our species, and to find ways to live sustainably and peacefully on Planet Earth.

I also hope that the ability to make such achievements will not be limited to a select few in our society as increasingly seems to be the case.  It would not be an America anyone would recognize in which the opportunities for accomplishment are available only to certain, privileged classes.

It would be a shame if, while we bask in glory at technological accomplishments, there are symphonies or great works of literature unwritten, works of art never created, and classical knowledge which is not transmitted to the future because of our narrowness.

In terms of the dangers and threats we are facing on all levels right now, we are far from being past the perilous re-entry stage for our species and for our planet.

May we all summon the skill and perseverance to overcome the challenges we are facing right now as humans.


For more images and info on the Mars Science Laboratory visit here.


one of the first images taken by NASA’s Curiosity rover

So cute!

My site is still up!

I almost completely forgot about this. I created a site a looonnngg time ago on Tripod. I can’t remember how long ago but I’m pretty sure it was either before or just during the advent of Web 2.0. Tripod actually got bought later by Lycos, and Lycos still runs it.

I created my site with MS FrontPage which was simple to use yet gave my site a very clean, highly-customized look that still is appealing.

I really give credit to Lycos for keeping Tripod going all these years. In an industry where so many things are fickle and come and go at the drop of a dime, that’s really an accomplishment.

I am trying to imaging some server somewhere in some data center where the files for my website reside and how long the system has been running or how many times the hardware infrastructure has been modified or upgraded to keep Tripod going.

Tripod is still cool if someone wants to set up a site for their business or for personal use. Logging in, I see some new tools like Blog Builder, Photo Album, and their site-building tool called Zeeblio.

Installing Clockworkmod on a Verizon Galaxy Tab 10.1 LTE SCH-i905

The Verizon Galaxy Tab 10.1 SCH-i905 like pretty much all embedded devices has a special maintenance mode which is like a mini OS which enables various maintenance functions to be performed, such as flashing updates to the device.

This maintenance mode is referred to as the “recovery”. The stock recovery is the recovery system that is installed on the device by default. However there is an improved one called ClockworkMod Recovery which is really cool and has more features than the stock recovery.

The process outlined here will therefore require the latest ClockworkMod recovery image (sometimes also called a ROM, it is the file which contains the data which gets flashed to the Galaxy Tab to install the mini OS recovery environment). I obtained the most recent one here. The file in question is the recovery.tar.md5 for LTE (Odin; SCH-I905). You will see other versions listed there for other models.

In order to flash the file it is necessary to run a utility on the PC called Odin which is an acronym for “Open Disk Imager in a Nutshell”. It is available through here.

The flashing process is as follows:

– Shut the Galaxy Tab down by holding the power button until a menu appears and then selecting the shut down option.

– To start the Galaxy Tab long-press the power key (a couple seconds). When the text “Samsung Galaxy Tab” appears on the screen in large white letters, press the power button and the volume-up (the one closest to the power button) simultaneously until you see two big icons appear.

– The icon on the right, a big green robot, should be highlighted by default. If it is not, press the volume-up button repeatedly until it is selected. Then press the volume-down (one furthest from power button) button to select.

– It will give a warning and you can press the down button again to confirm. The tablet will now be in a special download mode whereby it can be flashed.

– With Odin running, connect the tablet’s USB cable to the PC. You should see it register in Odin.

– Now in Odin click on the PDA button and select the recovery.tar.md5 that was downloaded. Now click the start button. The flash process should be fast. A green progress bar should appear and finish and the tablet will reboot.

However there is a problem with this. Every time the tablet boots a script gets run which automatically overwrites the recovery environment with the default one.

The way I solved this was to edit the file /system/etc/ on the tablet. This script is what runs the command to overwrite the recovery at every boot. To bypass the script, after the first line which reads:


add this line:

exit 0

which just makes the script exit immediately with no errors before it has a chance to overwrite the recovery.

Ok I’m tired of typing right now otherwise I’d explain all the steps to complete this last process. The way I did it was by having BusyBox Free installed on the tablet which is a complete set of shell utilities including the vi editor.

I also run SSHDroidPro on the tablet which enables me to ssh in via console from a PC.

Small but important victory

“Tethering” is a feature of a mobile data device like a smartphone by which the device acts as an access point allowing other computers locally to connect to the internet through its mobile data (such as 4G) connection.

One would think that, if a device such as a smartphone, is capable of providing such a function, that it would not be restricted by the mobile data provider. But this is America. And mobile data providers like Verizon, AT&T, and definitely others, are all dirty.

Verizon decided that it would find a way to force users of mobile data devices with 4G plans to pay extra for the tethering feature. This is complete bullshit. It shows unequivocally how rotten modern American industry has become, how it has stifled innovation in favor of scams, scheming, and extortion to make money.

But then along came the Obama administration and the Federal Communications Administration to rule that what Verizon was attempting to do is bullshit. Data is data. If you pay for it, its yours. No company can scam you and suddenly scheme to find ways to force you to pay money because a packet of data coming through the connection you paid for is different than another packet.

This is a significant and important victory. This is probably what it is going to look like if America is capable of beginning to win the fight of information freedom, which touches all the way to the core of personal and social information logos and the wars with Big Media and Big Internet.

People really need to take note and understand that if Republicans were in control, this most certainly would not have happened. I hope this is the kind of change Obama meant when he said “…the ship of State is an ocean liner, not a speed boat, things done today will last decades.”

Rental Bikes in San Francisco

Rental bikes are now a booming business in San Francisco, mostly with tourists. Not long ago I had the opportunity to closely examine one that was parked outside a cafe I was at. It looked like a very good bike, not something cheap. Here are the specs I noted:

bike model: Fuji Sunfire 2.0 19″
tires: Kenda 700x35c
fork: Suntour NEX 4610 disc brake compatible

Bike had disc brakes which was impressive. Also had a rear rack mounted to it which is notable because disc brakes can make rack mounting difficult/impossible.

Miang Kham Amazing Thai Wraps

I was at this restaurant a while ago and they served these amazingly delicious little hors d’oeuvre wrap things which are called maing kham. I wanted to create this post about it for reference purposes. Want to experiment with different recipes and ideas.

The ones I had had cashew, prawn (which I no longer eat), ginger, fried onion, and lime wrapped in butter lettuce.

The combination of the sour lime, the savory cashew and fried onion, and the sharp, zesty ginger made the flavor amazing.

The Romney Gaffes

To me the issue with Romney is not merely what seems to be the recent meltdown of his campaign. The deeper question is how a person who could not manage to visit the London Olympics without insulting the British government, who went to Israel and made racist remarks which only served to inflame longstanding, bloody conflicts which the world needs to resolve, how such a person can be a “successful” multimillionaire in America, profiting off of the labors of the American people, and we allow people like this to accumulate such vast amounts of wealth and power resulting in enormous inequality. How does America allow people like him to become multimillionaires? How does it let them get away with paying almost no taxes? Of hiding millions of dollars in offshore tax havens?

When you shop at the office supply store Staples, which was started by Romney’s company, do you like giving your money to people like him and fueling a system such as now exists? And look at the list of other multimillionaires and billionaires who run other prominent American companies who are giving vast amounts of money to his campaign and to other, equally rotten campaigns.

How many more companies in America are like this? How many other Romneys are there wrecking America, wasting its wealth, and humiliating its status internationally?

I for one have had some serious issues with some of the decisions the Obama administration has made. Yet its inconceivable to me that a person like Mitt Romney, nor pretty much all of the other former Republican presidential contenders, could even have legitimately been running for the office of President of the United States. Inconceivable.

Re: India power-grid failure

By now everyone has heard about the massive failures of the electric grids in India, leaving hundreds of millions of people without electricity and transportation for days now.

What is disconcerting is that India is also a country which has a stockpile of nuclear weapons.

Doesn’t it seem like modern technology has advanced far too fast? The human species has shown itself for the most part to be totally incapable of handling the responsibilities that come with possessing high technological capability, hence planetary destruction on massive scales and local devastation of environments.

Smaller Gulf dead zone this year

Though the parched conditions have wreaked havoc on natural habitat and agricultural crops, drought may have one upside, bringing the fourth smallest dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico since mapping of this annual oxygen-free zone began in 1985.

Every year, nutrient runoff from agriculture and other sources flows from the Mississippi River, causing high levels of algae growth. This growth sinks and decomposes, consuming nearby underwater oxygen and forming “hypoxic zones,” or oxygen-free zones, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico. One such hypoxic zone is the prominent “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico, which has, in the past five years, had an average area of 5,684 square miles.

A report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) revealed that an NOAA-supported investigation has found that the dead zone this year measures only 2,889 miles, just over half the average area.

According to Nancy Rabalaid, the executive director of Louisiana University’s Marine Consortium and the leader of the survey, “The smaller area was expected because of drought conditions and the fact that nutrient output into the Gulf this spring approached near the 80-year record low.”

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