A-Maze-ing!

Okay, nothing about astronomy in this post, but I thought this was cool anyway.

It seems the people over at Google have create a program that allows you to turn any website into a 3D marble maze.  To start you need to have both Google’s Chrome browser and a smartphone to control the marble.

You then go to http://chrome.com/maze/ and enter the URL of the website, which is then converted to a 3D maze.  After you install the smartphone app (at least Android 4.0 or iOS 5) and sync it up with the browser, you are all set to go.

android-mascot

Using your smartphone, you move the marble along the slightly inclined flat maze trying to collect blue gems. You have 300 seconds (5 minutes) and three lives to play with.

I can already see the competitiveness of web developers trying to make the hardest mazes possible.  Thereby, make their sites unusable by mortals anywhere, but great gaming!

What ever happened to pinball?

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +.  If you need help with any patent, trademark, or copyright issue, or know someone that can use my help, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation by sending me an email or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

Norman

Space Balls! Not the Movie, but Ping Pong Balls.

About 1,600 ping pong balls carrying miniature science experiments will be carried by weather balloons to the upper atmosphere and close to actual space tomorrow.  The mission by California-based JP Aerospace is a do-it-yourself space program.  The ping pong ball “satellites” (called PongSats) will be carrying various payloads.  Many of them will contain weather experiments created by students from all over the world.

ping pong balls

“This mission is getting pretty huge,” said John Powell, president of JP Aerospace in Cordova, California. “We’re flying 1,600 PongSats, six MiniCubes, three high-altitude advertisements, two TV commercials and three weddings! Not actually weddings, but proposals … a dedicated ring-bearing vehicle and another set of rings and wedding favors.”

Seven balloons will be launched.  Five of the balloons will travel to 100,000 feet and two balloons will top out at 120,000 feet or 22 miles (36 kilometers) above Earth! The balloons will be released from the Black Rock Desert in Nevada.  First launches will begin at 7:30 a.m. PST, and continue every 30 minutes, if everything goes according to plan.  To date JP Aerospace has launched 6,440 PongSats with this next launch sending the number to over 8,000 PongSats.  The PongSats are flown at no cost to the student or school.

JP Aerospace is an all volunteer group that claims to be “America’s other space program.”  JP Aerospace has about 3,000 active participants.  PongSats have been arriving from all over the world, including Poland, India, Japan, Slovenia, Germany, Belgium, Turkey, China, Australia, Indonesia, and the United States.

PongSat’s are experiments that fit inside of a cut-in-half, then-taped together ping pong ball. These ping pong ball “satellites” are flown to the edge of space by balloon, recovered and returned to the student, along with video, data, pictures and a certificate of flight.  “We want to get as many people as possible involved and change the way people think about space and science,” Powell said. “Right now space is the thing people see on TV.  PongSat makes it the thing you can hold in your hand.”

“It’s an easy and inexpensive way to get students excited about science and engineering,” Powell points the website. “There are endless possibilities for experiments that can fit inside a ping pong ball. PongSats can be as simple or complex as you want them to be.”

Powell said he’s always floored by what people put in their PongSats, ranging from plant seeds to full upper-atmospheric labs. Several small, inexpensive computers and other electronics can fit inside a PongSat.

“My favorite is the marshmallow. You put a marshmallow inside the pingpong ball. At 100,000 feet, the marshmallow puffs up, completely filling the ball. Then it freeze-dries. The student gets to hold in her hand the direct results of traveling to the top of the atmosphere.”

The PongSats “land anywhere from 20 to 200 miles away from the launch site. After landing, the recovery teams with four-wheel-drive vehicles head out across the Sierra Nevada mountains to bring the high racks back,” Powell said.

The upcoming balloon payloads also include purchased MiniCubes – each a small plastic box 5 centimeters on a side that can hold research, commercial products, art, or whatever else can be stuffed inside.

The developers at Southern Stars makers of Sky Safari, a program that I use for astronomy and astrophotography (available for both Mac and Android devices) are also launching a minicube (a skycube according to their website) into space.

Funding for the launch came via crowdsourcing through Kickstarter and was bankrolled by 457 backers.

If you need help to patent your invention or experiment, or know someone that can use my help, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +

Norman

 

Google Vows to Stand Behind Android Vendors in Patent Lawsuits

Android vendors face a growing number of patent lawsuits from competitors, including formidable opponent Apple Inc. However, help may be on the way. Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt recently stated that his company will stand by those firms in any patent lawsuit.

“We tell our partners, including the ones here in Taiwan, we will support them. For example we have been supporting HTC in its dispute with Apple because we think that the Apple thing is not correct,” Schmidt told reporters during his first visit to Taipei.

In addition to Apple, companies using Google’s Android operating system are currently facing patent infringement lawsuits by Microsoft and Oracle. For instance:

  • Apple is suing HTC Corp., Motorola Mobility, and Samsung Electronics Co. for patent infringement reacted to their mobile devices.
  • Microsoft is suing Barnes & Noble, whose popular Nook e-book reader runs on Android.
  • Google itself is also being sued by Oracle over claims that Android violates Java-related patents, as we mentioned in a previous blog post.

So, what should Android vendors expect from Google? According to Reuters, Schmidt said his company is ready and willing to provide information, industry expertise, and Google patents to help its partners.

Source: Reuters

If you have an invention and need to protect your idea, or know someone that can use my help, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

Asus Transformer Prime Enters the World of Amateur Astronomy

Here is a story of how a Transformer Prime owner used his tablet to take images of the moon.  I also have a Prime and use it to control my mount for astrophotography using this great program from Souther Stars SkySafari Pro (both fro iOS and Android) and the Blutooth adapter that they also sell.  There are a lot of other astronomy programs, both free and for pay, that are available.  Also, there is a great program that will allow you to control your Canon camera from your phone/tablet.  This combined with SkySafari equals a portable astrophotography setup that is hard to beat.  Let me know if you have a favorite tablet/smartphone astronomy program.

– Ex astris, scientia –

End of the App Lock-In?

As I was perusing my favorite technology blogs regarding, various smartphones, I was interested in the new Windows Phone 7 (WP7) Nokia Lumia 900 reviews.  I noticed that every article mentioned how fast it was on a single core device.  The constant reference to the single core brought out the attorney in me, so I did a little investigating.  It seems that there is no multitasking for applications in WP7.  Not a terrible limitation by any means.  However, I personally have looked at the Nokia and other WP7 phones along with Windows 8 and have no desire to have a Duplo/Lego phone that does more to annoy me than accomplish my work.  Your mileage and preferences may vary so don’t hate me because I don’t like your phone.

That being said, it dawned on me that if the new processors in phone and tablets were powerful enough, there is the opportunity to provide virtualization.  Virtualization on a phone or tablet would allow you to run multiple operating systems.  With the right set of hardware and software, a smartphone or tablet could run all the different segregated Apps.  This would mean a user would be able to run iOS , Android, Blackberry, WP7 apps on a single platform.

Just think one OS to rule all them all.

Is this the wave of the future, buy one, run all?  Or is this just a pipe dream.  Cast your vote in my poll.

If you have any software, hardware or Internet questions, please contact me for a free consultation.