Go figure that Richard Branson, the billionaire entrepreneur and adventurer best known for the Virgin brand, has come up with Virgin Galactic, a space tourism company promising to “to make it possible for almost anyone to visit the final frontier at an affordable price” by “the end of the decade.” Virgin Galactic is licensing the technology developed by Scaled Composites in the form of SpaceShip One, which is poised to attempt its flight to win the X-Prize in a matter of days.
Check out this time-lapse video of a car trip from Los Angeles to New York (links directly to page with embedded QuickTime video).
Since it appears that there will not be a 2004-2005 NHL season anytime soon due to the ongoing disputes over the Collective Bargaining Agreement, G4TechTV will play all 1,230 NHL games virtually, airing highlights every night on the program “Sweat.” I’m not sure which game will be played on what platform yet, although the picture on the site shows ESPN 2K5. Comcast SportsNet has also decided to air these highlights, saying that “We’d rather be televising the live games, but until the real games resume, this presents a fun opportunity to maintain the fans’ interest.” I agree, but I’ll have to wait and see how well they present this before I decide whether it’s more than just a geeky fad.
Yahoo reports that the 1984 movie The Last Starfighter is to be made into a “science fiction musical.” Wow, this sucks on so many levels. I remember seeing this movie in the theaters 20 years ago (now that’s scary!), and as ‘80s sci-fi/action flicks go it’s better than most. I didn’t realize until today that the movie featured the first fully-CGI spaceship, the Gunstar (at right). I can’t see any musical version doing anything but sullying the memory of this movie… 🙁
Check out this Rand Corporation prediction from 1954 of what a “home computer” will look like in 2004. It appears that they are quite prescient… 😉
In a stunning development, Borowitz Report reveals that W, frustrated with the current situation in Iraq, has “constructed a mock-up of the ‘Jeopardy!’ set in the basement of the White House” in order to obtain answers from Ken Jennings, the record-winning champion of the game show ‘Jeopardy.’ Topics include “Angry Shiites,” “Ruptured Oil Pipelines,” and “Massive Power Outages,” but according to White House sources one topic was particularly troublesome for the champ:
According to those who saw Mr. Jennings play the special Iraqi version, the champ breezed through most of the questions but was stumped when he got to “EXIT STRATEGIES” for $100.
“The most likely outcome of the war in Iraq, this should happen by the end of 2005,” Mr. Trebek read.
“What is civil war and total chaos?” Mr. Jennings guessed.
“No, I’m sorry,” Mr. Trebek replied. “The correct question is, ‘What is a thriving Middle Eastern democracy and a beacon of hope for the entire region?’”
How fitting that the end of Jennings’ reign should come at the hands of W, arguably the polar intellectual opposite of the Jeopardy champ… ;-p
For those of you that aren’t regular visitors, I’ve been obsessively bitching over the changes in the Star Wars DVD release (CNN lists some of the major ones here) ever since I first heard about them. PvPonline.com’s latest comic puts a perspective on things that I’d probably be well-advised to heed… 😉
While I was away on vacation Mozilla Firefox Preview Release 1 was released. This is the last incremental release before the milestone release of Firefox 1.0 (due in the last quarter of 2004), and I must say that some of the new features are pretty cool. Three major new features are:
- Live Bookmarks: “a new technology in Firefox that lets you view RSS news and blog headlines in the bookmarks toolbar or bookmarks menu.” Although I use a separate RSS reader (Awasu), this is a pretty cool addition. Any site that has an RSS feed (and the appropriate <link> code in the header) displays an orange RSS button in the bottom status bar that allows you to add it as a live bookmark; you’ll see it on this site once you’ve upgraded. I need to explore this more to see how I like it…
- Find Bar: The new find bar that pops up in the bottom status bar when you hit “Control-F” is very useful. I found out that type-ahead search is not gone with this addition, just disabled unless you enable it under advanced options.
- Plugin Installer and Updater: The new plugin installer is initially annoying in the way it stops you from installing extensions (likely to prevent unintentional installation), but once you add the domain in question (mozdev.org and update.mozilla.org are two good sources) to the “allowed” list via the convenient menu that pops up, you’re back in business. Not all extensions have been ported to this new version, although when you first install PR1 it will search for updates and install them as necessary. This updater is much improved, and is a godsend for keeping the latest extensions (as well as the current Firefox version) up to date. I think I eventually found newer versions (or replacements) for all of my favorite extensions.
Accompanying this release of Mozilla Firefox PR1 are the new releases of Thunderbird 0.8 and Mozilla Suite 1.7.3. I don’t use the suite anymore, but the new version of Thunderbird has some nice new features, including RSS support (which I’m not sure I like), better handling of POP accounts, and better search features.
To continue the Star Wars theme in honor of today’s DVD release, I came across a very cool piece of art by Jason Salavon entitled The Grand Unification Theory (Part One: Every Second of Star Wars). Although it initially looks like your typical photomosaic, this work is unique in that it supposedly incorporates every frame in the entire Star Wars movie. The Metafilter thread where I found this also mentions some of Salavon’s other works.
For those of you who haven’t watched it yet, The Ali G Show on HBO is hilarious. The creative genius behind the show is Sacha Baron Cohen, a British actor who “traveled across America as the ‘hip-hop journalist’ Ali G and interviewed some of the most important figures in politics, business, sports and the arts.” Besides the Ali G persona, Cohen also plays the “Borat, the easily confused TV reporter from Kazakhstan [my personal favorite], and the supercilious Austrian fashion reporter Bruno.” The things Cohen’s characters get away with are hilarious, albeit a bit unsettling at times. Their exploits are especially funny considering how easily he gets some people to accommodate and agree with him.
Slate has a great article delving into how the show continues to dupe people into interviews, although some people refused to comment because they didn’t want to publicly admit that they were fooled. The show actually started on British television, where it only lasted two seasons before Ali G became too well-known to continue his antics. As the show continues its second season on HBO, I hope it manages to last, because I would definitely miss it if too many people caught on… 😉