Today, we celebrate the first glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directives. We have created, for the first time in all history, a garden of pure ideology. Where each worker may bloom secure from the pests of any contradictory truths. Our Unification of Thoughts is more powerful a weapon than any fleet or army on earth. We are one people, with one will, one resolve, one cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death and we will bury them with their own confusion. We shall prevail!

Continue reading

Spirit, Phone Home

NASA‘s robotic Mars geologist, Spirit, hasn’t been very talkative recently, according to CNN, Slashdot, and others. The rover has missed several communications windows to Earth and the satellites, and this morning, only a warning tone was detected, indicating “a very serious anomaly on the vehicle,” according to Spirit manager Pete Theisinger.

Attempts to resurrect the lander will be difficult, since the scientists don’t know what’s wrong and need the missing telemetry to figure it out. Catch-22. Compounding the incredible stress that the JPL team must be facing is that Spirit’s sibling, Opportunity, is scheduled to crash-land on the other side of Mars on January 24th.

I would imagine that the warning tone must be very encouraging – it probably means that not only is Spirit hearing Earth, it’s also understanding it, at least to some extent. Some kind of processing has to be going on to separate background noise from a real signal.

I wish the NASA team the best of luck. Even if they don’t save Spirit, its accomplishments in the past 18 days have been simply incredible. I hope one day a documentary gets released in theaters. I guarantee that I’ll see it. (Not in IMAX, though – our main theater closed shop.)

P.S. The Mars Scorecard hasn’t been updated as of this entry. They’ll probably count Spirit as a win, anyway. I’d tend to agree.

Windstorm in Hawai’i

Hawai’i was hit by a huge windstorm today. Gusts as high as 85 miles per hour were recorded. Trees and utility poles have been knocked down, stranding people on roads with no way of exiting. Some poles have actually fallen on cars.

Boats have been torn from their moorings, and docks have been destroyed. A local dinner cruise, the Star of Honolulu, was forced to return to port with the aid of a tugboat. Most other ships didn’t go out.

Electricity has been sporadic today, and as I write this, about 20,000 homes are still without power…whoops, make that 20,001 – good thing I’m on a laptop with a built-in battery ;). Being without power isn’t nearly as bad as the 95 people who have reported major roof damage to the Honolulu Fire Department, however.

The electric company and other services are treating this as a hurricane, with their entire staff recalled and on the job. It’ll likely be a few days before everything is back to normal.

Electricity is going on and off (mostly off). I’m posting via dial-up.

See you all tomorrow.

Link Tending

One of the perks of being an Amazon.com Associate is free error reports from their other property, Alexa. I pulled one of these yesterday, and I was simply shocked to find 12 404s (ironically, the subject of this interview is having trouble with her page as I write this). Of these 12, two are obviously my mistake, while the other 10 worked at one point.

Webmasters and bloggers, heed well: a cardinal rule of the web, as expressed by Jakob Nielson, is “never let any URL die.” No excuses – I’ve heard them all before.

So, while I go clean up all the dead links, here’s some advice:

  1. Don’t kill a perfectly good link.
  2. If you must kill a perfectly good link, use mod_rewrite to send the visitor to the new URL.
  3. Don’t kill a perfectly good link.
  4. Have a good search engine so people can find what they’re looking for.
  5. Don’t kill a perfectly good link.
  6. Have a good 404 page with common links and tips for helping your visitor find what they’re looking for.

Oh, and one more thing – don’t kill a perfectly good link.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment. In the meantime, please excuse me – I have some dead links to clean up.

Chatting It Up With NASA

To coincide with the landing of one of two NASA Mars Exploratory Rovers Saturday, Spirit, #maestro filled with people, mainly from the /. crowd. As with any large chat room, conversations varied widely, covering both serious questions and insane topics.

I extracted some of the best conversation of the evening from my logs. I swapped the order of some messages to make it easier to follow, and I made two edits to make this log G-rated, but all punctuation and grammar is ripped straight from Saturday night.

I think I echo the thoughts of a number of people in thanking Jeff, Justin, Erik, and Sean for an enjoyable evening. I know I learned a lot. There was something of a thrill in getting to ask NASA staffers about the mission as it unfolded. Thanks, guys! I had a blast.

Continue reading