Nasa Seven Seconds of Terror


I’m exhausted today, it’s been a really long intense week. So while I relax I’m thinking in a different direction: GPS.

I’ve been reading an awesome book called Pinpoint by Greg Milner and it has had me thinking in so many directions. It’s hook says its about How GPS is changing Technology, Culture and our minds. I suspect most reviewers touch on it pretty lightly because some of it is pretty geeky, although it is very readable. What is really scary is how much we rely on GPS for everything we do, which explains why there are so many projects to come up with land-based solutions for PNT.

Because it is Saturday and I am trying very hard to not think about work, I have gone off on a different tangent, which is space exploration. On Earth we now have the capability of measuring the centre of our potato shaped planet to about a centimeter, which makes navigation pretty accurate in 3 dimensions, although this doesn’t mean driverless cars can navigate to that degree, because whilst the car knows exactly where it is, it still requires phenomenal datum to know where the road is, but I’m getting back into work mode.

So when they get into space exploration, as Tomas Martin-Mur, a NASA engineer said, “The symbol I like to use is that we navigate the spacecraft by looking in the rear view mirror.”

I thought to myself that it is therefore obvious having disastrously lost spacecraft going to Mars, that the logical solution would be to invest in putting satellites around Mars and then as they travel further into our solar system, doing the same with other planets. First they can then avoid the seven seconds of terror

and then they can navigate usng the timing signals of Earth and Mars based satellites and then when the have a third planet set up, they will really start to be in a position to navigate accurately.

Why? For a start it means they can land accurately because they know where they are or will be despite the limitations of time and space. Secondly there are potentially all sorts of materials for harvest, potential for scientific research into how we came to be here and lots of commercial benefits.

I think Elon Musk is playing the big game and not just about getting to Mars, but given reduced budgets in the Space Race, he s potentially putting himself in the drivers seat, both for Mars exploration and establishing bases or even hotels there, but also as a forerunner to space exploration.

Isn’t it ironic that the man behind Tesla (the driverless car I’m not talking about because it’s a bit too close to work) is able to fund research that ‘The Greatest Country on Earth’ can’t? Of course as soon as they are successful, the revenue potential for his company SpaceX is astronomical if you will pardon the pun.

Of course on the other side of the world Richard Branson has figured out the same thing. Whilst Virgin Galactic is promoting paid space flight trips and I have friends eagerly awaiting their turn on flights they have already paid for, Branson is also talking Satellites. After all its not good for business to lose a commercial spacecraft full of some of the wealthiest and most influential people on the planet.

As Branson says “This is rocket science.” The video also says that the 700 people signed up is more than have been in space more than have been in space in the history of space travel. It also points out the profound impact that each traveler on the ‘return trip’ will bring back to their communities around the world.

So, its been a fun distraction. It is amazing to me that a few individuals with very BHAGS (Big Hairy Aggressive Goals) are changing the world where Governments appear not to want to look that far into the future, whilst they know they need and want the outcomes. I guess that is the difference between people who are in it until the next election vs people who are committed to the outcome no matter what. When Branson was asked if he came near to giving up after the crash of his first spaceship, he said he never came near to giving up.

I am inspired by people who keep their eye on the prize. It gives me hope that sticking with my minuscule in comparison goals, such as encouraging citizens to use real time travel information to make smarter decisions on their journey plans to minimize the impact on their own journeys and in doing so, ensure that growing cities can prosper even though they are land poor and can’t keep up with the travel needs of their citizens.

We each have a place in society, whether it is the taxi driver, the person clearing tables in a food hall, or an entrepreneur who sticks with his guns despite everyone who says “You can’t do that.” I just wish I could live a hundred years and see where humanity goes. Will we be egocentric or ecocentric?

Are you still with me? What do you think?

 

What is it about Facebook?


It amazes me how many people have said to me “I don’t get it” and “What is Facebook?”  Next thing I know I am receiving notifications and whether they get it or not, they are using it. In fact people are spending a fair amount of time every day using it. In December and January ‘Active Users’ exceded 8 million and page views were over 18 Billion in one month! No wonder Microsoft want in!

One thing that continually amazes me and many of the people that I talk to is that unlike many other social netowrking applications, people typically use their own names and provide incredibly detailed information about themselves that they wouldn’t dream of doing on other sites. They complete quizes and compare information with their friends such as their personal goals; would you ever, have you ever, personality tests, what music you listen to and much more. In effect giving people the ability to find out perhaps more about you than you know about yourself.

One thing that many people are still doing is collecting loads of friends like they do on sites where they might be a little more cautious. Perhaps as they play games and talk to people they are interested in or find attractive, suddnely they are laying their souls bare to total strangers.

Obviously this becomes hugely popular and various brands are starting to use Facebook as a way of marketing to and interacting with customers, for example when I search for Facebook applications I find a couple for BMW, 1 for Coca Cola, 37 for Microsoft, one for LG, 162 applications around Google, 12 for Nokia and the list goes on. I’m not making any judgements here, I love the idea of genuine personalised marketing. If companies can figure out how to market products and services that I am genuinely interested in, I am all for it and Facebook applications as marketing data acquisition tools make a lot of sense.

Many years ago I visited Arthur Anderson in Chicago and saw a demonstration of a retail system which kept images and vital statistics of customers. The concept was being able to send an email saying “Luigi, our latest summer fashion shirts are in and here are some pictures of what YOU would like like in your colours.” My future vision for that is that they will send that message with the image in a video so I can see a panorama on my mobile phone, only when I am in vicinity of the store and with an electronic coupon. The issues here are more about trust, but I’m getting into mobile marketing again and digressing as I am wont to do.

The thing I love about Facebook is that they have created an evolutionary product that keeps changing as more and more people add content and concept. You can look in the search area almost as you would in Google. Thinking about things I am interested in, I entered ‘song competition’ and found 19 events. I entered Texas Holdem and found 8 applications, more than 500 events and much more. If you are more of a golfing person, there are 47 facebook applicatins and countless events, the list goes on: politics – 95 applications, religion 25 applications, philosophy 25 applications, 14 applications for theatre and well I can go on indefinitely because while I write this blog, more applications are  being posted.

Then of course there are interest groups, discussion groups, activity groups, fan groups and being silly I even got more then 700 results doing a search under groupies!

I’m starting to get a picture of how much time this amazing environment can take up, but just as interesting how much, used wisely, Facebook could empower and entertain you. It can open doors and lead to all sorts of opportunities. Most of all, it is different. Most social networks are focussed around an activity or group, like photography, music, dating. Facebook is multi faceted and multi dimensional mirroring most people and having an endless array of new things to experience.

I’m still not sure that I can give an elevator pitch of what Facebook is.  I guess it can be whatever you want it to be and more. The question is what is it to you and what are other sites going to do to compete?

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course https://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)