Carl Sagan remembered

This is the 10th anniversary of Carl Sagan’s death (Dec. 20, 1996) and if you’re in the blogosphere you’ll likely see many of the science-oriented sites post entries about this sad milestone.

There is not much that I can say that has not already been posted before about Dr. Sagan’s role in growing our knowledge about the planets and moons of our local solar system as well as in popularizing the Cosmos in general. Click here for his Wikipedia entry.

My own experience with Dr. Sagan’s work began way back in 1989 when I was on vacation in Morocco for a couple of weeks. That was one of the first vacations I’d ever been on where I was truly a “stranger in a strange land”. There were a couple of French TV stations available from France in the North, but most channels were in Arabic (Berber, I believe). There happened to be a copy of Carl Sagan’s book “Cosmos” available, and over the course of those two weeks I managed to read it cover to cover.

While I enjoyed that experience immensely, it is not for that work that I really respect Dr. Sagan. I disagreed with some of his stances on political issues (nuclear holocaust and environmental concerns chief among those),  but I greatly respected the skepticism and mental rigour that he expressed so clearly in my favorite of his works, “The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the dark”. I have this book on audio tape and feel it is a must read / listen for anybody interested in understanding what skepticism is really about.

I truly regret that Dr. Sagan can no longer produce such wonderful and thought provoking works anymore and that he is not able to see the incredible discoveries we’ve made both within our own solar system and throughout the Cosmos over the past few years.

Wine Tasting (from July, 2006)

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We got some friends together to do a wine tasting party while in Toronto this past July. The theme was *supposed* to be “Canadian Shiraz’s”. But *some* folks didn’t read their email and we had a slightly broader Spectrum.

The wines sampled were “Naked Grape (Unoaked)” (Canadian), “Jackson-Triggs Proprietor’s Selection” (Canadian) and “Paringa – 2003” (Australian).

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I personally was unable to render a quantitative distinction between the wines but ultimately I rated them, from favorite to less-so: Naked Grape, Paringa, Jackson-Triggs.

Mich’s ratings were: Jackson-Triggs and the other two tied for second place.

As a group (myself not included as I was doing the poll taking) we blindly re-tasted the wines and:

3 of the 5 chose Paringa as the favorite (one vote each for the other two), then for second place Naked Grape won 3 votes, Paringa second and no votes for Jackson-Triggs. Finally 4 folks chose Jackson triggs as their third choice with one person choosing Naked Grape for this honor.

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Springtime on Mars

From the Bad Astronomy blog, I laughed out loud, not at the parachute that Phil mentions, but at the “bounce” landing that… well you’ll know it when you see it.

Many of the foibles presented have roots in actual mishaps with Mars landers. We do not have a stellar record with landing on that tiny little planet. Trivia: did you know Mars is only about as big as the iron core in our own planet Earth?

Click here to enjoy.

Firefly server up and working fine

I have a Roku soundbridge, with which the communication with my iTunes library was broken after upgrading to iTunes version 7.

I was initially holding out to see if Roku was going to come out with an update so that their soundbridges would once again work with iTunes but apparently that faith was misplaced 🙁

So a few days ago I elected to go the Firefly server route. Until now I’ve been using a laptop that had an older version of iTunes to serve up my library, but it didn’t have all my playlists and I didn’t really want to bother with keeping it in synch with my main computer.

Following the directions for setting up Firefly on the Roku website resulted in a seamless and simple install (no configuration needed). And it worked immediately.

Now I’m playing my iTunes playlists perfectly through the Firefly server. What’s even cooler is that new songs are picked up automagically within about 5-10 minutes after adding them to iTunes. Again with no effort on my part.

I can’t speak to any DRM protected tracks as I have very few that I haven’t been able to get a non-DRM version after purchasing the track from iTunes. I want to support the artists but I’m not going to allow myself to be hamstrung in the process.

Broken Sidebar

*Update – Dec 17* – The issue was an open div tag on my Comcast posting below. Using G2 to enter the images I had tried to erase one that was not inserted correctly and it left behind the unclosed div tag. Editting the HTML code directly (need to do this in Firefox, since IE will ruin the G2 tags when updating HTML) and all was well after just deleting the errant div tag.

Yeah, I can see that my sidebar is broken (look down at the bottom and you’ll see it).

I’ve made no changes to the templates so I suppose it’s a content thing that’s done it. Right now it’s just a wee bit too late to troubleshoot…  Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get that sorted out.

Christmas is coming

Don’t forget to go to the “About Marc” link on the right to find my wishlists and buy me lots of great stuff for Christmas!

I’ve decided to embrace the retail delight that is Christmas and not let all those sour old religious traditions interfere with the true meaning of the season: Retail Sales

There is always Easter if you want a Religious holiday. Christmas is just too much fun for all these controversies and politically correct issues.