Tribble training

In our never ending mission to educate our kids about all things geek, tonight we enjoyed a Star Trek marathon (of sorts).  My eldest (a faithful Dr Who fan) has steadfastly refused to get sucked into the Star Trek universe – until tonight!  My secret weapon was of course, Trouble with Tribbles which no budding geek can resist.  Im sure no synopsis is required of this classic.  That was followed up by the excellent Deep Space Nine episode Trials and Tribulations in which several of the DS9 cast (including Worf and O’Brien) find themselves transported back in time to the period of the original episode.  Hilarity ensues. Then I dug out the animated series More Tribbles, more Troubles wherein the tribbles (now genetically engineered to not breed) instead grow amazingly large on whatever it is they find lying around the Enterprise.  We were starting to worry that the kids weren’t Star Trek material, but these three seem to have clinched the deal.  Now to find the tribble-related Enterprise episode and the scene in Generations!

Super Star Trek in Python

OK kids, make sure you have python installed so you can fire photons in this python remix of the classic Fortran Super Star Trek classic terminal game from the mid 70s. I played this game (poorly) in High School and had gotten frustrated trying to run the original Fortran version some while ago. Turns out ESR had ported (a C port of) the original Fortran code which runs great. Make sure you pull out the latest version from git since its got some essential bug fixes from: (this link is dead as of 151111)

See Bill Lahti’s java and android port of the game!

and Tom Almys page

Here’s ESR’s original G+ post and there’s some more banter about the history of the game in the comments to his blog post.

There’s a nice writeup of the history of the game and how its played here.

Here it is, running happily in terminal under Ubuntu 11.10:

Dawn over Vesta

Today’s APOD (Astronomy picture of the day) is of Vesta, a rocky asteroid named after the Roman goddess of home and hearth. Vesta is the second most massive asteroid in our solar system, but the first to be visited by the Dawn spacecraft which finally arrived there in July after launch in 2007 under power of its three xenon ion thrusters.
Yes, I said Ion Thrusters.

Star Trek fans will recognize this as “ion drive” and won’t confuse it with “ion propulsion” a more highly advanced technology not developed until sometime after 2268. NASA was clearly not aware of this semantic difference, but according to their otherwise very informative page, ion thrusters have demonstrated fuel efficiencies of over 90 percent compared to chemical engines which are around 30% efficient. Dawn is the first long range spacecraft to use this technology, (some satellites use it to maintain orbit). It will remain in orbit around the rocky world for most of a year and then will continue on to study the slightly larger dwarf planet, Ceres.

Another view of Vesta from about 3,200 miles distant.

Wondering about The Wonder Years

Perhaps one of my favorite television shows when I was a bit younger, The Wonder Years was simply brilliant. It captured the essence of growing up in an American suburb in the late 60s to early ’70s and presented it in a beautiful and nostalgic way with off-screen narration provided by a grown up version of the 9 year old main character who was reflecting on that time in his life. I really enjoyed reading through this list of the 25 best moments from the series by B. I’ve filed this under Trek because of the Wonder Years’ infamous Trek parody episode. It’s a shame that you can’t buy a legal copy of this series on DVD because of copyright BS on some of the popular songs used in it, and long time readers of this blog know how much love I have for the record industry, and the sorry state of copyright law in the US.

George Takei on NPR

I don’t always catch Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me (WWDTM) because, frankly it isn’t always all that funny. Granted, my sense of humor is a bit twisted, and I’m not really the target demographic of the show, but having George Takei (Sulu of Star Trek) on was a pretty big draw. If you missed him, check out the segment below. Whether you agree with his lifestyle choices or not, the guy has class. This is probably the only WWDTM episode that has ever had me laughing out loud and tearing up with joy.