This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.

Curiosity, Farmville, and an OMG from 1917

Posted by: James Lileks under Gripes, Praise, Technology Updated: August 6, 2012 - 12:01 PM

Stayed up late watching the Curiosity landing; got five and a half hours of sleep because we’re boarding a dog who’s been trained to bark at the first sight of daybreak. In a bleary mood, clicking around for video to see what I missed after going to bed, I found myself reading some very, very stupid things - and then I snapped out of it and realized I was reading YouTube comments on the Curiosity footage. Gah! Eject! Eject!

It’s possible to be unmoved by all this, and judging from the internet, many are. But I don’t know if they really think the act of putting an enormous robot on Mars is just meh-worthy, or if it’s a posture they’re assuming to set themselves apart. I must belittle both the technical achievement and other people’s reactions to it. This way, I will be admired for my iconoclastic stance. Women will flock to my side. My HuffPo commentator status may be upgraded Okay. Fine.

That said, there were some post-landing moments with which one could have sport. This fellow, for example:

 

NASA TV

NASA TV

 

 

Adam Steltzner. More or less a god among humans at this point, because he led the team that figured out a way to drop an atomic-powered car on another planet. This is something we dream of doing when we grow up, but few of us ever get around to doing it. During the press conference someone mentioned that his wife was pregnant, and would give birth in three weeks. This would have been an excellent time to say “we’ve invented a rather unusual process for delivering the baby. Some say it’s crazy. We think it’s crazy.” Then start talking about retrofiring rockets and crane-deployment.

 

The award for almost letting all the enthusiasm for the event dissipate in 5 seconds goes to Xeni Jardin of BoingBoing, who got the second question in the press conference and asked about the file type for the first few images, and what sort of compression they were using.

As someone put it in my twitter feed: o_0

The question was batted away quickly, if I recall, possibly because it’s like asking Neil Armstrong what brand of wristwatch strap he wore to the Moon. The format was probably ICER, if you’re wondering.

Most of the MER images are compressed with the ICER image compression software. The remaining MER images that are compressed make use of modified Low Complexity Lossless Compression (LOCO) software, a lossless submode of ICER.

ICER is a wavelet-based image compressor that allows for a graceful trade-off between the amount of compression (expressed in terms of compressed data volume in bits/pixel) and the resulting degradation in image quality (distortion). ICER has some similarities to JPEG2000, with respect to select wavelet operations.

The development of ICER was driven by the desire to achieve high compression performance while meeting the specialized needs of deep space applications.


Sure, I knew that off the top of my head. Just had to check wikipedia to see if  they're still using LOCO. (cough lying)

If you’re wondering who was the guy with the mohawk and the stars shaved in the side of his head - and don’t we say that about every space mission? - it was a guy with the Made-for-Star-Wars name of Bobak Ferdowsi, which is exactly what Geoege Lucas would name such a character. He’s become the Ridiculously Photogenic Guy of the space-nerd word. Good for him.  

WHOA The title is “Trolley on Road in Russia.” It’s only :37. Trust me.

 

 

 

He’s trying to get hit, so he can sue. It’s a living.

 

HISTORY Someone used OMG in a letter to Churchill in 1917.

 

CURRENT AFFAIRS The most trusted name in news is running pieces with bylines like SalWigginOut. At least the piece says “not vetted for CNN,” but c’mon. That’s your logo right up there in the corner.The piece has to do with the trial of a guy from CopBlock.org, and clicking on that link led to this story from WRIC:

A local mother ticketed by police after her child created a chalk drawing is expected to appear in court Tuesday.

Susan Mortensen will contest a ticket given to her back in March by a Richmond Police officer when Mortensen allowed her daughter to create a chalk drawing on a rock at Belle Isle.

Along with the $325 ticket, Mortensen was also banned from all Richmond City parks.

There has to be more to the story. Possibly the child drew something that disturbed the peace, like a picture of a box of trans-fats being shot out of a cannon. Says NBC12:

The parks manager says he'd like to set a date before Thanksgiving. Mortensen's supporters say they're still upset she was charged for letting her daughter draw on the rocks. Police and park leaders say chalk is the same as graffiti.

"There's no way to compare two," Meg McLain with Virginia Cop Block. "When you spray paint something, it's pretty much there. But when you chalk something, it rains, it's gone. You'll never know."

"It is all the same thing," said James River Park Systems Park Manager, Ralph White. "A couple of weeks ago, I was covering over pornographic drawings done in chalk. It doesn't matter what the medium is. It's offensive."

The ability to make necessary distinctions is not always required by every job.

INTERNET CULTURE This would be the place where I use the Angry Walter Meme, but it has contains a gun and someone would be concerned. But am I the only one around here who plays big games where you do more than push around large-noggin famers? No. But that’s changing.

Zynga, the company that makes tiny games like Farmville, is having a bad patch. Business insider says “Zynga's stock has crated to around $3 from an IPO price of $10.” So it’s been put into wooden shipping cases? Or has it cratered? The reasons vary, but there’s the copycat lawsuit brought by EA, which says Zynga’s new game, The Ville, bears a resemblance to The Sims. Oh, I don’t know:

 

 

 

Then there’s that legal thing. The Verge, which used the most punchable Pincus picture possible, says:

When Zynga went public in December of 2011 at $10 a share, employees and early investors were "locked up," banned from selling their shares until May 28th, 2012. But a select group of insiders got underwriters Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs to waive that restriction, allowing them to sell an additional $515 million worth of shares on April 3rd at $12 a pop.

 

This arrangement is at the heart of an insider trading lawsuit filed yesterday in San Francisco by the law firm Newman Ferrara. "Zynga's regular employees were still locked up from selling their shares. But the guys at the top, who saw what was coming down the pipe, got to cash out," said Ferrara attorney Roy Shimon. By the time the original lockup expired on May 28th, the company's share price had dropped to $6. After last week's earnings report it dropped to just over $3.

I wonder if the company recently announced plans to build its own flagship HQ. That’s usually the point when everything goes south.

 

That’s it for now; see you around.

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