Godspeed Commander Hadfield

Cana­dian astro­naut, space enthu­si­ast, edu­cat­or, social media sen­sa­tion, and now enter­tain­er? Yep, those are just a sampling of the roles that Com­mand­er Chris Hadifeld ful­filled dur­ing his 146 day post­ing to the ISS as Sta­tion Com­mand­er.

His Soy­uz cap­sule returns to Earth tomor­row even­ing, but as a last sur­prise, the Com­mand­er released this video rework­ing of Dav­id Bowie’s Space Oddity. Enjoy, and thank you Com­mand­er Had­field! Have a safe jour­ney home!

I’m quite enjoying Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol!

Yep, I’m hav­ing fun with Ace Patrol, as you may have seen in my pre­vi­ous post, it’s a light single/multiplayer, World War I stra­tegic com­bat game. Air­fights con­sist of up to 8 com­batants, four per side, and vary depend­ing on air­craft, pilot skill, and game dif­fi­culty level.

Ace Patrol is cur­rently only avail­able for iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone in the Canada iTunes store, dur­ing this pre-launch peri­od, but it will be avail­able world­wide on May 9th.

I’m hav­ing a blast, check out the ingame images below:

Colour me impressed — using iTunes to stream music to multiple devices simultaneously

Back in 2006 as part of a post on a new iPod Nano, I ven­ted on how broken iTunes was for my work­flow. Well, time has passed and iTunes has improved, but it’s still not as intu­it­ive or simple for me and my cent­ral­ized music setup:

  • File serv­er stor­ing my music
  • Remote play­back sys­tems in vari­ous rooms (Mac mini, Apple TVs, Air­port Express, etc)
  • Remote con­trol of said music stream

My big beef then was organ­iz­a­tion. iTunes was a pain and wanted to sync/manage my music on my behalf in a way that didn’t make sense to me. Well, that’s since been fixed.

My next beef was with the lack of sound syn­chron­iz­a­tion across mul­tiple devices as you play back. For example, if I wanted to play a song back on my Mac Mini, and have it stream *as well* to my kit­chen Apple TV, and my desktop com­puter sim­ul­tan­eously.

Pre­vi­ously, to achieve this I had to run a 3rd party applic­a­tion set on all my devices — a cool little app called Air­foil. Basic­ally you had the Air­foil ‘broad­cast’ app run­ning on whatever com­puter was actu­ally doing the play­ing. Air­foil grabbed the audio stream and sent it out to all the devices that it recog­nized either via the Air­foil Speak­ers app, or an Air­play device, or an iPhone / iPad. A minor pain, but it worked.

Back to iTunes

So, this morn­ing I dis­covered some­thing new in iTunes, you can now stream music to mul­tiple devices sim­ul­tan­eously. Yes, this may have appeared in a pre­vi­ous iTunes update but I hadn’t noticed it — so it’s new to me 😉

One of the neat things is that the Apple Remote app — a free iOS app to con­trol Apple TV or iTunes over a net­work — also passes through the mul­tiple device play­back fea­ture. This means you can sit on your couch and con­trol the sound on any of your play­back devices through out your home.

Second neat thing

iTunes Air­play con­nects to the Air­foil Speak­ers app run­ning on my Win­dows PC, let­ting me add my home office desktop into the sound mix.

Yes, it’s pretty cool to have music stream­ing through the entire house, in sync, as you walk from room to room.



Get your Kerbal on! Update .18 released.

The latest, and pos­sibly greatest, update to Kerbal Space Pro­gram has just been released, fea­tur­ing:

* Dock­ing
Con­nect­ing ves­sels togeth­er is now pos­sible! Build space sta­tions, sur­face bases, or assemble huge space­craft in orbit.

* Flight Plan­ning
Get­ting to oth­er plan­ets and moons just got a lot sim­pler. Place man­euvers along your orbit to cre­ate a flight plan, and then just fol­low the guid­ance cues. No need to fig­ure out angles or hold a pro­tract­or to the screen!

* Action Groups
A new way to con­trol your ships! Instead of hav­ing everything done through sta­ging, you can assign parts to groups that are con­trolled with a keypress. Set up Abort sys­tems, or rig up com­plex con­trap­tions. Or just let the game handle it auto­mat­ic­ally.

* New Resources Sys­tem
Watch­ing fuel drain has nev­er been so much fun! New resources allow for com­pletely new pos­sib­il­it­ies. Energy, Fuel, Oxid­izer and oth­er resources now flow through your ship. Man­age them as you fly, and pump them across parts.

* Music
KSP now has its own soundtrack, fea­tur­ing many cool tracks, from smooth jazzy tunes to build ships by, to won­drous spacy themes as you explore the sol­ar sys­tem.

* Per­form­ance Tweaks
New ter­rain optim­iz­a­tions and a sys­tem to pre­vent lag by slow­ing the sim­u­la­tion make for a sig­ni­fic­ant improve­ment in per­form­ance.

Check out the video below to see some of these new enhance­ments in action!

A book to tide me over until the next Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend

Last week­end was great fun as @tturbo and the rest of our years-old Guild Wars group jumped in to the most recent Beta Week­end event.

But now the event is done, and the wait con­tin­ues for the *next* event, and I’m find­ing I need more of the world to explore.

So ‘a man has said’ that there are these Guild Wars 2 nov­els out there, which means I must check them out. And I did by down­load­ing the first (from iTunes): Guild Wars: The Ghosts of Ascalon.

The Story So Far…
Actu­ally it’s pretty good. Stand­ard adven­tur­ing fare, but being pub­lished in 2010, brings many of the game improve­ments into the story-line. Guards have rifles. The world map has changed. They fear Dragons again.

I’m hop­ing we’ll see the intro­duc­tion of the Engin­eer 🙂

Ok, it’s an eBook, down­loaded from iTunes. Which means it’s got DRM. For me that’s a prob­lem as I like to read on dif­fer­ent devices. I prefer my Kobo, but occa­sion­ally will read on my iPad or iPhone, depend­ing on the con­text.

For­tu­nately there’s a cool app that will eas­ily remove iTunes DRM from most iTunes eBooks — and it worked like a charm — and I’m read­ing hap­pily on my Kobo, slowly. I don’t want to rush through the book and *still* have to wait a while for the next Guild Wars 2 Beta Week­end 🙂