Thursday, April 19, 2012

The certified 'geeks of the day' award goes to...

I built go-karts as a kid, and a moon rocket that, on launch, caught fire and burned in the Jamaica, New York driveway of my childhood home. (When Dad got home from a hard day of bolting wings onto Navy jets out at Grumman Aerospace, he was not amused by the burn stains my little imitation of Saturn-V had left in the driveway, but I digress). Anyway, a group of San Francisco Bay area high school students have used the cockpit of an old piper Cherokee, a pile of computer hardware, a bunch of LCD screens and some fierce programming skills to build a simulator of, of all things, a Battlestar Galactica Viper of the 1970s-era TV show “Battlestar Galactica.”

The basic idea is, they mounted the cockpit section of a small plane, a Piper PA-28 Cherokee, to a platform that can rotate 360° across two axes. They added flight controls driving motors that spin the cockpit, along with LCD screens to simulate what you would see from a Viper’s cockpit (if a Viper existed). This has got to be one of the geekiest things ever constructed in the history of man, and yes, I’m envious- wish I’d had this in my driveway at age 15. Check it out on mashable at http://mashable.com/2012/03/22/battlestar-galactica-viper-simulator/.

Birds is the Wurdz...

“Flippin the Bird” is the slogan emblazoned across one of my favorite T-shirts, and it refers not to an obscene gesture, but to a bird aimed at a pig by a slingshot.  Not just any pig, but a a bunch of evil pigs that stole the birds’ eggs. And not just any bird, but an angry bird.  Yes, I am an admitted diehard fan of Angry Birds, and I’ve been playing the latest installment, Angry Birds in Space.

What I like about Angry Birds is that it is so bloody intuitive.  Even in the latest installment, Angry Birds in Space, you don’t have to read the manual.  With Angry Birds, you play, and you learn.  And Angry Birds in Space uses some neat tricks by the way, features like the ability to use a neighboring planet’s gravitational force to slingshot the birds to take out the pigs. My other favorite, Angry Birds in Rio, I like not just for the intuitiveness of it but also for the scenery, for the catchy calypso beat added to the Angry Birds’ theme song, and for the fact that the game is just a lot of fun.

What happens to a person’s Facebook page when they’re no longer alive?

When you die, your social media presence does not go with you.  But, should it?  This is an interesting question that lawmakers are starting to debate.  What should happen to one’s digital life after death?  Personally, I’ve seen people’s Facebook profiles become heartfelt memorials of the person, as a result of Facebook friends continuing to post to their pages.  But some lawmakers are now saying that because digital property can be considered an asset just like physical property, a departed persons Facebook page ought to somehow automatically be part of that person’s estate. 

Right now, that’s not the way it is.  If a person leaves this life and takes his or her Facebook password with them, without a court order to do otherwise, that person’s Facebook page remains on Facebook.  Should the laws change this?  Or do we even need lawmakers meddling in this area?  What do you think?  I’d love to hear your comments on this one way or the other.

So pardon me while I get used to this "blogging" thing...

But thanks so much for stopping by! I’m Edward C. Jones (better known to friends, colleagues, and purchasers of some of my printed versions of computer books as ‘Ed Jones’), and I’ve been writing about technology and tech-based topics for a very long time. (HOW LONG, you say??? You had to ask… Let’s just say that my first best-selling title, about a product named dBASE III, explained the use of a software package that ran on an IBM Personal Computer, circa 1984, with dual floppy disk drives.

A lot has changed since those early days of the tech revolution, and now I’m being pushed into the e-book revolution. (OK, diving in head first would be a more realistic description.) At any rate, glad you stopped by my corner of cyberspace, and let me know what you think. In particular, if there’s an e-book on a technical topic that you feel you would buy in a heartbeat, I welcome your suggestions on what that book would be- just suggest a title, and I’ll consider taking it from there! I am a writer, after all… and like many writers, I am in constant search of “the next big thing.”