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I was reading an article about discoveries made by the Kepler space telescope when I wondered what kind of processing power does this instrument has.  Turns out this telescope, designed in 2006, uses a RAD750 which is basically a radiation hardened PowerPC 750.  It can be clocked up to 200 MHz.  Although I didn't find many other specification, I did find it can operate at -67 °F (-55 °C) to 257 °F (125 °C), 1 million Rads of radiation (1,000 rads is about all a normal microchip can take, and 10,000 rads will kill a person).  And each chip is estimated to cost $200,000.  With this processing power, the telescope has discovered 962 exoplanets, including Kepler 186f—an Earth sized planet in the habitable zone of it's star (meaning it could have liquid water).  Using basic probabilities it is estimated there are some 40 billion Earth-like planets orbiting in the habitable zones just in the Milky Way Galaxy or which 11 billion orbit stars much like our sun.  If life on a planet has the same odds as winning the Powerball lottery at one in 175 million, that means there would be 62 planets setup like ours with life just in the our own galaxy.  And there are hundreds of billions of galaxies besides our own.

... If they be not inhabited, what a waste of space.

Carl Sagan paraphrasing Thomas Carlyle.

June 08, 2014

Solarian lab and the Stone Lady

Elanoria and the Druid

Elanoria and the Druid

   Tonight our D&D group continued the exploration of the ancient Solarian dungeon.  We had been attacked the previous encounter by some magical robotic spiders and took a severe beating.  We lost one of the Kobolds and are down to just two: Jam and Medium Greg.  Medium Greg get an electric shock and his mane now sticks up and he's a little tweaked out.  The room from which the spiders came turned out to be some kind of facility full of glass jars holding really scary creatures in some kind of magical stasis.  We found the walls had several Solarian rulers including the last of the Solarian emperors before the empire fell.  We deduced this area must be newer than other parts of the dungeon.  One of the emperors was defaced, but none of us are smart enough to know who they might be or why this emperor was disliked.  The facility had many tiny spiders preforming maintenance on the specimens, but after some cautious investigation the we found the spiders didn't care about us when we entered.
   One of the specimens was a pretty elfish women with obvious attempts at warning anyone from opening the case.  Marve wanted to open it up, but Elanoria (my character) persuaded him that was not a good idea.  We decided not to mess with anything else in the room until we knew more and moved into a corridor.  The Kobolds reconized the area and said this was where they knew the Stone Lady was close.  They would not enter the room with the Stone Lady since she had killed some of their kin as they were searching for treasure.  Elanoria, usually pretty honest, paid the Kobolds 15 gold for escorting us this far and we went to see about this Stone Lady. 
   The rouge sneaked into the room to have a look, but when she got within 25 feet of the statue heard a voice asking a question in ancient Solarian.  Our druid could only understand a word or two of the question, but it seemed as if a request for a name had been made.  The rouge then went back and tried to answer the question, but we didn't understand the response.  So Marve decided to approach and use a more universal language: force.  Since we were all expecting a battle we had made a good deal of preparation.  The wizard had cast enlarge on Marve, and I sang a song of battle to improve everyone's stats.  The Stone Lady seems to take half damage from melee, has some regeneration abilities, and does frost damage. 
    We just started the battle when we had to end the session, so tune in next week to find out what happens!

June 07, 2014

Congratulations Amy and Tyson

Amy & Tyson

Amy & Tyson

   Today was the wedding of Amy and Tyson, and pictured is the day they met: January 15, 2006.  I've known Tyson since middle school and I was honored with the position of best man for the wedding ceremony.  While this isn't the first time I've stood by a childhood friend getting married, it is still an odd expense.  All the strange stuff we did as kids like exploring storm sewers, or daydreaming about owning a 100 MHz computer.  Then to watch them say their vows and prepare to start their families.  So well done Tyson.
   Since I was in the wedding, I did not take a single shot.  Others have so I will have to see what they did.  Thus I posted this early picture of Amy and Tyson.  This is also the picture I used in for the picture frame I designed as their wedding gift.


   Wedding rehearsal this evening.  Found the air conditioning in the church was broken and that should make standing there in a full tuxedo interesting.  Hung out with my goddaughter Aislinn after rehearsal where we did our best to make the water glasses on table sing.

June 04, 2014

Finished frame

Amy and Tyson

Amy and Tyson

   This is the finished result of my two week project.  There are blemishes, but overall I am pleased with how the frame turned out.  The outside is stained mahogany, the center is zebrawood, and the inner layer is maple.  The hardest part of this project was deciding on a design and I spent a couple weeks just drawing different layouts.  I decided on this design because I felt it best exhibited the beauty of the zebrawood, and went with the print well.  I hope it will make a great gift for my best friend Tyson (a.k.a. Pluvius) for his wedding this weekend.  The framed print is from the day the two met.
   Behold my paint booth.  This is much larger than my old paint booth.  Today I lacquered the frame using my HPLV sprayer, and was able to do more than 6 coats over the course of the day.  The setup was very simple: cover everything in the garage with plastic, use a metal coat hanger to suspend my work piece, and spray.  Lacquer is vicious smelling stuff, so I used a respirator as well as safety goggles when spraying.  I am pleased with the setup and the results.
Tazz and Stick Insect

Tazz and Stick Insect

   The numbers for May are now in, and looking at the logs is interesting.  Total visitors was quite low: 6,300 compared to Aprils 10,700.  I suspect a good number of the visits have actually been malicious bots.  Now as they get banned faster and faster they may be starting to give up.  This downward trend might not be a sign of true decreasing traffic, but a sign of decreasing decreasing attacks. 
   The most visited site we host is the photoblog.  However, the visits might include any site that links a redirect so it's hard to be sure.  The second most popular site is the Kings Quest Walkthrough followed by Polynomial Regression.  After that, the counts are all fairly close.  Drink'n Drano registers a lot of visits, but they are likely bots getting banned.  The Gemfire site has been gaining popularity. 
   This month is also verifies the monthly log rotation is functioning properly, and I am pleased with that.
   Trip to Milwaukee today to see the Body World exhibit.  Tazz, who is pre-med, gave me a pretty good anatomy lesson and it was morbidly fascinating.  Afterward we toured the museum until our feet hurt and went to eat at an Ethiopian restaurant.
   Pictured is Liz in the butterfly exhibit.  The butterfly she is holding is alive, but didn't seem to mind being passed from person to person to pose for pictures.  A professional perhaps ;)