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Scott “marsroverdriver” Maxwell
Works at Google
Attended University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Lives in Pasadena, CA
45,909 followers|4,334,074 views


So now there's a programming language whose source code strongly resembles Shakespeare's plays. My loves combine!

It won't be winning any Tony awards, mind you. But what a cool idea!
The Shakespeare Programming Language. A programming language created with the design goal to make the source code resemble Shakespeare plays. The characters in the play are variables. If you want to assign a character, let's say Hamlet, a negative value, you put him and another character on the ...
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for ( Sooth sayer : predictions ) {
// insert bad pseudo-shakespeare-code here

* It's late, but that's probably as good as I'll do
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The Shuttle fuel tank headed for the California Science Center is at the marina for a couple of days, so I hung out with it during lunch. The eventual plan is to mount it to Endeavour, along with the twin Solid Rocket Boosters, in launch configuration.

Like the Shuttle itself, the fuel tank was dingier than I expected in person. (Not that I was disappointed in either one! Just surprised.) I guess I'm used to seeing it with all the bright lights on it.

Very cool, this. +Kimberly Lichtenberg​ and I might go back this weekend to watch it being hauled to the museum, as we did for Endeavour. This isn't the kind of thing that happens so often that we can just ignore it, after all!
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And along the way, the crew members of the tugs hauling the tank, rescued crewmembers from another ship that had capsized.
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TL;DR: Is there a way to gain occasional access to Verizon's network on the cheap? I'm thinking of the kind of thing where I would spend a few bucks or so to access Verizon on the rare occasions when Project Fi coverage fails me. I'd be fine with a one-time hardware cost (a phone or hotspot or something), I just don't want a monthly fee.

Long version follows.

Being the kind of nerd I am, having Internet access at all times is a must. That need has kept my cell service with Verizon even though I despise them as a company and would really prefer never to give them another dime.

But then I used Project Fi for my recent overseas trip and loved it, and it got me thinking. I'd be a lot happier paying my money to Google and T-Mobile and Sprint, and maybe it's silly to keep Verizon just because they are (in my experience) the only reliable service provider that 1% of the time that I'm in the desert or driving to Seattle or whatever. (Thanks to work phones, I've been able to directly compare Verizon to AT&T and T-Mobile. The places I'm thinking of -- just those 1% -- Verizon has service and the other providers don't.)

And then I got to thinking ... well, maybe there are ways I could access Verizon's network only on those rare occasions that they're the only provider my phone can see. Like, maybe I could get a cheap Verizon smartphone with a prepaid plan, and then take that phone with me and Bluetooth-tether through it when I'm going to Death Valley. Or something.

(I don't understand data roaming -- or, to put it another way, it didn't solve the problem for my non-Verizon phones when I was out of their cell providers' coverage area. But maybe, now that I have a Nexus 5X that can work on CDMA as well as GSM networks, it would start working the way I want it?)

I did some research and wasn't able to find quite the solution I need, so I decided to be lazy and ask the Interwebz. :-) How about it? Can I do the thing I want, or must I settle for (<panicked breathing>) the risk of losing Internet access on rare occasions?
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I mean, that's what you're paying for with Verizon: Incredibly good coverage is expensive to maintain. I do think MiFi service is generally fairly reasonable, but I mean, in general, you get what you pay for.
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The highest-resolution images of Pluto ever seen. If you're into that kind of thing.
The science team leading NASA’s New Horizons mission that unveiled the true nature of Pluto’s long hidden looks during the history making maiden close encounter last July, have published a fresh global map that offers the sharpest and most spectacular glimpse yet of the mysterious, icy world.
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This is his tweet after the most recent successful rocket landing. In no small part, Musk and +SpaceX​ are succeeding because failure is an option. Also see
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I'd heard rumors about this, but now it's official: the ExoMars rover's launch, the follow-on to the orbiter launched earlier this year, will be delayed from 2018 to 2020.

That sucks, but it's always better to take the time to do these things right than to rush them. It's hard enough to succeed in space when everything is ready for launch. When you rush a spacecraft, the result, one way or another, is usually: no spacecraft.

What's really interesting is that China is making noises about being ready for the same launch opportunity. And, of course, the US's next rover is targeting 2020 as well. So if all goes to plan, there might be three Mars rovers launched in the same window, all arriving on Mars at about the same time.

I'm sure Opportunity will welcome the company.
Artist's concept of the ExoMars rover. Credit: ESA. Europe's ExoMars rover will not be ready for launch in 2018, officials said Monday, forcing a two-year delay for the ambitious mission to drill into the Martian surface and search for the remnants of past life. Delays in the development of the ...
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"... [I]f prosecutors had been successful, any officer who made an arrest without clear probable cause would be subject to criminal prosecution."

Can someone explain to me why that would be a bad thing, as the speaker clearly thinks it would? On the contrary, that strikes me as manifestly a good thing.

Detaining a suspect without probable cause is fine, at least within fairly broad limits. But I don't understand why we'd want officers arresting people for no good reason.

Baltimore police officer Edward Nero was acquitted on Monday of all charges in the 2015 death of black detainee Freddie Gray, the second setback for prosecutors in a case that triggered rioting and fueled the Black Lives Matter movement.
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+Scott Maxwell​ Also depends on where you're at as well. These two phrases are used interchangeably IMO. As someone with some limited experience in police training, going through the academy you learn that most police operate under the authority of privilege. And again, in a case like this, detain/arrest. What's the difference?
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Why are many in aerospace skeptical of NASA's "Journey to Mars" plan? Short answer: because they don't have one. NASA is trying hard to build public enthusiasm for the journey, an approach I respect -- but it's getting harder and harder to overlook their lack of a concrete plan for it.
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They've got a few pieces of a system, and a vague goal. But it's kind of like the way NASA cut down their Nixon-era space plan to just the Shuttle and sort of assumed everything else would follow from that. They managed (their half of) the ISS, I'll give them that.

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Most of you will never have heard of Solomon W. Golomb. But he invented some of the technology used in the image compression algorithms aboard our rovers, among other fundamental contributions. (To things like, you know, cell phones.)

In college I was for a while obsessed with Golomb rulers -- his idea, of course. You can think of these as a kind of game: make the shortest ruler you can that measures the most (integer) distances using only a given number of marks.

For example, the best four-mark ruler has a length of 6; its marks are at positions 0, 1, 4, and 6. It's obvious how you measure lengths 1, 4, and 6, but the others are also easy. If you want to measure the distance 2, you do it between the 4 and 6 marks; to measure 3, you use the 1 and 4 marks; and 5 is between the 1 and 6 marks. (This particular ruler is both optimal and perfect -- that is, no shorter ruler measures all of these distances, and all distances up to the ruler's length can be measured -- but it's the longest one that is. No optimal ruler with five or more marks is also perfect, mainly because the universe is out to get us.)

Golomb rulers are hugely useful in, for example, phased-array radars, where you get more information the more distances the ruler can measure but (a) the marks are expensive (because every one is a radar dish), and (b) you also want to keep the ruler's overall length short (because that way you can buy less land).

Thanks for many late nights writing ruler-hunting software and watching it work, Dr. Golomb. Also for the pretty Mars rover pictures, and, oh, yeah, for a bunch of stuff in my cell phone.

More information about Golomb rulers is here: Also here:
The legendary scholar’s work in communications helped usher in the digital age.
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Not my usual fare, but I found this fascinating. TL;DR: because unlike nearly all other mammals, human fetuses attach their placentas directly to the endometrium, so the mother's only way to eject an unwanted fetus (say, because her body judges it non-viable) is to eject the whole package.

But there's much more to this typically fascinating tale of evolutionary biology, and I do encourage you to read the whole thing.
What is the evolutionary benefit or purpose of having periods? This question was originally answered on Quora by Suzanne Sadedin.
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I've been mulling over an idea for an art project.

It would consist of selfies taken at famous monuments and artworks around the world. But, and here's the key, the selfie-takers would be in the foreground, larger than life and crystal clear; the monuments, by contrast, would be backgrounded, indistinct.

Thus it would invert the normal relationship between subject and object, as if to say that the selfie-taker was the composition's most important feature. "_You_ are not the important thing here, O Eiffel Tower, O Great Pyramids, O Parthenon, O Victoria Falls," it would say. "No, what's important is that I, Jane Twiddlebottom, stood here and took this photo."

I shall call this art project "Instagram."
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+Scott Maxwell you missed a major part of the project: use a filter to throw away most of the good data you get from the camera.
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Carl Sagan believed that selling NASA on the strength of its spinoffs was a mistake. With the greatest of respect to the good doctor, I submit that at least pointing out NASA's awesome spinoffs from time to time can only do good. So here are some. :-)
You can thank the US space agency for personal locator beacons.
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Cool. I was somehow unaware of that water finds. Also, where can I pick up one of those analyzing logarithms? :)
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Collections Scott is following
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    Computer Science
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@marsroverdriver on Twitter
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  • X-Plane 10 Flight Simulator
I'm a pretty big wheel down at the cracker factory.
On a small red light in the night sky lives four hundred pounds of thinking metal sent from Earth.  Once upon a time, I told that metal what to do.

(Disclaimer: my opinions are mine, not my employer's.  Duh. :-)
Bragging rights
I fought cancer and won. I had a robot on another planet, and I drove it around and made it do stuff. I was a trending topic on Twitter. I wrote a book. I took a privacy case all the way to the Supreme Court. Now I keep Google up and running. But I'm just this guy, you know?
Site Reliability Engineer
  • Google
    Site Reliability Engineer, 2013 - present
  • JPL
    Mars Rover Driver Team Lead, 2013
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Pasadena, CA
Rocky Mount, NC - Seminole, FL - Greenville, NC - Champaign, IL
Gorgeous, swanky place with great views and excellent customer service.
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reviewed a month ago
Our AC went out over the weekend and we were *miserable*. (I used to think that when the zombocalypse comes, I'd miss showers most of all, but now I'm thinking I'll have to revise that to air conditioning.) We called In N Out Air Monday morning and were, thankfully, able to get an appointment for the same afternoon. Hovik showed up right on time, fixed our problem fast, and charged us a fair price. He was even exceptionally polite about letting me watch over his shoulder while he narrated what he was doing, so I could learn more about how AC units work! (Indeed, he was extremely professional and friendly throughout.) And boy, were we relieved when that cold air started flowing again. He emphasized on his way out that they have a one-year parts and labor guarantee. I simply could not be happier with my experience. Well done, In N Out Air!
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Public - 8 months ago
reviewed 8 months ago
Vroman's is my favorite bookstore of all time. Great selection, friendly and helpful staff, wonderful events, and upstairs is a terrific kids' section, greeting cards, and more. They'll even gift-wrap your purchases for free, which has been handy a number of times!
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Roberto is one of my favorite artists. We have two of his pieces hanging in our home, soon to be joined by a third (my wedding gift to my new wife!).
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reviewed 10 months ago
When you want this kind of food, In-N-Out does it better than anyone. And I've never had a single bad experience with an employee.
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