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Scott “marsroverdriver” Maxwell
Works at Google
Attended University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Lives in Pasadena, CA
46,024 followers|4,157,711 views
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This app is by +Tobias Thierer​, and it's awesome. It includes Cardboard support for that real 3-D immersive feel, too. It's the next best thing to being there!
 
Mars View improves rover path management

Mars View, a new Android app for viewing the images from NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover, is improving rapidly as it’s in an early stage of development:

https://plus.google.com/+PaoloAmoroso/posts/1uH8qTVigQa

What’s new
Version 0.2.0, released on January 31, 2016, features redesigned location movement and path visibility controls.

You can now move to a different location by double tapping the corresponding billboard that indicates the Sol number (e.g. “Sol 22”, the labels referencing the martian days into Curiosity’s mission). A new button with a stop marker and path segments icon lets you toggle the visibility of the rover path on or off.

Also, image tile blending is enabled by default for a more realistic look of panoramas.

Tips
If you have the triple tap to zoom accessibility gesture enabled turn it off under Accessibility > Magnification gestures in the Android system settings. It interferes with the new Mars View double tap navigation gesture but the developer, +Tobias Thierer, is going to implement a different gesture (long tapping a billboard) in an upcoming version.

Screenshot
The rover path with the Sol billboards in Mars View on my Android 6 phone.

#Curiosity #Android #Cardboard
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Vladimir Oka's profile photoScott “marsroverdriver” Maxwell's profile photoTobias Thierer's profile photoJeff Grimes's profile photo
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+Scott Maxwell​​ you're making me blush! I haven't improved the cardboard version yet other than that the alpha blending also happens to improve it a bit, plus the insight that even the very initial cardboard version actually worked kind of okay when you looked at the terrain a few meters away rather than at the rover body. But I'm now working on identifying nearby pixels (rover body & nearby terrain) in the hope that making them transparent or similar will be an improvement for the cardboard version. Stay tuned for updates, hopefully I can get something done before my holiday ends next week.
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Man, Babylonians were badasses.
Used geometry that hints at calculus 1,500 years before Europeans.
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Thirty years ago, Bob Ebeling tried to stop the Challenger's launch -- and, as we know, failed. He still blames himself.

Damn, this story is heartbreaking. I know how wrong he is ... but I know just where he's coming from, too. I'd probably do exactly the same.
Bob Ebeling, an anonymous source for NPR's 1986 report on the disaster, tells NPR that despite warning NASA of troubles before the launch, he believes God "shouldn't have picked me for that job."
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What a shame. Here is a man courageous, full of integrity and honest as he can be, and no one listened. Shame on NASA. I can understand his pain, but I hope he also realizes he did the right thing. What happened after that, was NOT his fault. I applaud him and everyone else who has the courage to stand up for what they know to be right.
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A rising number of celebrities think the Earth is flat (I am not making this up), that vaccines cause autism, etc. Which makes this mathematical model welcome.

Is it useless? In the sense that it won't convince the celebrities or their followers, yes. But they were fact-proof anyway; that's what conspiracy theories are. And for those of us with our heads screwed on straight, the model is fascinating meanwhile.
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+Michael Vaughan Any sufficiently advanced troll is indistinguishable from stupidity.
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Wow: this is a huge deal in the world of killer robots that will someday harvest our organs -- I mean, AI. The world of AI. This is at least as big as Deep Blue's win over Kasparov, maybe bigger. (Go is an even harder game for AIs than chess was, though chess is better understood by most Western journalists, so this story won't get the attention it deserves.) Even more so if it can beat the world champion, which we'll be able to see for ourselves soon.

Of course, these advances in computer game-players have been as worthwhile for what they tell us about what intelligence isn't as for what they tell us about what it is. It was once thought that when a computer could beat us at chess, it would be as intelligent as we were, but it turns out not so much. In part this is because we tend to move the goalposts when computers overtake us in some area -- the industry joke is that once it works, it stops being AI -- but there are some good reasons behind the goalpost-moving, too.

And yet, what a fascinating way to explore philosophical ideas: implement them.
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Tobias Thierer's profile photoScott “marsroverdriver” Maxwell's profile photo
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+Tobias Thierer Is "there's an Xkcd for everything" a cliche yet? :-)
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Digital Time Capsules: a Sketch

Take some information you want to see again in the future, lock it up, and throw away the key. It works because you lock it up badly, on purpose. I'll elaborate.

Physical time capsules work like this: you take some artifacts representing the present day -- say, some newspapers, photographs, letters from members of the community, and so forth -- and bury it. Years later, typically many years later (say, a century), people open it and are, presumably, delighted by glimpsing the past.

I like time capsules; they're innately hopeful, future-oriented. They resonate with me. So how to make a digital version?

You could, of course, just bury flash drives or DVDs or something, as long as you selected media meant to last for a while. Archival DVDs are a thing. But that's not quite what I had in mind.

My idea is to pack all the information you want to preserve into a .zip file or something, and then encrypt it, and of course delete any unencrypted copies. But -- and here's the point -- you deliberately choose a weak encryption key. Not something that can be brute-forced in an hour, or in a week, but maybe in ten or twenty years, however long you want the time capsule to last.[1] Then you start a long-lived computer program to work on the decryption. (It should checkpoint its progress periodically, of course, so it can keep working across power outages or hardware changes.)

If you want to be really forward-thinking, you take into account anticipated improvements in hardware performance over time, factoring that into your chosen key length.

Since you must choose the encryption key more or less randomly, there will be some uncertainty about how long the decryption will actually take. There might be a tiny chance that it would take a day, or a millennium, but most of the time you should be able to say something like "decades." Unlike a physical time capsule, this one will open when it opens.

Could we open it faster, by throwing more computing power at it? Sure, just as you could dig up a physical time capsule early. Time capsules are in part an exercise in patience, with the patience lightly enforced by external means; nothing really stops you from cheating but shame.

But digital time capsules do have a defense against cheating. Publish a strong (SHA-3?) hash of the encrypted file at the start[2], and publish the decryption key (along with the entire encrypted file) once you find it; knowing the decryption algorithm, anyone can verify that it took you about as long as it should have taken to decrypt. That's the digital equivalent of "you cheated by digging it up early!"

There are some theoretical risks, I guess. For instance, SHA-3 might be broken, as so many hash algorithms have been, making cheating possible even years into the experiment. I actually have some ideas about how to mitigate this risk, but they're not the point. We take some risks with anything that involves the future, and that's OK. If the future were guaranteed, we'd lose some of the appeal that time capsules hold for us in the first place.

What could we do with digital time capsules? Leave messages for our kids, to be read only when they're adults. Or force yourself to postpone revisiting memories of a bad breakup. Or just the same things we do with physical time capsules: send a message to the future, with hope.

Sounds like a fun little project, for some weekend soon.

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[1] Although this is a time estimate -- it's probabilistic -- for reasons I'll go on to explain.

[2] Don't publish the whole encrypted file up front, of course, because then some jerk will use lots of computers to decrypt it early and spoil the whole thing. If you publish just the hash up front, then you can publish the entire encrypted file post-decryption. This is your way to show that you didn't cheat this way: (1) use lots of computers to decrypt the file, (2) re-encrypt with an easier-to-find key, (3) pretend that you found that key.
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Tobias Thierer's profile photoFranc Schiphorst's profile photoAlon Altman's profile photoScott “marsroverdriver” Maxwell's profile photo
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+Alon Altman Right, I'm thinking of something that's relatively short in duration -- decades, not millennia.
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Just in time for the franchise's 50th anniversary, the original USS Enterprise -- the one used to film the 79[*] original episodes -- is getting a long-needed makeover, courtesy of the Smithsonian. She's a gorgeous bird, and I can't wait to see her in her fully restored glory.

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[*] Or 78, depending on your definitions. This is one of the few perennial geekdom arguments in which I have no stake. :-)
If you're in Washington, DC on Saturday, go see it in person! (We're jealous.)
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It's always interesting to me, how science feeds science fiction which feeds science, the cycle of ideas.  The USS Voyager, for example, was probably named as a nod to the Voyager probe. 
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A study in contrasts. See, when SpaceX says something like this, they're credible. They might still fail, because space is hard, but they stand a chance of making this happen. They have engineers and expertise and experience; they've actually built hardware and sent it to space. They have money coming in. They know what they're doing and have the resources to execute.

Mars One? The opposite in every way.

I'll be interested to see SpaceX's detailed plan, when it comes. But I'd bet money that it's basically sound, and that they respond to legitimate criticisms (and there will be some) by patching any real flaws.

Mars One? The opposite in every way.

I have the idea that Mars One is basically a cargo-cult Mars mission. It looks and walks and talks like a Mars mission, at least superficially. But their runways are made from bamboo and the guy in the tower isn't talking to anyone because his radio is all palm fronds.

SpaceX, though ... SpaceX is what the real thing looks like. They might still fail. But they have a real chance. And if they succeed, ours will be a multi-planet species for the first time.
SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he plans to send humans to Mars by 2025.
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Yves Junqueira's profile photoAlan Kerlin (RigilKent)'s profile photoScott “marsroverdriver” Maxwell's profile photoTravis Koger's profile photo
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+Alan Kerlin in 1998, I used that exact antenna to set up a comm pass with VGR -- the mission that inspired me to get into space exploration in the first place. I have led a charmed life.
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Hence why we sterilize spacecraft -- and why, indeed, there's an entire discipline for "planetary protection," as it's called. ("Planetary Protection Officer" is a real +NASA​ job title, one I envy!) Life is awfully tenacious once it gets started -- given the harsh conditions we think it starts in, it kinda has to be.
 
Researchers placed Antarctic deep-rock fungi in 1.4 cm wide cells on a space station platform called EXPOSE-E, which simulated Mars and extreme space conditions. A large fraction of the spores came active after a year of exposure.

 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3421684/Life-exist-Mars-Antarctic-fungi-survives-Martian-conditions-strapped-outside-space-station.html#ixzz3ybrWlAO3
After a year-and-a-half long voyage aboard the International Space Station, a group of fungi collected from Antarctica has proven its ability to withstand harsh, Mars-like conditions.
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So this makes me think about how NASA is going to test how our normal microbe flora will do if we send people to Mars. It's not just the internal flora we need but the external as well. Also it would be interesting to design some experiments to test how our microbes will mutate over time in a space /Mars move. 
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+Rik Declercq I never have. But in some states, under the guise of combating voter fraud (an essentially non-existent problem), one particular political party has been pushing measures that, in effect, discourage poor people (who just happen to vote mostly for the other party) from voting. That's what's being mocked in the cartoon.
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Stuart Atkinson's birthday card for Opportunity is so much better than mine would have been, so I'm going to let him speak for me.
If you'd been standing on the crushed cinnamon sands of the vast Meridiani Planum on Mars, a dozen years ago today, your eye would have been caught by a glint of silvery light in the huge buttersco...
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Great article! Brought a tear to my eye - and I haven't even worked at JPL!
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A parachute: what could look simpler? But they're woefully complex. Giant parachutes on other planets are more complex still. We don't really understand them even though we've been using them for nearly half a century, and that's increasingly a problem for our efforts to land larger and larger things on Mars.

So +Mark Adler and his team on the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator project are busily trying to figure out how to make them work. The future of Mars exploration, and eventual colonization, might depend on it.
NASA thought it knew, until an alarming failure last summer.
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Kiki Jewell's profile photoThe Elon Musk Fan Club's profile photoBrent Moore's profile photoEugene Oosthuizen's profile photo
 
Footage of Mars 2020's supersonic parachute inflating at Mars, via a dedicated camera, would be infinitely awesome. I hope it'll fit into their mass budget.
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Education
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    Computer Science
Basic Information
Gender
Male
Other names
@marsroverdriver on Twitter
Apps with Google+ Sign-in
  • X-Plane 10 Flight Simulator
Story
Tagline
I'm a pretty big wheel down at the cracker factory.
Introduction
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?
Work
Occupation
Site Reliability Engineer
Employment
  • Google
    Site Reliability Engineer, 2013 - present
  • JPL
    Mars Rover Driver Team Lead, 2013
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Currently
Pasadena, CA
Previously
Rocky Mount, NC - Seminole, FL - Greenville, NC - Champaign, IL
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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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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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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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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I love this place. The staff makes me feel like part of the family, and in a part of the world crowded with Thai restaurants, Min's stands out among the best.
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