Category Archives: Science

The Commercial Space Race

It seems like every year another space age technology enters the day-to-day routines of average citizens.   Once awe-inspiring gadgets like the Jetson’s Visaphone and Minority Report’s gesture controlled computers infiltrated our lives to improve our connectivity and productivity.   Now, a new Sci-Fi reality is on the brink of entering the main stream aiming to lifting heads up from gadgets and inspiring a new generation of astronauts.

While missions to the moon and mars are already in the planning stages, tickets are now being sold for brief sub orbital site seeing tours.  During a dinner with Michael Mole, CEO of Space Expedition Corporation, it was difficult not to be energized by his account of the next big thing in adventure travel.   Taking off in a rocket ship and breaking the speed of sound in less than a minute, accelerating to Mach three in another two, shooting up to an altitude of 100KM to suspend weightless for five minutes before hurdling back to earth with 4G’s of pressure against your chest; decelerating into a glide back to earth landing just one hour after take off.

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The thrill of a lifetime comes with an equally gut wrenching sticker shock.  Prices range from $100,000 – $250,000 per seat.  The price includes an array of flight simulators, zero-g flights, and G-centrifuges that teach you tricks for coping with the different levels of gravitational forces.   Don’t be expecting Groupon discounts anytime time soon, Michael says,  “the price has been set buy the good old principles of supply and demand.”   As long as the number thrill-seeking millionaires outnumber the number of available seats this excursion will be left to the deep-pocketed adventure seekers.

The next few years are sure to define a new era in travel and thrill seeking.   The race is heating up and the question is longer if, but how we’d like to enjoy our journey into the space.  Virgin Galactic is scheduled to be the first commercial operator to launch ships by the end of this year and Richard Branson plans to be aboard the first shuttle.  Spacexc is taking reservations now for flights launching in Q3 of 2014.

These are the only two companies taking reservations for trips into space in the next year… here’s a quick comparison of the experience.

Virgin Galactic ($250,000) –

Pro’s – Out of seat weightless experience, 3hr trip, larger shuttle so you can share the experience with your polo pals.

Con’s – Small porthole windows to view the world below you.

 Spacexc ($100,000) –

Pro’s – You’re the co-pilot.   You have full 180 degree view during the flight.  Single aircraft makes the ride seamless, price.

Con’s – Only 1 hour trip, the small 2 person aircraft is too small to exit your seat to do zero gravity somersaults.

Cutting the Cord – Sticking it to the cable Man

As a long time channel surfer, I had serious anxiety about ditching the safety of the 600 channels offered from my local cable provider. But, when my introductory rates expired and my monthly bill went to $160 I searched for a better solution to my nightly entertainment needs.

Finding the right mix of streaming hardware, recording devices, antennas, and apps was at first mind numbing.  There and an endless amount of configurations of these device that require different amounts tech expertise.  Some tech wizards have networked their homes to run everything off of their mobile phone for free.  But, I’ll save that blog for another day and cover the most basic ways to cut the cable, keep your internet, and save yourself at least $100 per month.  And just in case $100 doesn’t sound like a enough money for your trouble.. if you take that $100 (add inflation) and reinvest it over 40 years you’ll save yourself at least a million dollars.

The 4 Pieces of the Puzzle

Streaming Content Providers – (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Go, YouTube)

I’ve used all of the above and each has it’s strong suite.  Start with Netflix, Hulu, and grab your moms HBO GO password – you’ll be a happy couch potato for months to come

If there are TV shows you can’t live without, you can find who offers it at Can I Stream It.  

Streaming Devices – (Roku, Apple TV, Boxee, Smart TV’s)

These doohickeys come in all shapes and sizes with the same goal of bringing you a clean user experience to naviagting between all of your steaming content.  The reigning champ at this point is the Roku.  It’s super clean UI, ability to search for programs between all of your apps, and headphone that plug into the remote so you can refrain from subjecting everyone else to your insomnia

The challenger could be the new Google Chromecast.  For only $39 you can send what you’re watching on your computer directly to your TV.  Just released, I think this is a better option for that spare bedroom at this point.

It’s worth noting that almost all new TV’s are ‘Smart” and internet ready with most of the streaming content apps preloaded.

HD Antenna’s – (Moho Leaf, everything else)

Don’t worry you won’t need to replace that thing on your roof or ruin your living room decor with a four foot space transponder.  These antenna’s look nothing like those mental images from your childhood.   They have come along way and will go long way in improving your cordless experience.

If you are within 50 miles of civilization the Moho Leaf this should be an easy choice for getting your local channels (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX..).  The Moho leaf combines performance with aesthetics and removes the need for tweeking those rabbit ears.  You should visit TV Fool to make sure you are within range of your local broadcasting transmitters. You may need to Tim “the tool man” Taylor it if you are far from the station transmitters.

A good antenna is a must for those days you just want something quick to watch while your eating breakfast,  vegging on the couch for Sunday football, or just don’t feel like selecting that perfect movie.

DVR’s – (TiVo, your old PC)

DVR’s are something that most people are going to do without when cutting the cable cord.  The monthly service fee that TiVO requires goes against everything this uprising stands for.   That being said, if being current on the latest episode of American Idol, The Bachelor, or CSI is a must than Tivo is a great plug and play solution.   The Tivo will provide you with all of the programing information to schedule your recordings just like your current box – minus the 580 channels of garbage.

There are other creative ways to record TV using an old computer as your hard drive that will save you the monthly subscription fees.  Some of those options are listed here.

I hope you all enjoy the voyage into the next generation of in-home entertainment.