Space Shuttle launch scrubbed, and Cloud Girlfriend changes her mind

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Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-134 (201104290004HQ)
Photo credit: nasa hq photo via Flickr

The launch scheduled today of the Space Shuttle Endeavor on its final mission before retirement, which I wrote about earlier this week, was postponed due to a technical problem. The next launch opportunity will be no earlier than Sunday. I flew down to Florida last year to catch the final launch of Discovery but left with only a bag full of souvenir T-shirts because that launch was repeatedly delayed. Good thing I didn’t act on an impulse I had to hop on a flight to see this launch.

Cloud Girlfriend was released this week. I was a bit skeptical about whether this thing was legit or some kind of publicity scam. Originally, the concept I was led to believe was that the service would artificially create a girlfriend experience online that you could interact with in some fashion. However, Cloud Girlfriend was unveiled to be a kind of pretend dating service for people who assume fantasy online personas. Since I wrote about it before, I felt obligated to provide this update. The initial concept the company put forth was intriguing. The reality was disappointing, kind of like a bad blind date.

In February, I wrote about IntoNow, the app that listens to your TV and can tell you what you are watching. It was reported this week that Yahoo! will acquire the start-up for as much as $30 million. The iPhone app debuted on Jan. 31.

Last week I said that I was testing some photo apps on my iPhone. The most impressive has been Microsoft’s Photosynth, which creates photo panoramas. It’s very easy to use and I was eager to show off my results. WordPress.com won’t allow me to embed a photosynth, as they are called, so you can view them here.

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Skip the wedding, watch the Shuttle

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Shuttle Launch
Photo: oneaustin via Flickr

On Friday, the media will be saturated with coverage of that disgusting Royal Wedding. Thankfully, there is something else that actually is important happening that day: The scheduled final launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavor. I say “scheduled” because weather or technical problems could delay it. It will be the second-to-last flight of the U.S. Space Shuttle program. Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman who was shot in the head by a lunatic in January, has been cleared by her doctors to attend. Her husband, Astronaut Mark Kelly, is commanding the mission. Now theirs is a true love story. Oh yeah, President Obama will be there, too. The launch is set for 3:47 p.m. Until then – and to avoid the nonstop William and Kate wankery – you can visit the NASA website, which has a fantastic assortment of content. You can watch NASA TV, which has ongoing programs and will be showing the launch. You can visit the social media page and connect many ways. For example, NASA has dozens of NASA Twitter accounts to follow. On a related note, a cool thing you can do on Twitter is follow @twisst, which gives you notifications of when to watch the International Space Station (ISS) crossing the sky. It is particularly bright right now, so check it out. Fun astronaut trivia: Mark Kelly has an identical twin brother, Scott Kelly, who also is an astronaut and most recently was ISS commander.

U.S. Military testing creepy unmanned Space Drone

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Skynet
Photo credit: Vandenberg Air Force Base

Today I’m going slightly off topic to introduce you to the X-37B. This thing looks like a steroid mutant version of the Reaper Drone, the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) now deployed by the military and CIA in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq. It also looks a bit like the Space Shuttle, except without the astronauts. There’s something disquieting about the windowless appearance, like how the monster in the movie “Alien” doesn’t have eyes. But the X-37B is still neat! A drone is being launched Friday for the program’s second secret mission. For the first mission, the X-37B spent 225 days in space. The Air Force denies that it’s a space weapon. I’m guessing this machine will be used for extreme spying missions, but it’s hard not to imagine a general somewhere dreaming up scenarios in which this thing is raining fire on somebody. Here are more photos and video of this beast: More