Category Archives: Space

Hints of Cortana on Windows

Cortana is already knocking on Win8 door!

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Our favourite MS tweeterer and Trekkie-extraordinaire Brandon LeBlanc posted this blog post today to inform that the power of Bing, the same that powers our lovely Cortana is now in Windows 8 common search feature or “Smart Search” as Microsoft likes to call it. Before you only search as always with keywords, now you can input search in Natural Language in the Windows 8 search box, and Bing has got your back to understand your intent and bring you relevant result. Continue reading

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Paramount Official Star Trek App is in the Store

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To commemorate its launch of its Star Trek: Into Darkness movie, Paramount has just released there first Official Windows 8 App for Star Trek Universe in the Store. With the App, you will be first to dive into scenes and news about Into Darkness in particular, and keep up to date about Star Trek universe in general. Are you are Trekkie on Windows 8, this App is meant for you. Of course this is the first iteration, there is more to come in future updates we hope. For now, you can enlist into Star Trek Academy and rise in ranks to be a full fledge captain. You carry out missions and achieve you objectives. When you’re done with role-playing you can dive into the universe and get the latest news and view your favorite characters’ profiles. The trekkie in us only wish Paramount will develop this further into a full-fledge game where we can get lost and burn time like there is no tomorrow. Make it so Paramount!

Here is the excerpts from the Store about the App:

Description
Be the first to experience Star Trek Into Darkness!  Join Starfleet for your chance to rise in the ranks from New Recruit to Captain and beyond!!
Stay up-to-date on the latest Star Trek Into Darkness news, along with exclusive articles found only in the app. 
You will have first access to insider looks, and can complete a variety of missions including trivia and polls. By doing so, you’ll rise in the ranks of Starfleet!

Features

  • Trivia: Complete quizzes to see how much you really know about Star Trek.
  • Polls: Let your voice be heard by sharing your thoughts and opinions.
  • Web Missions: Read articles, watch videos, and discover interesting pieces of information on the next film.
  • Latest Star Trek News
  • Purchase Tickets to see Star Trek Into Darkness

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If you haven’t done so already, you’d better get cracking and download this app right away. Its free of charge. Download via the source link here below.

Source: Windows Store

Celebrating Space Shuttle History Today–STS-1 Launch

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Today I am embroiled in some kind of nostalgia, we are celebrating today the launch of the first ever re-usable Rocket-ship into Space. It was an enormous undertaking for NASA and giant step for humanity in general as it was a radical departure from how we normally did Space tech.

Yours truly was just a young nerd then, with an incredibly insatiable curiosity for Technology. I didn’t become a nerd as an adult, as some of you might have read in my About page. I was inquisitive about anything tech. As a young African boy I was one of the few that was allowed into the American Embassy to watch NBC News. I was a known face there in the Embassy library, as I have devoured all the tech books at the local library, so I regularly visit the American Embassy library which was always full of new stuffs.

So I usually stay behind to watch the NBC News Nightly on Technology. I was particularly fond of news on the Building the new Space Shuttle. I watched it built from scratch to finish. And of course the joy of seeing the Lift-Off on April 12 1981. That night, right there and then I decided I would be an astronaut. Too bad that dream didn’t come true. But those are the things that influence a budding technologist in my formative years, to make me what I am today.

Thank you NASA for great inspirations and leading humanity in this Next Frontier. Keep the Wheel turning. Keep taking us where “No Man Has Gone Before”

Happy celebrations all you NASA fans!

STS-1 Launch 1981–A new Dawn
Microsoft Logo

Microsoft’s Future Vision 2013: Live, Work, Play

Microsoft is well known for its series of “future vision” videos that showcases how technology will advance in the future. Microsoft continues this legacy with a new “future vision” video this year. For the first time, however, the video is actually being narrated. All the other videos that were released in the past had no actual speech in them. So without further ado, here’s the video!

Microsoft’s Future Vision: Live, Work, Play

Published on 1 Mar 2013

http://aka.ms/envision – Technology could transform our life at work, on the go, and at home based on extensive research.  This is a snapshot of what the future will look like five to ten years from now.  In the years ahead, technology will amplify our senses; help us stay connected to the people we care about and transform the way we live, work and play.

Bring on the Classics – Pocket Tanks Now on Windows 8!

If you have never played Pocket Tanks, you have missed a classic. But do not worry, with the release of Pocket Tanks for Windows 8, by its official creators, you can join the crowd! What is Pocket Tanks? Pocket Tanks is basically a simple artillery game in which each of the two players take turns to pick a weapon, make a target, and fire. Player with the most points at the end of the game wins. It’s simple, but it’s addictive! Pocket Tanks was first released for the PC in 2001 as a spiritual successor of a much older game made for the Amiga, Scorched Tanks.

Because this was such an old game, it needed a lot of work to port to a modern platform, like Windows 8. That work started with the port to the iPad, which supported a much higher resolution than the game was originally designed for. Much of that work also contributed to the port to Windows 8. You can see a quick video of it, which will also give you a video demo of the game in action!

This game is written by Michael P. Welch who also wrote its predecessor of Scorched Tanks. Pocket Tanks has the look, feel, and sound of a classic. It is a true piece of art. Mr. Welch is the founder of the company Blitwise, who, in turn is the publisher of this game. Now, here’s the description from Blitwise and also Mr. Welch.

Notes from Blitwise and Michael Welch

Pocket Tanks is the fast-paced artillery game that is simple to learn, and fun to master. The perfect quick game for friends and family, you’ll find yourself hooked for hours of play! Bury your opponent in a mound of dirt, or assail him with a barrage of bullets. Visit the Weapon Shop before battle to arm yourself for the struggle, or try the Target Practice mode to learn all the weapons and the best tactics to win.

Experience the thrill of launching volley after volley of powerful and fun weapons across the battlefield, using very simple controls. Select your angle, power, and FIRE! There are many unique weapons including: Napalm, Firecrackers, Skippers, Cruisers, Tracers, Dirt Movers, and dozens more! This is the light-hearted game of heavy artillery for everyone.

Pocket Tanks has been loved by fans for over 10 years, who have downloaded the shareware version MILLIONS of times.  But now, for the first time on Windows, you can try the game in high definition!

“The Ultimate One-on-One Artillery Game”

by Michael P. Welch

- author of DX-Ball & Scorched Tanks

Download Pocket Tanks COMPLETELY FREE, and learn the ropes with 35 exciting weapons.

Upgrade in-game to Deluxe and receive:

- 70 brand new weapons (110 total)

- Jump Jets for moving your tank around

- Bouncy Dirt for creating reflective terrain

- Digger for tunneling your tank underground

- Support for weapon expansion packs, both paid and FREE!

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Note from the author:

My name is Michael P. Welch, and I have been writing artillery games since 1993. I created Pocket Tanks in 2001, and thanks to the many loyal fans, it is still in active development to this very day. Please join me in my quest to make Pocket Tanks a classic artillery game that stands the test of time. Thanks to all who have supported BlitWise over the years.

Here’s the list of features, as noted by the developer

  • Pocket Tanks is FREE, with 35 weapons at your disposal.
  • Purchase the Deluxe upgrade: More weapons, and access to weapon packs, free and paid.
  • Play against the computer, or against a friend.
  • Up to 275 weapons currently available.  More weapons are always in development.
  • A simple game of strategy and skill for the whole family.

Download it from here: Pocket Tanks

JPL’s Dedicated App for Curiosity is in the Store

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Another day, another App. Here is NASA’s JPL releasing yet another app in the Store joining the Be A Martian App, and this time a dedicated App for the Mars Rover: Curiosity. I personally like this development as this meant we will be seeing dedicated apps for NASA wares on Mars and other parts of the Universe. Hey NASA, can we have one too for Vger, ahem, I meant Voyager 1 and 2? ;-)

Anyway, If you’ve been a Space bum like me and most of my friends you know who Curiosity is, he has been making waves since August this year on Mars. First with a Grand Entry, landing on rockets of fire, and already finding some strange objects. Ach, don’t take my word for it, just install this app and get the full details from NASA, and keep abreast of latest information too about this dear Robot. You said what I meant with ‘dear’? Well, I have personal vested interest in this robot because it took some names of earthlings to Mars and Yours truly’s name in on that list.

Here’s how JPL describes this app in the Store:

Description
NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity, landed on Mars August 6th, 2012. Explore this amazing SUV-sized rover, and learn about the tools that it will use to explore the Martian landscape.

Features
Explore NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity with touch or your mouse.
Learn about why Curiosity is a Mars Science Laboratory.
Share your love of exploration with your friends.

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If you love Curiosity and will like to more about his robots mission, please download this app immediately via the Source.

Source: Windows Store

Angry Birds Space Has Entered Windows 8 Universe!

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Here we are with Angry Birds Space! Did anyone doubt MS will burst out on the first day with the latest Angry Birds? I never did for one second! Believe it or not, Angry Bird is the King Maker of any platform, shunning the Game is like putting a noose on your neck. So I can imagine that Microsoft have twisted a few arms at Roxio, probably a few more. The picture I see in my head here is MS just pushing money into someone’s mouth each time he wanted to open his mouth to complain. “You have to make the GA!” I heard MS screaming.

Anyway, I am glad Angry Bird is here, my kids are here Angry Bird is here, even my Cat is glad Angry Bird is here, now the kids will leave him alone Smile

Ok I wont keep you in suspense any longer, here is Roxio’s description from the Store:

Content rating

Entertainment Software Rating Board: Everyone

Entertainment Software Rating Board: Everyone

Comic mischief

What is this?

Description
ALL NEW ANGRY BIRDS GAME FROM ROVIO — the #1 mobile game of all time blasts off into space!
After a giant claw kidnaps their eggs, the Angry Birds chase it into a wormhole and find themselves floating in a strange new galaxy – surrounded by space pigs! Luckily the Angry Birds have super powers of their own…
Angry Birds Space features over 130 interstellar levels on planets and in zero gravity, resulting in spectacular gameplay ranging from slow-motion puzzles to lightspeed destruction. With regular free updates, brand new birds, brand new superpowers, and a whole galaxy to explore, the sky is no longer the limit!
Features:
Over 130 interstellar levels!
Regular free updates!
Brand new birds!
Brand new superpowers!
Zero-gravity space adventures!
Trick shots using planets’ gravity!
Hidden bonus levels!
Beautifully detailed backgrounds!
Join the global phenomenon as it goes galactic!
Become a fan of Angry Birds on Facebook:
http://facebook.angrybirds.com
Follow us on Twitter:
http://twitter.angrybirds.com
Terms of Use: http://www.rovio.com/eula
Privacy Policy: http://www.rovio.com/privacy
Support: support@rovio.com

Features
Regular free updates!
Brand new birds!
Brand new superpowers!
Zero-gravity space adventures!
Trick shots using planets’ gravity!
Hidden bonus levels!
Beautifully detailed backgrounds!

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Platform: x64, x86, ARM

So there we have it. I see Roxio’s name as Publisher, but believe me, we could also put Microsoft Studios behind Roxio’s name as I am sure this is a collaboration of the two companies to get this out on day one. Am I happy they did, I am sure a lot of you did. So if you haven’t downloaded it, please go right ahead and download via the Source Link here below.

Source: Windows Store.
Tip Credit: @NazmusLabs

First APoD Viewer App in the Store!

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Well, that didn’t take long! The first Astronomy Picture of the Day viewer or APoD viewer as some of us Space junkies call them, has hit the Store. Did I hear you say Panoramic? Yes, Apod viewing was naturally meant for Metro design language! You can pan till you drop for endless pictures of Space. What’s more, the vendor bring the Day’s picture to the Tile, so you are already enticed to go view the Day’s submission. Who says Tiles aren’t useful? You can view HD pictures and even Save it to HD or your SkyDrive account.

Download the app right away via the Source below.

Source: Windows Store

Star Chart released a Major Update in the Store

The app Star Chart has just released a major update in the Store. For the astronomy-astute amongst us, this app needs no introduction, but for those of you who doesn’t know the app, it is a Sky-mapping app. With this app you can take a virtual journey through the Universe. The initial release of the app was just a teaser with the publishers dipping their feet in the Windows 8 Metro waters, now they’ve taken the full dive:

Description
Star Chart, the definitive star-gazing and astronomy app, gives you a virtual window into the visible universe.
Make the most of your powerful Windows 8 device and hold it up to the sky. Star Chart will tell you exactly what you are looking at! Augmented Reality (AR) mode is available on tablets & devices with accelerometer and digital magnetometer sensors.
Alternatively, explore the universe from the comfort of your desktop to learn about the wonders of our solar system and beyond.
Using state of the art GPS technology, an accurate 3D universe and the latest high-tech sensor functionality, Star Chart calculates – in real-time – the current location of every star and planet visible from Earth and shows you precisely where they are; even in broad daylight!
Want to know what that bright star is called? Point your AR device at it – you might just find out it’s a planet!
Want to know how the night sky appears to people on the other side of the earth? Well just point your AR device down!
Want to know where your star sign is in the sky? Star Chart will tell you all this and much more.
So point your Windows 8 AR device at the sky and see what’s out there!
———— Escapist Games will update Star Chart regularly, so please send us your feedback and feature requests to scwin@escapistgames.com.
Like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/StarChart Visit the Star Chart website: http://www.starchart.info Follow Star Chart on Twitter: StarChartApp – twitter.com/StarChartApp Also follow our latest developments: twitter.com/EscapistGames
Features
Just point and view. Hold your Windows 8 AR device to the sky and peer into the universe.
Alternatively, look around the sky using finger gestures or a mouse – perfect for armchair astronomers!
Share your astronomical discoveries with your friends, with the help of Windows 8 Share.
A powerful and dynamic search function, utilising the new Windows 8 Search.
Supports dynamic device orientation viewing. Allows you to view the night sky whilst holding your Windows 8 screen at any angle.
Accurately depicts all the stars of the northern and southern hemispheres up to magnitude +10 – a total of over 120,000 stars!
Displays all the planets of the solar system, plus the sun and the moon.
Features all 88 constellations, with constellation imagery based on the beautiful artwork by 15th century astronomer Johannes Hevelius.
Includes the complete Messier catalogue of exotic deep sky objects.
Select anything in the sky and get the facts on what you are looking at, including distance, brightness and exact position in the sky.
Very powerful zoom function lets you view the sky in extra detail.
Fully configurable. Star Chart displays only the sky objects that you are interested in.
Allows you to view the sky underneath the horizon, so now you can see where the sun is even at night!
Manually set your location to find out what the sky looks like from anywhere in the world.
Release notes
- General polish & bug fixes.
- Telrad ring around selected object.
- Rotating labels in AR mode.
- Rotation of planets fixed to correct axial tilt.
- Smoother location update
- Fading Messier object so you can zoom through them to see objects behind.
- Localisation fix for some Messier objects
Recommended hardware
Compass, Gyroscope and / or Accelerometer for AR mode to work
Direct X11 compatible graphics card recommended
Windows 8 compatible PC

This update contains the kitchen and sink in the app. The app now supports the full sensors in your device. I am talking of Accelerometer and Gyroscope and Compass support. You can now take your tablet outside on a clear night and let the device identify the constellations for you; starting with our own local galaxy. Boy I am just giddy with the app right now. Everyone can now take a class in Astronomy if you’ve got a modern tablet. How cool is that? There is just one damper on this party, and that is that the app only support x86 tablets for now. If you have a Windows RT (ARM) device, you may have to wait.

I intend to test the app fully after my vacation when I’ll be able to download this 66Mb sized app.

I hope I’ve been able to whet your appetite for this app, if so, please download the app from the following link: http://apps.microsoft.com/webpdp/app/6df7e745-782f-44e7-b408-6259a8da6a7f

Let me know what you think.

Mars Rover Landing for Kinect

Microsoft and NASA joined effort to celebrate the landing of my favorite Mars rover Curiosity on Mars in a few weeks time by release just today an Xbox 360 App for Kinect. Mars Rover Landing for Kinect takes you through the difficult motion of landing a Rover safely in an unfriendly atmosphere of Mars. This is an opportunity for you budding JPL Lab rats to try your hands on this awesome experience of controlling remote operated vehicles millions of miles away.

One can only commend NASA and Microsoft on this joint effort in showcasing yet again the ubiquitous Kinect ability, and inspiring young kids in Science. I haven’t tried this myself as I am on holiday right now, but you can be sure my kids and I are gonna have a blast with this once we get home.

You can find this app in the Kinect Apps section of Xbox. Hopefully some of you will comment to let me know your experience with this.

First Temporal Anomaly Experience

Yesterday, I experienced for the first time in my life a typical Temporal (Time-space) phenomena. My car tried to occupy the same space at the same time with another car. Of course, I tried to stop it from breaking nature’s rule, but it kept going due to low-coefficient of friction on the road as a result of ice. Nature abhors breaking its rules, therefore it resolved the situation, the result is that matter was converted into energy (heat and sound) with matter coalescing into each other, and piece of cars flying off at tangential trajectories.

It was a jarring experience, but thank God I was kept safe by the belt. My internal organs however were travelling at the same speed as the car, so they had to come to halt suddenly as the car; rather discomforting. Now I know how it felt to have an accident. Its an experience I intend to avoid at all cost in the future.

–McAkins

Congratulations, yours truly goes to Mars

Well I am one of the lucky ones whose names will be sent to Mars as permanent emblem to humanity on NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover. If you can’t be there physically, be there virtually. Something of yours truly will live forever on Mars!

McAkins on Mars

And of course, the Certification of Authenticity!

McAkins on Mars - certificate_left

That is a genuine Certificate number, right there for you.

[Update: 2012-08-05]
NASA did the impossible today! They landed the most complex, the most heavy probe on Mars. Today, we have a touchdown of MSL, or Curiosity if you will on Mars, in what has been called a textbook EDL. With such a gigantic odd, a million things that could go wrong and 500,000 lines of code, the impossible became possible today. This is the stuffs movies are made of really. Like the EDL team said, “humanity has raised the bar today of Space Exploration” we can only be better off for it.
For me, I am just thoroughly humbled by the fact that my name will be emblazoned for life on Mars. With a Chip carrying my name on MSL sitting there for ever. When I think about it, when our grandchildren reach Mars one day, they’ll setup an emblem with our names on it as permanent testimony to humanity’s curiosity and exploration drive.

Go Team NASA. Go Curiosity! May your sojourn on Mars bring us more answers to our insatiable Quests.

We are step closer to the Holodeck timeframe

Yesterday Microsoft demostrated the Avatar Kinect at CES 2011, a Kinect feature that lets your avatar mimmics your expression in the virtual world. It fully renders your personals, and emotional expressions in real time. Its an awesome demonstration, and you need to see it to believe it. Just search for Steve Ballmers keynote on CES 2011 on YouTube.

So, what does this tell me, Kinect can do more than we even have at this moment! The definition to track the movement of eyebrows is there, which means it can track your ten fingers, not just your arms. This opens up a lot of possibilities, and I am sure we are seeing just the begining of awesome things to come.

So the Holodeck is just a step away. Just place four Kinects in all four corners of the room, link them up and, if you can afford it, place beamers or monitors on all four walls. Then you need the power and magic of software which Microsoft is promising us in the future.
I have seen the future, and the future is Kinect!

Bing goes Boom with HTML5, and heads are rolling at Google

Well, we know it takes time for Microsoft to wake up, but boy when they wake up, they go Boooom! They are doing it with IE9 and Bing, and the competition are already feeling the heat, heads are already rolling at Googolplex.

IE9 is leveraging the full power of the PC, and now Bing is also. Set to be released next week, the new Bing is showing something we’ve never seen in a search machine before, the full power of HTML5, and boy it is beautiful! And they know this at Google, because news is just out the head of UI and Experience at Google has just been demoted to a lesser function. Indeed Google is feeling the competition from Bing, Facebook and the likes.

Did I say the new Bing with IE9 is beautiful and functional? Don’t take my word for it, just see it for yourselves below, the full power of Accelerated Graphics:

 

Bing goes Boom with HTML5

Read about the sacked Head of UI and Experience here

Ex US Air Force Officers come clean on UFOs surveys of Nuke sites

Yes you heard it right. We now have confirmation that we are constantly under surveillance by higher beings who are concerned with our tinkering with nuclear matters. They shut down severally Nukes in US and Moscow bases.
See for yourselves the briefing:

Given this information, is it not time for governments all over the world to come clean on status. If we are at threat, they have to inform us. And they don’t have to worry about us losing our Faith. If you loose your faith because of Alien beings, then you are not worthy of that faith.