I really appreciated my Android phone when we were down at the shuttle launch, for many reasons, but the best of which was the built in Google Navigation system. It got us around perfectly, and helped us find some decent restaurants while we were there. The fact that your journey ends with streetview pictures of your location is just icing on the cake.
On the way back to the airport I was complaining that the stock voice is pretty horrid, and wished there were replacement voices. Apparently, I’m just an idiot, because there are. For $3 per, you can get a whole bunch of voices for different languages from SVOX. They’ve got an application that lets you hear a sample of all of them, and after poking with that for a few minutes I bought the Grace voice.
The voice engine is deeply integrated in the Google stack, so you basically just change the default voice engine in preferences, and from there on out everything that speaks to you, does so with the new voice. The only exception I found was Tasker, so I needed to specify which engine to use for it to read me incoming text messages when the headphones are plugged in (which is likely when I’m driving in the car.)
So many of my adventures over the last 10 years have been because I met and made such a good and diverse pool of friends while I was at Wesleyan University. These adventures have taken me visiting to Puerto Rico, India, England, and Germany (twice). Next up on this long list of adventures is going to try to see the penultimate shuttle launch, STS-134, starting on Monday. My friend Shoshe, fellow physics major at Wesleyan, stayed with the field and is now working on a PhD in planetary science (i.e. geology of Mars) at Cornell. She and her family had gotten some passes for the launch at Kennedy Space Center, and after various delays, it turned out they had a few more passes than people that could go. She offered one to me, and I jumped at the opportunity. At the end of the day there was even an extra one past that, so Ben‘s joining as well.
I’ve got a one way ticket to Orlando, and hotel reservations for the week. There is a launch window every day next week, so that will give us a decent chance to catch the launch, assuming there are no long term mechanical failures like the last delay. Very much looking forward to this adventure, and I’ll be sure to post pictures once it’s over.
Flights are still grounded in Europe due to the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, echoing back to the 3 days of air space closure in the United States after September 11, 2001. But unlike that event, relaunching the planes isn’t a matter of adding locks to airplane doors, or hiring thousands of unskilled workers to make you take your shoes off before getting on planes. Instead, we just have to wait for the ash to clear, and hope that the volcano doesn’t erupt again.
The last time this volcano was active was in 1821, and it continued to have on and off again eruptions for 2 years. Just think of that for a minute: what would a world be like where Europe was a no fly zone for a year?