Song lists from the Man himself

Mark Adler emailed me at work yesterday, saying he’d seen my list of wake-up songs for Spirit, and gave me some more info on what he’d been playing. I have to say that was real nice of him. I guess he doesn’t mind my posting the list, which sometimes comes from comments from people at work, or what I see in news stories.

Also, in one of the JPL cafeterias yesterday a big long poster of one of the the Martian landscape PanCam images, probably 25 feet (8 m :D) long, was put up, along with one of the 3-D stereoscopic images, with plenty of the paper glasses taped to the bottom. Before long, lots of folks were wandering over and putting them. Watching people turn their heads, trying to focus in on rocks, was rather amusing. Great idea for whoever thought to put up the poster in the cafeteria. It certainly reinforces the teamwork bond.

Some photos from around work

I’ve been snapping some photos from around JPL over the past months or so with all the excitement about the Mars rovers. Two big sandboxes are in the JPL mall. Reporters are always using them for backdrops.

JPL banner
The banner hanging at the main entrance to JPL (They’ve since added a panel for Spitzer, née SIRTF, too)

sandbox with deployed
Sandbox with fully deployed model

sandbox with landed model
Sandbox with landed model

JPL signboard
The main signboard out front with all current JPL missions. You can see we’ve got quite a few, besides MER.

Bookcase 0.8 Released

I put together Bookcase 0.8 last night, and submitted it to Freshmeat and KDE Apps. New features include:

  • New field types for images and combinations.
  • New default collections for comic books, coins, stamps, trading cards, and wine, along with a bare-bones custom collection.
  • New view in main window for entries that uses customizable XSL templates. At the moment, only one is included in the source.
  • New Collection menu for adding, copying, editing, and creating entries.
  • Extended auto-completion to account for fields with multiple values.
  • Experimental support for exporting to Pilot-DB.

Because the collection may contain images, the file format is now zipped XML. So if you run any scripts on your XML, you’ll need to extract the bookcase.xml file from the zip archive. KDE 3.1 or higher is now required as well, since Bookcase uses the KZip class.

UPDATE1: It looks like Qt 3.1 has a build error that I didn’t catch. If you have a problem compiling, try adding the line
#include <kcombobox.h>
to the src/configdialog.h file.

UPDATE2: Whoops, another potential build error with include files is in src/filehandler.cpp. You might need to add to the top of the file:
#include <kdebug.h>

Opportunity on Mars

Opportunity landed last night, safe on the surface of Mars. The first pictures are even cooler than those from Spirit. Asa is doing an awesome job of blogging just about everything that’s happening. The landing sequence is great, and he’s got a pretty good transcript of the first science briefing.

Turns out that Governor Arnold and Ex-Vice President Al were there for the festivities. Bomb sniffing dogs had gone through key buildings on Friday, so everyone was pretty sure Arnold was planning to attend. We’d thought he’d be there for Spirit’s EDL, but I think something in Sacramento call for his attention. 🙂 And I did notice that they didn’t come in until after successful landing.

Wow, I’m ecstatic again. My dear mother managed to record over 3 hours of NASA TV for me last night, since I don’t get it myself. What I will love to have on my wall is two panoramic shots, one from each rover, on top of each other. SpaceShots has a new poster already of some of Spirit’s shots. I saw it Friday at JPL’s Image Archives. I’m sure they’ll have something similar to Pathfinder’s panorama.

Wil Wheaton at JPL

Wil WHeaton was out at JPL this week with TechTV, it turns out. He just posted about it, with some amusing comments about wanting to ask about the rover’s deflector shields or photoshopping Martians out of images.

We talked a lot about what they expected to learn from this mission, and how relieved they were that it’s working so well, especially considering all the losses they’ve had from recent Mars missions. Their optimism and excitement was infectious, and electric, and I was very grateful to be there to share some of it with them.

Bookcase 0.8pre1 Released

The first pre-release of Bookcase 0.8 is available. Significant additions include four new collection types, a new image field, a new entry view, an experimental PilotDB exporter, and additional menu commands for creating and modifying entries. The file format is now a zip file, but the data is still contained in the archive in XML format, much like KOffice. Because the KZip class is used, the minimum KDE version is now 3.1, instead of 3.0. I’m going to try to figrue out a way to conditionally compile a local version of kzip.cpp, but I’m not sure I’m smart enough to figure it out.

I’d appreciate any feedback on the new functionality, but do backup your data before trying this pre-release version. Obviously, with the zip file, older versions of Bookcase will not be able to open any 0.8.x files. I still have some cleanup to do before putting out version 0.8, along with any bugs I discover, but this is pretty close.

Spirit's communication glitch

Spirit’s communication problems put a damper on everything at work today. Although I think the media language is a bit extreme in this early stage, there’s no doubt that there is a serious issue with the rover being in fault protection mode. I believe the mystery was primarily that the communication failure didn’t totally match any of the branches of the fault tree, so there was some uncertainty why Spirit was doing what it was doing.

The question did come up in this morning’s press briefing if a truncated command set could have caused problems, and the answer was no. Even with the bad weather at the DSN station in Canberra, if the connection was cut short, that shouldn’t hurt our baby at all.