Obama and President Bush are 10th cousins

How do they know this?

Researchers there say Barack Obama is a distant cousin of actor Brad Pitt. […] Hillary Clinton is related to Pitt’s girlfriend, Angelina Jolie. Clinton, who is of French-Canadian descent on her mother’s side, is also a distant cousin of singers Madonna, Celine Dion and Alanis Morissette. Obama, the son of a white woman from Kansas and a black man from Kenya, can call six U.S. presidents, including President Bush and his father, former President George Bush, his cousins.

Boston Herald

Don't Kill the Rover

From Asa, I saw that NASA had directed JPL to get ready to hibernate one of the Mars rovers in order to save money. Fortunately, someone realized that that would penny-wise and pound-foolish, so NASA changed its mind.

The order sent a shudder through the rover operating office at JPL in La Cañada Flintridge and through the wider science community that views the rovers as one of NASA’s most glittering successes during a time when the manned exploration program has suffered tragedy and delay.

LA Times

Amazon Webservice Shutdown Affecting Tellico

Amazon.com is shutting down their E-Commerce Web Service 3.0 webservice, as of March 31. ECS3 has been deprecated in favor of Amazon Associates Web Service 4.0. Yeah, there’s some marketing speak in there, but basically, they had an older version of their webservice still available, and it’s going away now.

How is Tellico affected? I made the switch to what was then called ECS4 in November 2005 and have continued to update the API as additional features have been added. The first released version of Tellico with that access was version 1.1, in February 2006.

Amazon has been sending me emails about Tellico’s token still being used with the ECS3 service, so I know there are people out there with versions prior to 1.1 who are using Amazon’s search. After March 31, those data sources won’t work. Just so you know. (The app will work, you just won’t be able to search Amazon.) Upgrade!

Griffin mentions LRO

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin gave a speech last week at the Goddard Symposium, and his speech mentioned quite a bit about what’s going on in NASA lately and what the current thinking about future work is.


I noticed that he gave mention to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which will carry an instrument I worked on at JPL, the DIviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment. It’s an instrument very similar to the Mars Climate Sounder on MRO.

LRO is set to launch later this year from the Cape.

NASA and ESA With Launches

Space shuttle Endeavour lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at 2:28 a.m. EDT on March 11, 2008, on a mission to deliver a Japanese laboratory component and robotic arm system to the International Space Station.

STS-123 Launches (NASA)

NASA and ESA both had huge launches in the last couple of days. Endeavour launched overnight, only the second night launch since Columbia in 1993, and ESA launched the ATV on Sunday.

Europe’s new orbital cargo ship has launched from French Guiana on a mission to resupply the space station.

The Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) is the biggest and most complex spacecraft Europe has ever tried to put in orbit.

Huge space truck races into orbit (BBC)

Tellico 1.3.1 Released

Tellico 1.3.1 (the “More Orange on my Calendar” release) is available. Grab it from the download page.

The list of updates, bug-fixes, and additions includes:

  • Added data source for discogs.com, a database for musical albums, including vinyl
  • Added data source for Google Scholar
  • Added LCCN search to z39.50 and SRU sources
  • Added DOI search to Pubmed source
  • Updated CrossRef source to use new unixref format for more data
  • Improved loading performance to delay loading linked images as long as possible
  • Updated Delicious Library importer to look for cover images
  • Updated BoardGameGeek source to grab cover image, patch from Sven Werlen
  • Fixed bug that prevented bibtex from working for external application sources
  • Changed “ISBN not found” dialog to only appear when searching for multiple values
  • Fixed bug with SRU format not getting remembered in config dialog
  • Fixed bug with entries with multiple titles not getting linked correctly in HTML export
  • Fixed bug with some free-form date fields getting formatted incorectly into empty strings
  • Fixed bibtex import for keywords field

gPapers – iTunes for PDFs

I came across gPapers this weekend, which is a relatively new application that bills itself as “iTunes for PDFs”. It looks pretty good, with lots of features.


It uses pyGtk, so it’s another scripted app, no compilation needed. It has separate lists for authors, organization, etc. as iTunes does for artists and albums. It does a pretty good job of searching online databases, and reading PDF files.

Being a new app, and having a few unusual library dependencies, you probably won’t find it in your distribution’s repository. So if you want to give gPapers a shot, you’ll have to download and run it using the source.