Thursday, November 5, 2015

Antares October 28, 2014 explosion pictures

Skimming through The Huffington Post this morning, I came across a story titled "NASA Releases Stunning New Images Of 2014 Antares Rocket Disaster."   The article shows this image:

It is indeed a "stunning" image.  So, naturally I hunted for the link to the NASA flickr site where the full size image would be available.  There was no link in the article.  There was a link to a Huffington Post article from October 31, 2014 which shows this animated gif of the explosion.

So, I did a Google search for NASA-flickr and that led me to Flickr's NASA HQ Photo page.  There, I clicked on "Albums" and started hunting for the "stunning" pictures of the Antares explosion.  I did a search for "Antares" and found all the images from the Huffington Post article and more.  Here are some of them (you can click on them to see larger versions, but you need to go to the NASA Flickr "Orb 3 Mission album" site to see the biggest collection of full size versions I could find):

I never cease to be amazed by what is available via the Internet.  I save these pictures as if they are as valuable as gold, but they are free and instantly available to anyone and everyone on the Internet.  The only advantage to saving them is that if I want to view them again, I don't have to hunt for them again.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Me and my new MP3 Player

Yesterday (Tuesday), I decided I needed to get further into the 21st Century and buy an MP3 player.  I wanted to try listening to audio books while at the gym -- and possibly at home.  I'd spent nearly a whole day on Monday going through audio books available on-line from my local library, and there were a lot of them I wanted to try.  I read science books every day while eating breakfast and lunch.  I can usually read them in 10 minute segments while eating (It takes about a month and a half to get through a book that way), but I can't read and enjoy novels in 10 minute segments.  I had tried reading science books and novels while on the treadmill and the Exercycle at the gym, but I need to wear my glasses to do that.  That meant that, at the start of the exercise session, I would take the book (or Kindle) with me and would wear my glasses while I did my "warm up" 30 minutes on the treadmill.  Then I'd have to take the glasses and the book back to the locker.  Then after about 20 minutes of various arm and stretch exercises, I'd have to go back to the locker for the book and my glasses before getting on the Exercycle the final 20 "cool down" minutes of the session.  It was just too much trouble - not to mention the fact that I couldn't easily hold and read the book while walking at 3.2 miles per hour on the treadmill, so I quickly gave up on that and only read while on the Exercycle. 

Yesterday, I looked on-line for the best local store to buy an MP3 player and went out and bought one.

The first startling discovery was that the MP3 player I wanted was a LOT smaller than I expected.  I was accustomed to seeing people at the gym with iPods and iPhones strapped to various parts of their bodies or falling off equipment and crashing to the floor as the owner exercised.  In the package, the MP3 player that best suited my needs looked to be about the size of a postage stamp.  When I got it home, it turned out to be about the size of a cigarette lighter.

Yet it has the capacity to store "up to 3,000 songs" and presumably dozens of books.  It comes with a clip that allows me to clip it to my belt or to the neck of my gym shirt.  (It weighs only 1 ounce!)  It seemed perfect for my needs, so why did it seem that everyone else was using an iPod or some other much larger and heavier gizmo?  Furthermore, my MP3 player cost less than $50, and iPods cost 3 to 4 times that much - or more.

I didn't have any answers.  And I needed to figure out how the thing works.  The first task was to charge the battery.  The instruction manual says that I do that my connecting it to my computer -- just the way I usually charge my Kindle.  (Or I also charge it by using my Kindle electrical plug adapter.) 

While the battery was charging, I downloaded a Jack Reacher short story called "Deep Down" into the player.  On the first try, I put it in the wrong folder.  The instructions are all about using the "Drag and Drop" method, which I couldn't make any sense of.  I think it's for people with iPads and tablets.  On my laptop computer, I used Windows Explorer to create a new folder in the MP3 player called "Books," and put the short story there in a folder called "Deep Down."  Then in the process of trying to figure out how to play it, I found that it should have gone into an existing folder called "Audiobooks."  The instructions say nothing about such a folder.  They say I should Drag and Drop it into a folder called "Audible."  But, no harm done.  I just cut and pasted the files into the Audiobooks folder and deleted the "Books" folder along with the sub-folder I'd created for "Deep Down."

This morning, I downloaded two science books I got on loan from the library into the Audiobooks folder and a free copy of "The Peter Gunn Theme" into the Music folder.  Everything seems to work fine.     

So, I'm all set to go.  In theory, I can start listening while making lunch.  Then I can continue while eating lunch, while changing clothes, while driving to the gym, and while doing all the various exercises at the gym.  I just need to take it off while taking a shower.  But, it's time to stop learning and planning and to start doing.     


I quickly realized that making lunch (or breakfast) is NOT an automatic (subconscious) chore I do without really thinking.  Plus, eating while I have plugs in my ears is awkward and uncomfortable.  So, I continued reading from my Kindle while eating breakfast and lunch.  Right now I'm reading a psychology/sociology book titled "Tipping Point: How Little Things can make a Big Difference."

I also realized that it's not a good idea to drive while you have ear plugs plugged into your ears.  So, while driving, I'm listening to CDs I burned for "The Mental Floss History of the World," a light-hearted history book that required 17 CDs.  I'm really enjoying listening to it.  Previously, I just listened to a "oldies" music station because there is no station in my area that plays jazz.  It's much more enjoyable listening to amusing and interesting history tidbits than to music I don't really enjoy.  The only "problem" I had was that I didn't realize that I could pause the CD when I needed to get out of the car to open or close my garage door.  So, I missed about 20 or 30 seconds of the first part of the book before I discovered the pause button.

Meanwhile, I found that I can listen to my MP3 player from the time I've changed into my workout clothes at the gym until I take them off again to take a shower.  There's no problem counting repetitions while listening to someone reading the popular science book "What Einstein Told His Barber."  Counting reps is evidently a nearly automatic (subconscious) activity.  So, I'm getting over an hour's worth of listening done per day, which means I should be done with the book in about 8 or 9 workout days.  

What I need to do is check to see if I can find a device that would allow me to play the MP3 player via speakers in addition to using earplugs.  That way, I can switch back and forth between ear plugs at the gym and the speakers at home without losing my place in the book, since the MP3 player controls where I am in the book.