Archive | September, 2014

Review-Killer Ambition

26 Sep

Killer Ambition by Marcia Clark is the third exciting installment of her legal thriller series feature special trails prosecutor Rachel Knight. The book starts quick as we are engaged as Ms. Knight and her partner detective Bailey Keller take us with them as they investigate the kidnapping of the daughter of a big Hollywood producer. With each page we get deeper involved in the working of the investigative process. All of the twist and turns of the investigation keeps us glue to this gripping page turner that takes us on a cross-country journey every lead to track down the suspects. Once the investigation is over we are taken on another journey as we are once more engaged in an face-paced trail.

Anyone that is a fan of any of the Law & Order television series will will feel familiar with the way this book is structured. That is where the similarities end those as both police & lawyers work together in a special trails unit that carries them from the beginning of the investigation to the end of the trial. The melding of the two agencies give the Rachel Knight series a unique feel that will satisfy a wide variety of readers.

Ms. Clark’ book is full of richly developed characters . There are our two main characters of assistant district attorney Rachel Knight and detective Bailey Keller that make one of the best crime fighting teams in literature. Characters like Dorian Struck the sassy criminalist that is the best in her field and plays a predominate roll in the investigation. Then there are characters that play a smaller roles like Ms. Knight’s co-worker and best friend Toni LaCollier that always there with helpful advise.

I would recommend this books for anyone that loves crime thrillers, mysteries or legal thrillers.

India’s MOM enters Mars space

25 Sep

3 days after NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft went into orbit around Mars it had some company as India’s MOM (Mars orbiter mission) satellite also took orbit around the red planet. Being the first attempt at sending a spacecraft to Mars the news of the satellite taking orbit was the cause of much fanfare across the the nation. This marked the first time that any country, including the United States, has been successful on their first attempt such a mission.

The odds were stacked against us. About 51 Mars missions were launched globally. Only 21 have succeeded. But we have prevailed,” India Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the center. “The success of our space program is a shining symbol of what we are capable of as a nation. Modern India must continue to be a world guru.”

The Indian Space Research Organization(ISRO) launched the MOM spacecraft on November 5, 2013, 2 weeks before NASA’s MAVEN launch, from the Satish Dhawna Space Center in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. From there the craft went on its 10 and a half month journey to the red planet. With that journey complete it will now begin its 300 day mission to take photos, gather information and transmit it back to the ISRO. To carry out its mission the MOM spacecraft is equipped with the Lyman-Alpha Photometer, Thermal Infared ImagingSpectrometer, Tri-color cameramethane sensors and Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser.

“NASA looks forward to the successful launch of this exciting mission and the data that it is intended to provide on the Martian atmosphere,” said Michael Braukas, a NASA spokesman. “It’s probably going to complement our research.”

Compared to today’s high price tag for any space mission India’s MOM spacecraft was relatively inexpensive a only $72 million dollars. This is almost one tenth the price of NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft that cost $670 million. Part of the difference is price tag though is due to the more complexity to the MAVEN project including over double, 9 compared to 5, the amount of analyzing tools.

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The MAVEN spacecraft is set to go into a Mars orbit on Sunday

19 Sep

On Sunday NASA (national aeronautics and space administration) will take the next step in finding out if Mars one had an atmosphere much like our own. That is when the spacecraft MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) orbiter will enter the upper atmosphere and orbit the red planet. Over those 2 years MAVEN will test the atmospheric conditions of the planet to find out discover just what happened to the once vibrant atmosphere Mars supported.

“The evidence shows that the Mars atmosphere today is a cold, dry environment, one where liquid water really can’t exist in a stable state,” said Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal investigator, during a mission preview briefing Wednesday at NASA headquarters in Washington. “But it also tells us when we look at older surfaces, that the ancient surfaces had liquid water flowing over it.”

MAVEN journey to Mars began on November 19, 2013 when it blasted off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Base riding on top of an Atlas V rocket. From there the spacecraft went on a 422 million mile trek speeding through space at a blazing 81,000 kilometers-per-hour (50,331 miles-per-hour) to reach its destination. That 10-month-long journey was just to get to the place were the craft will begin its mission.

The Martian atmosphere won’t be the only focus of MAVEN. About 4 weeks after MAVEN starts its orbit the comet Sliding Spring will come into a close (81,000 miles) pass of the planet. The spacecraft will take the opportunity to look into the mystery of what comets.

“I’m told that the odds of having an approach that close to Mars are about one-in-a-million years,” he said, adding that dust from the comet carries only a “relatively minimal” risk to the spacecraft.

For generations fiction writers have conjured up images of Mars having an Earth-like atmosphere and supporting life. One of the most famous of these stories was the Martian chronicles written by Ray Bradbury in the 1950’s. Growing up on these stories was probably a big influence on why NASA has always had this big interest in the 4th planet in the solar system.

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Amazon introduces 5 new members to the Kindle family

19 Sep

Without the usual build up Seattle-based Amazon released 5 new members of the Kindle family. The new line up consist of 3 tablets, including Amazon’s first kids edition, and 2 e-readers. The five Kindles are now available for pre-order and will ship next month in plenty of time for the start of holiday shopping.

The flagship of the new Kindle’s is the Fire HDX 8.9 will run the Fire os4 based on on Android’s latest operating system KitKat. The new OS will feature the new firefly technology that Amazon introduced, in June, on their Fire smartphone, the new family library that allows family member to link their Kindle accounts together, profile so that each person can have their own customized profile on the tablet and several more features that will make experience enjoyable.

Some of the other specifications of the HDX 8.9 are a 2500 x 1600 resolution with 339ppi (pixels per inch), a blazing fast 2.5 GHz quad-core processor, an HD front-facing and 8 megapixel rear-facing cameras and dual-antennas for faster wi-fi conductivity. The HDX 8.9 comes in 5 versions 16, 32 and 64GB each with or without special offers and start at $379.

The team has packed an incredible amount of technology and innovation into the new Fire HDX—an exclusive HDX display, a powerful quad-core processor, a 70% faster graphics engine, exceptional audio with Dolby Atmos, and the fastest Wi-Fi—and it’s still startlingly light,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO, in a press release. “Fire HDX combines best-in-class hardware with exclusive features and services from Fire OS 4 including Firefly, the Mayday button, Family Library, ASAP, and more.

The new kids edition of the Kindle Fire tablet comes in both a 6 and 7-inch versions in either green, blue or pink. Both of these tablets come with a 2 year warranty that your child breaks it Amazon will replace it at no cost. The tablets come with freetime unlimited and parental controls to make sure that your children will only be viewing age appropriate apps, movies and books. Just because the tablets carry the label kids edition they still come fully featured with a quad-core processor, front and rear-facing cameras and the same Dolby audio system as the rest of the Kindle family. The 6-inch version sells for $149 and the 7-inch is $189.

The third of the new tablets is the Kindle Fire HD 6-inch that starts at $99. With the low price tag you might think that it doesn’t have all the features. That is not the case as it still boost a 1280 x 800 resolution with a 252 pixel density, a 1.5 GHz quad-core processor and a VGA front-facing and 2 megapixel rear-facing cameras.

Home Depot hacked

10 Sep

On Monday retailer Home Depot acknowledged that they were victims of a hacking attack that stretched all the way back to April. The attack affected the payment system of the over 2,000 stores in the United States & Canada. The breach left the credit, debit and other customer information vulnerable over a 4 month period.

The security breach was first brought to Home Depot’s attention when banks and law enforcement agencies alerted the retailer, on September 2, of suspicious activity. The retailer quickly joined forces with security experts and the secret service to launched an investigation into the situation. That investigation has not discovered how the breach happened or just how many customers have had their credit or debit information compromised. The one thing that have concluded at this point is that the breach did not seem to affect an customer that shopped online.

“While the company continues to determine the full scope, scale and impact of the breach, there is no

evidence that debit PIN numbers were compromised,” The company said in a statement. They went on to add, “We apologize for the frustration and anxiety this causes our customers, and I want to thank them for their patience and support as we work through this issue,” said Frank Blake, chairman and CEO. “We owe it to our customers to alert them that we now have enough evidence to confirm that a breach has indeed occurred. It’s important to emphasize that no customers will be responsible for fraudulent charges to their accounts.”

The home improvement retailer is offering identity, credit & debit card monitoring to any customer that used their payment system during the 4 month period. They are also advising that anyone that has shopped in the store between the beginning of April and September 2 should pay close attention to their credit card & bank statements.

When Target stores faced a similar breach over the holiday season last year it was discovered and fixed after 3 weeks. That breach affected the information of over40 million customer. With Home Depot having more locations and the breach lasting 4 months has the potential of this problem be much bigger.

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Will Dish buy T-Mobile?

8 Sep

For several years T-mobile’s parent company Germany-based Deutsche Telecom has been trying to find someone to buy Bellevue-based T-Mobile. Twice they have been in talks with Sprint, they talked with AT&T and Dish. All of the talks ended up the falling through for various reasons. Now, almost 3 years later Dish is back for a second go around as Charlie Ergen, CEO of Dish Network, contacted the Germany-based company.

So far there has been no details given on any offer that Dish Network has placed on the table. According to a report by Bloomberg Mr. Ergen is waiting until after the AWS-3 (advanced wireless services) spctrum auction in November before he releases any details of the negotiations.

The incentive auction offers opportunities for competitive providers and new entrants to bid on and win much-needed low-band spectrum, which will facilitate the deployment of mobile broadband services,” Dish SVP Jeffrey Blum wrote in a filing.

The Colorado-based satellite TV service may not be the only one in negotiations with Deutsche Telecom. According to Reuters news service the France-based Iliad Telecommunication is getting set to improve on the bid that Deutsche Telecom rejected last month. Where Iliad is looking to other companies to help them put together a bid for T-Mobile it would seem that Dish has the upper hand in any bidding war.

Over the last year T-Mobile’s value has seen an increase of 24% and is expect to keep raising. Meaning that waiting a couple of months for a commitment from either of these two groups could work in Deutsche Telecom’s favor. The increase has been mostly due the T-Mobile’s CEO John Legere’s no contract plans that has seen the customer base grow at a rate that could see the Bellevue-based company overtake Sprint to become the number 3 mobile service provider.

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John Vechey to leave PopCap

6 Sep

Today Seattle-based Popcap will see the end of an era as the last of its co-founding member and current CEO John Vechey announced that he will be leaving the company. Mr. Vechey was made the CEO earlier this year when CEO Dave Roberts retired after holding the position for 8 years.

When I founded PopCap my biggest goals were to have a good time and to make great games. PopCap’s vision has always been to make people happy through games, and I believe we are achieving that every day. Today, I am proud of this company we have built together. Proud of the games we make and proud to have worked with all of you. I will miss you greatly.” Mr. Vechey said in his letter of resignation.

Since co-founding, along with Jason Kapalka and Brian Fiete, the Seattle-based casual gaming company has seen tremendous growth with games, such as, Bejeweled and Plants vs Zombies. In 2011 that growth attracted the attention of gaming giant Electronic Arts when they purchased the company for $1.3 billion dollars. After the sale of his company Mr. Vechey stayed on to oversee Popcap.

John leaves PopCap in deeply capable hands. The PopCap mobile studio will continue to be led by Steve Mauri, Cara Ely and Jon David, and the teams are already pushing forward into exciting directions.  We have games in the pipeline including an all-new Peggle, new concepts coming through rapid development at PopLabs, and global opportunities for PopCap brands like PvZ.  PopCap continues to be a core studio in EA’s mobile efforts, and I know our players will be thrilled with what’s to come from this talented group,” said EA president Frank Gibeau.

It has not been announced if there will be one general manager picked to take over the day-to-day operation or the triumvirate.

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