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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Bill Nye My Hero Guy

Bill Nye my hero Guy

On August the 23rd Bill Nye released a video on Big Think's youtube channel giving an impassioned plea to parents that they teach their children about evolution.  The video soon went viral and has, as of press time, reached 3.3 Million views.

During the video he admonishes parents to go ahead and believe in creationism if they wish, but do not teach this to their kids.  Because we need kids who are able to think and make decisions based on facts.  

It has been widely reported that Bill had called out Todd Akin for blaming Bill's pro-evolution video for causing hurricane Issac.  This was a false story distributed by a parody news agency but it is getting a lot of press, even from reputable news sources.

Bill Nye, ever the gentleman, did not utter the statement reported.  Akin apparently believes that women have smaller brains...or at least brains that can shut down during a sexual assault, and is therefore a moron, (my opinion, not an actual determination by a psychologist). Bill did not publicly address Akin's inability to string together rational thoughts, but mainstream media has enjoyed pointing out his gaffe. 

Bill Nye, a champion for science, is a great ambassador for science and I support his efforts and hope that in the future he will continue releasing videos that advocate scientific pursuits, such as curiosity, the LHC, Kepler and so on.

Keep it up Bill!


Friday, August 31, 2012

God Particle Confirmed

God Particle Confirmed


On July 4th the world was told that CERN had found a Higgs Boson-like particle, now the top CERN official has indicated that the Higgs Boson-like particle is indeed, the Higgs Boson.

Rolf Heuer, the director general of Cern, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, said that he would "stick his neck out" and say it had been found by scientists.

Mr. Heuer made this statement while visiting Edinburgh where he met with Professor Peter Higgs, the man who lent his name to the Higgs Boson Paricle or the so called god particle.

While delivering a lecture to students, academics and members of the public at Heriot-Watt University he discussed the announcement made in July that the Large Hadron Collider had produced data indicating a new particle "consistent" with the Higgs Boson.

The results were preliminary and more work is being done before scientists can be sure about what they have captured.

"When they finalized the data, the significance has even increased, so this is why I stick my neck out and say I think it is beyond any doubt because it looks very, very clear and very well in hand, so I think we have found this new particle," he added.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tech: Import Excel Data into a SQL 2012 Table

Importing Excel Data into a SQL Table

Using the built-in Import and Export Data  Utility

Importing data into a Microsoft SQL Server Database Table can be a little tricky.  Things have changed from back in the days where the DTS packages were easy to configure (although SSIS is a more powerful alternative),  if you want a very simple, very fast way to import data into your SQL Server Database from a Microsoft Excel file this is an extremely quick and easy way to do it.

The first thing to note, and this is very important, is that the 64-bit import tool does not natively open Microsoft Excel files.  

Choose the 32-bit tool.

32-bit Import/Export Tool

When you open the Import/Export Wizard you will see the following dialogue box and will need to choose the data source.  If you do not see a Microsoft Excel option then you may have accidentally opened the 64 Bit version of the wizard.
Once you have chosen Microsoft Excel as your data source the dialogue options will change and allow you to locate an excel file.  Browse to or type in the location of your excel file.


Choose the database server and the database you wish to connect to.

If you need to add additional parameters or logic into the import, or want to import into an existing table based on existing data you can write a query to specify a data transfer.  I'll cover that in another article but for now we are just going to import the data into a new table.

You will then be given an opportunity to either select a table in which you can import the data, or create a new table.  I've created a new table called New_Contact_Table.

The import can then be imported immediately or it can be saved as a SSIS package which could be executed on a schedule or again at a later point in time.

The confirmation reiterates the configuration changes that you've selected.

When you click the finish button the status screen will show the progress, and if all goes well it will indicate that the data was exported properly into the database.

Finally as you can see the 9200 rows that were imported are verified.


From this point you can simply manipulate the data into an existing table or if you just needed the data imported into a SQL server then your job is done.

This is a fairly simple process and I hope to create a short YouTube Video detailing the process in the next few days.

I have created a new video dealing with this process here.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Kepler Locates Multiple Planets Orbiting a Binary Star System

Kepler has found multiple planets in a Binary Star System.

Kepler has continued its stellar (pun intended) discovery spree, this time locating multiple planets orbiting a Binary Stars.  This is especially interesting because this proves that more than a single planet can form under the stresses of a binary star system.  

The system is known as a circumbinary planetary system, is a mechanism  where a planet orbits two stars. But prior to this discovery multiple planets in a circumbinary system was unproven.  Coming less than one year from the discovery Kepler-16b, the first circumbinary system discovered.

Named Kepler-47, the system consists of a pair of orbiting stars that eclipse each other every 7.5 days.  One star is similar in size to our Sol however it only provides approximately 84% of the light, the other is  smaller measuring one third of the size of our Sol and emits less than 1% the light.

On to the planets, named Kepler-47b and Kepler-47c..  Kepler-47b is closer to its two suns orbiting in 50 Earth sols. Kepler-47c  orbits every 303 days which would place it within the Goldilocks zone.  

"Unlike our sun, many stars are part of multiple-star systems where two or more stars orbit one another. The question always has been -- do they have planets and planetary systems? This Kepler discovery proves that they do," said William Borucki, Kepler mission principal investigator at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. "In our search for habitable planets, we have found more opportunities for life to exist." 

Monday, August 27, 2012

App Review: MortPlayer

MortPlayer Audio Books (free)

Google Play - Apple App Store unavailable

MortPlayer Audio Books is basically an MP3 player, except this MP3 player is specifically designed for playing audio books.  
The folder system can be a bit a bit difficult to navigate however once you have either opened the file directly or opened the folder containing all of the audio book files you want to listen to you are ready to enjoy this app.

For me the most important feature is that MortPlayer tracks your position in an audio file, and also lets you bookmark a position in that audio file.  I have on several occasions listened to an audio file that was quite large, in some cases the entire book was one file so if I were to lose your place, I would spend several minutes fighting with the progress bar in the player getting back to where I had left off.  This has always been an issue with traditional MP3 players  as long as I've listened to audio books on them. On occasion, being grasped with the need to listen to a particular song,  I would play the song only to find I'd lost my place in the book I was listening to.

Most MP3 players are designed to play music and normally music files are not more than a few minutes long and if you enjoy the music you generally do not mind listening to the intro again.  Often I would install Winamp and use that for listening to music on my Android phone and then use the simple, nearly feature-free built in music player to listen to my audio books.  This way, as long as the music player remains in the system's memory, I can pause the book and listen to music in winamp then return to the paused book in the music player.  

With MortPlayer I still have to use two different players, however I do not have to worry about keeping track of where I was in the audio book and if I reboot my phone MortPlayer will continue where I left off.  This is just one small feature among the myriad of available features.  You get cover art, lock screen controls, a sleep timer and so on.
Without unlocking you can bring up the lock screen and tap to pause or tap again to play.  There is an EQ, there is an alarm clock.

There are many, many, useful features but yet the developer did not lose sight of the end goal of making a great audio book player.

Lock Screen Menu

All in all I highly recommend this application.  It performs well in the way that it should and the features are incredible.  There are some minor issues with browsing folders and navigating but over all this is an app to have and one I feel fully confident in recommending.  I you listen to audio books, try this app, you will like it.

5 out of 5 stars!


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dinosaurs and NASA

What does a 100 Million year old Dinosaur footprint and NASA have in common?

Nodosaur Footprint Verified
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt MD and a Nodosaur called the same place home. 

A 12" wide track from a Nodosaur roamed the area of the Goddard Space Flight Center and left behind its prints the be found by Ray Stanford earlier this summer.

Nodosaur Footprint VerifiedNodosaurs could reach sizes comparable to smaller modern day elephants and lived during the Late Jurassic to Late Cretaceous Periods or between 160 and 66 Million years ago.  Material extracted from the same Cretaceous-period rock near the imprints has been tested with help from the USGS and revealed to be between 110 to 112 million years old.

Interestingly enough there is a second print within the larger print that appears to be that of a younger nodosaru following behind its mother.

The footprint resides on federal land so it must be removed for preservation in accordance with several federal statutes.

Space Scientists and a behemoth from the past, brought together.

Additional details can be found on NASA's Godard Space Flight Center Site.


App Review: Jewel Twist

Jewel Twist (.99)

Google Play (.99) - Apple App Store (.99)

Jewel Twist Is very similar to several other games that are superior in quality and free (albeit you do have to view ads) Jewel Star, Jewels Delux, etc.  
Opening Screen

I downloaded this app from the Amazon app store as one of their free "app of the day" app, had I used the play store I would have already asked for a refund and happily uninstalled this game.

The game play isn't awful, it is not too bad actually, but again there are higher quality games that have the same sort of game play and better graphics and are a bit more fun (and as i mentioned earlier are FREE!)

Level Selection
There are no real instructions but it becomes apparent quickly that this is a "Match 3" sort of game and you are trying to eliminated specially marked cells. Once you have done this you move on to the next level...fairly simple and straight forward.

Game Play

The menu options are spartan but as with many of these sorts of games there would not really be that many additional options especially with only one sort of game play.

There are no other modes  such as a timed game, or puzzle mode, and there is no online scoring system to compare yourself to others playing.  These are not necessarily negatives if the game were free, but again when paying for a game I would expect the additional features and options to set it apart.

Jewel Twist did display and operate properly on my 8" tablet which is a plus.  

Overall, the game is a basic match 3 game that is not better than free games available in the various markets.  It does display well on multiple screen sizes and there are no apparent bugs.  My suggestion to the developer make it free and add advertising.

2 stars because it isn't horrible or bad but it is probably  at least ugly with any sort of price tag.