How did Apollo get to the Moon?

It’s extraordinary that people haven’t been back to the Moon in my lifetime. I can only imagine the excitement of the first Moon landing, although from what I’ve read the later missions the general public wasn’t that interested in it. Still, the Apollo missions were an amazing feat of engineering, science and bravery.

Apollo 11's Lunar Module, Eagle with Buzz Aldrin in foreground.
Apollo 11’s Lunar Module, Eagle with Buzz Aldrin in foreground.

Over the last few days I’ve been listening to two episodes of the Omega Tau Podcast:

Both episodes are interviews with David Woods, author of the book How Apollo Flew to the Moon and full of fascinating detail. They’re well worth a listen.

If you thought flying to the Mun in Kerbal Space Program was hard just wait ’til you hear about everything they accomplished using 1960’s technology. While they did have computer assisted landing procedures when they got to their destination I bet it was no Mechjeb! There is the FASA mod for the game, adding 300 new parts, including a Lunar lander! Here’s a video (and Reddit thread) of it in action, although I’m upset that he left someone on the Mun..

As luck would have it, last night I saw that Ars Technica published 45 years after Apollo 13: Ars looks at what went wrong and why a few days ago. Another interesting read, contrasting what the film “Apollo 13″ showed to reality. Useful and insightful comments too, including more book recommendations. I have plenty of reading ahead of me.

(Thanks to Adam Heckler’s post I found out about Omega Tau, it’s quickly turning out to be one of my favourite podcasts!)

WP Super Cache 1.4.4

WP Super Cache is a full page caching plugin for WordPress. It creates static pages that are served quickly by the web server.

Light Trails in Blarney

Over the weekend there was a flurry of excitement as not one, but two releases of the plugin were made in quick succession. The second to fix a bug introduced in the first. I’m very sorry about that.

WP Super Cache 1.4.3 fixed a security bug in the cache file listing section of the plugin settings page. A carefully crafted query by a third party would cause an XSS in the file listing. While serious, the owner of the blog cannot be tricked into loading the file listing page by way of an image or public link as a nonce is required to load it. The attacker would have to ask the blog owner to visit the cache listing page manually. Thanks to Marc Montpas from Sucuri for reporting that.

WP Super Cache 1.4.4 fixed a bug introduced in the previous version where queries with GET parameters caused a fatal error. Thanks to webaware on the WordPress.org forums for reporting that and including a patch to fix it.

If you’re using an older version of WP Super Cache you’re encourage to upgrade to 1.4.4 as soon as you can.

How’s that separation of church and state going then?

We live in a secular democracy but a few days of the year you’d hardly know it. I don’t count Christmas as that’s really the most consumer driven spendfest of money and consumption ever. Good Friday is one of those days though and it’s made all the more obvious when you go into any shop in Ireland today:

Supervalu

Supervalu

You can’t buy alcoholic drinks today in Ireland, but that’s alright because anyone who cared was out last night at the off-license getting their tins and bottles for the party tonight. There’ll be some sore heads tomorrow!

As the Rubber Bandits so eloquently put it,

Make sure ye don’t drink alcohol today. There was a lad nailed to a cross in the late Iron age and he’s his own father. The two of them will set you on fire after you die if you drink cans. Just to be extra safe; our government, which is comprised of rational adults has written this into the law so you can’t buy cans anyway. It’s grand, don’t worry though. You can eat big chocolate eggs on sunday. This is because the lad who was his own father from the late Iron age didn’t die after all. So you can eat the chocolate eggs then because of that.

Looking forward to Sunday, no lie. Yummy Chocolate.

Sabermod on the Galaxy S II

The ageing Samsung Galaxy S II still has plenty of life in it. It runs Minecraft PE and Terraria perfectly well!

Slimsaber

It might be old, but there are still developers hacking at it and releasing firmware upgrades with modern versions of Android. I decided to try this unofficial build of Slimkat i9100 Sabermod. My previous install barfed and half the apps on it disappeared somehow!

Sabermod installed easily. I already had TWRP installed so it was only a matter of installing the various zip files through it. Give it a go if you have this old phone, especially if you’ve never messed around with ROMs and have this phone lying around. The usual caveats apply. YMMV and you might soft-brick your phone.

There’s more sugar in skim milk

image

If sugar is the new bad guy, taking over from fat, should we drink skim milk?

If you take out the fat, everything left behind is more concentrated, so you get marginally more sugar per volume of liquid. I guess it really matters if you’re consuming liters and liters of milk per day but it probably won’t make much of a difference to your porridge and a few cups of tea.

Some tips to make Mac OS X Finder easier to use

Making the switch from Windows or Linux to Mac OS X is not without pain. The extra CMD key plays havoc with muscle memory, and the “Windows Explorer” of Mac OS X, Finder, is quite a different beast to what you might be used to in the Windows or Linux worlds.

About two weeks ago I decided to make the switch again to Mac OS X and I lamented the difficulty in using Finder to do simple tasks. I’m still not 100% happy with Mac OS X it but the tips on the following pages made things easier:

  • Home and End keys work on a line, not a document, silly.
  • Disable natural scrolling.
  • Switch CMD and ALT if you’re using a PC keyboard. I have a lovely split keyboard but the default configuration hurt my fingers.
  • Change the keyboard layout if your keyboard doesn’t work the way you’re used to. I still haven’t got this set up exactly as I want it to. In my terminal some keys act differently I think but I haven’t set aside time to work out which. I need to swap ” (shift-2) with @ (key to the top/left of right-shift). My muscle memory gets them mixed up all the time.
  • Automount SMB drives automatically. I haven’t been able to get the fstab method to work yet because my password has spaces but the “User Login” one works well enough.
  • Change Finder search so it searches the current directory by default.
  • Type the path into Finder.
  • 9 tips to improve Finder.
  • Sorting and arranging in Finder.
  • Right click on the directory name in Finder and show a dropdown of the path to that directory.
  • Install Mac Ports to get a working copy of Rsync and a better ls that lets me put parameters after the filename.

There are still oddities. When Mac OS X mounts an SMB share it does so with permissions that only allows the current user to edit files in the share. That’s perfectly understandable but it messes things up for Rsync when I’m syncing directories with a remote host. I’ve had to resort to using the “–size-only” parameter of Rsync so it won’t attempt to sync every file each time. I need to figure out if that can be fixed somehow.

I’ll update this post from time to time as I come across more oddities.