Saving your #FacebookIs10 video

In celebrations of Facebook’s 10th birthday they unveiled “Lookback”; a site that generates a short video compilation of your life as seen through facebook. Unfortunately they do not allow you to download or save the video. As a friend of a friend pointed out “since they [are your] photos and statuses that [you] should at least have the option to share and download the video.” Fortunately our mutual friend solved this problem. To any of you who know hack/code for fun and/or profit I’m sure you’ve already figured this out, but for those like me who are stumped if “right click > save as” isn’t available, her are the steps my friend outlined for saving your #FacebookIs10 video as he presented them in a facebook post

Edit (6-Feb-2014): My friend has released updated code to support all OS and browser options. If you use Windows OS and Chrome as your browser the instructions below will still work.

NOTE: To do this, you must use Google Chrome browser. If you’re not already using it, you should be anyway. Get it here:

1. Open your personalized “A Look Back” video here:

2. Press Ctrl+Shift+J to open the developer’s console

3. Copy all of the code from the text box here:

4. Paste the code in the console and press <Enter>

5. You should be presented with a link. You can use this to link to your video outside of Facebook. If you want to save your video, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

To show that it works, and is not difficult, here is my video.

Thanks again to Jordan Lutz for showing me how to do this.

Edit: I’ve heard from a couple people that it does not work on macs. As I didn’t write the snippet of code perhaps I can get my friend to do one for macs, or if you’re reading this and have a solution, feel free to post it in the comments.

rockets make rainbows

I’ve been working at Stennis for a little over a a year now, and have worked at various NASA facilities off and on for the last 6 years, and whenever a friend asks me about “rocket fuel” they do it in hushed tones with the occasional glance over their shoulder. As if it were some national secret, and that if it were, I would somehow have the 411 and give them the insider scoop so long as they keep it on the DL… Well you are all in luck! I am going to let you in on a little secret, ssshhh! Ok, come a little closer to your computer monitor, we don’t want your coworkers overhearing what you’re reading. Ready?… Most rocket fuel is almost entirely liquid oxygen and/or liquid hydrogen. Surprise! 

So while LOX and LH2 are amazing and beautiful, what many people think about is that rockets are powered by water. Yup. Water. Granted you have to separate it, and bring it down to liquid temperatures, but nonetheless these aren’t exotic materials; they are completely sustainable and clean burning.

So the cloud you see forming as the exhaust of a rocket engine is literally a could. Not to mention that when we are testing rocket engines we quench the flame with nearly 1 million gallons of water per minute. So after any test on site it rains immediately after, usually right on top of all of the people standing around watching it; and when the conditions are right, the exhaust creates rainbows. So there you are, probably the coolest way to make a rainbow.


here is a video I took of the RS-68 test yesterday that led to the above image.

And here are a few more photos in case you want more 😉

and for those that are curious, this is what it sounds like inside the building where I work during the test.

Everything you need to know about 3D printing rockets

As you may have heard, about a week ago Marshall Space Flight successfully tested a rocket injector that was 3D Printed. Well actually the first tests were earlier than that, but everyone took notice when the video posted below (and others taken at the same time) were posted.

What you might not know is why this is just now a “breakthrough” when 3D printing in metal isn’t new. Shapeways has been printing metal pieces since 2009, and the technology was first patented in the 80s. The biggest difference is that traditionally 3D printing in metal has been done using Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) whereas this injector was printed in Inconel using Selective Laser Melting (SLM). If the difference isn’t clear… in SLS the laser fuses the metal powder together through a localized reaction, whereas SLM essentially melts (or welds) all of the metal in the part. There is a little bit of research going into the difference in properties etc. between the two. The two processes are being improved daily, but everything I have read or seen shows SLM to be stronger (though only marginally in most materials). If your curious, Marshall uses the M2 Cusing by Concept Laser. So the technology specific to printing this part is very new. Marshall just started testing out the technology a year ago.

Enter SpaceX. Yesterday SpaceX posted the video below showing off there cool Iron Man inspired 3D model viewing technology. At the end of the video they print a part to scale in inconel using SLS (specifically using this printer).  So SpaceX posts a video where they 3D print an inconel engine part and everyone is too distracted by the shiny sci-fi-esque toy  to really grasp that, while the call the part a “prototype”, it is a functional prototype and they could (& probably will) make the end product the exact same way. The only thing left to be seen (from my perspective) is if the SLS printed parts will hold up just as well as the SLM parts.

Oh, and did I mention that one of the SLM printed rocket injectors is currently at Stennis and I have been given the opportunity to handle it and give feedback? If you know me, you know how much I love both 3D printing and rockets, so of course I jumped at the opportunity. I wanted to tweet/post pictures at the time but I was told no :/   I guess I’ll settle for writing this post, even though I have to leave out some of my coolest thoughts/opinions on the matter 😉

Adam Savage’s advice on how to find a job you love, get noticed, and get a better job that you love

Adam Savage at Maker Faire 2013

“What is the practical reality facing young people entering the wider world, and making and wondering what they can do with making? The practical reality is that the jobs market is a tough one. Finding a job that feeds you creatively is even harder. The middle class is disappearing and the competition is fierce. I have no idea how good each of you are individually as makers. I don’t know what skills you have or are capable of learning, but I do have advice. I have advice about how you can improve yourself, be employable, find a job you love, get noticed, and get better jobs that you love, and it’s really this simple: Work hard and work smart”

I have always loved Maker Faire. Unfortunately I’ve never been able to attend anything larger than a Mini-Maker Faire. I’ve also been a fan of Mythbusters since day one. More than Mythbusters I’m a huge fan Adam Savage, the things he does on Tested and all of the education and outreach that he does for science and art. Every year since I first hear about the SF Maker Faire I’ve said “I’m going next year”. After watching this video (and re-watching his presentation from previous years), I am definitely going next year. And I highly encourage everyone to give me a hard time about it next year starting in March, so I have extra incentive to follow through. Below are the notes I took from his speach. You can read them, or just watch the first 15 minutes. Enjoy.

Work hard and work smart means many things.

  • Be present
    • Work on what’s in front of you
    • Most of work is boring. You earn the right to do the 10% that’s fun by doing the 90% that is soul crushing
  • Don’t waste your time or your employers time
    • Know the big picture
    • When you start to ask questions, like when you start any skill, you aren’t going to be very good at it. It is a skill you need to develop by continually asking for clarification.
    • When you save your employer money and time by asking the right questions they will notice.
  • Working hard and smart means collaborating
    • “Jamie and I transfer information through a process we call arguing.”
    • Working collaboratively means having humility
    • It means giving up your idea because a better one came up
  • Working hard and smart means communication
    • Ask: Better to be wrong and say something than to be right and keep it to yourself.
    • If you’re going to surf the web at work, hide, please.
    • Mistakes slow you down far more than slowing down does.
  • Working hard and smart means finishing the job that you started
    • Your goal shouldn’t just be to finish the thing in front of you, times 50; it means finishing all 50.
    • When I find a finisher I make sure to keep them around as long as I can.
  • Working hard and smart doesn’t require actually being smart.
    • Being smart isn’t nearly enough
    • If you lukewarm the performance of your job it doesn’t matter how smart you are, no one will notice.
    • Bust your ass
  • As an employee you might not feel like your supervisors know what you’re doing. If you are working hard and smart they will notice.
    • People who work hard like that are hard to find, inspire everyone around them to work harder, enjoy their work more and enjoy working well with others, save time and money and become invaluable.
  • Some may not notice. Some may not want you to know the big picture; some may tell you to shut up when you ask those questions. Don’t work for those people.

“I’m not saying that any of this is easy. In fact it’s absolutely the opposite, but I’m saying that working hard and smart means that your work will be more satisfying, you will advance fast and you will enjoy the work that you are doing and you will do better work.”

This started out as me taking notes on his speech, I thought I was paraphrasing a lot, but looking back a lot of those sentences are direct quotes. I’m not sure which is which. So the parts I took particular care to quote are in italics. My full notes are here but it would be faster to watch the first 15ish minutes of the video than read my notes. Sometime between minutes 15 & 17 he starts answering questions, most of them are good. One of them I felt strongly enough about that I quote it here with a portion of the thoughts that went through my head when I first heard it.

Q: “Would you consider yourself an artist or a scientist?”

A: “What a great question! I don’t think there’s any difference.”

At first I balked at this a little, but then I realized that aside from how widely “The Scientific Method” is used, I completely agree. My first thought after overcoming my knee jerk reaction, was that the world would be a better place if more artists understood the scientific method. Then I realized the world would be a better place if all people understood the scientific method. The same is true of teaching everyone the same creativity that is nurtured in artists.

* Image at top of page courtesy of Kyle Nishioka via flickr

Is a cord free mp3 player and a klout perk enough to save Walkman?

If you were alive in the 80s, then you probably rocked the Walkman at some point, in some fashion before the end of the 90s. My most recent Sony Walkman was a “waterproof” CD


player that looked something like this. It lasted me through high school and into college; through snowboarding, wrestling meets, dorm rooms, and the general precocity that plagues teenagers and the tech they own. Since the death of that CD player I’ve owned one mp3 player after another and haven’t looked back. Looking back now, I realize that I left Walkman behind like a forgotten child’s toy. They were a good brand, I loved the product, and they had a huge market share… so what happened? I’m not a historian, and my profession has nothing to do with sales or marketing, but if I had to guess, I would say “the iPod happened”. Apple did an amazing job of crushing every company that tried to compete in the mp3 game for a long time.

Sony Walkman W Series MP3 Headphone

Sony has recently release the W Series, which could optimistically be seen as a “comeback”. While I know a good bit about economics, marketing, and R&D costs, I really don’t want to get into economic forecasting about whether or not a single product could “save” a brand. Particularly considering that Walkman never officially went away, and Sony is definitely not going anywhere. What I do think is very interesting is the product itself, and how they are using Klout Perks to garner support for it.

If you are interested in the product and my assessment of it, you can read my review here. Bottom line: 2GB, water-resistant, 8hr battery life, NO CORDS, & I’ll probably use it tell the day it stops working.

For those who don’t know, Klout is a site that monitors your activity on various social media sites to gauge the level of interaction to your content, and how influential you are. There are a few sites that do this, but Klout seems to be the most prevalent. Again, first to market has something to do with it, but their Perks also have something to do with it.  If you’re unfamiliar with Klout Perks, it’s a lot like it sounds (unless you are thinking of something sexual &/or illegal); they give you free stuff.  The Sony Walkman W perk isn’t my first Klout perk.

Though I actually really like the Packers gear, the Sony Walkman perk is on a different level than any perk I’ve received, and most that I’ve seen for a couple of reasons:

  1. 5,000 is a lot of freaking devices to give away. If I were a full time tech blogger I’d bother to look up what is normal, and what they most given away is… but I don’t have time for that, sorry :/
  2. This perk is actually a contest. Five of the 5,000 people who claimed the water-resistant Meb Keflezighi edition W series will be selected to receive the waterproof W series that hasn’t hit the market yet. “Klout will be tracking entrant’s Tweets and ReTweets of the Message on Twitter, Facebook comments, likes, and shares. Five potential winners will be determined based on the content created” (more official rules here)

Maybe this is a common thing, but it is new to me, and dances around an interesting issue with giving away free product; how to get people talking about it as much as possible without them coming across as car salesman? At first it may seem like generating copious amounts of content and berating your followers would be the way to win, but since Klout is based on influence, getting the most engagement is probably the best way to win. Sure a lot of people might not reach that conclusion, but if they were selected (hopefully) they understand how Klout works and try to generate engaging content focused around the perk and the #FitnessWalkman hashtag. The easiest way to ensure that people generate sincere content based on giveaways is to not ask anything in return, but that doesn’t always ensure that said content will be engaging, or happen at all.

Merry Christmas for @GE #industrialinternet

For the record I’ve received a Google chromebook from a TechCrunch giveaway, and GE occasionally gives gifts to their followers who contribute to the community. Neither of which asked that I generate content, but it’d be rude not to say thank you 😉

In my product review I said earlier that there is nothing in it for me to say nice things about the Sony Walkman; I still mean it. The winners will (most likely) be those who generate the most influential content. I would laugh until I cried bitter tears of irony if Dr. Poinsett won one of the five sets. She is one of the only who is outspoken against the headphones, and any troll will tell you that the fastest way to get engagement from other users is to swim against the current. For the record she is not a troll, just a concerned MD who thinks “distracted walkers endanger teens”. Also given that there are 5,000 people out there, a good portion of them with higher Klout scores and more followers. I find my odds of winning very slim, whether my comments are good or bad shouldn’t affect if I win or not. So why write what is probably my longest blog to date? Because I really want to answer, “is this going to save Walkman?” I really find all of this interesting.

While I’m neither psychic, nor a tech/econ expert, but I think that it might work. If it does succeed I honestly think that it will predominantly hinge on the product itself. It is a good product, priced under $100, and I think there is a demand for it. How many people would drop $20 on a pair of headphones because they forgot/lost theirs and another $40-60 on an mp3 player if they thought they would use it? Again, I don’t have the market research to back it up, but I’m sure Sony does.

As for the perk, I think it is a fantastic approach to get people engaged. I think that within a few months my father-in-law and my wife are both going to get one (because I’m not sharing mine). Unfortunately, despite giving away 5,000 devices I’m not sure that it generated the buzz they were hoping for. According to there were less than 100 tweets using the hashtag over the last 24 hours (estimate). I did my own estimate (average number of tweets per page, number of pages in twitter search over the last 24 hours), and I come up with 320 tweets. Take that back further to Monday, when the perks started arriving in people’s mailboxes, and there are approximately 650 tweets. In either case, if each of those tweets belonged to a single user (which they don’t), barely one tenth of those who received a free product even tweeted about getting it. According to 160 photos were posted to Instagram with the #FitnessWalkman hastag. Hardly a viral campaign. Note: These numbers were as of the afternoon of April 4th. According to the rules of the perk the cut off for generating content is midnight of April 4th. It seems as though many people are still receiving their headphones today. It seems like a shipping/coordinating problem on their end. It’s hard to generate a buzz in 2-3 days, especially if most of your product testers don’t even have the product until after the contest is over. Update: these numbers were compiled in the middle of the day on the 4th (the last day of the contest), as of midnight on the 4th the numbers had changed (slightly). A total of approximately 826 tweets were generated with the hasthag #FtinessWalkman. 294 of those were on the last day, since the end of the contest only 91 tweets have used the hashtag. If their goal was to try and make the hashtag trend then making the delivery coincide with the last day of the contest might have made sense, but it doesn’t look as though it worked out for them. It would have been more productive IMO to let people review the product for a full week or a month before the end of the contest. That may have very well been there intention, with early production volumes of this kind (for product giveaways) there can often be delays.

If I had access to better analytic tools I could probably come up with more relevant and interesting statistics (not to mention prettier looking), but I don’t believe it would change the outcome much :/

P.S. If I do win the waterproof headphones they are going to my wife 🙂

too good to tinker with (right now)

Product Review: Sony Walkman W series. A cord free mp3/headphone combo

klout perk sony walkman mp3

Sony Walkman W Series MP3 Headphone

The Sony Walkman W series is an mp3 player that essentially looks like two blue tooth headsets connected by a cord behind your head. If you’ve even worn headphone that wrap around the back of your head for biking, running, etc. then imagine that is all you are wearing… I mean, imagine that the headphones don’t have a cord, you aren’t carrying an mp3 player, or a phone. The headphones ARE the mp3 player (“the files are IN the computer”).

the music is in the headphones…

If you have read MAKERS by Cory Doctorow (Amazon or Free download from Craphound), then you are familiar with the in-ear mp3 players that he describes in a not too distant future world.  The Sony Walkman W series is the closest thing I’ve seen to these, and to be perfectly honest I am a little surprised that Walkman was the first one to market on these.

Cory Doctorow signing a copy of Makers for me during his “Homeland” tour

That Sony made it happen, I guess isn’t that surprising; but the idea, and the ability, have both been available for at least a couple years. It was just a matter of pioneering the development and production. Ok, maybe first to market is an exaggeration, but at their price point ($69) and the production level they are producing it doesn’t seem horribly comparable to the other in-ear mp3 players out there.

One feature that I think is smart, both in functionality and target audience, is making them water resistant and the upcoming waterproof model. My wife has the lifeproof case for her iPhone, specifically because she wanted to go swimming with it… She hasn’t invested in waterproof headphones yet, but it has saved her at the MGM lazy river in Vegas, and when she listens to audio books while playing Candy Crush in the tub. For people who swim and want to listen to music while they do it, there are a variety of products out there, but it seems like the biggest problem is where to put an mp3 player/phone in a swim suit? Having an all in one unit seems like it would be a necessity for swimmers, but it is also convenient for…. everyone.

The most common feature that I’ve heard people mention online during the review process is that there are no cords.

Whether you are running, biking, swimming, or fighting your way through the cubicle jungle, being cord free is so convenient. It’s liberating really. Music is what fuels me through the day whether I’m working, working out, or whatever. When I’m at my desk I have over-ear headphones plugged into my speakers, and even with an extension I have to take my headphones off before reaching for the far drawers (yes I work in an industry that still uses paper documents). When I worked at GE and I spent most of my days back and forth between the lab and meetings, I would run my headphones through my shirt so that when I took them out of my ears they would hang there (rather than constantly wadding them up and shoving them hastily in my pocket). I was never a huge fan of that because I think that headphones hanging out of my collar looked unprofessional (unless I was wearing a lab coat), but there is more to a good mp3 player than just being cord free.

Uploading is fairly simple, just connect the device and drag-and-drop; or you can install the .exe that is on the headset. The device charges (like most) through the same connection, a common micro usb. I haven’t tried it, but you could probably charge it with an android phone charger. A full charge gives you 8 hours of play time. 3 minutes of charging gives you 60 minutes of play-time. If you run for longer than an hour at a time (active wear seems to be their primary target audience) then you will just have to be patient. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that if you’re willing to spend over an hour putting one foot in front of the other with no particular destination, you’d also be willing to let your headphones charge for another minute or two.

I guess when you win marathons and Olympic races you need an 8 hour battery life

I haven’t tested the 3 minute charge claim yet, but I did test the full charge yesterday, and mine clocked out at 9.5 hours of play time. Granted that was the first charge and perhaps I don’t listen to my music as loudly as you do. I did use pause a lot, so total time on yesterday was closer to 11-12 hours, but it seems as though if you pause them for more than a few seconds they go into a sleep mode.

The play, pause, volume, skip, shuffle, etc. features are all simple and easy to use. There are six buttons, and an on/off switch. Overall the device is simple, without being so minimalist as to require cheat-code like button combinations.

The sound is surprisingly good (considering the price). The best comparison I personally have are the Heavy Medal ($80) or Titan ($50) by Skull Candy. I’ve tried several other brands, but can’t remember the model names, and I have found that per price point Skull Candy is as good or better than everything else I’ve tried. This is of course excluding headphones over $100, and only talking about sound quality. So these headphones are as good as the Titans IMO. They don’t have the range, but the general quality would be indistinguishable to most people. Considering that the entire Sony headset is only $10 more than the Skull Candy headphone this is pretty impressive. They obviously have to have lower quality sound components in order to come in at the same price. I think that the sound quality for this device largely comes from the lack of cord. Anyone who has used a DJ cord knows that the longer the cord the more the sound degrades. This is usually negligible with short distances, but by connecting the headphones directly to the device they eliminate any loss caused by the headphone jack and the cord. This means that down the road a higher quality speaker could seriously increase the sound quality.

All of the above is my honest opinion and simple facts. I’m not trying to build up the product, because there is nothing in it for me. I got a free headphone/mp3 player that I could afford to purchase (but probably wouldn’t have), and I’m grateful to Sony for the opportunity to review them, but my integrity costs more than that.  Most of the improvements are technological that could be said of any tech device: smaller, longer batter, more storage, etc. etc. but for the price, I think Sony hit a great balance between cost and function. I didn’t find much ‘wrong’ with them, besides the fact that if you don’t know what they are, it kind of looks like I’m wearing two Bluetooth headsets. I don’t own a single Bluetooth headset, and depending on your opinion of them, seeing a guy wearing TWO would either make him x2 busier/cooler, or x2 more of a tool.  I wasn’t the only one to test these (5,000 people claimed the perk), but of all of the tweets I read (most people used the Sony supplied hastag #FitnessWalkman) I only came across one naysayer.

Besides personally finding them uncomfortable, Dr. Poinsett thought they were distracting, and implored us to think of the children. While her point is completely valid; distractedness causes accidents and that teen death isn’t a joking matter. I personally don’t think that tech kills people, stupidity does. If someone gets into a car wreck because they were texting and driving, the phone didn’t cause the accident; It is stupid to text and drive. Whether or not it is stupid to run while you listen to music…. I guess that depends on the person.

To sum up. I love them, I will wear them until they wear out or another gen comes out that is substantially better. At which point I will most likely buy them and dismantle the pair I was given to see if I can somehow “improve” upon them, but as of right now I can’t think of any improvements that I could make.

too good to tinker with (right now)

NASA Asks Universities For Early Stage Innovation Tech Proposals

April 02, 2013

David E. Steitz

Headquarters, Washington


RELEASE: 13-095


WASHINGTON — NASA is seeking innovative, early-stage space technology proposals from accredited U.S. universities that will enable NASA’s future missions and America’s leadership in space.

Proposals are sought for science instruments, cryogenic propellant storage for long-duration space exploration, optical coatings for astrophysical pursuits, oxygen recovery for life support systems, and to improve our understanding of and protection from near-Earth asteroids.

Each of these space technology areas requires dramatic improvements over existing capabilities. New early stage, or low technology readiness-level, technologies could mature into tools that solve the hard challenges facing NASA’s future scientific and human spaceflight missions. Researchers should propose unique, transformational space technologies that address specific topics found in this solicitation.

“Space technology is the underpinning of all of NASA’s future missions,” said Michael Gazarik, NASA’s associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington. “NASA’s collaboration with the National Research Council and the agency’s recent Strategic Space Technology Investment Plan have helped us identify areas where new, cross-cutting space technologies are needed to enable our future missions. Now we’re reaching out to American universities to tap into the nation’s best and brightest minds to help solve these tough technology problems.”

This solicitation requests proposals on five topic areas. The first topic area seeks new instrument technologies for the exploration of planetary bodies within our solar system. Innovative technology advances are needed to support the instruments that scientists will need to better understand the history, climates, evidence of past life and future potential habitability of planets and moons within the solar system.

Spaceflight architectures for future human space exploration beyond low-Earth orbit will require technologies and capabilities not available today, such as long duration storage of cryogenic propellants in a zero gravity environment. Under a second topic area for this solicitation, NASA is particularly interested in proposals regarding how to mature fundamental experimental and computational solutions to address the challenges of cryogenic storage of liquid hydrogen.

Through a third topic area for this solicitation, NASA is seeking advances in optics technologies to enable the challenging science measurements that may contribute to the understanding of the first moments of the universe, the characterization of galaxy evolution over time and the characterization of newly found exoplanets.

As future exploration missions extend beyond low-Earth orbit, vehicles and extraterrestrial surface habitats housing astronauts will need to be highly reliable and self-sufficient; the opportunity for resupply of consumables diminishes the farther from home you go. The fourth topic area of this solicitation seeks novel technologies that will help close the atmosphere revitalization loop aboard spaceships and surface habitats during long duration space missions. New technologies must have the potential to significantly increase the oxygen recovery rate beyond the current state of the art.

Under a final topic area, NASA is seeking proposals for new technologies to better understand and protect our planet from near-Earth asteroids. Early stage technologies that will help with characterizing, understanding, and planning how to mitigate the threat of near-Earth asteroids are of great interest. These efforts are important for the sustainability and future of our home planet.

NASA expects to make approximately 10 awards this fall, based on the merit of proposals received. Each award will be made for one year with an additional year of research possible. The typical annual award value is expected to be approximately $250,000. Second-year funding will be contingent on the availability of appropriated funds and technical progress. Only accredited U.S. universities may submit proposals to this solicitation. Notices of intent are due by April 29 with proposals due May 21.

To view the Early Stage Innovation NASA Research Announcement and information for submitting proposals, visit:

The solicitation is a part of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, which is innovating, developing, testing and flying hardware for use in NASA’s future missions. For more information about NASA’s investment in space technology, visit: