Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Camping at Kennedy Space Center

With the upcoming final launch Tweetup upon us, I thought I would post a few thoughts about visiting Kennedy Space Center for a Tweetup. Even though this is the last launch Tweetup, there will be more Tweetups for non-low earth orbit launches and other exciting events at KSC.

I attended the Tweetup for STS-132, which was one of the earlier launch events. For this event we were told to bring our own water however on the second day of our Tweetup NASA did provide a water cooler so we could fill our water bottles. Granted the tent is air-conditioned but with all the walking around in the heat you do, carrying water is a good idea. I’m certain future Tweetups have provided a water cooler as well.

NASA doesn’t provide any food. On the day before the launch, we were told to bring our own lunches and snacks as no food was available. Since I flew to Florida for the event, I bought a cheap Styrofoam cooler I left in my hotel room and used it for keeping my food cold. The day was so busy and exciting that I didn’t eat what I brought anyway but I was glad to have it just in case.

On launch day, I bought a hamburger and chips as NASA allows vendors to sell food to those at the press site. Obviously if your launch is delayed like STS-133 and STS-134 you will need to provide additional provisions.

Bathrooms are readily available in a concrete camp style facility as well as in the press building. On launch day, getting to either bathroom from the twent without walking through a camera shot is next to impossible but when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go.

In many ways, you are at one of the most high tech places on the planet while in other ways, you are camping out in the middle of nowhere and it’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My Power over Foursquare

I’m often amazed at the power I have, whether actual or inferred by others. Lately I’ve been able to use my power over Foursquare. I use Foursquare and like to have fun with it and save money through it. Lately however it seems I have the power to kill it.  

I travel a bit and the last 2 times I have flown home to the Indianapolis International Airport I’ve been unable to check into Foursquare because it has been down. Upon landing, I typically grab my phone, check my email, and check into Foursquare – if it works. I think someone at Foursquare is trying to keep me from becoming the Mayor there.  

So consider yourself warned – I’m flying home again sometime after the July 8 launch of space shuttle Atlantis on STS-135. I expect Foursquare to be down shortly before I land. Good luck.

Monday, June 20, 2011

No Ordinary End to Spring

Today was no ordinary last day of spring. The old adage “when it rains it pours” was true today both literally and figuratively.  

I have been on the road for the past week speaking at a conference in San Antonio, Texas and then to a Tweetup Event at the Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. We also took a day in there to visit some friends in DC and see many of the historic sites. I hope to blog more about these events soon, provided the power stays on. That will make more sense later.

I arrived home for Monday with a full list of things to do back in the office but I knew things were off to an odd start when the western sky at 6am was bright orange as the sun reflected off the dark storm clouds.

Between 6am and noon, 4 waves of storms came through our area dropping just over 3 inches of rain. During one of these storms at least 1, probably 2 of the parking lot light trees in the parking lot at Faith were struck by lightning. The lighting took out those 2 lighting trees, the photocell that controls all our exterior lighting, the power to the panel for all exterior lighting and the power to the RTU (roof top unit) that cools our primary datacenter – to name a few things.

As a result, we eventually lost most of our network services for about an hour and had to reset several things. We also had to replace several breakers and tomorrow we have to replace several relays that were fused. While all of this was going on our team was also trying to prepare for VBS (Vacation Bible School) which started tonight. By 4pm, most things were back to normal and we were able to get the scripts, lighting cues, sound cues, and graphics all programmed for VBS just in time for the power to go out again 5 minutes before we started.

Our team is great and we had everything sound and video wise restored with a minute to spare before we started – thanks to numerous backup systems.  

Here’s hoping that summer starts Tuesday with less excitement than spring ended.

Friday, June 10, 2011

STS-135 Ticket Lotteries

As we get closer to the ticket lotteries for STS-135 please take note of the following:

If you are selected for NASA Causeway tickets please buy the maximum number you can purchase. Rest assured you won’t be stuck with any extras but if we band together we have a better chance of seeing the launch from the Causeway with the orange tickets from KSCVC. Even if more than one of our little group gets those tickets I assure you we will be able to sell off the extras.

Remember though, we do have a safety net. If no one gets Causeway tickets we still have the private viewing location in Titusville to watch the launch from. This is a better location than the Astronaut Hall of Fame and the KSCVC itself so if you are selected for those tickets in the lottery I suggest you pass.

Another option once the lotteries are closed is to purchase Causeway tickets from a tour bus company. You will pay more for the ticket itself but you at least get on the Causeway. I only suggest buying those tickets if your pickup and drop off point is in Port Canaveral. Otherwise you spend 5-9 hours on a bus fighting the traffic back to Orlando. If you don’t want to spend the extra money on tour bus company tickets to the Causeway that’s fine, we still have our safety net in Titusville.