Stopping to smell the tech roses every now and then, thanks to #UARS

I admit, there is a long list of toys and next best things I am waiting for. Everything from the Nikon D4 to a holodeck, neither of which I will ever be able to afford mind you. This list goes to even more simple things, and by simple I mean cheaper such as the next great Android phone, or that Android Tablet that I really want, but thanks to the #wolfcatcubs will never get.

In this headlong rush to the next great thing, it pays to stop, catch a breath and reflect on some seriously awesome stuff that I and a lot of you have.

Saturday 24/09/2011 was that moment of pause for me.  At 2:45pm I jumped in my car (2000 model AWD Subaru) to head down to on a winning lotto kind of chance to get a photo.  The photo I was prepared to take was of the UARS satellite as it came crashing back down to earth. A Satellite launched via the Space Shuttle ( Retired 2011 )

It got me thinking on the 15 min drive to what kind of tech was I using. It started with the IVF #wolfcatcubs  (1980 for Australia )I had left with mrs wolfcat at home. Amazing tech and science right there before I had even left the house. Now sure IVF had been around prior to the launch of the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) in 1991, but it has taken leaps and bounds since then.

So I listened to my 80’s mixed CD in the car. Sure, CD’s were around before 1991, but the recordable CD had only been around since 1990. As for the fact I was listening to a collection of MP3 format songs, well they didn’t come out until around 1993. At least all my music was pre UARS launch.

Waiting for #uarsI get to my location which is my fav place to shoot from at the end of North Road, and grab my camera gear out of the car.  A Nikon D7000 ( Sept 2010), a 16.3mega-pixel DSLR (with full HD video), drop on my 150-500mm OS Sigma lens (2008) and turn on my Solemta Geotagger Pro GPS (2009) for my camera. So in under a minute I have turned on and got ready a swag of technology, most of which people in 1991 wouldn’t have even dreamed off.

I have two GPS devices on me at this point, one for the camera the other built into my phone, HTC Incredible S (2011). Note that GPS didn’t become fully operational until 1994 and it wasn’t until 2000 that GPS ‘Selective Availability’ was removed.  That is the little thing that saw GPS move from 50 meters of accuracy down to a few meters for you and me.

Being at a location where I am “the mayor” I of course used my 3g phone  (2003 in Australia) to check in on Foursquare ( 2009 ) to my location.  Then I fired up Twitter (2006) to follow in near real time the @UARS_Reentry account to get the info I need. Info I was able to get in near real time with no wires as it were.  But then I did check on the WWW (1990) on my home computer using ADSL 1 (8mbits) (2006) to get the info I needed before I left.

I fired up Google Skymap (2009) on my phone to check compass headings and location on the interactive realtime star map just to make sure I was looking at the right bit of sky and waited. I also checked real time weather satellites to check that the cloud cover would remain clear in my location for the time frame I was after.

Of course like all long odds, I didn’t succeed.  But I knew where to look when UARS had passed overhead and that it was time to go home.

Stop and think about just how much cool tech you have you right now…

I am still waiting for NASA to work out where it crashed of course, but it wasn’t over me, but I was thanks to the tech in my pocket prepared for it.


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