R2: Emiew. Emiew: R2

This is cool. From MSNBC: "Hitachi wheels out fast-moving humanoid". Emiew doesn't really look a lot like R2, but enough so to draw the comparison. How long before this type of robot is part of everyday life? Maybe not as long as we think. And with wheels of its own, Emiew won't have to borrow the Segway® to go to the store, either.

Google Local

Have you tried Google Local yet? It's a city and state-specific search with a cool movable map display alongside the results. First thing I tried was 'FoxPro' and 'Champaign, IL'. I was delighted to see my company come up first on the list. Guess who comes up first on a search for 'FoxPro' and 'Redmond, WA'? (Yep, it's who you'd expect.) Of course, Google Local is useful for finding pizza, movies, bookstores, and whatever else, too. Try it out for yourself.


VFP 9.0 in the news

From Key Levy: "A detailed press announcement has been released on Microsoft PressPass called Developers Report on Power, Productivity and Extensibility of New Visual FoxPro 9.0."

This is good material, much more than just a cursory announcement that VFP 9.0 has been released. The article features case studies and comments by John Harvey of the Shelby County, Tennessee, Sherrif's Office, Michel Fournier of Level Extreme (the Universal Thread), and Doug Hennig of Stonefield Systems Group, among others. It goes on to enumerate four areas of significant improvement in VFP 9.0 that should be of interest to developers and clients alike. Keyword: extensibility.

It's always nice to see good press for this great product, especially when it comes directly from Microsoft.

Take a ride with Eric Rudder

Take a ride with Microsoft's Eric Rudder on Channel 9. Eric gives Channel 9's Lenn Pryor a ride around the Microsoft campus. Video and sound, from what looks like at least two hood-mounted cameras, rolls as they drive to Eric's building and talk shop.

What's New in IE 7.0

Mary Jo Foley reports that details are beginning to leak out about what may be coming in Internet Explorer 7.0. The focus is expected to be on "myriad security enhancements" (no surprise), some of which are enumerated in the article. Among new features, tabbed browsing makes the list (good!) along with the "likely" inclusion of a built-in news aggregator (interesting, but probably not likely to threaten the best of breed third-party tools). Full support for CSS 2 is not expected (why not?). Much of this may be speculation at this point, but with a first beta due out this summer it shouldn't be long before we begin to find out for sure.


Global Flyer: Mission Accomplished!

Steve Fossett piloted the Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer to a smooth landing under sunny skies and calm winds in Salina, Kansas this afternoon, successfully completing his record-setting, non-stop, non-refueled circumnavigation of the globe in just over 67 hours. Concerns about lower than expected fuel supplies threatened to bring the mission to an early conclusion over Hawaii yesterday, but favorable winds and a true spirit of adventure brought home the prize.

I followed this mission on the Global Flyer team's website, which supplied continuously updated mission status and tracking information from departure to touchdown. Kudos to their Web team for a great job in making this possible.

Kudos also to MSNBC, who provided a live video feed of the last hour or so of the flight via MSN Video. As a pilot, I thoroughly enjoyed the live ATC (air traffic control) feed that accompanied the video, especially because it was provided without additional commentary of any kind. It was almost like being up there, sharing the airspace with the Global Flyer during the exciting final minutes.

At something like 16 miles out, Fossett called the field in sight, canceled IFR (his instrument flight plan) and requested a visual approach. As he was handed off from approach control to Salina tower, congratulations began to come in from other aircraft in the area who were on the same ATC frequency. "Congratulations from U.S. Airways," "Congratulations from American," "Congratulations from Southwest," "Congratulations from Cessna Aircraft," and so on. "Fossett, you're a stud," someone added.

As N277SF taxied to the ramp, a pair of giant checkered flags were brought out and waved to signal the finish. After some considerable jockeying around for the right parking position -- determined, I imagine, at least in part by where the media were set up -- engine shutdown occurred at 2:05 PM CST. The live video feed continued from near the nose of the aircraft, and I was struck by how small and confined the cockpit space Fossett occupied actually was. From the way it appeared, he must not have been able to move around much if at all for the entire duration of the flight.

This is an historic accomplishment for many reasons. Certainly it's a technological triumph and an aviation first, but we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that it's mostly a human accomplishment, a testament to planning, perseverance, teamwork, dedication to purpose, and the power of the human spirit. Congratulations to all involved!


Around the world in 80 hours

Pilot Steve Fossett departed an airfield in Salina, Kansas yesterday evening in his attempt to become the first person to fly solo non-stop around the world without re-fueling. Information about the mission, the aircraft, and the records that may be set can be found on the Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer home page. Continuously updated flight tracking is available on this page. Site response is a little slow right now, for obvious reasons.

Having just seen the movie The Aviator, I find it interesting to consider Fossett's mission in the context of what people like Howard Hughes and his contemporaries were attempting not really all that long ago. There probably aren't many aviation frontiers left to be conquered, but this is one of them.