Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My New MacBook!

On October 14, 2008, the new line of MacBooks were released. With new manufacturing methods, upgraded components (check the specs at the bottom of this article), and the slimmest frame yet, the new MacBooks are true beauty (except they don't have FireWire ports).

It has a beautiful glossy 13.3 inch LCD widescreen display. With support for millions of colors, a LCD back-light (uses 30% less power than the old back-light), and a native resolution of 1280 by 800 pixels make for a stunning display. The black glass around the screen also adds great contrast and beauty (I may over-use that word, after all, it is beautiful, isn't it?).

Enough about that screen. Look at that case!!! Carved out of a single block of aluminum using lasers. Not a single crack or seam to be seen. Actually, there is one - on the bottom hatch that you can slide off to access the hard drive, batteries, and another components. All this is opened up with one simple tab on the bottom.

Here's some pics and a quick description of the features of each one:

Here's a view from an angle to show off the glossy display and thinness of the casing.

Here's a picture of the top portion of the MacBook. In the center you can see the built-in iSight camera and the indicator light to the immediate right of it. The microphone is hidden near the upper left corner above the keyboard.

Apple advertises up to "5 hours wireless productivity". This means, once you fully charge the batteries, you should be able to unplug the laptop and use it nonstop for up to 5 hours. I've tested this out and it seems to be fairly accurate.

The new MacBooks come with the Intel Core 2 Duo processor. My MacBook came with a 2.0 Ghz version of one of these puppies.

Yay! It comes with Blue-tooth! And look, I honestly don't care! I'm never gonna use it. At least it will hep drain my batteries - more money for the electric company when I recharge! I'll just turn it off so it won't be draining my batteries.

Side view of the MacBook showing off the SuperDrive. The drive creates a bit of noise when in use, but that is the nature of a spinning drive. Otherwise, the MacBook is rediculously quiet. In order to hear the fan you have to place your ears right against the keyboard. Sometimes if overheating starts to occur the fans will go full blast for a few seconds or so to clear out the overheated air within the laptop. The hard drive occasionally makes sounds, like when the laptop is opened it makes a small sound for a second or two, but during normal use I rarely ever hear anything from it. This is truly a quiet laptop.

Here's the dimensions of the new MacBook. In the middle is the spot where you open the magnetic latch. To the right is the infrared receiver for the Apple remote (optional, I didn't bother to purchase it). To the left of the notch is small hidden light that can only be seen when the computer goes into sleep mode - the light slowly brightens and dims, as if the laptop is breathing slowly during a good nap.

With the new NVidia GeForce 9400M integrated graphics processors, the new MacBooks achieve up to 6.2 times faster graphics performance (when tested with Call of Duty 4) compared with the Intel processors that were in the old MacBooks.

A quick side view of the ports. There is the MagSafe power port for recharging the MacBook, a Gigabit Ethernet port for wired high-speed internet, two USB 2.0 ports, a Mini DisplayPort for connecting to an external display, a audio-in port (for microphones), an audio-out port (for external speakers or headphones), and a Kensington lock port for connecting to a Kensington lock to secure your laptop to something to prevent it from being stolen. To the right of all these ports is the battering indicator lights. Press the button and the lights will light up indicating how much battery charge is left for use.

The new trackpad is larger than in the old MacBook. This was achieved by building the button into the trackpad. Multi-Touch has been introduced into this trackpad for a greatly enhanced user experience. Scroll through pages by placing to fingers on the trackpad and moving them up and down, resize images by "pinching" with two fingers on the trackpad, use three finger swipes to slide to the next photo in an album (or to flip through items in coverflow), and even more. Definitely one of my favorite features on the new MacBooks.

Finally, the built in Wi-Fi allows me to work anywheres within my house or anywheres outside, as long as I'm fairly close to the wireless router.

Here's the specs of my new MacBook:
WebID: 10111215
Mfr. Part Number: MB466LL/A
Processor Type Intel Core 2 Duo
Screen Size 13.3"
RAM (Preloaded / Maximum) 2GB DDR3
Hard Drive 160GB (5400RPM)
Optical Drives 8X SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce 9400M
Average Battery Life 5 Hours
Product Weight 2.04 kg
Audio Type Stereo
Battery Type Lithium-Ion
Cache 3MB On-Chip Shared L2
Fax/Modem No
I/O Ports USB 2.0, VGA Output, Composite Output
Included In Box AC Adapter, Manual
Network Card Built-In 10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit
Other Software iLife '08, QuickTime, Time Machine
PC Card Slots No
Pointing Device Solid-State scrolling Trackpad
Preloaded Operating System Mac OS X v10.5 Leopard
Processor Speed 2.0GHz
Product Dimensions 32.5(W) x 2.41(H) x 22.7(D) cm
Removable Storage No
Screen Type Widescreen LCD
Speakers Yes
System Bus 1066MHz
Warranty 1 Year Limited Parts & Labour


Monday, October 13, 2008

What's Up? Hubble opened a door to the stars

Welcome back to What's Up?

The final servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope is planned for Oct. 14. This mission will repair and/or replace Hubble's instruments and components to allow it to operate into the year 2014.

Let's take a look at what the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is, what it does, and why it is so important to astronomy.

The HST was first approved by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) back in 1969 and was referred to as the Large Space Telescope project. Due to budget restrictions, the original proposal was downsized a bit, decreasing the size of the main mirror and a few of the instruments aboard the telescope.

In 1975 the European Space Agency (ESA) joined the project and was to supply solar panels and various instruments with the promise that European astronomers would get a certain percentage of time on the telescope. In 1977 US Congress approved funding for this telescope.

In 1981 it was named after Edwin P. Hubble, an American astronomer (1889-1953). He's the person who confirmed the fact that the Universe is expanding and provided the foundation for the theory of the "Big Bang".
The Hubble Space Telescope was finally launched into space on April 24, 1990, aboard the space shuttle Discovery.

Why would anyone in their right mind want to put a telescope in space? The answer is simple: turbulence.
The Earth's atmosphere is always moving around and bending light. This causes objects viewed in a telescope to be blurry. This is what causes stars to twinkle and is similar to looking across the top of a car on a hot day and seeing the objects in the background to be bent around and giving a blurry image.
To fix this problem you need to get above the atmosphere where there is none of this annoying distortion. This is where the HST comes in.

The HST has a main mirror with a diameter of 2.4 meters (94.5 inches). This is considered small compared with today's giant, ground-based telescopes, but it still is at the forefront of research because of its unique observing location. This primary mirror was made to such great precision that if it were scaled up to the diameter of the Earth, the biggest bump would only be six inches tall.
After its deployment in space it was expected to take the greatest images of space ever taken. After the first few images came in and were examined, it was realized that Hubble's mirror was ground to the wrong curvature! This resulted in terribly blurry images. HST was called by some to be one of NASA's biggest financial blunders.
Luckily, this mistake was fixable. In December, 1993, a servicing mission was sent up to correct this error and upgrade a few instruments. After this "eye surgery", Hubble operated almost exactly like it was expected to!
Now operating to its full abilities, Hubble quickly became an essential component of modern astronomy. It began taking images of the very distant Universe, seeing faint objects never seen before and looking at objects that have been observed in the past except in greater detail than ever before. It has mapped out dark matter in 3D by seeing which way dark matter was tugging galaxies, pinned the age of our Universe at about 13.7 billion years old (much better than the previous estimate of between 10 and 20 billion years old), help us understand how galaxies form, that gamma-ray bursts come from distant galaxies when a giant star collapses in a supernova, and much more. That's just starting to scratch the surface of its many discoveries. All in all, more than 6,000 scientific articles have been published using data from the Hubble Space Telescope!
Hubble's successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, is scheduled for launch in 2013. It will have a special mirror made of many segments that will unfurl itself to the correct shape in space. It has an enormous main mirror, about 6.5 meters (21.3 feet) in diameter!

The James Webb Space Telescope will orbit the sun keeping its distance from Earth at about 1.5 million kilometers (1 million miles), so that it doesn't have to work as hard to keep itself locked on an object like the Hubble does. Since the Hubble flies around the Earth at a speed of 8 kilometers per second (5 miles/sec), it needs to be able to lock onto objects accurately. It can lock on to an object without deviating more than 7/1000th of an arc second (about the width of a hair seen at a distance of 1 mile).
To see where Hubble is orbiting above, go to:
Once you're done checking that out, let's take a look at what's going on in the skies this month.

On Oct. 14 there will be a full moon, which will dwindle down to a new moon by Oct. 28.
On Oct. 21 will be the peak of the Orionids Meteor Shower. It will produce about 20 meters per hour at their peak but are very irregular and could give a good show on any morning between Oct. 20-24.

Until next month, just look up!

Hey Kids...

You can build your own model of the Hubble Space Telescope. Just go to for details on supplies and details on how to make it. Make sure to ask for help from parents when it comes to using the drill or the saw. It can be done in 1-3 hours for under $20. Have fun!