My iPod Nano Takes Swim

My iPod Nano in its silica prison

My iPod Nano in its silica prison

I've really been quite abusive of my Apple devices this week. 1st I abandon my Apple Watch at home and now I try an drown my iPod Nano. Before I get into the specifics I figured I better explain what the heck I'm doing with an iPod Nano in the first place. Afterall, I have an Apple Watch so why do I need a Nano? The answer is I shouldn't need a Nano, but between the music syncing only working half the time and the really spotty bluetooth connectivity of headphones to the Apple Watch...most of the time I just choose NOT to fight with getting the Apple Watch to work as a workout music player. See my post about Apple using us as Beta testers for more details.

So I used my trusty iPod Nano while working out in the gym earlier this week and then left it in my sweaty gym shorts after the workout. When I got home from work I promptly threw the sticking mess into the washing machine and pressed start. When I opened up the washing machine a few hours later, there at the bottom of the washing machine was a very clean iPod Nano.

This isn't our first rodeo when it comes to trying to resurect drowned electronics. So after having done this so many times and using rice as the desiccant, my wife planned for inevitable and started saving silica packets back as part of emergency medical kit for all our various devices. Just running my Nano through the wash would have been bad enough, but on top of that my Nano was already compromised. See my post on why I still use an iPod Nano for the details, but my Nano already had a very cracked screen before it made its journey through the washing machine...

Poor Nano

Poor Nano

So after 3 days of being sealed in a bag with silica I held my breath and plugged my Nano into power. This is always the tricky part. You can actually go out and totally soak your mobile device without damaging it, as long as it isn't powered up. The second you apply current to the electronics and there is any significant amount of water in the works, that is where the damage occurs. So it is always a tough question of how long is long enough to wait in order for it to totally dry out. Well, today was the day and my Nano powered up, but the screen flickered and then went into an endless cycle where it would reboot and then go to the home screen and the immediately reboot again...over and over again. Not looking good.  Several years ago my son did the same thing with his shuffle and we couldn't get it to come back from the dead. So it ended up in a junk drawer and many months later on a whim we fired it up and it worked. We ended up getting more life out of the device. So back in the bag my Nano goes and maybe next week I'll try firing it up and again, do a OS wipe and see if I bring it back. If not, I'll take into the Apple Store and see how much it would take to get it repaired. You never know, it might not be too bad. In the mean time I guess this gives me an excuse to do battle with my Apple Watch and bend it to my will to get it to work for me as a workout music player.

Advanced Screening of The Martian

This afternoon I was fortunate enough to obtain a ticket to a NASA employee advanced screening of The Martian in the IMAX Theater at the KSC Visitor's Center. Not only did we get to see the movie before it officially comes out in theaters, but we also got to hear from a panel of experts about the reality of the technologies shown in the movie. The panel consisted of both NASA people and actors from the movie:

  • Jim Green (Director of NASA's Planetary Sciences Division)
  • Nicole Stott (NASA Astronaut)
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor (plays Vincent Kapoor, the Head of the NASA Mars Program in the movie)
  • Bob Cabana (NASA Astronaut and current Center Director of Kennedy Space Center)
  • Mackenzie Davis (plays Mindy Park in the movie)
  • Dave Lavery (the real Head of the NASA Mars Program)
  • We also had special quest in the audience with us, Buzz Aldrin

Having the Q&A panel before the screening of the movie set the stage so well for what we were about to see. Much of the movie demonstrates technologies that are required for a human mission to Mars and this panel pointed out that virtually everything in the movie is a REAL technology already in development by NASA. While The Martian may be science fiction, the world in which it takes place is in our very near future.

I also have a personal connection with this movie and some of the NASA events that have been announced this week. In the summer of 2010 I was working for Jim Green, the Director of NASA's Planetary Sciences Division at NASA HQ in Washington D.C. as part of a temporary rotational assignment. I was sitting in his office one afternoon helping to plan out a monthly review meeting for the division when a group of people rather hastily came into his office. They wanted to show him something amazing...photographic evidence of liquid water on the surface of Mars! I can't begin to explain how exciting it was to be a part of that initial briefing about the first images from the Mars orbiting MRO spacecraft that showed what appeared to be evidence of recently flowing water on Mars. I had to stay quite about this information and after many months and then years passed I started to wonder if they would ever be able to confirm what those orbital images suggested. Then earlier this week the official announcement came out. You see, it takes time to confirm what is going on when you are 30 million miles away from the planetary surface you are trying so desperately to learn about. Real science from that distance takes time. This is also evident from the fact that it will be another year or more before we get all the data back from the very brief encounter that New Horizons had with Pluto earlier this summer. If we had people on the surface of Mars, what took us 5 years to confirm could have been accomplished in just a few minutes or a few hours. But as you will see when you watch The Martian, human space exploration is extremely complicated.

We live in an extremely exciting time. No, we aren't racing to the Moon like we were in the Apollo days but we are making very meaningful advances in both out scientific knowledge of our universe and in the technologies needed to explorer it further. I never could have imagined growing up as a kid that fell in love with astronomy and anything related to space that one day I would be working for NASA and sitting in the Director's office when the first evidence of liquid water on the surface of Mars came in. The next big announcement I am waiting for is for us to find life in our Solar System, and I think we will find life right here in our little celestial neighborhood in my lifetime.

Of course, I have read the book The Martian and even posted a review right here on my blog. I highly recommend the book, whether you choose to read it before or after you see the movie.

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