Posts Tagged‘Technology’

Dogecoin Thanks BTC LTC

Dogecoin Gets It, Everyone Else Doesn’t.

Cryptocurrencies and I have a sordid history. It began with me comparing BitCoin to a pyramid scheme, pointing out the issues that were obvious to many casual observers and receiving some good feedback in the process. Over time I became more comfortable with the idea, although still lamenting the volatility and obvious market speculation, and would go as far to say I was an advocate for it, wanting it to succeed in its endeavours. Then I met the community, filled with outright hostile individuals who couldn’t tolerate any criticism and acted like they were the victim of the oppressive government regime. I decided then that I wouldn’t bother blogging about BitCoin as much as I had done previously as I was just sick of the community that had grown around it.

Then came Dogecoin.
Dogecoin Thanks BTC LTCDogecoin, for the uninitiated, is a scrypt based cryptocurrency (meaning that it’s a memory-hard based currency, so the ASICs and other mining hardware that BitCoiners have invested in is useless for mining it) which bears the mark of the Internet meme Doge. The community that sprung up around it is the antithesis of what the BitCoin community has become, with every toxic behaviour lampooned and everyone encouraged to have fun with the idea. Indeed getting into Dogecoin is incredibly simple with tons of guides and dozens of users ready and willing to help you out should you need it. Even if you don’t have the hardware to mine at a decent rate you can still find yourself in possession of hundreds, if not thousands, of Dogecoins in a matter of minutes from any number of the facet services. This has led to a community of people who aren’t the technically elite or those looking to profit, something which I believe led to the other cryptocurrency communities to become so toxic.

I myself hold about 20,000 Doge after spending about a week’s worth of nights mining on my now 3 year old system. Whilst I haven’t done much more than that it was far, far more than I had ever thought about doing with any other cryptocurrency. My friends are also much more willing to talk to me about Dogecoin than Bitcoin with a few even going as far to mine a few to fool around with on Reddit. Whether they will ever be worth anything doesn’t really factor into the equation but even with their fraction of a penny value at the moment there’s still been some incredible stories of people making things happen using them.

For most of its life though the structural issues that plagued BitCoin where also inherent in Dogecoin, albeit in a much less severe manner. The initial disparity between early adopters and the unwashed masses is quite a lot smaller due to Dogecoins initial virility but there was still a supposed limit of 100 billion coins which still made it deflationary. However the limit wasn’t actually enforced and thus, in its initial incarnation, Dogecoin was inflationary and a debate erupted as to what was going to be done. Today Dogecoin’s creator made a decision and he elected to keep it that way.

One of my biggest arguments against BitCoin was its deflationary nature, not because it’s not inflationary or whatever argument people think I have against it, more that the deflationary nature of BitCoin encouraged speculation and hoarding rather than spending. Whilst the inflation at this point is probably a little too high (I.E. the price instability is mostly due to new coin creation than much else) it does prevent people attempting to use Dogecoin as a speculative investment vehicle. Indeed the reaction from a lot of those who don’t “get” Dogecoin have been lamenting this change but in all honesty this is the best decision that could be made and shows the Dogecoin creators understand the larger (non-technical) issues that plague BitCoin.

Will this mean that Dogecoin will become the cryptocurrency of choice? Likely not as with most of these nascent technologies they’ll likely be superseded by something better that addresses all the issues whilst bringing new features that the old systems simply cannot support. Still the fact that there has been an explosion in altcoins shows that there’s a market out there for cryptocurrencies with feature sets outside of what BitCoin provides. Whether they win out all depends on where the market wants to head.

TechEd 2012 Australia Helicopter Ride

TechEd Day 2: Ah So This Is Journalism.

I can’t say I was enthused at the prospect at getting up at 7:00am this morning to meet with all the other media people over breakfast but I figured I should make the effort, if only for the fact that free food is hard to turn down. It was a bit of a struggle but nothing compared to attempting to do the same in freezing Canberra weather, something that I’m thankful for the brief respite from. After the breakfast and a quick chat with everyone we were whisked back down to the showcase floor to have a cosy session with some of the Microsoft guys, their customers and some solution providers.

If I’m honest these kinds of high level talks bore the crap out of me. I understand their place, they’re great for people who aren’t into the nuts and bolts of technology, but for someone like me who lives and dies by their understanding of how to implement/configure/maintain things they’re just not that useful. After that it was off to our session choices for the day and I had chosen a path that was focused on virtualization/cloud topics which turned out ok, save for the couple sessions that were simply not worth attending. In case you’re wondering the sessions I attended were:

  • VIR312 – Whats New in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Part 1
  • WSV313 – Architecting Private Clouds Using Windows Server 2012
  • AZR314  - Azure SQL, Tables, Blobs, Queues, Cache, Hadoop – Which one is right for me?
  • VIR315- Whats New in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Part 2
  • VIR316 – Comparing Private Cloud Capabilities
  • DEV317 – WinRT Deep Dive (I was going to do some Cloud Auth thing but this looked better).

VIR 312 and VIR315 well worth attending as they gave a really solid overview of the new features in Hyper-V 3.0. I had read about most of them before but it was great to get an introduction to those things that aren’t usually covered in much detail in marketing material. Those two sessions were the basis for the first part of my blog for LifeHacker (which will be up tomorrow morning I believe) with the second half being based on some of the things I gleaned whilst attending the cloud sessions. The sessions I’d probably skip catching up on are WSV313 and VIR316 as they’d only be useful if you’d never designed a virtual infrastructure before or if you you weren’t capable of comparing Microsoft and VMware’s offerings. The last two were really just for me, although I’ll probably use some of the info I got from them in tomorrow’s post.

I was also lucky enough to win one of the helicopter rides because I tweeted something non-generic at the right time. It was a pretty quick affair, just a 15 minute jaunt around Broadbeach and Soutbank but it was pretty awesome to get a birds eye view of the place. I certainly didn’t expect to win when I entered with my slightly bizwank-esque tweet but obviously the people behind the account love to indulge in a little geek humour.

The whole day was really entertaining but thoroughly exhausting. When I wasn’t in a session or a helicopter I was up in the media room review my notes from the previous session and attempting to draft up the post for the day. When I was first told that I only needed to do one post a day I didn’t consider it much of a challenge, I mean I’ve been doing exactly that for years now, but its one thing to research a single idea and write about it and a whole other thing to try and distil 6+ hours of content into a single blog post. I think I did a good job of getting at a couple ideas I believe are key (and the editor liked it) but I’m so exhausted that I’m not sure how the greater public will recieve it.

But then again I don’t usually know that anyway ;)

Facebook’s IPO Was For The Company, Not The Investors.

The wonderful world of tech Initial Public Offerings isn’t the same beast that it was back in the hey days of the dot com boom. Gone are the days when caution was thrown to the wind on any company that managed to demonstrate a modicum of social proof, where the idea of going IPO was just a way to get another round of keeping a company going until they found a sustainable business model. Today whilst going IPO is still done with an eye to gather more funds for expansions they’re also big events for investment companies to make a quick buck on the hype surrounding a tech company going public. So much so that it’s become something of a trend for sexy high tech companies stock’s to soar on the first day only to come back down to reality not long after.

Take LinkedIn for example. On its opening day the share price skyrocketed, more than doubling its price on the opening day. Many took this as a sign that the tech bubble was returning with a vengeance, that tech companies would soon be inflating the market beyond its sustainable limits and that we were seeing the makings of another crash. More astute observers recognised that instead it was actually a ploy by the investment companies managing the IPO process. Instead of it being a sign that these tech companies were fuelling another bubble it was the investment companies severely under-pricing the IPO. Doing this would seem highly counter-intuitive, I mean who wouldn’t want the best debut price? The answer is of course, and unfortunately, very simple.

They wanted to be the ones who profited the most from the IPO.

Pricing the IPO so low meant that the initial buyers could acquire many more shares than they could if the IPO. Knowing that the stock was undervalued they then just had to wait for the pricing to hit it’s trading peak before unloading their shares on the market. Done at the peak of the LinkedIn IPO companies like Morgan Stanley, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and JPMorgan who were underwriters were able to get an easy 1X return without little to no risk. Employees and preferred stock holders who elected to have shares in the IPO got screwed of course, but that’s not a concern for these big name investment firms.

So it was with great anticipation that I watched the recent Facebook IPO. It’s by far the biggest tech IPO in history and also managed to set records in terms of trade volume on the first day. Since then it’s been a slow downhill trend for the nascent stock, shedding something like $11 per share since its high of around $42. Whilst the first day of trading was cause for concern, mostly because there wasn’t an insane pop like there was for all other tech stocks, the following days have been nothing short of astonishing at least for the investors who jumped in alongside everyone else on the first release shares. You’d think that this was a bad thing but for this aspiring start-uper it’s nothing short of glorious.

The other tech IPOs that showed explosive growth only did so because they were engineered that way. Now I have no idea why the Facebook IPO didn’t, it certainly had all the makings of one, but there’s a good chance that the watchful eye of the SEC had something to do with it. For all the people who bought in early they’re undeniably screwed but there is one group of people who (rightly so) profited from Facebook’s IPO: the people at the company.

The shares that made up the original offering would have come from preferred stock (early investors), common stock (employees) and options that other people had accured over Facebook’s 8 year lifespan.For them a right priced IPO that then declines in value means that they’ve got the maximum amount of value they could and were not screwed over by an artificially low stock price. Of course this has the not-so-nice aspect of pissing off a lot of investors, many of whom are now crying foul over the share price making a beeline for penny stock level. That’s warranted to some extent but you’ll forgive me if I don’t shed a tear for those companies who screwed over many a tech company in the past in the pursuit of a quick buck.

The question on everyone’s lips is where Facebook’s stock will go from here. Honestly I’m not sure, they’ve definitely struggling with mobile which is starting to heavily cut into their revenue and apparently the reason behind their Instagram acquisition but you’d figure that they’ve innovated heavily in the past so they should be able to turn it around in the not too distant future. Still all this negative press isn’t going to do the stock price any favours so unless the commentators want to see the price keep falling they should probably just shut their yaps and wait for the market to properly correct. The next few weeks will be very interesting times indeed and I can’t wait to see how the investor butthurt plays out.

Quantic Dream’s Kara is Simply Amazing.

Before I say anything, you need to watch this video in its entirety:

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Long time readers will know I have a soft spot for Quantic Dream’s work, having played their first title Fahrenheit some years ago. My status as their fanboy was sealed when I played their second title Heavy Rain, a game that pushed the limits of games as a medium of expression. The video above is Quantic Dream’s latest achievement and whilst they say that this isn’t directly from any of their current projects they have done other videos similar to this which were very indicative of their future products.

Needless to say this has me very excited for what they’re currently working on. Whilst it might not be exactly what’s shown here you can safely bet that all the elements: the graphics, the emotion and the story telling will make it into the final product. The fact that it all runs in real time on the PS3 is even more impressive as whilst the graphics aren’t exactly cutting edge they’re right up there with other titles.

I really can’t wait!

I Think I’m A Challenge Junkie.

My last two years have seen me dabble in a whole swath of things I never thought I’d dip my toes into. The first was web development, arguably inspired by this blog and the trials and tribulations that went into making it what it is today. Having been out of the development game for quite a long time before that (3 years or so) I had forgotten the thrill of solving some complex problem or finding an elegant solution to replace my overly complicated one. This then led me to try a cascade of different technologies, platforms and frameworks as ideas started to percolate through my head and success stories of overseas start ups left me lusting for a better life that I could create for myself.

For each of these new technologies I pursued I always had, at least in my mind, a good reason for doing so. Web development was the first step in the door and a step towards modernizing the skills I had let decay for too long. Even though my first foray into this was with ASP.NET, widely regarded as the stepping stone to the web for Windows desktop devs like myself, I still struggled with many of the web concepts. Enter then Silverlight, a framework which is arguably more capable than but has the horrible dependency of relying on an external framework. Still it was enough to get me past the hurdle of giving up before I had started and I spent much of the next year getting very familiar with it.

Of course the time then came when I believed that I needed to take a stab at the mobile world and promptly got myself involved in all things Apple and iOS. For someone who’d never really dared venture outside the comfortable Microsoft world it was a daunting experience, especially when my usual approach of “Attempt to do X, if can’t Google until you can” had me hitting multiple brick walls daily. Eventually however I broke through to the other side and I feel it taught me as much as my transition from desktop to web did. Not long after hitting my stride however did I find myself deep in yet another challenge.

Maybe it was the year+ I had spent on Lobaco without launching anything or maybe it was the (should have been highly expected) Y-Combinator rejection but I had found myself looking for ideas for another project that could free me from the shackles of my day job. Part me also blamed the frameworks I had been using up until that point, cursing them for making it so hard to make a well rounded product (neglecting the fact that I only worked on weekends). So of course I tried all sorts of other things like Ruby on Rails, PHP and even flirted with the idea of trying some of those new fangled esoteric frameworks like Node.js. In the end I opted for ASP.NET MVC which was familiar enough for me to be able to understand it clearly without too much effort and modern enough that it didn’t feel like I’d need to require IE6 as the browser.

You’re probably starting to notice a pattern here. I have a lot of ideas, many of which I’ve actually put some serious effort into, but there always comes a point when I dump both the idea and the technology it rests on for something newer and sexier. It dawned on me recently that the ideas and technology are just mediums for me to pursue a challenge and once I’ve conquered them (to a certain point) they’re no longer challenge I idolized, sending me off to newer pastures. You could write off much of this off to coincidence (or other external factors) except that I’ve done it yet again with the last project I mentioned I’m working on. I’m still dedicated to it (since I’m not the only one working on it) but I’ve had yet another sexy idea that’s already taken me down the fresh challenge path, and it’s oh so tempting to drop everything for it.

I managed to keep my inner junkie at bay for a good year while working on Lobaco so it might just be a phase I’m going through, but the trend is definitely a worrying one. I’d hate to think that my interest only lasts as long as it takes to master (well, get competent with) and it would be a killer for any potential project. I don’t think I’m alone in this boat either, us geeks tend to get caught up in the latest technology and want to apply it where ever we can. I guess I’ll just have to keep my blinkers on and keep at my current ideas for a while before I let myself get distracted by new and shiny things again. Hopefully that will give me enough momentum to overcome my inner challenge junkie.

Shit’s Breaking Everywhere, Captain.

So it turns out that my blog has been down for the last 2 days and I, in my infinite wisdom, failed to notice this. It seems like no matter how I set this thing up it will end up causing some problem that inveitably brings the whole server to its knees, killing it quietly whilst I go about my business. Now this isn’t news to anyone who’s read my blog for any length of time but it eerily coinciding with my main machine “forgetting” it’s main partition, leaving me with no website and a machine that refused to boot.

Realistically I’m a victim of my own doing since my main machine is getting a bit long in the tooth (almost 3 years now by my guess) but even before it hit the 6 month mark I was getting problems. Back then it was some extremely obscure issue that only seemed to crop up in certain games where I couldn’t get more than 30 seconds into playing them before the whole machine froze and repeatedly played the last second of sound until I pulled the plug on it. That turned out to be RAM requiring more volts than it said it did and everything seemed to run fine until I hit a string of hard drives that magically forgot partitions (yes, in much the same fashion as my current one did). Most recently it has taken to hating having all of its RAM slots filled even though both of them work fine in isolation. Maybe it’s time this bugger went the way of old yeller.

Usually a rebuild isn’t much of a hassle for someone like me. It’s a pain to be sure but the pay off at the end is a much leaner and meaner rig that runs everything faster than it did before. This time around however it also meant configuring my development environment again whilst also making sure that all my code didn’t suffer in the apparent partition failure. I’m glad to say that whilst it did kill a good couple hours I was otherwise planning to spend lazing about I have got everything functional again and no code was harmed in the exercise.

You might be wondering why the hell I’m bother to post this then since it’s so much of a non-event. Well for the most part it’s to satisfy that part of me that likes to blog every day (no matter how hard I try to quell him) but also it’s to make sure the whole thing is running again and that Google is aware that my site hasn’t completely disappeared. So for those of you who were expecting something more I’m deeply sorry, but until the new year comes along I’m not sure how much blogging I’m going to be doing. Let alone any well thought out pieces that I tend to hit at least a couple times a week ;)

Maybe You Just Need to Innovate.

There’s been many times when I’ve caught myself with some kind of random idea for a product, service or whatever that I’ve quickly thrown on an ever growing pile of ideas. It doesn’t seem to take long for that one idea that I’ve had to turn from something I thought that I only thought of to someone else’s business venture upon which time I curse myself for not following through on it. Granted many of these ideas have been kicking around in my head for years without them coming to fruition and my recent attempts to develop one of them has been quite the eye opener, showing me that ideas are great and all but implementations are still king.

This is one of the biggest challenges that anyone will come up against when trying to develop a product or service: someone has already done it before. In this world that thrives on innovation being the first to market with a new widget is a powerful force and almost guarantees you the lion’s share of the early adopter market. The problem here is though that being first to market with something means one of two things: either you’re creating a market that didn’t exist before (see Apple and Nintendo as good examples of this) or you’ve seen an established market and noticed something sorely lacking, which pits you against established players in this space. In both these cases if you’re just starting out at being an entrepreneur your friends, family and potential business partners will more than likely shoot a skeptical eye your way telling you that there’s no way it could work.

For the most part they’re right, in a traditional business world starting from scratch is a pretty risky business and whilst the jury is still out on how you can judge failure rates of new companies it’s no secret that you’re more likely to fail than succeed. To an investor a business plan that builds on proven methods will look a lot more attractive as there’s a much better chance that they’ll get a return on their money even if it would be smaller than something that could be perceived as a higher risk. Consequently this has the effect of stifling innovation for certain high risk ventures, although that trend is starting to change.

In the tech industry at least this can be attributed to investors gaining back the confidence they lost in the tech industry back in the dot com bust. After the crash many investors sought more stable investments (and look how that turned out!) and shied away from funding what looked like high risk ventures. As a consequence many hungry start up founders started to make do with a lot less and this drove a phenomenal amount of innovation. Primarily this was to attract their once bitten investors back into the fray and the last couple years has seen the resurgence of the high tech start up craze that we lived through only a decade ago.

For those looking to lash out into the world of tech start ups this means that for any idea that you might have you’re going to be compared to those who’ve come before you. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re destined to fail, it just means that you’ve got your work cut out for you if you’re looking to make an impression in the tech world. Innovation in this fast paced tech world is the name of the game and whilst any market you may care to get into (hats off to you if you manage to create one) may appear to be completely saturated that doesn’t mean you can’t succeed in that space. It all comes down to how you differentiate yourself from the pack.

Maybe this blog post is more for my benefit than anyone else’s as I’m currently staring right down the barrel of trying to attempt such a feat myself. The location space is heating up like crazy and all the large players in other spaces are already integrating location based services into their current offerings. Initially this was a boon for me but I’ve come to realize it first as a hindrance to me progressing my core functionality (Oh another information feed with co-ordinates in it, better integrate that one too!) and secondly as another blow against a product I’m looking to deliver. Realistically though I know what I want to do is different enough from every one else to warrant at least an attempt to make it successful and should it fail I’ll be that much wiser about the whole process, ready to try over again with yet another idea.

Realistically I’d need a team of 100 people to try all the ideas I have, so I could be in this cycle for quite some time ;)

Inspiration Lost: NASA and the Future of Humanity in Space.

Everytime I think I’m losing my interest in space something always comes along to bring me right back into that almost dream like state I first had when I decided that leaving this blue marble was my lifetime goal. Whether it be pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope, a few readings from the Mars Exploration Rovers or even a discovery that might one day lead us faster than light travel I can’t doubt myself for more than a day before I reminded of the beautiful, complex and ever changing universe that we live in. It is my fervent hope that I can one day instill such passion in a wide majority of the world, and the beginnings of that are contained in this blog.

However I understand that we don’t live in a world that is governed solely by one man’s desires and hopes. In this world that is ruled by politics, economics and raw resources we have work within these constructs in order to achieve the goals we set for ourselves. Unfortunately in the case of NASA these rules have led from it being a source of inspiration for humanity worldwide to a struggling organisation who can barely make the headlines. Whilst some might say that this is because there are bigger problems to solve here on terra firma I and many others would disagree:

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Tyson echos a sentiment I’ve held for quite a while now. Born well after the initial space race and in the remote location of Australia I was cut off from the world of space for a very long time. My earliest memory of having anything to do with space was a night of astronomy when I was about 8 years old, seeing a bright red dot through a large contraption I had no understanding of. It would be another 4 years before my next brief experience of space when I saw Mission to Mir on the IMAX screen in Sydney. After then I can not think of one experience I had with space until a couple years back, when I discovered my passion for space and all things to do with it.

After the dizzying heights that were reached when NASA was formed to win the space race it has taken a slow downhill course to irrelevance. No longer are they charged with pushing the boundaries of what we are capable in space, more they are responsible for a very expensive transport business with a small dabbling of science on the side. This is why they are no longer the inspiration they once were, every they do is routine. For decades now NASA has been in a position to cast off its routine duties and begin clawing at the edges of space, just like it did so long ago. We have the chance to do so much yet such a comparatively small cost is too great for those who have the ability to pay for it.

Maybe I’m just nostalgic for a time that I didn’t live through, but after going so long not knowing about the tremendous benefits that NASA and its projects brought to our world and then finally discovering them I can’t help but feel that the everyman is in the same situation. As a species we seem so focused on the immediate problems of our world that we tend to forego looking up and seeing the direction we should be moving in, leaving us only to tread the paths we’ve been down before. It would seem that collectively we’re incapable of drastic change over a prolonged period of time.

The point remains however that should NASA axe its human space program that it will become irrelevant in the public’s eye. Whilst we have had a tremendous amount of success with robotic exploration missions they fail to grab the attention of the everyman as they can not identify with them. Whilst I lament the idea of flag planting missions they serve to inspire the generation of their time to achieve such lofty goals which, if continued over an extended period of time, leads to a feedback loop of epic proportions. Had NASA continued along the same path as it did when it was first created there’s no telling where we would be today, but there’s no use dwelling on the past.

Despite this we are on the cusp of another revolution in space which the fledgling private space industry is responsible for. We have so many companies that are now willing to do the job that only NASA was capable of just a decade ago that soon NASA will have no choice but to give way to them. Once they have done this they can refocus their efforts on pushing the limits of technology like they once did and hopefully see them return to their rightful spot as the most inspirational government organisation mankind has ever seen. Just that thought alone is enough to keep a dreamer like myself going even when NASA seems to be going through the darkest times.

My thanks go out to my friend Glen for linking the video that inspired this post.

Google Wave: Rethinking Communication.

Taking a look over the past decade or so of technology and communications you’ll notice that they’re hasn’t been any revolutionary ideas that have come forward. Sure there have been a lot of improvements or augmentations to current technology but no one has really gone back and thought about the underlying principals of communication and how to make them transcend new mediums. When I first heard about Google Wave it was something that was supposed to be “pretty cool” but I didn’t hear much more of it then that. Queue the following video, which I thoroughly recommend watching if you have the time (I’ll give a general overview of it anyway if you can’t spare the 1.5 hours):

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In essence Wave is a wrapper around many different modes of communication such as email, twitter and instant messaging with augmentations that allow for some creative ways of interacting with the flow of the communications. This by itself isn’t a revolutionary means of transforming communication but due to Google’s idea of open sourcing the majority of the code and having a wealth of APIs developed this will allow the market to drive the innovation, and that is where the true revolution can begin.

Looking over it I couldn’t help but notice a trend that has been developing over the past few years when it comes to technologies like this. On the Internet we have access to such wide and disperate sources of information that it is easy to become overwhelmed when you’re trying to filter out everything you don’t want to see. Many technologies have tried to solve this issue by allowing you to aggregate your personal choices into one interface (things like RSS feeds) in the hopes to focus your experience. Wave is Google’s attempt to transcend all the mediums and bring them onto a more robust and open platform which is not only a boon for them but also for standards based development, something that the Internet has been lacking for a long time (thank you Internet Explorer!).

I like the idea a lot. I see myself using many different forms of communication these days and it would be great to have a unified web based interface to the lot of them. Of course the augmentations that Google has added (that spell checker and auto-translator are awesome) would make using this platform worthwhile but as we’ve seen with other Google products once the developers get their hands on it the applications will widen considerably. Couple that with the fact that they’ll let you run your own Wave server and I’m sold, I love having new toys to play with on my web server :)

Hopefully the haiku and ASCII frog I sent them will butter them up enough to send me an invite….. ;)

Space, No Longer the Government’s Frontier.

With the cost of space travel so high and the benefits lacking real monetization strategies few private companies have made a lot of progress in this realm without the backing of government agencies. Whilst there is a considerable amount of activity in the low earth orbit realm for telecommunications, geo-spatial and meteoric industries these are all concerned with doing things once they’re up there. There are only a few companies who dare recreate the infrastructure that the governments have invested so heavily in.

One company I’m constantly impressed with is SpaceX, founded by the the co-founder of Paypal Elon Musk. He took a very coroprate look at the space industry and came to the conclusion that the majority of the costs incurred were bureaucratic, and sought to solve that problem. Incidentally he’s right on the money, since the Shuttle has about 13,500 staff required to keep the shuttle operational. SpaceX on the other hand operates with about 600 currently, with only about 25 dedicated to launch and 6 forming mission control. That in itself is an achievement especially considering that after 3 failed launches they managed to get their fouth rocket into orbit. Here’s a pretty awe inspiring video taken from one of the on board cameras.

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They must be doing quite a few things right since NASA has selected them to take on the resupply missions once the the shuttle goes into retirement. I must say it couldn’t go to a better company as these guys are really on the cutting edge when it comes to rocket technology.

Another company I’m impressed with is Bigelow Aerospace. Founded by chain hotel giant Robert Bigelow they took an interesting step in purchasing the rights and patents to the Transhab design created by NASA. It was a disappointment that NASA never got to build one of these modules (as they would’ve proven an invaluable way of increasing our space living volumes) however it was a big win for the private industry. They haven’t been sitting on their hands with these plans either as they already have two habitats in orbit right now. They’ve even contracted SpaceX to make a Falcon 9 for their third launch, which is match made in heaven if you ask me.

It’s an interesting time for the space industry. We’re seeing the transition from what used to be a government only endeavour to a flourishing industry filled with pioneers who are building on the success of the people before them. With the help of other companies like Virgin Galactic who are popularizing space for the masses the market can only get larger for companies like this which will hopefully bring the cost of space travel down to the everyman in the near future.

I know I’ll be waiting with bated breath.