Mars street view

Photographer Andrew Bodrov connected 407 Curiosity photographs together to make a 4 gigapixel, 360 degree panoramic view spanning over thirteen days.  Enlarge to full screen to see this amazing panorama!

Mars Gigapixel Panorama – Curiosity rover: Martian solar days 136-149 in The World

mars curiosity rover
Curiosity is a car-sized robotic rover exploring Gale Crater on Mars as part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission (MSL). Curiosity was launched from Cape Canaveral on November 26, 2011, at 10:02 EST aboard the MSL spacecraft and successfully landed on Aeolis Palus in Gale Crater on Mars on August 6, 2012, 05:17 UTC. The Bradbury Landing site was less than 2.4 km (1.5 mi) from the center of the rover’s touchdown target after a 563,000,000 km (350,000,000 mi) journey.



Admin Grid in Magento with frame_callback

Recently on, someone asked a Magento question about how to pull data into a Magento admin grid (See:  I’ve seen this come up a lot and it seems that not a lot of people know that it is possible to pull data into the Admin grid without a lot of complex joins.  You will need the joins to search and sort a custom column, but not to simply display data in the row.

For example, to get all of the SKUs in the order, you could use frame_callback to look up the SKUs for the order in a separate function.

In the Order Grid.php _prepareColumns() function, the following code will add a SKU column:


$this->addColumn('sku', array(
'header' => Mage::helper('sales')->__('SKU'),
'index' => 'increment_id',
'frame_callback' => array($this, 'callback_skus')

This looks like a normal addColumn with the exception of the parameter ‘frame_callback’.  Notice that I’m passing an array with $this and a function named ‘callback_skus’.

Add  the new function below named callback_skus somewhere in your Grid.php.

public function callback_skus($value, $row, $column, $isExport) {
$increment_id = $value;
$_order = Mage::getModel('sales/order')->loadByIncrementId($increment_id);
$_items = $_order->getAllItems();
foreach ($_items as $item) {
$skus .= $item->getSku()."<br/>";
return $skus;

The frame_callback function passes $value, $row, $column and $isExport.  The $value will be the data returned in the ‘index’ of the addColumn.  In this example, $value equals the increment_id from the table.  We can then use that increment_id to pull the entire order object and iterate through getAllItems() to retrieve all of the SKUs in that order.  By returning this value, the column in the Order Grid will now have all of the SKUs listed.

This can work just about any data that is associated with any other data that can be passed to the order grid.  You can also use frame_callback to re-style/reformat your output and pass it back to the Order Grid.

Unless the data you’re passing back to the Grid matches the data in the ‘index’, you will not be able to search or sort it.  To accomplish that, we need to do the following:

Using the same example of returning SKUs in the order Grid, update the _prepareCollection() to this:

protected function _prepareCollection()

$collection = Mage::getResourceModel($this->_getCollectionClass())
'skus' => new Zend_Db_Expr('group_concat(`sales/order_item`.sku SEPARATOR ",")'),
return parent::_prepareCollection();

This join adds the SKUs to the Grid Collection which makes the column able to be searched and sorted.

We’ll have to make a small modification to the addColumn.  We need to add the parameter filter_condition_callback and pass an array containing $this and the function name ‘filter_skus’.


$this->addColumn('sku', array(
'header' => Mage::helper('sales')->__('SKU'),
'index' => 'increment_id',
'frame_callback' => array($this, 'callback_skus'),
'filter_condition_callback' => array($this, 'filter_skus'),

The new call to filter_condition_callback adds the where condition necessary to make the search function.

The new function filter_skus() accepts $collection and $column.  We can modify the collection with a getSelect() to add a new where condition.

public function filter_skus($collection, $column) {
if (!$value = $column->getFilter()->getValue()) {
return $this;

"sku like ?"
, "%$value%");

return $this;


This new where passes the $value from the column search.  You can now search for individual SKUs in an order from the Sales Order Grid.

This can be adapted to work on any Grid in the Magento admin to retrieve just about any type of data into a column or to reformat existing data in the Grid.


CISPA is back…

Reddit, Craigslist and more than 30,000 other websites are flying the flag of opposition to the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA, a controversial cybersecurity bill that was recently reintroduced in Congress.

The thousands of websites which oppose CISPA will, starting Tuesday, be displaying an interactive banner ad (seen below) from the Internet Defense League that allows voters to send the following message to their members of Congress: “CISPA is back. This bill sacrifices privacy without improving security. We deserve both.”

“CISPA takes away people’s 4th amendment right to privacy,” said Tiffiny Cheng of Fight for the Future and the Internet Defense League, an Internet activist organization which is organizing an anti-CISPA “Week of Action.”

The Internet Defense League is a product of Fight for the Future and includes Mozilla, WordPress, Public Knowledge, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, among other members.

“That’s why internet users are going to do what they’re good at; the Internet is good at fighting for itself and the rights of every user,” continued Cheng. “We’ve been able to tailor our responses to the unique threats and opportunities to free expression and rights online, and we keep winning.”

SEE ALSO: Internet Activists Deliver 300,000 Anti-CISPA Signatures to Congress

CISPA is designed to allow private companies and the government to share cybersecurity information with one another in an effort to bolster both sides’ defenses against hackers. However, it has come under fire from Internet activists and privacy advocates, who fear it will allow the government to spy on Internet users — claims which are vehemently denied by the bill’s authors.

CISPA passed the House of Representatives last year despite a veto threat from the White House on privacy grounds, but it was not picked up by the Senate. It has since been re-introduced in the new congressional term.

Grassroots Internet advocates successfully joined with some of the Internet’s top companies, including Google and Facebook, to defeat SOPA in early 2012. However, several of the companies which opposed SOPA have been kinder to CISPA, arguing it could help them protect themselves and their users from hackers and data breaches.

While CISPA’s fate remains uncertain, President Barack Obama in January signed an executive order which effectively put the less controversial half of CISPA’s intelligence flow — the transfer of data from government agencies to private companies — into practice.

By: Alex Fitzpatrick



Stop CISPA page on Facebook:


Google Easter Eggs

Easter is around the corner so it’s time for more Google Easter Eggs!  Some of these are older but there are a few that I hadn’t seen yet.  Here they are in no particular order.

Happy Easter!


I’m feeling artistic?


Google Instant, which takes you to your search results when you start typing your query, has made the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button pretty much obsolete.  Last year, Google added some new text to this button that you can see if you hover over it.   Move away and back to see different button text.


Zerg rush


A Zerg is a reference to a race in StarCraft called the Zerg Swarm.  By typing in “zerg rush” in the Google search box, your search results will be destroyed unless you can fend off endless waves of yellow and red Google Os.   Use your mouse to click on the Os until they’re gone.


Google Reader ninja


Go to Google Reader and enter the Konami code on your keyboard: ↑ ↑ ↓ ↓ ← → ← → B A to reveal a ninja hiding in the left column.


Easter Eggs for number nerds

Type “binary,” “hexadecimal,” or “octal” into the Google search box. Google will give you the number of search matches in that numeral system—for example, if you type “hexadecimal,” Google will say “About 0x19a7620 results (0.27 seconds).”


8-bit Google Maps

Unfortunately this is no longer available, but for a while you could use Google Maps in 8-bit mode.  I hope they bring this back!


Robert Moog’s 78th birthday

May 23, 2012 was Robert Moog’s 78th birthday.  Google created a highly advanced Doodle to honor the inventor of the Moog Synthesizer.

You can access it here:


Alan Turing’s 100th birthday

To celebrate Alan Turing’s 100th birthday, the Google Doodle was a Turing Machine.  See if you can crack the code here.


Walking to Mordor

Go to Google Maps and navigate to New Zealand. Hit “Get directions” and tap the “walking directions” tab. Then type “The Shire” in box A and “Mordor” in box B.

Google will spit out a Lord of the Rings-inspired warning: “Use caution—One does not simply walk into Mordor.”

I’ve entered it for you here.


Google Translate Beatbox

Go to Google Translate, select translate from English to German and type the following string in:

pv zk bschk pv zk pv bschk zk pv zk bschk pv zk pv bschk zk bschk pv bschk bschk pv kkkkkkkkkk bschk bschk bschk

When you mouseover the Listen button, you’ll see that it says “Beatbox.”


Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon

My brother is the master of this particular game, and now Google has made it easier.  The goal is to find the fewest steps between an actor and Kevin Bacon.  For example, the challenger may say “Kevin Smith” and your goal is to link Kevin Smith to Kevin Bacon through all of the various movie roles that they’ve appeared in like this: “Kevin Smith and Casey Affleck were in Chasing Amy.  Casey Affleck and Kevin Bacon were in Lemon Sky.”

To do this in Google, you simply type “bacon number Kevin Smith” and it will respond:

Kevin Smith’s Bacon number is 2
Kevin Smith and Casey Affleck appeared in Chasing Amy.
Casey Affleck and Kevin Bacon appeared in Lemon Sky.


Google Data Center

You can virtually visit  Google’s Data Center located in Lenoir, North Carolina.  There are some Easter eggs in the virtual tour like a large Droid figurine, a storm trooper and you can get Rickrolled by a Google employee.  Check out Google’s data centers tour here.

Do A Barrel Roll

Searching for “do a barrel roll” at Google or for “z or r twice” will make the Google page do a barrel roll.


Google 42 search

Ask Google the answer to the question of life, the universe, and everything and, in a tribute to “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” you’ll get the number 42.


Google Earth Flight Simulator

To load the Google Earth flight simulator, type Ctrl-Alt A or Cmd-Opt A on a Mac. You’ll have your choice of planes. Flying is another matter altogether, but the place to get started if you lack a joystick is the Google Earth keyboard controls help page.

YouTube’s Snakey

If you open a YouTube video, click in the frame right after the video starts loading, then immediately type one of the keyboard’s arrow keys, you can start playing a game of snakey on the video as it plays. Don’t run into the walls!


Google Gravity Search

The Google Gravity chrome experiment by Mr. Doob is amusing–especially since the search page still works, with new search results piling up.


Google ASCII Art Search

ASCII art is imagery made of monospaced letters named after the storied character encoding scheme. Search for ASCII art on Google and you get a fittingly adapted Google logo.


Google Maps’ pegman in Legoland

Google Maps’ pegman character, used to signify the perspective of the street view feature, changes on special occasions. And when he shows up at Legoland in Carlsbad, Calif., he turns into a Lego character.


Once in a Blue Moon

How often does the world experience a blue moon?


Google Anagram Search

Search for anagram at Google and the top result is, in fact, an anagram.


Google Pirate Interface

Google’s Pirate interface. can be found here.


Swedish Chef Interface

There’s one for the Muppets’ Swedish Chef, too.


Google Hacker Interface

Try the Google Hacker page.


Ooglegay Earchsay

Google in Pig Latin.


Searching for “recursion” suggests that perhaps you meant to search for “recursion.”



Ever get tired of people asking you questions that could easily be a Google search?  Let Me Google That For You has the answer.  Check it out here.


Google Terminal

Ever wanted to know what Google may have looked like as a BBS in the 80s? Typing “Google Terminal” and pressing “I’m Feeling Lucky”


Google Pond

Go to Google, type in “Google Pond” and the press “I’m Feeling Lucky.”


Google Sphere

This is another Google Easter egg that really isn’t from Google but is still pretty neat.  Go to Google, type “Google Sphere” and press “I’m Feeling Lucky.”


Google Tilt

Go to Google and type in “tilt” and press Enter.


Type “Chuck Norris” in Google and press “I’m Feeling Lucky.”

Just remember that you can’t find Chuck Norris, Chuck Norris finds you!


Google Doodle Search

Did you play a game in a Google Doodle that you wanted to see again? You can search for Google Doodles here.


Sources: Wikipedia, various Google searches and some original content.

Android Game Review: Organ Trail Director’s Cut

Title: Organ Trail Director’s Cut
Developer: The Men Who Wear Many Hats
Platform: Android
Cost: $2.99

Organ Trail: Director's Cut
Screen cap of Organ Trail on my Galaxy Nexus

This is one of the most surprisingly entertaining games I’ve ever played on my phone.  The object of the game is survival and the odds are stacked against you.  Going from stop to stop, you have to refuel, trade, repair and scavenge what you need to make it in a post-zombie-apocalyptic world.  At different stops you can take on protection jobs for the locals, repair your vehicle and maybe find the parts and supplies you need to continue on.  Watch out for bikers as they’ll follow you from the camps and try to take what little you have left.  Armed with your car, you can run them off the road before they take aim to shoot.

This took me back to the days of playing “Oregon Trail” in elementary  school when there really wasn’t much else out there (it was the early 80s after all).   The creators of Organ Trail turned a boring school edu-game into something that I know I’ll enjoy for a long time.    The zombie apocalypse is here, can you survive it?

You can play a version of this as a Flash game on Facebook here: but I like the Droid version better.  Pick it up today here:


Who is the Magento “Flaunt Yourself” girl?

Anyone who has worked with Magento has seen her.   She’s the “Flaunt Yourself” girl you see after a successful install of Magento, but who is she?



Using, I was able to track the stock photo to

There’s two more shots of her available:

The pictures were taken by Studioxil at   I e-mailed the photographer to ask if she had a public profile or fan page.  I received a prompt and friendly reply from Alexey Ivanov.

The model’s name is Olesya Malinskaya.  Here is her fan page on Facebook:

Thank you Alexey!


Sir Richard Branson Says The Office Will Be A Thing Of The Past

Sir Richard Branson Chides Mayor Michael Bloomberg And Marissa Mayer, Says The Office Will Be A Thing Of The Past

Sir Richard Branson, the billionaire man of space tourism and founder of Virgin Airlines, is chiding New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, saying the office will soon become a thing of the past.

Branson is a respectful guy and says Bloomberg is someone he rarely disagrees with. But Branson says Bloomberg is just plain wrong when he says he’s always thought working from home is “one of the dumber ideas I’ve ever heard.”

“However, on this occasion I disagree completely. Many employees who work from home are extremely diligent, get their job done, and get to spend more time with their families. They waste less time commuting and get a better work/life balance. To force everybody to work in offices is old school thinking.”

Branson said he has always worked from home and it has worked well for him.




I couldn’t agree with this article more.  The type of work that I do allows me to spend my work day at home and I’ve done it successfully for the past 10 years.  There have been the occasional on-site stints as-needed, the longest one lasting one year.  From June 2011 to June 2012 I worked on location and had to commute every day.  At first the change was refreshing, but I found myself becoming bored, anxious and very distracted by working in a public place.  I have  the exact same set-up at home that I did in the office with one exception — silence.  I can concentrate and my employer gets an extra 1-2 hours/day out of me because I work when I’d normally be commuting.  While everyone at the office is having their morning coffee and getting set up for the day, I’ve already put several productive hours in.

The biggest problem that I’ve seen with employers that allow work-at-home people is trust.  To paraphrase a criticism I once heard, “You never know what they’re really doing.  They could be watching Oprah all day.”  Having worked in offices prior to being at home full-time, I have observed with my own eyes that people tend to goof off more while in an office, not less.  While attempting to manage other home workers I suggested that we use a system based on productivity instead of ass-in-seat hours.  If the coder is productive and you get what you expected for that week then who cares if they spent the entire time not sitting in the chair.  If someone is under-performing, then fix it by evaluating that employee.

I report in to to work around 7am, close my home office door and work until lunch.  I usually take less than 1 hour to stretch my legs, go for a walk and grab a bite to eat.  After that I work until 5-6pm.  The advantage to my employer is that I’m always near my office.  If something goes wrong, I simply have to walk into the next room, sit down and fix it — something I’ve done countless times over the past decade, and something I couldn’t do easily on-site.  The other main advantage is that I’m much more productive and happier working from home.

Here are some tips for people thinking about working from home:

  • Treat your home office like it’s your office at work.  Keep it neat, tidy and clean.  Maintain a professional environment in your home office.
  • Report to work on time.  You work at home — no excuse to ever be late.
  • Communicate often.  Touch base to let them know you’re working.  A simple status update shows that you’re involved and care about the company.
  • Respond.  If you get messaged or called, pick it up.  Never ignore or screen a phone call.  This is bad practice in an office and should never be done.
  • Do your job.  You’re being paid and you’re at home.  Do what you’re supposed to be doing.
  • Document your time.  Keep meticulous notes about how you spend your day.  I can tell you exactly what I was doing on this date 7 years ago because of my notes.  This becomes second-nature after a while.  If you get asked to do something, note it and keep track of how long you worked on it.

There are some jobs that simply can’t be performed at home but if you work in a field that permits it then by all means try to do it.  Just do it right.


Riley on laptop
Working at home isn’t always easy.

Predictions from 1989

1989 Life Magazine Cover
Portion of the cover of the February 1989 issue of Life magazine [Source: Novak Archive]

The February 1989 issue of Life magazine predicted that, by the year 2000, many staples of modern American life might find themselves on the scrapheap of history. Life predicted that by the year 2000 people would need to say goodbye to everything from film (pretty much) to all-male clergy in the Catholic church (not so much).

Bid ta-ta to LPs, fur coats and sugar. Toodle-oo to checkbooks, oil and swimming in the ocean. Happy trails to privacy, porno theaters and who knows, maybe even Democrats. It’s not just animals and vegetation that are departing the planet (currently one species every 15 minutes). With them goes, for better or worse, any number of the tangibles and intangibles now taken for granted. Gathered here are the contents of an as-yet-unburied time capsule dedicated to impending obsolescence. So should auld acquaintance be forgot…

The predictions are especially interesting in that they were made shortly before the birth of the modern web and the mid-1990s flood of non-tech types getting online. What then will bring about the decline of the mailman? The magazine insists that it’s not email, but the fax machine.

A few of the things that Life said you’d “Say goodbye to…”

The Red Cent

“The extinction of penny candy along with the high cost of copper have made the life expectancy of this coin not worth a plugged nickel.”

On February 4, Canada stopped putting their penny into circulation. They joined the likes of Australia, Norway and Sweden among others, but there’s no indication that Americans will be rid of Lincoln’s copper face anytime soon.

Water from faucets

“Play taps for this kind of H2O, which pollution will make unfit to drink.”

Bottled water is a $22 billion industry, with many people believing that it’s safer than tap water. But given the 1.5 million tons of plastic used to make those disposable bottles, it’s taking quite a toll on the environment.


“Using microchips, proud grandparents threaten to store thousands of images on portable show-and-tell miniscreens.”

Life‘s prediction about the death of film was pretty spot-on. The interesting detail that they missed: those “portable show-and-tell miniscreens” would also be know as phones.

Canned Food

“Fed up with C rations, Americans want fresh food. No word yet from the nation’s pampered pets.”

Here in the 21st century, farmer’s markets and fresh produce are more in vogue than meal pills and canned food. But what are we supposed to stock our zombie apocalypse bunkers with?

Video Stores

“A database owned by the phone company will feed every home with 5,000-plus movies — some worth watching — via optical fibers.”

Sure, your local video store may be shuttered, and you may even watch movies on your phone, but it’s not just the phone company that’s controlling the vast database of content you’re watching. Netflix, Redbox and iTunes have been absolutely devastating the business of Blockbusters everywhere.

Disposable diapers

“Invest your money in diaper services because the environment is crying for a change.”

The disposable diaper industry has shown no signs of slowing down in the 21st century, with about 3.6 million tons of diapers dumped into American landfills each year, making up about 2.1% of municipal waste.


“Not snow nor rain nor sleet stays these couriers, but the fax will.”

With the end of Saturday postal service coming this August, there’s no question that the USPS is struggling. But it certainly wasn’t the fax machine that made deadtree letters an endangered species. The people who knew what electronic mail was in 1989 were few and far between.


“Say ahh. Fluoridation and good oral hygiene will root out cavities.”

While oral hygiene has improved over the course of the last century, you’d be mistaken if you think it’s because fewer people are going to the dentist.


“The handwriting is on the wall. For security, we’ll no longer sign checks and documents. Instead fingerprints, read by an electronic eye, will serve as ID.”

We certainly seem to be moving in this direction, but you’re likely still scribbling your John Hancock on everything from credit card receipts to digital FedEx package scanners.

Plugs and Switches

“Voice-activated appliances and electronics with self-contained energy sources will be set to play from the word go.”

Nothing says late 20th century futurism quite like voice-activated control of everything. But until Siri and her robot friends work out the bugs (and maybe we feel less stupid shouting at our machines), it has quite a ways to go before it becomes a ubiquitous technology.


“Competition from cable and entertainment systems catering to highly individual tastes may deliver a TKO to television’s Big Three.”

The Big Three television networks have seen a decreasing market share since 1989, but they’re certainly alive and kicking here in the 21st century as they still have some of the largest budget shows and still host many of the live events (Academy Awards, Super Bowl) that are impervious to time shifting.


“As capitalist tools shore up the state, the U.S.S.R. will retire Lenin.”

The fall of the Berlin Wall wouldn’t happen until November of that year, though it’d be hard to call Communism in the 21st century completely dead. But even China’s Communist Party—though still 80 million members strong—has embraced its own version of quasi-capitalism.


“The lagoon city may be going, going, gondola as water and air pollution erode its functions.”

Venice is still a city, but with scary weather like the flooding this past November there’s no telling how much longer that may be the case.


“Now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of this vanishing species.”

Life may not have seen the internet revolution that was just over the horizon, but at least they understood that typewriters were on their way out.


“Plastic cards that open electronic locks (although they work only erratically in today’s hotels) will also show up at the front doors of homes and offices.”

With all the attention being paid recently to the vulnerability of hotel keycards, it’s unlikely many of us will be trusting our front doors to those magnetic strips anytime soon.

All-Male Clergy

“For heaven’s sake, anything can happen, even at the Vatican.”

Pope Benedict XVI delivered his final public address as Pope today, but despite a change of leadership, it’s unlikely the Catholic church will be ordaining women as priests in the near future.

Life had a few hits, and more than a few misses. But in a cruelly ironic twist Life didn’t predict yet another event of the year 2000… its own demise as a monthly magazine.

Twitter: @SmithsonianMag

I love articles like these. One of my favorite things to read is Scientific American’s “50, 100 and 150 Years Ago” articles that they have in each issue that feature excerpts from stories in their magazine. That’s one of the advantages to being around for 167 years.


It’s just as important to look where we’ve been as it is to try to predict where we’re going. The article above shows what Life Magazine predicted for us in the year 2000 from way back in 1989. In ’89 I was in 9th grade and was writing BASIC programs on my Commodore 64. My screaming fast 2400 baud modem was almost too much for my old Commodore. Everyone I knew online back then was intrigued and excited about the advances computers were making. Some of the things I take for granted now would have just blown my mind in the ’80s.


As technology advances, we’re become better at predicting our future. However, I think we’ll surprise ourselves in the next 10-15 years in ways that we can’t imagine right now.