Science and nature Travel and places

Thank you for the wonderful Opportunity to visit Mars

This last week saw the official end of the Opportunity rover’s mission on Mars. NASA was unable to coax it back to life after signalling it for about eight months. This remarkable rover continued exploring Mars long after it’s original 90 day mission.

Drive along with the NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover and hear the voices of scientists and engineers behind the mission. Designed to run for 90 days, the exploration spanned more than 15 years from 2004 to 2019. Along the way, it discovered definitive proof of liquid water on ancient Mars and set the off-world driving record. For more information on the Mars Exploration Rovers and all of NASA’s Mars missions, visit

There is a wealth of imagery, and other information available on the mission site that document Opportunity’s journey across part of Mars’ surface. I love this image of Opportunity’s tracks in the Martian sand:

Here’s a terrific video that provides context for the featured image I’ve added to this post:

Overhead and on-the-ground views of the 25-mile journey NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover has made since landing in 2004 – Courtesy of NASA

Another terrific resource (there’s so much available, I’m just picking items at random at this point), is this overview of the Opportunity and Spirit missions (Opportunity’s sibling, Spirit, went dormant several years ago):

This infographic highlights NASA’s twin robot geologists, the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) Spirit and Opportunity. The rovers landed on the Red Planet in 2004, in search of answers about the history of water on Mars. Spirit concluded its mission in 2010. Opportunity last communicated with Earth on June 10, 2018, as a planet-wide dust storm blanketed the solar-powered rover’s location on Mars.
Credit NASA/JPL-Caltech

The wonderful xkcd published a tribute to Opportunity that really captures the impact Opportunity, Spirit, and the other rovers have on Humanity – they take us on voyages of discovery on other worlds!

These rovers take us along for the ride. All we need to do, is look out the window now and then.


A simple trick for more shocking headlines

shocking headlines
It begins …

After spending so much time thinking about more effective headlines for articles, this is great!

Source: xkcd

Design Tutorials

Rethinking strong passwords

Here is a great xkcd comic about strong passwords. I have tended to go for the longer, random passwords which I store in LastPass. I usually pick 20 random characters with text, numbers and special characters. I then update them now and then to keep things interesting.

xkcd's recommendation for strong passwords
Password Strength by xkcd

If I understand this comic, it looks like I may be safer with a couple random words instead. Or, a couple random words with mixed characters within them!

Remembering strong passwords is challenging because they need to be considerably more complex than “1234” (if you are using that as your password, you really need to change it). Like I said earlier, I use LastPass to manage my passwords.

There are other options if LastPass isn’t for you and you should investigate if you aren’t already using a password manager. I don’t know how people manage multiple passwords securely without a password manager these days.

Science and nature

Gravitational Waves are now following you

I had to see what xkcd had to say about the recent confirmation of Einstein’s gravity waves. Funny!


Entertainment Politics and government

An open letter to whomever controls the United States

I came across this one in my Tumblr feed (thanks Wil Wheaton). Pretty funny and, at the same time, a nice reminder that even “advanced” democracies like the United States can be a bigger shambles than our little backwater country:

Source: xkcd


The porn folder

I have a growing appreciation for, being a late discovery for me. This one is funny for so many reasons, many of which only true geeks would appreciate: