POTTERMORE site now fully functional

Jo Rowling’s Pottermore site was in beta testing for a long time, which was only right for a site with so much hope and expectations behind it.  It has been fully online for some time and has had some rough edges smoothed off it which weren’t found during testing.

I just signed up and spent a half hour exploring. (You don’t have to sign up to explore it, but it unlocks certain doors for you.) As a web designer myself, I have to give it a top grade.  It’s easy to get around in and find what you want, even more important than for most sites because many of its users will be children. The content is beautiful and styled like the best illustrations used for the book covers. And Jo Rowling continues to engage in it and add content, the latest being a short introduction to the “famous singing sorceress” who was only mentioned in passing in the books.

If it has a drawback, it is the richness of the content.  But with an entire universe to explore, this may also be a plus for those who loved the books and the movies.  Littlest kids may get lost, but that’s sometimes part of the fun of adventures, isn’t it?

To begin your Pottermore journey click the image.

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Warfare Evolving from Overt to Covert

Warfare is evolving from large military forces operating openly. This form favored bombers, fighters, tanks, and large ground forces. The covert form favors small forces using human shields and hiding in churches, mosques, hospitals, and schools in cities, and jungles and mountains outside them.

The covert form can be seen in Ukraine recently, with special forces operators acting to take over the leadership of rebel organizations and supplying their troops with weapons and training. Hamas in Palestine and ISIS in Iraq and Syria are other recent examples.

Countering covert operations requires more use of small-force weapons. Prominent among them are helicopters, which is why the U. S. Army Aviation Technology Directorate recently approved building prototypes and test beds for an upgrade to the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopter, which could also yield a replacement to the Boeing AH-64 Apache. The joint Sikorsky/Boeing project is called the SB.1 Defiant, a rigid-coaxial rotor helicopter with a pusher propeller for higher speed.

To see larger version click the image.

SB.1 Defiant

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Wonder Woman as a teenager

Here is Annalisa King in her favorite casual outfit – which looks a lot alike Wonder Woman’s classic old-fashioned bikini costume. That gold emblem on her tee shirt? The logo of the rock band WINGZ. To see her in interactive 3D on a separate page, click the image.

Then use your LEFT mouse button to tilt her, MIDDLE mouse wheel to zoom in/out, and RIGHT mouse to pan left/right and up/down. (Takes 30 seconds to load but responses are quick after that.)

Wonder Woman as teenager

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Next stage of the Wonder Woman Rethought series

I just finished the final rewrite of The Star Woman, the first book of the projected Wonder Woman Rethought series. It was little more than a polish but for two half-page expansions to add more emotional resonance to two crucial scenes.

Also spent a full 10-hours-a-day 6-days-a-week search for possible agents. I then began creating submission packages for the first 10 agents, each of whom want their own variation. Some a one-page query only, some as much as query, 1-2 page synopsis, and 5/10/50 page sample.

I’ll give each wave of 10 submissions 2-3 months to work before submitting the next 10. Only if none of the several dozen agents is interested will I self-publish. I’m sorry if you wanted something sooner. But the reality of the publishing world is that trade (versus self) publishing takes time.

Just for fun here is Anna visiting Venus, walking on the surface of that Hellish planet. With no one around, she does not bother having Suit embellish its force field surface with the appearance of a modesty garment. (To see larger version click the image.)

Vesuvius spaceship woman 2

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Wonder Woman’s suit in a civilian version

In my Wonder Woman Rethought book The Star Woman the heroine Annalisa King is given a suit made up of nanobots and force fields. Invisible, it protects her inside and out from threats up to and beyond high explosive. (No need for those ridiculous bullet-bouncing bracelets of the classic Wonder Woman.)

She can have it look like the highest of fashions, a bikini, or nothing at all – and still fight bad guys.  Here she is flying over the Liffey River in Dublin in her favorite everyday outfit: tennies, shorts, and tee with the rock band logo WINGZ on its front. (She’s invisible to everyone except you.)

To see more info and larger version of her outfit click the image.

Anna over Dublin


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MY pick for Wonder Woman

I just came across the below ad for a movie starring Gemma Arterton. I was struck with how similar her outfit is to that of the comics Wonder Woman if it were translated into everyday terms. And the actress even looks the part: a sturdy but feminine body, long black hair, and a slightly exotic-looking face which can look stern.

I downloaded and watched the movie. I found it amusing. And if you feel it lags a bit in spots, for those who appreciate beautiful women it still has hottie Arterton.

Available on Blu-ray and DVD, Amazon Instant Video, and likely other online sources. Click the image to see a preview of the movie.

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“Robocop” reboot surpasses original

I avoided the Robocop reboot when it appeared in theaters earlier this year. Most reboots in my experience fail to live up to the originals. But I was pleasantly surprised when I finally gave this movie a chance when I streamed it this weekend. This one surpasses the original in every way.

Available from Amazon Instant Video via streaming and Unbox, and probably from Hulu and other sources. Also available in Blu-ray and DVD from Amazon, Redbox, and video stores.

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Superheroine movie “Lucy” opening

Friday, July 25th, the sci-fi superheroine movie Lucy opens in the U. S. with rollouts internationally over the next few weeks.  Scarlett Johansson stars as student in Taiwan who accidentally receives a drug overdose which turns her into a superhuman.

UPDATE: Saw it, enjoyed it immensely, even the silly parts. Box office was $44 million over the weekend, putting it ahead of Hercules.

Click image for preview.

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The Shadow Universe Revealed

Here is a fascinating visualization of how dark matter interacted with visible matter as the universe evolved from the Big Bang.  It’s part of a series of videos created by The New York Times.

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The US to return to space in a big way

The US is now completely dependent upon Russia for the launch of payloads large enough to carry people. NASA has now taken an important step to change that: finalizing a contract for the heavy-duty Space Launch System.

The two-stage vehicle is scheduled to fly first in 2017. But this is a test flight and optimistic, from my experience working for NASA and main-contractor Boeing. Schedules always creep long. Also, it is only the first of several (or more likely many) test flights. Even after it is cargo-rated the SLS is likely to require further flights before we will risk humans.

Still, we are on the way now to returning to space in a big way.

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