Mike Hodel's Hour 25

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May 2005

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  • May 15, 2005 - Neal and Jana Hallford
  • Shows from April, 2005
  • Shows from February, 2005
  • Shows from January, 2005
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  • Shows from November, 2004
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  • Shows from May, 2004
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  • Shows from March, 2004
  • Shows from February, 2004
  • Shows from January, 2004
  • Shows from December, 2003
  • Shows from November, 2003
  • Shows from October, 2003
  • Shows from September, 2003
  • Shows from August, 2003
  • Shows from July, 2003
  • Shows from June, 2003
  • Shows from May, 2003
  • Shows from February, 2003
  • Shows from January, 2003
  • Shows from December, 2002
  • Shows from November, 2002
  • Shows from October, 2002
  • Shows from September, 2002
  • Shows from August, 2002
  • Shows from July, 2002
  • Shows from June, 2002
  • Shows from May, 2002
  • Shows from April, 2002
  • Shows from March, 2002
  • Shows from February, 2002
  • Shows from January, 2002
  • Shows from December 2001
  • Shows from November, 2001
  • Shows from October, 2001
  • Shows from September, 2001
  • Shows from August, 2001
  • Shows from July, 2001
  • Shows from June, 2001
  • Shows from May, 2001
  • Shows from April, 2001
  • Shows from March, 2001
  • Shows from February, 2001
  • Shows from January, 2001
  • Shows from November - December, 2000
  • Shows from September - October, 2000
  • Shows from July - August, 2000

  • Neal and Jana Hallford     Listen to this show

    On Sunday - May 15th, 2005 - our guests on Hour 25 were Neal and Jana Hallford, writers and computer game designers whose book Swords and Circuitry gives you a most excellent introduction into the art and craft of creating worlds of the imagination.

    The 'all too real' world of Hour 25 is oft times filled with chaos and misadventure. Sometimes this leads to wonderful interviews getting misplaced - not lost mind you, just 'not where you were sure sure they had to be' - only to resurface at some unplanned time in the future. Like tonight's show.

    Some time back we had gotten together with Neal and Jana Hallford to do an interview before one of their signings for Swords and Circuitry and had a wonderful time. They were interesting, entertaining and they gave me a number of insights into how computer games are created.

    And then the bloody disk with the interview up and vanished.

    When it resurfaced a few days ago I knew I had to rush to get it on-line before the forces of chaos could make it vanish again. And because it is a really interesting interview. So with my apologies to Neal and Jana for far too long of a delay in airing this interview, I invite you to join us while we discuss just what it is that a game designer does when they create imaginary worlds for your pleasure.

    And if you have any interest in how to create worlds of the imagination, be they for computer games or books or film, then be sure to check out their book Swords and Circuitry. It is filled with insight and experience that will serve you well. Highly recommended.

    Swords and Circuitry

    Dateline: Mars

    NASA is releasing all of the images from the two Mars Exploration Rovers almost as soon as they arrive at JPL. The raw images for the Spirit rover can be found at the following Web Page and raw images for Opportunity can be found here. The images that have been released to the press, along with animations and explanatory text, can be found here. You can find larger versions of the images shown below at that last NASA Web Site.


    Opportunity stuck in the sand. Image credit NASA/JPL.
    Image Credit: NASA/JPL
    Here is a self-portrait of Opportunity as it sits stuck in a small sand dune. Not wanting to make things worse, the engineers at JPL are carefully studying images such as this while they devise a plan for getting Opportunity 'back on the road'.

    Opportunity, stuck in the sand - false color. Image credit NASA/JPL.
    Image Credit: NASA/JPL
    This false color image has mapped the local elevation differences into colors, with the reds being the highest and the greens and blues being lower. With any luck, and lots of hard work, Opportunity will soon be back under way exploring Mars.


    Spirit - a view from the hills.  Image credit NASA/JPL.
    Image Credit: NASA/JPL

    Here's a view looking down from the Columbia Hills, with the tracks of Spirit tracing the route it has followed. What will we see beyond the next hill?

    Spirit - another view from the Columbia Hills.  Image credit NASA/JPL.
    Image Credit: NASA/JPL

    And here's an image of fresh Martian landscape just waiting for Spirit to leave its track marks as our robotic surrogate explores the world that has filled our minds with wonder for so many years.

    Spirit, dust devil.  Image credit NASA/JPL.
    Image Credit: NASA/JPL
    Spirit, more dust devils.  Image credit NASA/JPL.
    Image Credit: NASA/JPL

    I continue to be amazed by the fact that the engineers and scientists at JPL are able to capture images of fleeting dust devils as they race across the sands of Mars. Who knows what we will see next as Spirit continues its trek across Mars?

    Listen to this show


    Click here to listen to the entire show. {1:13:34}


    • Click here for the show's intro music.{0:41}
    • Click here for the show's opening {14:24}
    • Click here for our interview with Neal and Jana Hallford. {56:49}
    • Click here for the show's closing.{1:40}

    • Click here for some nattering that was caught by the recorder while we got ready to do the interview.{0:42}

    • Click here for our current show.
    • Click here for links to all of our previous Shows that you can listen to on the Hour 25 Web Site.
    If you enjoyed this show and would like to know when other interviews are uploaded to the Hour 25 Web Site, then send an email to me at wwjames@earthlink.net and I will add your name to the free Hour 25 Newsletter mailing list. That way you'll get a brief notice in your email every time a new show gets uploaded to the web.

    Links for more information relating to this week's show

    Neal and Jana Hallford
  • More information about Neal and Jana can be found at Neal's Official Web Site.
  • You can find other interviews with Neal here, here and here.

    Space News - Mars
  • For more information about the Mars Exploration Rovers be sure to check out the MER Web Site at JPL or this Mars Rover site at Cornell University.
  • To learn more about the Mars Express mission you can go to this ESA Mars Express Web Site, this Mars Express Web Page from JPL, this NSSDC Mars Express Web Page, or this Web Page from Mars News.Com.
  • For more information about the Exploration of Mars be sure to go to the JPL Mars Exploration Site, the Center for Mars Exploration at NASA Ames, or the Mars Missions Web Site at the Planetary Society.
  • Information about the data returned by previous Mars missions can be found at this Mars Web Page at the NSSDC.
  • Information about the Phoenix Mission to Mars can be found at this Press Release from the University of Arizona. You can view a 3D picture of the Mars Phoenix spacecraft here.
  • For more Mars news be sure to check out the Mars News.Com Web Site.
  • Percival Lowell did much to shape our ideas about Mars in the early years of the 20th Century. You can learn more about his work by reading this on-line copy of his 1895 book Mars.

    Space News - The Cassini Mission to Saturn
  • Much information about the Cassini mission can be found at the Project's Official Web Site at JPL.
  • JPL is constantly releasing pictures from Cassini. You can find them by going to this JPL Web Page.
  • Additional information about the Cassini mission can be found at this ESA Web Site.

    For On-Going Updates on Space News
  • Links relating to the loss of Space Shuttle Columbia can be found here.
  • The Reusable Launch & Space Vehicle News Web Site Web Page that is part of the Hobby Space Web Site is a really good place to watch for news about, well... Reusable Launch Vehicles and related subjects. I check it out just about every day and often find news there that doesn't show up anywhere else. Give it a look. {And while you're there be sure to check out some of the site's other pages. Wow! Is there a lot of information there.}
  • The Space Today Web Site is a great place to find space news from all over the 'net.
  • The Spaceflight Now Web Site carries real time information about current space missions and presents a lot of space and astronomy news. This is the place I go to when I want up to the minute information about current space missions. Do I need to say more?
  • The NASA Watch Web Site is another great place for getting information about current space missions. Check there also for news about other 'goings on' within NASA. Highly recommended.

    ISS News
  • The Florida Today Web Site has a very interesting report about the causes of the ISS budget problems and their impact on the space program. It makes very interesting reading.
  • Click here to view the press kits for various ISS missions.
  • Check out the NASA International Space Station Web Page or the Boeing Web Page to learn more about this project.
  • A great source of news about Russian space activities, including their work on the ISS, can be found at the Russian Space Web.
  • Do you wonder where the Space Station is right now? You can use your browser to view real time maps showing the location of the ISS by going to this link at the NASA Space Link Web Site or here at the Johnson Spacecraft Center. Please note that your browser must support Java to make use of this satellite tracking software.
  • You can find out when the ISS - or many other spacecraft - can be seen from your location by going to this NASA Web Page. Please note; your browser must support Java for this application to work.

    Space Related Organizations
    If you are interested in learning more about current space activities there are many local and national organizations you might want to know about. Joining these organizations and taking part in their activities is a good way to stay abreast of things going on in space as well as a way to show your support for those activities. Listed below are some of those organizations.
  • The Organization for the Advancement of Space Industrialization and Settlement has long been place for persons living in the Los Angeles area to gather and discuss the promise of space. Be sure to check out their Web Site for information about their meetings and other activities.
  • The Orange County Space Society is another Los Angeles area organization that provides a focal point for persons who are interested in space developments to get together and share their ideas. They have created a number of displays explaining the history and importance of space exploration that have appeared at various public events. Be sure to check their Web Site for information about their meetings and other events.
  • The National Space Society has a long history of being an advocate for a vigorous space program and provides much information to its members through their magazine and Web Site.
  • The Space Frontier Foundation is a strong advocate for a non-governmental space program and serves as a focal point for much activity in that arena. Their annual conference in Los Angeles during the Fall is a great way to find out what is happening in the non-government space arena.
  • The Space Access Society is focused on reducing the cost of going into space by promoting non-governmental launch vehicle programs. Their annual conference in the spring is a major source of information on non-traditional launch vehicle activities.
  • The Planetary Society is focused on the exploration of the Solar System and has a wealth of information for its members and others.

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