Want to Track the Tesla Roadster in Space? There’s a Website for That

Want to Track the Tesla Roadster in Space? There's a Website for That

An electrical engineer working in the aerospace industry has created a website to track Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s Roadster – the car tied to Falcon Heavy rocket by SpaceX– which is zooming through space.

SpaceX fan Ben Pearson has created Where is Roadster website that makes use of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Horizons data to track the progress of the car and its dummy driver ‘Starman’ through space, TechCrunch reported on Sunday.

The website would also predict the car’s path and let people know when it would come close to meeting up with various planets and the Sun.

The platform would even tell the Roadster’s current position as well as its speed and whether it was moving towards or away from Earth and Mars at any given moment.

The website is not officially affiliated with the SpaceX or Tesla, Musk took a note of it on Twitter.

“I’m sure it’s parked around here somewhere http://whereisroadster.com,” Musk, the SpcaeX CEO, tweeted late on Sunday.

The car was originally intended to be inserted into an orbit that would fly closer to Mars but the third engine burn of the Falcon Heavy upper stage “exceeded” that orbit, sending the car into deep space.

Currently, the Roadster is still much closer to Earth — 2.25 million miles away — than to Mars, 137.5 million miles away, Fortune reported.

“Meanwhile, Mars is moving too, so when the Roadster first intersects its orbit this July, the planet itself will already be millions of miles away,” the report said.

After that, the Roadster will actually return to something close to Earth’s orbit, though again, Earth itself won’t be anywhere close.

According to the site’s data, the Roadster won’t actually be close to Mars until early October of 2020. The car does not have any landing equipment or thrusters to land it on the surface.

Earlier in February, the Virtual Telescope Project of Tenagra Observatory in Arizona caught the car moving across the night sky.

Gianluca Masi of the Virtual Telescope Project and Michael Schwartz of the Tenagra Observatory were able to pinpoint the car’s location by using data generated by the Solar Systems Dynamics Laboratory at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The project said that the Tesla was “quite bright”.

It released a GIF showing the Tesla moving across space, looking a lot like a comet or asteroid. The GIF strings together 54 images captured by Tenagra, CNET reported.


Liberals launch website to lure swing voters and take on activist groups

Outgoing Liberal party federal director Andrew Bragg (left) shakes hands with Andrew Hirst, the new party director in Sydney on Friday. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

Australia’s Liberal party has launched a new website that it says will help seduce swing voters its way and challenge rival campaigning organisations such as Getup!.

The acting Liberal party director, Andrew Bragg, launched “The Fair Go” website on Saturday, which is operated by the party.

Bragg used his speech to the party’s federal council as a call to arms to modernise or perish. He said the party had to deal with a “cashed up cabal” of opposition to its interests.

Senior members of government and Liberal figures have been taking aim at organisations such as Getup!, which have excelled at developing novel and effective digital campaigns at a time when the Liberal party has struggled to keep pace.

The Fair Go site appears to be, in part, a response to some of these new types of campaigning and, according to Bragg, will help bolster the party’s efforts to “seize the opportunities in the digital age”.

The WordPress site includes posts with titles such as “Women are just people”, “Who’s your grand-daddy?” and “From laissez-faire to much, much fairer”.

It also includes three “words of the week” that will change weekly. The inaugural locutions are “needs based, union and slamming”.

A review of the party’s last election campaign by Andrew Robb set out a series of concerns with the Liberal party’s election campaign efforts, and found they were being outgunned and outspent by Labor and progressive activist groups.

Bragg told the federal council: “Publish or perish must be our credo.”

He said the website “will be a publication which reaches beyond the existing cohort of fellow travellers to speak to undecided and swing voters”.

“It is designed to support the Coalition’s overarching narrative into social platforms and arm supporters with bottom up perspectives on public policy issues.”

The website appears to feature a cast of characters mostly linked to the Liberal party.

Parnell McGuiness, a communications consultant who is the managing director of Thought Broker, is listed as the editor of the site. Penny Fischer, a Camden Liberal councillor and the daughter of Pru Goward, has also produced work for the site. Brigid Meney, a policy officer at Cornerstone Group Australia and former Liberal party political adviser, has contributed as well.

The site’s privacy policy makes it clear that the Liberal party collects users’ personal information and may contact them if they sign up to the site.

It is Bragg’s final speech in his role as acting director of the party following Brian Loughnane’s departure. Former Liberal party staffer Andrew Hirst has been named the new director.

It is not the first time major parties have attempted more aggressive communication strategies.

The Labor party launched the Labor Herald in 2015, which produced news and analysis for the party faithful.

It no longer publishes content, and the website now directs users to a page that says it is “currently on hiatus”.


Get Some Motherly Insights About Your Website with this New Service

the user is my mom ux testing service

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

And so is the user-friendliness of your website.

Some professional Web designers and developers might find a site incredibly easy to use and straightforward. But the average person might just find a confusing jumble. And even some regular old Internet users might be able to easily navigate websites where others, say, their moms, might have trouble.

That’s why Scotty Allen and Richard Littauer started The User is My Mom, a UX testing service with a twist.

Allen’s mom is the one who reviews each website. You can see her review Twitter in the video below, with a bit of help from her son.

For $75, you can have Allen’s mom take a look at your site and provide you with a write-up and screencast about the user experience.

There are plenty of other UX testing services out there. Some will provide similar screencast or video type reviews. But if you’ve ever had to provide tech support for not-so-tech-savvy parents or relatives, you understand. Having active Web users review a site isn’t always the same as having an older parent who doesn’t spend a lot of time online do so.

The company’s website states:

“My mom tutors high school students and likes quilting and hiking. She yells at her computer, doesn’t know what a twitter is, and struggles to find windows she’s minimized. You should design with your mother in mind. If she can’t understand your site, others will struggle as well.”

So, if your site targets this type of demographic, it could be a service worth looking into. If your site is targeted at Web professionals, online gamers, or others who spend a lot of time online, not so much. You don’t necessarily need to know what Allen’s mom thinks of your site.

But there are plenty of sites out there that could potentially benefit from some motherly insights.

The company is an offshoot of The User is Drunk. That’s a service that provides a UX testing service from an intoxicated Littauer. But the team ensures that the insights from The User is My Mom don’t involve alcohol. They’re even looking for more moms to test websites. There’s a form on the site for anyone interested.

Image: The User is My Mom


What is a DDoS Attack and How Can You Prevent One on Your Website?

What is a DDoS Attack and How Can You Prevent One on Your Website?

In October 2016, hundreds of the world’s biggest and most popular websites in the U.K. and the U.S. — including Twitter, eBay, Reddit and Spotify — were the subject of several waves of a massive DDoS attack that rendered the sites inaccessible for thousands of people throughout the day.

Many people referred to the disruption caused by the DDoS attacks as an “internet shut down,” and openly wondered what exactly a DDoS attack is. How does a DDoS attack happen anyway, and how does it manage to cause such lengthy global internet outages?

Well, a ‘distributed denial of service’ attack — commonly known as a DDoS attack — is an illegal hacking activity that takes down an online service and makes it unavailable by overwhelming it with web traffic from multiple sources. Hackers can buy a week-long DDoS attack for as little as $150 on the black market, TrendMicro Research reports (PDF). These malicious individuals often target websites and other computer systems for revenge, extortion, activism or even competitive brand damage.

Interestingly, DDoS attacks are relatively simple to implement, but notoriously difficult to defend against. They are among the most potent tools in a cyber criminal’s arsenal that can take even the most protected computers offline, from banks systems to SaaS applications and ecommerce websites.

What is a DDoS Attack?

DDoS attacks exploit the power of a network of tens of thousands of compromised computers, known as a “botnet,” to flood a website’s servers with page view requests. This overload of page requests renders legitimate traffic unable to get through. When an internet server is dealing with an overload, it is unable to respond to most normal queries, making it impossible for internet browsers to access the websites.

Attacks on Domain Name Service (DNS) providers or hosts are typically more effective than targeting a single website because hundreds of sites rely on them to direct traffic. DNS hosts such as Dyn, the provider that was hit in the aforementioned DDoS attack, are central to the operation of the internet.

DNS providers operate the “internet’s address book.” They ensure that website addresses (domain names) such as www.yourwebsitename.com are routed and make it to the correct site. If a DNS provider goes offline, then domain names powered by that provider are not routed to a website, meaning they fail to load web pages. Dyn, for example, powers some 3,500 enterprise customers including Netflix, LinkedIn, TripAdvisor and CNBC among many others, according to information on its website.

Nobody claimed responsibility for the 2016 DDoS attacks against Dyn, but experts said they were simple enough to have been carried out by mischievous teenagers rather than malicious state-sponsored attackers. Even amateur hackers can scan for vulnerable websites and computer systems using easily available software, and turn thousands of them against a single target.

How to Protect Your Website against DDoS Attacks

Estimates by Incapsula Inc., a cloud-based website protection service, indicate DDoS attacks can cost businesses up to $40,000 per hour that their websites are offline. A sharp increase in poorly-secured connected devices such as “smart” webcams, thermostats and televisions have also vastly increased the number of vulnerable systems that can be victims of (or tools for) DDoS attacks in recent years.

In order to protect your website and gadgets from distributed denial of service attacks, make sure you always download the latest security updates. Also, make sure your devices are protected with an up-to-date anti-virus software program, such as Kaspersky’s Security Scan or Norton 360. Most popular anti-virus programs can even scan your computer to see if it is part of a botnet.

Moreover, use routers and firewalls that can help stop simple ping attacks on your business website, while also providing automatic rate limiting and traffic shaping. Where possible, also buy excess bandwidth with your Internet Service Provider (ISP) that can handle various spikes in website traffic.

If you use WordPress platform to manage your website, install beneficial security plugins like WordFenceand Bulletproof Security. Additionally, utilize dedicated software that can act as a buffer for your website against DDoS attacks. CloudFlare, for example, offers protection against DDoS attacks of all forms and sizes, and DdoS Protector can help block DoS attacks within seconds with multi-layered protection.

Finally, don’t go out looking for trouble. Hackers love a good challenge and will attack your website if tested. If you get a threatening message or comment, just delete or ignore it. And don’t advertise your website where it is not appropriate, such as hacker forums.

Remember any website is vulnerable to a DDoS attack so you need to be cautious always.

DDoS Photo via Shutterstock