Monthly Archives: September 2007

NASA Drone Aircraft Scanning California Fires

Ikhana, credit NASA Dryden
In addition to the DC-10 air tanker that’s been getting a lot of press, we also have a new NASA drone aircraft called Ikhana helping out with California wildfires by using advanced thermal-infrared imagery to give firefighters a more accurate picture of fire activity on the ground.

Today’s Mercury News reports:

Ikhana, NASA’s pilotless aircraft, flew over the 47,000-acre Lick fire for the first time, transmitting images and information to firefighters below as they battled the blaze into Saturday evening.

“They used that to facilitate their planning for the day’s firefighting,” said Vince Ambrosio, NASA Ames’s principal investigator on the Ikhana project.

Ambrosio monitored the drone’s flight from a base in Boise, Idaho, while other NASA technicians on the ground interpreted the images for fire commanders. Altogether, Ambrosio said, Ikhana flew 20 hours, starting Friday night from NASA’s facility at Edwards Air Force Base to 11 fires in California, Oregon and Washington before returning to Edwards on Saturday afternoon.

You can read more details on the wildfire imaging mission in the NASA Dryden press release. Also check out NASA’s photo and video collections for Ikhana.

Other coverage includes Aviation Week, Firefighter Blog, and Skycontrol.

Rebate Scam: Unopened Letters Found in Dumpster

Rebate Scam - Thu Hoang Ly - Mercury News
This morning, the front page of the San Jose Mercury News included this disturbing story: Unopened rebate requests found in San Jose dumpster. Tech writer Dean Takahashi writes:

… I am staring at more than 1,300 rebate requests sent to Vastech on Bonaventura Drive in San Jose. The envelopes were tossed – unopened – into a garbage dumpster near Vastech. I have two boxes of envelopes that were thrown out without being processed. In all of my years of reporting, I have never encountered such outrageous behavior against consumers.

The proliferation of rebates clearly favors retailers and manufacturers, with consumers on the losing end. Rebate offers are very popular at Fry’s Electronics and, as Dean mentions in the article, they don’t want to be the only retailer to stop using them. My advice to friends shopping at Fry’s is to avoid the rebates entirely if they can and if not, limit it to name-brand companies.