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Spy Plane Calibration Targets

Over at the amazing BLDGBlog, Geoff Manaugh has some photos of optical calibration targets in the California desert.

Optical Calibration Targets

“There are dozens of aerial photo calibration targets across the USA,” the Center for Land Use Interpretation reports, “curious land-based two-dimensional optical artifacts used for the development of aerial photography and aircraft. They were made mostly in the 1950s and 1960s, though some apparently later than that, and many are still in use, though their history is obscure.”

These symbols—like I-Ching trigrams for machines—are used as “a platform to test, calibrate, and focus aerial cameras traveling at different speeds and altitudes,” CLUI explains, similar to “an eye chart at the optometrist, where the smallest group of bars that can be resolved marks the limit of the resolution for the optical instrument that is being used.”

Further, “the largest concentration of calibration targets in one place is on the grounds of Edwards Air Force Base” in California, “in an area referred to as the photo resolution range, where 15 calibration targets run for 20 miles across the southeast side of the base in a line, so multiple targets can be photographed in one pass. There is some variation in the size and shape of the targets at Edwards, suggesting updates and modifications for specific programs. A number of the targets there also have aircraft hulks next to them, added to provide additional, realistic subjects for testing cameras.” 

Christmas Gift Guide: Gift Ideas for Geeks and Gadget Lovers | 2010 Edition

Shopping for the geek or the gadget lover on your list is never easy.  While they may be the most employable member of your family, they don’t have exactly standardized tastes.  Don’t worry, this list should help and even if it doesn’t, just get them a 1 terabyte external hard drive ($75 from Amazon).  They will love it, even if you don’t know what you gave them.

So if the Wii or PS3’s Move is giving them tennis elbow, maybe it’s time to go old school with this Atari 2600 Flashback console.   It features the same wood grain paneling and look of the Atari 2600, and has two classic joysticks for multi-player competition and vintage controls. The system comes pre-loaded with over 30 classic games. No new purchases are required, just connect it to your TV and play! The system that brought you hits like Asteroids, Breakout, Centipede, Lunar Lander, Millipede, Missile Command, Combat and Pong now has them all collected on one system.  The full game list is:

3D Tic-Tac-Toe | Adventure | Adventure II | Aquaventure | Asteroids | Arcade Pong | Asteroids Deluxe | Atari Climber | Battlezone | Caverns Of Mars | Centipede | Combat (Best Atari game ever?) | Combat 2 | Dodge’m |Fatal Run | Frog Pond | Hangman | Haunted House | Human Cannonball | Lunar Lander | Maze Craze | Millipede | Missile Command (I loved this game growing up) | Off the Wall | Outlaw | Pitfall | Quadrun | Radar Lock | Return To Haunted House | River Raid | Saboteur | Save Mary | Secret Quest | Space Duel | Space War | Video Checkers | Video Chess | Wizard | Yars’ Return | Yars’ Revenge

Available for $34.99 from Amazon.

If you don’t want an entire console, you can get the Atari Greatest Hits Classic for your Nintendo DS for $29.99 (available from Amazon)

Of course how cool would one of these USB Atari joysticks be plugged into your PC.

  • Classic black 8-direction, one-button controller.
  • No drivers needed on Mac OS X, Windows, or Linux.
  • Game with up to four joysticks at once (two recommended for Atari 2600 titles).
  • Works with classic console and arcade emulators including Stella*, VICE and MAME
  • Visit AtariAge to check out classic Atari games or join the homebrew scene in the forums

$24.99 from ThinkGeek

While we are on the topic of Atari video games, what about this Pac-Man Belt Buckle ($12.95) or this authentic Ms. Pac-Man tabletop video game ($3,815)

Pen Camera | This spycam is the classic pen camera, just like the ones used in secret agent movies, except it’s been updated for the modern age with full video capabilities. Simple to operate with a built-in USB connector. The internal 4GB of storage capacity are capable of capturing hours of quality video in AVI format. This pen camera can also take regular still photos, if that’s your thing.

  • Covert style video camera can capture hours of quality video (with audio)
  • Video file format: AVI
  • 640×480 resolution
  • 4GB of storage capacity
  • USB 2.0
  • Working pen with black ink
  • Extremely portable, no wires
  • Re-chargeable Li-ion battery (2 hour run-time)

$69.99 from Think Geek

Everyone has a R/C helicopter but don’t overlook this R/C Goodyear Blimp.  You need to have it filled with helium and don’t buy this if you are in Denver or high in the mountains (even real blimps can’t soar that high) and oh yeah, it’s an indoor gift, not an outdoor one.  That being said what could more fun then cruising around the house, monocle in hand, and asking your family to refer to them as “Air Marshal$79.95 from Amazon

ASUS O!Play Air – Wireless N TV HD Media Player | All true geeks have video on their computer.  Here is the easiest way to get that stuff from the computer to your HD television.  ASUS O!Play Air , with an integrated wireless N and a built-in card reader, it is the most convenient way access your media files to your TV/monitor. Stream your media content wirelessly or through the LAN. Also equipped with a eSATA, USB, card reader for a variety of storage support. This device is easy to use and highly compatible with many video and audio formats. Experience full HD 1080p playback through the HDMI port.

In other words it allows them to watch there four terabytes of YouTube downloads in high definition on any television in their house.  $129.97 from Amazon

T-Shirt with Built In Spy Camera | It is what 007 wears while having his tuxedo cleaned.

  • Stylish retro spy theme T-Shirt has a tiny color digital camera hidden in the chest
  • Use the pocket based remote to shoot color digital photos
  • Vibration feedback shutter lets you know when you’ve taken a new shot
  • Holds over 150 color digital photos, 640 x 480 resolution
  • Electronics are completely removable for washing
  • Plug in with USB to download photos
  • Works with any OS including Mac, Linux and Windows
  • Requires 3x AAA batteries (not included)

Check out the video below to see it in action

 

$39.99 from ThinkGeek

Moleskine Large Notebook | The Moleskine Large Notebook is made with top quality heavy paper and is perfect for on the go notes.  Every Moleskine product is thread bound and has a cardboard bound cover with rounded corners acid free paper a bookmark an elastic closure and an expandable inner pocket that contains the Moleskine history. | $12.21

R2D2 :: He is the ultimate gadget and having both served Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker, he is built to last.  For $200, you can bring him home and reunite him with his proper master.  In addition to helping keep your X-Wing fighter’s deflector shields online, this state-of-the-art R2 series astromech droid unit is ready to obey your commands.  You can grab his attention by saying “Hey, R2″ and he’s ready for more than 40 voice commands.  He remembers his famous friends, like Luke Skywalker, C-3PO or Jabba the Hutt, and each name will stir up a different response depending on R2′s “feelings” for that character. $169 from Amazon

Sangean WR-11 AM/FM Wooden Cabinet Radio :: At the lake there are a couple of times when a great radio would be really handy, like when the Saskatchewan Roughriders are playing on a Saturday afternoon.  Yes a satellite radio is cool but not all sports are on XM and Sirius (which boggles my mind) and there are times when what you want to listen to is being played locally.  If that is the case, this is the radio you want.  The WR-1 is the culmination of 30 years of experience in the design and manufacture of quality, state-of-the-art radios.  Plus, CBC and NPR sound better in a radio that looks like this. | $80.44 from Amazon

LED Shower Head | The LED Shower Light is a brilliant idea. It installs to a standard shower pipe in mere minutes. When you turn the shower on, the water powers a turbine and the LED Shower Light…well, lights up! Blue let’s you know the water is chilly. When the water warms up to 89° F (32° C), the light changes to red. Now you can step in and not freeze your giblets off. And you don’t even need to turn on the light now, because your whole shower glows. It makes for a much nicer morning, trust us.

  • Blue light means the water is cold; Red light means it has warmed up to 89° F (32° C).
  • No batteries needed – powered by internal turbine.
  • Installs in minutes to standard (3/4″) shower pipes.
  • Includes a Flow Regulator that limits maximum water flow to 2.5 gallons per minute at 80 psi (might affect Shower Light performance depending on your water pressure).
  • Approx. 4″ in diameter

Star Trek: TOS Communicator | Star Trek is already the quintessential staple of the geek. The mind boggles when considering how the original Star Trek communicator might be made more geeky. Then we saw this Star Trek USB Communicator and it all became clear… simply add USB.   Connect this exact replica of the communicator from “The Original Series” to your computer and enjoy the classic “chirp” sound when it’s flipped open. It also plays 21 other sounds effects when not being used to chat with your Starfleet friends via Skype, MSN, AIM, or iChat.  It is also perfect for a weekly Star Trek podcast.  The possibilities are endless.  $34.99 from Think Geek

USB Rocket Launcher | I never thought I needed one of these until a co-worker (and occasional reader) turned down my office thermostat so low that I almost froze to death a couple of weeks ago.  This thing has a 360 turning radius and will fire foam rockets 6 metres

Star Trek Ornaments from Hallmark | I had never heard of these until my friend Dave King posted some photos of the U.S.S. Reliant exploring his Christmas tree a couple of years ago.

This year one of the three ornaments offered are of the 2009 version of the U.S.S. Enterprise.  It is designed by Lynn Norton who has sculpted many of the best Hallmark ornaments during the previous 19 years. The ornament is 6 inches long and includes lights on the deflector dish and engines. It’s 34.99 and available from Hallmark stores across the continent.

This LED Beverage Cooler is retro styled and has a small blue LED inside. The LED helps your drink stay cool by tricking it to think the air inside the cooler is from the Arctic, because everyone knows that blue lights make you feel cold. So add a little style to your desk and keep your drink cold at the same time.  $19.99 from Think Geek.

If you can find what you are looking for, make sure you check out one of the other 2010 Christmas Gift Guides

In case you are looking, here are the 2009 Gift Guides

Christmas Gift Ideas and Gift GuidesIf I missed anything or if my suggestion made you think I was absolutely crazy, let me know in the comments. You can access the current edition and previous years list of Christmas gift guides here.