Ellen Ripley (Alien) & Anna Fisher (NASA) 40 Years Ago

This year is becoming a blockbuster year for celebrating anniversaries in real life and at the movie theater. The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 manned moon landing in 1969, as celebrated in the biopic First Man and the documentary Apollo 11. The 40th anniversary of Alien introduced the kick-ass heroine, Ellen Ripley, in 1979. Six months before Alien became a hit at the movie theater, NASA selected Anna Lee Fisher to be one of six women astronauts for the space shuttle program in 1979.

Did you know that Ripley and Fisher were both moms in space?

My initial idea for this video was about NASA’s first all-female spacewalk with astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch outside of the International Space Station. NASA cancelled the spacewalk a few days later because there was only one medium torso among the four spacesuits on the International Space Station. The other available medium torso was, quite literally, out to the dry cleaners on Earth. The spacewalk went on with astronauts Christina Koch in a medium torso and Nick Hague in a large torso.

After sending 500 men into space, NASA still has problems with women in space.

If that was not bad enough, Vice President Mike Pence demanded from NASA that the first woman and the next man on the moon be American astronauts launched on an American rocket from American soil in the next five years. Never mind that the America First approach to space doesn’t include budget increases for NASA to return to the moon sooner than 2028 and design new spacesuits to accommodate different size astronauts of the opposite sex.

While researching this topic, I came across an essay by Taylor Page about the similarities between Ellen Ripley in Alien and Anna Fisher being selected by NASA in 1979. The two women—fictional and real—redefined the traditional female archetype to become role models in the late 1970s and early 1980s.


They were gender minorities in male-dominated industries. Ripley was an aerospace engineer and one of two women working on the doomed space tug when it came across the distress signal from LV-426 and the nearly indestructible xenomorph. Fisher had a master’s degree in chemistry when only 25% of chemists were woman at the time.


They were both third in command for their space assignments. After the captain and the executive officer, Ripley was third in command as the warrant officer. Fisher was a mission specialist and the third in command on board the Discovery for STS-51-A in November 1984, launching two satellites into orbit and retrieving two satellites from orbit.


Something that the essay revealed was what happened before the events in Alien: Ripley violated “regulations by allowing a natural pregnancy to come to term” and her assignment on the space tug was “a renegotiation of her contract” to spend time with her daughter. Maternal instincts will become a big part of future Alien movies.

Fisher was the first American mom to go into space, having two daughters prior to her spaceflight and taking an eight-year leave from NASA to raise them before returning to the agency as a manager.

For the record, cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova in 1963 was the not only the first woman in space but also the first mom in space.

Alien (1979)

The essay noted that “Ripley served as one of the first non-sexualized leading independent women in cinema” (emphasis added).

*cough* Cheer if you remember the underwear scene in Alien? *cough*

Sigourney Weaver, who played Ripley, initially defended the underwear scene in an interview: “‘Are you kidding? After five days of blood and guts, and fear, and sweat and urine, do you think Ripley wouldn’t take off her clothes?'”After receiving negative fan mail about the underwear scene and seeing how traditional Hollywood scripts were towards women, she would think twice about taking off her clothes for a movie.

Of course, that was 40 years ago and the times are different today.

Science Fiction Women In Underwear

Why YouTube Is Warning Content Creators On Gleam Giveaways

Jay of JayzTwoCents recently made a video on why he will no longer do giveaways on his YouTube channel after giving away $100,000 in PC hardware over the last eight years. YouTube slapped him with a warning for using an external website link in the description of his giveaway video that could have driven traffic to inflate his engagement metrics. The offending external link was for Gleam, a popular contest management service that Jay and many other content creators have used for years.

Gleam, however, was a known problem for several months by content creators who pay close attention to YouTube policy changes. When I expressed my opinion in comments that Jay was responsible for the situation that he was in, I got push back that he had done nothing wrong and YouTube should not have given him a warning. Even big content creators like Jay need to stay current with YouTube and third-party policy changes.

Giveaways are either a curse or a blessing for content creators. Newer channels use giveaways as a way to grow fast at the risk of gaining an audience that cares more about free products than the latest video. Established channels use giveaways as a way to give back to the community and reward long time supporters.

Roberto Blake recommends that content creators should not do giveaways until they have at least 1,000 subscribers. He mentioned in a recent video that a channel with 1,000 subscribers represents the bottom of the top 10% of all channels on YouTube. To put that number into perspective, the top 10% include channels from 1,000 subscribers to 91 million subscribers. The 1,000 subscriber mark is where the remaining YouTube features become available, including monetization and super chats.

About two dozen content creators in recent months got warnings by YouTube for using an external Gleam link in the description of their giveaway videos. TeamYouTube tweeted a response to Erica the Technology Nerd that giveaways are not being ban. The external links that can inflate engagement metrics, such as views, likes and subscribers, are ban under YouTube’s “Fake Engagement Policy” and “Contest Policies And Guidelines.”

It’s unclear whether or not YouTube knows what Gleam does for the community.

Gleam is a popular service for keeping giveaways fair for the viewers and manageable for the content creators. Larger channels like JayzTwoCents can easily have 400,000 contest entries spread out across multiple platforms like YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The days of dumping contest entries into a spreadsheet, using a random number generator, and picking the winner from the corresponding row number of the spreadsheet are long gone.

Gleam has many actions for setting up a contest, including asking for views, likes and subscriptions on YouTube. Those particular actions are no longer compliant with YouTube policies. As of March 4, 2019, Gleam is recommending “visit a YouTube channel” as the preferred action for YouTube and let the viewer decide what to do once they are on the channel page.

On March 11, 2019, JayzTwoCents posted his giveaway video with the Gleam link in the description that asked for comments, likes and subscribes on YouTube. Shortly thereafter an asshat reported the Gleam link. YouTube disabled the Gleam link and slapped JayzTwoCents with a warning. The warning itself was a recent policy change in how YouTube handles community guideline violations. Under the old policy JayzTwoCents would have gotten a community strike with serious consequences for his channel.

On March 15, 2019, JayzTwoCents posted his follow-up video on why giveaways on YouTube were no longer worth the trouble. If he had made himself aware of the policy changes at YouTube and Gleam, he could have avoided the warning altogether. Or maybe not. With YouTube cracking down on external links in the video description, using Gleam or any third-party link may no longer be safe for anyone’s channel.

Jay announced his Gleam giveaway link on Twitter and his only YouTube action is to visit his channel. There is no penalty for telling viewers to go to his Twitter account for the giveaway link. For now, at least. By hosting his giveaway on Twitter, Jay will also need to stay current with policy changes at Twitter in addition to YouTube and Gleam.

Three Options For Retiring Windows 10 MCSA/MCSE Certifications In 2019

When I started looking at my Microsoft certification options for the New Year, I saw the announcement that the Windows 10 Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) and the Mobility Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) being retired on March 31, 2019. Somehow I missed that announcement before I posted my Exam Replay certification video last October.

Here are the replacement certification exams:

  • The Windows 10 MSCA exams being replaced by the Microsoft 365 Modern Desktop Administrator Associate exams, “Windows 10” (MD-100) and “Managing Modern Desktops” (MD-101).
  • The Mobility MCSE exams being replaced by the Microsoft 365 Enterprise Administrator Expert exams, “Microsoft 365 Identity and Services” (MS-100) and “Microsoft 365 Mobility and Security” (MS-101).

Here are three options for getting Microsoft certified in early 2019.


Can you take one or two exams to complete the old MCSA/MCSE certification in less than two months? That depends on how good are your studying habits. Some people can pass an exam after studying for several weeks; other people require a lot more time.

When I did my A+, Network+ and Windows 2000 certifications in the early 2000s, I spent two months studying for each exam. As I have gotten older, my ability to learn large amounts of technical material in a short time has diminished. I’m no longer the young person in college who can read a 1,200-page textbook the night before and still ace the final exam the next morning.

If you have mental stamina to complete more than one exam in less than two months, good luck.


The beta exams are available today but there are no prep materials like classes, study guides or testing software. If you are well familiar with the retiring exams, you could take the beta exams and hope for the best. Or you could wait until April 2019 for the new exams to no longer be in beta.

As for prep materials, you may have a longer wait. Amazon list the study guides as being available in June and July.


You can take the old exam, “Installing and Configuring Windows 10” (70-698), which is typically the first exam that most people take for the Windows 10 MCSA certification. That exam will substitute for the Modern Desktop Windows 10 (MD-100) exam. You can later take the Managing Modern Desktops (MD-101) exam to complete Modern Desktop Administrator Associate certification.

That is the only path between the old and new certifications. Microsoft does not have a transition exam to qualify the Windows 10 MCSA certification as a requirement for the Enterprise Administrator Expert certification. Retiring exams and certifications will show up as active on your transcript.

I’m taking the third option since I already have the prep materials for the first Windows 10 MCSA exam and I got my Exam Replay voucher with Windows 10 testing software before the special offer expired a few days ago.

Did 4 A.I. Robots Kill 29 Scientists At Japanese Weapons Research Lab?

Did four AI robots kill 29 scientists at a Japanese weapons research lab? A tweet with that headline and a linked video briefly lit up social media for one week in December 2018. The mainstream media didn’t even bother to cover it, suggesting a possible government cover-up. Like most people who saw the story, I thought it was too sensational to be true. When I saw the thumbnail for the linked video, I knew it was fake news.

Another indication that the story was fake news was both the headline and the unedited video were re-posted multiple times on YouTube. Some people are gullible enough to believe a lie is true if the lie is endlessly repeated on social media. A month later I can only find the commentary videos in the search results, as all the re-posted videos were long gone. When I followed an external link from an article to a re-posted video on YouTube, a message announced that the video and the account was not available after receiving numerous copyright strikes.

YouTube announced this week that they will recommend fewer conspiracy videos like “a phony miracle cure for a serious illness, claiming the earth is flat, or making blatantly false claims about historic events like 9/11.” I think this is working because none of the commentary videos that I watched while researching this topic had resulted in any recommendations to see more commentary videos.

A variation of the headline had the weapons research lab located in South Korea. That might have to do with an April 2018 article in The Guardian about A.I. experts calling for the boycott of a South Korean university research lab partnering with a defense company to develop autonomous weapons. Or “killer robots” as The Guardian’s sensational headline proclaims, although no scientists were mentioned killed in the article.

Creating autonomous weapons that could act independently of human control is a valid concern. While Skynet and Terminators are most obvious examples in pop culture, an episode from Star Trek: The Next Generation, “The Arsenal of Freedom,” had an entire planet wiped out by autonomous weapons. Or “intelligent weapon systems,” according to the holographic sales pitch. Could humanity develop autonomous weapons that kill everyone on and off the battlefield?

Most people won’t recognize the woman in the video thumbnail. She is Linda Moulton Howe, a well-known UFO and conspiracy theory researcher. I heard her speak while standing in an angry crowd wearing MAGA hats at AlienCon 2016 in Santa Clara, CA.

The video in the tweet was a short clip taken from a longer video where she gave a presentation on the information provided to her by an anonymous Marine about the four A.I. robots killing 29 scientists at a Japanese research lab in August 2017. She posted an interview video on her YouTube channel that retold the story about A.I. robots rebelling against their creators. While I’m not familiar with her research, a lack of specific details and independent confirmations is probably the norm.

An unrelated editorial cartoon came out a few days ago that summarizes fake news in general.

“We’re getting an unconfirmed report from anonymous sources making unverified claims in an out-of-context video, which, if true is huge news, and if not utter horse hockey.”

Rick McKee, augusta chronicle

If four A.I. robots killed 29 scientists at a weapons research lab was true, the mainstream media would have covered it extensively. Otherwise, it’s utter horse hockey. Snopes rated this story as being false.

Who’s Your Daddy, Spider-Man?

A new trailer for “Spider-Man: Far From Home” came this week. One of the big surprises was Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. replacing Tony Stark in the father figure role to a young Peter Parker. Since the story line for the new Spider-Man movie takes place just minutes after the ending of “The Avengers: Endgame,” that raises an interesting question. Who is the better spider-daddy, Tony Stark or Nick Fury?

One of the nice things about “Spider-Man: Homecoming” when Sony rebooted the franchise with Tom Holland, the origin story of Peter Parker becoming Spider-Man and the death of Uncle Ben was not rehashed all over again.

Seriously, how many times does Uncle Ben have to die?

Uncle Ben’s famous quote, “great power comes great responsibility,” was ruthlessly mocked by Peter B. Parker, an older and more cynical version of Spider-Man’s alter ego, as it came up repeatedly in “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse.”

In order to tie in Sony’s “Homecoming” into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr., was brought in as a father figure to a young Peter Parker. Tony Stark as a father figure is somewhat problematic. If the movies were faithful to the comic books, Tony Stark would be more at home inside a bottle of booze than the Iron Man suit. And no kid wants a drunken father.

While the movies has kept Tony Stark away from the booze, he has his own daddy issues. His father was too busy saving the world to pay attention to him when he was younger. Something that Peter Parker picked up right away, struggled with in “Homecoming” and died for in “The Avengers: Infinity War.”

With Sony bringing out “Far From Home” in July and stepping on the advertising for “The Avengers: Endgame” in April, we know that the timeline was reset for Peter Parker to have a different adventure for his summer school trip than running off with the Avengers to fight Thanos.

As for Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson, replacing Tony Stark as the father figure, it could be that he was in the neighborhood and staying on top of an emerging situation. Would Nick Fury make a better spider-daddy to a young Peter Parker? That is hard to say since so much about Nick Fury is unknown. Being a soldier and a leader of people, Fury knows how to inspire those around him to rise up and do the impossible under trying circumstances.

Here are two examples from “The Avengers.”

Nick Fury practically pulled Steve Rogers, played by Chris Evans, out of the mid-20th century into the early 21st century at the end of “Captain America: The First Avenger,” gaining the trust of a young man out of time to lead the Avengers.

While Agent Phil Coulson’s death unified the Avengers, Nick Fury bringing him back to life for the TV series, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” strained their relationship. Agent Coulson, played by Clark Gregg, stayed faithful to Nick Fury after S.H.I.E.L.D. was taken over by Hydra in“Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

“Captain Marvel” in March will feature a young Nick Fury and a younger Agent Coulson, showing us how much of a father figure that Nick Fury can be to Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel), played by Brie Larson.

Spoiler alert: Nick Fury is a cat person.

What Is Hub by Amazon for My Apartment Complex?

You have often heard stories or seen videos of Amazon packages being stolen from a porch by a random package thief walking off the street. That is nothing compared to what goes on inside an apartment complex. The porch is the doorstep to your apartment, the street is your building hallway, and that random package thief is most likely your next door neighbor. And packages disappear all the time.

If your leasing office does accept packages on your behalf, their business hours are often the same as your working hours and you will have to wait until the weekend to pick up your package. Beyond using Amazon Locker for Amazon packages, sending packages to a FedEx or UPS store, and renting a post office box for everything else, there are few alternative solutions for apartment residents.

That’s where the Hub by Amazon comes in.

My apartment complex ringed in the New Year with an Hub by Amazon at the mailbox courtyard. Hub by Amazon operates the same way as an Amazon Locker that you see at retail locations. When your Amazon package arrives at the Amazon Locker, you get an email notification and you can pick up your package at your convenience within three days. Unlike the Amazon Locker, the Hub by Amazon is available in neutral colors like blue, gray or white, accepts Amazon and non-Amazon packages from all carriers, and is accessible only by apartment residents.

The outdoor Hub by Amazon at my apartment complex is huge, being approximately 18 feet long, two feet deep and seven feet tall. That includes a Starter Hub with touch screen panel and 42 compartments, and four expander hubs with 23 compartments each. With 134 compartments of various sizes for 300 apartments, Hub by Amazon replaced the eight package lockers from the post office at the same location. The smallest package that is a thick catalog envelope and the largest package is a 22 x 17 x 10 box.

You will need to have or sign up for an Amazon account to register with the Hub by Amazon website, verifying both your email address and apartment address.You don’t need to be an Amazon Prime member and there are no additional fees for using the Hub by Amazon.

The upfront costs of Hub by Amazon are paid for by the leasing office, making it a win-win situation for everyone involved. Residents are no longer frustrated by stolen packages. The leasing office can get out of the package management business. Amazon can save a ton of money by not having to ship out replacement packages.

If you live in a medium to large apartment complex, a Hub by Amazon might be in your future.