About Us  •  Blog  •  Contact Us  •  Chat  •  Webmail
Your location:

Elon Musk and the Mission to Mars

Posted by jlinnerth on October 24, 2016


Last month, billionaire CEO of SpaceX and co-founder of Tesla Motors and SolarCity, Elon Musk, revealed a plan to start doing what a hundred science fiction novels have written about for decades—the colonization of Mars. He hopes to begin shuttling thousands of people between Earth and the red planet sometime within the next decade or so, and imagines that humanity will have its first self-sustaining Martian colony within the next 40-100 years. It’s pretty hard to comprehend; we may soon be an interplanetary species.  You might live to see the day where people are classified as Earthian or Martian. How mindblowing is that!?

Why Mars? Why Now?

The big question is why. Why spend millions of dollars on a space quest to a big red rock when we’ve got so many problems to work out on our own planet? Well, the answer is in the question. According to Musk, “The future of humanity is fundamentally going to bifurcate along one of two directions: Either we’re going to become a multiplanet species and a spacefaring civilization, or we’re going be stuck on one planet until some eventual extinction event.”

For me, this answer lies somewhere in the spectrum between extremely depressing and oddly inspiring. It’s time to start thinking about our future as a species, rather than as individual countries or continents. It’s hard to wrap your head around, but it’s extremely important we do so.

The Plan

Initially, SpaceX gave us a glimpse of the mission to Mars via this futuristic video:

Here’s how it works:

  1. A spacecraft called the Interplanetary Transport System (3.5 times more powerful than the biggest rocket built to date by NASA) would deliver a crew of astronauts out to Earth’s orbit, where the booster would detach and steer itself back to land on the launch pad.
  2. The booster would then pick up a fuel tanker and carry that into orbit where it would fuel the spaceship for its journey to Mars.
  3. Once en route, the spaceship would deploy solar panels to harvest energy from the sun and conserve valuable propellant for the landing on Mars. Musk envisions entire fleets of these colonial capsules will remain in Earth’s orbit until a planetary alignment brings the two planets close together (which happens every 26 months). In that way, we can colonize Mars en masse. Hooray for mass colonization!
  4. Once there, that’s when the fun begins. And by fun, I mean intense labour. I’m talking exploring, building structures, and digging up buried ice to be used for water and to make cryo-methane propellant that will power everything!

Musk gave us a few more interesting tidbits in his Reddit AMA yesterday as well.  Here are some of the best ones:

  • Before we send any people, we will send the SpaceX Red Dragon capsule without a crew, so as to scout out the planet and test the landing technology.
  • After that, a spaceship called the Heart of Gold will fly to Mars with equipment required for a Mars-based propellant plant (like a Martian gas station) that the first crews would have to build.
  • The ITS would be powerful enough to travel back to Earth after landing on Mars at any point during Earth and Mars’ orbits. This is obviously helpful for emergencies or situations where a mission to or from Mars may be necessary for survival.

There’s obviously a ton of other fantastically far-out information from the AMA to check out, but be forewarned: the techno-jargon is strong with this one! You can click here to view all the questions from the Reddit AMA or for a full look at Elon Musk’s presentation of the mission last month you can watch the video below.  See you in space!






Candice Irvine, Blogger, Marketing Specialist, Graphic Designer

I'm addicted to games of all kinds: boardgames, video games, card games, mind games... nah, just kidding about that last one. Or am I?


Ever since I can remember, the world has been (slowly) moving toward a more environmentally-friendly mindset. Issues like climate change and fossil fuel consumption have been on the radar for quite some time, but it seems like they have only recently started to be “taken seriously” by mainstream media and political powers. And now that people have come to terms with the changes taking place, many initiatives have been implemented in hopes to stop the destruction of our planet and to save as many of our resources as possible. One of these initiatives is the use of solar power in place of natural gas and other types of energy.

SolarCity is a solar energy provider in the US that creates renewable energy by installing solar panels on homes, businesses, and more. These solar panels convert the sun’s energy into electricity, eliminating the need for alternate (and non-renewable) energy sources like oil and coal. As it turns out, solar energy creates 91% less CO2 pollution than natural gas and 96% less CO2 than coal, so it’s an undoubtedly superior alternative.

On another note, Airbnb, as you may know, is an online community where travelers can connect with hosts from all over the world in order to find short-term accommodations that match their needs. Airbnb currently has 100 million users and 640,000 hosts, so it’s safe to say that it’s a popular destination for people looking for a place to stay.

So, why are these two companies teaming up to combat climate change? This alliance may seem a little out of left field at first, but Airbnb isn’t new to the eco-friendly scene: they already consciously do a lot to offset the environmental impact of travel. In the U.S. alone, the company has reduced water consumption by 4.2 billion litres compared to traditional accommodation options like hotels, and has reduced greenhouse gas emissions substantially. One of Airbnb’s primary target markets is the “millennial” segment, and members of this age group tend to place a high value on lowering their environmental footprint, so it’s no wonder that Airbnb strives for an environmentally-friendly image and practices.

By teaming up with SolarCity, members of Airbnb will now be eligible to receive up to $1,000 cash-back on solar panel installations in areas where SolarCity operates. The benefits go both ways, too – existing and new SolarCity customers will also get a $100 travel credit for future bookings. This initiative is all part of the plan to bring all types of people together and have them strive toward one common and important goal – to make a positive impact on our planet.

Before you start thinking “what difference is one solar-powered company going to make?”, you should know that huge corporations like Walmart, Target, Apple, Costco, Kohl’s, and IKEA all employ onsite solar panels on a large scale. In fact, 2% of the US population visits a solar-powered Walmart every week. Solar energy is not a small-scale trend, it is an international movement toward minimizing the use of fossil fuels, and drastically increasing the utilization of renewable energy. If companies like SolarCity keep teaming up with big-name companies like Airbnb and widely promoting themselves, solar energy will soon be seen as one of the most viable options for energy.


Here comes the tricky part, though: it’s now up to us to make sure that corporations and governments continue to see renewable energy sources like wind and solar power as practical options, and actually follow through on replacing traditional sources with these much cleaner ones. Because in the end, this planet belongs to all of us, and it’s the only one we’ve got. We’re all in this together, and we have to start acting like it!



Caitlin Feehan, Blogger & Editor

Converse have been my footwear of choice for the past 9 years, I’m convinced that all doors and sidewalks are conspiring against me, and I enjoy sticking my head out of the passenger window on long car rides.

IoT in the Home: Amazon Echo vs. Google Home

Posted by cirvine on October 17, 2016


IoT, which is an acronym for the semi-awkward buzz phrase “the Internet of Things”, is a quickly growing tech trend that is rife with possibilities. From smart ice cubes that monitor how fast you’re drinking to plant sensors that provide continuous stats on the plant’s health (which I don’t really need—I know mine aren’t doing well), IoT is making life just a little bit easier in a variety of ways.

See also: Staying Safe on the “Internet of Things”

At the top of the IoT-trending pyramid is the concept of “smart homes”: the idea that many of the devices in your home (lights, thermostat, fridge, etc.) can be controlled via wifi from your phone or some other centralized hub. So far, the Amazon Echo has really taken the lead on that front. Take a look at Amazon Echo’s introduction video below for a better look:

Pretty cool right? The commercial does a great job in showing how Echo (and its personal assistant, Alexa) could ostensibly become a super-smart member of the family, rather than just another device. Besides being able to book an Uber cab for you or plan a date night, the Echo can also play games with you including Bingo,Tic Tac Toe, and Rock Scissors Paper Lizard Spock (ya, you heard me).

Until now, smart home devices weren’t all that popular. The Amazon Echo changed all that and they have the numbers to back it up (Amazon has sold at least 3 million of the smart speakers so far).  So obviously, other companies are seeing the benefit and latching on to the idea. Oh, hey Google!

Google announced the Google Home in May but it was at their recent launch event this month that they showed off all the deets. Get a load of it below:

Also pretty cool. Like the Echo, you can make appointments, ask it questions, playback entertainment, and more. But what’s the difference? Let’s break it down.

Price – Google Wins

There’s no getting around this one—Google’s is cheaper. Google Home is selling at $130 (US), while Amazon Echo is at $180 (US).  That being said, you can’t buy the Google Home in Canada yet, and there’s no set date for when it will be sold here, but we should expect it sometime in 2017. So if you’re thinking about getting it for someone as a Christmas gift, think again.

Personality – Google Wins

One thing that’s always kind of bothered me about Google’s assistant on my Android is the lack of personality. For some reason I find it a little more fun to talk to a device using a name like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa. “OK Google” just seems a little dull and utilitarian. That being said, Google sort of makes up for the namelessness by being conversational. You can ask a question like “Who scored the most goals in the NHL last year?” and after the answer, a follow up question like “What team is he on this year?” It will understand the “he” pronoun as being connected to the last question. Google is also more personal in the aesthetic sense. That is, you can change the colour of the sleek-looking device to fit your décor.


Smart Home Partnerships – Amazon Wins, For Now

Amazon Echo has definitely benefited from being the first one out of the gate with this product. They have a wide variety of product-partnerships which include Nest, Ecobee, SmartThings, Wink, Insteon, Belkin WeMo, Philips Hue, Lifx, Big Ass Fans, and IFTTT, all allowing you to link up and control all sorts of smart home products, and more are being added all the time. So far, Google only has Nest, SmartThings, Philips Hue and IFTTT. Of course, we are bound to expect more in the future. They’ve promised they will match Amazon on this front, and realistically, who wouldn’t  want to partner up with Google? It’s Google.

Audio – Google Wins

As a big music listener, this is a huge factor for me. The various Amazon Echo devices don’t sync with eachother, which means you can’t have them all playing the same song and blasting beats throughout your house at your next party. Google Home, on the other hand, is able to command any Google Cast-enabled speaker, any speaker with a Chromecast Audio streamer plugged in and even your TV if you have a Chromecast video streamer.

Personal Assistant Highlights – Google Wins

I’m not sure I would use all of these features, but it seems Google Home does have more of them than the Echo. With the Echo, you can add items to calendar, make a shopping list, make a to do list, check a flight status, and track a package. With Google Home, you can do all that, plus get personalized daily briefings of your day and check traffic, which I think are two very useful features.

Other Features – Draw?

There are plenty of other features these devices can do, and which skills are most important are up to you. Via Chromecast, Google Home can launch and control Netflix, YouTube and photo libraries. Amazon Echo can order an Uber for you, play a game, and do about 900 other skills via its app, and is learning more skills all the time. Once again, we can assume Google will be learning more skills too.

In the end, it seems likely that Google will come out on top on this one. There’s just no beating the price, the personal assistant features, and the audio capabilities. Personally, I’m not sure yet that’s it’s a necessity in my life, but I could see it becoming a necessity in the future when I start installing more smart home devices. Until then, I’ll stick with my phone and a Bluetooth speaker.






Candice Irvine, Blogger, Marketing Specialist, Graphic Designer

I'm addicted to games of all kinds: boardgames, video games, card games, mind games... nah, just kidding about that last one. Or am I?

Hoping to get Hyped for Halloween? Try Lights Out.

Posted by cfeehan on October 13, 2016


The movie Lights Out looked terrifying from the first time I saw the trailer. In fact, I was originally going to try to avoid it altogether, but I decided to take one for the team and sacrifice my sanity to make sure that it would be appropriate for you, our beloved Execublog audience. I know, I know, you can thank me later.

The good news is that Lights Out is completely fitting for any of you, as long as you have nerves of steel. Oh, and make sure that you’re over the age of 13, as the movie is rated PG-13 – but in my opinion, you should be at least a couple of years older if you don’t want to have nightmares for a few nights afterward (or irreversible psychological damage…everyone deals with things differently…right??) This is your final warning: Lights Out is not for the easily frightened, and it is absolutely not for those who are afraid of the dark.


Now that we’ve made it past the disclaimers, it’s time for the good stuff. Lights Out initially focuses on Martin, a young boy who begins to see a horrifying figure in the shadows of his home right around the time that his father passes away. It quickly becomes clear that Martin’s mother (who has recently stopped taking her medication) is aware of these disturbances, and even attempts to normalize them. And, when Martin’s adult sister, Rebecca, steps in to help, things only seem to get worse.

What I like about this movie is that the figure being referred to (also known as Diana) isn’t your run-of-the-mill demonic force that “is attached to the house” or “possesses the eldest daughter” or whatnot – that would be too easy. Diana’s ties to the family go much deeper than that, and this complicated and toxic relationship is played out very well in the movie. I appreciate that this interesting relationship actually helps to explain some of the twists and plot developments, because this kind of explanation and insight seems to be quite rare in horror movies these days.

The cast of this movie may look slightly familiar to you, but it’s not particularly star-studded – as is the case with most movies of this genre. Rebecca is played by Teresa Palmer, who you may know from Warm Bodies or Wish You Were Here. Her mother in the movie is played by Maria Bello, who I recently learned was a character on the ER in the 90s (Anna Del Amico). She also appeared in the more recent movie, Prisoners. They were both convincing in their roles, as was Gabriel Bateman, who played Martin. No complaints here!

All in all, Lights Out was thrilling right from the beginning, and delivered consistent jump scares and seriously haunting images throughout the film. Viewers are invited to see beyond the usual standard of what makes a “bad guy” vs. a hero, which adds a lot of depth and makes the movie much more compelling. I would definitely recommend this movie to any lover of horror films, or anyone who just wants to get into the Halloween spirit. After all, it is only a couple of weeks away!

Prepare yourself for this haunted holiday by watching Lights Out on Execulink’s VOD channel (ch.100) from October 25th, 2016 to March 3rd, 2017.




Caitlin Feehan, Blogger & Editor

Converse have been my footwear of choice for the past 9 years, I’m convinced that all doors and sidewalks are conspiring against me, and I enjoy sticking my head out of the passenger window on long car rides.

Micro Machines Inventors Win Nobel Prize for Chemistry!

Posted by cirvine on October 6, 2016


No, not those Micro Machines.


The micro machines I’m talking about are much much smaller—1000 times smaller than a human hair kind of small. Molecular. 

Yesterday, the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded equally to three scientists: Jean-Pierre Sauvage (France), Sir J. Fraser Stoddart (UK), and Bernard L. Feringa (Netherlands) for their design and synthesis of molecular machines.


OK, so let’s get to it. What are molecular machines exactly? Instead of trying to explain this complex science myself, I’m going to let the Youtube channel Reactions do it for me.

So these are basically controllable molecules that can perform tasks when given the mere fuel of light and heat.  That’s pretty incredible. But why should we care? Well, as the Nobel Prize website states, “In terms of development, the molecular motor is at the same stage as the electric motor was in the 1830s, when scientists displayed various spinning cranks and wheels, unaware that they would lead to electric trains, washing machines, fans and food processors.”


Basically, we are on the cusp of some really exciting technology here. Because of these three scientists’ ground work, a myriad of other molecular machines have been built, including a motorized molecular car from Feringa’s lab. Who knows where this technology could take us? The first applications that have been predicted include artificial muscles, smart materials that can store energy or expand and contract in response to light.

The potential medical applications are really interesting. Using the same light-activated mechanism, researchers have developed around 100 drug-like compounds that can be switched on or off in response to light. For example, certain anti-cancer compounds have serious side effects because they indiscriminately attack tumours and healthy tissues alike. These serious side-effects could be reduced by using these light-switchable mechanisms to deliver drugs to certain areas of the body only.

I, for one, am really excited to be alive to see this technology take its first steps (or should I say take its first drive?) Congratulations to these three incredible scientists for their prestigious award and for bringing this seriously cool science into our lives. Thank you!





Candice Irvine, Blogger, Marketing Specialist, Graphic Designer

I'm addicted to games of all kinds: boardgames, video games, card games, mind games... nah, just kidding about that last one. Or am I?