NASA, SpaceX and Polaris Study Hubble Mission →

When the space shuttle program wrapped up 11 years ago, one of the many things that was lost was the ability to service the Hubble Space Telescope, which needed quite a bit of service back in the shuttle days.

For years, it has been understood that if anything major failed on Hubble after the last shuttle touched down, it could spell the end of the space telescope. Beyond hardware failures, the telescope’s decaying orbit also poses a long-term danger.

…but all that could be changing. Seth Kurkowski has details:

NASA and SpaceX signed an unfunded Space Act Agreement to produce a study on the capability of using Dragon to dock with Hubble and boost it into its original 372-mile orbit around Earth. This isn’t an announcement that SpaceX will do so, or a promise that NASA will sign off on the mission, but it is one step closer to having it become a possibility. According to both NASA Associate Administrator Thomas Zubuchen and Hubble’s project manager Patrick Crouse, the space observatory is in good condition and is expected to last well through this decade and beyond.

If this Hubble mission is deemed possible, the mission would launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 with a Crew Dragon.

This flight would probably be a part of The Polaris Program, which is run run by Jared Issacman, who flew to space on Inspiration 4 while raising money for St. Jude.

Just Two Days Remain to Support Relay FM’s St. Jude Campaign →

The end of September draws near, which means we will be winding down our fundraiser for St. Jude on Friday. If you haven’t given to this life-saving work, now is the time.

Don’t miss our Closing Ceremonies:

If you are running your own campaign under the Relay FM umbrella, you have until noon Eastern on Monday, October 3 to raise money, so now’s a great time to make your final push.

As I write this, we’re approaching $550,000 raised for St. Jude this year, which puts us well over $2 million raised since 2019. It’s simply astonishing.

Underscore Took the Apple Watch Ultra to the Scottish Highlands →

David Smith:

I was very excited when Apple announced the Apple Watch Ultra this fall. I’ve been wearing an Apple Watch on my wrist nearly every day since they were first released seven years ago. What was so exciting about the Ultra is that it seemed to be targeted directly at me. I’m an avid hiker/backpacker and love being outdoors, and I’ve used a regular Apple Watch to track these activities but would love for a device that even better fits this use.

I don’t think you can properly test a device like this without taking it out into the field. So the day my Ultra arrived, I booked myself onto a sleeper train up to the Scottish Highlands for a three day hiking trip to really see how it performed. I ended up hiking just over 61 miles.

Apple Lowers System Requirements for Stage Manager →

N. Ingraham, writing at Engadget:

Apple is making Stage Manager work with a number of older devices: it’ll work on the 11-inch iPad Pro (first generation and later) and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (third generation and later). Specifically, it’ll be available on the 2018 and 2020 models that use the A12X and A12Z chips rather than just the M1. However, there is one notable missing feature for the older iPad Pro models — Stage Manager will only work on the iPad’s build-in display. You won’t be able to extend your display to an external monitor.

Apple also says that developer beta 5 of iPadOS 16 is removing external display support for Stage Manager on M1 iPads, something that has been present since the first iPadOS 16 beta was released a few months ago. It’ll be re-introduced in a software update coming later this year.

I’m glad Apple found a way to support older iPads with this feature, but pulling external display support for M1 iPads running Stage Manager is curious. Clearly Apple is doing what it can to get this out the door.

Kbase Article of the Week: iWeb: Avoid Using Apostrophes in Your iWeb Site/Page Names →

Apple Support:

If you create a site or page name in iWeb 1.0.1 with an apostrophe as part of the name, and subsequently update to iWeb 1.1, then the web addresses (URLs) to your site/page will no longer be valid. This will break any existing bookmarks to the page. This occurs because iWeb 1.1 handles apostrophes differently than iWeb 1.0.1.

People who bookmarked your iWeb 1.0.1 site need to bookmark your new site published with iWeb 1.1.

Adding a Driveway Gate to HomeKit

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my latest attempt to add my older garage door opener to HomeKit.

That project has been a huge hit with everyone in my household, so emboldened, I recently took on an additional HomeKit project: adding our driveway gate to the network.

When I first had the idea, I assumed that I would need to piece something together on my own, but then I came across a product called the ismartgate. After poking around the website for a few minutes, I came across this really great configuration page. After checking a few boxes, the website told me that the ismartgate LITE would work for my needs. $130 and a few days later, I was ready to go.

Compared to installing the Meross, this was shockingly straightforward. The main unit plugged into a spare power outlet located inside of my gate’s control box, and I had to run a total of just two wires to the control board:

Wiring Diagram

With the brains of the ismartgate squared away, I now had to set up the magnetic sensor so it would know if the gate was opened or closed. After some tinkering, I ended up mounting them on the hinged portion of the gate:

Gate Sensors

When the gate is closed, the surface with the magnet rotates, coming near the sensor, which is battery powered. I was able to mount it using some strong double-sided foam tape and one of the two screws used to hold the laser emitter in place.1

Getting the ismartgate LITE added to HomeKit was very simple, but it serves as a reminder that Apple doesn’t ship near enough icons to choose from in the Home app. Visually, it and my garage door look the same, which is a bit annoying.

Also annoying is how Siri treats the names of rooms and accessories. I put the “Garage Door” in a room called “Garage” in HomeKit. That worked really well until I added the “Gate” to the same room. Then, Siri wanted me to clarify what I meant when I said “Open the garage door.” Until I can dive into that further, I’ve moved the gate into its own room.

That hiccup aside, I’ve been really happy with my two recent HomeKit additions. In both cases, a relatively cheap accessory — that can be easily uninstalled — has made life just a little bit nicer here at the Hackett house.


  1. This is less cool than it sounds — it’s used to make sure that nothing is in the path of the gate as it closes. If something crosses the beam, the gate stops immediately. 

Apple Publishes Design Guidelines for Live Activities →

There are several things in this new article that jumped out at me. Up first, is how different phones will treat Live Activities:

In addition to displaying a Live Activity on the Lock Screen, devices that support Live Activities can display your app information in different ways, depending on whether the device also supports the Dynamic Island.

  • On devices that support the Dynamic Island, the system displays Live Activities in a persistent location around the TrueDepth camera.
  • On devices that don’t support the Dynamic Island, the system can display a Live Activity update in a banner that appears briefly while people view the Home Screen or use another app, but only if the app determines that the update is important enough to interrupt people.

Apple also has some guidance about what sorts of information should be shown in Live Activities. For example, developers should not show sensitive data in these UI elements, and should give users full control over starting and stopping Live Activity events.

People have joked about ads showing up in Live Activities, which Apple also addresses:

Avoid using a Live Activity to display ads or promotions. Live Activities help people stay informed about ongoing events and tasks, so it’s important to display only information that’s related to those events and tasks.

I won’t lie — I wish that language was stronger.