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All right. The Future is now. Well, almost now. Two days from now to be exact. Houston’s Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Conference, ApolloCon, will get started this Friday, June 25th, at The DoubleTree Houston Intercontinental Airport Hotel.

Not everything is purely sci-fi this year. On Friday night, a panel titled, “Con Season is in the Air: When a Young Fan’s Mind Turns to Flirtation” will be discussing fun, flirtation and the possibility of making a lasting connection at the con. The Panelists state that “anyone who says geeks don’t get any love has certainly never been to a convention!”

And for any con-goers who found a little romance six to ten years ago, there is now an ApolloKids track with everything from Oragami to Krav Maga for Kids. For those not in the know, Krav Maga is an eclectic hand-to-hand combat system developed in Israel which involves wrestling, grappling and striking techniques. It’s mostly known for its extremely efficient and brutal counter-attacks and is taught to elite special forces around the world. I’m assuming that they’re teaching it to the kids, and not to parents for use on the kids, though after having been in more than a few airports recently, I’d probably be up for attending a class on the latter.

For the politically aware KPFT listener, there is a talk entitled, “Deepwater Horizon: Beyond the Spill” in which panelists will discuss the spill, the realities of offshore oil production and how future environmental catastrohphes can be prevented. “Greening the Future by Recovering the Past” will discuss the concept that recycling isn’t just for aluminum cans and plastic bottles. The greenest solution may be to renovate, reuse, and recycle. And for those in posession of a hand-crank radio, you can continue your emergency preparedness education by attending “Hurricane Preparedness 201: The Post-Ike Lessons Learned Story”.

Also talking about the tangible future will be our own David Brummel, known on IRC and at Geek Gatherings as KD5, with a talk and Q&A session on the Future of the Space Industry. This is just one of several panels and workshops that KD5 will be on during the three day con, several of which add some extremely techy fare to the already dense sci-fi and fantasy content.

If you can only attend for a day and have a yearning for Mobile Computing or Open Source Hardware in your heart, then Saturday is your day. At noon, KD5 and I will be sitting in on a panel called “There’s an App for That” – I’ll be the Android advocate and KD5 will be representing his vast stable of Apple gear. On the heels of that, we’ll be giving an Introduction to Open Source Hardware talk that gives attendees a survey of currently available hobbyist micro-controllers, with some extra time spent on the Arduino platform, both hardware and software.

All of that talk is theory. If you want to get your hands on some actual hardware, we’ll be putting on a two hour workshop in which participants will build their own functioning Arduino clone from the ground up. We’ll be using cool looking translucent solderless breadboards. The key word there being “solderless”, meaning that no harm will come to your hands during the construction of these mini micro-controllers, only your pocketbook, as we’re passing on the cost of the kits to the participants. You’ll also need a laptop running Linux, OS Ten or Windows along with a functioning USB port.

While you’re able to attend all the panels with just a basic Con Badge, you may need to sign up in advance for any of the workshops requiring materials. You can get details on Apollocon Panels, workshops and ApolloKids activities by surfing to www.apollocon.org. Both three day and single day passes are available.

That’s it for this Sci-Fi and Fantasy Four One One and that’s that for BarretTime.

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