Put Your Code in the SWAMP: DHS Sponsors Online Open Source Code Testing
I trust Coverity's Scan program far more than I'll trust the organization that continues to promote security theater. DHS has no business in this area. This is typical over expansion of a bloated bureaucracy.
Cockpit Revealed For Bloodhound Supersonic Car
Sadly, the run won't be on the Black Rock Desert, http://www.bloodhoundssc.com/p... says:
In light of this impressive record, surely BLOODHOUND will return to the Black Rock Desert? Sadly, no. A lack of rain over the last decade, together with increasingly heavy use for the playa surface (principly by the annual Burning Man festival) has left the Black Rock surface in poor condition. It is bumpy, crumbly, rutted and uneven for much of its 140+ square mile surface and is not currently a suitable surface on which to run a car like BLOODHOUND. Hence an alternative surface is required – and we need to find one, wherever in the world it may be.
Bill Would End US Govt's Sale of Already-Available Technical Papers To Itself
I was doing research earlier this year and needed a paper summarizing a taxpayer funded project from 1967. This paper was not to be found anywhere else but at the NTIS. Libraries listed the NTIS as the place that had a copy. If the NTIS was not able to sell me a copy of the paper, then I would not have been able to get the information. Closing the NTIS only makes sense if the entire contents of the NTIS's archives are made available on the Internet.
The problem is that the most popular NTIS stuff is already on the net, but the remaining 30% (the long tail) is not.
The federally funded research was about these large (miles in radius) circles found in Nevada. There was conjecture that they were from a nuclear test. It turns out that they were from a toxic cloud test that was done using a solid rocket engine treated with beryllium. See http://pacaeropress.websitetoo..., http://aair.smugmug.com/Aviati... and http://blackrockdesert.org/wik...
The NTIS had the paper in question, which I was able to get and confirm that the semi-circles were created as part of the test. There was no mention of the test in the local papers or anywhere else I could find. If the NTIS did not have the paper, then my only hope would have been to ask Aerojet, the company contracted to do the research. The odds of them having a paper from 1967 is pretty low.
I realize that this question is not a critical, life threatening question, but determining *why* the circles where there and dispelling rumors about nuke tests is useful. The pursuit of the truth is lofty goal. Those who do not know history are bound to repeat it. In the case of this study, it turns out that there was an inversion layer that prevented a bunch of the particulate matter from reaching the ground in the test site. Maybe this is a well know mechanism now, but if I were researching atmospheric pollution, then I would want to review a study like this. If this study is not accessible, then it is like it never happened.
If the NTIS is disbanded, then we are basically tossing a bunch of tax-payer funded projects in to the shredder.
Interestingly, Canada is going through a somewhat similar issue where libraries containing research materials are being closed. Here an article from 2012: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/...
I'm no fan of big government, but if the NTIS is to be closed, then the entire contents of the NTIS library must be made freely available.
FAA On Travel Delays: Get Used To It
BTW - I thought that SS and Medicare are funded from payroll taxes, but apparently not . https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicare_(United_States) Wikipedia says: "Parts B and D are funded by premiums paid by Medicare enrollees and general fund revenue. In 2011, Medicare spending accounted for about 15 percent of the federal budget, and this share is projected to increase to over 17 percent by 2020."
The Vortex Gun Coming Soon To a Protest Near You
Here's video of a similar device: SRL: Weird Weapons of WWII from History Channel's Weird Weapons of WWII featuring Survival Research Laboratories' (SRL's) demonstrating the "shockwave cannon.' "
The Engineer Who Stopped Airplanes From Flying Into Mountains
The day after 9/11, my boss was scheduled to lecture undergrads. He talked about the idea of using terrain maps to prevent planes from flying in to buildings. The system is called Softwalls, which was discussed on Slashdot.
The really interesting thing about this is how strongly pilots and others objected. There is a FAQ that covers common objections.
Solar Cells Made From a Spreadable Nanoparticle Paste
This brings me back to the April, 1977 issue of (I think) Popular Electronics that had a recipe for creating solar cells at home using "3'7 Dimethylpentadecon-2-ol propionate". At the time, I was 13 and spent quite a bit of time bothering my science teaching trying figure out what 3'7 Dimethylpentadecon-2-ol propionate was and how to get some. Years later, I happened to look at the May issue and it turns out it was an April Fools' joke. Even at that time, I did laugh out loud. Anyway, if you want to see a description, check out Don Lancaster's "The worst of Marcia Swampfelder"
In addition, Marcia does have some suggestions about car stereo speaker orientation that are useful for winter driving :-^
Ask Slashdot: Successful Software From Academia?
A somewhat different question is: What helps acceptance of Academic Software.
Off the top of my head:
- An open source license
- High quality, readable code
- An active community
- Test cases and nightly builds
- Regular releases
- A faculty member who is a programmer, or at least was a programmer.
There are many other factors, does anyone have favorites?
Note that not all academic software is destined to be used outside of academia or to even survive past the end of the semester. That's ok.
10,000 Commits To an Open-source Project
I have 30874 on the Ptolemy II repository, see http://www.ohloh.net/accounts/cxbrx.
Hauke Fuhrmann put up Codeswarm videos of the software evolution of the Ptolemy II project. See Chaotic, Less Chaotic.
The number of commits is a poor measure though. I tend to make lots of small commits while cleaning code. A student doing a Ph.D., may make many fewer commits, but their commits have greater impact in the form of support for their Ph.D. We see software as a form of publication, see
Software Practice in the Ptolemy Project.
Sandia Helps Secure Kazakh Nuclear Material
Sandia says "along a journey by train across Kazakhstan to Kurchatov; while it was at another interim storage pad there; and along a truck route to a long-term concrete storage pad in northeast Kazakhstan." Wiki says "In its heyday Kurchatov (which was known by its postal code Semipalatinsk-16) was a closed city, one of the most secretive and restricted places in the Soviet Union."
Sandia Helps Secure Kazakh Nuclear Material
In a few months, when new satellite data is uploaded to your favorite map site, these should be fun to find. http://www.sandia.gov/LabNews/110128.html says "transport nuclear materials 1,860 miles by train across the Central Asian country of Kazakhstan". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railway_stations_in_Kazakhstan has two maps of railways in Kazahkstan. The Sandia site also has pictures.
45 Years Later, Does Moore's Law Still Hold True?
Agreed. When watching a presentation, I have a corollary to Moore's Law, where if a slide mentions Moore's Law and has "the graph", then it is ok to ignore that slide and the following two slides because no new information will be transmitted. It is like a nicer (and temporary) version of Godwin's Law.
Thousands of blackbirds fall from sky dead
The submission has a typo, this happened in Beebe, Arkansas.
Mozilla Updates Firefox To Appease FarmVille Users
I saw this great art car once, it had an immense amount of detail and was huge. There was not much clear space on it except in an area about 6"x8" that had a sign in the middle that said, "I made this while you were watching TV."
I've been thinking of updating the saying to "I made this while you were $^&*ing with FarmVille". FWIW, I built a Snail art car instead of watching TV of frobbing with Farmville. Now, if I could only get away from Slashdot . . .
See also this Good Samaritan Cartoon:
Guy in street, prone man at his feet:
"Oh, Great, as if I have the time or inclination to help a dying homeless man"
Same guy in front of computer:
" What's this?!! Sally needs a bag of fertilizer for her FarmVille Farm? I better get right on it."
E-Reserves Under Fire From Publishers
"Indeed, to the uninitiated, scholarly publishing is a curious enterprise. Simplified, it works something like this: universities or the government subsidize a professor's research. The professor, who is required to publish frequently for professional advancement, gives his research to a scholarly publisher, usually for little or no money. That publisher, who adds value through editing, peer review, and production, assumes the copyright, packages, and sells the research back to the university at a markup. And those mark-ups have proven significant over time, especially as the digital age has fostered an explosion of new databases and resources."
In my department (Electrical Engineering), new faculty are offered a support package to get started and then the faculty go out and get funding. At least 51% of the funding they find is paid to the University as overhead. It is difficult for faculty who don't have external funding to attract grad students or pay for computers. The funding comes from the Government, but much of it comes from corporations.
In my experience, publishers no longer do any editing. I had an expensive text book on "Quality" and the author misquoted John Kennedy. How could this get by an editor? Authors submit camera ready text to academic publishers.
In my experience, peer review is managed by an unpaid faculty member who distributes material to other unpaid faculty members who distribute the material to unpaid students who do the review and pass the review back up the chain. This is actually very good because it gets students to review the work of others.
The reality is that academic publishing is a dead-end. Journals are in trouble. Conference proceedings and self-publishing of text books are on the rise. Recently, he only thing that I've heard faculty say that publishers provide is that publishers sometimes show up at conferences with a table of books which faculty browse. This seems like a weak basis for a business.
Reading the TFA, it seems like the publishers should just settle. Georgia changed their ways.
Please Do Not Change Your Password
I'm the original submitter, so mea culpa. What I did was search for "password" and did not find the earlier article. After I submitted, I searched for "Herley" and found the original article. I then tried to kill my own posting, including commenting that it was a Dupe. It was not apparent how to kill my own article, but I did not look harder. So, my feedback is: it would be nice if there was a really easy way for users to mark their submission as a dupe. Sorry about the dupe, I don't like them either.
Steampunk Con Mixes In More Maker Fun
Most of the steampunk hardware is DIY. It is not like one can go down to Home Depot and buy a steam engine. Vintage steam hardware requires rehabilitation, including fabrication of impossible to obtain parts. I participated in making a Snail Art Car, which we wrote up for the DYI website Instructables. Another car, the Wrecker, is an electric carriage with hand-built wheels. Yah, he did not mine the lead for batteries and the differential came out of some old car, but the vast majority of this car is DIY.
Open Source Software For Experimental Physics?
Kepler is a tool for managing workflows that has been used for physics, see Plasma Edge Kinetic-MHD Modeling in Tokamaks Using Kepler Workflow for Code Coupling, Data Management and Visualization.
Disclaimer: I contribute to the Kepler Project.
Networked Fridges 'Negotiate' Electricity Use
Will Wright (creator of the Sims and Spore) has a think tank called Stupid Fun Club, which has a fridge with a personality module that recognizes
you by name and then gossips about you with the microwave. So, if you are mean to the fridge, then it will rat you out to the microwave, who will then burn your food.
- BBC article (with a link to video. More about Stupid Fun Club (2007 Gadgetoff video).
Pentagon Wants Kill Switch For Planes
Total disclosure: I've worked on Soft Walls.
There was discussion on Slashdot about the Soft Walls Project that did something similar. See the 1/04 and 7/03 discussions.
What I find interesting is just how vehement software engineers and pilots are about the idea, and yet everyone seems to trust fly-by-wire.
There is Soft Walls FAQ that covers common objections.
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