Update: Mangalyaan's Main Engine Test Fired, Maven In Orbit
I forgot to mention comet Siding Spring is making a close approach by MArs, which is expeted to up to *double* the amount of hydrogen in Mar's upper atmosphere and increase drag from 1.4x to 40x normal drag. If it ends up bad, it could drastically shorten Mangalyaan's life and fairly considerably shorten the life of all other orbiters around Mars. That should happen around October 19th. But we might get to see some good pictures of the comet from Mars as well as (although rated as a minimal increase, with minor risk to spacecraft) a nice meteor shower around Mars.
Update: Mangalyaan's Main Engine Test Fired, Maven In Orbit
Yes, it's very interesting. The insertion burn is also going to be very interesting. For those that don't know, the Indian Space Agency has been building a bigger rocket for a while, but its been beset with delays. This orbiter was originally supposed to go on their bigger rocket, but it's not very reliable right now.
So, they put it on one of their smaller rockets. The net of this is that the orbiter itself had to use up most of its fuel just escaping Earth's orbit, leaving very, very little for the actual insertion burn. They're going to end up in a highly eccentric orbit due to not having enough fuel to create a nice circular one. This means that a lot of the time, they're going to be very far from Mars, but when they get close they'll actually dip pretty darn close and those atmospheric sensors will be actually fairly deep into the atmosphere. Sadly, this also means that the orbit isn't as stable as they would like and will degenerate fairly quickly. But, all in all that's quite impressive! If they end up getting a bit more thrust out than planned, they make be able to circularize it a bit more....
Apple Denies Systems Breach In Photo Leak
Why does a PIN have to be sent to you? I have plenty of RSA, Google Authenticator, and other FOB apps on my phone/tablets that I just punch a PIN in for and get my 2FA out of.
That said, it would be great for Andoird/Apple/whomever to introduce a security API that let webpages and other apps request PINs from other installed apps (provided the user authenticates properly) so that you don't have to hop apps. Would be like another password, but one that requires a shared secret that's only on that phone/hardware device. Heck, even have a "simple" version and call it 1.5FA where it just hashes with a shared secret that you have to put on every device the first time you login and then use 2FA for untrusted devices.
Apple Denies Systems Breach In Photo Leak
and like Google's 2FA already does. I love that thing. You have trusted devices/agents, but they also have some extra fun stuff in the background. A couple of times I've taken my trusted laptop that I don't have to enter the 2FA in but once a month to re-authorize it and had Google still prompt for for a 2FA PIN because they noticed it coming from an untypical IP range or some other fuzzy metric that got high enough that they decided to proactively ask for a reauth.
Makes me feel all warm, fuzzy and safe that even if someone steals a trusted device, there's a chance that they can't get in. Google really does security pretty well, not that they don't mess up like everyone else, but I've been pretty happy that they're obviously thinking it through and mitigating as many attack vectors as possible.
Robot Printer Brings Documents To Your Desk
Many large corporations have defaulted to "secure printing" now where the document doesn't get released from the printer until you walk over and punch in your code. It's a royal pain to hit print, walk over, punch in the code, release the job and wait for it to get done. You're not supposed to leave the printer unaccompanied during printing to keep it "secure" and the printer will report on you if you leave the document in the outgoing tray for more than 5 minutes post printing.
That can be a royal pain. The friction that it creates to just getting something on paper is so high that I typically end up not printing documents, which I guess is part of their goal. The flip side is that it lowers productivity because then I don't have a handy printed reference I can carry with me to mark up, answer questions with, etc. I don't know how many times I've been in a meeting and the response to the question was "Well, I don't know. I planned on printing that document to look at, but got too busy to babysit the printer for 10 minutes and didn't want to be late". We typically then spend the next 10 minutes logging into the shared machine and firing up the projector to look at a document. Very productive use of meeting time. This would be so much nicer.
US Government Fights To Not Explain No-Fly List Selection Process
Q clearance is a DOE clearance dealing with access to nuclear and nuclear weapons information. Why would they need that? I think you mean Top Secret, and the vast majority of them do have that clearance or at least a Secret clearance.
Vint Cerf on Why Programmers Don't Join the ACM
As a CS/EE double major that has subscribed to both journals, I have to say that the IEEE is leagues and bounds better than ACM. If I need to know how to make something (an antenna perhaps) I can find a couple dozen articles about exactly how to build one and exactly how they performed in the real world. If I need to know about some algorithm to do X, ACM can give me a bunch of crap theory without a sing/le line of implementation or anything more than how it performed in the lab. In fact, I find that IEEE tends to have more software algorithms in its papers than the ACM. The ACM is really that bad. I was implementing a neural network as a hobby for the first time ever, and the IEEE papers had no kidding empirical data about what worked and didn't and the ACM at the time had a bunch of wonderful theory papers about how one could implement a neural network, but no info on how they actually implemented the one that they tested (maybe I had not properly picked one of the dozen options each costing as much as an IEEE membership about which societies to join to get access to the right papers). Totally useless; total ego driven publishing of papers rather than helping advance the state of the industry. Needless to say I still subscribe to one, but not the other....
Social Security Administration Joins Other Agencies With $300M "IT Boondoggle"
In fairness, I've seen a lot of legacy migrations fail, because it's often damned near impossible to understand the existing system well enough to write a replacement for it, and then you end up breaking everything which has been integrated with it for years.
Exactly. Nobody understands it all, nobody's around/in power long enough to see it through and often times there just isn't the political juice to make all of the silos cooperate effectively.
Last time I had to replace a whale of a system like this, we were able to target one silo and implement it there. You target one small silo, one manager of an area that you can hone in on and just focus your energies on getting through that. You rationalize the layout, put everything in databases, etc, etc such that it functionally can interoperate while being modern enough to adapt/change as you replace other silos. Then you move on to the next logical piece and build up from there while constantly refactoring.
This way you minimize your exposure, you minimize your need for political capital, you minimize the feature creep/scope change because there's just the one manager whom you stay aligned with daily, you gain understanding, etc. There's really no downside. The upside being that if you're thinking that "there's no way to section a part out" you immediately identify the problem of not knowing what the hell you're supposed to do and that you're without a modular architecture and solve that first!
Seriously, the DOD Test & Evaluation branch for all weapons, comms, and every other test lives, breathes and follows a "crawl, walk, run" principal where you try to bite off a little piece and then mature from there. The rest of the DOD still likes to just buy massive projects like this (JTTRS, JSF, etc anyone?!?), but the T&E community keeps maturing tech at a predictable, likely rate with minimal schedule/cost risk. You identify problems/show stoppers early and either cut off the bleeding or work around them.
If only IT and the government in general would accept this embedded idea of incremental growth it would be great. But alas, the government contracting offices really don't like that because it's hard to fit into the right CLINs, do EVMS on, etc, etc. So it's really rare to get the chance to properly approach these problems. So we satisfied the contracting office's need for one big large project on paper and in our organizational structure, but then had expeditionary teams doing "testing, prototyping and use case studies" that were actually doing the real work.
Mozilla Introduces Browser-Based WebIDE
It's because now, they have money. When firefox was first broken out, Mozilla was a slow, lumbering, and most importantly very lean company. They didn't have a lot of money or credibility. Firefox came out, became the darling and revenue started to flow in from the search bar, ads, donations, etc. Then they had money, and when you have money that needs spending you look for things to do. Then you end up creating FirefoxOS, webIDE, etc, etc because in big strategy meetings about what to do with this money, that's the best sounding idea. But in reality, it sucks. I'd love to come back to Firefox over Chrome, but every time I use it it really seems like the browser isn't their core product, and it shows....
Android Needs a Simulator, Not an Emulator
I find the Nexus 10 to be great for this. The resolution on it is so high, that I can quickly change it's configuration to match the screen dimensions of any other Android phone or tablet, and the tablet is a couple of years old so it's a processing power is a good stand-in for devices that you might typically deploy to. Just have that connected, and I can quickly test my app out in tablet mode, various phone configurations and display sizes, check fluidity and call it good for the vast majority of systems out there.
I really don't know why Google doesn't just make something like the Nexus 10, but with a ridiculously fast interface so that you can push >GB apps to it in seconds for development purposes. eSATA or something would be great, you could even just make a partition on your computer look like a mount to the device and run it without having to push apps out to the device. Then in developer options allow to to turn on/off cores, set max processor and GPU speeds (like most people already do with custom ROMs), and provide a bit better of a way to make the screen look different sizes, and you could set up automated tests that cover the vast majority of all devices out there....
SpaceX Landing Video Cleanup Making Progress
I typically supply the NASA chase plane for downrange TM :) We could have supported, just weren't asked to (likely a cost thing and potential safety thing).
Kingston and PNY Caught Bait-and-Switching Cheaper Components After Good Reviews
Well, time to disqualify them as SSD providers in our corporate system. Offhand it looks like it'll trickle down to a pretty significant loss of orders for them. For commodity SSDs our system just looks up all qualified vendors and goes by cheapest price. These guys were there previously, and now not....
Microsoft Releases Early IE12 Preview As Part of Its New Developer Channel
The odd thing is that I have a number of items that have webpages that talk to my XBox controller currently. A staggeringly large number of pan/tilt/zoom security sensors respond to XBox controls if you have their webpage up. Sure, it requires an applet versus this just working natively, but it's not like that was a big hurdle......Just an odd thing to trumpet.
Average HS Student Given Little Chance of AP CS Success
That's basically replacing parental involvement with involvement of another authority figure. Having a strong off-hours encouragement and support for education is about the most strongly correlated variable with educational success. In this case, they know that the parents likely can't provide it, so they are providing it. But not every school can do that; hence the need for parental involvement in the process.
SpaceX Landing Video Cleanup Making Progress
Video feeds are typically their own streams. They're typically in the couple of Mbit range, but really can be anything. We've had 10+Mbps video links, but they're typically high frame rate versus high resolution. The thing to remember here is that you can't do any real fancy compression or modulations schemes typically, so every a couple of Mb/s really isn't that high of resolution. This is because you know that you're dropping bits, you're signal is fading unpredictably, the signal propagation path is changing wildly, etc so things like QAM don't work, and compression actually hurts because you're often getting errors in the blocks, etc really throws a wrench in the whole thing. So you almost have to ship the video raw over some fairly inefficient modulation scheme like FM or SOQPSK (more efficient, but more likely to burst-lose lots of data).
I took a quick look at the embedded video stream, and it looks like there would have been a better way to pack it (looks like some asynchronous frames inside, with multiple sync words inside needing to be correct to get a good frame, made it harder than it had to be. But still, this isn't easy stuff. I expect them to come out shooting next time though. They really didn't have much in the area to grab the video with good fidelity because they had other things to focus on, but this time I expect a bit more.
I do telemetry chase form aircraft, boats, etc for exactly this type of thing for a living. Fun job :)
With the Surface Pro, Microsoft Is Trying To Recreate the PC Market
Yup. I really think that this iteration has some legs. I couldn't have cared less for the first two, but....as an engineer I hate having my notebook and scanning it or taking pictures of my drawings, schematics, math or notes. I also hate that I don't have my files with me on the phone, but a laptop in a meeting is just obtrusive. Previous iterations weren't powerful enough with enough battery life and Windows 8 was a total mess (still is a mess, but reaching usability). I would really like to try one as a daily driver for a bit, because I think it could improve productivity quite a bit, but alas I don't think that's in the cards.
Netflix Confirms Deal For Access To Verizon's Network
Pretty succinct summary, but it ignores some of the subtleties. Netflix was paying Cogent, and then Verizon and Comcast basically clogged that interconnect either by neglecting it, not upgrading it, or what have you, making the Cogent connection useless and used it as a bargaining chip in negotiations. Being able to degrade your competitors is typically a regulatory issue, hence the call for net neutrality. It obviously wasn't a technical issue given that the ISPs were able to triple their speeds overnight. I don't think that there's a problem if Netflix wants to buy bandwidth directly from the ISP if it's cheaper/better. But, given that the ISP can essentially force Netflix's hand by making all other competitors service substantially worse, it seems more like rent seeking than a competitive marketplace.
Michael Bloomberg: You Can't Teach a Coal Miner To Code
if you are transitioning from one skill/job to, say, software, you'll probably be over 30, and maybe over 40.
I think that this is really it. Lots of these guys are going to be in their 50's. Those in their 60's can likely do early retirement, ride unemployment until SS kicks in or something. Some of those in their mid 50's and need jobs for 5-10 years. I'm sure that quite a few of them can learn to code, but it's going to suck up quite a bit of their remaining time in the workforce before retirement and then they typically still won't be as good as a college graduate or similar.
I've trained quite a few people in their 50's to code, but here's the thing: Lots of them type ~10-20WPM, don't know how to use a mouse or Google, etc. To bring them up to even junior-level proficiency is a 3-4 year task, minimum, if they're smart. When asked to cross-train those, which I am sure that a lot of coal miners aren't great with computers, we don't try to teach them to code. We have them do more babysitting, assemblying, checking computers, etc.
Navy Debuts New Railgun That Launches Shells at Mach 7
At that speed you don't need to disrupt the flight path much to cause instant unstable flight/burning up. I would think that a Phalanx could still do the trick. The issue being that it's moving fast enough that unless your defensive systems are locked, loaded and engaged you likely don't have time to react. Typically unless you're under active attack you disable them just so you don't end up with the system accidentally blowing something out of the sky and making front page news in a bad way. Though if you have a couple of these coming at you in a salvo, I imagine that you're all but screwed with current defensive systems. But that's the case with lots of "sprinting" missiles anyways that hit the deck and speed up quick just before they hit defensive range. A couple of them can make a day go bad pretty quick too.
Microsoft: Start Menu Returns, Windows Free For Small Device OEMs, Cortana Beta
Why haven't you used the start menu? I used it dozens of times a day. Press the window button, type "mspaint" or "notepad" and hit enter. Or type the first word or two in the document you want and hit enter blind. I never *looked* at the Start Menu, but used it extensively. Now on 8 when I try to do the same thing the whole screen changes, crap pops up everywhere and it appears less accurate and more likely to just search the internet or something. It's really jarring from basically being able to Win key + type what I want and hit enter and have it show up somewhere. Now it's a couple of full screen UI redraws and changes and much much slower.
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