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Photy McPhotoshop

Posted on April 19th, 2016 at 19:21 by John Sinteur in category: News


Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 19.20.42

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First came the Breathalyzer, now meet the roadside police “textalyzer”

Posted on April 19th, 2016 at 13:45 by John Sinteur in category: News


We’re all familiar with the Breathalyzer, the brand name for a roadside device that measures a suspected drunken driver’s blood-alcohol level. It has been in use for decades. Now there’s a so-called “textalyzer” device to help the authorities determine whether someone involved in a motor vehicle accident was unlawfully driving while distracted.

The roadside technology is being developed by Cellebrite, the Israeli firm that many believe assisted the Federal Bureau of Investigation in cracking the iPhone at the center of a heated decryption battle with Apple.

Under the first-of-its-kind legislation proposed in New York, drivers involved in accidents would have to submit their phone to roadside testing from a textalyzer to determine whether the driver was using a mobile phone ahead of a crash. In a bid to get around the Fourth Amendment right to privacy, the textalyzer allegedly would keep conversations, contacts, numbers, photos, and application data private. It will solely say whether the phone was in use prior to a motor-vehicle mishap. Further analysis, which might require a warrant, could be necessary to determine whether such usage was via hands-free dashboard technology and to confirm the original finding.


The law, which is before the New York Senate Transportation Committee, would recast the motor-vehicle driving law to make it so that motorists give “implied consent” for “determining whether the operator of a motor vehicle was using a mobile telephone or portable electronic device at or near the time of the accident or collision, which provides the grounds for such testing. No such electronic scan shall include the content or origin of any communication, game conducted, image or electronic data viewed on a mobile telephone or a portable electronic device.”

Police will inform motorists involved in an accident that “the person’s license or permit to drive and any non-resident operating privilege shall be immediately suspended and subsequently revoked should the driver refuse to acquiesce to such field test.”

Well, I’d better start carrying an empty “burner” phone with me then…

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  1. Around here, distracted driving means having one’s 85-year old mother in the passenger seat 🙂

Titanic sinks in REAL TIME – 2 HOURS 40 MINUTES

Posted on April 18th, 2016 at 20:11 by John Sinteur in category: News

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After 4 Years… Copyright Holders Still Think Megaupload is Alive

Posted on April 18th, 2016 at 16:35 by John Sinteur in category: News


Well over four years have passed since Megaupload was shutdown, and as time passes people’s memories of the former Internet giant are fading away.

Interestingly, several copyright holders are keeping Megaupload’s spirit alive. Even though the site hasn’t been online for nearly half a decade, many continue to send out takedown requests targeting the former file-hosting service.

Take Paramount Pictures for example. Earlier this year the Hollywood movie studio asked Google to remove a Megaupload URL claiming that it hosted a copy of the The Big Short, a film that was released in 2015.

Impossible of course, since the movie didn’t even exist when the site was online, but apparently Paramount’s anti-piracy partner IP-Echelon thinks otherwise.



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World’s first Pastafarian wedding takes place in New Zealand

Posted on April 18th, 2016 at 10:40 by John Sinteur in category: News


The bride and groom wore head-to-toe pirate regalia, and guests donned eye-patches, pirate hats and feathers for the ceremony , which took place over the weekend.

Fenn also wore a colander on her head – the official headdress of the church.

During the ceremony, Ricketts and Fenn exchanged rings made of pasta, and in his vows Ricketts promised to always add salt while boiling spaghetti.

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Boaty McBoatface wins poll to name polar research vessel

Posted on April 18th, 2016 at 8:04 by John Sinteur in category: News


As the polls finally closed for the naming of its new polar research ship, the NERC confirmed that the votes were overwhelmingly in favour of RRS Boaty McBoatface.

The suggestion, which sent the competition viral last month, received 124,109 votes, four times more than RRS Poppy-Mai – named after a 16-month-old girl with incurable cancer – which came in second place.

The chief executive of the NERC, Duncan Wingham, with whom the final decision lies, now faces the dilemma of choosing between the credibility of his organisation – and its £200m arctic explorer – and the overwhelming burden of public opinion.

If Wingham does bow to the Boaty McBoatface campaign, it will mark something of a departure from previous royal research ships named in honour of arctic explorer Ernest Shackleton and naval officer James Clark Ross.

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Internet mapping turned a remote farm into a digital hell

Posted on April 16th, 2016 at 22:52 by John Sinteur in category: News


An hour’s drive from Wichita, Kansas, in a little town called Potwin, there is a 360-acre piece of land with a very big problem.

The plot has been owned by the Vogelman family for more than a hundred years, though the current owner, Joyce Taylor née Vogelman, 82, now rents it out. The acreage is quiet and remote: a farm, a pasture, an old orchard, two barns, some hog shacks and a two-story house. It’s the kind of place you move to if you want to get away from it all. The nearest neighbor is a mile away, and the closest big town has just 13,000 people. It is real, rural America; in fact, it’s a two-hour drive from the exact geographical center of the United States.

But instead of being a place of respite, the people who live on Joyce Taylor’s land find themselves in a technological horror story.

For the last decade, Taylor and her renters have been visited by all kinds of mysterious trouble. They’ve been accused of being identity thieves, spammers, scammers and fraudsters. They’ve gotten visited by FBI agents, federal marshals, IRS collectors, ambulances searching for suicidal veterans, and police officers searching for runaway children. They’ve found people scrounging around in their barn. The renters have been doxxed, their names and addresses posted on the internet by vigilantes. Once, someone left a broken toilet in the driveway as a strange, indefinite threat.

All in all, the residents of the Taylor property have been treated like criminals for a decade. And until I called them this week, they had no idea why.

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Nearly Half of All super-PAC Money Comes from 50 Families

Posted on April 16th, 2016 at 12:16 by John Sinteur in category: News


This cycle, 2,300 super PACs have raised $607 million, with 41% coming from 50 megadonors and their relatives. In 2012, the total amount of super PAC money raised and spent was $828 million, a sum that will be dwarfed by this year’s haul. Seventy percent of the money is going to aid Republican candidates. Not only is money flowing to presidential candidates, but also to Senate and House candidates.

To put the money picture into perspective, the 50 megadonors ponied up more than the $161 million that Hillary Clinton has gotten from 1 million donors. The last time that money in politics was so concentrated was in 1896, when Big Money put Republican William McKinley in the White House over his Democratic opponent William Jennings Bryan. (V)

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  1. Isn’t it lovely! There are so many philanthropists out there? 🙂

Whistleblowers fear prosecution under new European Trade Secrets law

Posted on April 14th, 2016 at 19:46 by John Sinteur in category: News


The European Parliament is debating a bill on Thursday critics say threatens to turn whistleblowers into criminals.

The aim of the Trade Secrets Protection Act is to protect European companies from corporate spying by their rivals in other parts of the world.

But critics say journalists and whistleblowers could be criminalised if they publish information that companies deem to be secret.


Campaigner Martin Pigeon, from Corporate Europe Observatory in Brussels says the Trade Secrets Protection Act would have potentially criminalised the release of the Panama Papers: “The law firm involved in the Panama Papers leak, Mossack Fonseca, has already filed a complaint and has sent a number of threatening emails to all news outlets who have published information based on their documents, arguing that using their documents was a crime because it was based on a theft.

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  1. Oh, how convenient!

  2. “Oh what a tangled web we weave”. It’s nice to know that governments continue to protect their corporate overlords. We’ll be in real trouble is they ever get competent at it.

Flying Spaghetti Monster is not God, rules mortal judge

Posted on April 14th, 2016 at 18:26 by John Sinteur in category: News


A United States District Court judge has ruled that Pastafarianism, the cult of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM), is not a religion.

Stephen Cavanaugh, a prisoner in the Nebraska State Penitentiary, brought the case after being denied access to Pastafarian literature and religious items while behind bars. Cavanaugh argued that he is an avid Pastafarian, has the FSM tattoos to prove it, and should therefore be allowed “the ability to order and wear religious clothing and pendants, the right to meet for weekly worship services and classes and the right to receive communion” while on the inside.

Prison officers denied his requests on grounds that Pastafarianism is a parody religion.

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  1. I wasn’t aware that mere mortals are capable to say “what is GOD”. Isn’t GOD incomprehensible to us mere mortals? This judge just elevated himself to an immortal status… As the Jewish half of my family would say, “WHAT A PUTZ”!

Gone in Six Characters

Posted on April 13th, 2016 at 23:11 by John Sinteur in category: News


In this paper, we demonstrate that the space of 5- and 6-character tokens included in short URLs is so small that it can be scanned using brute-force search. Therefore, all online resources that were intended to be shared with a few trusted friends or collaborators are effectively public and can be accessed by anyone. This leads to serious security and privacy vulnerabilities.

In the case of cloud storage, we focus on Microsoft OneDrive. We show how to use short-URL enumeration to discover and read shared content stored in the OneDrive cloud, including even files for which the user did not generate a short URL. 7% of the OneDrive accounts exposed in this fashion allow anyone to write into them. Since cloud-stored files are automatically copied into users’ personal computers and devices, this is a vector for large-scale, automated malware injection.

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  1. WOW!
    “More importantly, any- one could have constructed them simply by scanning all goo.gl/maps URLs. The endpoints of driving directions shared via short URLs often contain enough information to uniquely identify the individuals who requested the directions. For instance, when analyzing one such endpoint, we uncov- ered the address, full name, and age of a young woman who shared directions to a planned parenthood facility.”

  2. Twitter’s URL shortener is a Colombian domain. Facebook’s domain is in Montenegro. Bit.ly is Lybian.

    NSA only targets international traffic.

  3. URL shorteners were made popular mostly because of Twitters’ 140 character limit….

    The character limit on Twitter,
    Prevents limericks — if you’re a quitter.
    But with one little cheat,
    You can quickly defeat
    (see line 1)

NWS LOWERS ITS VOICE: All-Caps Phaseout Starts in May

Posted on April 13th, 2016 at 20:08 by Sueyourdeveloper in category: News


NOAA’s two operational supercomputers for weather prediction can carry out 5,000 trillion calculations per second. Until now, though, forecasters at the National Weather Service (NWS) could use only a measly set of 30 characters to translate that prodigous model output into the worded watches, warnings, advisories, and discussions that millions consult each day.

I had one of those Teletype Model 33s with papertape I/O at my first student job 🙂

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Woody Guthrie Wrote of His Contempt for His Landlord, Donald Trump’s Father

Posted on April 13th, 2016 at 20:06 by John Sinteur in category: News


More than a half-century ago, the folk singer Woody Guthrie signed a lease in an apartment complex in Brooklyn. He soon had bitter words for his landlord: Donald J. Trump’s father, Fred C. Trump.

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  1. The apple never falls far from the tree.

Game of Phones

Posted on April 13th, 2016 at 9:12 by John Sinteur in category: News

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Clinton Campaign Accuses Sanders of Trying to Win Nomination

Posted on April 12th, 2016 at 20:26 by John Sinteur in category: News


The war of words between the two Democratic camps heated up over the weekend, as the Clinton campaign accused Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders of “blatantly attempting to win the Democratic nomination for President.”

Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the Clinton campaign spokesman Harland Dorrinson said that Sanders’s actions in the past few weeks “left little doubt as to what his true intentions are—namely, to be the Party’s nominee.”

“He’s been raising money, he’s been running in primaries, and, yes, he’s been winning caucuses,” the Clinton aide said. “It’s time for Bernie Sanders to come clean with the American people and admit what he’s really up to.”

“It’s deeply troubling that what appeared at first to be a purely symbolic candidacy has turned into something else entirely,” he said.

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Trump’s Convention Strategy: “The Fix Is In”

Posted on April 12th, 2016 at 20:20 by John Sinteur in category: News


More than three months before any ballots have been cast at the Republican convention, Roger Stone, Donald Trump’s on-again, off-again consigliere, has delivered the campaign equivalent of a severed horse head to delegates who might consider denying Trump the nomination. Trump’s supporters will find you in your sleep, he merrily informed them this week. He did not mean it metaphorically.

“We will disclose the hotels and the room numbers of those delegates who are directly involved in the steal,” Stone said Monday, on Freedomain Radio. “If you’re from Pennsylvania, we’ll tell you who the culprits are. We urge you to visit their hotel and find them. You have a right to discuss this, if you voted in the Pennsylvania primary, for example, and your votes are being disallowed,” Stone said.

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  1. This means he’s going to be a bad loser?

The dark side of Guardian comments

Posted on April 12th, 2016 at 19:23 by John Sinteur in category: News


The Guardian was not the only news site to turn comments on, nor has it been the only one to find that some of what is written “below the line” is crude, bigoted or just vile. On all news sites where comments appear, too often things are said to journalists and other readers that would be unimaginable face to face – the Guardian is no exception.

New research into our own comment threads provides the first quantitative evidence for what female journalists have long suspected: that articles written by women attract more abuse and dismissive trolling than those written by men, regardless of what the article is about.

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  1. I don’t doubt it for a second. I’ve seen the kinds of comments women bloggers and journalists get. They’re vile, often containing rape threats. The level of misogyny in our culture is utterly repugnant.

  2. It’s bad, but it’s not at all surprising. When a previously unquestioned dominant group loses some status and some previously despised group gain it, the ones who feel they lost get pretty annoyed. And now they can easily form groups of like-minded individuals.


Posted on April 10th, 2016 at 23:11 by John Sinteur in category: News

If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against. The struggle between “for” and “against” is he mind’s worst disease.


— Sent-ts’an, c. 700 C.E.

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  1. Makes the Brexit referendum difficult to approach. Of course we already have enough diseased minds. On both sides. And now you say it’s the struggle which causes the disease. Gee, thanks a lot, Sent-ts’an

  2. @porpentine: I don’t envy your choice. Clowns to the left of you, jokers to the right 🙂

  3. @Sue: Nice to be stuck in the middle with you.

More Republicans Lawmakers Have Been Arrested For Bathroom Misconduct Than Trans People

Posted on April 10th, 2016 at 12:28 by John Sinteur in category: News


Bathroom bills are a tactic used by social conservatives to keep trans individuals from using the bathroom associated with their gender identities. The argument goes that by allowing this, we’re essentially allowing predators into women’s bathrooms.

But stats show that no trans person has ever been arrested for sexual misconduct in a public bathroom in the U.S. Certain Republican lawmakers, however, cannot say the same.

Perhaps we should built all new buildings with three bathrooms from now on: “Ladies”, “Gentlemen” and “Family Values Republicans”

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  1. This is not a big problem, is it? As usual.

    I have only once, in 60 years of using public bathrooms all over the world, had to confront a “predator” in a crowded women’s bathroom in a Toronto shopping mall, of all places.


Posted on April 10th, 2016 at 11:03 by John Sinteur in category: News


You might have noticed there’s something wrong with this bike. Or you might have not.
This bicycle is missing a very important part of its frame and it would immediately break if it actually existed and someone tried to ride it.Let me explain everything from the beginning:
back in 2009 I began pestering friends and random strangers. I would walk up to them with a pen and a sheet of paper asking that they immediately draw me a men’s bicycle, by heart. Soon I found out that when confronted with this odd request most people have a very hard time remembering exactly how a bike is made. Some did get close, some actually nailed it perfectly, but most ended up drawing something that was pretty  far off from a regular men’s bicycle.
Little I knew this is actually a test that psychologists use to demonstrate how our brain sometimes tricks us into thinking we know something even though we don’t.

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  1. Haha…I just took the back wheel off my bike, so I got this one 🙂

The Problem With Rooftop Solar That Nobody Is Talking About

Posted on April 10th, 2016 at 10:44 by John Sinteur in category: News


If you have solar panels on your roof, the electrons they produce flow across the electric grid like water, following a path of least resistance. As they whiz around, electrons are impossible to track and look identical, whether they’re coming from solar panels, a coal plant, or whatever. But there is value in keeping tabs on the renewable ones, so energy wonks came up with renewable energy credits (RECs), a tradable financial instrument that corresponds to a certain amount of energy produced by a certain renewable source like solar or wind.

Because RECs have value—ranging from under a penny to a buck or two for each hour’s worth of electricity your roof produces, depending on the state, companies like SolarCity can sell them and thus help justify giving you the solar panels for little to nothing. The biggest buyers of RECs are power companies looking to satisfy state-mandated clean-energy requirements, known as renewable portfolio standards. In effect, the power company pays for the right to claim the climate benefits of the panels on your roof.

It sounds like an esoteric distinction, but it matters: By selling the RECs instead of keeping them for yourself, you could just be helping the utility meet a goal it was already mandated to meet—thus helping excuse it from building more solar capacity itself. In other words, your direct net contribution to reducing greenhouse gas pollution is nil.

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  1. Disappointing, but not surprising. Subsidies and incentives are often designed by lobby groups for their benefits (or at least, taken advantage of).

    There were the ethanol subsidies in the US which encouraged a huge amount of corn (maize) to be grown on newly-cleared previously-abandoned farmland. Designed to “Make the USA fuel self-sufficient” or something (in pre-fracking days). It’s probably cost more in fossil fuels to clear the land and grow the corn than it saved as a fuel additive.

‫كيف تجعل شخص ملحد يُسلم في 5 خطوات – How to convert an atheist to islam‬‎

Posted on April 9th, 2016 at 19:05 by John Sinteur in category: News

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  1. Is this like the vhs movie where you die 3 days after watching it? I’m afraid to watch it.

  2. @Will — no, but you may die of boredom watching it.

Classic Programmer Paintings

Posted on April 9th, 2016 at 13:03 by John Sinteur in category: News



“Consultant shows Clojure code sample to VBA team”, Rembrandt, Oil on canvas, 1635


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  1. The moving finger writes, and, having writ, moves on.
    Nor all thy piety nor wit can call it back to Cancel half a line.
    Nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.

    Sounds more like sed.

Team Cruz | Full Frontal with Samantha Bee

Posted on April 8th, 2016 at 23:21 by John Sinteur in category: News

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  1. Cruz makes Trump look like a moderate. (No, **Not** a Trump endorsement!)

The Panama Papers prove it: America can afford a universal basic income

Posted on April 8th, 2016 at 19:18 by John Sinteur in category: News


The Tax Justice Network estimates the global elite are sitting on $21–32tn of untaxed assets. Clearly, only a portion of that is owed to the US or any other nation in taxes – the highest tax bracket in the US is 39.6% of income. But consider that a small universal income of $2,000 a year to every adult in the US – enough to keep some people from missing a mortgage payment or skimping on food or medicine – would cost only around $563bn each year.

A larger income, to ensure that no American fell into absolute abject poverty – say, $12,000 a year – would cost around $3.6tn. That is a big number, but one that once again seems far more reasonable when considered through the lens of the Panama Papers and the scandal of global tax evasion. Because the truth is that we have all been robbed, systematically, by the world’s wealthiest people, for decades. They have used those stolen dollars to build yet more wealth for themselves, and all the while we have been arguing with ourselves over what to do with the leftover pennies.

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  1. I knew it! Eating the rich will work after all!

Senate bill effectively bans strong encryption

Posted on April 8th, 2016 at 18:44 by John Sinteur in category: News


A version of the Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016 mandates that U.S. technology companies must provide the government with “intelligible data” or “technical assistance” to access that unencrypted data when presented with a court order.

Although the bill from Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the committee’s chairman, and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), its top Democrat, does not require companies to adopt “any specific design or operating system,” the legislation effectively makes it impossible for firms to implement unbreakable encryption in their products and still comply with the law.

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  1. No one can ever be too comfortable with the Democrats as long as Feinstein is still there.

  2. It is so sad when people in charge who are not “tech savvy” try to regulate it. And when it comes to allowing access to encrypted devices Snowden proved the government cannot keep a secret! So when all those government leaders start getting their private communications hacked, who will they cry to?

  3. The wrong Senator from California is retiring. Feinstein is firmly in the pocket of the Powerful over the People: mass surveillance and copyright are more important to her than individual liberty.

    In that sense, she’s a perfect model of a modern US Senator.

Wait what?

Posted on April 8th, 2016 at 18:36 by John Sinteur in category: News


Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter has been banned from soccer for eight years for his unethical practices during a 40-year tenure with FIFA. He’s also joining a University of Basel panel to discuss how FIFA can be reformed.

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  1. If it wasn’t so pathetic, it would be funny. He should be in prison.

There’s no such thing as free information | MetaFilter

Posted on April 8th, 2016 at 18:02 by John Sinteur in category: News


Story time:

This all reminds me that there was a time in America before newspapers were supported by printed ads. In the late 19th century, in what is now known as the golden age of newspapers, broadsheets were remarkably thin because they contained only news. The way you would get a newspaper is, you went down to your local news stand, paid the clerk a penny, and he would shout something like, “Bingham’s Nerve Tonic!” and wind up and give you a swift kick in the balls1. After you stopped groaning, unclenched from the fetal position and picked yourself up off the sidewalk, you got your copy of the New York Press-Democrat and were free to be on your way.

The whole system worked on the theory that if you were gonna get kicked in the nuts, you’d damn sure remember why, so they could use that moment to hawk products from advertisers. And for a while, anyway, it worked. News stands became infamous for blocking up the sidewalks with people getting assaulted to pick up their daily broadsheet, and the most successful papers built their offices set back from the sidewalk to allow more space for the crumpled forms of their eager readership to recover.

Unfortunately for the newspapers, this age coincided with another crucial invention: the athletic protector. Not soon after this device escaped the corporate labs of General Tabulating Machines, men would show up to a news stand, take their kick with a smile, and walk away unscathed. This caused a lot of consternation in the news industry (how would people remember their advertisers if they couldn’t associate them with painful trauma?) and newspapers began to fold left and right. Oh, sure, there were the purists, the guys who saw their newspapers disappearing and would proudly boast to their friends that last week, they ruptured a testicle just to read about Chester A. Arthur’s campaign appearance down at the wharf. It did little good, though, and they were unable to hold back the tide of newsroom closures.

One day, some genius somewhere figured out that people would pay to put their advertisements in print right next to the news stories that everyone was clamoring to read. This caused a revolution in the news industry, and soon everyone agreed that seeing advertisements mixed in with the news was much better than a kick in the balls2. Eventually, with the new business model ascendant, the last of the balls-kicking outlets went out of business.

Now, I don’t claim to know what the future will hold for the online journalism industry, but maybe looking back in history could be instructive.

1. This was a pretty unenlightened era and men just assumed that women couldn’t read.

2. This was before autoplay pop-under ransomware videos were a thing.

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Wrapped (2014)

Posted on April 8th, 2016 at 11:50 by John Sinteur in category: News

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They Write the Right Stuff

Posted on April 8th, 2016 at 1:04 by John Sinteur in category: News


Consider these stats : the last three versions of the program — each 420,000 lines long-had just one error each. The last 11 versions of this software had a total of 17 errors. Commercial programs of equivalent complexity would have 5,000 errors.

This software is the work of 260 women and men based in an anonymous office building across the street from the Johnson Space Center in Clear Lake, Texas, southeast of Houston. They work for the “on-board shuttle group,” a branch of Lockheed Martin Corps space mission systems division, and their prowess is world renowned: the shuttle software group is one of just four outfits in the world to win the coveted Level 5 ranking of the federal governments Software Engineering Institute (SEI) a measure of the sophistication and reliability of the way they do their work. In fact, the SEI based it standards in part from watching the on-board shuttle group do its work.

The group writes software this good because that’s how good it has to be. Every time it fires up the shuttle, their software is controlling a $4 billion piece of equipment, the lives of a half-dozen astronauts, and the dreams of the nation. Even the smallest error in space can have enormous consequences: the orbiting space shuttle travels at 17,500 miles per hour; a bug that causes a timing problem of just two-thirds of a second puts the space shuttle three miles off course.

NASA knows how good the software has to be. Before every flight, Ted Keller, the senior technical manager of the on-board shuttle group, flies to Florida where he signs a document certifying that the software will not endanger the shuttle. If Keller can’t go, a formal line of succession dictates who can sign in his place.

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  1. For Shuttle junkies, there’s Leaving Orbit, Margaret Lazarus Dean’s book about the end of the program 🙂

  2. I wonder if this software, which has 1/300 the bugs of commercial software, took 300 times longer to develop.

  3. Mostly women – Mighty Girls all of them! They used to call them “computers” because they had to do this before electronic computers were capable of these calculations. Go girls!

  4. @johno – no. I think they were REALLY good at their jobs!

  5. @johno – my wife is a PhD in particle physics. She does this stuff in her sleep!

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