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Comment TACAMO (Score 1) 350

Decades ago, I worked in the TACAMO aircraft, the older KC-130 version. TACAMO was a US Navy aircraft charged with maintaining communications with nuclear submarines in the event of nuclear war. The aircraft had a small "sunroof" and it's sole purpose was to allow the navigator to see the sun and stars so he could use the sextant that was part of the issued equipment. The idea was that there would be no radio navigation aids left when their mission was over and they had to return to ... well anywhere they could land since the survival of any airbase was not guaranteed.

Submission + - IoT In The Warehouse - How Amazon's Robots Move Everything Around

dkatana writes: Amazon's drones have a long way to become reality, but the real magic of the Internet of Things (IoT) is already happening at Amazon's vast fulfillment warehouses in the US.

Amazon runs a fleet of thousands of small robots moving storage pods around so orders can be fulfilled in record time. They are so efficient that they can move an entire warehouse and have ready to operate again during the weekend.

All together the small robots have traveled over 93 million miles — almost the distance from Earth to the Sun.

Comment Re:The problem with neural networks (Score 1) 45

According to this article neural networks do make mistakes, sometimes very big mistakes, like the ANN that confused a school bus with a football jersey. The root cause is not easy to determine, and hence the fix is not easy. 'Twould appear that the reasons neural networks fail is a hot topic in neural network research.

Submission + - The Crowdfunded Board Game Renaissance (

An anonymous reader writes: FiveThirtyEight has an article about the surging popularity of new board games, which is being boosted by campaigns on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Since Kickstarter came online in 2009, board games and card games have accrued $196 million in pledges, 93% of which went to successful projects. That's even better than video games have done, at $179 million and 85%. For an industry whose yearly sales don't tend to break $1 billion, those are impressive numbers. The article attempts to explain their success: "Designers show up, explain their game idea on a Web page, often with photos and a video, and ask for pledges. That lets a designer learn, in real time, what the demand for his game is. ... Second, they are democratizing tools. Internet crowdfunding has done the same thing for game designers that blogging platforms did for writers: turned them into publishers."

Submission + - Inside the Failure of Google+ (

An anonymous reader writes: An article at Mashable walks through the rise and fall of Google+, from the company's worries of being displaced by Facebook to their eventual realization that Google services don't need social hooks. They have quotes from a number of employees and insiders, who mostly agree that the company didn't have the agility to build something so different from their previous services. "Most Google projects started small and grew organically in scale and importance. Buzz, the immediate predecessor to Plus, had barely a dozen people on staff. Plus, by comparison, had upwards of 1,000, sucked up from divisions across the company." Despite early data indicating users just weren't interested in Google+, management pushed for success as the only option. One employee said, "The belief was that we were always just one weird feature away from the thing taking off." Despite a strong feature set, there was no acknowledgement that to beat Facebook, you had to overcome the fact that everybody was already on Facebook.

Submission + - Tiny black holes could trigger collapse of universe—except that they don't (

sciencehabit writes: If you like classic two-for-one monster movies such as King Kong vs. Godzilla, then a new paper combining two bêtes noires of pseudoscientific scaremongers—mini black holes and the collapse of the vacuum—may appeal to you. Physicists working with the world's biggest atom-smasher—Europe's Large Hadron Collider (LHC)—have had to reassure the public that, even if they can make them, mini black holes, infinitesimal version of the ones that form when jumbo stars implode, won't consume the planet. They've also had to dispel fears that blasting out a particle called the Higgs boson will cause the vacuum of empty space to collapse. Now, however, three theorists calculate that in a chain reaction, a mini black hole could trigger such collapse after all.

Submission + - Job insecurity is the new normal (

Mr.Intel writes: Last year, Hewlett-Packard eliminated 34,000 jobs, and JC Penney and Sprint announced cuts, while JP Morgan Chase has cut 20,000 from its workforce since 2011. In double-earner families, at least one parent reports feeling "insecure" about their job, and in almost half of those both think their job is insecure.

This dynamic creates a constant tension for workers, who are beset by uncertainty. It has bred what Pugh calls the "one-way honor system," in which workers are beholden to employers, but employers are not, says Pugh, author of "The Tumbleweed Society: Working and Caring in an Age of Insecurity," out earlier this year.

Submission + - The First Airplane on Mars

braindrainbahrain writes: Undergoing research by NASA, the Preliminary Research Aerodynamic Design to Land on Mars, or Prandtl-M (not-so-coincidentally named after German aeronautical engineer Ludwig Prandtl) program is developing an airfoil with the ultimate goal of flying in the Martian atmosphere. The program has flown 12-ft. span models, the Prandtl-D1 and -D2, in Earth's atmosphere to prove that the flying wing design could overcome adverse yaw effects without including a tail. A larger 25 ft. model will be tested shortly and further tests call for prototypes to be balloon dropped at 85,000 feet and later at 115,000 feet to simulate Martian atmospheric density. If all goes well, it could be deployed from a cubesat container after hitching a ride to Mars with a rover in 2022.

Alternate, non-pay walled source:

Voyager's Golden Record For Aliens Now Available On SoundCloud 57

An anonymous reader writes: For years you've been able to listen to the sounds recorded on the golden records carried by the twin Voyager spacecraft online but NASA just made it a bit easier. The orginization just uploaded the recordings to SoundCloud. Now you can listen to a continuous stream of clips instead of clicking back and forth to hear the different tracks.

Comment Recruitment vs.Retention (Score 1) 473

This is only one of many efforts on going to recruit girls into tech, but these efforts fail to address the retention problem. How do you keep women in the field once they start working? Perhaps Google and other major companies should provide better salary or benefits so the women don't leave. Or is it easier to make tax deductible contributions to programs such as the one in TFA?

It's interesting that retention is one of the key problems the NCWIT calls out in their study, where they claim a 56% departure rate of women from the field, and yet they have no solutions to offer.

Submission + - Russian troops traced to Ukrainian battlefields through social media

wienerschnizzel writes: Vice News released a report on how they were able to trace a member of the regular russian army from his base near the Ukriainian border towards the battlefields in the contested territory in eastern Ukraine and back to his home in Siberia using the pictures he uploaded on his social media profile.

The methodology used is based on a report by the Atlantic Council think tank released earlier this year, that asserts that information on the movement and operations of the regular russian troops can be easily gathered from publicly available sources (such as the social media).

The russian government still denies any involvement of russian troops in the fights in Ukraine.

If you're not careful, you're going to catch something.