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Submission + - Interesting article on hobbyist drones, with pictures (

marhar writes: "Last week I and a colleague met with an AP reporter and photographer for a story and photoshoot about hobbyist drones. It's just been released. Chris Anderson is quoted, and the pictures came out quite nicely.

"Berkeley, Calif. Sharp-eyed dog walkers along the San Francisco Bay waterfront may have spotted a strange-looking plane zipping overhead recently that that looked strikingly like the U.S. stealth drone captured by Iran in December.

A few key differences: The flying wing seen over Berkeley is a fraction of the size of the CIA’s waylaid aircraft. And it’s made of plastic foam. But in some ways it’s just like a real spy plane.

The 4½-foot-wide aircraft, built by software engineers Mark Harrison and Andreas Oesterer in their spare time, can fly itself to specified GPS coordinates and altitudes without any help from a pilot on the ground. A tiny video camera mounted on the front can send a live video feed to a set of goggles for the drone’s view of the world below.""


Chinese News Reports the Taliban Are Training Monkey Soldiers Screenshot-sm 232

According to a Chinese news publication, soldiers in Afghanistan may soon come up against a deadly new weapon in the war: monkey soldiers. The report claims that the Taliban are training the monkeys to shoot and kill American soldiers. They also claim to have pictures of monkeys holding AK-47s and Bren light machine guns. From the article: "The New York Magazine has reported about this in jest and stated on Friday, 'No invader has ever conquered Afghanistan, and now we know why. The monkeys will not allow it. It was a good effort, but it's time to pack it in. This is no longer a fight we can win.'”

Comment It can be usefule to run both Oracle and MySQL (Score 1) 156

Consider this scenario:

  • your website shopping cart uses Oracle because it hooks into Oracle Financials.
  • your cluster of web servers get their data from replicated MySQL instances, because you can scale this up easily and with minimal cost.
  • You replicate your inventory numbers from Oracle to the MySQL instances.

This is in fact a typical use case for Golden Gate, which has just been acquired by Oracle.

Comment private website: (Score 3, Informative) 197

Here's an interesting note on NPR relating to a private company that is aggregating the same data.

"When Congress approved the stimulus bill, it made a point of setting up a Web site called to allow citizens to track all those billions in spending. But if you've gone looking for it, you might have stumbled across another, very similarly named site,

The dot-com version is not run by the government, but it also tracks the stimulus -- and much of its information is more up to date. In fact, it has spending information that the government won't have until October, and its data provide a sneak peak into how the stimulus spending is going.

The site is run by Onvia, a Seattle company that collects and sells data on government procurement. Whatever the layer of government -- whether state, county, school district or local water board -- Onvia wants to know what's being purchased."

Comment my worst office conditions (Score 1) 1127

I joined a startup, and there wasn't enough desk space for me and one other guy.

So we had our terminals set up in the conference room. Every time there was a meeting, we would go sit at the desk of somebody who was in the meeting and use their terminal.

Fortunately they got their second round of funding and we got our own desks after a month or so!


Arctic Ice Extent Understated Because of "Sensor Drift" 823

dtjohnson writes "The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) has been at the forefront of predicting doom in the arctic as ice melts due to global warming. In May, 2008 they went so far as to predict that the North Pole would be ice-free during the 2008 'melt season,' leading to a lively Slashdot discussion. Today, however, they say that they have been the victims of 'sensor drift' that led to an underestimation of Arctic ice extent by as much as 500,000 square kilometers. The problem was discovered after they received emails from puzzled readers, asking why obviously sea-ice-covered regions were showing up as ice-free, open ocean. It turns out that the NSIDC relies on an older, less-reliable method of tracking sea ice extent called SSM/I that does not agree with a newer method called AMSR-E. So why doesn't NSIDC use the newer AMSR-E data? 'We do not use AMSR-E data in our analysis because it is not consistent with our historical data.' Turns out that the AMSR-E data only goes back to 2002, which is probably not long enough for the NSIDC to make sweeping conclusions about melting. The AMSR-E data is updated daily and is available to the public. Thus far, sea ice extent in 2009 is tracking ahead of 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008, so the predictions of an ice-free north pole might be premature."

"Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward" -- William E. Davidsen