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Space

Pics of the Longest Solar Eclipse of the Century 97

Vinod writes "Yesterday thousands of people around Asia witnessed the longest solar eclipse of the century. Although it was not clearly visible in some parts due to overcast weather, thousands of people gathered to view this spectacular event. Yesterday's solar eclipse lasted for 6 to 7 minutes, making it the longest solar eclipse of the century. Here is a collection of 33 beautiful images of the solar eclipse from around the world."
Space

How They Built the Software of Apollo 11 220

LinuxScribe tips a piece up at Linux.com with inside details on the design and construction of the Apollo 11 code. There are some analogies to open source development but they are slim. MIT drafted the code — to run on the Apollo Guidance Computer, a device with less grunt than an IBM XT — it had 2K of memory and a 1-MHz clock speed. It was an amazing machine for its time. NASA engineers tested, polished, simulated, and refined the code. "The software was programmed on IBM punch cards. They had 80-columns and were 'assembled' to instruction binary on mainframes... and it took hours. ... During the mission, most of the software code couldn't be changed because it was hard-coded into the hardware, like ROM today... But during pre-launch design simulations, problems that came up in the code could sometimes be finessed by... computer engineers using a small amount of erasable memory that was available for the programs. The software used a low-level assembly language and was controlled using pairs or segments of numbers entered into a square-shaped, numeric-only keyboard called a Display and Keyboard Unit... The two-digit codes stood for 'nouns' or 'verbs,' and were used to enter commands or data, such as spacecraft docking angles or time spans for operations." Reader Smark adds, "The Google Code Blog announced today that the Virtual AGC and AGS project has transcribed the Command Module and Lunar Excursion Module code used during the Apollo 11 moon landing. The code is viewable at the VirtualAGC Google Code Page."
Bug

Software Glitch Leads To $23,148,855,308,184,500 Visa Charges 544

Hmmm2000 writes "Recently several Visa card holders were, um, overcharged for certain purchases, to the tune of $23,148,855,308,184,500.00 on a single charge. The company says it was due to a programming error, and that the problem has been corrected. What is interesting is that the amount charged actually reveals the type of programming error that caused the problem. 23,148,855,308,184,500.00 * 100 (I'm guessing this is how the number is actually stored) is 2314885530818450000. Convert 2314885530818450000 to hexadecimal, and you end up with 20 20 20 20 20 20 12 50. Most C/C++ programmers see the error now ... hex 20 is a space. So spaces were stuffed into a field where binary zero should have been."

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