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Comment Used to live in Cape Canaveral . . . (Score 2, Interesting) 213

Last really big spy satellite I took notice of was one carried on board a Titan IV in 1998 that didn't get very far before before exploding and/or being destroyed by range safety personnel. We usually enjoyed rocket launches (and plenty of mixed drinks) from a friend's condo on the south side of the harbor entrance channel that had a great view of the various launch pads (or at least the rockets after they got a few feet up in the air). For this one, I was on board my ship in port. Someone made a pipe (announcement) that a rocket was going up. Good time for a break. Went up to the foc'sle with my coffee and watched as $1.3 billion of our U.S. tax dollars got blown into tiny little bits. Ughhh. Wondered briefly if pieces were going to land on the ship -- not too likely. Went back below to my stateroom and back to work. Glad this one got further along.

Comment Questions . . . (Score 1) 219

I'm a maritime professional (captain of a ship) w/ some collateral involvement in IT issues. Here are a few off the cuff thoughts / questions that spring to mind as I read /. and eat my lunch:

1. Environmental control . . . a bit more difficult to do in a big metal box that is your modern ship, especially in a hot sunny place (e.g. San Diego). Ships can also be very damp inside. Proper environmental control for a data center on board ship will almost certainly be more difficult than for a land-based data center.

2. Watertight integrity of the hull . . . ship is floating in a harbor, bay, ocean that is exerting constant pressure to swap places with the air inside the hull (i.e. flooding). Ships have a number of through hull fittings / valves that need fairly frequent inspection / maintenance to ensure proper operation and guard against leaks.

3. Crew . . . While I'm sure the DBA and all the other information technology professionals are smart guys and gals, they are most likely not even remotely qualified and/or licensed to sail the ship. The more competent the crew you want to sail the ship, the bigger the bill. You don't need them aboard all the time, but you do need to get them in time to move the ship away from an impending disaster, political unrest or whatever motivates you to sail the ship from where it is presently moored. There will likely be other complications with the crew, depending on where you have it registered. Even if you don't maintain a crew on board to sail the ship, you still need a caretaker crew of some size to look after the ship on a daily basis.

4. Maintenance . . . Ships require lots of care, even if they are just sitting in the same mooring without moving for years at a time. Caring for ships is a spendy proposition as noted by one reader already (hole in the water into which one pours money is a fairly accurate statement). Keeping the ship continuously ready for sea is even more expensive. Someone has to exercise the main engine, generators, deck equipment, etc.

5. Data Connection . . . Obviously the ship will need lots of land line connectivity. not an insurmountable problem pierside, but out at sea . . . very, very big bills for relatively small bandwidth connections. Would need large / expensive satcom installation / subscription for even a rudimentary at-sea high bandwidth connection.

6. Pier Space . . . ain't cheap.

7. Building / converting the ship. . . . Having a ship built or converted for a special purpose such as this will result in an eye-popping bill (and that will be in addition to the purchase price for the ship itself if you are buying an existing hull).

All in all, save for the mobility gained by being able to physically sail away to another port with your server farm, I can't see the benefit from doing this.

Comment Try MotionX on iPhone . . . . (Score 1, Interesting) 312

After acquiring my iPhone, the thought of using it for car navigation, at least in a pinch, was too good to pass up. Although MotionX charges a fee for turn by turn directions, it works great and with far fewer errors than Tom Tom's maps. I brought it home to Ketchikan, AK where the Tom Tom's maps are useless (big datum error has all roads shifted south quite a ways) and it (Motion X) worked perfectly. I used it in the Pacific Northwest over a period of about a month with nearly perfect results, save for downtown Seattle where, had I not actually known where I was going from having lived there for a few years, it would have steered me pretty far afield.

In any event, it is nice to have for those times when I need directions, but didn't think to bring the Tom Tom along. I just hold the iPhone (in its Otterbox case) high up on the steering wheel with one hand. It keeps my head up and both hands on the wheel. I like the maps as much, actually more, than the Tom Tom map prenentation.

Also, I too tried sending Tom Tom some corrections regarding my Seattle area neighborhood when I lived there. The Tom Tom maps never updated to reflect my (easily verified from a satellite view) suggestions.

Note: I have absolutely no connection to MotionX whatsoever, other than having purchased a retail copy.

Comment Too bad . . . (Score 0) 604

I bought a "PC's Limited" machine (80286 / 8MHz) from Mr. Dell back in mid 80's. That machine served me well for quite a while - I learned a great deal from it. I wonder if Dell wishes he were back in the good ol' days putting his machines together personally and without all of the problems that come from going corporate. Sad to see it come to this.

The Ignominious Fall of Dell 604

snydeq writes "InfoWorld's Bill Snyder discusses the ignominious decline of Dell, one akin to that of Computer Associates, leaving the company forever tainted by scandal and a 'shocking breach of faith with customers.' Dell's pioneering business model and supply chain helped make desktop computing ubiquitous, affordable, and secure. But years of awful quality control and customer service have finally caught up to the company in a very public way that will do irreparable damage to the company for years to come. 'What we've learned about Dell recently doesn't qualify as an understandable mistake. Only a rotten company sells defective computers and lies about it.'"

Submission + - Space Shuttle Has New Year Rollover Bug

CG_Man writes: NASA is apparently worried about a possible software glitch in the Space Shuttle that could surface if the space craft remains in flight over the new year. From the AP article describing the launch preparations:

"If the launch does not happen on Dec. 7, NASA can keep trying through Dec. 17. After that, the agency will re-evaluate its options and may call it quits until January. NASA wants Discovery back from its 12-day mission by New Year's Eve because shuttle computers are not designed to make the change from the 365th day of the old year to the first day of the new year while in flight. The space agency has figured out a solution for the New Year's Day problem, but managers are reluctant to try it since it has not been thoroughly tested.

Submission + - VB use on the decline?

stoolpigeon writes: I just got a link to this article in my inbox. I thought it might be of some interest to those I've heard asking questions about what languages to pursue. Here's a couple choice snippets.

A recent Evans Data survey shows that the use of Microsoft's Visual Basic among developers is down significantly, but Microsoft says otherwise.

Moreover, Evans said, "As expected, developers are finally leaving VB6 and earlier versions; they're also leaving VB.NET; which is down by 26 percent. This means Java now holds the market penetration lead at 45 percent, followed by C/C++ at 40 percent, and C# at 32 percent."

Now I don't know a thing about Evans Data or this study. Evan may be some kid in his parent's basement who did the 'survey' by asking his pet hamster. So take it as you will.

Submission + - Why the US Loses Small Wars

Larry Kahaner writes: "If history is any gauge, the US will lose the current conflict in Iraq. Since the end of World War II, major US use of force against substantially weaker enemies — Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia, for example — have ended poorly. The last remaining superpower is not alone in this phenomenon of strong armies losing to lesser foes: the American colonists beat the British, the Vietnamese forced France to leave Indochina and Afghanistan's Mujahadeen drove the Soviets from their country... see the full story: http://hnn.us/articles/31296.html"

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