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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 44 declined, 7 accepted (51 total, 13.73% accepted)

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Submission + - Robert Zubrin Lambastes NASA Plans for Mars (

jdray writes: "Noted space guy and founder of The Mars Society, Robert Zubrin has posted an essay lambasting NASA's plans for returning samples from Mars via a space station constructed at L2:

In recent weeks, NASA has put forth two remarkable new plans for its proposed next major initiatives. Both bear careful examination.

As the centerpiece for its future human spaceflight program, NASA proposes to build another space station, this one located not in low Earth orbit but at the L2 Lagrange point just above the far side of the Moon. This plan is indeed remarkable in as much as an L2 space station would serve no useful purpose whatsoever. We don’t need an L2 space station to go back to the Moon. We don’t need an L2 space station to go to near-Earth asteroids. We don’t need an L2 space station to go to Mars. We don’t need an L2 space station for anything.

The other initiative is a new plan for Mars sample return, which is now held to be the primary mission of the robotic Mars exploration program. This plan is remarkable for its unprecedented and utterly unnecessary complexity.


Submission + - Low cost way to maximize SQL Server uptime? 2

jdray writes: "My wife and I own a mid-sized restaurant with a couple of Point of Sale (POS) terminals. The software, which runs on Windows and .NET, uses SQL Server on the back end. With an upgrade to the next major release of the software imminent, I'm considering upgrading the infrastructure it runs on to better ensure uptime (we're open seven days a week). We can't afford several thousand dollars' worth of server infrastructure (two cluster nodes and some shared storage, or somesuch), so I thought I'd ask Slashdot for some suggestions on enabling maximum uptime. I considered a single server node running VMWare with a limp-mode failover to a VMWare instance on a desktop, but I'm not sure how to set up a monitoring infrastructure to automate that, and manual failover isn't much of an option with non-tech staff. What suggestions do you have?"
User Journal

Submission + - Millimeter Wave Weapon Certified for Use in Iraq

jdray writes: Wired is carrying a story on the certification of the Active Denial System (ADS) for use in Iraq. The ADS is a millimeter wave weapon that uses a reportedly non-lethal energy beam to inflict short term pain on its targets, encouraging them to leave an area, what experimenters call the "Goodbye effect." Some crunchy bits from the article:

The ADS shoots a beam of millimeters waves, which are longer in wavelength than x-rays but shorter than microwaves -- 94 GHz (= 3 mm wavelength) compared to 2.45 GHz (= 12 cm wavelength) in a standard microwave oven.

...while subjects may feel like they have sustained serious burns, the documents claim effects are not long-lasting. At most, "some volunteers who tolerate the heat may experience prolonged redness or even small blisters," ...

There has been no independent checking of the military's claims.

I can see using this in a wartime situation, but how long before we see these things mounted to the top of S.W.A.T. vans for domestic crowd control? And, is that a bad idea? I can't really tell from where I sit.

User Journal

Submission + - Trimersion: Has VR finally arrived?

jdray writes: Reported this morning in Gizmag, the Trimersion head-mounted display looks to be a step in the right direction toward full-immersion VR. From the article:
The wireless Trimersion head tracking HMD and tracking gun replace the mouse/keyboard or gamepad controllers with a realistic and natural interface (for killing things).

The Trimersion is now in full production and a vast improvement from the initial prototype shown at the E3 2005 show. The new units have been completely redesigned from scratch. The new features are a double rocker trigger for main fire and alternate fire. The gun also has all of the controls of a standard Xbox or Playstaion game pad. The tracking device has been simplified and miniturized to a fraction of it's former self. This means better performance, less cost and less weight. The most significant improvement is the freedom of movement. Once you put the Trimersion on, you can move and turn around freely without worrying about wires or connections. The headset and gun are powered by a standard 9v battery. The wireless connection goes back to a base station that has a video and VGA input.

Now where are the productivity studies showing how office workers get so much more done when their displays are replaced with one of these rigs?
User Journal

Submission + - What features make a good Unix development environ

jdray writes: I find myself in a position to influence, if not define our corporate deployment of development tools on our Unix servers, a mixture of Solaris and AIX environments, and asking Slashdot seemed to be a prudent stop on my research trail.

Our environment is like this: Most of the development is in Perl and KShell with a little CShell, Ruby and Python for flavor. Development teams are expected to maintain their own libraries of Perl modules and whatnot, so access to bulid tools for .pm files is required. Access to systems is done through SSH, typically using PuTTY or some similar commercial SSH client, with file access done through SFTP or SCP. Most of our users edit with vi; vim would add syntax highlighting if we deployed it. What other features should I be looking for? What tool suggestions do you have?
User Journal

Submission + - Proposed Security System with Superman Vision

jdray writes: Reported in Gizmag today, Panoptic is proposing a new security system that is composed of deep integration of existing technologies to provide a security system that gives an operator Superman-like X-ray vision. From the article: events and alerts are adapted into one system then correlated against each other based upon defined security policy and rules. This automated, root cause analysis enables disparate real-time security data to be combined into "an integrated panoptic security command centre (over)view."
It evidently uses new data compression technology called IHC:
[Panoptic] describes IHC as "an object oriented wavelet-based compression system for security and surveillance applications" and a "programmable compression hardware and software solution.". IHC enables object selection and extraction and features high-resolution viewing while conserving bandwidth, meaning high quality images can be selected and viewed with higher data rates and higher frame rates than the significantly reduced background.

It will be interesting to see if they can bring this thing to fruition. The deep integration of technologies is always a good thing. The rule writing for alarms would be the hardest to manage, for instance figuring out the difference between someone wearing a balaclava and someone just bundled up for winter.

Images of the proposed system include pics of one of the 360-degree cameras.

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