No Damned Computer is Going to Tell Me What to Do! - The Story of the Naval Tactical Data System, By David L. Boslaugh, Capt USN, Retired
It was 1962. Some of the prospective commanding officers of the new guided missile frigates, now on the building ways, had found out that the Naval Tactical Data System (NTDS) was going to be built into their new ship, and it did not set well with them. Some of them came in to our project office to let us know first hand that no damned computer was going to tell them what to do. For sure, no damned computer was going to fire their nuclear tipped guided missiles. They would take their new ship to sea, but they would not turn on our damned system with its new fangled electronic brain.[more inside]
UBeam claims to be able to do wireless charging via ultrasound. "UBeam, a high-profile start-up backed by some of Silicon Valley's most prominent investors, has become a tech industry sensation because of the wireless charging technology it says it has developed... But the company, which has never demonstrated a fully-functioning prototype, is now facing an onslaught of questions about whether it can actually deliver the breakthrough it is promising." EEVblog is critical. The demo.
To commemorate the last decade’s worth of failures, we organized and analyzed the data we’ve collected. We cannot claim—nor can anyone, really—to have a definitive, comprehensive database of debacles. Instead, from the incidents we have chronicled, we handpicked the most interesting and illustrative examples of big IT systems and projects gone awry and created the five interactives featured here. Each reveals different emerging patterns and lessons. Dive in to see what we’ve found. One big takeaway: While it’s impossible to say whether IT failures are more frequent now than in the past, it does seem that the aggregate consequences are worse. [more inside]
What happened to the “beautiful dream”? While the Internet’s triumphant story has been well documented by its designers and the historians they have worked with, OSI has been forgotten by all but a handful of veterans of the Internet-OSI standards wars. To understand why, we need to dive into the early history of computer networking, a time when the vexing problems of digital convergence and global interconnection were very much on the minds of computer scientists, telecom engineers, policymakers, and industry executives. And to appreciate that history, you’ll have to set aside for a few minutes what you already know about the Internet. Try to imagine, if you can, that the Internet never existed.
"While DC continues to race through San Francisco power lines at nearly the speed of light, it does so anonymously. You’ll find no reference to DC power distribution in PG&E’s annual reports or on its websites. Even some utility engineers are unaware of its existence, which raises a curious question: Why is the inheritor of this legacy, the mighty and sophisticated PG&E, still bothering with DC distribution 133 years later?" [more inside]
Forget the dire predictions of a looming shortfall of scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians
How a buccaneering young engineer built the little blue box that broke into the biggest network in the world
Soft robotics are inspired by animals which don't have hard internal skeletons, like squid, worms, and starfish. Developed at Harvard, with funding from DARPA, this particular soft robot, "not only walks, it knows several different gaits and can deflate to stuff itself through tiny little gaps." Another design here, and another (also), and another. In addition to movement, soft robotics can also be used for grip. More information about the Harvard lab is available here (with a student describing the research here).
As part of their special report
Fukushima and the Future of Nuclear Power, the IEEE has published
24 Hours at Fukushima, chronicling the events that turned a disaster into a catastrophe, and detailing what might have been done to prevent them.
Robots With Knives: A Study of Soft-Tissue Injury in Robotics or Dynamic Unconstrained Collision Impacts. Luckily, we may be approaching Asimov's 1st law... or not.
The current issue of IEEE Spectrum devotes itself to the sci-fi genre du jour, the Singularity. Neuroscientists such as Christof Koch and David Alder talk about our understanding of the brain and quantum computing, John Horgan argues that it's just too difficult to recreate consciousness in a computer any time soon. Robin Hanson writes on the Economics of the Singularity, and of course, Vernor Vinge - the person who originally postulated the Singularity - tells us how to spot its approach. [more inside]
The IEEE Virtual Museum. Virtual exhibits about microelectronics, sound recording, Edison, war and technology etc.
IEEE bans residents of Cuba, Iran, Libya and Sudan from publishing "The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) recently imposed a ban on the residents of Cuba, Iran, Libya and Sudan from publishing and contributing to any IEEE publication or standard." I think this is something that deserves much wider coverage then it has been getting.