Astronaut Life Insurance

How did the Apollo astronauts get life insurance? Well, they didn’t. So they made their own according to Collectors Weekly:

The so-called “insurance” postal covers from Apollo 11 are a safe way of acquiring the crew’s autographs. As Buzz Aldrin has explained, “Since we were unable to obtain adequate life insurance due to the high risk nature of being an astronaut, we signed this group of covers and evenly distributed them to our families for safe keeping while we performed our mission. If an unfortunate event prevented our safe return, the covers would have provided a limited financial means of support to our families.”

This is really a clever approach if you think about it.

On Perception Of The Cloud

Citrix commissioned an interesting survey to see how people define “the cloud”.

Most of the press was focused on:

51 percent of respondents, including a majority of Millennials, believe stormy weather can interfere with cloud computing.

Technically weather can cause your internet connection to go down, so yes it does interfere with your access to cloud computing. If you can’t access it, for all intents and purposes it doesn’t exist. I’d further argue any remotely decent data center is not impacted by “stormy weather”, it would need to be along the lines of “act of god”. A notable difference.

They also focused on:

You’re not alone: While many admit they don’t understand the cloud, 56 percent of respondents say they think other people refer to cloud computing in conversation when they really don’t know what they are talking about.

Again, I’d argue no big deal. You shouldn’t need to know what a utility is anymore than you need to know the molecular makeup of natural gas. You just need to know how to safely operate a stove. Cloud computing is turning computing into a utility. It removes the complexities (how to gather wood to keep with the fire/stove example).

The part that gets me is what was ignored by seemingly everyone else (emphasis mine):

Softer advantages, like working from home in the buff: People offered additional, unexpected benefits of the cloud, including the ability to access work information from home in their “birthday suit” (40 percent); tanning on the beach and accessing computer files at the same time (33 percent); keeping embarrassing videos off of their personal hard drive (25 percent); and sharing information with people they’d rather not interact with in person (35 percent).

We’ve failed miserably as technology professionals if 25% of the population think putting their embarrassing photos in the cloud is a good way to keep them private. This is akin to if 25% of the population said they trusted random Nigerian email’s for their banking needs.

If I were Apple, or Microsoft, or anyone else in the market, I’d be asking myself how to fix this misconception and make security on the desktop visibly superior as well as technologically. Perhaps make disk encryption standard for at least the user data which could be partitioned (especially since adjusting partitions isn’t impossible these days). A lot of privacy is lost in the cloud. It’s also potentially not subject to many of the protective laws the US provides to physical property in terms of search as I’ve mentioned before.

Go-around

Air France A340 SXM Go Around

There’s video of an Air France A340 (guessing it’s an A340) performing a go-around at Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM), St. Maarten.

I suspect it’s wasn’t really the result of Hurricane Isaac, despite occurring when the storm was in the area and the video title suggesting. There’s nothing in the video to suggest wind was impacting the yaw or roll of the aircraft. The sea isn’t churning like the winds were really whipping.

As far as I’m aware, SXM doesn’t have ILS like many commercial airports. That makes things slightly more difficult in terms of establishing a glide slope (GS). The runway is 7,546 ft, not that short, however I’d bet the airline wants planes to attempt to touchdown earlier to allow for less reverse thrusters and save fuel in this economy. Especially for a larger plane like the A340 which will be burning a ton of fuel to climb out of that airport and get around those mountains. The go-around was likely the result of a slightly to steep GS. Ironically resulting in more fuel being burnt going around. Not terribly uncommon.

That’s my theory.

Via Business Insider

Another Java Attack

There’s another attack on Java via a new zero day flaw. This is why I don’t keep Java enabled in web browsers anymore. If you still do, I’d suggest turning it off. There’s a good chance you won’t miss it.

I’ve yet to get there with Flash, but the day is coming. After the previous post a few months ago, I think I like the idea of a blacklist/whitelist for plugins in general that allow a user to enable them only for specific hostnames. That would make it a bit more intuitive to use plugins when still needed, but gain the security of not having them available for any hostname you happen to stumble upon. The options would be something like:

Enable [plugin name] on [hostname.tld] for:
(This session only)     (Forever)       (Never)

For certain things like YouTube, you could enable Flash forever since Google is rather trustworthy. For other sites, perhaps just the session. For others, maybe never.

On Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong On The Moon

He’s not the first of the twelve to die, but certainly the most notable, and perhaps the most modest. The first person on earth to ever step onto a non earth body simply described himself as:

“I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer,”

He walked on the freaking moon, and he simply describes himself as a nerdy engineer, as if he were one of the legions of IBM or HP employees at their peak.

The youngest Apollo astronaut to have walked on the moon is Charles Duke, who is 76 years old in a nation where the life expectancy for a man is 75.6 years. We’ve effectively got no space program together other than a few rovers being shot to Mars. Within a decade, for the first time in my life, it’s possible there won’t be a man alive who has walked on the moon.

Credit must be given to the generation who pulled it off. We may be capable of having a video call across the glove, but we’re far from being able to repeat what they did decades ago visiting the moon.

Thanks Mr. Armstrong for literally shooting for the moon.

Washington Monument Prank

True story: For several years (2003-ish to 2009-ish) if you did a Google image search for “Washington Monument, one of the first search results you’d see came from me:

Washington Monument Search Results

Here’s the actual image:

Washington Monument

Needless to say it was slightly photoshopped and the fact that this showed up for so many years was quite amusing to me and many others. I’ve gotten a few emails, and quite a bit of traffic over time for it. It was completely unintentional that it SEO’d so well and for so long. Ran across the image today and figured it’s a good time to tell the tale.

QOTD “Facebook is the Microsoft of social media”

Quote of the day goes to Paul Saffo for his opinion piece on Facebook:

Facebook is the Microsoft of social media; used by everyone but truly loved by few.

I’m not sure I 100% agree with the quote, however it does make a valid point about what not to be as a tech company with a huge chunk of the market share. You really want to be the Apple of social media, used by many who absolutely adore you and highly value your product. I’m not sure there’s anyone in social media yet who has achieved that. The closest so far might be Instagram who is now owned by Facebook. Twitter has its loyal users, but many are grumbling over their recent changes and the ever changing app ecosystem.

Paul goes on to say:

Facebook resembles Microsoft in other ways as well. Facebook’s interface is nearly as clunky and inelegant as Windows, and like Microsoft, Facebook is struggling to migrate off the desktop and follow its users onto mobile platforms like smartphones and tablets. Unfortunately, Facebook’s revenue model depends on ample screen real estate in order to please advertisers without annoying users. Ads that can be tolerated on a laptop become a major annoyance when hogging scarce and valuable space on a smartphone.

Facebook can solve for these problems. Facebook will need to move beyond advertising no matter what. Google’s been trying to figure out that problem for a while now. Advertising only gets you so far. Google’s experimented with things like SaaS (Software as a service) via Google Apps. Facebook could potentially bundle up it’s collaboration, authentication, pieces as an alternative to products like SharePoint and Google Groups. Facebook users generally use these things for personal uses, but Facebook apparently utilizes its own features for it’s own purposes all along. There’s not terribly much blocking them from making that a product itself. Facebook also has vast amounts of data and could make itself into a research platform. Both would be viable options and quite frankly could be killer products.

It’s an amazing thing regardless for a company as young as Facebook to be compared to Microsoft. Lets just hope they can avoid the pitfalls that have hit Microsoft in the past decade.

Macintosh SE ROM Easter Egg

NYC Register did some interesting digging into the Macintosh SE’s ROM to find an Easter Egg. This particular one is the photo of some team members. It’s actually quite interesting that they had enough extra space on the ROM to do that. You’d think for cost reasons they’d go with as little as they could get away with.

This makes me wonder how many similar secrets have never been discovered, and some that will perhaps never be discovered.

Dodgeball For The Olympics

I think it’s time to see Dodgeball in the Olympics. If dressage is an Olympic sport, I just don’t see how dodgeball shouldn’t be.

Somewhere between 15-20 per team and no more than 10 balls between them. Team with last man standing wins. Headshots valid (mixed on this)?

Dodgeball has it all. Strategy, strength, quick reaction, flexibility, good throwing arm, and obviously teamwork. Also, lets face it, this would be the most entertaining thing to watch. It’s fast paced, makes for great replays, and is guaranteed to be something you can’t blink while watching. It can be played indoors meaning it can be a summer or winter sport. You can even reuse the same space used for indoor volleyball if it were done in the summer.

Perhaps it’s time for a public campaign to get dodgeball in the Olympics. I think it would be a fantastic addition1.

1. Of course I’m also for adding a great white shark to water polo.