Codger Code Crafters Craved By NASA

TheRegister - With its last generation of space-race engineers hanging up their slide-rules, NASA is looking for someone fluent in Fortran and other Cold War-era languages.

In an interview with Popular Mechanics, the manager of NASA's Voyager program Suzanne Dodd said the retirement of the last original crew member has left the space agency with a shortage of people capable of communicating with the 40-year-old craft.

Launched in 1977, the two Voyager crafts rely on mid-70s hardware powered by purpose-built General Electric interrupt processors. After 38 years in space, the two probes are currently on the outer fringes of the Sun's influence, heading into interstellar space.


1960's Style - Repairing Computer Memory

Back in the 1960's - when I was but a slip of a lad - there were mainframe computers. They were cool tech, but they were also big, slow and surprisingly mechanical. At that time, there was no DRAM; computers of the time used ferrite core memory, consisting of a (usually hand made) spiderweb lattice of wiring and tiny toroids of ferrite making up the computer's RAM.

ExtremeTech has a fascinating article about the care and feeding of such a piece of computer history.


Millennials More Receptive To Dumping Cash

Forty per cent of whippersnappers Millennials are ready to dump cash in favor of electronic banking. My only two real reservations about a "cashless" society are 1) security, or lack thereof, and 2) it's easier to swipe something that to part with some of the green stuff - maybe too easy.

A new BI Intelligence study surveyed 1,500 Millennials (ages 18-34) to explore how they use physical and digital banking channels. The banking habits of Millennials, who compose the largest share of both the US and employed populations, are crucial in determining the future of retail banking.
A large share of US millennials are ready to give up cash completely and that's bad for ATM providers.



Coffee Power - 8 Subscription Coffee Services

The computing/IT world sort of runs on coffee, doesn't it? Coffee and Mountain Dew. I do imbibe both myself on a daily basis. For the coffee aficionados among you, DailyTekk has a list of 8 coffee subscription services, so that you can always have a recurring supply of the bean to suit your liking. Not too much mention of cost in the list, but if you already a frequenter of Starbucks, that should not be a big issue (yeah, I went there).



The Horse Is Out Of The Encryption Barn, What's Next?

Since the NSA has now apparently broken the encryption for a lot of web traffic, now what? It's a worrisome and rather depressing scenario.
Clearly the experts at the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) have pondered the same question: a blog post on Thursday by IETF chairman Jari Arkko and security specialist Paul Wouters outlines how to beef up the internet's security.
The post's title references a crucial element at the heart of the security flap: the Diffie-Hellman key-exchange protocol.
We seem to keep learning that many of the "outlandish" cyber-snooping claims made by Edward Snowden were in fact correct.


More of a guideline than a rule, apparently


NY Times, Google Cardboard, And CueCat

The New York Times is bundling a giveaway of over a million Google Cardboard VR kits with their print versions. VR is often hailed as the next big thing, but an ArsTechnica article wonders if the quaint, low tech Cardboard device will scare away (or bore) more users that it converts.

Ars even brings up a historical precedent, in the form of the rather ghastly CueCat scanner device; a tech giveaway from the turn of the century that fell flat on its puss.


CIA Director Brennan Forwarded Some Work Emails To His AOL Account

As comedian Ron White says: "You can't fix stupid". Not to say that John Brennan is a stupid man, but he appears to have done a really thoughtless, dumb thing in forwarding some CIA emails to his AOL email account. - and yes, including sensitive stuff.

How do we know this? His AOL account was hacked. Did I mention Mr Brennan is the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency?
The hackers posed as Verizon techs. After producing a fabricated "Vcode" (an identifier that "verifies" a person as a Verizon employee), Verizon gave up the information the hackers needed to gain control of Brennan's AOL account: PIN, backup phone number, email address and last four digits of his credit card.

They then called AOL to tell them they were locked out of "their" account. The information handed over by Verizon answered all of AOL's verification questions. And in they went, uncovering -- among other things -- the SF-86 application Brennan had filled out to apply for security clearances. They also discovered -- and posted -- screenshots of a spreadsheet apparently listing names and social security numbers of intelligence officials.


Jar-Jar Binks Could Actually Have Been Worse

The widely-reviled character of Jar-Jar Binks could have been even more annoying, as there was apparently some thought given to him having a lovable companion/pet ( a "blarth") to tag along on his adventures. Makes you almost pine for the Ewoks.
Concept art by Whitlatch does exist, but it was eventually decided to keep Jar Jar a solo act and drop the idea…somewhat, at least. The alien canine waddled and slobbered its way into series canon through the book The Wildlife of Star Wars: A Field Guide, illustrated, again, by Whitlatch.

Personal note: the first time I saw Jar-Jar, I am sure my expression was like that of the audience members in the Mel Brooks movie "The Producers" when they witness the musical number "Springtime For Hitler"...

Japan's Engineering And Architecture Companies Are Loving The iPad

AppleInseider - According to a report by Architosh, Graebert—a major German CAD (computer assisted design) software developer—announced its support for iOS after finding that leading Japanese firms have already standardized on iOS in deploying thousands of iPads.

That shift is coming largely at the expense of Google's Android, and leaves diminishing hope for Microsoft's efforts to win converts back to the Windows PC, in any form factor.

Despite selling lots of consumer tablets (including a large segment of devices used at portable TVs or "kids toys," according to IDC), Android does not have the same professional backing as iOS in the corporate enterprise.


An Android Lollipop Boost

I was pleasantly surprised to find an Android 5.1 update pending on my Motorola Moto G phone today. The phone is from Boost Mobile, and though I had been receiving the recently-initiated monthly security updates, I had no expectation of getting an update from KitKat to Lollipop while using a pay-as-you-go provider. Props to Motorola and Boost then, hopefully the update will work as nicely as it does on my trusty Nexus 7.

*Update* - the upgrade went fine, and I am now rocking Lollipop aka Android 5.1


The Ideal IT Job?

This from - sounds right up my alley! At least they have a sense of humor.


Hell's Bells, Dell! Lays Out Over $65B For EMC

Computer maker Dell is out to purchase storage provider EMC for around 67 beeeeellion dollars, in a historic deal. That's a lot of cabbage, no matter the mix of stocks, cash and so on.
Dell Inc. agreed to buy EMC Corp. for about $67 billion in the largest technology acquisition ever as Michael Dell looks to leverage EMC’s dominance in storage devices amid intensifying competition.
The deal, which founder Dell is funding with partners such as Silver Lake, will help the personal-computer maker broaden its product lineup to respond to enduring threats from perennial rival Hewlett-Packard Co. and upstarts such as Nutanix Inc. For EMC, the combination may mollify activist investors clamoring to see more growth.



Daimler Does A Real World Self-Driving Truck Test

Trucks and truck drivers are a huge part of the commercial infrastructure of most countries, and in a purely monetary sense it may be an important area to automate, in the sense of self-drive trucks.

Vehicle maker Daimler, along with others, is working on self driving trucks and just conducted a "real world" test on a public highway in Germany.

I would guess the self-drive trucks may only be used for long haul deliveries between main terminals while keeping to major highways, and not trying to make deliveries to local stores or smaller depots in heavy traffic/congested cities.
The truck has smart systems including radars, cameras and active speed regulators and works without a human driver—although one has to be in the driver's seat and take the wheel if necessary.
The standard Mercedes-Benz Actros, fitted with the intelligent "Highway Pilot" system, travelled 14 kilometres (about nine miles) on the A8 motorway, with a driver in the cabin but his hands off the wheel.

Read more at:
The truck has smart systems including radars, cameras and active speed regulators and works without a human driver—although one has to be in the driver's seat and take the wheel if necessary.

The standard Mercedes-Benz Actros, fitted with the intelligent "Highway Pilot" system, travelled 14 kilometres (about nine miles) on the A8 motorway, with a driver in the cabin but his hands off the wheel.


"The Martian" Movie Does The Novel Proud

A movie about Mars with no green guys or laser cannons? Say it ain't so! Nope, this is way better - The Martian is a Ridley Scott film starring Matt Damon and based upon a wonderful novel written by Andy Weir. 

By all accounts so far, the movie does a great job of bringing the geekiness, humor and tension of the novel to the big screen. I can't wait to see it!