Monday, February 26, 2007

Raping the taxpayers, again, and again, and again...

This gig out in the Everglades pays very well, but it really bothers me as a taxpayer what's going on out there.

There's probably a thousand of these little pump/gate stations out in the swamp that South Florida Water Management operates, more are built every day. The ones we're reworking are only about 3 years old -- and this is the second time the electric on them has been reworked, and we're told they'll probably be reworked again after we're done!

The electrical and telemetry gear at these little stations sits a bit low on the wall you see. Not on the floor, just a little lower than is comfortable to fiddle with while standing up. This is apparently a BIG ISSUE for the staff electricians at SFWM, so there's talk of reworking the stations again to raise all this gear to chest height.

Now, all these things are built with rigid galvanized conduit - the heavy shit you thread together. No PVC, no EMT, no cable - rigid threaded piping. The most expensive and tedious stuff to work with there is.

Of course, raising all this gear a foot or so will make all the wire too short and it will need to all be re pulled.

I've come up with a much cheaper practical engineered solution™ for this working height "problem" the SFWM staff electricians morons have. I've used this solution countless time in the past with great success.

You ready for it? Here it is - the Mk 1 Mod 0 plastic freaking bucket. You plunk your dumbass down on a bucket and all that gear is suddenly at a convenient height to work on! Its a miracle solution, and its cheap...which is why they'll never do it. Instead, SFWM will bid the job out and they'll probably be bid in somewhere around $10,000 per station to raise that gear. Another $10M in taxpayer cash thrown down the toilet because some jackass is too stupid to sit on a $3 plastic pail.

Seriously, this kind of stupidity is like welfare for electricians.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Americans described in a single painting

Pretty much right on IMO.

The Return of Scipio

Hillary fails chemistry 101

The problem isn't "hydrocarbons". Ordinary table sugar is a "hydrocarbon", as are thousands of other innocuous compounds the majority of which are so heavy they don't play a major component in atmospheric chemistry. The problem (as claimed by the climate nuts) is CO2. One of the things you want to see in a Hydrocarbon, is least one Hydrogen atom.

San Francisco Chronicle
[...]"We're all pulling for Al Gore to get that Oscar," she said. "Nobody has done more to sound the alarm" on hydrocarbons[...]

Ace of Spades lifestyle™ poster girl

I have no idea how Ace missed out on showcasing this one. She seems to have all the necessary qualifications.

Somewhat/kinda/maybe/maybe not safe for work pics at the link.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Shocking "scientific theory" re:AIDS to be investigated

Wow. Could be. Real atom splitting mind power there.

Associated Press
[...]Scientists theorize that women would benefit indirectly from lower HIV prevalence in men, and a study is currently ongoing in Uganda to determine this[...]

Thursday, February 22, 2007

So I'm out in the middle of the swamp...

...and the place is crawling with alligators. BIG freaking alligators. 15' long alligators. Billions of ducks, herons and other water birds too. Saw a flock of maybe 300 pelicans.

For a change of pace I decided to take a gig reworking the electric services on a bunch of pump/gate stations that South FL Water Management has out in the Everglades. Nice easy work, no heavy lifting, no ladders, nobody ripping off your tools or breaking into your car, no pressure.

I knew there were critters out in the glades, but I didn't realize precisely how many of them there were. The answer is LOTS.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Huffington Post: Bush martial law threat real

Gotta read it to believe it. Moonbats are funny as heck when they're really whipped into a frenzy. The comments section has some high quality crazy going on too.

Jane Smiley

Scientists: Cleopatra was no beauty

Malta Star
[...]Archaeological expert Lindsay Allason-Jones, added: "Roman writers tell us Cleopatra was intelligent and charismatic and that she had a seductive voice - but, significantly, they do not mention her beauty."

Monday, February 19, 2007

Time "spreading" during uncertain times

Jules references this piece by a soldier in Iraq where he says:
During bad or uncertain times, time itself doesn’t stand still or slow down, it’s more like it spreads out, like each minute has its own personality and some of those personalities really want you to get to know them. That happened with me today, probably with a few of us[...]
I can relate to this time spreading perception.

Some years ago I had a parachute malfunction. It was a type known as "slow speed malfunction" - which is to say there is a parachute over your head in some state of inflation so you're not quite going down like a lawn dart. These are difficult because they require more thought. Perhaps even worse is that there actually is time for that thought.

Lots of things to keep track of.

Altitude? Are you getting close to your hard deck? If you decide to cut it away, there needs to be enough altitude left to get a good reserve opening and allow for at least a few seconds to plan a landing. The book recommends 1,200' as a hard deck. I fiddled around in "normal time" trying to fix the problem for a few thousand feet and sucked it down a tad below 1,200'. My bad. 1,000' is still plenty of room for a reserve opening though.

As the altimiter crawled down to 1,000' the mental gears change very suddenly...

It wasn't getting better.
It was time to go.
It was time to get jiggy about doing it.

Now its like one of those high speed cameras Walter Hill or John Woo would use starts running. Details are being recorded in hi-def at hundreds of frames a seconds. Each frame a mini-drama all its own.

As mentioned above, its not like time slowing really, its more like time experienced at a much finer granularity than humans are accustomed to experiencing it and remembering it.

I stop farting around with the main chute.
I deliberately look down to the release handle.
I locate it.
I reach for it with both hands.
I pull the handle down.

Now, out of my peripheral vision I see the reserve chute bag slowly leaving my back its lines paying out as it goes up (this rig was equipped with an RSL, so the RSL beat me to the reserve deployment handle).

I notice that I'm doing a slow rotation to the left as the reserve lines pay out.

Then as soon as the high speed camera started rolling it stops and BANG I'm back to normal low resolution time. The reserve is open. I land it normally.

The whole sequence between deciding to bail and the reserve opening couldn't have taken more than two seconds start to finish but the granularity of memory of those two seconds is/was fine to a degree I'd never experienced before. The reach for the cutaway handle I remember in exquisite detail. I remember my left hand wrapping over my right on the handle.

Its amazing how much "stuff" can happen in a few seconds and how detailed your memory of it can be. Most people never get to experience something like this. Nor would they want to I suppose ;-> Nothing "scary" about it though, at least for me it wasn't scary. When I landed I was just pissed off that I couldn't fix the main and had to take that reserve ride.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Stem cell research pays off -- fake boobies that aren't fake!

Scientists are growing customized breast implants from stem cells. Recipe: Extract stem cells from your fat, mix them with regular fat cells, grow them into fatty tissue, and inject it into your breasts. It's been tried on nearly 40 women so far with no serious ill effects. Rationales: 1) These implants are natural; they're really yours. 2) They won't leak, as old silicone implants do. 3) They won't shrink if we can grow them with built-in blood vessels, thanks to the stem cells. Caveats: 1) We don't know yet how they'll hold up over the long term. 2) So far, we can only grow them to half the size of a synthetic implant...

Prolific Boston Bank Robber gets less than 6 years

When I was a small child, swiping a car (first offense!) would get you 7 years in NY state.

December 13, 2006



Boston, MA... A Somerville man was sentenced today in federal court for committing ten bank robberies and one attempted bank robbery over a two month period in the fall of 2005[...]

[...]sentenced by U.S. District Judge George A. O’Toole to 5 years and 10 months’ imprisonment, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release[...]

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Friends will help you move. True friends will help you move bodies.

But only genuine morons move bodies through checkpoints...

[...]The paratroopers from Company A, 325th Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, were manning a vehicle check point when the suspects attempted to pass through. A search of the vehicle uncovered four dead bodies in the bed of their truck. The bodies had bullet wounds to the back of the heads and other signs of execution-style killings[...]
Much more at the Mudville Gazette

David Petraeus is a marked man.

Bush has found his U.S. Grant, and Grant is taking Richmond.

This is something the democrats simply can't allow to happen. Their 08' hopes hinge entirely on failure in Iraq. Success can't be allowed because they're all on the record opposing the plan that might bring that success. Success implies the democrats lack any kind of judgment when it comes to weighty decisions of state and war.

That's not a good place to be. The public would notice that, and appears to be starting to notice, even with the MSM spinning like gyros. Americans like to win when they can. Petraeus is showing us how it will happen and that's got the dems pissing their pants.

What all this means is the democrats are looking real hard right now for any scandal they can hang on Petraeus that is serious enough to remove him. Bank on it. There will be a big scandal, phony and fabricated through and through, before this year is out.

The good thing is, Petraeus is not a moron and undoubtedly knows its coming. He will be doing everything in his power to purge the potential political saboteurs in ranks and have them relocated to another theater.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Para-glider sucked up to 30,000'

Video interview at that link too. There's a lot of questions this leaves me wanting to ask this woman?

The first being - are you a retard?
The second being - are you a retard?

a) Why are you flying the thing when there's a cell in the immediate vicinity?
b) Why didn't you just fly it out of the column?
c) Why didn't you just stall the chute?

OK, c) I'm a little unsure about. I know a normal 9 or 7 cell parachute when stalled will deflate, vastly increasing decent rate, and reinflate quickly when you let up on the brakes and allow it to start flying again. If these para-things are prone to collapsing into a permanent streamer if stalled, that would lead me to the next question...

Do these people use a pilot's bailout reserve? I would. And I'd have exited that hunk of junk in a heartbeat rather than get swept away. I've been as high as 16,000' without O2 and the air is getting noticeably thinner. 5 minutes at 16K' and your brain function starts to get just a notch slower, you can feel it happening. Get back down to 10K and you clear up back to normal quick - in a matter of seconds.
German paraglider survives a storm that swept her 30,000 feet into the air.

Paraglider Ewa Wisnierska was sucked thousands of feet into the air by a thunderstorm whilst flying.

She spent 40 minutes unconscious while being carried to a height of approximately 30,000 feet, where she was pounded by hail, narrowly avoided lightning and was covered in ice. [...]

BBC endorses 9/11 "truther" conspiracy theories

This is a shocking new low for the BBC. Just when you didn't think they could lose any more credibility after admitting liberal and anti-American biases, they manage to find a way.

The Brits might as well get their news from the Weekly World News.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

French anti-tank missile test

95% tease -- the money shot is in the last few seconds.

France does some things right - nuclear power

Now if we could only get the idiot leftists in this country to wake up and embrace what their ideological brethren in France have managed to do. Alas, it won't happen anytime soon though. The left has demonized nuclear power so badly in the US its more likely we'll be sitting in the dark before we make a big move into nukes.

Nuclear Power
[...]The present situation is due to the French government deciding in 1974, just after the first oil shock, to expand rapidly the country's nuclear power capacity. This decision was taken in the context of France having substantial heavy engineering expertise but few indigenous energy resources. Nuclear energy, with the fuel cost being a relatively small part of the overall cost, made good sense in minimising imports and achieving greater energy security.

As a result of the 1974 decision, France now claims a substantial level of energy independence and almost the lowest cost electricity in Europe. Over 90% of its electricity is nuclear or hydro[...]
H/T Pommygranate

NYC: screw you, to enviro-friendly pedi-cabs

A slightly suspicious mind might wonder if the city administration was being paid off by the motorized cab companies to put these guys out of business. This guy Bloomberg is a really treacherous weasel.

[...]There are around 500 of the bicycle-style cabs around the city. But drivers say two-thirds of them could wind up out of business if the City Council passes new regulations requiring drivers to be licensed and insured. Certain kinds of cabs would be banned altogether[...]

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Indian glacier expert disputes warming alarmist claims

Burn the witch! Silence the climate criminals!

Hindustan Times
[...]His views were echoed by Dr RK Ganjoo, Director, Regional Centre for Field Operations and Research on Himalayan Glaciology, who is supervising study of glaciers in Ladakh region including one in the Siachen area. He also maintained that nothing abnormal has been found in any of the Himalyan glaciers studied so far by him[...]

Toy's R Us flame throwers

Pretty cool. Use a garden variety super soaker as a flame thrower. Probably dangerous as all heck since the seals are of very marginal quality on those things. In a pinch when you really need to burn some shit down fast... ;->


FBI: We still can't account for missing weapons and laptops

Everyone can sleep better tonight knowing the FBI is still out there arming the criminals and enemies of this great nation, right? Yea, I thought so.

FBI (PDF Document)
[...]Our prior audit found that over a 28-month period the FBI reported 354 weapons and 317 laptop computers as lost or stolen. Our follow-up audit found that over a 44-month period the FBI reported 160 weapons and 160 laptop computers as lost or stolen[...]
H/T Of Arms and the Law

Monday, February 12, 2007

EU admits vaunted euro "diplomacy" failed with Iran

This is what happens when you let those idiots take the lead on something important. Of course Iran will have all the material they need sooner rather than later because the DPRK will be selling them every spare gram they think they can get away with claiming was "used up" in their testing. Anyone who thinks the DPRK isn't going to try to "double dip" on this newly minted nuke accord bribe is woefully naive.

When the inspectors are let into the DPRK I hope they're savvy enough to look for newly patched concrete on the floors where equipment was torn up and shipped to Iran too. Don't need to be a rocket scientist to know they'll play that angle too.

Extortionists aren't the most trustworthy of people.

Iran will be able to develop enough weapons-grade material for a nuclear bomb and there is little that can be done to prevent it, an internal European Union document has concluded[...]

Things the MSM won't show you

Head on over to Pat Dollard's and watch the video of a Muslim Cleric praising the US on Arab TV. There's more real courage in that Cleric than in all the democrats in congress combined.

He had to go on that show knowing what he was going to say would quite likely get him killed.


Illegal immigration and abortion demographics

Its a fairly well accepted fact that most of the Central/South American nations are predominantly traditional Catholics. Generally, they're not fond of abortion. Recently, Nicaragua went so far as to outlaw abortion completely, but you didn't hear much about this in the MSM.

Are the democrats in their fervor to embrace illegal immigrants forgetting the demographics of those immigrants? Suppose they are granted amnesty's or whatever and become citizens in droves. At what point do those people hit a "hard stop" on what they'll accept and start voting the other way?

Are the democrats engaging in a short sighted game to secure votes today at the expense of suffering a much larger demographic tidal wave 20 years from now that could sweep them from power quite literally forever?

How NOT to treat your AK-47

French leftists lurching right to support Sarkozy

Wow. Knock me over with a feather. Maybe the never ending nightly Car-B-Q's finally woke the morons up? Could it really be possible that the French, who were the most fucked up and in denial of all the euros, are really going to turn it around?

One by one, several French writers and intellectuals are making the startling confessions. After decades as committed leftists, they are defecting to the right _ many saying they've lost faith in Socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royal.

With just 10 weeks to go until the election's first round, Royal still has no platform. She has made gaffes on international affairs, and her popularity with intellectuals and ordinary voters alike has slipped, leaving conservative candidate Nicolas Sarkozy at the top of the polls.[...]

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Random surfing led me to find....

...a guy I hadn't seen in 25 years. And I wasn't looking for him, I just stumbled across the name in some forum and there he was. Amazing stuff these InterTubes.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Canadian faces life in prison...for having AIDS

Absent an actual AIDS infection in the supposed victims, this strikes me as more a thought crime than an actual crime. Aggravated Sexual Assault? Please... Reckless endangerment, probably. Aggravated stupidity? Certainly. Worth potentially life in prison? No way.

A former linebacker in the Canadian Football League who is HIV-positive was found guilty of aggravated sexual assault for having unprotected sex with two unwitting women.

Trevis Smith, 30, was accused of not telling the women that he carried the virus that causes AIDS and of lying to one of them who even pressed him about persistent rumors of his malady[...]

[...]Neither of the women has tested positive for HIV, said reports

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The far left is attacking Tim Russert

I'm cool with it. He needs this sort of exposure to the nature of the people he shills for ;->

[...]The problem isn't that he didn't want to testify - there are some reasonable arguments for that - the problem is that he spent two years on Meet the Press covering this story pretending he didn't know things he knew.

More slings and arrows here at the Huffington Post

So many compilers, so much retardation

I have this ongoing programming project that analyzes and hacks on the OBJ's spit out by compilers and assemblers. Its design goal is to be able to read in anything that was produced to the Intel/TIS OMF spec and variants thereof (like PharLap's "Easy OMF"). 16 bit code, 32 bit code, mixed 16/32 bit code, etc.

This is the Grand Unification Theory of OBJ post-processors. It will be able to handle anything from a 1981 vintage version of Microsoft's Macro Assembler, to the latest 2006 version of Borland C++ Builder, and "do things" to their output.

As I've been working along and testing stuff produced by dozens of different compilers and assemblers, the one thing I've noticed is that virtually ALL of them, from the inception of the PC in 81' to current day 26 years later, have either code generation bugs, or produce output that, while it may work, is profoundly retarded in one way or another.

The latest thing that set me off on this rant is Microsoft MASM and Borland's TASM. Both of these assemblers (and SLR's Optasm) can generate some truly horrendous OMF in some situations that bloats the size of the OBJ by as much as 10X over what it needs to be. 10X is significant. If you're specifying say a 20K segment full of stuff and building it 2 bytes at a time by emitting 10,000 records, that's going to have an impact on linking performance compared to 20 records of 1K each. Particularly when each record adds 5 or 7 or 8 bytes of overhead (above the two bytes for the data itself).

Fixing a lot of this dumb stuff is in many ways its the classic textbook producer/consumer scenario. Take in streams of retarded crap and produce streams of optimized less retarded crap. The devil as always is in the details - there are so many ways these compilers do things inefficiently that its a lot of testing work just discovering the retardations, let alone fixing it.

And I'm not even into the peephole optimizer work yet ;-> I'm still in the structural reorganizations and optimizations on the OMF records phase. Its taken vast quantities of work just to get to where I can think about starting on the really interesting stuff.

John Edwards is "under siege" "in bunker mode"

When your fellow traveler leftists are saying stuff like this, you're in trouble...

Crooks and Liars has CNN video.

TPM Cafe
The John Edwards campaign appears to be in bunker mode over the big blogger controversy. Staffers aren't answering phone calls and emails...
A music video to set the mood. Exit light, enter night... indeed ;->

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Are we ready for a Beslan in the US?

Obviously, we're not prepared. The local grade school just down the road from me isn't prepared. The PBSO would be way out of their league, and the current ultra-liberal sheriff wouldn't have a clue how to respond, even though as liberals claim: "terrorism is a law enforcement issue". It would be a bloodbath.

American Daughter
[...]Probably the last place you want to think of terrorists striking is your kids’ school. But according to two trainers at an anti-terrorism conference on the East Coast, preparations for attacks on American schools that will bring rivers of blood and staggering body counts are well underway in Islamic terrorist camps.[...]

New rules

Troll comments must have some redeeming quality, it doesn't need to be much at all but it has to be something, or they'll be deleted.

I was also being exceptionally liberal in allowing anonymous comments and not asking for word verification. Unfortunately some scumbag(s) have abused my tolerance. Anonymous comments are going to be turned off for a while until the troll storm passes.

Grossly abusive comments are also subject to deletion without notice.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Mohammed's wisdom

Over at ITM, Mohammed has written a piece that contains a very telling observation.
I can swear none of the victims in these attacks had any connection to the fighting among the rivals; like Amir Taheri said the other day, this is not a sectarian war but a war of the sectarians; fanatics and extremists start the fight but innocents who never thought of carrying arms to kill people of other faiths are paying the heavier price.

Turd Polishing

Heh, I wrote the piece below over 10 years ago. It applies today more than it ever did ;->

I can't stress this enough. Get your basic code working before launching on any major tuning efforts. Doing performance work while code is unstable, or a design is still being hammered out, is usually a complete waste of time. This is not to say you shouldn't be thinking about performance goals for a program up front as part of the design work - you should do this if the program is one where performance will be an issue. Choosing good data structures and algorithms during the design phase always pays off better than the most expertly executed tuning of poor code late in the game. Strategic algorithm and data structure choices are likely going to account for orders of magnitude improvements in a program's behavior compared to the 2X-5X that would be more common for "tactical" tuning efforts.later in the game.

We need to be realistic about optimizations too. It's nice when a project was well planned and executed from the start -- however this isn't always going to be the case. You may not have been the one to do the original design and coding work.

Often we'll be handed something that's in trouble and tasked with bailing out a behind schedule and over budget disaster -- this happens in real life all the time. In cases like this there just may not be enough time to do it right and redesign the project.

For whatever reason, management usually seems lothe to give up on what exists, and insists on pouring good money after bad. In situations like this we may be reduced to doing damage control just to get the project to a point where it works well enough to consider shipping. When this happens, any performance work falls into a category I call "turd polishing" -- the transformation of that which is truly awful into that which is simply bad.

When you're stuck with a barely functioning house of cards that is going to ship in a couple of weeks come hell or high water, priorities need to be set differently than we would under "ideal" circumstances. In a nightmare scenario like this we may be forced into doing a little bit of performance work before the code is truly stable -- because it's inevitable that the product is going to ship loaded with bugs anyway.

If you're stuck with one of these all too common situations, you're going to have to be real Draconian about triaging garden variety bugs versus performance problems. Suppose this hypothetical product from hell were a word processing package that takes 20 seconds to open up a trivial length file on a 200mhz Pentium Pro machine? The vast majority of potential users are going to consider this an unacceptable level of performance -- something NEEDS to be done about that performance problem before the product ships or the reviewers will throw up all over the product, then sales will be zilch and you'll be out of a job when the company goes bankrupt. At the same time, there's a number of garden variety functional bugs that exist in relatively obscure features -- i.e. things that just don't work right. None of these bugs is serious enough to crash the program or corrupt the user's data. This distasteful situation is one where you're going to be forced into violating the basic principle of not optimizing unstable code because the file opening problem is so severe it must be fixed. There's really only two options when faced with a disaster like this -- you can hunker down and polish that turd, or resign in disgust.

If the end is in sight, I'd grit my teeth and polish that turd. A successful turd polishing effort can actually be pretty rewarding from a perverse technical point of view. You'll learn a lot from doing it, and quite possibly be hailed as the hero who "saved the project"

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Hezbollah - all the news that's fit to fake

Bummer, busted again pimping fakes. Some Lebanese bloggers nailed'em this time. CLICK HERE

The climate model "priesthood" gatekeepers

I registered, now lets see if they'll give me "access" to examine the source code for the models and modeling tools. Apparently 3 business days are required to get an approval or denial of access.

Request software access

The following software packages are limited access. You may request access, but this does not guarantee approval. In order to request access, you must be register and be logged in.

Request access to MOM4
Request access to FMS Atmospheric Dynamical Cores
Request access to FMS AM2 Model
Request access to FRE: the FMS Runtime Environment
Request access to ESMF
Request access to Hallberg Isopycnal Model

No cross - no cash!

Big trouble brewing at the College of William and Mary. Seems the college president has ordered removed a cross that has resided in the chapel since the 1940's. Alums are a tad torqued and a palace revolt to withhold alum donations is brewing at a brisk pace.

More news here

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Hands of God - a martyr who stood tall

Go read the story of an ordinary Iraqi who should be a candidate for the Presidential Medal of Freedom. How can one abandon people of such resolve? I am humbled.

Michael Yon
[...]The bomb strapped to his body was studded with ball-bearings so that he could kill more villagers as they gathered for prayer[...]

[...]The Martyr walked up to the murderer and lunged into a bear hug, on the spot where we were now standing. The blast ripped the Martyr to pieces which fell along with pieces of the enemy. Ball-bearings shot through the alley and wounded two children, but the people in the mosque were saved. The man lay in pieces on the ground, his own children having seen how his last embrace saved the people of the village[...]

Another Martyr story HERE. This time an Iraqi policeman who did a fatal embrace with a vest bomber.

Japanese scientists find monster undersea plateau


8.8 x 1.7 x .2 == close to 3 CUBIC miles of lava. I wonder how much heat that released into the ocean and atmosphere as it developed...and its still active. 3 cubic miles of molten rock is a lot of rock and a lot of heat. A lot of CO2 and SO2 had to some out along with it too...

Spread out evenly over the land area of the planet, this would be a sheet of 2,000 degree material ~the thickness of a sheet of paper. If there are more of them, the numbers could start to get significant.

Curiously, the global warming crowd's models predicted more even warming, when in fact the warming is apparently concentrated much closer to the surface. Coincidence? I've always felt this planet's geologic history was primarily driven by three forces - impacts, volcanism, and the sun. Not too many large impacts in the recent past, but volcanism is still going strong and Mr. Sun has been more energetic the past couple hundred years.

[...]"This is presumed to be not only the biggest lava plateau in the Indian Ocean but also one of the biggest in the world," Ura said. "The vehicle also spotted hydrothermal eruptions on the northern part."

The flat plateau measures about 14 kilometers (8.8 miles) in length and 2.7 kilometers (1.7 miles) in width at a depth of about 2,700 meters (8,860 feet), according to the team from the university.

Ura said the plateau was covered with lava some 300 meters (980 feet) thick[...]

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Never thought I'd see the LA Times print a story like this

Jules vouches for Perry and says the guy is a straight shooter.

[...]After Sunni insurgents killed his father and four of his brothers last year, Fatikhan declared war against the insurgency.

He convened a summit of about a dozen prominent sheiks. From that meeting came a document called "The Awakening," in which Fatikhan persuaded all but one sheik to join him in opposition to the insurgency[...]

Back to the future - using 16 bit OS/2 as a development platform

My ongoing coding project hit a couple of rough spots recently. There were a couple of really nasty memory/pointer bugs that were proving stubborn because they weren't surfacing immediately in the DOS, Win32 or 32 bit OS/2 builds of it.

Let me state this up front - I HATE 32 bit "flat" development environments. Page granular memory protection allows far too many off-by-one bugs to slide by unnoticed for too long. Its really sucks. Not much better than old DOS in practical terms.

The old OS/2 1.X 16 bit environment OTOH, is is tremendous ally. Step off the end of a segment by as much a one byte and the hardware's segment limits let you know the instant it happens. Those segment limits are a diamond hard edge, and they're byte granular, not page granular. There is no fuzziness.

So I do a 16-bit OS/2 build of the app using an ancient 87' vintage IBM/MS C compiler and the nasty bugs shook out right away. As an added bonus, I make the thing a FAPI application, and now I've got a build that works under DOS, any version of OS/2 (in protected mode), and under Windows NT/W2K (in protected mode).

What is FAPI you say? FAPI was a mapping layer scheme IBM and MS came up with to map a significant subset of the OS/2 16 bit protected mode API onto DOS, so a 16 bit protected mode application could run under DOS. The FAPI code only adds 20-30K to the size of an application. 16 bit protected mode OS/2 apps run native under NT/W2K in their OS/2 subsystem, so in those environments the app has access to large amounts of memory. Running real mode under DOS, the app will have DOS's memory limits.

FAPI is really quite cool and lets you produce a near universal binary that automatically adapts to whatever environment it happens to be running under.