Here is something interesting that popped in my INBOX. Years ago I had seen a flow chart that codified political speech generation for Greek parties. There was a skeleton leaving minor blanks to be filled depending the specific situation. I went ahead and coded it. You can see it here.
But this study takes it to whole other level. It is not a joke anymore.
Last night I could not sleep, so I got to watch Particle Fever that documents building the Large Hadron Collider at CERN and the search for the Higgs boson. An impressive depiction on a 20 year old project to test theories about the origin of the Universe. And it also portrays the agony of scientists that have served them theories, since this experiment alone could invalidate their 30 of 40 years of research. I mean how would you feel if you had to work for 40 years on a subject and all this was just an illusion?
To all my engineering friends: You need to see this. It may be a toy for experimental and theoretical physicists, but it is an engineering marvel.
I first heard about The Martian at the Engineering Commons podcast. Mark Watney, a Botanist / Mechanical Engineer is presumed dead from his mission crew on Mars while they evacuate base during a sandstorm. But as luck has it he survives and finds himself in the most hostile environment a human has ever endured.
Compared to what he has to face just to stay barely alive, any «survivor» reality show that you may have watched on TV is like a walk in the park. Science and Engineering save his life, even though sometimes he is lucky to stay alive in the series of hardships that face him.
Science and Engineering I get, but the sheer mental power and focus that is needed in order to stay alive in the most extreme environment for who knows how many days in an effort to just make contact back home and wait for who knows how long before a rescue mission reaches you, this is for me the dominating element of the novel.
Time to watch the movie now to get a better visual on some of the contraptions Watney devised during his reign on Mars.
systemd are not very compatible yet. But it is here to stay and one can hold back their machines for only so much. Inevitably, no matter how much you delay it, you will migrate to operating system versions that support it. So here is the path that I figured out for smooth coexistence until systemd grows on you:
Do most of if not everything that you would try to do with systemd with something like puppet or ansible by applying playbooks locally. Configuration management / orchestration software already knows how to handle systemd and they do it well. Take advantage of that then.
After a two year hiatus, I am writing again a small post for the 5th ISACA Athens Chapter Conference which I had the joy to attend in full. The previous two, I tried to attend but in 2013 I got dragged out of the conference due to an emergency and in 2014 I got sick.
The conference had a great start with Prof. D. Gritzalis delivering a speech with his usual performance (worth studying when you speak in front of an audience). His address was focused around Aristotle’s «high honors are awarded to one who kills a tyrant, but not to one who kills a thief«.
Then the floor was given to Jim Manico who spoke about the development of the OWASP Application Security Verification Standard 3.0 [pdf]. If there’s one thing to grab from Jim’s keynote, that would be «have dedicated security sprints» to address problems in your code.
Vasilis Katos gave once more a stellar performance on stuff they work on at Bournemouth University. A true loss for Greece, he traded war stories of stuff they have dealt with online regarding criminal activity. He covered stuff ranging from cyber-psychology, the fading distinction between online and offline life up to money laundering and murder.
Generally I get bored when leadership talks are given. They take more than 20 minutes to arrive to the conclusion (most of the time obvious to me) if any. But this time. Artemis Miropoulos after eating away his twenty and more minutes (of course) left the audience with two valuable pieces of advice: (a) If you feel you ever wronged someone, go and ask for forgiveness. Grudges, even for the most idiotic reason tend to stay unresolved for years and (b) take care of your profile and have one in the first place. Not having any, which in Engineering often is the result of humility, not only harms your career, but also the careers of the people working under you. You owe it at least to them.
My longtime friend from college years, Dr. Athena Bourka delivered a speech about Big Data and Privacy and the effort needed to keep those two in balance. Like many others before me, I believe this is a lost game (she doesn’t) but I too believe we need to work on this, despite the game being lost.
The closing keynote was delivered by ISACA’s Vice President Rosemary Amato. I wish I had her notes because the first five minutes summarised all of the conference and I would have written a better post than just hailing stuff I loved listening to.
That’s just about it. I tried to blog how I felt during the conference since you can find all the slides at the conference site. If you want to see what was being twitted the whole time, just inspect #isacaathconf15.
Up until a month ago I never knew about the book. Good friend Nikos mentioned it over beer. I was sold on it immediately and bought the kindle version.
I’ve read two more books that cover a lot of the political and technological situation of this era (that is when Eisenhower and Khrushchev held the helms). Where Wizards Stay Up Late about Internet’s prehistory and even more Red Plenty provide angles on what was happening in the US and the USSR at the time.
Among all the people who know who von Braun is, how many have ever heard of Korolev? A man whose name was a state secret? What was it that made him sell the Sputnik to the Premier where in fact he demanded ICBMs? And why did the USSR had such a pressing need for missiles? What was the engineering gap that the two superpowers wanted to bridge? How did the military-industrial complex, or big egos, ambitions and personal rivalries affect the space race? Because nothing was done in the name of science.
If you are like me and remember the SALT II and the SDI here is a glimpse on why these ever happened. The book comes with a lot of notes if you want to delve more into the history, biographies, physics, engineering, politics or even economics of rocketry. The book is literally a launchpad to many directions itself.
PS: How were trajectories calculated without computers? Would you be able to fly a «steampunk» drone today with a slide-rule like they did with their rockets? Think about that.