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2009 Redux (Part Two)

More highlights from 2009's blogging:

Retrograde — rail travel in different centuries.

How I got here in the end — my pre-writing work autobiography (in a dozen parts). Caution: includes memoirs of the computing industry in the early to mid 1990s.

Back to the Moon? — short answer: not with NASA.

False positives and the database state — more Jack Straw than George Orwell, unfortunately.

What have the romans done for us? — or, more accurately, what are the real civilian technological spin-offs of the space program?

Guesswork — what I thought the Apple tablet would look like in late July. (Bookmark this for January 26th if you want a good laugh, m'kay?)

Doing it wrong — on the misapplication of DNA databases for policing.

Merciless — on mercy (and the lack of it) in contemporary political discourse.

Doing our bit — what's wrong with environmental rhetoric? A personal perspective.

Chrome plated jackboots — on the political threats of the 21st century.

Goodwill — goodwill in business, and it's absence.

(I'll finish this off on by the end of the year, I hope.)



Well Charlie, I had to click on Merciless and get p.o.'d again over heath care "reform"! The Right could have promoted Tort reform and other Doctor/Business benefits but they think just saying NO will bring them back to power! The way it looks everybody will be Forced to buy the same old crappy insurance we had before.:(
And that last suicide bomber started conservatives to wring their hands because Obama didn't give a reassuring statement right away (the same people who mocked Pres. Clinton for being sympathetic!). I'm sure your not happy about the talk of no visits to the Washroom an hour before your Plane lands! Sigh, Happy New Year! Maybe the I-Slate IS coming...


"Halting State" Marches on be it ever so unsteadily.

Rail Travel: No matter who wins the next election here, it seems we are going (Finally) a high-speed betwork, similar to that in France, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain & Germany - and about time.

False Positives / Database State / Chrome-plated Jackboots.
Deeply depressing.
In Britian, the one hope is that the expense will completely sink the ID card nonsense. However, the false positive and some police officer (or plastic CSPO substitute) doesn't like you, has a petty snit, and puts your details on the database, condemning you for ever is already happening. As for how to stop it ....

Merciless - tell that to Gary MacKinnon ....


Charlie, the "What have the romans done for us?" link points not to the space-race technologies, but to the article about buying uranium on Amazon. I sincerely hope that this is an error and we do not live in the world where the answer to the question "What are the real civilian technological spin-offs of the space program?" is "tins of uranium ore + Halting State + Volume Four of Knuth's The Art of Computer Programming".


Alexandr: cut'n'paste error, now fixed.


More on space program contributions:
Digital signal processing (one of the five element sensor array elements on a Ranger or Surveyor was bad. The bad pixel got replaced by averaging the values of the adjacent pixels to replace either white or black (can't remember which directon the scale was, there were three bits of grayscale) from no usable reading from the bad pixel, in the constructed images

Digital image processing--roots the exact same as above.

Digital cameras. Sending imagery by signals from the spatially quantized on the sensors, sensors down to earth stations may or may not be what some people regard as "digital imagery," but it's certainly not film camera operations. And Landsat and Seasat etc. were sending down fully quantized both spatially and in photon flux intensity, digital imagery data.

Radiation-hardened electronics and much CMOS technology--NMOS doen't hack it in an environment that gamma rays come shooting through. The impetus to go to CMOS was from space technology. What else--oh, GaAs RF technology, used for some amount of time I think in some cell phones.... much of the tech used in cell phones, for that matter, the idea of long-distance RF communications networking that involved individual multidirectional repeaters and forwarding processing systems, as opposed to the much earlier system of long distance RF repeating tower transmissions systems which did no processing, but worked in straight line relay propagation of received signals, sent to the next tower. Before there were cell phones there were clunky satellite radios, using satellites to send signals up to and then send down somwhere else within the footprint of the satellite--or relay to another satellite and then transmit down elsewhere in the other satellite's communications' footprint.

Archaeological advances--the discovery of ancient water distribution systems in the US Southwest, some of which I think have come back into use after their discovery. The discovery of ancient water systems in the Sahara, ancient buried cities, etc. -- the development of ground penetrating radar. The sensing frequencies of the shuttle imaging radar "saw" through dry Saharan sand and dry ground elsewhere on land, down to water features, and other features. Ground penetrating radar copied the types of sensing and analysis used on SIR, using equipment people could manually set up on the ground to do non-destructive investigation of sites--as opposed to having to physically excavate and disturb the site.

Basic research into the effects of gravity etc. on biological development, manufacturing of electronics and other materials in microgravity (the old USSR had some manufacturing lines for materials on-board the Salyuts...), research and development regarding behavior of materials and development of new materials based on new knowledge of effects of gravity on production of materials, and figuring out ways to create materials in a one gee gravitational field, first produced in orbital microgravity.... examination of how defects develop in materials in gravity versus microgravity... (watching cracks grow is NOT exciting, but it can be very important... --speaking as someone who once managed an R&D project which involve watching cracks grow... hmm, that was done out of space R&D funds, thinking about it.... the six paper conference session published, had six people in the audience, who stayed for the whole session, and they were concerned with terrestrial applications, not space ones.)


Database State/Jackboots :
Still not looking too good it seems.



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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on December 29, 2009 6:52 PM.

Why I don't (usually) use Windows: Part 2 was the previous entry in this blog.

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