Now blogging at diego's weblog. See you over there!

code that kills

Tangentially related to my ethics and computer science rant from some time ago, Scott Rosenberg has an interesting article in Salon on the problems of software on military systems. Quote:

"When everyone decides for themselves what frequency to use, what protocols to use, what standards to use, then you get systems that don't talk to each other. And it's killing us."

That sort of lament is a staple at technology conferences, and its dire language is usually a matter of executive hyperbole: Somewhere in corporate America, perhaps, a bottom line is breathing its last, and we're supposed to care.

But when the speaker is in uniform, and the incompatible systems he's describing belong to the armed forces, then you sit up straight in your seat and realize that the words are meant all too literally. As Adm. Michael Sharp of the U.S. Navy went on to say, in a talk last month in Salt Lake City, "Software errors, timing errors, can get real critical -- killing the wrong people, or not killing the right people and leaving our people unprotected."

Here's David Cook, senior research scientist at Aegis Technologies: "It has been said that, without software, the F-16C is nothing more than a $15 million lawn dart. There are stories that I know for a fact of airplanes that have been flying cross-country that land at a base that's not where they're supposed to land, and while they're there, somebody modifies the software. And the airplane flat stops in midair when they turn on the radar unit. Why? Because there are incompatible versions of this certain piece of radar software, one of which they never thought would be on that particular model."

$15 million lawn darts indeed. Tiny problem is, lawn darts usually don't run around at Mach 2, or come loaded with AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles. And that's just one example...

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on May 12, 2004 at 12:14 PM

controversy and ticket sales

Related to this post (and this one), the New York Times today has an article on the, um, "controversy" surrounding the movie. Funny (but not ha-ha funny) that a crucial element isn't mentioned at all: that Fox might be glad that groups are fighting each other over this movie, creating free publicity and so on, or that maybe they even fostered it a bit. Hm.

Posted by diego on May 12, 2004 at 10:54 AM

back, yes, maybe

As I continue struggling between recovering my workflow and just plain working, yesterday I paid a bit of attention to the weblog and I noticed that there were a couple of spam comments, and I deleted them. But then Movable Type's feature of "show last x days" bit me back. Now when I checked there was only a blank slate (Last post was 8 days ago). Which is appropriate I guess.

So let's try this again, shall we? :)

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on May 12, 2004 at 10:47 AM

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