December 20, 2007

DARPA Grand Challenge Feed Dead

Looks like a pretty and dangerous version of Conway's Game of Life.
Nuclear waste at Hanford gives off blue light from Cherenkov radiation.

Old news, but I'm making it official: The DARPA Grand Challenge discussion feed is dead. It seems shortsighted, but DARPA deactivated the discussion forum early on November 8, the day after the challenge.

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December 11, 2007

Survey of Active Lisp Implementations

from the Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae ('mirror of Rome's magnificence')

Daniel Weinreb has quite a comprehensive survey of active Common Lisp implementations. By his criteria there are 10: ACL, ABCL, CMUCL, Clozure CL, CLISP, Corman Lisp, ECL, LispWorks, Scieneer CL and SBCL (MCL's “level of maintenance” disqualified it). [via Xach.]

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December 10, 2007

Prehistoric Lisp

santacon 2007
Also we sing and Santa down and Mark upcoat.

Gary Byers:

In a very old version of MCL, heap images had a 12-byte binary signature at their beginning.

In hex, the signature was "ABBA DABB AD00".

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December 03, 2007

I See Why William Gibson Gave Up Writing About the Future

flying a helicopter at night, blind

According to the residents of Datta Khel, a town in Pakistan's North Waziristan, three missiles streaked out of Afghanistan's Pakitka Province and slammed into a Madrassa, or Islamic school, this past June. When the smoke cleared, the Asia Times reported, 30 people were dead.

The killers were robots, General Atomics MQ-1 Predators. The AGM-114 Hellfire missiles they used in the attack were directed from a base deep in the southern Nevada desert.

-- Conn Hallinan, “U.S. Secret Air War Pulverizes Afghanistan and Iraq

War by robot proxy: America is building a world in which its citizens won't ever actually have to go to battle. Policies and associated technologies are engineered to prevent Americans from experiencing war firsthand. Though journalists once acted as civilian proxies, something changed with the war in Vietnam, when the military began to view domestic opposition to war as a kind of enemy at home, and so through exclusion, intimidation, and fastidious embedding, has successfully kept them far from the realities of the field.

-- Chris Csikszentmihályi, “Automatic Rumor

The wars of the future will not be fought on the battlefield or at sea. They will be fought in space, or possibly on top of a very tall mountain. In either case, most of the actual fighting will be done by small robots. And as you go forth today remember always your duty is clear: To build and maintain those robots. Thank you.

-- Military school Commandant's graduation address, “The Secret War of Lisa Simpson

He stated that he heard the pilot say that PPO-1 had locked up. He then noticed that the chart display on his monitor had locked up. The technician stated that he walked up to the front of the GCS and looked at the status-warning screen on PPO-2, which indicated that PPO-1 was locked up. He advised the pilot that they needed to switch control to PPO-2. He then went back to the MFW to open up another program, which showed him what processes were running on PPO-1 so that he could record this information. The technician then returned to the front of the GCS, at which time the pilot was using his cell phone to call for support. He advised the pilot again that they needed to switch control from PPO-1 to PPO-2. The technician stated that the pilot switched control to PPO-2 and that the pilot then stated that PPO-2 was also locked up.

-- NTSB report on the Border Patrol Predator crash in Arizona

UAVs can peek much more easily and cheaply than satellites and fixed cameras can. Although it is possible to peer into someone's back garden with Google Earth, the images are not “live”—some are years old. Live satellite images can be impaired by clouds and darkness. A UAV, however, is more flexible. It can get closer to its target, move to new locations faster and hover almost silently above a property or outside a window. And the tiny ones that are coming will be able to fly inside buildings. Before long paparazzi will put cameras in them to snatch pictures of celebrities.

-- The Economist, “The fly's a spy

Three people at the D.C. event independently described a row of spheres, the size of small berries, attached along the tails of the big dragonflies -- an accoutrement that Louton could not explain. And all reported seeing at least three maneuvering in unison.

“Dragonflies never fly in a pack,” he said.

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership for Civil Justice said her group is investigating witness reports and has filed Freedom of Information Act requests with several federal agencies. If such devices are being used to spy on political activists, she said, “it would be a significant violation of people's civil rights.”

-- The Washington Post, “Dragonfly or Insect Spy?

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