Spammers are targeting Facebook photo albums

November 30th, 2015

Facebook photo spam

Facebook photo spam

Over the past few days I’ve noticed ads inserted into my Facebook feed. Of course, “Sponsored Ads” are nothing new, but these new ads appear as photographs in which one of my Facebook friends has been tagged by one of their friends. The photos are added as a new photo album to the unsuspecting Facebook user’s album set. Then a number of photos are tagged with that user’s friends. Each of the user’s friends are tagged in the very same spot in the photograph, which should be a good clue to Facebook that the photo is suspicious.
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No Damned Computer is Going to Tell Me What to Do – The Story of the Naval Tactical Data System, NTDS

November 29th, 2015

This is an excellent (and extensive) history of the Navy’s Naval Tactical Data System (NTDS), the computerized mapping of threats. I worked with NTDS in the Navy but never knew how its development not only revolutionized naval warfare but also spurred the development of modern digital computers.

It was 1962. Some of the prospective commanding officers of the new guided missile frigates, now on the building ways, had found out that the Naval Tactical Data System (NTDS) was going to be built into their new ship, and it did not set well with them. Some of them came in to our project office to let us know first hand that no damned computer was going to tell them what to do. For sure, no damned computer was going to fire their nuclear tipped guided missiles. They would take their new ship to sea, but they would not turn on our damned system with its new fangled electronic brain.

We would try to explain to them that the new digital system, the first digitized weapon system in the US Navy, was designed to be an aid to their judgment in task force anti-air battle management, and would never, on its own, fire their weapons. We didn’t mention to them that if they refused to use the system, they would probably be instantly removed from their commands and maybe court martialed because the highest levels of Navy management wanted the new digital computer-driven system in the fleet as soon as possible, and for good reason.

Secretary of the Navy John B. Connally, a former World War II task force fighter director officer, and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Arleigh A. Burke were solidly behind the new system, and were pushing the small NTDS project office in the Bureau of Ships to accomplish in five years what would normally take thirteen years. The reason behind their push was Top Secret, and thus not known even by many naval officers and senior civil servants in the top hierarchy of the navy. Senior navy management did not want the Soviet Union to know that task force air defense exercises of the early 1950s had revealed that the US surface fleet could not cope with expected Soviet style massed air attacks using new high speed jet airplanes and high speed standoff missiles.

Source: First-Hand:No Damned Computer is Going to Tell Me What to DO – The Story of the Naval Tactical Data System, NTDS – Engineering and Technology History Wiki

Scientists have figured out how to shock the salt out of seawater – ScienceAlert

November 29th, 2015


Researchers have developed a system that uses an electric shockwave to extract salt and other impurities out of salty or contaminated water, and say it could be scaled up for use in desalination or water purification plants, or be used to clean the vast amounts of dirty water produced by fracking.

Known as ‘shock electrodialysis’, the technique applies an electrically driven shockwave to a constant stream of flowing water. The current interacts with the charged salt particles, causing a stream of salty water to be pushed aside and separated from a stream of fresh water, and these are then funnelled into separate pipes.

Source: Scientists have figured out how to shock the salt out of seawater – ScienceAlert

Wake judge rules against teen facing off against NC on climate change | News & Observer

November 27th, 2015

News and Observer reporter Anne Blythe wrote a follow-up story on Judge Morgan ruling against Hallie’s climate change petition case. Perfectionist that she is, Hallie was really nervous about how she thought her interview went but was pleased with the final result.

I was also glad that Anne’s story mentioned the outrageous attacks some have launched against our daughter and her efforts. Hallie could truly care less about them and Kelly and I find them sad. I really only mentioned them here in my blog because I think these folks really don’t understand how this makes them look. I’m sure their parents taught them manners, so they would certainly be above spewing hate towards a kid.

The truth is that Hallie is a tough, determined young woman posessing more self-confidence than many adults. She can handle herself just fine. And besides, when you pick a fight with a kid you’ve pretty much already lost, right?

Hallie Turner, the 13-year-old girl who took North Carolina to court over climate change, received disappointing news the day before Thanksgiving.

A Wake County Superior Court judge ruled against her effort to overturn a December 2014 decision by the N.C. Environmental Management Commission.

But with the pluck of a teen wise beyond her years, Hallie said Friday the ruling from Judge Mike Morgan had not deterred her.

“It’s an issue that I’m always going to continue trying to make a difference in,” Hallie said during a phone interview. “There’s lots of next steps that can be taken.”

Hallie, an eighth-grader at Ligon Middle School who has been marching and rallying against global warming since the 4th grade, is one of a number of teens taking their states and politicians to court over climate change.

Source: Wake judge rules against teen facing off against NC on climate change | News & Observer

Fun with a green screen

November 27th, 2015

Travis's green screen setup. Lights are helpful but not necessary.

Travis’s green screen setup. Lights are helpful but not necessary.

Since the office was officially working a half-day Wednesday due to it being the day before Thanksgiving, I decided not to make the monotonous one-mile commute into the office and instead worked from home. Being geographically dispersed, my team meets daily via videoconference and I decided I was done with putting the walls of our spare bedroom on display for my coworkers to see.

The day before a holiday called for something a little more whimsical, so I hatched a plan. I found some free software for the Mac called CamTwist that can do chroma key. Chroma key is the “green screen” technique that TV studios use to insert backgrounds behind their reporters and presenters. A few years ago our son, Travis, got a green cloth that makes a decent green screen. I borrowed his green cloth, set it up behind my office desk, fired up CamTwist, and displayed a holiday-appropriate scene behind me of wild turkeys in the woods. My coworkers loved it!
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Thanksgiving at sea

November 26th, 2015

It was Thanksgiving in 1991, a time near the end of my tour aboard the USS Elliot (DD-967). We were nearing the end of our three-month Persian Gulf deployment, bored nearly shitless with endless tacking around the warm bathtub known as the Persian Gulf. I was on the far side of the world from my home, sick of looking at skies that were either hazy with desert heat and sand or blackened with the smoke from still-burning fires in Iraq’s oil fields. It seemed the end of my enlistment couldn’t get here fast enough.

In spite of my homesickness, in spite of the boredom of the Gulf, in spite of all the griping I could have been doing that day, I knew down on the mess decks awaited a scrumptious Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, ham, stuffing, and the works. I was healthy and fit and (like my shipmates) took great cooks, air conditioning and my bed with me everywhere I deployed.
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Judge rules against Hallie in climate change petition case

November 26th, 2015

We got word yesterday from Hallie’s legal team that Judge Michael Morgan has ruled against her request to have her petition heard by the Environmental Management Commission. While this is disappointing, it is by no means the end of her environmental activism. We do not have all of the details yet as the ruling has yet to be completed but we expect to have more details after the first week of December.

A Bold Future that Wasn’t: the NS Savannah

November 26th, 2015

NS Savannah

NS Savannah (Photo by Maritime Park Association)

Behold the future.

The NS Savannah was the world’s first nuclear-powered merchant ship. She steamed for over 400,000 miles from 1962 to 1970 as the flagship of President Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” initiative, but her operational costs, meager cargo capacity, and the extensive training required of the crews doomed her. She now resides at Pier 13 in Baltimore awaiting the removal of her reactor and can be toured upon request.

This site gives you a virtual-reality look at this forgotten engineering and design masterpiece. It’s a walk back in time to the more hopeful, futuristic outlook of the late 1950s. I’d love to see it in person (and it can be done by following the instructions in this FAQ list).

Welcome to the Nuclear Ship Savannah, the world’s first nuclear-powered merchant ship.

Savannah was a signature element of President Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace program. She was constructed as a joint project of the former Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and the Maritime Administration. She operated from 1962 to 1965 in experimental service, at which time the AEC issued her commercial operating license number NS-1. Savannah continued in demonstration service as a cargo ship until 1970 when she ended her active career. She was defueled in 1971 and her reactor made permanently inoperable in 1975-76. About 95% of the power plant is intact and remains onboard ship. Savannah is still licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC is the successor to the AEC), and will remain so until nuclear decommissioning.

Source: NS Savannah – Virtual Tour

Hallie’s activism brings out the haters

November 15th, 2015

Our 13-year-old daughter Hallie has always been concerned about the environment and wanted to do something to help. As parents, Kelly and I have been supportive her pursuit of what she believes in. Her suit against the North Carolina Environmental Management Commission is but one action of a long list of activism she has participated in. As a family we have always worked to make the world a better place and Hallie’s taking up that mantle makes Kelly and me very, very proud.

Predictably and sadly, many who choose to ignore the overwhelming evidence that humans are affecting our climate have also chosen to attack Hallie (and by extension, Kelly and me), rather than refute the evidence or argument. I know the climate-change deniers are out there – they are a small but vocal minority – but I am still shocked at the level of meanness and rage that our kind and loving daughter seems to have stirred in them. This is just over the top.

A sample of comments:

ProudlyUnaffiliated, Independent Weekly comment:
“Whoever is behind getting this bright, energetic girl to do this ought to burn in hell. The shame of co-opting children to push this fraudulent, collectivist ideology has never been greater. This is child abuse, which should be punished severely.”

Paul Louis Hinz, News and Observer comment:
“Libtard logic= no logic at all! Well on the way to being a terrific little commie! Just like your mom and dad!”
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Hallie sues NC to hear her climate change petition

November 14th, 2015
N&O photo by Harry Lynch

N&O photo by Harry Lynch

Update 26 Nov: Judge Morgan has ruled against Hallie. Details in a few weeks.

It’s been an interesting few days here. For the past two years, Hallie has been involved with an effort to bring about some state regulations on climate-change pollution. With the help of an Oregon-based nonprofit called Our Childrens’ Trust, Hallie filed a petition with the state Environmental Management Commission, urging it to regulate greenhouse gases. In spite of the petition meeting all the requirements to be heard by the full commission, Hallie’s petition was rejected outright by the chair without due consideration, thus the lawsuit.

Yesterday was her day in court, appearing before Superior Court judge Michael Morgan. Hallie has a great team of attorneys (Gayle Tuch, Ryke Longest, and Shannon Arata) working pro-bono to move this case forward and they vigorously pressed her case before Judge Morgan. Our whole family was in attendance as well as Hallie’s maternal grandparents, who drove down from Virginia to surprise her.
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