Jeff Sexton

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Apollo

Buzz Aldrin signed photoImage by Vaguely Artistic via Flickr

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/19/opinion/19wolfe.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

"Three months after the landing, however, in October 1969, I began to wonder ... I was in Florida, at Cape Kennedy, the space program’s launching facility, aboard a NASA tour bus. The bus’s Spielmeister was a tall-fair-and-handsome man in his late 30s ... and a real piece of lumber when it came to telling tourists on a tour bus what they were looking at. He was so bad, I couldn’t resist striking up a conversation at the end of the tour.

"Sure enough, it turned out he had not been put on Earth for this job. He was an engineer who until recently had been a NASA heat-shield specialist. A baffling wave of layoffs had begun, and his job was eliminated. It was so bad he was lucky to have gotten this stand-up Spielmeister gig on a tour bus. Neil Armstrong and his two crew mates, Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins, were still on their triumphal world tour ... while back home, NASA’s irreplaceable team of highly motivated space scientists — irreplaceable! — there were no others! ...anywhere! ... You couldn’t just run an ad saying, “Help Wanted: Experienced heat-shield expert” ... the irreplaceable team was breaking up, scattering in nobody knows how many hopeless directions."

Several years ago I read an article that seriously questioned whether or not a project on the scale of Apollo was even possible today. It may well not be. It's an odd thing for someone from my generation to consider; that, for all sorts of reasons, the time and achievements of Apollo represent a high point, the very best, a peak of technology, will, project organization, and plain quality... Just memory, never to come again.
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Toast

This is a two slice toaster.Image via Wikipedia

The Toaster Project:

http://www.thetoasterproject.org/

"So are toasters ridiculous? It depends on the scale at which you look. Looking close up, a desire (for toast) and the fulfilment of that desire is totally reasonable. Perhaps the majority of human activity can be reduced to a desire to make life more comfortable for ourselves, and has thus far led to being able to buy a toaster for £3.99 [among other achievements]. But looking at toasters in relation to global industry, at a moment in time when the effects of our industry are no longer trivial compared to the insignificant when our, they seem unreasonable. I think our position is ambiguous - the scale of industry involved in making a toaster [etc.] is ridiculous but at the same time the chain of discoveries and small technological developments that occurred along the way make it entirely reasonable."

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Monday, July 20, 2009

What Could Go Wrong?

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/07/20/eatr_veggie/

The company explains: "Despite the far-reaching reports that this includes 'human bodies,' the public can be assured that the engine Cyclone has developed to power the EATR runs on fuel no scarier than twigs, grass clippings and wood chips."

...

Well quite. Cyclone CEO Harry Schoell further assures: “We completely understand the public’s concern about futuristic robots feeding on the human population, but that is not our mission."

Whew! That's a relief!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

AuthBasicAuthoritative

Debian OpenLogoImage via Wikipedia

Quite some time ago I posted an entry here about configuring Apache to authenticate against an NT4 Windows domain using PAM. That was on an older Fedora box. The original post is here:

http://jsexton0.blogspot.com/2007/10/subversion-fedora-pam-winbindd-apache.html

On a new Debian box, a very simular configuration failed. The Apache server recorded this message in its error log:

Internal error: pcfg_openfile() called with NULL filename

It turns out that later versions of Apache expect a users file even if the authentication method does not use one. The fix is to add an additional directive to protected block in Apache's configuration file.

AuthBasicAuthoritative Off

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