Daily Archives: April 11, 2013

Views from the Solar System (119)


Space Station Solar Arrays
NASA – (3 April 2013) — This close-up picture of a Zvezda Service Module array, reflecting bright rays of the sun, thus creating an artistic scene, was photographed on April 3 by one of the Expedition 35 crew members as part of an External Survey from International Space Station windows that was recently added to the crew’s task list.

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GOP, Dems maneuver for high-stakes clash over debt ceiling


By Erik Wasson – Debt-ceiling politics are back in full force.

House Democrats on Monday blasted Republicans for moving forward with legislation to prioritize debt payments in the event that the nation’s debt ceiling is exceeded. They said the GOP maneuver is a clear sign that a repeat of the brutal 2011 fiscal confrontation is looming.

The $16.8 trillion national borrowing limit has been suspended until May 19. Once the limit goes back into effect, the Treasury Department will have a matter of weeks before it can no longer avoid being unable to meet some payment obligations. more> http://tinyurl.com/d3qejvd

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The AP’s Ban on ‘Illegal Immigrant’ Will Change How We Talk About Immigration


By Alexander Abad-Santos – Starting now, you will never see the “lazy” words “illegal immigrant” in another AP story unless they’re quoting someone important saying it.

AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll explains the timely style change:

The Stylebook no longer sanctions the term “illegal immigrant” or the use of “illegal” to describe a person. Instead, it tells users that “illegal” should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally.

The AP’s decision also comes as Senators are putting the final touches on a bi-partisan plan for immigration reform. Indeed, there’s also a shift on a bigger level here: If an organization as big and influential as the AP is changing the way it uses words, will it perhaps pull or push other publications to strike that phrase? more> http://tinyurl.com/bv3y9g8

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Debugging with printf() or not …


By Colin Walls – The first real debugger for embedded software, which enabled developers to see what was happening in high level language terms, was XRAY Debugger, which was released by Microtec Research in late 1986.

The timing of this release made sense, as it was just beginning to be feasible for each programmer to have their own computer. Before that, programming was largely done on paper in the first instance, and only entered on to a computer when access was available. This meant that programmers were quite careful and would “dry run” their code by hand before going anywhere near a computer. I have a sneaking suspicion that there were a few less bugs in those days, simply because time on a computer was precious and more thought was given to the code before it was entered. Nowadays, the approach of just throwing code at a debugger is all too common. more> http://tinyurl.com/dy9ua97

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Will Bitcoins Make Me Rich?


By Farhad Manjoo – Bitcoin, of course. Bitcoin is a “digital currency” invented in 2009 by a cryptographic expert who went by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, but whose true identity remains unknown. It exists only in computers, minted at a regular rate by a network of machines around the world, and its value isn’t regulated by any government. The currency, like its creator, clings to the shadows. Bitcoins are like cash in that they aren’t tied to your identity, and transactions made with Bitcoins are irreversible and untraceable. But they’re like credit cards in that they aren’t physical.

After taking its $21.51 processing fee, the firm transferred my $1,000 to Bitfloor, one of the many online Bitcoin exchanges where people trade Bitcoins for cash. I immediately put in a purchase order, and within seconds the deal was done. I was the proud owner of 7.23883 Bitcoins, which I’d purchased for about $138 each. If I sold my coins now, my original $1,000 investment would be worth $1,700—not a bad return in less than a week’s time. more> http://tinyurl.com/d8t7gex

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CONGRESS WATCH The Iron Lady, Steve Chabot

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CONGRESS WATCH Chairman Rogers: President’s Budget is Overdue and Overstuffed, US Congress