World's oldest Computer rebooted

Computing has come a long way. Take a look at this clip of the Harwell Dekatron, otherwise known as the Wolverhampton Instrument for Teaching Computation (WITCH). The supercomputer from 1951 was restored over a period of three years by experts at England's National Museum of Computing in Bletchley Park. This week, they rebooted the beast in front of reporters. And what a beast it is. The world's oldest original working digital computer is the size of a garage door and resembles something from a campy science-fiction flick about Martian invaders. True its functionality is rather modest by today's standards (it can multiply two numbers in less than 10 seconds, for example), but darned if it isn't impressive to watch. Lights blink, tubes whir and switches flicker. The BBC's Mark Gregory reports (at 13:55 in the broadcast) that the computer weighs about two and a half tons and comes from a time when there were really just a handful of supercomputers in the world. Restoration expert Kevin Morrell explains that "the alternative at this stage using mechanical calculators and slide rules." Morrell continued: "This machine was built at Harwell, which is the U.K.'s atomic energy research establishment." The computer was built to take the tedious but necessary work of performing calculations away from the mathematicians and let them think about the big picture. The WITCH wasn't fast, but it was accurate. And when you're dealing with anything atomic, accuracy is kind of important. credit: yahoo news

Military Secrets Revealed by prince William's Pic

Photos released yesterday on the Royals' revamped website were intended to give the public a behind-the-scenes look at Prince William's daily routine as an RAF search and rescue helicopter pilot. However, upon closer look, the photos actually revealed much more. Sensitive information, usernames and passwords could be seen on computer screens, documents on his desk and on a flier hanging behind his head while he was attending a briefing. The images were taken by a Ministry of Defense photographer at RAF Valley, in Anglesey, north Wales, where the prince is based. Originally intended to be used as a PR initiative highlighting his role as part of the RAF Search and Rescue squadron, they've now turned into an embarrassing and sticky situation. Four of the 10 photographs included in the blog post called, "A day in the life of Flight Lieutenant Wales," had to be removed and replaced with new images where the sensitive information is blurred. "A number of photographs of Flight Lieutenant Wales were taken while on duty working as a helicopter search and rescue pilot at RAF Valley on Anglesey, Wales," an MoD spokesman told The Guardian. "The passwords and user names shown have now been reset as a precaution and we are satisfied the images do not contravene security regulations." The images include shots of the duke receiving his morning briefing in RAF Valley's Operations Room, shots of him thoroughly inspecting his Sea King helicopter, grabbing a quick cup of coffee in the crew's kitchen and the prince making the bed he sleeps in during his 24-hour shifts on base. One thing is for sure: The living quarters on base are not nearly as lavish as the decadent halls of Buckingham Palace. The duchess also added new photos to the Royals' website, but since they are nature photos she snapped during a visit to the Research Station at Danum Valley, Borneo, Malaysia, they have not posed any problems. The trip took place during her Diamond Jubilee tour in September with the Duke of Cambridge to South East Asia and the South Pacific.

Flooding to Save

The Colorado River cascaded in a flood from the Glen Canyon Dam Monday (Nov. 19), the first step in an ongoing experiment to rebuild beaches and fish habitat in the iconic Grand Canyon. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar opened the dam's bypass tubes at noon Mountain Time, releasing a spectacular display of gushing water. The six-day flood started ramping up Sunday night (Nov. 18) at 11 p.m. MT, and the peak-flow of 42,000 cubic feet (1,189 cubic meters) per second is scheduled to last from 9 p.m. Monday night through 10 p.m. on Tuesday, according to a statement from the Bureau of Reclamation. "This is truly an historic milestone for the Colorado River, Grand Canyon National Park, and the United States Bureau of Reclamation," Salazar said. "This new protocol developed by Reclamation will protect both the Grand Canyon and the delivery of water for communities, agriculture and industry," he said. The water release from Glen Canyon Dam is the first of many simulated floods planned by the Department of the Interior through 2020. The floods, or "high-flows," are an effort to restore the river's natural environment for both tourists and wildlife in the Grand Canyon. "These high-flow releases, a new paradigm in water management, recognize that there are hugely beneficial impacts to river ecology from releasing the requisite water needed downstream in large pulses, rather than uniformly throughout the year," said U.S. Geological Survey Director Marcia McNutt. Officials hope to deposit sediment high along the walls of the Grand Canyon, away from the river's reach at lower water levels. Before Glen Canyon Dam's completion in 1966, the Colorado River supplied more than 90 percent of the sediment forming the canyon's beaches and sandbars, popular stops for tourists and river rafters.

Sta Monica got Christmas Cancelled??

A federal judge in Santa Monica ruled on Monday against a church group's right to reopen a nativity scene display in a public park. The ruling comes after a contentious battle between the church group and one prominent atheist in the area, Damon Vix. Just last year, Vix put up a banner with images of Santa Claus, Jesus, King Triton and the Devil that asked "what myths do you see?" right next to the church group's nativity display. The large nativity display, which depicts 14 religious scenes, and Vix's banner, were located in a public city park, not on the private grounds of the church. The argument between the church group and the atheists last year resulted in a great deal of vandalism and upheaval in the community. This year, anticipating the same result, the city of Santa Monica barred both the church group and the secular groups from displaying anything at all. In suing the city, the church had hoped to argue to the court that it should have the right to display in the park as part of its first amendment rights. The judge, however, solved the problem by ruling that any kind of unmanned display in the park is illegal, religious or otherwise. 'It's a sad, sad commentary on the attitudes of the day that a nearly 60-year-old Christmas tradition is now having to hunt for a home, something like our savior had to hunt for a place to be born because the world was not interested," said Hunter Jameson, the head of the nonprofit Santa Monica Nativity Scene Committee in an interview with the Daily Mail. The argument between the church and Vix goes back nearly three years, when Vix placed a banner next to a booth in Palisades Park belonging to the church that depicted Jesus' birth. The banner read: 'Religions are all alike-founded on fables and mythologies,' a quote from Thomas Jefferson. The other side read 'Happy Solstice.'

Wal Mart to Stop Protests

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), hoping to head off worker protests at its stores over the Thanksgiving holiday, filed an unfair-labor-practice complaint against a union the company says is behind the protest plans. The complaint, which Wal-Mart filed Thursday against the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, asks the National Labor Relations Board to issue an injunction against worker rallies and pickets that have been staged at Wal-Mart stores and warehouses across the country for at least the last six months. The protesting workers, who complain of low wages, short hours and poor working conditions, are members of OUR Walmart, or Organization United for Respect at Walmart, which was started in 2010 with financial support and advice from the UFCW. The union has been involved in previous efforts to represent Wal-Mart workers. The union says that today OUR Walmart is "its own nonprofit organized by Wal-Mart workers and funded through dues that are voluntarily contributed," said UFCW spokeswoman Jill Cashen. OUR Walmart has called for protests at 1,000 Wal-Mart stores on the day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday, which is one of Wal-Mart's busiest shopping days. Wal-mart says OUR Walmart is seeking union recognition and so by federal law can protest for only 30 days before collecting signatures to hold an employee vote, which it hasn't done. "We cannot allow the UFCW to continue to intentionally seek to create an environment that could directly and adversely impact our customers and associates," said David Tovar, a Wal-Mart spokesman.
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