Not yet masters of our own planet

The US can go to Jupiter but they can’t get men out from some ice in Antarctica.

There is an article in this month’s National Geographic about a plane which crashed in the Antarctic in 1946.  They were claimed by some to be the last casualties of WW2 since this happened the day before Truman declared casualties over. Three men died in the crash of the plane which was on a mission to map Thurston – some random part of Antarctica.

1946 crash, three dead marked on the wing

The casualties are still where they were when the plane crashed – hundreds of feet of ice above them now. The issue now is that the glacier they crashed in is melting. The bodies will be washed into the sea in a few years when the glacier melts and the memory and the ‘grave’ will be lost forever.

How difficult is it to retrieve people from under ice as compared to going to Jupiter? Is it a case of this not being sexy enough to get funding?

Edit: After much snooping around I finally found a reference to this online here. It is a regular sensationalized American news report. You have been warned.

How to Use TestFlight to distribute Test apps in Beta

Found a useful, quick, how-to list for using Testflight to share your beta app. Cross-posting from here.

1. Create an account on TestFlight (http://testflightapp.com) and with “Developer” option checked.

2. Log in to the TestFlight web site and “Add a team” for your app.

3. Add teammates, either testers or developers. (PS. Recruiting testers from public is also available)

4. Ask your teammates to register their iOS devices following the instructions in the Email. (Do it on their iOS devices)

5. Once they accepted to being the teammates and registered their devices, you will be able to see their devices information such as device model, iOS version, and UDID.

6. Add their devices/UDIDs to your Provisioning Portal -> Devices.

7. Modify the Ad-Hoc provisioning profile to include the newly added devices and install the updated provisioning profile to your XCode.

8. Build your app in Ad-Hoc mode and locate the YourAppName.ipa.
. For XCode 4: http://support.testflightapp.com/kb/tutorials/how-to-create-an-ipa-xcode-4
. For XCode 3: http://support.testflightapp.com/kb/tutorials/how-to-create-an-ipa-xcode-3

9. Log in to TestFlight web site, click “Upload Build” and follow the instructions to finish uploading the app.

10. Your teammates will be able to install the app you just uploaded to their devices with TestFlight app on their iOS devices.

Of course some small changes might be there over the last year with new releases, but the process remains roughly the same.

Why girls code in some places and not in others

Programming has always been seen as a boy-thing in the US and UK. Wendy Hall explains why Indian girls seem to not suffer from this gross and inaccurate generalization. What went wrong in the UK/US?

she says:

In earlier years, up to a third of the students studying computer science at the university had been women. But in the mid-1980s the new personal computers such as the Sinclair ZX Spectrum and the BBC Micro began to emerge. There was very little you could do on them except program in BASIC or assembly code, or play the limited set of games that was available for them – mainly war games. As a result, they were marketed as toys for boys and we managed to dissuade 50 per cent of the population from working with computers in the space of half a decade. We’ve never recovered from that. The same is true in the US and many other parts of Europe.

I was in India in January. There, young girls see computing as a career destination of choice and are so excited about the possibilities of being part of this industry. I was privileged to spend time with some wonderful young women who made up 50 per cent of the computer science class in the college I was visiting. We just dream of such numbers here in the UK.

Full Article

Is it time for Wikipedia to become a primary source of Information?

Philip Roth, author of the Human Stain, faced a weird situation recently. He wanted to make some changes to the Wikipedia article about his own book – which claimed the work was “allegedly inspired by the life of the writer Anatole Broyard.” According to Philip, however, the work was inspired “rather, by an unhappy event in the life of my late friend Melvin Tumin, professor of sociology at Princeton for some thirty years.”

So, like any normal person, Philip went to the wiki page of the book to change the error about his own book and its inspiration. Surprisingly, the changes were declined with the following explanation from the Wikipedia admin:

“I understand your point that the author is the greatest authority on their own work, but we require secondary sources.”

 That is – Philip’s thoughts about his own book are not valid on Wikipedia unless the same thoughts were published elsewhere as being said by him (or someone else!).

So Philip wrote a long open letter  published in the New Yorker about this situation and the real inspiration behind his book. With this as a secondary source, the changes were made to the Wikipedia entry about his book.

Should Wikipedia, with its authority as the one of the top sources of information (or in some cases mis-information) start acknowledging the value of first hand entries about topics making Wikipedia a primary source of information? Should they follow the examples of Twitter and the like and have verified accounts for people who wish to write about topics for which they are the primary source?

Of course, this would open a whole new can of worms – since, for example, a politician might use this to carefully control what is written about him/her on the site. But Wikipedia is already quite a political organisation and many topics are locked to further addition of allegations and the like which might have (many) secondary sources.

What are your thoughts?

I came across this news story on Slashdot.