You Sank My Battleship and Other News

I’ve got a collection of things I’ve bookmarked that I thought were interesting, but none of them together were interesting enough for a blog post. Going under the belief that a great many mediocre stories = one good story, I present to you with this omnibus post.

Last month Slashdot ran a story about the Royal Navy converting a number of submarine systems to a custom combination of Windows 2000(!) Server and Windows XP. Those would be nuclear submarines, the ones that make a big “boom” sound when dropped. I read it and remember thinking no good can come of this. The first post on Slashdot summed it up nicely: Blue Submarine of Death.

What you would expect to happen with such a system has very quickly happened. A virus has crippled communications systems of 75% of all Royal Navy ships. The Navy has encouragingly stated navigation and weapons systems are OK, though sometimes its hard to tell - I can count on an alarming number of fingers the Windows users I’ve talked to whose machines were “totally secure”, completely unaware that they were typing on a botnet zombie. One sailor described the situation as “Utter chaos”, and they apparently have to use their cell phones to register as on board with the fleet. On the positive side, at least they didn’t have to be towed back to port.

ESRI (from Slashgeo) has posted the new features for ArcGIS 9.3.1. Among the highlights are an upgrade install (you don’t have to uninstall the old version), a new optimized mapserver document (OMD), and performance improvements that allow ArcGIS Server to outperform ArcIMS. Yes, the new technology catching up to the speed of the old technology was listed prominently as a feature.

The Obama administration has asked Scott McNealy, co-founder of Sun, to produce a report on creating “a more secure and cost effective government is through open source technologies and products.” I agree with Ars Technica that McNealy wasn’t the most obvious choice for this task, but I think its a very encouraging step in the right direction.

From the GIS Lounge, Heidelberg, Germany has a 3D mapping site based entirely on OGC standards. It is based on the OpenGIS Web 3D Service discussion paper and uses a Java applet on the client side. Very cool stuff.

Jeff Atwood’s fantastic Coding Horror blog has a great summary of the 2009 CWE/SANS Top 25 Most Dangerous Programming Errors. If you write code, particularly for the web, you should at least skim it.

Finally, via Slashgeo, check out this great visualization of OpenStreetMap edits in 2008.

OSM 2008: A Year of Edits from ItoWorld on Vimeo.

I hope open geodata, both its licensing and community aspects, continues to have another huge year in 2009.