Daily Archives: May 26th, 2010

Facebook privacy in a nutshell

Facebook privacy: What you really need to know

At long last, we can finally pull back the curtain on the wizard and explain, in language that all of us can understand, how privacy on Facebook works.

Step 1

You create some content and/or upload your shit to Facebook.

Step 2

Your shit is no longer private.

Step 3

There are no takebacks. Ever. An army of mindless robots, led by their fearless leader Google, will copy, index, and archive anything you put on the internet. There it will remain, completely and utterly outside of your direct control, for the vast infinite reaches of space and time.


Tens of thousands of years from now the shit you put on the internet will be found and will be the only evidence of our culture that remains, the only shred of information that proves we ever existed at all.

The bad news is your shit is not private. The good news is that in the year 22,010 you will be revered as a God and trillions will apply your teachings to their daily lives.

Let us pray.

Venus Mariner

Mariner 1

Early in the morning at 09:26:16 Universal Time (UT) on July 27, 1962, the Mariner 1 spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

293 seconds later the Range Safety Officer issued the command to destroy the vehicle after it had veered off course. It was determined that steering the vehicle was impossible due to a malfunction and a crash was eminent, possibly in shipping lanes or an inhabited area.

The command to destroy the vehicle came only six seconds prior to the point of no return after which separation would take place and destruction would no longer be possible. The radio transponder continued to transmit signals for 64 seconds after the destruct command had been sent.

The mission of the Mariner 1 was the first ever flyby of the planet Venus. Mariner 1, if successful, would have went on to by the first man-made object to fly by another planet and would have performed missions like measure the temperatures of the clouds and surface of Venus as well as fields and particles near the planet and in interplanetary space.

Luckily there was a backup. Mariner 2 was launched just five weeks later and completed the mission and became the world’s first successful interplanetary spacecraft on December 14, 1962, when it passed within 34,833 kilometers from the surface of Venus.

This incident may not ring a bell for most people, but if you are a computer programmer chances are slightly better that you may have heard about it. It turns out that the reason Mariner 1 was a single misplaced character in a computer program!

A hyphen, a hyphen. My kingdom for a hyphen!

According to the NASA web site, “the Mariner 1 Post Flight Review Board determined that the omission of a hyphen in coded computer instructions in the data-editing program allowed transmission of incorrect guidance signals to the spacecraft.”

I feel for that computer programmer. I really do. Been there done that. 🙂

For a variety of reasons the exact cause remains murky to this day although the Post Flight Review Board did issue a finding it was at least in part due to a hyphen.

And I thought my job was high pressure. 🙂

Click here if you’d like to learn more about what we know about the failure of Mariner 1.