Derek Deville is a rocket hobbyist. A lot of us have messed with Estes Model Rockets, which start at about $13 for a pre-assembled rocket that can go 800 feet straight up. Derek's rockets are on a whole different level. His personal rocket altitude record is closer to 33 miles, which is about 150 times as high as the entry-level Estes rocket -- and takes more than 150 times as much effort to build and launch. Derek's employer, Syntheon LLC, helps him out a lot with tools and materials. Lots of other people help him, too. Derek has been mentioned on Slashdot before. This video is a chance to get to know him a bit better. And anyone who shoots rockets to the top of the Stratosphere for fun is worth knowing, right?
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
itwbennett writes "Server naming is well-trod ground on Slashdot. But as new generations enter the workforce, they're relearning the fundamentals of what makes a good scheme. Can servers named after characters from The Simpsons or The Howard Stern show stand the test of time? If you name your servers after the Seven Dwarfs, can you have any doubt that Grumpy will cause you trouble? Striking a balance between fun and functional is harder than it seems."
miller60 writes "Actor George Takei recently helped the Facebook infrastructure team troubleshoot issues with its MySQL databases. Takei, a veteran of the original Star Trek series, now has more than 1.2 million fans on Facebook. Takei recently noticed that some status updates were missing or appearing inconsistently. That led to a dialogue with the Facebook Engineering team, which gave Takei a shout-out on its latest blog post, which also included some technical discussion of Facebook's challenges in scaling MySQL (a topic of previous discussion here at Slashdot)."
cylonlover writes "When Chaotic Moon Labs debuted the Kinect-powered Board of Awesomeness — and its mind-reading offspring, the Board of Imagination — that was apparently just a preview of a more practical product the company had in the works. Grocery store chain Whole Foods recently gave a demonstration of Chaotic Moon's latest device, which uses the same technology in a self-propelled shopping cart. The 'Smarter Cart,' as it's been named, can detect what items are placed in it, match those to a shopping list, and even follow shoppers around the store on its own."
MrSeb writes "Japanese researchers have created a hand-held gun that can jam the words of speakers who are more than 30 meters (100ft) away. The gun has two purposes, according to the researchers: At its most basic, this gun could be used in libraries and other quiet spaces to stop people from speaking — but its second application is a lot more chilling. The researchers were looking for a way to stop 'louder, stronger' voices from saying more than their fair share in conversation. The paper reads: 'We have to establish and obey rules for proper turn-taking when speaking. However, some people tend to lengthen their turns or deliberately interrupt other people when it is their turn in order to establish their presence rather than achieve more fruitful discussions. Furthermore, some people tend to jeer at speakers to invalidate their speech.' In other words, this speech-jamming gun was built to enforce 'proper' conversations."
Pwnie Express is a cute name for this tiny (and easily hidden) group of Pen Test devices. Their website says, 'Our initial hardware offering, the Pwn Plug, is the first-to-market commercial penetration testing drop box platform. This low-cost plug-and-play device is designed for remote security testing of corporate facilities, including branch offices and retail locations. A security professional or service provider can ship this device to a corporate facility and conduct a security test over the Internet without travel expenses.' Hardware buffs will recognize this unit as a SheevaPlug, but the value-add is that it's preloaded with Ubuntu Linux and and a rich suite of intrusion/testing tools. The company's 'Founder and CEO and everything else' is Dave Porcello. The video is an interview with Dave, in which he shows off and demonstrates some Pwnie Express products.
An anonymous reader writes "Symantec has identified a Malware embedded into a Iranian recipe app for Android that destroys images stored on a camera by stamping the cardboard image of Khomeini on it. The controversy stems from a bizarre February 1 ceremony that sought to recreate Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's triumphant return to Tehran in 1979 after 14 years of exile. Immediately fueling a firestorm of ridicule drawing a cult following online. The threat only appears to be focused in App for Farsi and only in third party app markets, according to Symantec."
An anonymous reader writes "If you're sick of playing Angry Birds, or don't like touchscreen controls, there is now an alternative if you don't mind some construction. mbed have posted full instructions and a parts list for creating your very own USB slingshot, adding a physical element to playing the game. You need a decent branch for the slingshot, a microcontroller, USB connector, accelerometer, and a rubber stretch sensor. The C++ code is provided, and as a weekend project I can see this being pretty satisfying to create."
People who hear about the Seattle Pinball Museum tend to say things like, "Seems like a must-visit destination in Seattle," and, "Why did no one tell me about this place!??!" Timothy Lord, Slashdot Editor and Video Host, agrees. Watch the video to see a huge grin on Timothy's face. And if you ever get to the Seattle Pinball Museum yourself, you'll probably have a smile on your face, too.
alexj33 writes "Slovaks have been voting overwhelmingly in favor of naming a new pedestrian and cycling bridge near their capital after 1980s US action film and TV star Chuck Norris. The two other top names in the running for the bridge, which will span the Morava river and cross the border to Austria, were Maria Theresa after an Austro-Hungarian empress and the Devinska cycling bridge in honor of the closest village."
An anonymous reader writes "Just when you thought the Apple knockoff trade in China couldn't get any more ridiculous, Chinese Police recently seized 681 "Apple iPhone" branded gas stoves in the city of Wuhan. Yep, that's right, some folks are peddling gas grills and are trying to made the product more appealing by stamping an Apple logo alongside the 'iPhone' moniker on the front."
cold fjord writes that Assistant Professor and lecturer Dave Conz has an interesting article at Slate, from which: "I believe beer is the perfect lens through which to examine innovation, which is why I teach a senior capstone course at Arizona State University called the Cultural and Chemical History of Beer. ... Home brewing is part of a broad spectrum of DIY activities including amateur astronomy, backyard biodiesel brewing, experimental architecture, open-source 3-D printing, even urban farming. ... Many of these pastimes can lead to new ideas, processes, and apparatus that might not otherwise exist. Depending on your hobby and your town, these activities can be officially encouraged, discouraged, unregulated, or illegal. For example, it's illegal to make biodiesel fuel at home in the city of Phoenix ... but not regulated in the bordering towns of Scottsdale, Chandler, or Tempe."
New submitter eeplox writes "I make nature videos for my YouTube channel, generally in remote wilderness away from any possible source of music. And I purposely avoid using a soundtrack in my videos because of all the horror stories I hear about Rumblefish filing claims against public domain music. But when uploading my latest video, YouTube informed me that I was using Rumblefish's copyrighted content, and so ads would be placed on my video, with the proceeds going to said company. This baffled me. I disputed their claim with YouTube's system — and Rumblefish refuted my dispute, and asserted that: 'All content owners have reviewed your video and confirmed their claims to some or all of its content: Entity: rumblefish; Content Type: Musical Composition.' So I asked some questions, and it appears that the birds singing in the background of my video are Rumblefish's exclusive intellectual property."
An anonymous reader writes "George Lucas claims there was 'a 50/50 chance' Indiana Jones could survive the atomic blast in Legend of the Crystal Skull by hiding inside a refrigerator. Dr. David Shechner subjects this claim to rigorous peer review, and his findings are not good news for people looking to hide from nukes in appliances."
Damien1972 writes "Conservationists have converted a remote-controlled plane into a potent tool for conservation. The drone — an HK Bixler equipped with cameras, sensors and GPS — has been used to map deforestation, count orangutans and elephants, and get a bird's eye view of hard-to-access forest areas. During their 4 days of testing in Sumatra, the drone flew 30 missions without a single crash. A mission, which typically lasts about 25 minutes, can cover 50 hectares. The drone, full equipped, costs less than $2,000."