Thursday, July 30, 2015

New York Subway System Infrastructure

Slate provides here a link to a video on the machines used to operate the New York subway system.  Much of this equipment dates to the first half of the 20th century.  It's a great video.   I had read about some of this before but never in this much detail.

The Slate columnist refers to this equipment "delightful, sure, but also deeply baffling."  I think that this view misses a few points.  First, modern computer equipment isn't always reliable in many aspects, ranging from computer security to electromigration.  Second, much computer equipment isn't designed to last more than a few years.  Replacing computers regularly is OK for data centers but it just doesn't work for a lot of infrastructure.  Infrastructure has to be built to operate safely and reliably for years.  Unfortunately, the computer industry isn't very good at designing things that last.

I find the video's discussion of the old-fashioned signaling system to be much more important than the age of the wires and relays.  The old equipment can't identify the location of a train very accurately, which means that trains have to be spaced farther apart.  One of the important benefits of new equipment and control system---known as CBTC---will be more efficient transit thanks to better location and control.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Georgia Tech Center for the Development and Application of Internet-of-Things Technologies

CDAIT, the Georgia Tech Center for the Development and Application of Internet-of-Things Technologies, is run by Alain Louchez.  Their web site posts a number of interesting items.  Here is one item on our research on long-term care for people with special needs.

Jeep Cherokee Zero-Day Exploit

Wired reports here on the demonstration of a zero-day exploit on Jeep Cherokees. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Yet Another Software Timing Bug

Extremetech reports here that New Horizons, the NASA Pluto probe, stopped communicating for an hour and that NASA says the bug was probably caused by a "hard-to-detect timing flaw" in software.