First Look At Axanar, The Star Trek War Movie We’ve Waited Decades For

Star Trek fans have been curious for years about the Battle of Axanar, the decisive turning point in the war against the Klingon Empire. And now, a new unofficial movie will show what really happened at Axanar, and how Captain Garth triumphed. Here’s your first image from Star Trek: Axanar, exclusively at io9!

This image was sent to us by Robert Meyer Burnett, who was involved in Axanar in a producing capacity and has just taken over as director. Burnett, who directed the classic comedy Free Enterprise, explains the image to us: “This is Gary Graham, once again playing Ambassador Soval (from Star Trek: Enterprise), and Kim Fitzgerald playing a new character, Vulcan Minister T’Lera (who may or may not be the same character from Margaret Wander Bonanno’s terrific 1987 TREK novel Strangers from the Sky.) They are discussing a very dire vote the Vulcan High Council has just made, which would have potentially dire consequences for the entire Alpha and Beta quadrants.”

via First Look At Axanar, The Star Trek War Movie We’ve Waited Decades For.

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The Spaceport

The Spaceport

THE ANNOUNCEMENT

On June 30, 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that the City of Houston had been approved as home to the United States’ 10th licensed commercial spaceport. The Spaceport would be located at Ellington Airport, just south of the downtown area, and would offer the nation’s fourth-largest city a focal point for aerospace innovation – a regional center for a cluster of aerospace activities, including but not limited to:

  • Component and composite development and fabrication
  • Space vehicle assembly
  • Zero-gravity scientific and medical experiments
  • Micro satellites
  • Astronaut training and development
  • Space tourism

THE PLANT

With the Houston application already approved by the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, the Houston Airport System (HAS) now turns its attention toward securing partnership opportunities with leading companies operating within the aerospace industry.

via The Spaceport.

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Does Safely Ejecting From a USB Port Actually Do Anything?

Is there any harm to be incurred by just pulling a flash drive out? Why do we need safe removal at all?

Historically, Operating Systems treat disks as objects that can be trusted not to change state suddenly. When reading or writing files, the OS expects the files to remain accessible and not suddenly disappear in mid-read or mid-write.

If a file is open, a program reading the file expects to be able to return to it and continue reading. Similarly, write commands may be dispatched to a writing subroutine and forgotten by the main program. If a drive disappears between the time the subroutine is called and the data is written to disk, that data is lost forever.

In ye olde days, there were formal processes to physically “mount” and “unmount” storage media, and the physical act of mounting a tape or a disk pack triggered some mechanical switch to detect the presence or absence of media. Once the mechanism was engaged, the software could start to use the media (a “soft mount.”). Some media even had mechanical interlock to prevent media from being ejected or removed until the software processes using the media released the lock.

The Macintosh floppy and optical disk provide more modern examples of an interlocked physical and soft mount. One could only eject media through a software command, but that command might fail if some program was holding a file open on the medium. Enter USB connected storage. There is no mechanical interlock in a USB connection to coordinate the hard and soft mount. The user can decide to rip the disk out from under the operating system at any time, and endure all manner of programs freaking out about the sudden loss of media. “Hey! I was using that!”

Symptoms could include: Lost data, corrupted filesystems, crashing programs, or hanging computers requiring a reboot. A safe removal executes the “soft unmount” needed to prevent any unexpected Bad Things that may happen if a program loses its access to media.

A safe removal does a few things:

It flushes all active writes to disk.

It alerts all programs (that know how to be alerted) that the disk is going away, and to take appropriate action.

It alerts the user when programs have failed to take action, and still are holding files open.

You can remove a disk at any time, but you are at the mercy of how well programs using the disk cope with the sudden disappearance of that disk.

In the modern computer, many steps have been taken to defend against the capricious and careless removal of media. For example, Windows even introduced a feature called “Optimize for Quick Removal” that makes sure data is written quickly instead of batched up and written efficiently. It is very hard to get people to change habits. If you are doing exclusively reads on a media, safe removal is probably not needed. If you are doing writes, you are probably OK to skip safe removal if you haven’t written recently and you aren’t doing something silly like indexing that disk.

As a good friend of mine once said: Life is too short to safely eject the disk.

However, Safe Removal does a number of important things and is, in fact, the only assuredly safe way to remove a disk. You probably don’t need it most of the time, but it is a good habit to have since data loss sucks.

via Does Safely Ejecting From a USB Port Actually Do Anything?.

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Use SoundCloud to Start Your Own Podcast for Free

A couple months ago, SoundCloud opened its podcasting service up to everyone. There are limits to what you can do with a free account, but it’s a great way to dip a toe into the podcasting waters without spending any money, and you don’t necessarily need any in-depth technical knowledge.

We’ll walk you through the process of getting your first podcast up and running.

via Use SoundCloud to Start Your Own Podcast for Free.

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World’s Highest Hammock is located in Moab, Utah over a canyon | BGR

When you think about lying comfortably in a hammock, odds are, you’re not thinking about being suspended 492 feet in the air over a canyon. But for solely fueled by adrenaline, that’s exactly the type of activity that passes for a relaxing Saturday afternoon activity.

The photo above is a makeshift hammock, otherwise known as a “pentagon space net.” Located above a canyon outside of Moab, Utah, the hammock, for a 1-week period in 2014, was suspended 213 feet away from the nearest piece of solid land, essentially leaving visitors quite literally in the middle of nowhere.

Looking at the hammock begs the question — just how did anyone manage to get to it in the first place?

via World’s Highest Hammock is located in Moab, Utah over a canyon | BGR.

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A Financial Control Board Proposal for Puerto Rico — Medium

Back in January, I wrote a piece about how Jeffrey Gundlach was wrong about Puerto Rico’s default risk — “I don’t care if [Puerto Rico] securities flop around,” Gundlach said, they will find a way to pay.

The territory’s power utility, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) — which is already in forbearance for tapping its debt service reserve funds — is expected to exhaust those funds and have a monetary default on July 1st. According to the trustee, after reserves are drawn down (and trustee fees are paid), PREPA will be short $150 million. The monolines have wrapped most of the maturities coming due that day and will have to cough up the cash for investors.

According to Bloomberg:

Investors and bond insurers have tentatively agreed on a proposal for how they’d be willing to alter terms on the authority’s existing securities, according to a person with direct knowledge of the discussions.

Suspending principal and interest payments or asking bondholders to reduce the amount owed would help Prepa as it seeks to modernize a system that relies mostly on petroleum to produce electricity.

Obligations of the utility that mature in July 2042 traded Thursday at an average price of 54.6 cents on the dollar, the highest since June 2 …

Regardless of how PREPA’s commitments shift, investors in all Puerto Rico securities will be negotiating difficult terrain from this point on. This will likely be the first of many creative revisions, which will all ultimately amount to bondholders not receiving what they were originally promised.

I heard from a congressional staffer yesterday that Representative Jeffrey Duncan sent out a “Dear Colleague” letter asking for a financial control board for Puerto Rico to address its debt crisis. Establishing a federal financial control board for Puerto Rico could potentially be the best option for residents. I have started thinking through the mechanics of how such a board might work and the history of emergency interventions in the municipal market —no, this is not an unprecedented event.

Objectively speaking, any Chapter 9 legislation will be ineffective when applied to Puerto Rico

Representative Duncan’s letter was written in response to H.R. 870, the “Puerto Rico Chapter 9 Uniformity Act of 2015.” This legislation wasrecently discussed in a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law.

H.R. 870 has proven to be quite controversial and bondholders have spared no expense in lobbying policymakers to scrap it. The legislation should be scrapped, but not necessarily for moral reasons. As drafted, the legislation would be ineffective. Continue reading

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Financial Control Board Should Take Over Debt-Laden Puerto Rico, Lawmaker Says – The New York Times

In one of the strongest bids yet for federal intervention into Puerto Rico’s fiscal woes, a member of Congress is calling for a control board to take over the island’s beleaguered government.

Representative Jeffrey D. Duncan, a South Carolina Republican, sent a letter to his fellow lawmakers on Friday, urging them for a solution to Puerto Rico’s financial problems that may result in “management changes” in the commonwealth.

Mr. Duncan said Congress had the authority to establish a control board in Puerto Rico, similar to the one it created in Washington, D.C., in the mid-1990s.

“I believe legislation to require the establishment of a financial control board, to enable the politically unpalatable changes necessary to put Puerto Rico back on the road to self-determination, may be needed,” wrote Mr. Duncan, who is chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Mr. Duncan’s letter is the latest salvo in the battle between Puerto Rico and its creditors. The island is quickly running out of cash to pay its debts, leading many analysts and investors to conclude that the commonwealth may default.

Mr. Duncan’s call for a control board will most likely find favor with hedge funds and other investors that own billions of dollars of Puerto Rico municipal bonds and are seeking to head off a default or debt restructuring.

A group of Puerto Rico debt investors have been trying to thwart efforts in Congress that would allow Puerto Rico’s public corporations, which run the island’s water and electrical systems, to declare bankruptcy.

In his letter, Mr. Duncan said authorizing a bankruptcy filing “will be a financial bailout of Puerto Rican debt that will provide only temporary benefit, harm U.S. investors that have invested in Puerto Rican bonds, and not meaningfully address the entrenched issues that have created the fiscal management problems that have created the current crisis.”

via Financial Control Board Should Take Over Debt-Laden Puerto Rico, Lawmaker Says – The New York Times.

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