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Computer memory shortage causes air traffic system failure

Had to flag this one, a report on recent air traffic control problems in the US. According to the BBC a spy plane “was responsible for a computer glitch that caused air-traffic chaos in western US states last week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has revealed.” The problems started when the system was overloaded, as it struggled to plot new ...

Excel’s Stubborn Refusal to Display Superscripts

Who wants to look at 60.45E-3 when they can see 6O.45xl0-3 instead? While it is one of the most popular tools used by engineers on the planet, Excel’s formatting capabilities can leave a lot to be desired. Jon Titus was particularly peeved over the fact that it displays data in scientific format (ie 6.023E23) but that he couldn’t get it ...

Mathcad Offers Solution for Legacy Fortran Code

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At a Halloween party we threw for MIT students this weekend, the subject of Fortran came up (yeah, I know, nerdy stuff) which pretty much drew blank looks from the more junior witches and warlocks. For those of you who don’t know, Fortran is the most widely used general-purpose programming language for numerical applications. Us old-timers learned how to program ...

Software Angst Has Engineers Still Reaching for Their Trusty No. 2 Pencils

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In a survey last year of 2,000 techies by the software maker Maplesoft, the trusty No. 2 pencil trumped all other products as the most freqently used design and analysis tool. Given the portability of paper-and-pencil, the pervasiveness of the quick scribble on the back of an envelope may not seem all the surprising. But the question is why aren’t ...