We’re saps at heart, really

Friday Five: not Valentine’s Day edition

Elliot Bentley

This week: iOS 6.1 blunders, singing in space and goats that sound like humans. And definitely nothing to do with Valentine’s Day.

While we try to keep the
Friday Five as topical as possible – latching on to any arbitrary
date in the calendar – Valentine’s Day (yesterday, for those with
better things to think about) is simply too vomit-inducing to use
as a theme.

So instead let’s go for space. Or something. Anything but
Valentine’s Day.

1. Fatcache crunches big data

Another week, another bit of tech open-sourced by Twitter*. The
beautifully-named Fatcache is described as “memcache on SSD”, and
is a separate project to Twitter’s own Memcache fork, Twemcache.
Designed specifically to cope with Twitter-level ‘big data’,
Fatcache incorporates SSDs to extend regular memory. If that brief
description has piqued your interest, the full source – along with
quite a bit of theory – is available on

* Actually, an interesting note: Twitter’s number of open source
projects is in part thanks to their ‘acquihire’ strategy. Chris
Aniszczyk last week mentioned
at Monkigras
that when startups are absorbed into the Tworg,
their existing products are often given back to the community.

2. iOS 6.1 unsixcessful

The sixth version of Apple’s mobile operating system will
forever be known as “the one that made the maps rubbish”, and it
seems the latest update has inherited its predecessor’s curse. Last
friday, Exchange server admins found their systems crashing under

excessive logging by devices running iOS 6.1
– leading many to
block their own users from their system (Apple have since
that a fix is on its way).

Unfortunately, this week another problem, equally as dangerous, has
been identified: a security flaw that allows
bypassing of a device’s lock screen
. Here’s hoping this one
gets a quick fix, too.

3. In space, no-one can hear you sing

Six weeks ago
, we featured a Twitter exchange between William
Shatner (famous, of course, for his portrayal of Captain Kirk in
Star Trek) and Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, currently in
orbit aboard the ISS. This week, Commander Hadfield and his
intimidating moustache are back in the headlines once again – this
time recording a song with Barenaked Ladies and a children’s choir,
again live from the ISS.

‘I.S.S. (Is
Somebody Singing)’
was commissioned by Canadian charities to
promote music within schools, but isn’t a bad song in itself. The
most impressive part of the video – other than Commander Hadfield’s
zero-gravity pick – is the incredibly low latency of the live video
stream. If only terrestrial Skype was as lag-free.

4. A Star Wars Spectacular

You may have noticed a bizarre glut of Star Wars articles on
Wired this month – a result of their February print issue being
devoted exclusively to exploring Lucas’ universe. The most inspired
piece is surely ‘Inside
the Battle of Hoth’
, a 1000+ word essay on the snowy sequence
that opens The Empire Strikes Back.

“Of all the Empire’s failures, none is a more spectacular military
fiasco than the Battle of Hoth,” writes Spencer Ackerman, tongue
firmly in cheek. A blow-by-blow dissection of Vader’s failings
follows – such as his involvement in the ground assault (which
“can’t be justified militarily”) – illustrated with interactive
illustrations of the troops’ movement.

Ackerman concludes: “It’s a classic fiasco of overconfidence and
theology masquerading as military judgment — and the exact opposite
of the Empire striking back.”

5. Goat away from me!

And finally… the Friday Five’s regular animal spot is this
week occupied by goats, those lovable scamps. Best-known for their
climbing skills and appetite for, well, anything, it turns
out that goats are also pretty good at imitating distressed human
voices, as this video


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