From Doomsday to James Bond to NASA’s last mainframe: The year in hot Layer 8 blog posts

IT hiring and tech trends as well as outer space bombs, also made up a very good year

As we wind down another year we give thanks, mostly, that we are still here to enjoy a look back at what were the hottest posts in this space for 2012.  First let's start with the end of the world.  While it wasn't the most read item of the year, the notion that NASA got out in front of the doomsayers who predicted that by now we'd pretty much be gone because the Earth and civilization were going to end was one of the more interesting stories of the year.  NASA put out some videos and had a number of its scientists out putting the kibosh and the supposed "end of times." Indeed, as I write this on December 24 - I think they got it right.

NEWS: The weirdest, wackiest and coolest sci/tech stories of 2012

Anyway, here are the most read Layer 8 blogs of the year.

  • 1. US Navy's high-resolution radar can see individual raindrops in a storm: The US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) researchers said in June that a very high-resolution Doppler radar it was developing can actually spot individual raindrops in a cloudburst, possibly paving the way for new weather monitoring applications that could better track or monitor weather and severe storms. According to an NRL release, the very high-resolution "Mid-Course Radar" was used to retrieve information on the internal cloud flow and precipitation structure. The radar was previously used to track small debris shed from the NASA space shuttle missions during launch. "Similar to the traces left behind on film by sub-atomic particles, researchers observed larger cloud particles leaving well-defined, nearly linear, radar reflectivity "streaks" which could be analyzed to infer their underlying properties," NRL stated.
  • 2. Super Bowl super bust: US seizes 307 websites; grabs $4.8M in fake NFL merchandise: The piracy, counterfeit and copyright battle has moved to the Super Bowl. Speaking a National Football League press conference ahead of this year's Super Bowl the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said special agents this week seized a total of 307 websites and snatched up 42,692 items of phony Super Bowl-related memorabilia along with other counterfeit items for a total take of more than $4.8 million - up from $3.72 million last year. Sixteen of the sites the agency shut down during this operation known as Fake Sweep, were illegally streaming live sporting telecasts over the Internet, including NFL games. Two hundred ninety-one website domain names were illegally selling and distributing counterfeit merchandise, ICE stated. Expect more of the same in 2013
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    3. NASA unplugs last mainframe. It's somewhat hard to imagine that NASA doesn't need the computing power of an IBM mainframe any more but NASA CIO posted on her blog this year that by March the Big Iron will be no more at the space agency.
  • 4. CIA: Flying Skyhook wasn't just for James Bond, it actually rescued agents: This had to be one hell of a ride. The CIA in October said it added a pretty cool item to its museum archives - the instruction card for officers being plucked off the ground by a contraption that would allow a person to be snatched off the ground by a flying aircraft. According to the CIA, the Skyhook system included an aircraft equipped with steel wire-catching "horns" mounted on its nose, an electric-powered winch-a mechanical device used to pull in or let out cables-and a 50-foot steel cable; and a separate package of gear-delivered by air-drop-to let officers on the ground "catch" the Skyhook as the plane zipped by.
  • 5. If you had to pick 10 technology-related trends that will impact your enterprise infrastructure in the coming year, Gartner says you'd do well to start with virtualization and move to other issues such as social media influence, energy issues and flat networks to name a few.
  • 6. Gartner: 10 key IT trends for 2012: At the Gartner Symposium IT/Expo, David Cappuccio, managing vice president and chief of research for the Infrastructure teams with Gartner, said the Top 10 Trends show how IT is changing in that many of them in the past been outside the traditional purview of IT, but they will all affect how IT does its job in the future.
  • 7. Hypersonic test aircraft peeled apart after 3 minutes of sustained Mach 20 speed: The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's experimental Hypersonic Technology Vehicle (HTV-2), lost significant portions of its outer skin and became uncontrollable after three minutes of sustained Mach 20 speed last August. That was the conclusion of an independent engineering review board (ERB) investigating the cause of what DARPA calls a "flight anomaly" in the second test flight of the HTV-2.
  • 8. FTC escalates anti-robocall campaign - takes out 5 mass callers: Just two weeks after it challenged the public to come up with a better technological way to stop incessant robocalling, the Federal Trade Commission in November pulled the plug on five mass calling companies it said were allegedly responsible for millions of illegal pre-recorded calls from "Rachel" and others from "Cardholder Services." The FTC said it gets more than 200,000 complaints each month about telemarketing robocalls, including calls from "Rachel" that pitch consumers with a supposedly easy way to save money by reducing their credit card interest rates. After collecting an up-front fee, however, the FTC believes that the companies do little if anything to fulfill their promises.
  • 9. No bomb powerful enough to destroy an on-rushing asteroid, sorry Bruce Willis: Maybe it's the doom predictions some folks are fearing about the end of the Mayan calendar this year or maybe these guys are obsessed with old Bruce Willis movies. Either way a class of physics students from the University of Leicester decided to evaluate whether or not the premise of Willis' 1998 "Armageddon" movie -- where a group of oil drillers is sent by NASA to detonate nuclear devices on an asteroid that threatens to destroy Earth -- could actually happen. In short - the students found that the device would need to be about a billion times stronger than the biggest bomb ever detonated on Earth -- the Soviet Union's 50 megaton hydrogen bomb "Big Ivan" -- in order to save the world the asteroid.
  • 10. IT staff, engineers among top 10 toughest jobs to fill in US: Forty-nine percent of US companies are having a hard time filling what workforce management firm ManpowerGroup calls mission-critical positions within their organizations with IT staff, engineers and "skilled trades" among the toughest spots to fill. The group surveyed some 1,300 employers and noted that US companies are struggling to find talent, despite continued high unemployment, over their global counterparts, where 34% of employers worldwide are having difficulty filling positions. According to ManpowerGroup, the most common reasons employers say they are having trouble filling jobs, including lack of available applicants, applicants looking for more pay and lack of experience.

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