Mission Impossible?

A new computer network, automated investigative tools, and more channels for sharing information, the FBI hopes to finally know what it knows

12 min read
Opening illustration for this feature article.
Illustration: Jonathan Barkat

What the FBI doesn’t know can kill you. That, at least, is what we’ve been led to believe since 9/11.

Had agents in Minnesota been allowed to search Zacarias Moussaoui’s computer, had the Phoenix office memo warning of Al Qaeda members enrolling at U.S. aviation schools filtered up the chain of command, had the internal computer databases done anything but the most rudimentary searches, maybe, just maybe, things might have gone much differently 18 months ago. But for the failure to connect those proverbial dots, 3000 lives might have been saved.

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Robot Gift Guide 2022

Your yearly selection of awesome robot gifts

7 min read
A collage of 9 photos of robots, including quadrupeds robots, wheeled robots, and drones.
IEEE Spectrum (Robots: Companies)

It’s been a couple of years, but the IEEE Spectrum Robot Gift Guide is back for 2022! We’ve got all kinds of new robots, and right now is an excellent time to buy one (or a dozen), since many of them are on sale this week. We’ve tried to focus on consumer robots that are actually available (or that you can at least order), but depending on when you’re reading this guide, the prices we have here may not be up to date, and we’re not taking shipping into account.

And if these robots aren’t enough for you, many of our picks from years past are still available: check out our guides from 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012. And as always, if you have suggestions that you’d like to share, post a comment to help the rest of us find the perfect robot gift.

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The Women Behind ENIAC

A new book tells the story of how they broke a computer-science glass ceiling

6 min read
Two women programmers preparing a computer to be demonstrated.

Jean Jennings (left) and Frances Bilas, two of the ENIAC programmers, are preparing the computer for Demonstration Day in February 1946.

University Archives and Records Center/University of Pennsylvania

If you looked at the pictures of those working on the first programmable, general-purpose all-electronic computer, you would assume that J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were the only ones who had a hand in its development. Invented in 1945, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) was built to improve the accuracy of U.S. artillery during World War II. The two men and their team built the hardware. But hidden behind the scenes were six women—Jean Bartik, Kathleen Antonelli, Marlyn Meltzer, Betty Holberton, Frances Spence, and Ruth Teitelbaum—who programmed the computer to calculate artillery trajectories in seconds.

The U.S. Army recruited the women in 1942 to work as so-called human computersmathematicians who did calculations using a mechanical desktop calculator.

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Learn How Global Configuration Management and IBM CLM Work Together

In this presentation we will build the case for component-based requirements management

2 min read

This is a sponsored article brought to you by 321 Gang.

To fully support Requirements Management (RM) best practices, a tool needs to support traceability, versioning, reuse, and Product Line Engineering (PLE). This is especially true when designing large complex systems or systems that follow standards and regulations. Most modern requirement tools do a decent job of capturing requirements and related metadata. Some tools also support rudimentary mechanisms for baselining and traceability capabilities (“linking” requirements). The earlier versions of IBM DOORS Next supported a rich configurable traceability and even a rudimentary form of reuse. DOORS Next became a complete solution for managing requirements a few years ago when IBM invented and implemented Global Configuration Management (GCM) as part of its Engineering Lifecycle Management (ELM, formerly known as Collaborative Lifecycle Management or simply CLM) suite of integrated tools. On the surface, it seems that GCM just provides versioning capability, but it is so much more than that. GCM arms product/system development organizations with support for advanced requirement reuse, traceability that supports versioning, release management and variant management. It is also possible to manage collections of related Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) and Systems Engineering artifacts in a single configuration.

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