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WebAssembly Will Finally Let You Run High-Performance Applications in Your Browser

Online applications could work as smoothly as the programs you install on your machine

10 min read
Luke Wagner [right] and his Mozilla colleague Alon Zakai.
The author, Luke Wagner (right), and his Mozilla colleague Alon Zakai strive to make browsers run programs faster and better.
Photo: Gabriela Hasbun

What if you could share a computer-aided design (CAD) model and even allow a colleague to manipulate it from afar? “Click on this link, check out my design, and feel free to add more holes or fill some in,” you might say. You wouldn’t have to instruct your distant coworker to install special software or worry about whether her operating system could run it. Imagine that all your programs and data were stored in the cloud and that even computationally intensive applications like multimedia editing ran just as well in your browser as they would if they had been installed locally.

Since the early days of the World Wide Web, a lot of smart, passionate people have wanted to make it into a vehicle for running almost any kind of program. What makes that dream so tantalizing is that the Web is different from other software platforms. It’s defined by open standards, so anyone can build on it. It’s not owned by any company, so developers are beholden only to their users. And it’s constructed largely around open-source technologies, so it has the potential to be very democratic.

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Caltech Team Launches Experimental Space-Based Solar Array

The satellite will test some of the tech needed to wirelessly beam power from orbit

4 min read
A lightweight gold-colored square frame for a solar power array, seen flying in space with Earth in background.

Artist's conception of Caltech's Space Solar Power Demonstrator in Earth orbit.

Caltech

For about as long as engineers have talked about beaming solar power to Earth from space, they’ve had to caution that it was an idea unlikely to become real anytime soon. Elaborate designs for orbiting solar farms have circulated for decades—but since photovoltaic cells were inefficient, any arrays would need to be the size of cities. The plans got no closer to space than the upper shelves of libraries.

That’s beginning to change. Right now, in a sun-synchronous orbit about 525 kilometers overhead, there is a small experimental satellite called the Space Solar Power Demonstrator One (SSPD-1 for short). It was designed and built by a team at the California Institute of Technology, funded by donations from the California real estate developer Donald Bren, and launched on 3 January—among 113 other small payloads—on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

“To the best of our knowledge, this would be the first demonstration of actual power transfer in space, of wireless power transfer,” says Ali Hajimiri, a professor of electrical engineering at Caltech and a codirector of the program behind SSPD-1, the Space Solar Power Project.

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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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