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Mark Shuttleworth - January 29, 2002: Lost Property for the 21st century - No problems in Houston today. We spent the morning learning about some of the software that is installed on the US laptops in the ISS. The software is designed to help the astronauts coordinate their day, and their equipment.

The first piece of software tracks timetabling for the crew. It gives each crew member a day plan, together with supplemental information such as day/night times, S-band, Ku-band and Russian comms, procedures, equipment manifests etc. This makes it a lot easier to know what to do when. We'll probably use this in combination with a PDA to tell me when to prepare for comms slots, when to be ready for camera work and earth observation, and when to setup and work on the science experiments.

The second piece of software, though, is a bit of a 'mare. It's the equipment tracking software, and it's supposed to keep track of every plug, cap, adapter, wire, bolt, ration, camera, lens, etc on the station. There are 16,000 items in the database, the station is nearly 100m long and packed with storage cabins, each of which is packed with STUFF. So losing track of something is very easy. In theory, this piece of software is supposed to tell us exactly where to find something, or where to put something. Everything that we move has to be logged in here.

But unfortunately, it is ssssslllllllloooooooowwwwwww. Yuri says it drove him, Shep and Sergei absolutely nuts when they were up there for increment 1. I can believe it. It took about 7 minutes just to start the app, and sometimes two or three minutes to get anything logged into the system. The handheld tracking devices that are supposed to make it easier don't help at all.

I think this may have to do with the fact that they are running on Pentium 166 machines with 64MB RAM, Win98SE, IE 5.5, and the app is a big Java app. No wonder the system grinds to a halt regularly. The fileserver has the same specs but runs NT 4. Ouch. Hopefully we'll be able to leave the crew a present of a nice fast computer, so at least one crewmember will have rapid access to the system.

Landing Countdown to 05:51 05 May

Landing Complete!

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