Saturday, August 4, 2018

Slow Saturday Special: Making the Kessel Run

The flight suit costs how much?

"Air Force lab takes aim at Han Solo’s record" by Hiawatha Bray Globe Staff  May 11, 2018

Any self-respecting “Star Wars” fan knows that legendary smuggler Han Solo made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs (or about 39 light years, for those keeping score).

Now the US Air Force has set up a Kessel Run of its own in Boston. That’s the name of a new laboratory designed to set new speed records in the development of mission-critical military software.

“It was this running joke that we were going to smuggle this new software development capability into the Air Force in 12 parsecs or less,” said Air Force Captain Bryon Kroger, chief operating officer of the Kessel Run Experimentation Lab at the WeWork shared office facility on Portland Street. “It’s the shortest way to get from Point A to Point B.”

The new lab grew out of an effort to create software for managing the deployment of tanker aircraft that must refuel other Air Force planes in midflight. Making sure that the correct number of tankers are in the correct airspace is a massive logistical challenge. Yet until recently, Air Force personnel tracked tanker deployments by hand, using whiteboards.

Then an Air Force team joined forces with Pivotal Inc., a company that designs systems for simplifying and speeding up the development of corporate software. Typically, it can take five years for a branch of the US military to develop and deploy new software. The Air Force-Pivotal team built the refueling app in four months.

The Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, a Pentagon department that seeks to apply private-sector know-how to military problems, was so impressed that it worked with Pivotal and the Air Force to create Kessel Run.

Chief product officer Adam Furtado, a civilian, said the military has traditionally produced software using the same painstaking and costly method used in buying ships, planes, and tanks. At Kessel Run, they’re embracing the fast-paced software development practices long used by civilian enterprises.

“We shot for the moon and decided to take a page out of the Silicon Valley playbook,” Furtado said.

The plan is to institutionalize this faster way of writing software throughout the entire US military.

”We’re already starting to see the various services take note of what we’ve been able to accomplish so far,” Furtado said. “It’s very much possible that our model gets adopted as the model going forward.”

Kessel Run currently occupies a space suitable for about 90 engineers. But by next year it will move into a larger WeWork space that will be able to accommodate about 300.

Chances are, many of them will be major “Star Wars” fans, but not Furtado. He started watching the original movie, but gave up at the famous Cantina scene.

”There were a bunch of aliens drinking beer,” Furtado said, “and I said, ‘Ah, I’ve had enough of this.’ ”

Guess what I have had enough of.


Whadda ya' mean he is not the pilot?

Also see: Austin reportedly bests Boston in bid for Army Futures Command

The Globe sees a conspiracy.


“Solo: A Star Wars Story” is losing momentum quickly at the box office, even with a relatively quiet weekend free of any new blockbuster competition. After an underwhelming launch, the space saga fell 65 percent in weekend two with $29.3 million from North American theaters, according to studio estimates on Sunday. The 65 percent drop off is one of the highest in recent “Star Wars” history, although it is less steep than the second week fall of the franchise’s last film, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which slid 67.5 percent in weekend two this past December — but, that was also after a $220 million debut. “Solo’s” tumble brought it even closer to “Deadpool 2,” which is now in its third weekend in theaters and still managed to reel in an estimated $23.3 million to take second place. Shailene Woodley’s lost-at-sea drama “Adrift” fared the best of the three newcomers, which included the horror pic “Upgrade” and a Johnny Knoxville comedy “Action Point.” ‘’Adrift,” from STX Entertainment, washed up in third place with $11.5 million, while the others struggled to make a significant impact....."

Ah, the fortunes of war!

“Ocean’s 8,” the female-led overall of the starry “Ocean’s” franchise, opened with $41.5 million at the box office, taking the weekend’s top spot from the fast-falling “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” “Solo” slid to second place with $15.2 million on its third weekend. The weekend's new wide releases were all female fronted....."

‘Incredibles 2’ crushes animation record with $180 million

We'll see you at the movies.... NOT!