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Comment Re:Cooling towers (Score 4, Informative) 118

Sure, no problem. there are closed type systems, but when you have Cooling Towers, it's an open system. That is, there's a secondary chilled water loop that circulates inside, and it dumps its head into the primary loop through a plate and frame heat exchanger. The primary loop gets pumped out to the cooling towers, where it goes through the cooling tower "fill" which is a scheme of different diverter surfaces to separate the water into thin streams running along flat surfaces. Outside air is then drawn across the fill, and that removes the heat and aids in evaporation of the water. Any water that is evaporated away is replaced with fresh "makeup water".

As the water is being drawn across the fill, it starts to evaporate and also atomize (meaning that the streams of water break up into tiny droplets that are technically still liquid, but are light enough to be carried away in the moving air stream). As these water droplets are pulled into the outside air, they can be carried anywhere. Often, cooling towers are located on the roof of buildings. The other thing that you'll often see on the roof is the building exhaust fans and the fresh air make up fans. If the fresh air makeup fan inlets are located anywhere near the cooling tower, it is very possible to have those same tiny water droplets get sucked into the intake, and pumped into the building along with the fresh air makeup.

Mechanical Engineers usually design the location of these intakes to be far enough away form the Cooling Towers to prevent infiltration, but wind currents can be a little hard to predict. Also, if the Cooling Tower isn't being operated correctly, there can be more water atomization than there should be. For example, if the Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) that control the Cooling Tower Fan speed isn't set up right, it can run too fast and pull out more water droplets than it should be (this should ordinarily be kept to a minimum because makeup water isn't cheap, and it's not "green" to use too much water).

Hope that helps. :-)

Comment Re:Cooling towers (Score 4, Informative) 118

What exactly do these cool? Do they cool water or act like an AC?

I've been managing facilities and staff to maintain cooling towers for years. I've personally cleaned them, I've personally maintained them, and I've personally been responsible for the water treatment/chemistry as part of their operational and preventive maintenance.

The answer to your question is, they technically cool water, which is then piped back into a building(s) and used as a "heat sink" for any air conditioning/refrigeration equipment inside the building. In your home air conditioner, you have the box with the fan that sits outside. This box is called the"condenser". The condenser's job is to release any heat that is removed from inside the house. In that type of mechanical refrigeration, the refrigerant (R-22, colloquially called Freon) is compressed to allow for a controlled evaporation cycle inside the indoor unit (the evaporator). As the refrigerant absorbs heat from inside the home, it is pumped outside to the condenser where it releases the head into the air (in this case, the outside air is the "heat sink"). That is, the fan on the condenser pulls outside air across the coils where the hot refrigerant is being pumped, and the heat transfers to the outside air, cooling your house.

In large commercial applications, it is often more efficient to use water based systems to achieve this. In this method, the refrigerant that has absorbed the heat from inside the facility is dumped into what's called "condenser water". The water absorbs the heat, and the cooled refrigerant goes back to the air conditioning systems in the building to absorb more heat. The condenser water is pumped up to the cooling towers where it is filtered through several screens while large fans pull outside air across them (similar to the home system). The combination of the water flow patterns, air velocity, and evaporation will cool this condenser water, allowing for it to be sent back to the indoor air conditioning systems so that it can absorb more heat and start the cycle again.

I mention all of this to say this: the ONLY reason this type of contamination is happening is because of improper maintenance. Period. Water treatment systems are just about idiot proof. So, while we may not hear about it, I guarantee someone, somewhere took a short cut. Maybe it was the end of the fiscal quarter and someone was under pressure to save money, so they postponed the delivery of the aquastat chemicals for a couple of weeks to make budget. Maybe a maintenance engineer didn't really do his rounds inspection that day and so he didn't see that one of the chemical feeder pumps had tripped out on overload. Maybe the maintenance workers didn't want to spend a few hours inside one of these steamy boxes cleaning out additional algae buildup. It's not a glamorous job to say the least, but not terribly difficult in the grand scheme.

People should not only lose their jobs and licenses for this, people absolutely deserve litigation for this. This is nothing short of negligence.

Comment Re:buy-back stock payoff (Score 1) 273

You are spot on. I worked for HP (well, technically, I worked for their 3rd party Facilities Management company who ran their Data Centers for them) for 3 years. I was initially with EDS, and was with them through the transition to HP. I can tell you from direct experience that you're exactly right with regard to the "legacy EDS" section of the company.

The number of old timers who were just hanging on in the old EDS world was staggering. I think it was a product of EDS getting really big during the 90's, getting some really large accounts, coming out of the dot com bust, and just frantically trying to keep its business afloat. That is, they were so scatterbrained that they quite honestly had no idea what they were doing, who did what, who paid for what, etc. It was a tangled mess.

I had worked for EDS for 4 years prior, but had left them, and I came back as HP came in thinking that maybe they could straighten things out. After a few years, I realized that the ship was sinking, and nothing was gonna save it. This is just the inevitable fall that they can't put off any more. There aren't enough buckets to bail out the water. This is a last ditch effort, but frankly, it's probably too late. All of these middle managers pulling down nice six figure salaries for years and years to essentially be responsible for nothing has just sucked the life blood out of the organization. The few good people you have left are so demoralized that I doubt there's any hope.

My bet is that after the split, HP ES will continue its death spiral, and someone will buy them trying to put it back together. They'll be buying them for the contracts they still have that are worthwhile, the patents they hold, and some of their infrastructure, and it'll be for pennies on the dollar.

Comment Re:Go ahead (Score 1) 446

No, you don't.

Just get a prepaid Visa Debit card from the rack at Walgreen's or Wal-Mart, or CVS, or Rite Aid, or Family Dollar, or wherever. Pay for it as if it were a "gift card" and load it with however much money you need on it. Then use that card to pay for your membership. Poof! Financial transaction with no paper trail (unless someone really wants to go through and find out where the card was purchased, and if you're that paranoid, just pay cash).

Comment Re:Go ahead (Score 1) 446

The names, addresses and credit card numbers (since it's a pay site) must be real.

I think a name is pretty easy to fake. Last time I checked, PO Boxes can be had for a very small fee (or once could even put a false address in.....what correspondence would a person want to receive via US mail from that site at their home?), and as for the Credit Card, once could just get a prepaid Visa Debit Card, load it with funds, and use that to pay.

Voila! Privacy secured.

If someone truly gets caught because of this, they weren't being careful. Now, I want to be clear here, I am absolutely not advocating for cheating. Personally, I find the concept abhorrent and the sign of a truly weak character. But, if you're gonna do it, be smart about it.

Comment Re:Salary vs. cost of living? (Score 1) 264

Well, yes, compared to those folks, that is certainly more conservative. At lease your numbers are in the black. I was more pointing out that most financial advisers recommend spending no more than 25%-30% of your monthly TAKE HOME pay on rent/mortgage. Now again, there is NOTHING wrong with what your doing (and you certainly don't have to justify it to me or anyone else for that matter), I just don't know if you'd really call it modest, per se.

But you know what, dude? Kudos. You're living (presumably) debt free in one of the most expensive areas of the country on a relatively modest salary, and that is a hell of a lot better than the way a whole lot of people manage their money.

Comment Re:Salary vs. cost of living? (Score 1) 264

A different point of view: is renting a $1,400/month studio on $50k per year really a modest lifestyle? With even conservative estimates of your 401k contribution and benefit costs, calculations show that your monthly rent is a couple hundred bucks more than one of your paychecks, making your rent is more than 50% of your monthly take-home income.

Now I'm not criticizing you here, I want to be clear about that. If you're choosing to live a relatively modest lifestyle so that you can have the convenience of living right in the heart of Silicon Valley, that's of course up to you. But, the thought did occur to me that you're not so much choosing an overall modest lifestyle as you are prioritizing where you live over other things.

I guess the point I'm making is that a truly modest lifestyle would probably be to move to a cheaper place, and save/invest more money or something to that effect.

Comment Re:trick them into it ... (Score 3, Insightful) 318

OK, I don't think I'm doing a very good job of explaining what I mean. Apologies for that, I can see why you might be taking it that way.

What I'm saying is, no, you do not have to be a "superstar", and my experience has been that it being a game of the elite 10% getting all the jobs, and the "other" 90% just have to suck chuck is really a bit of an illusion. I have found that a great number of people vastly underestimate their own value, and don't do a great job of expressing/relaying their skills because I think they are afraid that they're coming off as a brash, arrogant ass. There is a good deal of difference between being a cocky jerk and someone with composed confidence, and it is truly not that hard to hone that skill. Go on interviews for jobs that you have no intention of actually getting (make it in your field, obviously) and practice the interview process. You really will get better with practice.

The other thing that people dramatically underestimate is how important networking and just putting yourself in social situations with folks (peer level and above) from your industry. Pretty much every industry has several major, national organizations that hold regular events around decent sized cities. Sure, they might be dumb events where you're accosted by 1,500 sales folks trying to hawk you their favorite new product, or you may have to endure listening to some speaker drone on endlessly about something that makes no sense, but the opportunity to just chum up to folks before and afterward is a huge one, and most people just write it off as a waste of time. It is my opinion that this is a mistake. Just getting your face in people's minds puts you at an advantage, if you happen to fall naturally into a conversation with some folks at a company you have a chance to make an impression. It may not come into play for a couple of years, but if you do that enough, eventually, you start being someone that people kind of know and remember. So, when your resume ends up on their desk, they think "oh yeah, that guy!".

Now listen, my ego would LOVE to believe that I'm this superstar. That would be just dandy with me. But I truly do not feel that I am. I apply myself, sure. And, I'm also not a lazy person, but I'm going to assume that you are not either (most of us geek-nerd types aren't). I just think that people become resigned to be one of the "lesser 90%" and assume that there are these amazing people out there scooping up all the good jobs. I say, any of us can stand out in a crowd, and that's really all it takes.

Comment Re:trick them into it ... (Score 4, Insightful) 318

I don't know why this comment is marked troll, because it's absolutely not a troll, it is the absolute truth. I have had the EXACT same experience. I get an average of 2-4 recruiters contacting me with offers each month. I've worked hard on honing my skills, I've worked hard on networking locally/regionally, I've worked hard to ensure that my resume is up to date and relates my track record well, etc.

Lumpy is exactly right. If others reading this think that he's bragging (and that's why they marked it a troll) they're missing the point. I cannot tell you the enormous difference in negotiation when you are confident (not arrogant) and put yourself in a position where people know you before you walk in the room. It's not that hard to do, and it absolutely puts you in the driver's seat.

Don't ever let them pressure you into naming your "current" salary, that's a ploy to see how cheap they can get you. If they don't let up, thank them for their time and leave, because they're not serious about you. You can absolutely negotiate MUCH more than most people realize. That goes for office, working remotely, salary, benefits, etc.

Comment Re:Already has (Score 1) 158

Autotune can only do so much.

Actually, you'd be amazed at what some of the modern vocal effects can do, especially with a well trained engineer/producer. Antares , for example, can do everything from change the pitch/time, to alter the vocal characteristics of the track using things like "throat modeling". They can generate harmonies complete with tiny imperfections to make it sound more "human", They can make a voice have more "rasp" or "smokiness", so when you hear guys screaming (think Chris Cornell) and you think "how can they do that without their voice getting sore?", the answer is, they're not. Those are the effects at work.

Now don't get me wrong, I am not against the use of vocal effects. I look at them the same way I look at guitar effects. If you layer a guitar with enough delay, chorus, compression, tube distortion, tape saturation, EQ, and maybe some octave effects, even a rudimentary player is going to sound pretty killer. They're not going to stand up to a virtuoso like Al DiMeola or Steve Vai. Same goes for vocalists. Sure, you can find someone of marginal talent and make them sound good with effects, but they're never going to touch really capable, trained singers.

The best way to avoid responsibility is to say, "I've got responsibilities."