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Comment: Change of careers (Score 1) 386

by Firrenzi (#28074481) Attached to: The Case For Working With Your Hands

I used to be a self taught IT technician. Nothing overly high reaching, but enough to manage a network and look after pc's. The long and the short of it was the job burnt me out. With no official quals under my belt I had a hard time getting another job in the industry (circa 2004). So I decided to become an electrical apprentice with the local government supplier (distribution).

Best thing I've done:
PROS:
Pay's not too bad as a second year adult apprentice
working conditions are good
I haven't worked hard since I started, no pressure.
I can still utilise my IT skills in scada and maybe later on in the network control side of things.
The pay is as a first year tradesman out of their time is about the same as a recent graduate (and can go up from there)
Awesome job security (everyone needs power)
Working is still challenging and interesting.
Out and about without a boss breathing down my neck
Scope for further study

Cons:
The risk goes up, but the company is *very* safety conscious
Some occasionally filthy environments
Attitude exists that you know nothing because your 'just the apprentice'

All in all, having the general IT skills gives me an edge in an industry where some tradies still struggle to use a computer (usually the older ones, but some of the younger ones aswell).

Think about it, it might be worth in your area/state/country or then again YMMV

Comment: Re:why would a computer "jitter and freeze" (Score 1) 445

by Firrenzi (#27780337) Attached to: Think-Tank Warns of Internet "Brownouts" Starting Next Year

That's pretty much the marketing of Australian ISPs. I've been off work for the last week and have been able to pull speeds during the day that are great for my service. Come 4 -7 o'clock and up till about 10 pm, the service is pretty average. It doesn't take a think tank to see this stuff.

Load shedding is a work around when you realise that your network is crap and it's turning to shite around you, but companies will still have to pony up and expand the infrastructure properly, instead of just rolling out enough to keep the funny-numbers-balance-sheet looking pretty.

(U.S. Fed reserve are you listening?)

Comment: Slashdot advice can equal death (Score 1) 695

by Firrenzi (#26287181) Attached to: Home Generators (or How DTE Energy Ruined My Holidays)

I understand the author of the article knows his/her limits; this is not directed at him/her.

It never ceases to amaze me the advice given on slashdot. How to make network cables, what 2 way radio I should buy, what widget is good, what version of *nix should I run to do abc (insert favourite version of *nix here).
The above advices is often very helpful and gives many including myself a point in the right direction for learning. However as an apprentice electrician with a background in IT and telecommunications, I have learnt there are just some things you don't fuck with unless you have the necessary experience. Electricity is one of them. I work on the industrial distribution side of things where the smallest is 230V (Australia) and the more usual is 11/33 kV. I have done some contracting also.

They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. With a electricity, even a moderate amount of knowledge is a dangerous thing. If a plumber stuffs up his pipes, the shit goes in the sewer and the storm water goes down the shit. An environmental issue, but not immediately life threatening. I'm not having a go at plumbers, just that water doesn't kill in the same sense. We mix active and neutral wires around and we kill someone. This is called polarity because the neutral is bonded to the earth by a multiple earth neutral (MEN) link. So now that you weren't sure which socket to put that wire into, congratulations, you just livened up every tap in your house. There have been many cases of this happening with workers and people dying.

The other thing to consider is how many KVA that you are going to need. This is related to power factor; in short how much extra overhead is needed to run the system, let alone you basic current draw. Examples of power factor (overhead) include starting currents for running fridges (up to 8 times it's operational current to kick over the compressor). Too much voltage drop on the circuit (a fair amount here, not just 1 or 2%) because of too high a load and congratulations you've just burnt out your fridge. What happens is the compressor does not have enough initial voltage to kick it over and continues to attempt to do so. If the voltage has dropped by half for example, the fridge is going to pull twice as much current to try and start. At 8 times *initial* starting current, we've just doubled that. We are now pulling current outside of what the fridge is designed to carry. Increased load = increased heat = increased resistance = increased load and so the cycle continues. Magic Black Smoke ensues.

Safety: I will keep this brief
It takes 0.4 A to induce an heart attack.
Our cells operate at very close the frequency of electricity (50hz in euro/aus, 60Hz in North America)
It can be said that low voltage (240 to 1000V) is more dangerous than high voltage (1000V to 33kv). I'm sure many here have mucked around with power supplies or power outlets and gotten a tingle. Some people get thrown across the room, if you unlucky enough to touch it with the palm of your hand, your muscles will contract and lock down. And will stay that way until you are a puddle on the floor.
The general resistance of a human is approimately 1000 ohms, thus doing the math (i = v/r) 110/1000 = 0.11 A. Those figures are starting to push into the major danger area. If you are slightly wet, sweaty or not wearing the right gear, your resistance goes down and your likelihood to die just went up a whole lot.
To put into perspective the testing tolerance on a working electrical glove for LV is 8mA at the very most before fail.

The calculations that go into design are not hard, and in the Aussie standards there are load recommendations as well. The point is a good electrician is also an engineer at heart, designing the system so you are not paying too much for something and not killing your system either. You pay for an electrician's skill, experience and insurance that he won't make it go bang or *kill* someone when he walks away. For those giving advice on slashdot, can you guarantee that your advice won't kill someone in the process? I know I am rambling, ranting and probably foaming at the mouth, but the death of someone from your handiwork would be a tough one to live with. Some advice is good and it will do the job, it's when things go pear shaped (badly) that you need to consider the consequences

A what of what I do in my trade as a whole is trade assistants work, just your basic trade work; stuff that makes a person a good tradesman. The key here is applying the detail you learn at college where you realise the requirements necessary for an installation. Are you sure you want to turn that breaker on? You'd better be otherwise things can go bang, and when the Magic Black Smoke comes out of it, it's very hard to put back in, let alone the issues of life and limb.

Earth

A Sixth Region In the Magnetosphere 69

Posted by timothy
from the difracting-imposed-distinctions dept.
Roland Piquepaille writes "As you probably know, Earth's magnetosphere, 'the invisible bubble of magnetic fields and electrically charged particles that surrounds and protects the planet from the periodically lethal radiation of the solar wind,' was discovered in 1958. Until now, it was believed to comprise five regions, including the ionosphere or the Van Allen radiation belts. Now, a US research team has discovered a sixth region, called the warm plasma cloak."
Censorship

Politician Forces German Wikipedia Off the Net 569

Posted by kdawson
from the inconvenient-truth dept.
Stephan Schulz writes "A German Member of parliament for a left-wing party, Lutz Heilmann, has obtained a preliminary injunction against the local chapter of the Wikimedia foundation, Wikimedia Deutschland e.V., forbidding the forwarding of the popular http://wikipedia.de to the proper http://de.wikipedia.org. Apparently Heilmann is not happy with the fact that his Wikipedia article (English version) contains information on his work for the former GDR Stasi, the much-hated internal secret service. Wikimedia Germany displays a page explaining the situation, and has announced that it will file an objection to get the injunction lifted. The German Wikipedia has more than 800,000 pages, and is hosted, like all Wikimedia projects, by the Florida-based Wikimedia Foundation, and hence beyond the effective reach of at least German politicians and judges."
The Internet

Australian Censorship Bypassed Before Live Trials 184

Posted by timothy
from the you-expect-free-choice-from-the-government? dept.
newt writes "The Australian Government is planning to conduct live trials of as-yet-unspecified censorship technology. But as every geek already knows, these systems can't possibly work in the presence of VPNs and proxy servers. PC Authority clues the punters in." Maybe the ISPs secretly like encouraging SSH tunneling — and making everyone pay for the extra bandwidth used. Not really; Australia's major ISPs, as mentioned a few days ago, think it's a bad idea.
Privacy

A Linux-Based "Breath Test" For Porn On PCs 345

Posted by timothy
from the child-porn-claims-the-ultimate-smear-tactic dept.
Gwaihir the Windlord writes "A university in Western Australia has started beta testing a tool that's described as 'a random breath test' to scan computers for illicit images. According to this article it's a clean bootable Linux environment. Since it doesn't write to the hard drive, the evidence is acceptable in court, at least in Australia. They're also working on versions to search for financial documents in fraud squad cases, or to search for terrorist keywords. Other than skimming off the dumb ones, does anyone really expect this to make a difference?" The article offers no details on what means the software uses to identify suspicious files.

The best laid plans of mice and men are held up in the legal department.

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