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Comment: Re:Everybody skips the interesting bits (Score 2) 299

by MarkRose (#47377745) Attached to: Site of 1976 "Atomic Man" Accident To Be Cleaned

At the surface of a reactor pool, the biggest dose of radiation is actually from the tritium created by neutron absorption by the hydrogen in the water molecules. The heat given off by the fuel will create a convective current, so the tritium will be evenly dispersed throughout the pool. Swimming in or drinking the water would obviously not be the best thing due to the tritium contamination (while skin will block the very weak beta radiation, tritium ingested or absorbed through the skin can cause DNA damage). A small amount will also be present in the air around the pool due to evaporation. Would I drink or swim in the water? No. But I have stood over a reactor pool for several minutes without concern.

Comment: Re:Wear leveling (Score 1) 68

It was 128 KB for smaller, older drives. For instance, the Samsung 840 EVO series use an erase block size of 2 MB. Some devices even have an 8 MB erase block size. 8 KB page sizes are common now, too, much like how spinning rust moved to 4 KB pages. Using larger pages and blocks allows for denser, cheaper manufacturing.

Comment: Depends on the position (Score 1) 466

What is the position? Is it to fill a chair? Is it to produce one-off work? Or is it to produce a larger project that's maintainable for the long term?

It's not simply enough to have some skill: for every bit of skill a person brings to the team, there is the additional overhead of communication with that person. After a point, adding more people to a project is simply not productive and even a hindrance, regardless of the calibre of those people. A small number of great programmers can often outperform a large team, and cost a lot less in salary and benefits.

If someone is 5/10 skilled, that person should spend time to get better at something. Read more books. Watch more talks. Study algorithms, design patterns, anti-patterns, etc. Write more code. Get good at something. I'm not a good C programmer. I like C, but I've never done enough to get good at it (maybe someday). But I built a distributed, fault-tolerant auto-scaling LNMP stack that services thousands of API requests per second, without a rearchitecture, because I studied how to scale and wrote scaling into the system from day one.

Embedded software experience is an in-demand skill. Many programmers can create bloated, slow code, but few can write lean, efficient, and fast code. That's highly valued in the embedded space, of course, as it's needed, but it's also very in demand at scale, because being inefficient costs a lot of money. If I were hiring, I'd look very fondly at someone with this skill, much more than someone who is focused on simply the language de jour. It's easy to find people who can produce code. It's hard to find people who can solve problems well.

I can't speak for every area, but in my locale there are plenty of hardware-oriented startups that have a tough time finding qualified people. The jobs are out there, but I agree the market is smaller than for pure software. One place hardware companies struggle is writing good drivers and application software. Someone who got good at that, along with having the embedded knowledge, would be very in demand.

Comment: Re:Rail+ ferry (Score 2) 348

by MarkRose (#46968505) Attached to: China May Build an Undersea Train To America

If building rail line from western Alaska to connect to the continental system, no significant mountain ranges need to be crossed. Assuming the rail lands at the closest point across the Bering Straight, there is an almost flat route following the Koyukuk and Yukon Rivers over to the Mackenzie River. The North American rail network reaches as far as Hay River, near the south end of the Mackenzie River.

For a shorter route, the Tanana River could be followed past Fairbanks, and the route could continue paralleling the Alaska Highway to Whitehorse. At Whitehorse it could travel next to Teslin Lake and over land to Dease Lake. While Dease Lake is not currently connected to the continental rail network, but the track bed had been fully prepared in the 1970's, and it would be easy to install the necessary bridges and rail.

Still, ships would be more efficient.

Comment: Re:This is why we need the government regulation (Score 2) 211

by MarkRose (#46952567) Attached to: Feds Issue Emergency Order On Crude Oil Trains

You're blaming railroads for a lot of things they have no control over:

  • Railroads don't classify the goods being shipped, shippers do.
  • Railroads can't refuse to take dangerous goods. They're classified as common carries and have to carry anything that's allowed by regulation, including hazardous materials.
  • Railroads do own older, less safe equipment, such as older DOT-111 tank cars and can reasonably be blamed for spotting the cars they own to industries shipping volatile chemicals. However, they cannot refuse to move cars delivered from other railroads, or leased by the industries. Furthermore, the factories making replacement vehicles are backed up for two years. Even so, railroads are replacing the cars they own. They are being responsible.
  • Most rail lines were built in rural areas, and the cities grew up around them. Don't blame the railroad when a city builds up next to a transportation corridor that transports dangerous goods. In the cases where railroads have rebuilt outside of cities, the cities have again crowded around the lines. What do you expect railroads to do? They were there first.

The solution is to put hydrocarbons (and other dangerous liquid goods) in pipelines that are statistically far safer. Pipelines, carrying one a single product, can be routed far away from urban areas. But those in power refuse to allow it, in cases stalling for over half a decade.

Or blame the shippers, who purposely make their shipments more volatile and mislabel the contents.

Railroads can be blamed for runaway trains, like the one that got away in Lac-Megantic (a train that had safely passed through Toronto earlier). Derailments happen, despite the best efforts to prevent them (they cost a lot of money, so no railroad wants them). But most of the blame for the explosive situations that have resulted cannot be placed on the railroads: their hands are tied.

Comment: Re:Why not nukes? (Score 1) 108

by MarkRose (#46452031) Attached to: How Engineers Are Building a Power Station At the South Pole

Load following with a nuclear plant isn't difficult if you can easily control the moderator. This can be controlled by computer. In designs with large negative temperature coefficients (such as LFTR) the reaction speed can be controlled by the rate heat is removed from the reactor, making load following is as simple as controlling the speed of a pump in a coolant loop. Most (all?) current commercial reactors are not designed to habitually operate this way.

Commercial reactors are usually run full power for capital cost recovery reasons. The cost of fuel for nuclear versus the capital cost of current reactors is such that it is always cheaper than the fuel (or storage) for alternative power generation, so in periods of low demand, nuclear wins. Capital costs are high because it is difficult to handle high pressure water (and the 1700 fold expansion in volume if containment is lost) in current commercial designs. Designs using molten salts operate at atmospheric pressure and will be dramatically cheaper to construct. Companies such as Terrestrial Energy and Flibe Energy are working on commercialization of molten salt reactors, which are feasible from megawatts to gigawatts. Such a reactor would be ideal for a remote research base.

Comment: Why use the Zend engine at all? (Score 3, Interesting) 254

by MarkRose (#46403533) Attached to: The New PHP

Many of the problems with PHP are from the crappy language implementation. I recently came across a Java implementation of the language. It's been around forever, but as I hadn't heard of it, I figure many people reading this thread haven't either. It's Quercus. It's certainly worth a look as a Zend alternative.

+ - Slashdot's new interface could kill what keeps Slashdot relevant->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Technology Lab / Information Technology
Slashdot’s new interface could kill what keeps Slashdot relevant
Flashy revamp seeks to draw new faces to the community—at the cost of the old.

by Lee Hutchinson — Feb 12 2014, 6:55pm E

        Web Culture


In the modern responsive Web Three Point Oh Internet, Slashdot stands like a thing frozen in time—it's a coelacanth stuck incongruously in an aquarium full of more colorful fish. The technology news aggregator site has been around since 1997, making it positively ancient as websites are reckoned. More importantly, Slashdot's long focus on open source technology news and topics has caused it to accrete a user base that tends to be extremely technical, extremely skilled, and extremely opinionated.

That user base is itself the main reason why Slashdot continues to thrive, even as its throwback interface makes it look to untrained eyes like a dated relic. Though the site is frequently a source of deep and rich commentary on topics, the barrier for new users to engage in the site's discussions is relatively high—certainly higher than, say, reddit (or even Ars). This doesn't cause much concern to the average Slashdot user, but tech job listing site (which bought Slashdot in September 2012, along with Sourceforge and a number of other digital properties) appears to have decided it's time to drag Slashdot's interface into the 21st century in order to make things comfortable for everyone—old and new users alike."

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