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Comment: Filming bans (Score 1) 72 72

Increasing numbers of places - sports stadia, school plays and the like - ban video recording of the action. Sometimes the excuse is "don't you dare think of the children". Other times the more honest line is "we are filming it ourselves and you can buy the video for $ XXX." But in either case, finding a video of the event on YouTube is likely to result in a phone call to the land sharks.

Comment: Re:Cue the alien influence ... (Score 1) 228 228

Next season the "History Channel" will be running shows discussing possible extraterrestrial influences on Herbert's writings. :-)

If they're showing it next year, then it has been in production for about 6 months already, and they've probably finished main filming already. I wonder if they had the gonads to film at Armageddon (modern Meggido). Or more likely an important question - whether they had the budget for it.

Comment: Drilling Rig (Score 1) 368 368

After 21 days on the job (24x7 cover, typically 20 hour working day) I had to identify one saple of dark grey claystone from one of two possible other types of dark grey claystone. I decided one way, then went to pack my bags to crew-change with my relief.

The implications of deciding one way not the other were a million dollars worth of ironmongery (9.925in OD liner pipe) being run and cemented into the hole. That operation occupied a rig crew of 90-odd people for 8 days while I was on leave. When we drilled ahead, it became clear that I had been wrong. Total unnecessary cost was about 2 million dollars.

These days, I don't lose sleep for less than ten million. The fact that I still do work for the client suggests that they figure it's better to have me around than not.

A couple of years ago I got some grief for pointing out a problem on day 10 of a job, which people upstairs from me decided wasn't likely to be a problem. So they shelved the problem, told me in writing to shut up, and continued with the well. 3 months of work later, we'd made a beautifully-tuned geo-steered well ... and had to wait on weather for a major storm. And when we came back on location, the problem I'd been making a fuss about had come back to haunt us and forty million dollars worth of ironmongery and effort was junk. Several embarrassed faces upstairs, but all my fellow contractors knew who had said "We need to deal with this problem, now." when we were five million into the project. Who needs advertising?

Comment: Re:have I missed something? (Score 1) 70 70

someone want to tell me how launching from NZ, apart from political issues, is in any way advantageous over launching from the US?

If you're a non-US company (shockingly, there are such people!) then that may be a sufficient reason already. Before you even get into politics.

I see elsewhere that Rocket Labs have "recently become a US company, for VC reasons" (paraphrasing). Shrug. That'll make them harder to deal with for some customers. Say - an Indian telecomms company wanting to put up a series of satellites. Dealing with your (relatively near) neighbours instead of people on the other side of the world could be a very good start for a commodity like launch facilities, even if you're only using it as a bargaining chip to argue down the price with your in-country launch facilities.

Comment: Re:Who the fuck is Turing (Score 1) 91 91

Anyways, a couple of paragraphs from wikipedia:

More interesting to me from the same article (probably), is the compositions listed : zirconium, beryllium, titanium, copper, nickel, and more recently aluminium and niobium. From a health-effects and recyclability point of view, I'd watch out for the nickel and beryllium in particular. I don't have a nickel sensitivity myself, I think, but I've had enough contact with people who do have a bad response to anticipate problems, for a moderate proportion of users.

Which isn't a show-stopper, but it's an issues some people might need to be careful of.

Protect the screen of my smart phone? Isn't that why I put it in a fibre-board and PVC phone case? Oh yes, so it is. And does that protect my phone when it falls out of my pocket while I'm cycling down the road at 25kmph? So far, yes. And it cost a whole 2 Beers (in internationally translatable costs).

Interesting product. No sale though.

Comment: Re:Something I won't put on my resume (Score 1) 198 198

I've been in a similar situation when arriving on an oil rig to start a job (drilling out in 2 hours ; next helicopter on 3 days ; no spares on board, see further comments below about manuals). The pneumatic motor for extracting gas samples hadn't been operated for 4 months (contrary to rig-up instructions ; I wrote the manual and definitely put weekly runs into the mothballing procedures ; they weren't followed but that's a separate issue).

The motor wouldn't start by jagging it (power/ air on and off repeatedly). Still wouldn't start after filling the inlet line with lube oil and jagging it (this is what the weekly runs in the "mothball" section of the manual were intended to achieve).

Final solution, which got it working, was jagging it while tapping with the shaft of a hammer on the visible bearing housing, in the direction of the shaft. That put enough vibration into the bearings that the applied force from the air (and lube oil) on the motor vanes started to shift the vanes by a degree or two ... which exposed one of the vanes to fresh lube oil ... which reduced the friction. 10 minutes of doing that every few seconds and the motor started to turn, slowly. After that, the lube oil did it's stuff.

I fucking hate people who don't READ the fucking manual after I've gone to the effort to WRITE the damned thing. Do they think I'm typing for the good of my fingers, or something?

The same trick will often work with a stuck bolt or gas fitting : apply spanner in the undo direction (and CHECK if it's left or right-hand thread !! We have enough L-H threads that you learn to check, but now you can't claim you weren't warned!) and keep a steady pull on it ; hit the head in the direction of the bolt shaft repeatedly while keeping hand tension on the spanner. Easing oil helps (not fucking WD40). Spending 20 minutes like this is better than having to deal with a sheared-off fitting which invalidates the Explosion-Proof rating of the enclosure.

Comment: Re:Routing around (Score 1) 198 198

We shouldn't have to design things to prevent this kind of act.

That's debatable. But in the real world you do have to design against the random mis-placed back-hoe bucket, a truck going off the road and hitting a relay cabinet, a sperm whale attempting to mate with your undersea cable and good old lightning strikes. Which are sufficiently random that protecting around - or designing around - random damage is still pretty much necessary.

I suspect that there has been insufficient paranoia in the people choosing the topology and physical layout of the cables. Putting all of your 100% redundancy in the same cable bundle doesn't give you redundancy against gross damage to that bundle, whereas running 50% of your capacity in a bundle down Main Street and 50% in a bundle going down Cross Boulevard provides service level protection up to events that take out both Main Street and Cross Boulevard. But that does increase your cabling installation, maintenance and repair costs appreciably, so I understand why PHBs do the Wrong Thing, even if their Dilberts tell them what the Right Thing is.

Comment: Re:touchpad (Score 1) 78 78

"Tap to click" on a touchpad is one of the stupidest things ever invented.

I think it's really well designed, and excellent at achieving it's purpose.

It's purpose is, of course, to really fuck up any users who are not touch typists intent on RSI, and any users who are touch typists by forcing them to take their hands off the keyboard.

Me? I carry a mouse. For the work's laptop. And a mouse for the client's laptop. And a good, left-handed mouse for my laptop stays in my locker when I'm not on the boat. And there's a spare mouse in the locker too. Beats using a touch pad. Using a clit-stick beats using a touch pad. Using a keyboard accelerator beats using any of the above, but most applications seem to be working hard to make that impossible these days.

Comment: Re:Coral dies all the time (Score 2) 145 145

. the first point being that this is an internet chat forum and a certain amount of latitude is expected in this context


read what the site's sub-title is : News for Nerds.

I don't see any reason to lower the expectations I've placed on other users for the last 17 or so years (I've forgotten when I signed up. I know I was still on dial-up ; Slashdot was one of the things that persuaded me to get an automatic dial up account instead of manually dialling up). If you're a nerd (which you self-identify as, because you're here) then you should be able to handle a level of technical discussion far higher than the jock in the stadium.

Nonetheless you do seem to have some severely distant-from-reality ideas about the biology of corals. That's a general point. Perhaps you'd like to explain how long it takes a coral to die due to increasing water temperatures, and then reflect on what windows that leaves for remedial work? In general of course. The impression you give (obtained by, uh, reading your words ; I may be under the misapprehension that you chose your words with more consideration than a "normal" person. Because you're, like, generally here, man.) is that you think that it is an instantaneous reaction, for all corals in an area in a very short period of time?

In general, how long do you think it would take a new coral growth to spread from a thermally resistant survivor to at least partly replace the corals lost in a bleaching event? It's quite an important question because, in general, it affects things like shore line stability for considerable areas, and so affects how much expenditure will be needed for protecting harbours, approach channels etc for shipping?

Just to put things into context - the last time that the planet had this level of ocean acidification and greenhouse gas dumping, it was done over a period of about (+/- 50%) 6 thousand years (compared to the couple of hundred years that we've done it), and it took about 120 thousand years (compared to the 10 thousand years we've had agriculture) for the effects to be absorbed back to something approaching normality. That's one of the reasons that it's geological marks are a useful signpost. The question is less one of whether or not corals will survive, but more of whether human civilisation will survive to ask the question of the corals.

Comment: Re:Coral dies all the time (Score 2) 145 145

Using the wrong word for the wrong concept is a tactic that Humpty Dumpty discussed in 1870-odd. It's reputation hasn't improved.

... that's more than a little pedantic.

If you want a scientific discussion, then get used to pedantry, and saying precisely what you mean using precisely the technical terminology of the field, unless you want people to think that you mean what you say, instead of what you mean.

For example, you say Change the temperate of the water? Coral dies. / Touch the coral? The coral dies. / Change the ocean chemistry in anyway? The coral dies. I suspect that you mean "Change the temperature of the water too much and too fast and the coral dies" (and appropriate other changes). Because if that isn't what you meant, then you are implying that every single day then every coral on the planet dies as the thermonuclear radiation of the rising Sun sears the water. (The deep water corals would die on a less predictable time scale. I see about 0.16 centigrade variation on the well I'm just writing reports on, though that's isolated from the global deep water circulation. But that's an easily measurable change, which you imply is fatal. If only the seabed wasn't lethal, so that there could be corals to die.)

You seem to be thinking that all species of corals are interchangeable. Which I find incredible, having to spend some parts of my working life writing reports on corals at the bottom of the North Atlantic (well, 2km below surface ; below the photic zone by over a km, and in water temperatures of 1-2 centigrade) and other parts of my life monitoring for contamination of coral reefs in the intertidal zone and 25-30 centigrade water. Somehow, I don't think that one of those species is going to be able to colonise an empty niche left by the other.

Rate of change is very important. The global temperature rise in the Lower Cretaceous didn't lead to a significant extinction event. That temperature change took place over several millions of years. A similar magnitude of temperature change in the Late Eocene (the PETM "blast in the past" as we call it at work, using it as a geosteering datum) took place over about 6000 years and led to one of the largest mass extinctions outside the "big five".

The effect of humans on the seas is significant, important, and growing. But personally, I'm slightly more concerned about the pH changes than the temperature changes. Not because I think corals are robust to temperature changes, but because the symbiont algae are probably more amenable to rapid evolution (human directed, if necessary) and experimental recharge of the corals. Which is work-in-progress. But that won't be by the sort of mechanisms that you seem to think will happen.

Comment: Re:Really ? (Score 1) 253 253

Vacuum is pretty nasty.

Pressure differentials do nasty things to seals. Particularly with nasty chemicals around.

Getting the floating level correct may give a reasonable environment. Multiple floatation bags - hydrogen being OK in an oxygen-free atmosphere - provide plenty of redundancy. It'd be fun trying to land the first few rockets to start building the base.

Occupy the base with a plant (machine, or biological) that turns CO2 + water into carbon dust and plastics construction material, and that you can von Neumann your way to habitability in a relatively short period of time.

Terraforming Venus has always struck me as being a more approachable tactic than terraforming Mars. The big question would be - is there enough water? And with 90-odd bar of atmosphere to work with, you can throw dirty snowballs at it with the fair expectation that they'll not blow back into space.

Comment: Hmmm, the problems of referring to "we" (Score 1) 253 253

Normally referring to "we" is an attempt at being inclusive. But StartsWithABang Starts With A Fizzle by linking to his (presumed) employer, about some old news.

Terraforming Venus may be no easier than terraforming Mars. Both are probably practically impossible, given that adapting human technologies to subsist on either planet will probably involve less tech than allowing humans to live on either planet. We'd still get the large majority of our living area from the asteriods.

Algebraic symbols are used when you do not know what you are talking about. -- Philippe Schnoebelen