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Comment: Re:Usual story, nothing to see here? (Score 1) 123

Nobody is interested in fixing it, not even the environmental guy.

However, there are millions of people downstream of Hanford who are seriously interested in having the site cleaned up, and politicians who are terrified that at some point the feds will punt and it will all fall to Washington and Oregon to deal with. The lack of trust is understandable; the DOE asserts that it has cleaned up the much smaller Rocky Flats site upwind from Denver, but refuses to allow Colorado to have any independent testing done.

Comment: Re:4th gen reactors consume old waste as fuel ... (Score 4, Informative) 123

...point out that 4th gen nuclear reactors will consume the waste of previous gen reactors as fuel...

Unfortunately, much of the waste at Hanford is not in a form that can be easily converted to usable fuel for anything. Think millions of gallons of seriously nasty chemical toxins, that just happen to also have a batch radioactive isotopes dissolved in it. The clean-up plan calls for a one-of-a-kind chemical plant to handle separation and break-down of the stuff. Much of the delay can be attributed to problems with the design of said plant; a lot of experts assert that it simply won't work.

Comment: Re:paper...pencil (Score 1) 170

by michael_cain (#46801395) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Professional Journaling/Notes Software?
One of the other functions notebooks occasionally fill is as evidence in patent hearings. If that's a consideration, pencils are a no-no because things can be changed. Yeah, I'm at the "get off my lawn" age these days, but best practice for patent cases is still bound notebooks, numbered pages, ink. If you screwed something up three days ago, you don't erase and fix, you redraw on a new page with the current date and refer back as "corrects version of this on pg 23." For personal use, that's overkill.

I ended up with a piece of home-grown Perl/Tk code that lets me do notes from the keyboard, simple drawings with the mouse, paste in pictures and files, etc. Uses what appears to be the old xterm "fixed" font because at one point I planned to have a version that multiple people could view across the network and I wanted pixel-level sameness across locations. Multiple colors because as you say, sometimes that helps with clarity (and if I go back to add another observation on an existing page, I use a contrasting color for the text). Every line of text or drawn element gets timestamped and recorded -- that's for my own use, and is certainly not good enough to stand up in court. No limit to how far a page can grow down or to the right, which creates its own set of problems. I'm probably the only person in the world that would find it useful, but it does get some of the job done.

Comment: Re:Don't do it. Linux sucks as an XP workgroup (Score 1) 452

by michael_cain (#46718259) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Start With Linux In the Workplace?
Yeah, the OP seems to imply that there are other people who have newer hardware running something other than XP -- he's talking about stragglers. One of the starting points is to go see whoever is responsible for budget planning. In my experience, they're more likely than anyone to be locked into the full-blown Windows version of Excel (full-blown meaning VBA, Solver, particular statistics packages, etc). Ask them how much of the budget data flow is broken if people don't have Excel compatibility at that level. And whether they're willing to rebuild the data flow around a different spreadsheet program (again, my experience is that the answer to that is not only "no," but "Hell, no!").

Comment: Re:Bullshit Made Up Language (Score 1) 512

by michael_cain (#46612147) Attached to: Why <em>Darmok</em> Is a Good <em>Star Trek: TNG</em> Episode
Or enough math to do the physics for warp drive. Ask anyone who's taken math-heavy graduate classes: notation, the language, matters a lot. The British fell behind Continental Europe in terms of advancing analysis, and stayed behind, until they finally tossed Newton's notation in favor of Leibniz.

Comment: Re:Code I consider 'elegant'. (Score 1) 373

by michael_cain (#46585999) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Do You Consider Elegant Code?
My standards for my own code are considerably lower. I settle for, "If I can read it and understand how it all works after not touching it for six months, that's good enough." Once upon a time I had to use APL to to handle a batch of numerical problems, and never managed to reach that bar no matter how hard I tried :^)

Comment: Re:I look forward to the day they ignite (Score 1) 127

by michael_cain (#46233337) Attached to: National Ignition Facility Takes First Steps Towards Fusion Energy
No mod points today, but yeah, I think maintaining precision in the process of capturing power output at the level of several hundred megawatts is going to be interesting. I'm getting up there in years; I've pretty much given up on commercial fusion power in my lifetime.

Comment: Re:Do they need it? (Score 1) 212

It's interesting to look at the county-level primary maps prior to the point where everyone else folded and gave the nomination to Romney. In state after state, Romney won the urban and inner suburban counties (that Obama would win in the general). And lost the rural areas, usually to the "more conservative" candidate du jour. There was a steady stream of headlines of the form: "<X and Y> win primaries" with the subhead "Romney increases delegate lead". The Republicans' fundamental policy and demographic problems can be summed up as, "They hate cities, and most of the people who live in cities." Long-term trends suggest that's going to be a serious problem.

Comment: Re:duh (Score 1) 265

And, if so, why is society prepared to live with their politicians and staff acting like such douchebags?

Consider for a moment what it takes to get elected as governor of one of the big populous states, or as President. The media is going to go back through most of your adult life with a fine-tooth comb. They're going to demand that you explain anything of potential interest in your tax returns. If you stumble over the wording in a speech, the tenth or twelfth time you've given it and you're sick of it, the stumble will be analyzed to death. You'll be called all sorts of vile things. If you're married, your spouse will probably get called names also. And then there's the fundraising bullshit... someone you can't stand offers the campaign a million dollars, and you have to play nice with them.

The kind of people that you (and I) would like to see in public office, who worry about doing the right things by their state/country, run screaming from even the idea of putting themselves and their family through the process.

Comment: Misc Titles (Score 1) 796

by michael_cain (#45840991) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Are the Books Everyone Should Read?
Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet -- Given the number of good things that have been written that borrow the whole story, it's worth reading the original. Shakespeare borrowed the story himself, but improved it greatly.

Niven and Pournelle's The Mote in God's Eye -- Ignore how much Larry and Jerry wish we would give up an elected executive and install a monarch; it's still one of the very best first contact novels.

Michener's The Source -- Fictional but well-researched story of the evolution of religions in the Middle East, warts and all. Actually, more about the warts than anything else.

Comment: Re:A step backward (Score 1) 606

by michael_cain (#45796417) Attached to: How Ya Gonna Get 'Em Down On the UNIX Farm?
At some point I ended up writing a couple of small GUI applications with CodeWarrior, although on much more capable machines than the one where my colleague first ran MPW. The only thing I remember about the experience was being frustrated by having to learn yet another text editor, and one that wasn't -- IMO at the time -- nearly as competent as vi for writing code.

"Catch a wave and you're sitting on top of the world." - The Beach Boys