Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Comment: Re:Stop helping (Score 5, Informative) 417

by mpyne (#36578638) Attached to: Flood Berm Collapses At Nebraska Nuclear Plant

I recall reading of at least one plant worker that died due to radiation exposure.

Who was it? When did it happen?

There have been fatalities at nuclear plants related to the reactor or radiation in general. For instance, Louis Slotin was heavily irradiated and died within a week after mishandling a plutonium core, and the (3) workers at the early military power production facility SL-1 were killed due to a criticality accident. There have not, on the other hand, been radiation-induced casualties from civilian plants that I'm aware of, with the exception of Chernobyl (a non-Western style design).

If you're referring to Fukushima, there was a plant worker at Fukushima Dai-ni who died in a crane after the tsunami, but this was not radiation-related, as this was before the meltdowns occurred, and this was at Dai-ni, not the site with the meltdowns (Fukushima Dai-Ichi). At Fukushima Dai-Ichi itself there were workers who went missing after a hydrogen explosion who I'd never heard about afterwards -- it's possible that they were killed, although this also would not have been due to radiation (not that it matters to them...).

There have been ~9 or so workers exceed the already-raised 250 mSv exposure limit but as far as I'm aware there have been no fatalities due to radiation exposure, so I'd be interested to know what I'm missing that you read about.

Comment: Re:"Containment vessel" (Score 1) 1122

by mpyne (#35661778) Attached to: Things Get Worse at Fukushima

They were working on reactor #3, not #2. #3 was also suspected to have a leak in containment, but their latest readings say that the containment vessel is not losing pressure, which would seem to imply there is no leak. So where did that radioactive water come from?

There is shared facilities between some of the units on the site, including tunnels. Perhaps some of the high-level radioactive water from unit 2 has flowed over to unit 3?

Comment: Re:IceWM FTW (Score 2) 797

by mpyne (#35391580) Attached to: GNOME To Lose Minimize, Maximize Buttons

KDE decided that icons are unnecessary.

Icons have been allowed on the desktop even since KDE 4.0 (where the equivalent Plasma widget for a desktop link was automatically created). Mapping a filesystem path to an icon view on the desktop has worked since 4.1 and in fact is far more flexible than it was in 3.5.

I should know we use icons everywhere, as I had to write KSharedDataCache just to keep icon loading from slowing down the entire desktop!

Comment: Re:Really? People are surprised? (Score 1) 402

by mpyne (#34649264) Attached to: CIA Launches WTF To Investigate Wikileaks

How do we know they didn't? Nobody caught Manning until he told people about it.

I never said that no other personnel besides PFC Manning exfiltrated classified information. I said that thousands of servicemembers did not exfiltrate information. I did this deliberately instead of saying that no one but PFC Manning did this since I don't actually know that at least one, or two, or even more didn't do the same thing. But don't put words into my mouth. :P

Comment: Re:Really? People are surprised? (Score 1) 402

by mpyne (#34649252) Attached to: CIA Launches WTF To Investigate Wikileaks

With three million chances a determined organisation with even basic resources is going to find a way in. It doesn't need Mossad (experts at turning high ranking Palestinians) or equivalent, Walmart could do it if they cared.

I agree completely, and never claimed otherwise. Charliemopps claimed that any PFC would have done what Manning did. I disagreed, and my follow-up post to him was simply to point out that it is, in fact, slightly more difficult than clicking on Nero and burning a CD full of classified info.

Not much more difficult, as it turns out, but enough to make it so that the ones doing it are, like PFC Manning and your Walmart-level organization, actually trying to get information to use for their advantage instead of trying to get $100 to blow at a strip club.

Comment: Re:Really? People are surprised? (Score 1) 402

by mpyne (#34641908) Attached to: CIA Launches WTF To Investigate Wikileaks

"Well, not any PFC would have done this, because thousands of "lowly" enlisted personnel before and during Manning's service managed to have access to this information without burning it to CD-RW's while lip syncing to Lady Gaga songs."

You're incorrectly assuming that if they did this they'd
A. Get caught.
B. Get publicly arrested.

And you're incorrectly assuming that a significant motive exists among servicemembers to do this.

I'm not certain why you mention getting publicly arrested though, as getting publicly arrested still beats the other alternative, and given Manning's current treatment, it seems to me that avoiding arrest is motivation enough for many soldiers who are just trying to do their time and get out of the Army.

Even with that though, it's harder to keep doing things without getting caught than you make it sound. All it would take is one person glancing over and seeing a CD writer program, one bored IT dweeb browsing through the logs, or hell, one officer who knew the rule against bringing in media noticing and you're caught. Not impossible to do (obviously) but requires some dedication to the task, a dedication which isn't exactly foremost among most of the volunteers who make up the Army.

My tax records on my home network are more secure than these documents were.

Would that still be true if millions of people required access to your home network to do their job?

Comment: Re:Really? People are surprised? (Score 1) 402

by mpyne (#34641366) Attached to: CIA Launches WTF To Investigate Wikileaks

The US military basically left a $100 bill laying on the bar while they went to the bathroom and some lowly PFC found it and did what anyone would have in his situation. Now they are trying to pretend like this worldwide network of thieves dropped in like ninjas and snatched it from their 3ft thick titanium safe.

Well, not any PFC would have done this, because thousands of "lowly" enlisted personnel before and during Manning's service managed to have access to this information without burning it to CD-RW's while lip syncing to Lady Gaga songs. At the same time I don't remember seeing the Army ever claim that they were remotely attacked, only that PFC Manning broke several laws and even agreements he made personally (all servicemembers who use government networks are required to sign a form stating quite explicitly that they will not do what PFC Manning admitted to doing) in order to improperly remove classified material from the SIPRNET.

Although this is also a failure of the government's willingness to share sensitive data so widely, the fact of the matter was that this was a deliberate policy by the government as a corrective action to the inter-agency communications failures that led up to 9/11. Afterwards information was made widely available to and across agencies so that different government departments could actually work together instead of looking like a bunch of bumbling 'tards in the lead up to the next massive intelligence failure leading to a terrorist attack. I guess the U.S. government is damned if they do, damned if they don't.

Comment: Re:Killing yourself with good intentions (Score 4, Informative) 401

by mpyne (#30971812) Attached to: Tesla Motors To Suspend Roadster Production

You can't build a city by burning it to the ground. You need at the very least a Granary and a Marketplace so that you can grow your population while making income. This allows you to finance all the other fun stuff you want to do like developing war trolls or building sorcerer's guilds. Without the basic income stream, you're just going to get screwed when some bear rushes in and eats all your citizens because you don't have even a single halberdier around to guard the town.

This may be the best Master of Magic analogy I've ever seen. (btw if you've never played it, get DOSBox and a second-hand copy of the game pronto)

Comment: Re:GNOME Shell == Clusterfuck (Score 1) 419

by mpyne (#30104392) Attached to: GNOME 3 Delayed Until September 2010

You make a lot of good points. No clue what you're talking about regarding "two processes to manage one desktop",

I was referring to the combination of kdesktop and SuperKaramaba to give you a somewhat-hackish widgets+desktop.

but I will just make the observation that as a relative layperson, it's extremely difficult to understand why a desktop environment would concentrate on the inclusion of what were previously 3rd party apps before attaining adequate stability and basic feature-level.

Well 4.0 wasn't just about Plasma. Obviously Plasma was by far the most notable change at-a-glance, but there were other improvements too:

  • The unmaintained-since-KDE-3.2 aRts sound server was dropped, and a multimedia API layer (Phonon) was developed to wrap around whatever eventually won out. Unfortunately the Xine backend is paradoxically (IMO) better than the gstreamer backend but this was a good move in hindsight given the rise of yet-another-sound-server, PulseAudio.
  • The adoption of the Qt 4 toolkit which caused most of the pain in the first place brought with it many improvements as well, including much better threading support.
  • We have a hardware access library (Solid) that is used for e.g. the neat-o Removable Drives widget present by default in new installations of KDE 4.
  • KWin received support for Composite (I know it's eye candy and therefore you don't care but it does make the desktop actually more usable for me at least)
  • DBus replaced DCOP for inter-process communication, which was the first time that GNOME, KDE, and other desktop environments could all send messages over the same IPC system.

Of course not all of this required a major version bump to change and there are even today things that are harder or impossible to do compared to KDE 3.5, but that's been the case across every major desktop upgrade except from KDE 2 to 3. I remember when I first got into KDE development still hearing people complain about missing KDE 1 apps. :)

The reasons for not holding off 4.0 have been discussed ad nauseum because a few high profile holdouts from the KDE team won't admit that it was a complete disaster. Which it was.

Well the expectation handling could have certainly been improved in retrospect but even now I agree with doing the release. I just wish we had make it more clear on non-Planet-KDE and non-mailing-list feeds what the expectations of the desktop should be in line with.

KDE4 is getting a lot better and has some pretty sweet eyecandy, but is still slow and buggy for me. I am on ubuntu, so YMMV.

I run Gentoo on a quadcore with ATI and Kubuntu on a laptop with Intel graphics, and the Kubuntu until very recently kicked my desktop's ass in terms of eyecandy support (until I started running git versions of Mesa, the kernel, and xf86-video-ati). It's all about the graphics drivers unfortunately.

XP has been and is the most popular OS environment partially because it is stable and fast, and provides a simple environment to launch applications from (while having all desktop options available, unlike wonderful WMs like openbox). Applications including 3rd party desktop widgets. I know it's difficult to control the relative popularity of different coding projects, but I would think keeping a sane priority for feature progression is part of the reason for having an all inclusive desktop environment.

Honestly when I used XP on the boat underway I would have to spend a week removing Alt-F2 from my muscle memory so I wouldn't even call XP an improvement in usability unless you were already used to it. It is probably faster and more stable though, I'll admit. I've often pondered if I would ever get time to start a real Quality Control subproject for KDE to aggressively focus on stability bugs. It's not looking like it though. :-/

Comment: Re:GNOME Shell == Clusterfuck (Score 2, Insightful) 419

by mpyne (#30099632) Attached to: GNOME 3 Delayed Until September 2010

So true... both desktop environments are missing the point. You have misguided ego-hounds like Aaron Seigo chasing after some elusive new "desktop paradigm" which no one has asked for nor wants.

Except that people have asked for and do want it. Do you really think Plasma appeared out of thin air (or fully-formed from Aaron's over-active imagination)? The answer is no. When Aaron took over maintainership of KDE 3's kicker application one of the most popular third-party KDE programs was one called SuperKaramba, which added widgets to your desktop, similar to other third-party programs for Mac and Windows.

What Aaron "innovated" was that there's no reason that you don't have to have two processes to manage one desktop (or three processes to manage one workspace). Plasma was an attempt to codify existing practice with a saner underlying design. Of course the desktop replacement wasn't as fully featured in KDE 4.0 as kdesktop was in KDE 3.5 but the reasons for not holding off forever on 4.0 have been discussed ad nauseum.

The formula for a popular successful desktop is so simple: something fully integrated with all options available via menus (program launching, suspend/hibernate, screensaver, etc), and something fast and stable. Very few everyday users care about some translucent twitter widget on the desktop. They want a platform to launch applications from that is simple, fast and stable. That should be priority number one.

We have a fully integrated menu-enabled desktop, and KDE 4 is fast and stable for me (with the exception of a glibc 2.10.1 issue :( )

You conflate the issues of stability/speed with "translucent widgets". These issues are not mutually exclusive. kicker in KDE 3.5 was translucent (via evil hacks, but still). SuperKaramba widgets were translucent via the same hack. And yet whenever people talk about KDE 4 disparagingly they usually bring up 3.5 as some paragon of perfection. I mean, yeah 3.5 is better than Windows, but there was still plenty of room for improvement.

Comment: Re:Nuclear power is green power (Score 1) 853

by mpyne (#29361035) Attached to: US Nuclear Power Industry Poised For a Comeback

Although I like the gist of your comment I have a nitpick:

The risk of being injured by a nuclear meltdown today is on par with being injured by lightning.

Your risk of injury from nuclear meltdown is orders of magnitude less than getting hit by lightning. Think about it, people get hit by lightning all the time in comparison the number of nuclear meltdowns in the nation. And no one was "injured" at our last nuclear meltdown (Three Mile Island) so even given an incredibly rare meltdown you have a incredibly minute chance of injury unless you happened to be working in the containment building.

Now, Three Mile Island did release radioactive contamination to the atmosphere, but the affect on the surrounding population was slight. Of course, not everyone agrees. I can't speak to the findings of the various researchers but I can say that several of Mr. Wasserman's claims are either misleading or flat-out wrong:

The public was told there was no danger of an explosion. But there was, as there had been at Michigan's Fermi reactor in 1966. In 1986, Chernobyl Unit Four did explode.

Even the Chernobyl explosion was non-nuclear, caused by the water in the coolant tubes being instantly converted to steam during the accident and literally blowing the lid off of Chernobyl. A hydrogen bubble was present in the reactor core after the meltdown but could not have exploded without the presence of oxygen to combust with, but oxygen is kept out of the coolant due to corrosion concerns.

there is no safe dose of radiation, and none will ever be found.

Well there is no set level under which you can say that a person will be just fine, but at the same time each and every single one of us live in a field of ionizing radiation from natural/cosmic sources all the time. Life has been adapted to low-level ionizing radiation due to this. If it were not the case then therapies such as medical radioimaging would not be performed, not to mention procedures like X-raying. For the same reason, people are allowed to fly on airplanes even though the radiation you receive in flight is much higher than on the ground due to less atmospheric shielding while in flight. Mr. Wasserman is correct that radiation damage is more harmful to fetuses, unborn babies, and children due to the reduced amount of time available to repair the damage before cell division. However we let pregnant women fly so apparently there must be some level of ionizing radiation that we believe unborn children can withstand.

Much of the rest of his assertions is a they-said/I-said where he discounts studies and government reports that disprove his claim by invoking the ever-popular conspiracy theory and then he submits his claims based on experts who agree with his claim. I can say people in Harrisburg didn't suffer symptoms, as I've certainly never walked door to door there. I can say that the trial court in Pennsylvania where the TMI cases were adjudicated ended up throwing out the lawsuits due to lack of evidence.

In addition Mr. Wasserman talks about "anecdotal" evidence of "Many [central Pennsylvanians] quickly developed large, visible tumors, breathing problems, and a metallic taste in their mouths that matched that experienced by some of the men who dropped the bomb on Hiroshima." This is nice and all except that the metallic taste is due to gamma radiation, which was produced in copious amounts during the Hiroshima bombing, but not so much in the radioactive release from TMI (otherwise there would have been more than "anecdotal" evidence for its existence). I'm not sure if Mr. Wasserman was leading the questions or simply allowing peoples fears to guide what they thought they were feeling but this kind of effect is very far-fetched.

Speaking of fear, Mr. Wasserman seriously mentions "a harrowing broadcast from ... Walter Cronkite" as evidence that something bad happened. Well, something bad did happen, but that doesn't speak to whether people received serious injury or not. I could go on but this article has apparently been debunked better already.

Anyways, back to my main point. I'd be more worried about getting struck by lightning 3 or more times than by suffering injury due to nuclear meltdown here in the USA.

Comment: Re:Grrr... (Score 1) 853

by mpyne (#29360257) Attached to: US Nuclear Power Industry Poised For a Comeback

IFR-style (Integral Fast Reactor) was designed around a slightly different principle of nuclear physics, such that you aren't even trying to prevent a meltdown, because the very physics of the reaction is such that if it starts getting 'too hot', the nuclear reaction itself starts to shutdown

I thought that there were many designs that were in part based around this idea, not just IFRs. I've heard the nuclear physicist types call it "Negative Something" where "something" is the ratio between temperature and reaction rate.

Even bum-standard pressurized water reactors can be designed to have a negative correlation between temperature and reactor power. Decay heat is the major concern, even for plants that tend to shutdown as temperature rises.

Comment: Re:Grrr... (Score 1) 853

by mpyne (#29360205) Attached to: US Nuclear Power Industry Poised For a Comeback

I really hate the comparisons of Three Mile Island to Chernobyl. Three Mile Island was an example of a failure at a nuclear facility that was solved correctly.

TMI wasn't even handled correctly at first. The operators bungled the initial response several times over. TMI had a meltdown occur and released radioactive contamination (a small amount, but still) to the atmosphere, which is almost as bad as you can get with that reactor design. Even with all of those failures however, the design of the plant precluded long term serious effects. Modern plant designs are much safer still than TMI was.

Comment: Re:So has anyone asked the question... (Score 3, Interesting) 140

by mpyne (#28876969) Attached to: DARPA Builds Smarter Version of Microsoft's Clippy

This is a quintessential military approach to a problem:

*snip*

Examples abound. A perfect one is the primary mode of communication on ships is radio, even though the networks (i.e. chat) are far faster and more reliable. We'll spend hours troubleshooting radios over chat in order to pass voice messages over radio. Then we'll chat again to confirm that the recipient actually received the radio message properly.

This would be funny if it weren't for the fact that it's true (and I've dealt with it as well :-/ )

Brain damage is all in your head. -- Karl Lehenbauer

Working...