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Comment No comparison to UL (Score 1) 23

There is an important difference between any government agency and UL. UL's product safety standards are developed in partnership with those who produce the products and with other safety agencies, notably IEC and CSA. This brings credibility, skill, and independence into play.

For government officials the desire to be seen "doing something" favors haste and visibility rather than long term effectiveness. UL's primary focus is product safety, not favorable media coverage.

Comment Re: Action plan (Score 1) 331

Taking off the tech hat...others have given good advice for triage on the equipment, etc.

Safety of you and your staff is the priority. Anybody who does not need to be there should get to safety now, before the evacuation order comes. The fewer people to be accounted for, the less chaos there will be if you need to leave on short notice. Make sure to exchange cell phone numbers (if you haven't already), so you can rendezvous with the others later on.

Assign a person to be the safety monitor--to stay at the phone and radio, and get the word out to all others if the evacuation order comes. Vigilance is their only assignment. The safety monitor should have a list of everybody still on site, to be sure nobody is left behind. If you get the call to evacuate, you'll have only minutes to get everybody out and down the road to safety.

Have N+1 vehicles ready to go, where N is the number you need to get everybody to safety. If one doesn't start, don't mess with it--leave it behind and call the insurance company later.

You should have two ways out. If one becomes impassible because of the fire, head down the other way immediately.

I hope you and your center escape the fire. But if it comes to a choice between you and the data center, let the servers melt!

Comment Breaker panel protector (Score 1) 341

If you have an open slot in the breaker panel for another two-pole unit, you may be able to get a surge protector that installs right in the breaker panel. This avoids having anything attached in the open, or having to "tear open the wall" to replace it. Look for a "Type 1" or "Type 2" surge protector, made for your make and model of breaker panel In most places, you have to hire a licensed electrician and get a permit to legally install it. You will also need protection for TV/satellite cables, etc. These need to be physically close to the power line protector, and be connected to the same ground system, through a short fat wire. Using a separate ground stake and a long, skinny grounding wire (as too many inept installers do) can actually increase the risk of damage: surge currents flow from the AC line, through your flat screen TV, and out the coax cable to the cable's ground rod. Goodbye flat screen TV, hello fire department!

Comment Watson did really well, but... (Score 1) 674

it would be more impressive if it used voice recognition to do the job. That's a product IBM could sell, starting with every insurance, cable and credit card company running one of those useless voice response systems. "I'm sorry, I didn't understand that. Did you want to take out a $10,000 cash advance at 28% interest or upgrade to the new super premium platinum preferred customer card? Press the pound key for 'Yes'."

Denver Bomb Squad Takes Out Toy Robot 225

An anonymous reader writes "A robot met its end near Coors Field tonight when the Denver Police Department Bomb Squad detonated the 'suspicious object,' bringing to an end the hours-long standoff between police and the approximately eight-inch tall toy. From the article: "'Are you serious?' asked Denver resident Justin Kent, 26, when police stopped him from proceeding down 20th Street. Kent said that he lived just past the closed area, but was told he would have to go around via Park Avenue.'"

Advent Calendar For Geeks 65

bLanark writes "Well, as children and adults all over the world begin their day with chocolate, with the traditional Advent calendar, I'd like to remind you that there's an alternative for geeks. The Perl Advent calendar will give you a new Perl tip every day right up to Christmas."

The World's Smallest Legible Font 280

hasanabbas1987 writes "From the article: 'Well 'technically' they aren't the smallest fonts in the world as if they were you wouldn't be able to read even a single letter, but, you should be able to read the entire paragraph in the picture given above... we did. A Computer science professor called Ken Perlin designed these tiny fonts and you can fit 500 reasonable words in a resolution of 320 x 240 space. There are at the moment the smallest legible fonts in the world.'"

Big Brother In the School Cafeteria? 425

AustinSlacker writes "An Iowa school district's lunch program asks children as young as 5 years old to memorize a four-digit PIN code so it can monitor what they eat in the school cafeteria - prompting some parents to claim it's an unhealthy case of 'Big Brother.' An over reaction by parents or an unnecessary invasion of privacy?"

The Science of Caddyshack 55

astroengine writes "Thirty years after the release of the cult classic comedy Caddyshack, Discovery News has geeked out and gone on the hunt for any trace amount of science they can find in the movie (video). From gopher territoriality to seismic deformation, from pool poop bacteria to the color of lightning, it turns out there's quite a lot of science to talk about..."

Comment Re:In a word... (Score 1) 376

On mountain peaks and ridges you do have a good chance of accessing a repeater. Check the Colorado Connection system of linked repeaters, it covers much of the state. But if you are down in a canyon or valley, repeater coverage is much less reliable in the back country.

If you are competent in Morse, there are several sub-pound transceiver options (this is a manufacturer's marketing page, read it as such). Morse gains about 7dB improvement over SSB radiotelephony from reduced noise bandwidth (typically 500Hz vs. 2500Hz) and about 6dB more because the peak-to-average power ratio is 1:1 instead of 4:1 or worse. Net improvement: 13dB, making 5W of Morse about equally effective as 100W of SSB (a result which my experience and that of other QRP fanatics confirm).

But no matter what radio you carry, including satellite phones, don't assume you'll be able to reach it and use it if you have a serious fall or accident. You may lose it down a slope, hit it on a rock and break it, or be incapacitated and unable to communicate with anything. The best advice is to not go it alone: hike with a companion. If you do go solo, stay on well-traveled main trails where help is likely find you. Technology does not ensure safety in the back country.

Comment But which 10%? (Score 1) 224

The devil is in the details: figuring which part is the 90% that you'll never need again, and which is the 10% that will be needed. Some of that "write-only" data is stuff that companies are legally obligated to retain, some is CYA records that you hope you'll never need again. In both cases when the court, IRS, etc. orders you to produce the documents, you'd better have them.

A failure will not appear until a unit has passed final inspection.