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Texas Town Turns To Treated Sewage For Drinking Water 205

Posted by timothy
from the says-something-about-the-west-texas-average dept.
Scientific American reports that Wichita Falls, Texas has taken an unusual step, precipitated by the years-long drought that Texas has faced: it's using treated sewage for drinking water. From the article: To launch what it calls its "Direct Potable Reuse Project," the city pipes water 12 miles from its wastewater treatment plant to this treatment facility where it goes through microfiltration. A pump pulls water through a module filled with fibers that removes most of the impurities. Then it is forced through a semi-permeable membrane that can remove dissolved salts and other contaminants. The process, called reverse osmosis, is used by the U.S. military, in ships and in the manufacture of silicon chips. The water then gets blended with lake water before going through the regular water treatment system. ... At 60 cents per 1,000 gallons, it's far cheaper than any other source of water, [Wichita Falls' public works director Russell] Schreiber said. ... He said there have been few complaints so far. A glass of the finished product, sampled at a downtown restaurant, tasted about average for West Texas.

Comment: It's a tool vendor, not a target, issue. (Score 1) 182

But you see you are in the Windows CE embedded niche. Your vision is clouded.

I'm not in a "windows CE embedded" niche and the grandparent poster is right.

It's not an issue with the target. It's an issue with the platform(s) supported by the development tool vendors and the chip manufacturers.

For instance: With Bluetooth 4.0 / Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), two of the premier system-on-a-chip product families are from Texas Instruments and Nordic Semiconductors.

TI developed their software in IAR's proprietary development environment and only supports that. Their bluetooth stack is only distributed in object form - for IAR's tools - with a "no reverse engineering" and "no linking to open source (which might force disclosure)". IAR, in turn, doesn't support anything but Windows. (You can't even use Wine: The IAR license manager needs real Windows to install, and the CC Debugger dongle, for burning the chip and necessary for hooking the debugger to the hardware debugging module, keeps important parts of its functionality in a closed-source windows driver.) IAR is about $3,000/seat after the one-month free evaluation (though they also allow a perpetual evaluation that is size-crippled, and too small to run the stack.)

The TI system-on-a-chip comes with some very good and very cheap hardware development platforms. (The CC Debugger dongle, the USB/BLE-radio stick, and the Sensor Tag (a battery-powered BLE device with buttons, magnetometer, gyro, barometer, humidity sensor, ambient temp sensor, and IR remote temp sensor), go for $49 for each of the three kits.) Their source code is free-as-in-beer, even when built into a commercial product, and gives you the whole infrastructure on which to build your app. But if you want to program these chips you either do it on Windows with the pricey IAR tools or build your own toolset and program the "bare metal", discarding ALL TI's code and writing a radio stack and OS from scratch.

Nordic is similar: Their license lets you reverse-engineer and modify their code (at your own risk). But their development platforms are built by Segger and the Windows-only development kit comes with TWO licenses. The Segger license (under German law), for the burner dongle and other debug infrastruture, not only has a no-reverse-engineering clause but also an anti-compete: Use their tools (even for comparison while developing your own) and you've signed away your right to EVER develop either anything similar or any product that competes with any of theirs.

So until the chip makers wise up (or are out-competed by ones who have), or some open-source people build something from scratch, with no help from them, to support their products, you're either stuck on Windows or stuck violating contracts and coming afoul of the law.

Comment: Re:Yep. (Score 1) 64

by fractoid (#47398011) Attached to: Study: Whales Are Ecosystem "Engineers"
Beavers making dams is (I would argue) 'engineering'. Although maybe more 'crafting' in the sense that they build things to manipulate their environment, but their designs aren't based on any kind of rigorous understanding of the structures they use.

What annoys me is that humans are the only species on the planet that are denied the right to change their environment in this way. When we do it it's "unnatural" and "destroying our environment" when any other species a "marvel of nature".

Comment: And you aren't going to find anyone either Sherlok (Score 1) 401

by eclectro (#47397573) Attached to: No Shortage In Tech Workers, Advocacy Groups Say

I've been trying to hire developers for multiple high-compensation positions in NYC

At an average wage of $70K for a STEM candidate (or are you offering less?), it will be impossible to find someone for your position - even an H1B candidate. Because apartments are starting at $2500/month for barely a closet space (if you can find one) in NYC. And most people want better than that. Even the people you want to drag in from overseas will need to find a place to live

You don't have a STEM problem, you have a housing problem.

Comment: continuing... (Score 1) 709

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47393867) Attached to: When Beliefs and Facts Collide

(Stupid touchpad...)

  - If this deviation is the result of burning fossil fuels, they are expected to run out in about 800 years - after which the temperature might crash toward the "Ice age already in progress" as the excess carbon is removed from the atomsphere by various processes, or simply be overwhelmed by the orbital mechanical function if it remains.

Does this scenario count as supporting or opposing anthropogenic global warming?

Comment: And that, in turn, is political. (Score 1) 709

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47393843) Attached to: When Beliefs and Facts Collide

The percentages come from looking at all studies, papers, research, etc. and determining the number one one side or the /i?

When the administrators of research funding withhold future grants from scientists who publish papers questioning some aspect of the current global warming scenario, while giving additional funding to scientists who publish papers supporting it (or claiming some global-warming tie-in to whatever phenomenon they're examining), the count becomes skewed. This is political action, not science.

This happened in the '70s with research into medical effects of the popular "recreational" drugs - before such research was effectively banned. Among the resuts were a plethora of papers where the conclusions obviously didn't match the data presented and a two-decade delay in the discovery of medical effects and development of treatments. Only NOW are we finding evidence that PTSD might be aborted by adequate opate dosages in the weeks immediately following the injury, or that compounds in marijuana may be a specific treatment for it - as they are for some forms of epilepsy and may be for some cancers, late stage parkinsons, and so on.

The same happens when the editors of a journal and their selection of reviewers systematically approve and publish only research supporting the current paradigms, to the point that scientists with contrary resuts must find, or create, other journals or distribution channels (which can then be smeared as non-authoritaive, creations of the fossil fuel industry, right-wing politicans, or conspiracy nuts - and their articles LEFT OUT OF THE COUNT). Again, this is politics, not science.

Then there's the question of the methodology of the count itself. What is counted as "support for" versus "opposition to"? What does it count as a scientific paper? Were well-established research methods used? Was it reviewed? By whom? Was it done by scientists with no established position on the issue, by scientists supporting one side, by pollsters, by an advocacy group, by politicians? (Hell, was it done at all? Truth is the first casualty of politics, and fake polls are one of the commonest murder weapons.)

For an instance: How would you interpret the study behind the Scientific American article that seems to indicate:
  - Planetary temperatures have tightly tracked a function of three orbital-mechanics effects on the earth's orbit and axial orientation - up to the time of human domestication of fire.
  - That occurred as the function was just starting to inflect downward into the next ice age.
  - The deviation amounted to holding the temperature stable as the function slowly curved downward. (Perhaps a feedback effect - more fires needed for comfort in colder winters?)
  - This essentially flat temperature held up to the industrial revolution, when the temperature began to curve upward, overcoming the gradually steepening decline of the function.
  - If this deviation is the result of burning fossil fuels, they are expected to run out in about 800 years - after which the temperature might crash toward the "Ice age already in progress" as the excess carbon is removed from the atomsphere by various processes, or simply be overwhelmed by the orbita

Comment: already illegal for that. (Score 1) 200

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47391013) Attached to: The View From Inside A Fireworks Show

In twenty-four hours this will go from "illegal" to "high demand professional camera service" for promotions, events, etc.

Sorry, that's already illegal (according to the FAA).

Just a few weeks ago the FAA issued an interpretation of existing rules that declared illegal any commercial use of video from a drone.

Comment: The water follows the cracks... (Score 1) 154

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47390291) Attached to: Oklahoma's Earthquakes Linked To Fracking

I dont get it. The average depth of oil/gas wells here in Oklahoma is approx 5,000 ft. The typical depth of earthquakes here in Oklahoma is approx 16,000 ft. I'm not seeing a connection between the two.

First: You're looking at the wrong wells. What's the depth of the injection wells?

Second: The depth of the well doesn't particularly matter, as long as it connects the water to a fault system. The water spreads out through the fault, turning it into a hydraulic jack the size of a small eastern state or so. The faults aren't purely horizontal and the pressure (except for an added component at greater depth from the weight of the water above it) is the same everywhere.

So of course the earthquakes take place at the usual depths where the "last straw" rock finally gives way.

Comment: Slashdot is not generally a primary source. (Score 1) 37

This was on Gizmag yesterday... like many of Slashdot's articles...

Give it a rest.

Slashdot is not an investigative journal or a follower-and-repeater of press releases. It's a bunch of nerds pointing out interesting stuff to each other, and talking it over, with a few nerds vetting the postings before they go up on the "front page".

That means, like Wikipedia, it's not generally a primary source. It also means that, for real news items, it is generally about a day behind.

If you want news in a timely fashion, go read Gizmag and a bunch of other acutal reportage sites. If you're willing to wait a little bit and then talk it over with a crowd of acquaintences (some of whom might actually know more about it than the newsies), this is the place for you.

The end of labor is to gain leisure.