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Comment Re:It did what it was designed to do (Score 1) 320

Iirc, it did not contain the leak, except in the narrow sense that the barrel did not leave the site.
In actuality, the barrel contents, a sloppy mix of nitric acid process waste and sawdust, hugely overheated and much of the material was vaporized.
Because of contractor negligence, the fire doors that should have automatically closed could not, so the contamination spread widely. The doors had been wired open because they had too many false alarms, which was inconvenient.
The venting system that should have contained the fumes did not work, so the plant environs were contaminated.
The estimated $2 billion clean up cost is an estimate, probably will be exceeded, as these cleanups rarely work as planned.
Afaik, apart from some bonus payment reductions, there has been no penalties to any entity from this disaster.
Accountability is entirely lacking by all appearances.

Comment Maybe not an entirely altruistic publication. (Score 2) 51

Seems a clever ploy to highlight his efforts and thereby enhance his career prospects.
The good professor is ranked as an 'assistant professor', which is a non tenured position.
To make tenure, he needs to get promoted to 'associate professor', which is the first tenured career step.
There are very many more assistants than associates, the competition is brutal and getting some recognition is essential.
Good on him for finding an encouraging way to document the rejections he has endured.

Comment Easy ATM opening (Score 1) 184

Card skimming is much too piecemeal an approach.
The preferred technique (well over 100 uses in 2015) in Germany is to hook the ATM to a cylinder of ethylene, add a spark, collect the cash and scram.
This takes about 2 minutes and produces about 10,000E per application, with about 100,000E collateral damage.
Best of all, it is not vulnerable to changes in the card technology

Comment Heads in the sand, anyone? (Score 1) 54

Coming after the Stuxnet experience and the recent hack of a steel mill in Germany, which forced an emergency shutdown of the furnace, with 'heavy damage', the complacent assertion that no cyber attack could cause a reactor malfunction just seems witless. Of course these reactors are susceptible to getting hacked, the main obstacle is the relative obscurity of the control systems and the reality that there are multiple different designs in service, so that a wide ranging attack is very complicated. By the same token, the diversity of targets makes the defense much more difficult, no 'one size fits all' protocol is likely to be effective.

The hope may be that hacking a nuclear plant might be seen as an act of war, so not something most states would pursue, but the proliferation of devices makes it easier to create a hard to attribute hack. There is plenty of ill will around as well, so this is likely to be just the first such attack post Stuxnet.

Comment Another Teledesic? (Score 5, Interesting) 74

Shades of Teledesic!

The idea is not new, the technology is probably better, especially for efficient solid state RF transmitters, success depends on the spectrum available and the money. Do note that one of the gotchas in satellite internet access is that it is not easy to for apartment dwellers to get an adequate signal, whereas rural users should rejoice, as they usually get left out by the wireline/cable providers..

Comment Noise is the killer (Score 1) 233

The noise this kind of gizmo, a short rotor helicopter, makes is really pretty astounding.
The dreams of a tilt rotor commuter transport went on the rocks because of the noise, no community would tolerate it. Unfortunately there is no currently known technical fix. We limit airplane noise around airports, just like motorcycle and lawnmower noise in the community. This thing will be way louder than a motorcycle.
Public acceptance is going to be nil if the noise comes from next door.
Imho, Terrafugia has just shifted from barely possible start up venture to fantasy, for some unknown reason.

Comment Innovation does not pay the bills (Score 1) 146

While it is encouraging to see innovation as a management focus, the more interesting story is glossed over.
How is Kimberly keeping the lights on with a crushed IT department?
It seems the basics must be running pretty well if a new IT guy can come in and focus on innovation opportunities. It would help to know if the goal is cost reduction or service enhancement.

Submission + - Federal Reserve wants TIA (

etudiant writes: The Federal Reserve has issued an RFP, due Sept 26, 2011, for the following:
" The creation of a "Social Listening Platform" whose function is to "gather data from various social media outlets and news sources." It will "monitor billions of conversations and generate text analytics based on predefined criteria." The Fed's desired product should be able to "determine the sentiment [ED:LOL] of a speaker or writer with respect to some topic or document"... "The solution must be able to gather data from the primary social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Forums and YouTube. It should also be able to aggregate data from various media outlets such as: CNN, WSJ, Factiva etc." Most importantly, the "Listening Platform" should be able to "Handle crisis situations, Continuously monitor conversations, and Identify and reach out to key bloggers and influencers."

Note that the Federal Reserve is a private entity, not a branch of the US Government, so that the strictures that impeded similar earlier efforts by the FBI and the NSA may not apply.
As the RFP was issued Sept 16 with proposals due Sept 26, it may be assumed that this topic has been under discussion with industry for some time.

Is the management of the country's money helped by a global monitoring system such as this? Is it even feasible? It certainly seems a novel initiative for a Central Bank.

Comment Re:Learn from the Japanese (Score 1) 102

Sorry, that is unfortunately incorrect. There was an earlier disaster, with the cover up of a massive sodium leak leading to a senior executive's suicide, back in Jan 1996.
This is a separate event, involving the plant manager in charge of the fuel section, a hard core engineer, in February of this year.

Comment Learn from the Japanese (Score 4, Informative) 102

The Japanese have built and used a similar tool for removing fuel from their troubled Monju fast breeder reactor prototype. The latest glitch was that the tool fell into the reactor and got stuck. The senior engineer on the effort committed suicide after this.
The tool was retrieved last month, after much effort.
It would be a shame if the Brits ran into similar problems, so hopefully they are talking to the Japanese and getting some lessons learned.

Comment There is an accountability issue (Score 3, Insightful) 1229

The absence of control over the cross fertilization from GM plants is a legitimate issue that is thus far not adequately addressed.
People breeding pure strains that are inadvertently contaminated from adjacent GM plants may see their business destroyed with no recourse. This has happened in the case of some orange growers. It also is a concern for those seeking to market GM free vegetables that command market premiums.
Thus far, the proponents of GM plants have essentially had a free ride on this issue and no consequential damages have been paid. This is unjust, as it puts the burden of adjustment on the injured party, rather than on the originator of the damage. When the law acts thus unjustly, people will respond similarly.
I would not be happy either if someone moved a contamination source into my neighborhood and told me that adjusting to it was my problem.

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