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Comment Re:What Envirmental Wacko caused it? (Score 1) 318

Actually, they were following instructions. There were a few articles shortly after the incident that said that LANL had updated their procedures documentation, and somehow the LANL documentation specified 'organic' instead of 'inorganic':

From http://www.santafenewmexican.c...

A typographical error in a revision to a LANL policy manual for repackaging waste led to a wholesale shift from clay litter to the wheat-based variety.

The revision, approved by LANL, took effect Aug. 1, 2012, mere days after the governor's celebratory visit to Los Alamos, and explicitly directed waste packagers at the lab to "ENSURE an organic absorbent (kitty litter) is added to the waste" when packaging drums of nitrate salt.

"Does it seem strange that the procedure was revised to specifically require organic kitty litter to process nitrate salt drums?" Freeman, Nuclear Waste Partnership's chief nuclear engineer at WIPP, asked a colleague in a May 28 email.

Freeman went on to echo some of the possible reasons for the change bandied about in earlier emails, such as the off-putting dust or perfumed scents characteristic of clay litter. But his colleague, Mark Pearcy, a member of the team that reviews waste to ensure it is acceptable to be stored at WIPP, offered a surprising explanation.

"General consensus is that the 'organic' designation was a typo that wasn't caught," he wrote, implying that the directions should have called for inorganic litter.

Officials at LANL declined to comment about whether a typographical error led to the switch to organic kitty litter.

Comment Re:What's the tax supposed to provide, exactly? (Score 1) 445

I don't know what they're planning, but subsidizing to ensure the availability of taxis is likely enough.

In many areas (I don't know about Massachusetts), taxis aren't legally allowed to refuse fares, while there's no such restriction on Uber and similar companies. So when your flight doesn't get in 'til 2am and you live in a slightly sketchier neighborhood, but none of the Uber drivers are willing to take you there, the taxis need to still be available.

(I've even had trouble w/ getting the SuperShuttle to take me home from the airport -- they're perfectly willing to pick me up at 6am to go to BWI ... but for some reason, reluctant to take me home from National at 1am)

Of course, there are likely still problems in many areas with taxi drivers passing by people of color who are trying to flag them down ... but we need to make sure that taxis who do that get reported.

Comment Re:Bloated science waste (Score 1) 66

I don't know, but there are at least three groups that forecast space weather --

NOAA SWPC gives the official reports to the public.
NASA CCMC also runs forecasting for stuff (and people) in space, as they're not protected by the magnetosphere.
USAF has a group that does it for the exact reason in the article ... but I don't think they make theirs public.

The CCMC used to announce their storm forecasts on twitter ... but there was a time when they said a storm was going to be significant, and SWPC didn't ... after the kerfluffle, the CCMC was told not to announce their predictions to the public, as that's NOAA's job.

Luckily, there are a fair number of groups that would complain if they tried to cut out the forecasting -- airlines use to to protect their crew from increased radiation (they avoid polar flights during storms), and power companies use it to determine if they need to take precautions. Communications companies use them to determine if they need to 'safe' their satellites. And NASA uses 'em both for their satellites, and to warn astronauts to take shelter.

Comment How is this measured? (Score 4, Interesting) 108

They say this is "broadband" speeds, but broadband was redefined last year to require 25Mbps downloads.

So, someone could be sneaky and say 'oh, those 10 Mbps connections aren't broadband anymore', and you just drop out the lowest numbers, and miraculously the average goes up.

Schools were using this trick by keeping the poorly performing students from taking standardized testing to raise their test averages.

Comment Reminds me of ALOHAnet (Score 1) 106

... of course, they were only dealing with 9600 baud at first, but then again, it was the 1970s:

There were other WISPs in the US ... I know West Virginia, where it was easier to use line-of-sight radio to a mountaintop antenna than try to string cable. But there was no WiFi standard back then ... you had to use WaveLAN or other proprietary standards (so you had to buy both ends of the link from the same company).

Comment Carl Malmud for head of the printing office! (Score 1) 177

I honestly don't know if he has all of the qualifications as a cabinet member (but then again, I don't know our main two presidential candidates have qualifications for being president) ... but so long as we're on the 'appoint people with different points of views than what we've had for decades', I'd recommend Carl Malamud for the head of the Government Printing Office

(he's the guy who's been buying government documents, scanning 'em, and putting them up for free at

Comment Re:I deleted my Facebook account before it was coo (Score 1) 301

I wasn't ivy league, but got my account because someone in my class was trying to bulk up the numbers for the group for our department.

I signed up, with my nickname + last initial.

I haven't gone in to delete it because I suspect I'd have to agree to the new TOS to be able to delete the account. I only logged into it once since grad school, when my neighbor wouldn't shut up about how great it was, and after stringing him along for a while ('you didn't think I'd use my name, did you?' 'Don't forget my account got deleted from (undergrad) when I was fired and I had to change it' 'But I got my account when I was at (grad school)'), and he finally found me to send the friend request, I ignored it and friended his wife.

Someone else has found me, because when I get the annoying messages from them, it tells me I have two friend requests waiting.

Comment Re:No team (Score 1) 112

I worked on a project that was similar to what was described -- four of us all at different institutions, working on a single project.

The management mostly left us alone, and we got the project done. As we're in a more 'maintenance' phase now, we just have annual face-to-face meetings to hash out what we think needs to be done and how long it'd take to do it, and then we present it to the 'steering committee' (management / scientists who use the software) who decide what we should or shouldn't focus on for the next year.

For the most part, the software works because we figured out how to break it down into parts, what the APIs needed to be between the different parts, and then we coordinated between the programmers who was responsible for each parts.

After we were a couple of years into the project, we finally got it cleared through all of the institutions (some of us work for the government) to use IM ... so we just hang out in a channel to chat & let people know if we're seeing problems, making changes, etc.

Unfortunately, the project got a bit derailed a few years back, when the same group plus a few other people got stuck with maintenance of another project that was written by an outside group. (and we're not allowed to fork it) ... and we've wasted so much time on that second project that we don't have the time (or remaining brain cells) left to get much work done on the first one.

Anyway ... my point is -- if you have a good group of developers, you should be able to just point them in the right direction, and let them work ... don't try to 'manage' them any more than you have to.

Comment Re:A few thoughts... (Score 2) 153

The older group are probably more likely to have their passwords written down on sticky notes under their keyboards, or stuck to their monitors.

The older group come from a time when we actually had to remember people's phone numbers, without having them all programmed into our cell phone.

Many of them have also been typing on real keyboards for decades, so it's no big deal to have a 16 character password.

Need a fairly secure password? Use the address of your best friend from 1970. Or the phone number of your favorite pizza place when you were 12 concatenated with your favorite two toppings. Or a couple of lines from your favorite song ... or poem, or movie quotes.

If you have good memory, and aren't afraid to type, good passwords are easy.

Of course, it probably also helps that they likely have something to protect ... and are retired, so aren't working at some company that insists on them changing EVERY LAST PASSWORD every 30 days ... until they get to the point where they're changing it to crap like 'Ih8passwords' and 'FuckYou2' just so they can get their job done.

Comment I'd be happy with b&w if large enough (Score 1) 96

When I was town commissioner (probably about 6 years ago), our president was talking about getting one of those horrible LED monstrosities that you see in front of mega churches.

I convinced the others that they'd be out of character for our historic village, and they're horrible due to causing night-blind issues.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a *single* company that sold an e-ink display of any considerable size. The closest was a company that packaged up tiny squares (I think they were 6"x6") that you'd assemble into a larger screen.

You can finally pre-order a 32" screen for $5k ($6k for color) ... but for it to be visible from the road, I'd likely need an array of 4 of 'em. I could care less about high DPI -- I'd be happy with WXGA so long as it was around 60" diagonal, and could be packaged for outdoor use.

Comment Re:Company Alert: We have a network virus!! (Score 1) 351

We specifically had 'network testing' time at the university computing center where I worked. The games varied, but it was always 5pm (technically, after 5pm & after the last customer was out of the back staff area), and generally ran until just about 6pm (a few of the staff had night classes that started at 6pm).

For Doom (and Doom II), you'd have to sub in a 4th person when you left, or they'd have to start the game & restart it. Duke Nukem allowed more people to start (8?), and you could drop out without it causing problems. Quake, however, allowed you to both drop out & join an already running game -- it revolutionized everything, as we didn't have to wait 'til everyone was ready to start.

(and we could get one large group going, as opposed to the hardware techs & user-support folks running separate games).

We weren't 100% FPS -- although there were also some Marathon and Descent periods. We also played Warcraft II and Command & Conquer ... but those didn't beat the network as much. (I seem to recall Christmas break of one year turning into full day Warcraft sessions)

Comment Beware of "third party storage" (Score 2) 123

Basically, there's a concept that if someone else is holding your stuff, then it's not private, and therefore, they only need a subpoena and not a warrant to get it ... and they don't need to notify the person whose stuff it is (so there's no chance for them to get a lawyer to try to stop it).

This is why someone concerned about their privacy would prefer hosting their own mail server (in their own home, not at a colo) vs. using one of the many 'cloud' offerings:


But you probably don't want to host your own e-mail if you're a government official, and there's any chance of anyone sending work e-mails there.

Comment How is this 'hardware'? (Score 3, Insightful) 235

I follow a fair bit of environmental news sources ... but this is only 'news for nerds' in that it's a case of people sitting at home complaining about things that they have little chance of directly affecting.

The sign that this should be off-topic here is that it doesn't have an appropriate category -- it got shoved into 'hardware'. (I could maybe see it under science (climate change) or technology (issues w/ price competition in energy production) ... but how the hell is this 'hardware'?).

Can we get this back to being a tech website again? Keep the articles on topic, and kill the 'Entertainment' category? ... unless of course, it's Star Wars ... or maybe comic book related ... okay, you can keep 'Entertainment', unless we see some post about some reality TV show with non-tech people in it or one of the dozen or so singing shows.

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