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Comment Re:Amazon (Score 1) 210

You're right, but some specialty shops hung around because Wal-Mart and the mall didn't ever supply huge selections of niche materials like tools, hobby aircraft, knitting supplies, etc etc etc. The internet in general is responsible for the disappearance of lots of small niche businesses, but Amazon most of all because it's a central place where you can buy everything on a scale that Wal-Mart never imagined.

Comment Bigger problems than this (Score 4, Interesting) 822

43, huh? "Unintentional suffocation - which also includes strangulation and choking on food or other objects - killed 1,176 U.S. children in 2010."

Just search a little and find all the other ways toddlers kill themselves and others. One of my friends with kids described it as largely being comprised of keeping his kid from killing himself all the time until he got old enough to try to kill himself less often. That's what happens when anything dangerous is anywhere near a toddler for whatever small amount of time it takes for them to do the wrong thing with it - and there are LOTS of dangerous things around, with plastic bags being higher on the list than firearms.

Comment Oil bubble bursted (Score 2) 102

I think another huge contributor to a drop in manufacturing is the oil bust earlier this year. Maybe around a hundred thousand have been laid off now because of that and budgets cut across the board. The sheer amount of steel and labor involved in the last several years of shale booms is mind-boggling. Those areas still don't have good pipeline infrastructure, so oil is often trucked away and surplus gas burned off. It's visible from space and shows up better than nearby metropolitan areas. Look at these images of the Bakken and Eagle Ford Shales.

Meanwhile, all of the tech equipment purchasing supporting those activities has come to a grinding halt.

Comment Re:temporary (Score 1) 363

On the other hand, why would you bury the charcoal? There's lots of demand for it. Then we can stop doing whatever we're doing for charcoal now, which is obviously less efficient since we're not capturing the gases, and probably aren't using direct solar thermal.

Right now I believe most is made from waste wood from lumber factories. They do a low-oxygen burn in charcoal sheds. It doesn't seem efficient, but it is more efficient than turning perfectly good lumber straight to charcoal.

Comment Frack! Propaganda, anyone? (Score 1) 104

And.. innovative?? Innovation? Involving fossil fuels? The only trade secrets they are likely protecting is the toxicity and environmental impact of fracking.

You don't know what you're talking about. There are a lot of trade secrets in fracking. There are trade secrets in the instruments that monitor and improve drilling. There are a lot of trade secrets developed to improve production efficiency. There's a lot of essentially "public" knowledge too, but even that is hard to come by, so internal training materials can be extremely valuable to capture that knowledge that is typically only accrued with experience or being an insider at a reputable company. Just because fossil fuels have been down there a long time doesn't mean there is no innovation involved in getting them, otherwise we (the USA) wouldn't have just passed up Saudi Arabia as the worlds biggest energy producer. American fracturing companies dominate the world market for fracturing.

China has a problem trying to exploit its shale reserves. They aren't as flat and even as those in the USA. So they may be looking for ways to make similar improvements exploiting their own shale reserves by looking at how we fracture reserves in states that do have some geological variance in their shale reserves, like Pennsylvania and Colorado. Chinese companies are making often pitiful attempts to compete in the international market with sub-par technology. It won't always be pitiful though, I think. They're obviously trying to improve and the only thing holding them back is the trade secrets.

Comment Alarmist BS (Score 4, Informative) 651


But precisely finishing the last 20 percent of a lower receiver has still required access to a milling machine that typically costs tens of thousands of dollars.

Whatever. I made mine with a $350 micro milling machine from Harbor Freight. The template kit to mill & drill the other 20% of the incomplete lower receiver was about the same cost as the 80% complete lower receiver. So all of the parts & tooling in sum total less than $550. Plus I use the mill for other things and the template has resale value. Also FTA:

Defense Distributedâ(TM)s machine canâ(TM)t carve pieces as large as its competitors, but its small size makes it more rigid and precise, allowing it to cut an aluminum lower receiver from an 80 percent lower in around an hour. Thatâ(TM)s a task Wilson says would still be impossible with todayâ(TM)s cheapest hobbyist mills but doesnâ(TM)t require five-figure professional tools. âoeWeâ(TM)re making this easier by an order of magnitude,â he says.

I think that they meant to quote him as saying it is POSSIBLE. An order of magnitude is a gross overstatement, given that this was the 3d milling version of trace paper.

Subversive ambitions aside, Wilson doesnâ(TM)t hide the fact that the Ghost Gunner is also a money-making project.


Comment Re:Welders make 150k??? (Score 1) 367

Maybe you're the one who sucks at business if you're not dragging all of these people from the south to fill the easily obtained positions. Sheesh, air your ego out a little. I don't weld, but I work in oilfield services. The guys who do pipeline work have to be top-notch. They weld round pipe, which is harder than straight-line welding in most applications, and it has to pass x-ray inspections as a flawless seam, or else they'll be grinding and re-welding or eventually be out of a job. They also have to provide their own equipment and off-road vehicle. The trucks are unmistakeable, they're usually heavy duty frame trucks with a custom-welded bed for their giant arc weld kit, generator and associated materials. Most of them probably do come from the south, just not Alabama, where there isn't a strong oil industry. A friend of mine makes ~$100k after expenses and spends a great deal of time away from home. That would be the other reason for the high compensation. If dropping $60k on equipment and going to the land that god forgot to work in all weather conditions for half of your year sounds better than making half the money, more power to you.. but as you can see from the numbers, most people don't feel like it's that good of a deal. There's the risk that you've spent your life savings on equipment only to find out that you're not good enough to cut mustard.

Comment Re:Can we have someone go to jail now, please? (Score 1) 246

For that matter, oil floats on top of water, so how does the lower 99% get contaminated? If somehow a gallon of oil was mixed into water in such a way that every molecule of oil was separate, and each molecule floated 7 inches from any other one, how many gallons would be contaminated by that oil?

All of them. Remember that when the fluid comes out of the well, there is gas, water and oil in one turbulent, bubbly stream. The separation process is relatively simple and doesn't include any filtering really. It's basically a settling process with some baffling to slow the turbulence. The oil and water in the beginning are quite well mixed from turbulence and so on. Lots of stuff that makes oil black can dissolve in water better than it can dissolve in oil, so produced water is really nasty, caustic stuff and varies from clear to black. Depending on the locale it can even eat through stainless steel sometimes. Oil contamination is not the biggest issue, but due to soaps used for lifting the fluid it may have some dispersion, regardless of the other chemicals often pumped down there specifically to separate the oil and water. A typical oil loss to water might be 0.001% if the process is fine tuned and the separation equipment is appropriately sized, or worse if it's not (which it usually isn't in the beginning).

I work on safety systems to prevent these kinds of accidents. By law these tanks have a berm around them to capture the leaked fluid if they are permanently installed, temporary vessels may not, so I'm guessing this was a temporary vessel like a frac tank (looks like a big shipping container). The plug they're referring to is most likely a 1/2" or 1/4" NPT plug where a level gauge or fluid level controller would be installed. They are usually isolated by valves, which may not have been completely closed, and may not have been noticed by the local FNG before the tank was filled and the leak began. No one would usually congregate in this area to notice, so bringing criminal charges is sort of ridiculous. In the end, we wouldn't be talking about jailing an Exxon CEO, more like your childhood buddy who didn't go to college and tries to make a living working wrenches in the oil field. It seems like a costly, but honest, mistake to me. I know from working in the area that there is definitely no top-down directive to violate EPA laws. There are literally daily meetings where human and environmental safety are stressed as the highest priority, especially at a larger company like XTO. They definitely realize that the public wants to castrate them for any reason it possibly can and make the utmost efforts to prevent these kind of environmental (and PR) disasters.

Comment Re:Why aren't more women in science fields? (Score 4, Interesting) 608

In the 80's, women made up most of CS programs around the country. When I went in 2000 - they made up a handful of the entire class. But, engineering was the same (for all engineering majors). There isn't some evil conspiracy to prevent women from entering tech (some of the best innovators in tech I know are women). They simply, for whatever reason, aren't interested in it.

My stepmother was a programmer in the 80's. She quit and decided to be a homemaker because of rampant sexism in the workplace. Among the things she's told me about that, the one that stands out is that the office would throw incentive parties at strip clubs in order to exclude her from being rewarded for her work. She's a smart lady.. but they would give her the most menial of tasks (mainly testing other programmer's code, and having to very thoroughly document problems or else they would be dismissed as her error).

One would hope that the same things aren't going on today, but from reading /. my guess is that lots of things going on in the workplace make it a male-dominated workforce, least of which would be the capability and interest of smart women in doing the work. Instead, you'll find them in the more gender-neutral fields of medicine, chemistry and biological sciences.

I was shocked and thrilled that in my first industry job our staff programmer is a woman in her late fifties. That gives me hope that maybe it wasn't this bad everywhere. She's brilliant at her work and has a very strong work ethic. I truly didn't expect to see any women in my workplace after my experience in college.

Comment Re:TSA ? (Score 1) 196

TSA is the main reason I have been refusing to fly to and within the US for years now. Colleagues, friends and acquaintances reporting the same. The security craze is costing the US money.

I've flown through most regions of the USA, some 80k miles maybe through too many airports to mention. Been to foreign airports in London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Bucharest, Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai. All of them seemed pretty similar to TSA style screening, with some having stricter screening practice pre-board and upon departure. For my connecting flights through Frankfurt and Hong Kong, my luggage was searched again, even though I was simply deplaning and re-boarding the same plane. The main difference I've noticed is that the nude-o-scopes are absent, but people are still around to feel me up and rifle through my luggage in most countries. So what's different, from your perspective, in your home country?

Comment Re:change over time (Score 4, Informative) 211

Ah, I actually RTFA : "the annual number of earthquakes record at magnitude 3.0 or higher in the central and eastern United States has increased almost tenfold in the past decade â" from an average of 21 per year between 1967 and 2000 to a maximum of 188 in 2011. " I don't think one needs a statistical test for those data. The trend is pretty clear.

You RTFA, and managed to miss that this is unrelated to fracking? I work in the oil and gas industry, so include me among the biased I guess, but I also understand oil and gas production so I'm here to tell you that it is injecting wastewater into fault lines that is causing earthquakes. Not fracking, not oil production, not gas production, but what we call "disposal wells."

In many areas of the USA, water is a scarce commodity, so there aren't any injection wells even though there is lots of fracking.

In many areas of the USA, there is water injection going on in order to "wash out" remaining oil in old formations. These wells are not hydraulically fractured shale formations (the "controversial" process). This has been going on for nearly 100 years.

A Geophysicist I know who works for a large independent oil & gas producer maintains that it has been known for about 20 years that injection wells can cause earthquakes by lubricating fault lines. Extensive testing was done during fracturing at multiple sites and the study was not able to find any data supporting a link between fracking and earthquakes. The instruments used were geophones, which are ultra-sensitive accelerometer devices normally purposed for analyzing formations by echolocation.

All of the comments I see so far clearly didn't click links.. the links mention geothermal production and water injection, the summary indicates that somehow natural gas is extracted by pumping fluid in the ground. That is only true for oil production. In natural gas production our aim is to deliquify wells so that the water isn't exerting backpressure on the gas production, slowing it down and eventually stopping it altogether. Disposal wells are only sometimes used, to get rid of the nasty, brackish, useless water produced from all kinds of hydrocarbon wells.

Comment Re:With "smart grid" or "smart cities" coming (Score 1) 66

1. Use a second physically completely separate Internet for infrastructure only?

It's called a WAN Link, They have been around for quite some time and are a lot cheaper than internet circuits in the same tier class for corporate/industrial.

T1s are cheap (usually under $600/month) and can be deployed anywhere (%90) there is copper phone service. (not as cheap as 'consumer' internet, but you wouldn't be using that anyway for something like this now would you??...) And other connections are usually available in most urban/industrial areas (DS3, Metro-Ethernet over copper/fiber, dark fiber leasing, etc...) and are usually covered with SLAs,

And all the major telcos already have all of the above on a "separate" internet infrastructure and even separate them out by customer so they can't even talk to each other (unless they installed a link between and only when they request it) You can even get WAN links between providers that are P2P (T1 from ATT in one location and a T1 from VZ in another and they will be a direct link as far as your router on each end is concerned.)

This is the proper way to link internal systems that you can not link yourself. And if your really paranoid you can even do VPN encryption over that just in case someone actually takes the time to dig up copper/fiber and splice into after some how knowing which in 1,000 pairs of copper/fiber is actually yours in the middle of a street.

Respectfully, $600/month is way, way too expensive for most industrial applications. I work in energy, and we use a tunnel to our VPN provided by cellular companies to link our hosting services to customer sites. It's closer to the realm of $40/month depending on the bandwidth of the connection. All of these options, and encryption, are plausible ways to sufficiently separate ones self from the public internet. I won't comment too much on my experiences with unsecured connections except to say that it is much worse than the summary says it is. These are the discovered devices only..

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