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BSOD Issues On Deepwater Horizon

Soulskill posted about 4 years ago | from the blue-screen-of-literal-death dept.

Bug 383

ctdownunder passes along this excerpt from a NY Times article about a rig worker's testimony concerning the April 20 accident at the Deepwater Horizon well: "The emergency alarm on the Deepwater Horizon was not fully activated on the day the oil rig caught fire and exploded, triggering the massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a rig worker on Friday told a government panel investigating the accident. ... On Friday, Mr. Williams added several new details about the equipment on the vessel, testifying that another Transocean official turned a critical system for removing dangerous gas from the drilling shack to 'bypass mode.' When he questioned that decision, Mr. Williams said, he was reprimanded. ... Problems existed from the beginning of drilling the well, Mr. Williams said. For months, the computer system had been locking up, producing what the crew deemed the 'blue screen of death.' 'It would just turn blue,' he said. 'You’d have no data coming through.' Replacement hardware had been ordered but not yet installed by the time of the disaster, he said." The article doesn't mention whether it was specifically a Windows BSOD, or just an error screen that happened to be blue.

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Why didn't they fix it? (1, Insightful)

SquarePixel (1851068) | about 4 years ago | (#33005284)

For months, the computer system had been locking up, producing what the crew deemed the 'blue screen of death. 'It would just turn blue,' he said.

So they didn't have proper computer administration in place? If my own computer started BSOD'ing often and for months, I would do something about it. I would especially do something about it if it was an important system, irrelevant to if it was Windows, Linux or any other OS.

It's not like it BSOD'd once and caused it. It was BSOD'ing for months.

Re:Why didn't they fix it? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33005368)

Many embedded systems have their console in blue. It's not even sure it was Windows.

Re:Why didn't they fix it? (1, Informative)

Scrameustache (459504) | about 4 years ago | (#33005380)

RTFA, the workers ordered the parts and were still waiting for them when the place blew up and sank.

Re:Why didn't they fix it? (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 4 years ago | (#33006022)

"still waiting for them when the place blew up and sank."

Don't you just HATE when that happens? And, who knows WHERE the hell the post office actually sent the parts! Zimbabwe? Rhodesia? Pakistan? Someone in Atlantis may get our parts, instead of what they ordered, and sink THEIR boats!

Re:Why didn't they fix it? (1)

certain death (947081) | about 4 years ago | (#33005490)

You win the prize for the most "BSOD"s in a single post! Yay you!! :o)

BSOD (4, Funny)

DWMorse (1816016) | about 4 years ago | (#33005312)

A Blue Screen of Death by a computer yields a Black Screen of Death on an ocean. Interesting. Kill all humans, anyone?

Re:BSOD (4, Funny)

pitchpipe (708843) | about 4 years ago | (#33005354)

So in this case BSOD is not a metaphor!

Re:BSOD (0, Offtopic)

DWMorse (1816016) | about 4 years ago | (#33005508)

Futurama quotes in obvious jest will mod your posts flamebait! Hah!

Re:BSOD (1)

spun (1352) | about 4 years ago | (#33005816)

Look, it's a huge oil slick. In middle of hurricane alley. Hurricanes produce lightning. Lightning ignites fires. That oil slick is one giant pool of flame bait. That's all the mods were trying to say.

Re:BSOD (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33005664)

There is no evidence that BSODs contributed to this disaster. What is know to have contributed is the cheap cement job, plugged pressure sensors on the blowout preventer, possible damage to the blowout preventer during drilling (rubber fragments observed), and using seawater instead of drilling mud. None of these were automated.

interesting question: (2, Funny)

hypergreatthing (254983) | about 4 years ago | (#33005328)

What color did it turn when the rig exploded?

Re:interesting question: (2, Funny)

ByteSlicer (735276) | about 4 years ago | (#33005396)

What color did it turn when the rig exploded?

Most likely, it turned into fiery pieces ...

Re:interesting question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33005586)

Didn't change. Parts blew east and others blew west...

Re:interesting question: (1)

countSudoku() (1047544) | about 4 years ago | (#33005698)

Brown!

For those keeping score, here are the Deepwater Horizon color-coded threat warning levels:
GREEN == A-OKAY, have a nice day.
BLUE/BSOD == Lunchtime!
AMBER == Check rig, abort, retry, ignore.
RED == Begin cover-up procedures. Make sure you've already had lunch.
BROWN == OH SHIT! Get off the fucking rig!!!1!!
BLACK == No such alert; The Simpsons already did this one!

Re:interesting question: (1)

spun (1352) | about 4 years ago | (#33005852)

What about threat level Blackwatch Plaid [imdb.com] or Moving Pictures?

They didn't fix a lot of things (5, Insightful)

18_Rabbit (663482) | about 4 years ago | (#33005334)

For example, they KNEW that the BOP (blowout preventer) was not functioning correctly. one of the 2 control systems was out, and they had been bringing up pieces of the rubber seal in the test fluid. They were cutting corners on their cut corners. You'd think this would serve as exhibit A to silence all the "GOVERNMENT R BAD, CORPORATIONS R GOOD" nutcases in the USA today, but unfortunately it does not seem to have had that effect.

Re:They didn't fix a lot of things (-1, Troll)

operagost (62405) | about 4 years ago | (#33005394)

Re:They didn't fix a lot of things (4, Funny)

spun (1352) | about 4 years ago | (#33005906)

GOVERNMENT R BAD, CORPORATIONS R GOOD
However:
BP screwed up bad
BP is a corporation
Therefore, the initial statement must be false, even if governments R BAD also.

Proof by Reductio ad absurdum. No fallacy. Thanks for playing, and here's a copy of our home game, 'Logic for Dummies.'

Re:They didn't fix a lot of things (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33005410)

the government's responses to national crises like this one should also tell you that those "GOVERNMENT IS GOOD, DOWN WITH CORPS" nutcases in the usa should also be silenced.

How about down with self-serving bureaucracy? you know, the kind that insulates its ideology from reality so much that everyone else is left holding the resulting inevitable calamity.

Re:They didn't fix a lot of things (1, Offtopic)

spun (1352) | about 4 years ago | (#33005920)

How about down with self-serving bureaucracy? you know, the kind that insulates its ideology from reality so much that everyone else is left holding the resulting inevitable calamity.

This is exactly why I don't vote Republican.

Re:They didn't fix a lot of things (1, Insightful)

Mantrid (250133) | about 4 years ago | (#33005966)

As opposed to the Democrats?

Re:They didn't fix a lot of things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33005434)

You were there?

Re:They didn't fix a lot of things (4, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 4 years ago | (#33005478)

You mean because the regulators did such a wonderful job at enforcing the regulations that were already in place that we should create new regulations?
I am never a fan of government regulations, but when there are problems with an industry we can discuss possible government regulations of that industry. However, I am always opposed to new regulations to address a problem that appears to have happened largely because exisitng regulations were not being followed. If regulators have failed to enforce existing regulations, what makes anyone think they will enforce any new regulations?

Re:They didn't fix a lot of things (5, Insightful)

amorsen (7485) | about 4 years ago | (#33005574)

If regulators have failed to enforce existing regulations, what makes anyone think they will enforce any new regulations?

The regulators were tasked to check that the companies followed the procedures for checking their own operations. This kind of twice-removed oversight is becoming increasingly common in lots of places, because it saves money for the government (popular with voters) as well as being popular in the private sector (for obvious reasons).

It works great as long as companies are overall honest and all their problems are caused by simple negligence. It doesn't work so well in the face of outright fraud.

Re:They didn't fix a lot of things (5, Insightful)

T.E.D. (34228) | about 4 years ago | (#33005958)

The regulators were tasked to check that the companies followed the procedures for checking their own operations. This kind of twice-removed oversight is becoming increasingly common in lots of places, because it saves money for the government (popular with voters) as well as being popular in the private sector (for obvious reasons). It works great as long as companies are overall honest and all their problems are caused by simple negligence. It doesn't work so well in the face of outright fraud.

It doesn't work period. Anybody who understands economics (as "fiscal conservatives" claim they do) should understand that you can't expect entities to act contrary to the incentives around them out of a sense of civic duty or something. When you set up a system where there are tremendous financial incentives to cheat, the chances are getting caught are almost nil, and even then the punishments will be laughable compared to the money saved by cheating, it would be insane to not expect things like this to happen.

The only way to prevent reoccurances is to change the system. That will require changing the regulations.

Re:They didn't fix a lot of things (0, Troll)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | about 4 years ago | (#33006020)

The regulators were tasked to check that the companies followed the procedures for checking their own operations.

And they didn't do that. There would likely not have been a spill if they had. BP's safety procedures are based on industry standards, which were so good that there had never been a spill in the 40 years prior to the BP spill. 40 years without incident, think about that.

The problem is the regulators in this case waved BP on through their own safety procedures, which would have prevented the problem had they been followed to the letter. Saying "Yeah yeah, that's fine, we know you'll do it" is not how you ensure a company is following their safety procedures.

I don't think the US Government is at fault for the spill, but they were very much in a position to prevent the spill from happening. Since that is what those regulators are paid to do, there should be serious consequences for failing. Possibly even criminal liability for dereliction of duty, but I doubt there is anything close to that sort of thing on the books.

the regulators were the regulated (5, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 4 years ago | (#33005790)

the regulations don't matter in this case. i'm glad you admit we need some regulations, but the real issue here is regulator==regulated

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/22/AR2010072205133.html?hpid=topnews [washingtonpost.com]

His statement came after Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) asked about a Washington Post article that reported that dozens of former Interior officials had crossed over into the oil industry and that three out of four industry lobbyists had once worked for the federal government.

The rate is more than double the norm in Washington, where industries recruit about 30 percent of their lobbyists from the government, according to data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. With more than 600 registered lobbyists, the industry has among the biggest and most powerful contingents in Washington, The Post reported.

the lobbyists, the interior officials, the corporate assholes: all the same people

all the same smoochy same golf hole playing same bar attending backslapping crowd of assholes

that's why we had the disaster in the gulf

you can pass all the regulations you want, it doesn't matter if the ones who are supposed to be policing the industry ARE the industry

Re:They didn't fix a lot of things (4, Interesting)

fyoder (857358) | about 4 years ago | (#33006024)

Then we need new regulations regulating regulators. And I know, you're thinking, but who will regulate the regulators of the regulators? There will be regulators for the regulators of the regulators as well. It will be regulators all the way to the bottom.

The real answer is to stop regarding corporations as 'persons' and go back to regarding them as what they are, associations, and ones which can be disbanded when they screw up big time. A corporation who, through its negligence, causes a major environmental disaster doesn't get to continue to exist.

Granted, that's unenforceable outside of a particular nation state, but it would certainly reduce share holder value if several countries, including the US, regarded it as outlaw and forbade it to do business.

Or if we're going to continue to regard them as persons, what sort of a punishment would a human person get for gross criminal negligence? What would be the corporate equivalent?

Because when it comes right down to it, regulation is better than no regulation, but ultimately can't be counted on, because there are minimal consequences for failure to comply, and because of lax enforcement in the first place.

The first rule for corporations should be that if they screw up big time, they cease to exist. But anything that draconian has to be preceded by defining corporations in law as non-persons. Sadly, given US Supreme Court rulings on the issue, it might take a constitutional amendment.

Re:They didn't fix a lot of things (5, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | about 4 years ago | (#33006040)

I am never a fan of government regulations

Government regulations are what keep you from dying every time you make toast, plug in the kettle, or turn on the TV. They keep you safe on the roads. They stop your house from falling in, from toxic chemicals being found in your food, and thousands upon thousands of other hazards that every day life throws at you.

Re:They didn't fix a lot of things (0, Flamebait)

mark72005 (1233572) | about 4 years ago | (#33005538)

You're right, if the government ran this, we'd have huge messes every year and gas would cost $16 a gallon.

Re:They didn't fix a lot of things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33005602)

Your oversimplification is trite. The black and white world is a false dichotomy. Corporations have government granted limited liability. This means that if the oil spill costs more to clean up than BP is worth, then they will need to either raise capital to pay the damages or file for bankruptcy. Any remaining costs would be payed by taxpayers. In a free market, there would be no limited liability. After bankruptcy, any remaining cleanup costs would be passed directly to the owners of BP. Mansions, Yachts, Real Estate - All assets would be forfeit. Then they'd have to work in whatever capacity for the rest of their lives paying back the damage. In such a world, with the risks demonstrated, people would give more thought to the those they impact with the risks they take, from financial bailouts to environmental disasters.

Re:They didn't fix a lot of things (1)

uncqual (836337) | about 4 years ago | (#33005754)

This "GOVERNMENT" you speak of. Is that the one responsible for regulating the Deepwater Horizon. You know, the one MMS is part of?

Safety List (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | about 4 years ago | (#33005376)

Didn't Java's license agreement used to have a clause saying you wouldn't use it in air traffic control systems or medical devices or stuff like that? I'm not saying this is a Java issue, just using it as an example. Safety control systems, especially those where life and limb, as well as massive amounts of money, are at steak aren't the places to be cutting corners and using commodity products rather than purpose-built and well-tested systems.

Re:Safety List (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33005428)

Yes; steaks cost massive amounts of money, but what does that have to do with what's at stake?

Re:Safety List (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33005472)

I don't know about that, steak from a used up dairy cow can be had for fairly cheap, though at that point the quality is at stake.

Re:Safety List (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 4 years ago | (#33005764)

"Milk 'em 'till they're dry, then eat 'em." Hmmm... Where have I heard that strategy before?

Re:Safety List (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33005438)

life and limb [...] at steak

Hannibal, is that you?

Cutting corners is the name of the game (4, Insightful)

plopez (54068) | about 4 years ago | (#33005456)

Cutting corners is the corporate way. I have seen so much "Mickey Mouse" stuff at places I've worked it disgusts me. Untrained workers, electrical boxes in pools of water, large pumps at refineries held in place by 4 bolts rather than the six bolts which were intended to be used etc. But of course, none of these problems are the CEO (or board members) of BP's fault. They only take credit when things go right. Avoiding responsibility is the name of the game.

Re:Cutting corners is the name of the game (1)

uncqual (836337) | about 4 years ago | (#33005788)

Of course, government isn't blameless on the other side - spending money seemingly without regard for the fact that it's real money.

Re:Cutting corners is the name of the game (1)

castle (6163) | about 4 years ago | (#33006018)

Part of the problem *is* that it's not real money.

Overall it's just chits of debt to the federal reserve, if it were real money, you could run out, thus providing a sustainable feedback mechanism which would probably lessen the bad things that "capitalism" is being blamed for in this case, and others.

Corporations themselves rely on the states that define them. Liability shields and incestuous dealings with regulators (revolving doors and their attendant failures of regulatory oversight) abound in many industries.

In this instance you'd think the ridiculously low quality computers would be detected by the frequent audits of the private backers of the endeavor, if those backers had any sense. BP being a multinational plays by all the rules on paper, shit happens, since they just rent the land from the government, the landlord gets to pay the bills / suffer the consequences with little to no recompense when it all goes to hell.

Re:Safety List (1)

dasdrewid (653176) | about 4 years ago | (#33005486)

...those where life and limb...are at steak aren't the places to be cutting corners and using commodity products rather than purpose-built and well-tested systems.

mmmm...huuumaan steeeaaak...

Re:Safety List (1)

Massacrifice (249974) | about 4 years ago | (#33005670)

I wouldn't want my life or limbs to be at steak on this otherwise meaty issue.

Re:Safety List (2, Interesting)

deapbluesea (1842210) | about 4 years ago | (#33005708)

Safety control systems, especially those where life and limb, as well as massive amounts of money, are at steak aren't the places to be cutting corners and using commodity products rather than purpose-built and well-tested systems.

Yes, that's why the nextgen ATC system for the US is being written in C++ (secure if you know how to herd cats effectively) (http://blog.seattlepi.com/aerospace/archives/202907.asp [seattlepi.com] ), instead of Ada (secure unless you ask a bunch of C++ programmers to write in Ada), whilst the UK is writing theirs using Ada (http://www.drdobbs.com/embedded-systems/199905389;jsessionid=QQKCSEKZREME5QE1GHPSKH4ATMY32JVN [drdobbs.com] ) . One of those two is well proven in safety-critical systems. The other is used to write Windows. I wonder which was used for the Deepwater Horizon?

Re:Safety List (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33005776)

If you think C++ can't be used in safety-critical systems you don't know what you're talking about.

Re:Safety List (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33005834)

Sure, C++ can be used in safety-critical systems. But if you think that it should be used in safety-critical systems you don't know what you're talking about.

Re:Safety List (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 4 years ago | (#33005732)

Yet most do.

Honestly it's utterly appalling the quality of software found in many commercial and industrial critical systems.

Egregious (4, Interesting)

eclectro (227083) | about 4 years ago | (#33005398)

There are faulty engineering and management decisions every step of the way when producing this well. This is not the first disaster for BP that ended in the loss of life. The question is why is there not criminal prosecutions for bad engineering that leads to the loss of life? Why is it that only people with guns who kill people get criminal prosecutions?

Re:Egregious (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33005458)

BP paid 20 billion dollars to avoid the criminal charges.

Re:Egregious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33005512)

because corporate lobbyists would ensure that the law holds the engineer accountable (the one who makes $60k/yr) while the corporate leadership cuts corners in the implementation. In IT, this issue is already a serious problem thanks to the ignorant expectations of technology by the public.

Re:Egregious (2, Informative)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 4 years ago | (#33005584)

This is not the first disaster for BP that ended in the loss of life.

What's it got to do with BP? [dailymail.co.uk] The rig was owned and operated by a company called Transocean. BP (and others) just leased it off them to do the drilling (and no BP employee was involved in the actual work).

Incidentally, the company working on the well head was a company called Halliburton. They were pumping cement into the well [nowpublic.com] to prepare it when things went bad.

and at the end, its a group of companies, all blaming each other and each one trying desperately to avoid paying out. BP, to its credit, has accepted responsibility even though its almost certainly not to blame. Perhaps the US government won't be able to blame the Swiss-located Transocean (for tax reasons, 50 Transocean people work in the Swiss HQ, whereas the rest work in the USA - all 26,000 of them).

Re:Egregious (5, Interesting)

Andy Dodd (701) | about 4 years ago | (#33005774)

From most of what I've read, the subcontractors in question (Halliburton and Transocean) were doing the work, but BP had full control over the operations.

The flow was something like this:
Halliburton or Transocean: That's a bad idea, we don't recommend that.
BP: Do it anyway.
H/T: OK...

Although the question is at what point H/T should have said, "Hell no!"

Re:Egregious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33005988)

Then Halliburton and Transocean share in the liability.

Re:Egregious (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33005830)

I found this episode of 60 minutes quite interesting:

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6490509n&tag=api

Apparently, BP was putting on a lot of pressure to do things quickly, since they were running behind schedule and it was costing them money.

Specifically, on the day of the accident, there was an argument between representatives of Transocean and BP on how to close the well (in preparation for later exploitation by another ship). Transocean was in favor the slower, safer procedure. BP wanted things to be done more quickly. They did it the BP way, which was the point when the accident happened. So, according to this report, there were BP emplyes on the Deepwater Horizont, and they influenced the procedures by pressuring their subcontractors.

According to the report, several other things had to happen as well in order for things to go wrong so badly, but I would not so easily let BP of the hook.

That's why capitalism is broken (5, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | about 4 years ago | (#33005892)

A company we hired nearly destroyed the Gulf of Mexico... What's that got to do with us?

One our business partners was rating these bonds as AAA when they were worthless, and we were busy making billions passing the bonds off as good investments... What's that got to do with us?

The company we hired to dispose of this toxic waste is just dumping it in a river... What's that got to do with us?

In effect, modern capitalism is a system of mafia thugs and their hired patsies who operate technically within the law, as long as they hire an agent to do their dirty work to take the fall. Any of the real costs can be passed off to the public, either though bailouts or just ruining the commons.

Re:Egregious (3, Insightful)

quickpick (1021471) | about 4 years ago | (#33005684)

The question is why is there not criminal prosecutions for bad engineering that leads to the loss of life? Why is it that only people with guns who kill people get criminal prosecutions?

IMNL but be very, very careful where you are going with this. I submit this as an example: If you built a machine and it happened to be involved in the death of several people a prosecutor could argue that your machine was 'bad engineering' and if they found sufficient evidence that people disagreed with you and were able to convince a jury of this you would end up in jail. Now if you were in a project where everyone was in agreement that it was a good idea then he could potentially still argue collusion. I'd imagine that you would have 'tolerances' but even these could possibly be argued as bad engineering, because why would you unleash upon the people a machine that statistically would kill a certain number of people?
If all we do is prosecute failure then no one would be willing to risk their lives to innovate. The only real loss here is if the industry learns nothing and repeats its mistake.

Re:Egregious (2, Insightful)

Zironic (1112127) | about 4 years ago | (#33005728)

Wouldn't that be what a jury of your peers is for? If a prosecutor can convince a jury consisting of engineers that you deliberately cut corners and followed bad engineering practices causing loss of life then I think it's reasonable you should be punished for causing death (I can't remember the proper term for accidental manslaughter right now)

Re:Egregious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33005798)

Yes, because the Terry Childs case really taught us to trust the decisions of "a jury of your peers".

Or the fact that juries usually do not consist of engineers.

Re:Egregious (5, Informative)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | about 4 years ago | (#33005944)

Seriously, stop using Terry Childs as a posterboy for "Wronged Geek". He was an obstinate, self-serving asshole.

Protip for all you people saying "They could have reconfigured the routers, etc." (on Childs refusal to hand over passwords) - not so much.

Why? Because Childs had either disabled serial consoles, disabled password recovery, or configured devices to -never- save configuration, only to run in RAM.

Well, shit, you say, restore the config from backups. Guess what, SF owned no backups of the configuration files, or network maps. The only configuration files Childs kept were on his personal laptop, encrypted with a key known only to him, and configured such that his laptop was the only device capable of updating configs. Network maps? Same. Sitting on his personal laptop. Nowhere else.

The guy viewed SF's network as his personal playground, and believed no-one else worthy to take the reins of it - guess what, he had no authority to decide that, and when he got nicely obstinate about it, he crossed a fairly clear line in the sand.

Stop the martyred geek defending valiantly our security creed. It bares little resemblance to reality.

Re:Egregious (0)

abigsmurf (919188) | about 4 years ago | (#33005782)

These things go 'all the way to the top' every time because it's the nature of a large business for decisions to get passed down a chain.

Usually at some point there's a subtle break where an employee decided to interpret a decision or made a choice indepentdently other how to go about a task. Is it really likely the Head of a huge company directly made a decicion on 1 of 1000 safety measures on 1 of 1000 (numbers made up) of their oil operations?

Then there's the sheer size of corporations. You could have a brilliant set of safty standards which makes the chance of an accident insanely low. However your company employs 100,000 people, eventually you'll get a perfect storm where perhaps one safety measure fails, another isn't obeyed and someone dies.

There may not have been anything especially wrong with the level of safty overall at an organisation but an enquiry finds that this unlikely accident could've been prevented if they'd forseen the possibility of it occuring.

Should the boss of that company, face criminal charges? Would you want to be the boss of a company knowing that, no matter how much attention you paid to safty, something could still go wrong and you'd wind up in jail if one of your 100K employees had a serious accident?

Re:Egregious (1)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | about 4 years ago | (#33005854)

Why is it that only people with guns who kill people get criminal prosecutions?

They don't have as strong of a lobbying group nor make the kind of campaign donations as "the people who kill w/o guns" do.

Re:Egregious (1)

DaveGod (703167) | about 4 years ago | (#33005884)

There are faulty engineering and management decisions every step of the way when producing __________

Fill in the blank with pretty much anything on this scale. Or most things on any scale. The difference is how they are controlled. The mechanisms, physical, on paper, whatever, that are in place to minimise and control risk.

IANAL, but my understanding is control is also the central consideration when it comes to legal issues. In the UK the first corporate manslaughter prosecution was in connection with the Lyme Bay canoeing tragedy, which has some good write-ups for an understanding of the topic (at least in the UK, but reasoning is largely universal logic).

How much did they save? (5, Insightful)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | about 4 years ago | (#33005408)

I mean, the whole rig's cost is in the hundreds of millions (Wiki says $560 mil but google link said $350 mil). The whole disaster is in the tens of billions, ain't it?

You'd think they would do anything and spare no cost to keep the fucking thing in working order and floating.

Makes the $500,000 a day lease look like pennies.

Re:How much did they save? (2, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 4 years ago | (#33005504)

Deepwater Horizon is a perfect storm of greed, arrogance and ineptitude, by all parties mind you, and that includes the Federal government. It wasn't just BP, TransOcean or Halliburton who created this disaster, but crooked, incompetent bureaucrats who should have been doing their jobs, but seemed quite content to turn their heads.

Re:How much did they save? (5, Insightful)

jd2112 (1535857) | about 4 years ago | (#33005624)

You'd think they would do anything and spare no cost to keep the fucking thing in working order and floating.Makes the $500,000 a day lease look like pennies.

In the corporate word, the important thing is to save money no matter how mutch extra it costs.

Re:How much did they save? (1)

silentbozo (542534) | about 4 years ago | (#33005818)

There's a reason you don't want salespeople running a company.

Sales Exec (upon being told that the company is losing a dollar for every unit they sell at current pricing): "That's ok, we'll just make it up in volume!"

The (un)funny thing is that to salespeople, THIS MAKES SENSE - their bonuses are typically based on the amount of sales, not whether the sale actually made money...

Re:How much did they save? (1)

Target Drone (546651) | about 4 years ago | (#33005822)

In the corporate word, the important thing is to save money no matter how mutch extra it costs.

It's funny but true. As a CEO it makes sense to role the dice, cut costs and rake in a huge bonus. The odds are in your favour that it will work out. But on the off chance you loose then just take your golden parachute and move on to another company to try it at.

Re:How much did they save? (1)

gknoy (899301) | about 4 years ago | (#33006038)

Indeed. A blog I follow discussed the motivation behind (and the math which shows that it's a mathmatically better choice) employees cutting costs because they have no stake in the operation. (http://greedygoblin.blogspot.com/2010/07/risky-companies.html [blogspot.com] -- yes, I realize it's a WoW blog.)

Basically, he says that while the company wants to spend the money on preventative maintenance (e.g., $1M cost) in order to avoid the low-risk/high-cost catastrophic event (e.g., $1B damage), the individual employee does not. Because they aren't held responsible for a portion of the damages from a catastrophe, their options are:

- Save $1M and get a raise
- 1% of the time, incur a massive cost on the company, and lose their job.

This boils down to a guaranteed zero raise if they spend their budget on maintenance or other disaster-prevention, versus (potentially) a raise which is very unlikely to have any bad effects on them. When you combine that with people's tendency to underestimate the likelihood of catastrophic events (or, overestimate their ability to avoid them?), we find that many people have numerical motivation for skimping on things which are normally seen only as Costs.

Thank goodness for ethical engineers, who are looking out not just for themselves but for their company, customers, and neighbors.

Re:How much did they save? (1)

blai (1380673) | about 4 years ago | (#33005632)

A penny saved is a penny earned?

I don't know...

Re:How much did they save? (3, Insightful)

CoffeeDog (1774202) | about 4 years ago | (#33005644)

I hate to be a cynic but if you take the cost savings on cutting safety corners across all their operations (rigs, refineries, etc) for the time the company has been operating them, I bet they still came out on top and BP wouldn't change a damn thing about how they operate short of some regulatory body (lol MMS) forcing them to.

Re:How much did they save? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33005652)

That's precisely what is wrong with business operations in the world today. Cut corners until the fatalities occur, then pay out the settlements.

FWIW, VxWorks and QNX are often the RTOS of choice for the control systems on these rigs. They might have Linux or Windows boxes for front ends. All of the PLC systems are proprietary, of course, but they don't have screens that turn blue.

Re:How much did they save? (2, Insightful)

abigsmurf (919188) | about 4 years ago | (#33005806)

You can always spend a bit more and make something a little safer. At some point you need to draw the line. How much should they spend before you'd deem they've spent enough? 1billion? 10billion? 20billion? Would you be happy paying $1 more for every litre for this to happen?

Re:How much did they save? (1)

lsappserver (915135) | about 4 years ago | (#33005932)

I recently read "All the Shah's Men" by Kinzer. It details the history of Anglo-Iranian oil company (today's BP). BP started in colonial era of England. They were arrogant while they were exploring and extracting oil in Iran. According to the book they wouldn't even build housing or roads or any medical facilities for Iranian laborers. However they built most of the comforts for the British officers and workers. Read the book if you can and the current BP will not surprise you at all.

Don't throw Bill under the bus (1)

Crispix (864691) | about 4 years ago | (#33005510)

If it turns out these crashes are Windows blue screens, the media will jump all over Microsoft. But considering everything else we're heard about this poorly run oil rig, it just as easily could have been poor third party/custom software or faulty hardware causing kernel panic, and have nothing to do with MSFT.

Re:Don't throw Bill under the bus (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 years ago | (#33005528)

I really, really, want to find out if it's windows. I know someone that works for Microsoft and one of my greatest joys in life is sending him links to things like this... and this would be the best one yet.

Re:Don't throw Bill under the bus (1)

mopower70 (250015) | about 4 years ago | (#33005626)

You have a sad and very small little life. And this from a Linux guy who actually lives in a basement. (sure, it's my own, but still...)

Re:Don't throw Bill under the bus (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 years ago | (#33005666)

He works for Microsoft's sales department. He proselytizes like he's the pope or something. Trust me, it's great fun.

Re:Don't throw Bill under the bus (1, Flamebait)

Beelzebud (1361137) | about 4 years ago | (#33005738)

It might be fun, but you do lead a very sad, small life if you use something like this to stick it to Microsoft. People died, and an ecosystem was destroyed. I guess anything to score points for Linux or Mac or whatever sociopathic cause gives you great fun...

Re:Don't throw Bill under the bus (1)

Patman64 (1622643) | about 4 years ago | (#33005778)

Don't worry, I'm sure if he worked for Apple everyone here would be giving you a high five. ;)

Re:Don't throw Bill under the bus (3, Funny)

ch-chuck (9622) | about 4 years ago | (#33005634)

Not only that, but buried somewhere deep in the multi page EULA that nobody reads is the clause, "company shall not be held in indemnity for losses to person or environmental damage from deepwater oilwells bursting into flame due to defects in software, other than the cost of replacing defective media".

Re:Don't throw Bill under the bus (1)

icannotthinkofaname (1480543) | about 4 years ago | (#33005678)

While what you say is completely true, if it is Microsoft, I'm not sure if the company will ever recover from the resulting poor public image. I imagine that if it was a Microsoft bluescreen, the anti-Microsoft battle cry would turn into something like this:

"Don't use Windows! It has the potential to cause an apocalypse when it crashes!"

Re:Don't throw Bill under the bus (3, Informative)

Critical Facilities (850111) | about 4 years ago | (#33005940)

If it turns out these crashes are Windows blue screens, the media will jump all over Microsoft

Well, before all the Microsoft Haters pile on, according to this [deepwater.com] the Control System in place was something called Cameron Multiplex Control System [cedip.edu.mx] , which I've also seen referred to as Cameron MUX and CAMITROL [c-a-m.com] . I am not pretending to be an expert in these things, just thought I'd share what little Googling turned up.

In short, it looks pretty unlikely that there's going to be a red hot poker headed toward Redmond over this.

Re:Don't throw Bill under the bus (1, Interesting)

VGPowerlord (621254) | about 4 years ago | (#33005964)

Funny thing... when my monitor has no video signal, it shows a blue screen for a bit, then goes black.

My TV does the same thing if I tune to one of the external input channels.

Windows isn't the only device in computers and electronics that produces a blue screen; In fact, Windows is less likely than the other possible reasons*.

* Speaking of which, didn't MS eliminate the BSOD in favor of the RSOD (Red) or BlSOD (Black) in newer Windows versions?

Saliva from Slashdot fouls Gulf (2, Funny)

istartedi (132515) | about 4 years ago | (#33005550)

Dateline -- Louisana. Several millions of barrels of saliva from FS/OSS zealots on Slashdot fouled the gulf today when they thought maybe, just Mayyybe, Microsoft might have somehow, have tenuously been connected to the previous oil spill. A foul stench of stale beer and tacos was reported along miles of beaches in Alabama, and was headed for Florida this evening.

In other words, sheesh! How speculative and sensationalist can a headline get?

Re:Saliva from Slashdot fouls Gulf (1)

mopower70 (250015) | about 4 years ago | (#33005674)

For all intents and purposes, you've shot your credibility to determine what's a valid word and what's not right in the ass.

Re:Saliva from Slashdot fouls Gulf (1)

OFnow (1098151) | about 4 years ago | (#33005800)

whoosh...

Re:Saliva from Slashdot fouls Gulf (2, Funny)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | about 4 years ago | (#33005864)

Billy Joe! We done caught another grammar nazi in the sig trap out back! Get the gun right quick!

Re:Saliva from Slashdot fouls Gulf (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33005968)

For all intents and purposes, you've shot your credibility to determine what's a valid word and what's not right in the ass.

That's ok; GP is a proctologist. When it comes to asses, he knows what's right and what's wrong.

not getting the picture 'normal' now (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33005594)

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"The wealth of the universe is for me. Every thing is explicable and practical for me .... I am defeated all the time; yet to victory I am born." --emerson

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Re:not getting the picture 'normal' now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33005606)

this is COPYPASTAAAA

Even more corners cut? (0, Flamebait)

dave562 (969951) | about 4 years ago | (#33005640)

Given that the entire disaster seems to have been the result of cost and corner cutting on a massive scale, it wouldn't surprise me if they didn't bother to buy hardware on the Windows HCL, or if they were using cheap hardware with unsigned drivers.

Re:Even more corners cut? (1)

KarmaMB84 (743001) | about 4 years ago | (#33005880)

Since they were already ordering replacement hardware, it was probably defective or damaged hardware.

Re:Even more corners cut? (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | about 4 years ago | (#33005974)

Nice speculation. Whilst I don't expect the article to be read, even the summary adds (albeit as an afterthought) that there is absolutely nothing to suggest it was a Windows BSOD.

For any critical computing, (1)

wholestrawpenny (1809456) | about 4 years ago | (#33005660)

you'd be an idiot not to use anything but a real-time operating system (RTOS). If they use a windows, mac, or linux box for this, then they're idiots and should be held liable. Chances are it's a PLC though, especially for industrial work.

Interesting (4, Insightful)

Shulai (34423) | about 4 years ago | (#33005704)

Nobody is bashing Windows so far, yet it seems to be what the editor look for when he wrote the headline. Has Windows improved enough that nobody try to make fun of it anymore, or slashdotters are already older and more mature?

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33006016)

Maybe we all got tired of retarded editors trying to blame Windows for everything. The FUD gets old, and personally I haven't blue screened ever since I installed Windows 7, and only blue screened once on my install of XP that lasted 5 years.

The blue screen jokes were a lot funnier in the pre-2000 days.

It was Windows NT (5, Informative)

Fookin (652988) | about 4 years ago | (#33005840)

I was watching the testimony and he stated that it was a Windows NT system and was constantly giving a BSOD. They had replaced and reimaged the HDD over and over but it still kept happening. There were new servers, workstations, etc standing by and waiting to be installed, but another problem creeped in. They were waiting for another ship to figure out a way to run the old software on the new machines. Once that other ship could get it working and document it, they would then do the replacement on their end. I'm guessing it was a Windows NT 4 workstation.

Re:It was Windows NT (1)

ma1wrbu5tr (1066262) | about 4 years ago | (#33006000)

Not blaming Windows here. But WTF? Who (in their right mind) uses a 12 yo OS to run mission critical operations? I could understand it if you were a small business in Africa and you only had access to something that old, but BP makes BILLIONS every year. Cheap bastards. Next thing you know, they'll admit to using control circuitry from the Apollo mission era in the emergency relief systems.

BSOD (1)

T.E.D. (34228) | about 4 years ago | (#33005876)

For months, the computer system had been locking up, producing what the crew deemed the 'blue screen of death.'

Of course now we have the black sea of death. :-(

BSOD? (1)

tautog (46259) | about 4 years ago | (#33005886)

Black Sheen Of Death?

My Learning Curve (1)

b4upoo (166390) | about 4 years ago | (#33006036)

I may have learned something. I always thought that Microsoft products generally were designed to wreck the human mind. Now it seems their software may have ruined the Gulf of Mexico and destroyed the economy of five states.
              From the cup is half full kind of view that may mean that one Microsoft driven incident can wreak more havoc than a nuclear bomb.

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