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How a Solar Storm Two Years Ago Nearly Caused a Catastrophe On Earth

jeffmeden Re: We can't live without these things? (198 comments)

Because NASA isn't in charge of the energy sector? They monitor and advise. DOE via FERC is in charge of the electrical sector. The ES-ISAC, run by the FERC-appointed ERO, NERC, and the regional Reliability Coordinators (PeakRC in the western US, formerly the WECC RC).

More to the point, there are NERC standards being developed which deal with geomagnetic disturbances. A TPL and EOP standard:

The bigger issue is cost. We can prepare for anything, but at what cost? Are you ready for your electricity rates to double to cover a 12% chance in the next 10 years? It's a tough balanacing act.

Why would rates double as a result of putting into place a plan (and probably a few layers of communications systems on top of already existing infrastructure) to mitigate the problem before it starts? Oh right, because we would have to pay for a team at NASA, a team at FERC, a team at each of the regional ISO, etc. to all do the same thing? Ugh. Put NASA in charge, they got us to the moon damnit. If rocket scientists cant fix it, no one can.


How a Solar Storm Two Years Ago Nearly Caused a Catastrophe On Earth

jeffmeden Re:FUD filled.... (198 comments)

Roll eyes and move on. I'm sorry you don't know how nuclear power plants work, nor how solar flares cause damage, but get with the program, son.

Critical electrical components in nuclear power plants are more than sufficiently shielded from electrical spikes, and EMPs don't cause magical explosions. Nor, if a melt down were somehow to occur, an explosion an expected outcome.

Actually professor you might want to take a second look at those figures. A nuclear plant relies entirely on *already produced electricity* for safe operation. With a normally functioning grid, this is not an issue. Take that out of the picture (in a scenario like a CME hit) and it will have to fall back on site generators (the local turbine generation is likely to go down with the grid) which hopefully will have been isolated from the effects of the CME and can be instantly switched in to the site system to take over and shut the plant down. However, if any of those switching components went bad during the CME hit, it could be hours before they are repaired, which starts to push the cooling safety margins to the limit (the plant is, after all, still producing heat as if it had a job to do). There are certainly good disaster plans in effect at nuclear plants for situations similar to this, but do you really want to test them all at once? There are bound to be holes. Mushroom cloud style explosions are out of the question, but we know from experience with Fukushima that all kinds of bad things can happen (including lots of little explosions of errant hydrogen) when plants go dark and can't be shut down safely.


How a Solar Storm Two Years Ago Nearly Caused a Catastrophe On Earth

jeffmeden Re:We can't live without these things? (198 comments)

Really? This would be devastating? We can't live without electricity, electronics, water pumps? It's amazing we're here today!

Yes, it very likely would. All those urban areas that grew as big and relatively healthy as they did, thanks to clean water and efficient sewage systems? If that wasn't brought back online, fast, they'd start moving toward their pre-sanitation population levels. The hard way.

Same would apply for agricultural areas and yields that depend on powered irrigation. Unless that was brought back online, and quickly enough to avoid damage to the crop, you'd see yields plummet toward historical levels, with population following suit shortly thereafter. Very unpleasant.

Hopefully there would be enough enough backup systems to restore function relatively quickly; but if not things would be unlikely to go well.

Generator-powered factories producing generators would suddenly be very very valuable.

The real question we should be asking is; why doesn't NASA have the authority to order a nationwide grid shutdown in the event that one of their several satellites dedicated strictly to predicting and identifying solar disruptions actually works and warns us before it happens? We have spent billions on this already, why not put that to use instead of fear mongering about how long it would take to manufacture a bunch of high voltage transformers?


Social Security Administration Joins Other Agencies With $300M "IT Boondoggle"

jeffmeden Re:Missing Key Information (137 comments)

Until the vendors who are building this system get their company name in the headlines, the status quo will continue.

The other key information is this: The SSA has 65,000 employees and is in charge of a staggering $736B per year (as of 2011, and it continues to rise). And we are here having a pissing match about all the reasons that $300M is too much to spend on the system that is supposed to make sense of over 300 million "customers" (1 dollar per customer?) One half of one percent of their annual budget is too much to get this right? Most corps spend upwards of 10% of their annual revenue on IT, and surely the SSA is not most corps but the scope of what they do is really impossible to underestimate so a project in the hundreds of millions shouldn't make anyone flinch.

The real missing key information is exactly why this kind of story is surprising, on any level, to anyone? My gut says it's the fake shock of someone who would protest anything that came out of the SSA.


Social Security Administration Joins Other Agencies With $300M "IT Boondoggle"

jeffmeden Re:hire the team, they can scale (137 comments)

These government agencies need to hire some developers for whom a few million hits is just another day. Something like gets more traffic than, and handles it with two well-configured commodity servers.

Something tells me that with, the "interaction" is mostly "client-side" so the, er, "workload" is actually minimal. And the use case count, I believe, still stands at 1, and they are at best appealing to exactly half of the US population. It's a bit different than a place like the Social Security Administration, an org that has taken on the unenviable task of managing retirement and disability insurance for *every goddamn american* which is a pretty ludicrous scope. If raw horsepower were the issue, yes bring in outside help. The real problem (or at least one of them) is that of all 65,000 employees, many of them have a specific task since the aforementioned scope is so grand. Try finding a way to economize when you are basically building a system for a small clerical office, and then doing it about 15,000 times with each iteration just different enough from the last to require constant rewrites.


'Just Let Me Code!'

jeffmeden It's a brave new world (367 comments)

"What was the experience of riding a bicycle has become the equivalent of traveling by jumbo jet; replete with the delays, inspections, limitations on personal choices, and sudden, unexplained cancellations — all at a significantly higher cost."

You can't exactly get everywhere you need to go via bicycle these days. Blame globalization.

2 days ago

Researchers Design Bot To Conduct National Security Clearance Interviews

jeffmeden Re:First question (102 comments)

"Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party of the United States..."

Whoopsie, wrong questionnaire.

Here is the form you were looking for: "are you or have you ever posted to Slashdot as Anonymous Coward? Ok next question: Are you or have you ever browsed slashdot at -1?"

we have a subversive on our hands!!!

2 days ago

Why Are the World's Scientists Continuing To Take Chances With Smallpox?

jeffmeden Re:Game theory (189 comments)

I don't accept that throwing them away (the ones we know about) is the only counter. Hell, we can spare a few grams of payload and put one in space.

And wind up with *super*smallpox? Good fucking plan, Einstein!

Actually, good fucking plan. Let's do it.

3 days ago

Why My LG Optimus Cellphone Is Worse Than It's Supposed To Be

jeffmeden Re:Don't buy cheap android (289 comments)

but any other area where the experience is worse than stock android of the equivalent version just seems weird.

Where do you think Samsung and LG stick all the junior devs and QAs? And then pull them off the moment they start making better design choices, to go work on more lucrative projects? Yep, the shitphones. The only choice with the bottom of the barrel phones is to go directly to stock android (which is pretty easy if you have an hour or so to kill and can follow basic instructions) so for Bennett to spend so much time wondering out loud why cheap phones are cheap is the weird part. How about an article on the cheapest phone you can turn into an AOSP/Cyanogen handset with good results? Nah, why bother; that would't start a flamewar!

4 days ago

Malaysian Passenger Plane Reportedly Shot Down Over Ukraine

jeffmeden Re:Wait for it... (752 comments)

I'm not sure. It was at 32000 feet when they last had contact, which means it wasn't quite at cruising altitude, but it was still several miles up. The 777's cruising speed is mach .84, about 630 MPH. I'm not going to do the math (i'd love it if one of you aerospace guys would, especially since we know where it landed and the last known altitude and the great circle between Schipol and Kuala Lumpur), but I think it would be safe to say that on the ascent it would be going about 350-450 MPH. I can't see terrorists getting their hands on that kind of hardware. Both Ukraine and Russia on the other hand...

FWIW the last flighttrack data showed a speed of 490 kts (564mph), altitude of 33,000 feet (a common cruising alt if there is turbulence at 35k+) Lat 48.088 Lon 38.6359.

about a week ago

FBI Concerned About Criminals Using Driverless Cars

jeffmeden Re:FBI crime prediction (435 comments)

How about they actually solve a murder, rape, or kidnapping once in a while? 35% of murders don't get solved

The second sentence contradicts the first. They do solve murders quite often; 65% of the time in fact.

Its actually more nuanced, only 2/3rd (65%) of all murder cases nationally see a single *arrest* which is to say that they have a decent suspect in mind. Not every arrest turns into a conviction, naturally, so the actual "solved" rate is much lower, below 50% for a lot of places. Here's a recent stat to help you plan your next murder: "In 2008, police solved 35 percent of the homicides in Chicago, 22 percent in New Orleans and 21 percent in Detroit. Yet authorities solved 75 percent of the killings in Philadelphia, 92 percent in Denver and 94 percent in San Diego." As you might expect, areas with lower murder rates overall saw a higher solve rate.

about two weeks ago

FBI Concerned About Criminals Using Driverless Cars

jeffmeden Re:don't drive with nobody in it? (435 comments)

Plus, it really eliminates the need to own so many cars. The car can do multiple duty, and borrowing a car is much more practical when it can pick you up at your door (whether it is shared between neighbors or is actually a taxi).

Parking becomes much easier to optimize when cars can drop and pick people up anywhere, and park themselves. There is no need for parking locations to be within a short walk of every destination.

You can also split up cargo vs personnel transport. Passenger vehicles could be smaller and optimized for passengers, with cargo vehicles being big boxes on wheels. You could take a bus to the grocery store and send your 12 bags home in a cargo vehicle while you take a bus back, or a 1-person car, etc. People don't need to own a vehicle large enough to make that trip they make once a month - they can rent for that.

Endless possibilities for transportation when you don't need people in the loop.

You hit on the solution to the very problem. To operate in passenger-less mode simply require that the car be reciving destination instructions from an approved souce (such as some big, audit-able company) who would be a fair bit less likely to greenlight rolling-bomb commands on their cars.

about two weeks ago

Dubai's Climate-Controlled Dome City Is a Dystopia Waiting To Happen

jeffmeden Re:Overreaction (265 comments)

I don't see how this is any different from our current rich/poor housing divide.

Clearly, it's the part about the dome...

about two weeks ago

My most recent energy-saving bulbs last ...

jeffmeden Re:Incandescent will be best for the environment. (278 comments)

As rooftop solar gets cheaper every year, electricity won't be the biggest environmental impact of lighting.

I already have a number of friends who's rooftop solar panels generate more electricity than they use. Once people reach that point, the biggest impact to the environment will be manufacturing --- either with poisons like mercury in CFL bulbs or with dirty semiconductor fabs and lead on circuit boards for LEDs.

Hard to beat a plain glass globe with a metal wire for clean recyclable environmentally friendly materials.

Don't forget that the solar panels only over-produce for the household at times when they *don't need lights*. This impacts your environmental summarization because in order to shift that electricity from solar hours (when the sun is up) to non-solar hours (when the sun is down and you need more indoor lighting) you need to use additional expensive (economic and environmental) techniques like battery storage or borrowing electricity from a nearby coal fired plant.

about two weeks ago

My most recent energy-saving bulbs last ...

jeffmeden Re:Dimmable LEDs (278 comments)

I have a few dimmable Cree bulbs and they flicker. Not impressed. Supposedly Phillips make better dimmable bulbs.

I just tested the two and had the exact opposite experience (with a pretty nice leviton digital dimmer, too). The 9.5w/60w equiv Cree bulbs worked fantastic, no flicker at any light level. The Philips bulbs (10.5w/60w equiv dimmable, according to the package) flickered like crazy and wouldnt even turn off all the way, they just slowed to a 1Hz flicker.

about two weeks ago

Another Dementia Test Oversold

jeffmeden Re:Basic statistics (24 comments)

THis is basic statistics learned by every doctor in medical school. specificity and sensitivity, prevalence, pretest and post test probability and false positive/true negative, false negative/true positive. They all factor in to deciding to use a medical test. Every person who comes in and demands a test ussually gets a lecture on this (at least from me) (at work have to post as AC)

Statistics aside there are two more pressing questions: 1, are patients with MCI more likely to convert (10% or greater) in subsequent years? 2, is there a preventative process that can be used by those that test positive, that is safe for the general population? In other words, do we get to narrow our treatment focus with these results, even a little bit? We can piss and moan about statistics but at the end of the day, who really gives a fuck if you were right about the onset of someone's dementia, unless you can do something about it?

about two weeks ago

Unintended Consequences For Traffic Safety Feature

jeffmeden Re:Not for deaf/hard of hearing... (579 comments)

I can see a few issues with this.

1. Increase of cost. Adding a pole for the near side would add cost.

At least here in Sweden we have poles on both sides as people will be crossing the street in both directions. Yours work differently?

In the US the poles are installed at/past the sidewalk line opposite the roadway, in other words when you are standing to cross you cannot see the pole on your side because it is behind you. So, either you would have to get people to stand behind the pole, or have them turn around and look at the number before crossing (taking attention away from watching turning traffic, which a pedestrian must be very careful for).

about three weeks ago

Krebs on Microsoft Suspending "Patch Tuesday" Emails and Blaming Canada

jeffmeden Re:Email is expensive? (130 comments)

Email requires bandwidth, and you can't distribute it through a CDN like you can with downloads. It's cheap for spammers because they anonymize their email, but security notifications say they come from Now consider that you have BILLIONS of emails to send. That can get costly.

Why can't you distribute it via a CDN, exactly? I mean someone like Microsoft has either direct control over, or actually runs their own CDN servers: firing up a SMTP service (to route mail based on proximity to destination MX) should be the easy part.

about three weeks ago

Krebs on Microsoft Suspending "Patch Tuesday" Emails and Blaming Canada

jeffmeden Re:Email is expensive? (130 comments)

I can't imagine Microsoft has to pay Microsoft for Microsoft products. Accounting may want them to move the money around, but that's stupid and pointless because it doesn't actually cost them money to give it to themselves.

If the cost license doesn't get you, then the compute cycles, ram allocations, and administrators' salaries will... /troll

about three weeks ago

Former NSA Chief Warned Against Selling NSA Secrets

jeffmeden Re:Laugh-worthy (138 comments)

My point was merely that Alexander's CV has very little on it that isn't either irrelevant to his potential customers (at least I hope our financial sector isn't looking for armored warfare expertise...) or closely connected to a series of fed jobs that just keep getting more heavily classified as time goes on.

Hmm let's see if you can pick out the spot where he would be versed only in armored warfare expertise or looking at secret documents all day (this is his CV for the past 15 years):
Director of the National Security Agency (DIRNSA)
Chief of the Central Security Service (CHCSS)
Commander of the United States Cyber Command
Commanding General of the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command
Director of Intelligence (J-2), United States Central Command
Deputy Director for Intelligence (J-2) for the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Head of the Army Intelligence and Security Command

Do you think it's possible, after working (ostensibly successfully) as the head of so many organizations, that he knows nothing about management, leadership, best practices, and nonclassified security methodologies (of which there are many)? Do you honestly think he spent 10 years, as the head of these orgs, pushing top secret papers across his desk instead of having his underlings take care of all of that? Come on. Furthermore, I think a lot of commentators on this thread have a complete misunderstanding of what a high-level consulting firm does. Hint, it has nothing to do with configuring firewalls and antivirus apps. Big multinationals will gladly pay $1M for advice as simple as "choose off the shelf security package A, instead of B" as long as it comes from someone whose credentials are beyond repute. He doesn't have to say anything about top secret operations, techniques, or sources, he just has to put his name behind something.

about a month ago



Motorola sticks to guns on locking down Android

jeffmeden jeffmeden writes  |  more than 3 years ago

jeffmeden (135043) writes ""These aren't the droids you're looking for" proclaims Motorola, maker of the popular Android smartphones such as the Droid 2 and Droid X. At least, not if you have any intention of loading a customized operating system, according to Motorola's own Youtube channel used to show off upcoming products. Motorola:"@tdcrooks if you want to do custom roms, then buy elsewhere, we'll continue with our strategy that is working thanks." The strategy they are referring to is a feature Motorola pioneered called "e-fuse", the ability for the phone's CPU to stop working if it detects unauthorized software running. More information available via a story at Android blog site AndroidCentral"
Link to Original Source

Hosting Provider The Planet offers 500 free hosts

jeffmeden jeffmeden writes  |  more than 4 years ago

jeffmeden (135043) writes "The folks over at The Planet are into recycling, but are giving it quite a twist by putting 500 retired servers back into use for the first 500 developers to come to them with a worthy idea. A nice server and 10mbit of bandwidth are up for grabs, apparently perpetually (or at least, we would hope, until the idea starts turning a profit). Data Center Knowledge describes it this way: "The program, known as Sand Castle, was conceived by Chairman and CEO Doug Erwin of The Planet. The company has a stockpile of recycled servers that are no longer being used by its dedicated and managed hosting customers, but still have useful life." Additional info available directly from The Planet."
Link to Original Source

Smartphones receive holy blessing

jeffmeden jeffmeden writes  |  more than 4 years ago

jeffmeden (135043) writes "Plow Monday is normally for blessing laborers and their tools; as the name suggests it is aimed at those that work the land. A church service in London, England Monday decided to go after a more modern audience: office workers and their modern communication gadgets. From the Times article: "The congregation at St Lawrence Jewry in the City of London raised their mobiles and iPods above their heads and Canon Parrott raised his voice to the heavens to address the Lord God of all Creation. 'May our tongues be gentle, our e-mails be simple and our websites be accessible,' he said.""
Link to Original Source

Microsoft order to pay $388 million in patent case

jeffmeden jeffmeden writes  |  more than 5 years ago

jeffmeden (135043) writes "BusinessWeek reports today that Microsoft suffered a loss in federal court Monday. The judge rendering the verdict ordered Microsoft to pay $388 Million in damages for violating a patent held by Uniloc, a California maker of software that prevents people from illegally installing software on multiple computers. Uniloc claims Microsoft's Windows XP and some Office programs infringe on a related patent they hold. It's hard to take sides on this one but one thing is certain, should the verdict hold up it will be heavily ironic if the extra copies of XP and Office sold due to crafty copy protection end up not being worth $388 million."

AMD semiconductor sales fell 22% for 2007

jeffmeden jeffmeden writes  |  more than 6 years ago

jeffmeden (135043) writes "TGDaily is reporting that the new numbers from the semiconductor industry are in, and AMD has dropped 22% in sales for 2007, ranking them #11 worldwide. This is likely the result of a major push by competitor and #1 ranked semiconductor supplier Intel, which has been aggressively producing dual and quad core chips. This is a major turnaround for AMD, who up until now had been making steady progress in winning market share away from Intel."
Link to Original Source



-1 overrated

jeffmeden jeffmeden writes  |  more than 10 years ago

Last week a few of my extremely accurate and well on-topic posts relating to the X-box got moderated, from the 1 which i post at, to 0, due to a -1 overrated. What tool motherfucker mods a comment at 1 'overrated'??? for extremely valid posts??? if you have something against me you better say it, hiding behind mod points will get you nowhere (i can post way more than you can mod, i guarantee). that's all.

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