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* Posts by umacf24

224 posts • joined 7 Jun 2007

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Fuel for jets DOES grow on trees

umacf24

Scale

Without a figure for moles of carbon atoms (or tonnes of alkanes or whatever) per hectare per year, this story is effectively worthless.

Forestry can be good for agriculture, so that might well make sense, but the oil would be a byproduct, and a small one. Once you include the diesel to get the logs to the processor (and observe that the plantations are deliberately dispersed, increasing the shipping costs) you might not even be breaking even in carbon terms.

Eucalypts grow fast but not that fast, and biology isn't that efficient. If you want solar energy and you can spare the land, use solar cells and make fuel (like ammonia, say) directly, or use the yield to displace fuel consumption from something like desalination that can handle variable supply.

Better still, stop messing around, use forestry to manage farmland efficiently (where that's required) and get energy, at the true scale we need, from nukes.

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Boffins hampered by the ampere hanker for a quantum answer

umacf24

Lovely subhead. Would read again. 5*

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French gov used fake Google certificate to read its workers' traffic

umacf24

Why can't they use their own, internal certificates?

Interception is legitimate, on a private network. But it doesn't require certificates to be signed by a publicly trusted CA. All that's required is that an internal CA is trusted by the machines that are being intercepted.

Evidently there are machines on the Ministry of Finance network that the administrators of the systems do not control. I wonder if they are:

- Personal?

- Spooks?

- Hackers?

I really don't know which would be worse! Either way it can't do the bond rating much good -- would you lend to an entity that can't control its own network?

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Recommendations for private cloud software...

umacf24

Varonis Data Anywhere

Send and receive links to folders and files, hosted on your infrastructure, authenticated by email.

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'Only NUCLEAR power can SAVE HUMANITY', say Global Warming high priests

umacf24

Re: Quite right too....

Don't forget that current electricity demand is nowhere near total energy demand. We have to electrify heating and transport, and eventually things like brick kilns, steel foundries, cement kilns and other carbon-fed processes.

100 kWh per head per day, or 5kW per person -- at this level of precision they're the same -- is the level to keep in mind. And common decency, if nothing else, means we'll need to deliver that to ten billions by the end of the century. That's the real reason we need lots of nukes and lots of innovation in their designs.

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Nissan promises to sell self-driving cars by 2020

umacf24

Automated Freight

All of the talk about automated truck and truckers is missing the point. If you don't have to pay a driver, there's little point in sending a 40-ton tractor/trailer rig down a B-road.

The freight delivery future is self-driving containers -- vehicles that occupy a (modified) ten-foot container module, for automatic handling on trains and ships (and, yes, trucks sometimes) and autonomous delivery on their own wheels when road is best.

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PORNAGEDDON: Sexy bloggrs stung by Tumblr smut smackdown

umacf24

Free Services

This can never be said too often.

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Hitch climate tax to the ACTUAL CLIMATE, says top economist

umacf24
Boffin

One word...

Hysteresis

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DHS warns of vulns in hospital medical equipment

umacf24

Anasthesia?

Anaesthesia, surely.

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Fraudster gets ten years after selling fake 'ionic charge' bomb detectors

umacf24

Spelling of 'dowsing' in the subhead

that is all

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Elon Musk's 'Grasshopper' hover rocket scores another test success

umacf24

Spalshdown is vulgar.

Gentlemen land on their jets.

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MIT boffins demonstrate NEW form of magnetism

umacf24

Re: Herbertsmithite (named after its discoverer)

I am fond of Soddyite, a uranium ore, named after the great chemist and discoverer of transmutation.

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New trend: Trojan which steals your pics instead of your text

umacf24
Meh

Finally!

I've spent the last five years wondering when this attack is going to show up. When I think of the number of times I've been asked to fix friends' and colleagues' PCs WITHOUT looking at the pictures... Still, one more reason to have people sort out their security!

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Uh-oh! Kim Dotcom is back with a brand new Megaupload site

umacf24

That'll work.

Sorry, I think this bit is wrong:

"... cannot access the encrypted uploaded data, absolving themselves of any responsibility for contents of the files."

This should surely be:

"... cannot access the encrypted uploaded data, in a somewhat implausible attempt to absolve themselves ..."

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Hitachi buys Horizon to save UK's nuclear future

umacf24

Re: @John Smith 19

Low energy density is one approach, but there is an alternative. A liquid core -- fluorides of uranium disolved in fluorides of light elements -- can change density, reducing or even stifling the reaction as it heats up. If it all gets too much, it can change shape, by escaping or being decanted from the low-surface-area compact reaction vessel that can reach criticality around a moderator, into high-surface-area pans and pipes that can cool in air.

I think the point here is that we are mad, as a high energy consuming country, to have abandoned nuclear energy design, a new field teeming with possibilities, simply because gas looked cheap. That's why we're faced with a souped-up seventies design for generators that will be commissioned in the twenties.

Good luck to Hitachi though. I hope they make money from making electricity. When you consider there are firms -- I'm looking at EON, among others -- that bill us for NOT turning their windmills, I think the Japanese approach is more honest.

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Fukushima operator feared shutdown if risks revealed

umacf24

The question facing all users: What to do with the waste?

As always: reprocess, partition, re-use, and wait.

- Left-over uranium -- hundreds of tonnes per reactor-year. Uranium is stable and harmless if it's kept as the oxide (or, surprisingly, if it's dissolved in the sea, because there's so much there already, it won't make a difference.) It can be used to breed fuel, though, so worth hanging on to.

- Plutonium bred in the reactor -- less than one tonne per reactor-year. Keep it, and save mining uranium by consuming it as fuel in future reactors. Don't be spooked by the name: Plutonium for bombs has to be specially made. A rational terrorist wanting nuclear explosive would use natural uranium and enrich it, as the Iranians are said to be doing.

- Short lived fission products -- hundreds of kilos per reactor year. Handle with great care, for a while, and with caution for longer. These materials are dangerous to be close to for many years and must be kept out of the biosphere for hundreds (but not thousands) of years.

- Long lived fission products -- kilos per reactor year. Obviously much less radioactive than the short-lived products, the rational thing is simply to abandon in the deep ocean. But it appears possible to transmute these products to short lived waste with neutron irradiation, and that would be a more "grown-up" approach!

The point about nuclear waste is the quantities: once the re-useable components are removed, the volumes are million-fold reduced over combustion energy. A year's fission-product waste from a reactor, once it had cooled off for thirty years or so, could sit on a few dozen yards of industrial shelving. A facility to retain the waste of a largely nuclear Britain for the necessary 500 years or so would take up less space than an industrial estate.

The idea of nuclear waste as being dangerous for tens of thousands of years is an Americanism, arising from their reluctance to reprocess. If you leave it all mixed up in the fuel rod, then yes, it is hard to manage. But if you make the sensible choices, then the problem -- looked at on the scale appropriate to global energy generation -- goes away.

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Don't delete that email! Why you must keep biz docs for 6 YEARS

umacf24

Policy

This is an odd article as it misses a number of important points:

-- There's no obligation to store email for seven years or any other time. There ARE obligations for different times for different things -- payroll, contracts...

-- There's no magic cutoff at seven years. If you're holding information that's ten years old, and it's relevant, the court can order you to discover it

-- Filing system documents are just as vulnerable as email to being produced in 'discovery'

The proper approach is

-- A clear policy which is appropriate for your business (so it covers stuff you keep indefinitely, and a cut-off date for things you don't want) and isn't just wriggling to avoid legal obligations

-- Implementation of your policy -- IE you actually DO delete stuff older than eighteen months. Crucial.

-- Implementation of a 'legal hold' so stuff which is being discovered at month 17 won't be deleted before it can be produced.

Unless you can actually delete (from archive and tapes) and retain for legal holds, I would say that you're better off keeping everything, and cataloguing your tapes REALLY carefully.

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Op Tuleta officers cuff 2 more computer hacking suspects

umacf24

"Kalmyk?" Really?

Considering what happened to the Kalmyk people as a result of unfettered exercise of state power under Stalin, that name seems a little tactless, or even arrogant.

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Did GM food cause GIANT TUMOURS IN RATS?

umacf24
Go

GM Food is fine because...

... We have digestions! It all ends up as lipids, and glucose and amino acids. Guts are the end of an evolutionary process that has happened under selection pressure from the wildest diets. If it tastes OK, it's not taken in excess, it's not part of some organism's defences, and it's not designed or packaged to get into the body, it'll be fine.

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umacf24
Stop

Roundup Ready is bad because...

.. It sets farmers to work watering and fertilising genes for glyphosate resistance (in the crop.) Monsanto doesn't mind because glyphosate is long out of patent, but we are on the point of losing one of the safest and most useful herbicides as those genes are made available to cross, using the usual means, into every weed species.

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umacf24

Re: Is this why dogs are having so many cancerous tumors these days?

I suspect this is most likely to be because dogs are living to colossal ages these days. Cancer's always there.

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Ulster Bank waves £100 at punters pummelled by RBS IT fiasco

umacf24

Re: The interesting question...

There were stories at the time of employers failing to make the payroll because they were paying through RBS.

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umacf24

The interesting question...

is how they intend to compensate non-customers?

Are they saying that they won't help people who did not receive payments that should have come out of Ulster bank accounts?

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Organic food offers basically no health benefit, boffins find

umacf24

Organic meat is better

1) It's tastier because it's been hung properly. I grant you that non-organic producers could do that, but, by and large, they don't.

2) Because antibiotics are not used as growth enhancers a) it's not promoting antibiotic resistance in the wild, and b) the beast was older when killed and consequently tastier. I grant you that producers don't need to be organic to refrain from antibiotics but, by and large, they don't.

What we want, for meat and eggs, is a legitimate marker for 'sensibly raised' which doesn't go the whole organic hog. And we could eat less, better, meat.

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New nuclear fuel source would power human race until 5000AD

umacf24
Boffin

Re: The Usual Silliness

The waste is:

1) Transuranic actinides (Plutonium etc) created from neutron activation of fuel e.g. U238 + n -> Pu239. This is either fissile and so fuel directly, or if you leave it in the reactor long enough it will absorb enough neutrons to become fissile. So, some combination of reprocessing, or a system like liquid cores which allow materials to remain in the core for a long time.

2) Fission waste (Cesium 137, Strontium 90, Technetium 99) -- when it's fresh, this is the famous High Level Waste. You get something under one ton per year from a large power reactor. Reprocess out of the fuel matrix, put it somewhere dry and cool (without losing it) and wait. This stuff is so very active, that it's pretty much faded away in about 300 years (10 Cs137 half-lives -- 1000-fold reduction). Tc99 is VERY long lived, so it's not particularly active, but it could be destroyed by neutron activation if it's a concern. 500 years seems a long time, but it's not the absurd tens of thousands of years that you get if you don't re-process and leave the waste mixed in with actinides.

3) Operations (hats and gloves) and decommisioning waste created by contamination with fission waste or neutron activation of the structure also tends to be short lived and dilute. Wait. Let the decommisioning sinking fund grow, the activity decay, and your robots get better. But mainly design reactor buildings and housings to be re-used and replaced in regular maintenance.

Seriously, waste is a legitimate issue, but in the face of the prize -- zero carbon, reliable, sustainable energy -- it's one that we can deal with by management. The impact, in size and risk, on the surface of the earth and its inhabitants is tiny, invisible, compared with the gigatonnes of waste dropped into the atmosphere, uncontrolled, by gas and coal.

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GPS trigger will light LOHAN's fire

umacf24
Coat

Cruise?

18,000m AND 1,152mph isn't a problem for cruise missiles, but it would prevent GPS guidance of a ballistic re-entry vehicle.

It's kind of you to ask and yes I am actually planning to get out a bit more...

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British boffin builds cool maser after argument with wife

umacf24
Boffin

A Turnaround from the Old Pattern

A neglected piece of Japanese research is turned into a working device by a British researcher!

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Judge begs Apple, Samsung to get a room, or trial will end in tears

umacf24
Meh

Rough on the jury ...

... if they settle now.

Actually, it's pretty hard on the jury anyway. Apart from the tramp asleep in the public gallery, the jurors are the only people not paid -- generously paid -- to be there.

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Oi, missile boffins! Stop ogling web filth at work - Pentagon

umacf24

Do porn sites still carry malware?

Looking at our logs, malware is mostly from compromised WordPress sites and third-rank online merchants. Compromise victims. Like phishing sites, the porn-merchants don't want people blocked from their sites by their AV, so they keep them 'clean.'

But my data are incomplete. So it's a genuine question.

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Using Facebook causes less eco damage than farting, figures show

umacf24

But have you allowed for the shorter half-life?

Methane: ~10 years, by oxidation

CO2: ~100's of years, by deep ocean circulation

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RBS must realise it's just an IT biz with a banking licence

umacf24

Re: what about the money

I'm with Daren. The payment system that the banks co-operate in running is fantastically important to the nation, but not to each individual bank. Banks borrow short term and lend long -- that's how they make money and it's what defines a bank -- and they care most about managing that risk to ensure that they are able to meet their obligations over the counter every day. And that's not primarily about payments, whether it's phone apps or CHAPS. We think that's what banks do, but it's not what they think they do.

Nonetheless, the payment system is vitally important to the rest of us, and RBS have exposed the risks of leaving it, unsupervised, in the hands of people for whom it's always going to be a secondary interest. I think there's scope for regulation -- a technical assessment distinct from the banking regulator -- to ensure that every participant in the payments system, merchants, acceptors and banks, works in an efficient and recoverable way.

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umacf24

Change Management

CM is a communications tool. It works if it puts the change plans in front of people who are technically and institutionally able to challenge them. It works better if those people include the ones who will have to fix what goes wrong. What can't work is a lovely paper trail with all the manager's signatures.

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Solar, wind, landfill to make cheapest power by 2030

umacf24
Happy

Slow decommissioning

Decommissioning is the best advertisment for compound interest.

If you wait,

1) You get richer as your invested sinking fund compounds (assuming you haven't destroyed economic growth by insisting on high-priced solar and wind power)

2) The problem gets smaller -- at a compound rate -- as neutron-capture activation and any left-over fission product in the structure decays.

And there's a last point:

3) Your robots and remote handling equipment get better and cheaper. (But technology improvement is much less exponential, alas.)

Win-win-win. Sixty years is a thousand-fold reduction in some tricky nuclides. Definitely no hurry in decommissioning.

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So, that vast IT disaster you may have caused? Come in, sit down

umacf24

Is there enough cynicism here?

Why has no-one accused Connor of stuffing up poor guileless engineers so they get sacked, and then reverting to his headhunter role and placing them for a fat commission?

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umacf24
Big Brother

Re: Techys can't tell you the whole story...

+1 for the value of the logs. I would do +10 if I could.

There is nothing like a log. Nothing in the world. Of course you have to really understand them -- it's easy to make accusations on the basis of a superficial understanding of the event meanings. I did that once, and the culprit apparently confessed to what he was suspected of -- even though, as I later came to understand, the evidence was worthless. I told my boss when I realised and she laughed.

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umacf24

Tape?

Lovely piece.

I wonder if Connor records these interviews. So many times I've had a sensitive meeting and then thought "did he really say that?"

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War On Standby: Do the figures actually stack up?

umacf24
Meh

Re: actually

This isn't really comparing like with like. The point of electrically "fired" heating is that it uses a heat pump to recover head from the environment. So 1KWe yields 3+ KWt at central-heating temperatures. In the overall context of huge efficiencies of scale and temperature in big gas turbines (running at 40%+ efficiency) this consumes less gas than burning it at home and getting 1KWt from it. So I think CHP is a bust, and would be a total nightmare a) to administer if we had a lot of it to integrate with electricity consuimption and b) for obvious reasons to convert to carbon-free energy when we get that sorted.

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umacf24
Happy

3) Pensions

What? No children? So WE'RE going through teenage hell and gadget/holiday/school-fee poverty to raise the citizens of tomorrow, so their economic activity will pay for YOUR retirement!

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umacf24

CHP is a snare!

Not convinced. Not at all convinced. Waste heat is not free, small installations are desperately inefficient, and the assumption that you can sell the electricity when you want the heat is rash. (That is, you may get a feed-in tariff, but it's not necessarily economically efficient.)

I would have thought a big gas turbine station driving a three-fold electric heat pump would be more efficient in gas terms. And when we do convert to nukes, of course it goes completely carbon free with no retrofit.

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umacf24
Meh

Ross, I think the point about comparing non-standby equipment and activities to standby is misplaced. The concern here is not "What consumption is better?" but rather "What to do?"

1) We're entitled to make choices within constraints, and I might well choose to leave the TV on standby and not iron my shirts. Over the year, that's going to come out way ahead (down) on energy consumption and that is what we are trying to achieve.

2) The standby thing appeals to the "every little helps" idea, and that's a fallacy that is leading people astray. If we all do a little, then in national and global terms we'll achieve a little. If we want to cut energy we have to make major changes: ending discretionary travel, wearing warm clothes indoors, making buildings, machines, clothes and everything else last much longer, having fewer children, buying in-season locally-produced goods and produce whatever the cost. That's what would help, not switching off the telly, no-matter how heartwarming it feels to do that. (There is another word for this plan, unfortunately, and it is "poverty.")

Or mayby we should stop messing around and build out some serious nuclear capacity.

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Crypto boffins: RSA tokens can be cracked in 13 MINUTES

umacf24
Meh

Only if it plugs into USB

As far as I can see, this only applies to the smartcard which is packaged alongside the SecureID function in some tokens. Basically, if your SecureID token hasn't got a USB plug, it's not a smartcard and this doesn't apply. If it is a smartcard, it still doesn't apply to the SecureID function. I struggled with the paper, but I think the attack needs the PIN too -- and if you have the PIN and the token, you're in anyway.

So this may be a little overblown.

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Renewables good for 80 per cent of US demand by 2050

umacf24
Happy

Where the devil is Lewis Page?

When you need him?

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Oracle case crippled after judge rules APIs can’t be copyrighted

umacf24

Re: @EvilGav

As I understand it:

The Patent would be for "an encryption system that took in messages of such and such a sort, processed them with these steps, while asking the operators to manage the key in this way"

People feel that this ends up patenting the algorithm because, really, that's all the encryption system is. The protection would be a 20-year monopoly.

The text of the program witten to build the encryption system could be protected under copyright, gaining a 70-year protection in the UK (is this true? that can't be true!) But anyone else understanding the algorithm could write their own program and provided they didn't copy the original, they would not be violating the copyright. Apart from the length of the protection, I think software copyright is fine. It enables the GPL among other good things.

I share the general concern about patenting algorithms because I think it chills innovation, and patents are only there to ENCOURAGE innovation. But I have difficulty figuring out where to draw the line between a novel arrangement of parts and a novel arrangements of ideas.

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umacf24
Happy

Re: To paraphrase Nelson from The Simpsons...

This is not a paraphrase. It's a direct copy and since it is apparently made in the UK, in all probability it's a violation of Fox's copyright under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. The only real question is whether it meets the s107 test for a criminal offence, as that provides for a sentence of three months in the Scrubs.

Extreme? Well Oracle are taking a similar line in this case...

It's a good thing that IANAL

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Yahoo! leaks! private! key! in! Axis! Chrome! debut!

umacf24

Re: uh-oh.. bad career move

I can't imagine why they needed to put the private key in in the first place. The private key should stay with the signer. Is every Yahoo developer given a copy?

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Iran threatens to chuck sueball at Google over missing gulf

umacf24
Happy

Finally

Something that I agree with Ahmedinajad about. They'll be anonymising the English Channel next!

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Roman roads get the web maps treatment

umacf24

Not just the ancient world

Transport speeds were static until the steamship and the railway. The world of ORBIS is very similar to the world of Pickwick Papers. Even the C18th turnpikes only brought land speeds back up to Roman levels.

I do sometimes wonder what the world would be like if the Romans had invented the limited liability joint stock company.

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Google's self-driving car snags first-ever license in Nevada

umacf24
Happy

Re: On the one hand...but on the other...

That is a truly excellent list and thay all of apply to me (though not necessarily while I'm actually driving, and the heels were a LONG time ago) and I have a licence to drive a car completely unsupervised by a computer or anything else. Really, if that doesn't terrify you, it should.

The way to look at this is to imagine how we will feel in fifty years time about the selfish fucks who endanger everyone by driving their cars in manual on the PUBLIC HIGHWAY FFS! And if you think that an automatic system can't really drive, you've obviously never completed a routine journey and found that you've got no memory at all of the last hour...

Personally I can't wait. If I'm travelling, I want to read or sleep, not jiggle knobs and levers.

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LinkedIn buys SlideShare

umacf24
Happy

They should have bought Prezi.com

Now THAT'S an on-line presentation tool!

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