* Posts by V 3

30 posts • joined 8 Sep 2009

Watt's next for batteries? It'll be more of the same, not longer life, because physics and chemistry are hard

V 3

Re: Thin films, thin arguments

although obviously it was replaced by a Ferric/Yttrium chemistry. Or "iron-Y" as it was more casually known.

V 3

Re: Thin films, thin arguments

Ah - the well know Sulphur Argon Calcium Samarium battery chemistry - I gather The Reg has it as a backup power source...

The Honor's a defo gamechanger, but good luck buying one

V 3

security fixes

One thing companies like Huawei are getting very wrong is their attitude to security updates to the OS. I have just hopped from an iPhone 5s to a Sim Free Huawei P7 in part while I wait for Sim Free iPhone 6S's - as yet unreleased of course - to become available here in Japan, but also to make make sure that my local eco-system is reasonably cross platform and not too tied in to Apple.

It is a nice enough, cheap enough handset, with a decent screen - and I am very happy with it. But there is no fix for Stagefright on the horizon, or any of the other Android nasties hanging their hats on the - ah - hatstand... (At least, as far as I know: http://www.huawei.com/en/security/psirt/security-bulletins/security-advisories/hw-448928.htm)

Which means I won't be getting another Huawei, whatever the price and spec. Apple, for all their diverse faults, release security fixes for the last few generations of handsets. Leaving aside all other considerations that is a big, big plus and something I will willingly pay for. Samsung and Google branded devices and a few others do of course, but then you are paying premium prices again - and for that, I would want a guarantee that a handset will be updated with security fixes for at least 3 years.

Companies that are serious about the Android market really have to be prepared to support several generations of handset if they want punters to stay with them and to recommend them to elderly maiden aunts, and the like... Or at least, be very specific about their policies, and stick to them.

Another chance to win a 6TB Western Digital Black hard drive

V 3

the sequel

Little Miss Muffet 2 : Marriage Proposal....

'The Google execs, the journalists, plus Brit and US spybosses in a cosy mansion confab'

V 3


>All participants were bound by Chatham House rules;

>an agreement not to publicly attribute comments to particular participants.

I know it is often referred to in the plural, but there is only one rule. The Chatham House Rule.


Fukushima nuke plant owner told to upgrade from Windows XP

V 3

Re: I'm suggesting it.

[Background, I am a Brit, with no particular prejudices against nuclear power, living in Japan, about 50km from a large nuke power station - down in Kyushu. I took supplies up to the big Kobe quake, but Fukushima was simply too far away for it to be a sensible thing to do.]

> The Fukushima nuclear "disaster" caused, erm, pretty much none.

It depends what you factor in. If you are looking at death caused directly by radiation, then what you say is probably true. (You have to reach for statistics and a fair number of assumptions about the affect of low levels of radiation to believe the contrary.)

But there is another question: how many deaths can reasonably be attributed by a rational person (attributed to - not "caused" - yes - there is a lot of wiggle room there - if you don't want to address the essence of the point, feel free to take it...) to it being a nuclear power station that was hit, rather than - say - a coal power station.

And then the answer is less clear. A large number of people have to be moved out of the exclusion zone and housed in temporary accommodation, long term. They will never see their homes again. If you are old that is EXTREMELY stressful. If you have animals, you will be parted from them. Sometimes those animals - dogs, cats, are the only thing you had in the world left to love.

There is an enormous cost to such stress - people die earlier than they would. I only have this from anecdotal evidence (I run a small animal rescue charity) - not a scientific study - but I have heard and seen enough to be persuaded that it is the case. (If the same thing happened in the UK, this would have been studied to within an inch of it life - but if there are Japanese studies I am not aware of them.)

You also have to factor in deaths that can be attributed to accidents in the cleanup. These don't have to be accidents caused directly from radiation - they just have to be deaths attributable to it being a cleanup of a nuclear accident. There are a lot of storied about what goes on up in Fukushima, and the involvement of yakuza - enough to make me skeptical of any mortality figures from the Government about mortality amongst the cleanup workers.

There is also the astronomical cost of the cleanup from the (nuclear) incident. Put that same money into hospitals or welfare - or even safety signs and speed bumps on roads - and you would save lives elsewhere. So the fact that you are cleaning up a nuclear incident, with the additional expense, has to be factored in.

One objection to the above would be: the people did not have to be moved out of the zone - radiation levels were not so high that they were a danger to health...

.. to which I would reply, that being rational and scientific about the radiation level of zone OTHER people are living in is fairly easy. But as soon as you factor in the opinions of your partner, and your kids - and your basic gut instincts as a parent, if you have sprogs, then you just consider the possibly that you might not be half so sanguine...

So - yes, there is an awful lot of gut response that may not be backed up by the science. But in a democracy, where the n hundred thousand people directly affected are voters, - and n million more sympathise them, you can't just ignore it. It become just as much something you have to factor in as the raw science.

Never underestimate the raw persuasive power on her partner of the gut instincts of a pregnant woman within 100 miles of any nuclear incident.

.. and it aint over yet. No-one here thinks it will be over anytime soon - and no-one I personally have spoken to here believes in their heart (or at least, after 2 glasses of shochu) the government's claims that it is "under control"

At the end of it all, I am gingerly in favour of nuclear power in countries in which the earth don't move, and which have robust, independent regulators. Japan has improved rather with the latter - but there is bugger all it can do about the former.

Leap Motion Controller: Hands up for PC air gestures. That's the spirit

V 3

Google Earth

At this stage I agree with the review - it is a gimmick.

But Google Earth works with it - although it takes a while to get any sort of control - and the results are interesting enough for me to want to persevere. It may well find a niche with certain software. It does, certainly require a certain amount of training to use well.

HDMI hitch hounds Mac Mini holders

V 3

i7 2.6ghz - minor issues

I have encountered the screen blackout issue - it is a minor annoyance at the moment, nothing more. I have a 3rd monitor plugged in via USB and - driving 3 monitors, the machine hums along quietly and quickly. That said, I am not using any screen for anything that hits the video subsystem too hard.

It happily talks to one bluetooth keyboard, but can be iffy with the other. But the keyboard with which it is iffy was also iffy with my 2008 Mac Pro, so not convinced it is the Mac Mini at fault.

I don't expect new tech not to have minor issues - and as long as they are fixed quickly, don't think much the worse of the maker for it.

I bought the Mac Mini to replace the Mac Pro after working out what the Mac Pro was costing me in electricity each month. Now THAT was a shock...

Fukushima on Thursday: Prospects starting to look good

V 3

@Anonymous Coward

> I said design only becomes implementation once it's complete.

And a very puzzling thing to say it is... Because it makes no sense - and surely it is not what you mean.

The claim that you really want to make is that the implementation IS the design, for parameters such as height. But of course, that is not true. It is just a bit harder to make a mistake

>The engineers building the plant will have known full

>well how tall the wall was built (I'm sure they had

>distance finders) so that WAS their design, and it was exceeded.

The builders may well have known how tall it was - probably - but that doesn't mean it was the designed height!

V 3


> Earthquake @ 9.0 magnitude scale = approximate 485 megatonne equivalent nuclear blast(s)

That is at the epi-centre....

> If you had bothered to do any research you would find that the Fukushima site was designed to

> survive a 5.4 magnitude earthquake

This is almost certainly incorrect! NO nuke plant in Japan is designed to such a low standard. An M5.4 quake is - literally - a regular occurrence in Japan - I can't think of ANY buildings that are designed to such a weak spec, let alone a nuke plant, which are usually at least capable of an 8 or so.

I would be curious to know what the correct figure is - but it is certainly in excess of a piddling 5.4. (I heard one figure of 7.8 and another of 8.1 - I would be curious to track down a confirmed figure )

And you have not addressed the point - which is that it is the magnitude at the site that is relevant, not the magnitude at the epi-centre.

You also appear to believe that the earthquake and tsunami are unrelated events.... Curiouser and curiouser....

V 3

@Anonymous Coward

>If the wave was bigger than the sea wall than it exceeded the design parameters.

That's like saying "if the earthquake knocked the house down, it must have been because it exceeded the design parameters for the house." That clearly does not follow. What it did was knock the actual house down.

Do you KNOW what the designed height of the wall was? No - you know that the ACTUAL height, as it was built, was less than the height of the wave. And that is all you know.

V 3


So you don't have a figure for the Fukushima Dai-ichi site itself? (There is a wide disparity in the figures you quote - 0.3g to 0.65g, so I am curious how far away from the actual site these stations were.)

Aside from that - fascinating - given that that the peak ground acceleration at/close to the epicenter is reported to have been 0.35g. (Is that figure still accepted?)

Your USGS figures suggest that areas at various places around Fukushima (but you don't have figures for the plant itself...), 172km away, may have undergone an acceleration of almost double that of the epicenter.

Might you have a link for that? I have looked on the USGS website and can't find any reference to it.

>The tsunami wave topped the sea wall that was

> supposed to protect the generators, so that certainly

> "exceeded" the design parameters,

No! - what it exceeded was the implementation - quite different. (You can't deduce design parameters from the conditions under which an implementation failed - and then use that to determine that the forces that lead to the implementation failing must have been in excess of the design parameters - at least not without begging the question... )

V 3

Really? Where please....

I have read the previous reports very carefully and can find no reference to any such figures.

One report referred to the 8.9M (as it was then) at the epicentre, but the epicentre value is besides the point - it is the value at the site that is relevant.

And if the figures that @Steve X quotes are correct, the acceleration at the site, or around the site - he did not quote a site figure - may have been in excess of the acceleration at the epicentre (or at least of the figures I have seen quoted for the acceleration at the epicentre)

Which article is it in? (This is a neutral question - I am simply curious - I can't find it.)

V 3

Figures please

> given the undisputed fact that both quake and tsunami

> hugely exceeded the levels

> the powerplant had been designed to take

Can you give some figures for that please, rather than just announce it is ”undisputed” ?

The relevant figures are the magnitude of the quake as it was experienced AT THE FUKUSHIMA SITE - (not at the quakes epi-centre), on the one hand and the size of quake STRIKING THE SITE DIRECTLY, that the plant was designed to withstand, on the other.

Your article didn't mention them, but since you regard them as undisputable, I can only assume you have them.

I would be grateful if you would share them with us.

Blofeld's Japanese volcano base erupts

V 3

Minor diversion

I was down on the slopes of the volcano a month ago filming the eruption with a film crew.

Compared to what is going on in the north, it is a tiny, minor diversion of almost no significance, but it is not helping the local economy, already hit by recent outbreaks of foot and mouth, and bird-flu.

Fukushima is a triumph for nuke power: Build more reactors now!

V 3


> Quake + tsunami = 1 minor radiation dose so far

Lest we forget, the hydrogen blast injured 4 workers. A crane operator has also been killed - although it is not clear what the cause of that death was or whether it was related to the ongoing emergency.

V 3


Is this physics appropriate to a Mark 1 GE BWR reactor? (That is a neutral question, I am curious. Your post mentions PWRs specifically.)

V 3
Dead Vulture

and the tsunami?

So WHY wasn't the Fukishima plant designed to cope with a large tsunami?

The main backup system for off-grid power DID fail, and through an entirely for-seeable event. (It wasn't designed for a 9, but tsunami could have occurred for a quake well within what it was designed to withstand - and incidentally, the quake as it was felt on-site WAS within the Fukushima design spec.)

It's like security : implementation is all, and you have to look at the wider system. These are Mark 1 GE BWR reactors, which are known to have particular issues associated with them. They need active cooling, and the bodge to vent hydrogen was not (as far as I am aware) something in the initial Mark 1 design - it was added later by GE because the initial design was perceived to be potentially unsafe.

Active cooling requires power, so the failure of the backup power is a failure of the wider reactor safety system.

Your talk of triumphs is like talking about how strong link 1 is in the chain, and link 2, and link 3, then passing over the fact that link 4 is pretty dodgy. Who gives a damn about the strength of the individual links - it is the strength and integrity of the chain that is important.

Don't forget this is the plant at which safety records were falsified recently, leading to the resignation of senior executives.

You say, they never ran out of options: but flooding the core with seawater is an "option" is an the same way as hacking your arm off with a pen-knife is an "option" if you are handcuffed to a girder in a burning building.

Like you, I am impressed that the plants survived the initial, gigantic quake with containment vessels intact and control rods in place - but the wider system clearly did NOT work as it was designed to. There should NEVER be a situation in which you have fuel rods exposed to the air as appears to have been the case to one extent or another at all 3 reactors. You say there has been no core meltdown - but there has almost certainly been partial meltdown and according to Kyodo news there may well be meltdown in progress. (The MOX fuel rods having a lower melt point probably makes them more at risk. )

The hydrogen explosion events? Masashi Goto, who helped design the containment vessels at Fukushima and thus we assume knows a thing or two, is a little more concerned than you: he is quoted by the BBC as saying that his greatest fear is "that blasts at number 3 and number 1 reactors may have damaged the steel casing of the containment vessel designed to stop radioactive material escaping into the atmosphere." HE thinks that next 24 hours are going to be critical - so a little early for such a triumphalist article, perhaps?

To pretend the current situation is somehow an unqualified success for nuclear power, as you seem to imply, is absurd.

What exactly would you regard as constituting "failure" in this context ?

Here is one definition: as soon as a reactor enters a state in which you decide you ought to evacuate x hundred thousand people, have a mass screening programme and distribute iodine tablets, then in all the ways that really matter in a democracy, that reactor has FAILED. (And the fact that in order to bring it to a safe state you have had to introduce material into the reactor that damages it irrevocably probably means that it has failed the test of economic viability.)

You are not going to persuade the wider public that nuclear power can be safe, and economically viable, until you address what has gone on at Fukushima with a little more humility.

V 3

falsified safety reports

>You're ignoring the fact that this is a plant built by the Japanese, and the Japanese have always >been meticulous in their nuclear safety

You should be aware of the fact that the 5 top executives of TEPCO (the plan's operators) resigned not too long ago, to take responsibility for falsifying safety reports at Fukishima.

I live in Japan - I am generally in favour of Japan having modern nuclear power generating capacity - but the Japanese nuclear industry is no less prone to partial-truth, full blown mendacity and occasional cover-up than the industry world-wide.

US forces drop dead drug-poison killer mice from helicopters

V 3
Dead Vulture

Sasebo is in Japan

-- quote from Reg story--

According to Stars and Stripes, the first waves of dead killer mouse drug paratroopers went in to the jungles surrounding Sasebo Naval Base yesterday.

-- /quote --

Sasebo Naval base is in Japan, and it is from there that the story was filed, I assume. The jungles of Guam are rather a long way away, although pleasingly adjacent to Naval Base Guam.

The hint is in the first paragraph of the story linked to.

-- quote from linked story--

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — The dead mice were laced with a common pain reliever — about one quarter of a child’s dose of acetaminophen each — and dropped Wednesday from a helicopter into the jungle canopy around Naval Base Guam.

-- quote --

Critics aim to sink Titanic ice cubes

V 3

so how much of you

... is out of the water when you swim?

Not un-adjacent to 10% I would guess.

Icebergs are rather clearly floating. Floating low in the water ain't sunk, as any polar bear will vouch.

And anyway, what do you mean, "10% of the top of it"? Surely 10% of ALL of it is the appropriate thing to worry about.

V 3

Ice floats

... and so, presumably, does a Titanic made of ice.

So what's the problem?

Or is this a special "sinky" sort of ice....

Beeb gets grief for Humpty Dumpty rewrite

V 3


As has been noted before, it was probably a mistake to let the King's horses have first go at reassembling poor Hump.

Average Brit shags 2.8m people

V 3

missing the point.

Damn! - According to the wife, I am her 'point 3'...

Japan gets to grips with train-grope websites

V 3


One thing that would help greatly would be if women who have been groped, or who believe they have been groped (and, according to my Japanese wife, who I turn to for practical experience in such matters, it sometimes really isn't clear, given the intensity of the overcrowding) said so immediately, in front of the whole carriage.

In a "her word against his" situation, witnesses are important. If the women/girl waits until the next station and reports the incident to the police, any witnesses will have gone.

I don't doubt that it takes a certain amount of courage to do that - although with the exception of the groping, Japanese trains are extremely safe places with physical violence almost unheard of - but the fact that many women don't - and instead make allegations after the fact, is, on a practical level, not helpful.

Lest anyone get the wrong idea about Japan, my wife tells me she would be quite happy to travel on almost any Japanese train, at almost any hour of the night. They are pretty safe. "Chikan" - gropers - are an occasionally distressing nuisance - and there is no reason why women should have to put up with them - but they tend to operate alone, in crowded carriages, are usually easily frightened off and rarely seem to pose any more extreme sexual threat.

Incidentally - many men have told me that they prefer to stand on trains, with both hands on the overhead straps, as it is safer. Any allegation, of any kind, and they may well lose their jobs and their reputations - regardless of the outcome of any court case.

V 3

Male only carriages

There is some small pressure in Japan for male only carriages - motions at shareholder's meetings and the like - due to the the difficulty of defending oneself against such an allegation.

I have lived in Japan for 17 years : many Japanese men I have spoken to are ready to acknowledge that there is a problem - the existence of such websites rather speaks to it - but also believe that false allegations occur and innocent people are jailed.

Japan is not noted for the competence of its police force or the sophistication of its detection methods. The standard method of securing a conviction is to hold someone (for up to 23 days) and interrogate them intensively and remorselessly in a closed room without any video or audio record.

Tory MP to sue over sex smear email

V 3

Who published the emails?

The emails were published without the consent of the authors and almost certainly against their wishes.

The plan was obnoxious - but how come they are in the frame for libel?

If I make a remark in my diary that would be libelous if repeated in public, then my diary is stolen and the thief publishes the remark, would I then be guilty of libel?

Japanese mobile operators shout 'Avast' at piracy

V 3

Packet Inspection?

The linked story talks about the song's id being sent from the handset to a central server and the server subsequently deciding whether it was distributed legally. The Reg story talks about packet inspection, but it is not completely clear from the linked article that this is actually what is going on...

Quite what it DOES mean is not also clear - is this meta-data that is already part of the song file (because it is copy of a song file with such data added when it was sold originally, as a downloadable song) or does the handset create a "fingerprint" and check THAT with the server?

I am not sure what is considered fair use in Japan - would this prevent users from transferring mp3s they have ripped from a CD to their cellphone? Or mp3's (whatever the content) in general? My guess would be not - but there is not enough in the story for that to be clear.

It certainly seems to require the "cooperation" of the handset - both to send an id back to the server and to respond to the server's commands not to play the music.

This may just be about redistribution of songs, where the the original was sold for cellphone download, and has subsequently been copied but not re-ripped or had meta data removed. If so, it is isn't something most users will get their knickers in a twist about....

The network operators certainly have an incentive as (as I recollect...) they are making money from the sales of songs, not just acting as a dumb pipe.

By and large, relying on the Yomi for technical info is not a good idea. [For additional context: the Yomi is generally seen to be a somewhat right wing newspaper. ]


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