* Posts by Killing Time

410 publicly visible posts • joined 1 Apr 2011


Intuitive Machines' Odysseus prepares for Moon landing

Killing Time

Re: Success?

Considering they had to patch the landing sensor inputs to the NASA test devices at pretty much the last minute I would say receiving any data from the probe on the surface is a resounding success!

Talk about flying by the seat of their pants!

It was looking like a massive RUD could have been on the cards at one point.

Someone had to say it: Scientists propose AI apocalypse kill switches

Killing Time

Re: re: ... industrial control

Current industrial control systems, with few exceptions conform to a fail safe design philosophy and invariably have totally independent shutdown systems for potentially hazardous processes.

As such, if a bad actor / program were to override the main control system, the shutdown system would act.

It's difficult to see how this design philosophy would change in the future particularly in the event of AI being allowed more interaction with the control system.

CERN is training robot dogs to spot radiation hazards at Large Hadron Collider

Killing Time


The early version was a robocat until they realised it would completely ignore instructions, stare insolently at you until disappearing on a hunt at the mention of superstring!

SAP hits brakes on Tesla company car deal

Killing Time

Re: Tesla warp erp

If you have ever been an end user of SAP I think you would know. God awful interface, a real pain to use. Never heard any actual end user sing it's praises. I understand they generated the majority of their income from customisation and training.

Will never understand how it came to dominate the market.

Junior techie had leverage, but didn’t appreciate the gravity of the situation

Killing Time

Re: Curious 6000kva?

Yes, you would need to take roof off and crane it in! 6000kva is roughly 6 MW capacity.

Musk claims that venting liquid oxygen caused Starship explosion

Killing Time

Re: Venting

Atmospheric O2 is between 20 and 21 percent at sea level. At 16 percent I believe free combustion is suppressed if I recall correctly.

Take a look at the cylinder gas ratios on those synthetic air server room fire suppression systems which are personnel friendly.

They might scare the bejesus out of you when they discharge but you will survive the gas escape at least!

Been on the market for years.

How governments become addicted to suppliers like Fujitsu

Killing Time

Re: ""the system and licenses are not readily interchangeable or interoperable"

You didn't offend me, I am just pointing out to the wider audience that you are expressing an opinion as opposed to presenting fact.

A reference to the position in the sixties does not represent the situation in the company two decades later.

The fact that they had preferred supplier status was probably more to do with their position in the Military installations ( this changed ) and their supply to the less publicised departments in the Government/Military area.

Fujitsu came in and took a 50 percent chunk but they were also an amalgam of Canadian, American and European companies around that time.

Far from the picture you paint.

Killing Time

Re: ""the system and licenses are not readily interchangeable or interoperable"

'Can I remind people that “Fujitsu” in this case is just the old ICL, which was for all practical purposes by the 80s just a spun-out government dept anyway.'


I know this is so far from the truth you may want to review your handle.

Justhepureconjecture would appear more appropriate.

Killing Time

Re: Corruption

'I know of a system used by several of the UK's largest retailers that was designed and built by six blokes in a shed, and they did the maintenance for the next few years until a private equity investor bought the business.'

I have some experience in EPOS systems from back in the day and can tell you that the frontend hardware became increasingly noddy and disposable such that the majority of the maintenance became basically a shipping operation to and from the end user. I can also tell you that there is significant difference in system / software complexity depending on a specific retailers product file size and warehousing operational requirement.

It's no surprise that six guys could design and build a system (even in a shed) along with the maintenance if the complexity isn't there, then it's doable.

What is a surprise is that they would sell such a supposedly stellar business? Was it perhaps that it was too much work for them therefore not such a great business model? Yes a few years would cover the first iteration but at the speed hardware, software and customer requirements change it seems it wasn't a sustainable model either as in reality all systems require ongoing development.

Private equity money is unlikely to pile in unless it thinks it can make a shed full more money than the incumbent owners so looking from outside it appears they got lucky and decided to cash out when a decent offer came along. Nothing wrong with that but it's not a compelling argument that it was a sustainable business.

Killing Time

Re: Corruption

'"1000s of terminals" sounds scary, but it really doesn't matter. Small teams can build robust complex systems.'

Nobody of any competence in the subject would dispute that.

'Maintenance and updates are a separate thing.'

Utter nonsense, because in the real world it is a continuous program of installation, maintenance and update and that is what the big users are aware of and want. They have a business to run, are not stupid and understand that it all can't be magically installed in an instant without impacting their day to day operations. I guarantee you that the hardware / firmware levels of even dumb terminal No 1 and dumb terminal No 1000 will differ due to changing component availability during manufacture . If your terminal has any kind of OS I bet there will be revision differences there to.

'If systems required to have good documentation and interoperability, there wouldn't be a need for a single big company to service them.'

Again, drivel. PC's, networks and widely documented and interoperable OS components have been available since the Nineties and still there is a vast industry nailing them all together and struggling to keep it all working. If it's interoperability of the application you want, then the question is 'what do you want it to work with?' when that question is answered then the reality is that if it wasn't in the specification the next statement is 'I am sure we can, it will cost you this'. No business is prescient or a charity.

'This is another fallacy. In corrupt system of course the tenders will be structured in such a way that only the big players could realistically participate.'

This is where you finally display your tin foil hat.

You do understand that the customer sets the terms of the tender don't you? So if they set the terms such that only a large organisation can provide a feasible solution to meet their needs then that is their prerogative? Again, in the real world, it's someone doing their best not to get sacked for committing large amounts of their companies finances to some outfit with an unknown track record and unproven resources.

It's not corruption, it's something far simpler, it's human nature that when you don't really know what you are doing or are not interested in the technicalities or just have too many issues on your plate, you play it safe.

The old adage 'No one gets sacked for buying IBM' is as true now as it was when it was coined.

Chinese boffins pitch quadcopter for Mars sample return mission

Killing Time

Re: A little click baity with the subheading?

Ok I, stand corrected. Missed the reference to Zhurong as I was trying to fathom the relevance of the subheading, so less than three years ago the Chinese mounted one successful landing, limited exploration and presumably ongoing orbital mapping operations.

It's a complete stretch in my book to include a secondary mission extension to an asteroid in which the craft has subsequently been lost as relevant to additional exploration of Mars so I believe my point still stands.

As NASA have been exploring Mars not for a few years but for decades, who or what are NASA falling behind?

Killing Time

A little click baity with the subheading?

Falling behind who or what? NASA have been surveying Mars remotely and on the surface for decades, flying across the surface for the best part of a year and supposedly now falling behind because some foreign researchers have announced a bright idea?

There is no one even close to their actual achievements.

I accept that it's phrased to pique your interest but it has to have some basis in reality to maintain credibility.

The Chinese proposal is just so much hot air and conjecture at the moment. Correct me if I'm wrong but to my knowledge they haven't even got to the general vicinity of the planet yet?

Tech renders iconic rockers Kiss genuinely immortal

Killing Time

Re: Better than real

Nicely facetious, missed by most. Have an upvote!

Killing Time

Re: Age does not matter in 2025s!

'Where are the new bands we need'

They are out there, you just have to go out and look for them rather than expect mainstream radio and video to deliver them to you.

If they are not doing their own thing touring small venues they are are on the support slots for the 70 year old Grandad's or the day slots at the festivals headlined by those same Grandad's.

It's up to they young to get out there rather than let a streaming service algorithm drip feed them the bland junk that passes for most pop these days.

You can't force an attitude on anybody, it generally develops through outside influence. Hardship and political injustice used to do it. Difficult to see what puts a rocket up the youths collective ass these days.

Dragonfly delayed – formal confirmation of journey to Saturn's moon slips into 2024

Killing Time

It's a long way....

Makes sense to delay this until the stirling work being done on Mars at the moment establishes what is achievable in other atmospheres.

It's one thing doing it 15 light minutes away. 80 light minutes away is a whole different ballgame. Realistically you are are looking at full autonomy.

SpaceX celebrates Starship launch as a success – even with the explosion

Killing Time

Re: Conrgatulations due

I think you missed the bit where I said ' closed system'. If you shut the tap/faucet you just created a closed system.

RE: the bit about the flow stopping dead at a 90 Deg bend, certainly not (according to the fluid dynamics and my years of experience in process industries) in an open system.

In all probability the flow at the joint is nothing more than vent at a pipework low point to stop any standing water. This is common practice in fire deluge installations where they don't even bother with a valve as it's just one more thing to go wrong. As long as the primary flow route is far bigger than the vent the losses are negligible.

Killing Time

Re: Conrgatulations due

'Prevention/mitigation of water-hammer I suspect'

'Water hammer' is a result of rapid pressure changes in a closed system, classically caused by steam condensing and flashing off.

Not really seeing that as the reason.

Bright spark techie knew the drill and used it to install a power line, but couldn't outsmart an odd electrician

Killing Time

Crucially, they also shared a single circuit for their power supply.

Has no one clocked that they would have to use a single circuit for both systems to use RS232 reliably?

Unlike most other protocols it's data lines are referenced to Earth/Ground. It was only ever designed as a short range protocol between a PC and a local device.

If it's used across different circuits any earth gradients degrade the data voltage differential and you will get random intermittent problems.

A common problem out in the field, back in the day.

Bennu unboxing shows ancient asteroid holds carbon and water

Killing Time

Agreed, however their experiment only showed that amino acids could be formed in conditions 'believed' to be in place during the early Earth and unfortunately that hypothesis is untestable ( without a time machine!).

The accepted fact that there are actually multiple planets and systems out there now means there are many 'chemistry sets' out there capable of generating these building blocks given the right conditions.

If accepted wisdom says that water and other compounds were brought to Earth via comets and meteorites then why not the basics of organic chemistry?

That is testable.

Killing Time

'The panspermia hypothesis is just throwing the problem over the wall.'

Well not really, as amino acids have been discovered in meteorites subsequent to their experiment it really provides an alternative hypothesis which these missions are attempting to ratify.

If you accept Miller and Urey's experiment and hypothesis as being a source of Earth's amino acids then there is no reason why it can't have happened elsewhere ( in multiple places ) given the appropriate conditions.

Miller and Urey's hypothesis was formulated against a backdrop of the Solar System being the only known planetary system.

This is no longer the case.

Why can't datacenter operators stop thinking about atomic power?

Killing Time

'promised to pay a minimum of £92.50 per megawatt hour'

It's my understanding of this current market for renewables and nuclear installations that it's a fixed generation price not a minimum price.

However, if the nuclear station or renewable installation is in a position to generate then the grid controllers have to pay them the minimum price ( and in some circumstances a premium) not to generate and export power.

It's fossil fuel generators that are subject to the vagaries of the open market.

This model ensures renewables/nuclear have preferential access to the grid with fossil fuels playing a balancing role.

Until someone comes up with an economical technology to replace the responsiveness of gas in particular, this is likely to remain the model.

Killing Time

Re: France is finding that nuclear power isn’t that reliable either

'You're evidently not familiar with the concept of an estuary'

I believe I am fully familiar thanks. An estuary contains a mix of sea and freshwater, the chemistry of which varies depending upon the tide. Placement of the intakes will make little difference overall. For example the chemistry at Oldbury will vary significantly from Hinckley at a given time purely due to its location.

To be accurate,Trawsfynydd is situated on a lake but my point still stands, the UK nuclear stations are not solely cooled via seawater.

By far, the biggest problem with using single pass water cooling from any natural source is the entrained organics, this is closely followed by keeping the discharge temperature low enough so that it doesn't create problems in the water source/course. Running dry is not the issue, environmental impact is.

Killing Time

Re: France is finding that nuclear power isn’t that reliable either

'We (Great Britain) designed ours to use seawater'

That is not the case , Trawsfynydd and any site on the Severn estuary proving the point.

Seawater is just a convenient heat sink to cool the steam cycle back to condensate, as is river water. Corrosion can be controlled with material selection and chemical dosing.

Steam turbines being inextricably linked to significant power generation from nuclear, there will always be a steam cycle and requisite condenser.

However there is established technology to air cool the condenser on smaller steam turbine units. This significantly reduces water requirements as all that is then required is to replace necessary losses from the steam circuits / cycle.

Let's give these quadruped robot dogs next-gen XM7 rifles, says US Army

Killing Time

Need to add some organics as they were a bit more cyborg, as I recall...

NASA still serious about astronauts living it up on Moon space station in 2028

Killing Time

'Clue... which country landed a rover on Mars on their first attempt and it started roving on their first attempt

Not the U.S.A.'

Er, yes it was, it was Sojourner on a NASA Pathfinder mission.

Need to polish up on your subject matter mate.

Killing Time

Re 'nothing to do with the Heechee!'

Upvote from me for the Heechee reference. I assume your downvoter has never read Fred Pohl.

We need to be first on the Moon, uh, again, says NASA

Killing Time

'Something he knows that the rest of us don't? '

Something he knows along with a number of others in the space exploration game i.e. NASA.

Notwithstanding the H2O ice in the south pole craters that the LCROSS mission established. Hydroxyl (HO) in large quantities has been confirmed by the various remote sensing sats that have been surveying the place for decades.

Dry and dusty observations through a telescope are so sixties.

Where have you been in the interim?

Virgin Galactic finally gets its first paying customers to edge of space

Killing Time

Re: I think it's found it market.

Nearly two decades developing and testing this craft an investor may reasonably ask why not clone these existing craft and increase the launch cadence to every few weeks?

No doubt there is some reason why this will not fly but VG will have to sell their strategy before the money dries up.

Killing Time

Re: I think it's found it market.

With a 10% slide in its share price on its big day it appears the market thinks not.

The predicted launch cadence appears to put it running at a loss for quite some time.

It's got to at least break even to be viable, research niche or not.

Security? Working servers? Who needs those when you can have a shiny floor?

Killing Time

Re: Clean keyboards

Reed switches used on the old premium XT/AT keyboards, bomb proof.

MIT discovery suggests a new class of superconductors

Killing Time

Re: "Room temperature"

'Liquid oxygen is more desirable than liquid nitrogen'

How so? Do you have some kind of special knowledge of what is desirable or not to everybody?

If I am a large scale food producer and I need to continuous tonnage quantities to blast chill and package products with an inert gas, why would LOX be more desirable to me? If I am a large scale petrochemical producer who needs extremely large volumes of inert gas to purge systems and blanket my flammable products during manufacture and storage, why would LOX be more desirable to me? If I was a steel works using large volumes of LOX in a blast furnace convertor would it be more desirable to me than the large volumes of N2/H2 mix I use to treat the rolled steel end product? Given that I could always get steel from an electric arc furnace I would always need to treat the end product.

Would be interested in the overarching use you believe makes LOX wholly more desirable ?

Killing Time

Re: "Room temperature"

Not wishing to split hairs but Liquid O2 is a byproduct of Liquid N2 production.

LN2 is by far the most widely used product from the cryogenic distillation process and as this process is essentially liquifying air, approx 75% of your base is going to be LN2 with the rest being O2 and Ar. The CO2 having been removed prior to the cryogenic cooling step.

There are other commercial methods of extracting the O2 in its gaseous phase but the bulk cryogenic method is by far the most economical especially to produce at high purity.

Time running out for crew of missing Titanic tourist submarine

Killing Time

Re: Transponder

Have you met any rich people?

I stated ' self made wealthy' and yes I have thanks, quite a few.

Killing Time

Re: Transponder

"this is where the bit about the vessel not being regulated/registered/approved becomes important."

But is it though?

What organisation would regulate/register/approve? When something is inherently high risk and of no particular strategic value to a nation state, which public / governmental body would stick it's head above the parapet and say 'yeah, this is safe'?

Besides, the company themselves are unlikely to be absolute idiots. They are going to risk assess and mitigate risks as best they can to ensure their business has a future.

Finally, the potential clients paying top dollar are not likely to be fools and more than likely do some kind of due diligence regarding mitigation of risks. The notion that self made wealthy people are just lucky is a fallacy, they have above average intelligence and like taking risks but not unacceptable risks.

Frankly, the personal opinion on 'jury rigged' I give very little credence to without more detail. The fact that the ballast may have been repurposed from another use is immaterial, its still ballast.

Killing Time


You would like to think that the scenario where an emergency surfacing event was considered (probably some way from the support ship) and some independent means of locating the vessel on the surface would have been considered as a mitigating measure as part of the design risk assessments, over and above the sonar comms.

Sadly, as there is no mention at this time of this facility being fitted or operating, it doesn't bode well for the outcome.

Top Google boffin Hinton quits, warns of AI danger, partly regrets life's work

Killing Time

Re: Ah......"truth"......

'they are the same maggot underneath'

If you genuinely believe that then you will get the leaders you deserve.

It's easy to take a 'burn it all down' approach or be in the current vernacular, a 'disruptor' because you don't have to put forward a feasible alternative. Like it or not democracy has been the best solution for relative peace and progress for the last few centuries.

SpaceX cuts off Ukraine's 'offensive' Starlink use

Killing Time

Re: there were things SpaceX could do to limit use it doesn't agree with

"At least in principle, there's a big difference....."

Frankly your argument is poor. Notwithstanding it's Gwynne Shotwell who has made the SpaceX position statement, it's a complete leap to attribute it to Musk's personal ethical position. If you follow his public musings you must be aware that he is not slow in coming forward and has no problem expressing his feelings and making unpopular decisions on a whole range of topics, this would just be another of many if he felt strongly enough about it.

Along with that, the assertion that the various nations arms restrictions are based solely on potential escalation of threat is equally wihout merit. The democratic process ensures we select representatives, who among other things, best represent the consensus of the national principles and ethics, we tend to elect people we like and we tend to like people who share our ethics and principles. Thankfully we have the failsafe of voting them out when they no longer represent our views, ethics and principles. As this is the case, the idea that democratic representatives are making these decisions without considering 'the optics' or how it 'scans' with the general public and voters is just naive. In my experience this consideration generally outweighs all others as their jobs depend on it.

Ex-GE engineer gets two years in prison after stealing turbine tech for China

Killing Time

Re: ridiculious sentence

Power turbine manufacturers make a 'lot' of money by way of servicing and refurbishment of turbines as non OEM parts invalidate warranties. Major failiure of a turbine with a purchase cost in 10's to 100 million GBP range is an expensive outcome.

The sealing technology refered to are generally proprietary designs which minimise the flow and escape of heat energy through the rotating parts of the turbine ( generically refered to as labyrinth seals). The more effective the design, the higher the efficiency of the turbine due to reduced losses.

These are the factors which would be used to build the business case and influence the court regarding IP loss and overall monetary impact.

NASA, SpaceX weigh invoking Dragon to take Hubble higher

Killing Time

Re: Insufficicent

'it would be far less expensive than tickets to a Rammstein concert.'

Maybe, but unless they have upped their game you don't get to be toasted, have your eardrums blown out and covered in foam for your money.

Was there life on Mars? Perseverance scrapes up promising samples

Killing Time

Re: This does not sound like a good idea

'so now they want to bring biological materials in from another planet? '

Not seeing any mention of biological materials in the article, just organic molecules. So essentially some carbon based chemical compounds. If these compounds can be detected then it's reasonable to assume that these molecules could probably be synthesised in a lab on Earth.

You appear to have made quite a leap there. I am going to go out on a limb and suggest the scientific community, the space agencies and the funding governments have sat down, thought this through and assessed potential risks.

Is the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope worth the price tag?

Killing Time

Re: And the answer to the question is

As the principle objective of the JWST is deep field, why locate its successor for this function in outer space? In the timescales you are suggesting, given the national and commercial objectives currently under way, lunar polar craters should be under serious consideration for the next step.

Suddenly, a lot of these location,weight, access and upgradability issues have far easier solutions.

Boris Johnson set to step down with tech legacy in tatters

Killing Time

Re: Sub-sea nukes

'It doesn't work like that'

It does and it can if you drop the Combined Cycle (CC) function and use readily available Simple Cycle Gas Turbine generation. Granted they are not as (energy conversion) efficient but as the goal is that they run very infrequently that is not a major issue. It's a loss of roughly 25-30% of the total energy conversion efficiency.

As the name suggests, they are far simpler to install, run (can be operated remotely), maintain and can be readily dispatched with full load generation in a matter of minutes from cold as opposed to in excess of an hour for the best CCGT in a cold start scenario. Your operations staff, in a central location, can dispatch and monitor multiple remote sites. Maintenance and direct operation needs are probably only around 25% of CCGT requirements as you completely do away with the water/steam/boiler(HRSG)/ Steam Turbine/ cooling aspect of the generation.

Modular (i.e. relatively easily installable / replaceable ) units up to 100MW have been available for some years.

I don't understand your point regarding fuel degradation. Run them on NG, it's been in the ground for millions of years, it's not changing significantly in the timescales we are looking at. Supplement the NG with H if you can, however that is a whole new can of worms which would probably hammer the economic case on safety, operation and maintenance requirements alone.

Samsung is planning to reverse-engineer the human brain on to a chip

Killing Time

Re: I'm Enthusiastic

IMB was certainly not the first float those ideas. Frederik Pohl (Man Plus) and William Gibson (Johnny Mnemonic) just to name a few....

D'oh! Misplaced chair shuts down nuclear plant in Taiwan

Killing Time

Re: system was running at 6-10 per cent of operating reserve ratio.

I think you may be confusing 'spinning reserve' with operating reserve.

Richard Branson uses two planes to make 170km round trip

Killing Time

Hate to quibble IaS but Virgin came in to 'raise' funds to further the development.

Rich guys rarely spend their own money on long shots, that's the fastest way to become a poor guy....

Musk is just a shareholder in Space X, Branson is just a shareholder in Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, even though listed as private has at least 4 separate investors and raises capital via venture capital funding.

The good optics of silicon photonics: Light sailing serenely down a fibre

Killing Time

Re: Geeks discussion point

'The IBM x86 was the disrupter of that business model'

I would argue that it was reverse engineering and IBM's mistake in not tying up Microsoft in distribution constraints relating to the DOS they supplied that was the real disrupter at the time.

IBM completely underestimated the impact the PC would have and didn't treat it like its other products because they never believed their control of the computing environment at the time would be undermined or lost.

We'll explore Titan with a methane submarine, a methane submarine, a methane submarine...

Killing Time

Re: A lot of thought...

' Because it's there' doesn't really cut it in a budget request or a research funding round though does it?

When you are competing with well considered science you need to offer a bit more than 'might' as a rationale.

If you want to research Europa's suspected ocean or a gas giants gas clouds, go there and do it.

I fail to see the value in diving into a cold hydrocarbon soup if your goal is to find signs of life in a water body or gas cloud.

Killing Time

A lot of thought...

Seems to be going into this but to what end?

What are they possibly hoping to discover in a bath of liquid hydrocarbons at around 93K ? There are parts of Earth's seas and oceans that have never been explored due to the facts a. That it's difficult, and b. That your ability to sense your surroundings is severely hampered. If you are going to that by radar etc. Why not do it from the surface.

Frankly, a lot more useful science can be done 'in atmosphere'.

A nice headline but ....really...?

UK Prime Minister Johnson knows not when 400k+ deleted records from police DB will be back

Killing Time

Re: Johnsons fault or click bait?

'but Fujitsu has to bear much of the responsibility as they are the ones instructed by NPIA'

Struggling to see how you reached this conclusion as there is no mention of it in the article. It is stated that Fujitsu provide the hardware (and presumably the OS) but aside from that....? If you are referencing some other source, feel free to share it.

I'm all for giving negligent or poor service providers a good shoeing when need be but it helps to get the facts straight before the blamestorming starts.

SpaceX Starship blows up on landing, Elon Musk says it's the data that matters and that landed just fine

Killing Time

Re: proved it can do everything that SpaceX has claimed it would be able to do

"unless the actual objective was to maximize views on YouTube."

Well there were well over 400K viewers watching live on the official SpaceX channel that I could see at the time and a similar number the day before. This was for a test.....

I think there are a great number of people who are genuinely curious and willing to take what they see on these 'commercially risky' broadcasts at face value without surrendering to cynicism but with just a real sense of wonder.