Doug Lerner reports from Tokyo and St. Louis, and points beyond…

Archive for April, 2012

Over 2,000 quakes greater than magnitude 4 since 3/11/11

A 5 minute look at SkyDrive

If you know DropBox, you know SkyDrive. In my 5 minutes cursory look at SkyDrive I can see it being a real challenger for DropBox. Or another way of looking at it is, why not have both?

Conceptually they work the same way. But there are some immediate advantages to SkyDrive as well. For one thing, there is more free space (7 GB to start with, instead of 2 GB). And you can more selectively control sharing. While I hear this is/has changed in DropBox, their permissions has always been very rough. Basically giving somebody shared access to a DropBox folder lets the other person control the folder’s contents, and all the sub-folders and files therein. SkyDrive has more selective settings it seems.

SkyDrive also lets you create Word and other Office documents via the web, much like Google Docs. I haven’t checked to see if there is collaborative editing or not.

There are also search features (though it was not able to find a word in a test Word doc I created via the web UI). Photos uploaded can also be automatically resized, which is nice when sharing. That worked great from my iPhone.

Google is also coming out with Google Drive, but (1) it’s not ready for me yet when I try to access and (2) the iOS apps are not available as of this writing. But I was able to immediately download and use the iPhone app for SkyDrive (which synced to my iPad) and it works just fine on both. So Microsoft has beaten Google out the door on this one.

I see a lot to like and not really anything to dislike about SkyDrive in a first test drive, except the search didn’t work on the web. Of course I never get search to work in DropBox either, so they are even on that score so far.

This is just a superficial look so far, but I say why not go for it and get some more cloud storage. I mean, why not?



I am shocked, shocked to learn that Walmart could have used bribery in Mexico to quickly expand its operations. And here whenever I’ve thought of Walmart, the first things to come to mind have been high ethical standards and good citizenship.

What next?


Fukushima air to stay radioactive in 2022

FUKUSHIMA — A decade from now, airborne radiation levels in some parts of Fukushima Prefecture are still expected to be dangerous at above 50 millisieverts a year, a government report says.

The report, which contains projections through March 2032, was presented by trade minister Yukio Edano Sunday to leaders of Futaba, one of the towns that host the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

The report includes radiation forecasts for 2012 to 2014, and for 2017, 2022 and 2032, based on the results of monitoring in November last year. It was compiled to help municipalities draw up recovery and repopulation programs for the nuclear disaster.

The forecasts do not take into account experimental decontamination efforts.

Earlier this month, the government designated areas where annual radiation dosage exceeds 50 millisieverts as those likely to remain off-limits to evacuees in the near term.

The report said that annual radiation levels in March 2022 will probably exceed 50 millisieverts in some of the areas, including Futaba and Okuma, the other town that hosts the radiation-leaking plant.

In another meeting between the central and local governments, Reconstruction Minister Tatsuo Hirano presented a draft policy for reviving Fukushima that is based on a special reconstruction law that took force in March.

The draft said the central government will provide fiscal support to improve living conditions and revive the regional economy and communities.

The government plans to give Cabinet approval to the policy as early as May.


No explanation was really needed…


High radiation means delays in decommissioning crippled Fukushima reactors

The decommissioning process at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant faces a further obstacle after Tokyo Electric Power Co. said radiation readings in the containment vessel of the No. 2 reactor were at fatal levels on March 27.

It said readings were detected as high as 72.9 sieverts per hour, which would be fatal to humans in the event of a leak.

That is also enough to affect electronics in robots or other remote-controlled equipment used to probe the reactor ahead of final decommissioning.

Junichi Matsumoto, acting general director of TEPCO’s Nuclear Power and Plant Siting Division, said, “We believe it is the effect from the fuel (that melted) and leaked into the containment vessel. For the decommissioning operation, we will need to develop equipment that can withstand high radiation levels.”

The March 27 announcement marked the first time TEPCO directly measured radiation levels within the containment vessel of the No. 1 to No. 3 reactors where reactor meltdowns occurred a year ago.

TEPCO workers inserted an industrial endoscope into the containment vessel of the No. 2 reactor and measured radiation levels at eight locations. The highest reading of 72.9 sieverts was recorded about 4.2 meters from the bottom of the vessel.

After the Fukushima nuclear disaster flared, the highest radiation level recorded was about 10 sieverts per hour last August around piping near the main exhaust duct of the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors.

At that time, the high radiation was considered the result of fuel leaking during the venting process. The latest reading is not only much higher but reinforces the possibility that the decommissioning process will be prolonged.

High radiation levels can cause electronic parts to malfunction. The latest measurement throws another spanner in the works: Much more work will need to be done to decontaminate the area to reduce radiation levels.

Decommissioning of the No. 1 to No. 3 reactors will involve the unprecedented process of collecting nuclear fuel that has melted into the containment vessel.

Decommissioning was initially expected to take around 30 years, but that estimate will likely now have to be revised.


Rare shots of Hao and Mon sitting together on my hand (usually Mon is camera shy and Hao doesn’t like Mon that much)

Spring is really here

I know that spring is really truly here when I can go outside without a jacket or sweater. This is the first day of the year it is that comfortable outside. It’s a Monday, but perfect for hanami.

doug@tired of cold days

Hanami in Shinkoiwa

Late afternoon cherry blossoms in bloom

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