Saturday, February 5, 2011

Who controls us? Our technology?

In a Free Software Foundation appeal for donations, Technological power should be held by all users of a technology, Benjamin Mako Hill, whom is on the board of directors at the of the FSF, states "Control over technology is power". Past events in Egypt are a good example of that.

Turning the control of technology issue around, on January 24th 2011, the community of Fairport Harbor in Lake County, located alongside Lake Erie northeast of Cleveland Ohio, literally exploded.

3,200 people suddenly found that their lives were controlled by the technology of the Gas Company. Authorities say built-up pressure in natural gas lines led to a house explosion and then a series of fires.

Various reports say spokesman Matt Butler with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, says ice that formed in a sensor line caused a gas pressure regulator to fail when the outside temperature was 7'F.

What I wonder is if this sensor system was designed by some well educated person setting in a warm office in a warm claimant, who has never seen a real gas well, while any country hick from the Oil Patch knows that the moisture in Natural Gas condenses when it is cold?

Environmental factors must always be considered in any infrastructure design. Maybe it has never been 7'F where a system is to be deployed, but can you say with certainty Mother Nature won't change her mind about that next year or in ten years? Redundancy is not always a bad thing when it comes to failure prone sensors and technology.