Tech worker testifies of 'blue screen of death' on oil rig's computer

Tech worker testifies of 'blue screen of death' on oil rig's computer



A computer that monitored drilling operations on the Deepwater Horizon had been freezing with a "blue screen of death" prior to the explosion that sank the oil rig last April, the chief electronics technician aboard testified Friday at a federal hearing.

"Blue screen of death," or BSOD, is a term most often used to describe the display shown by Microsoft Windows after a serious crash that has incapacitated a PC.
[...]
The machine had been locking up for months, Williams said, producing what he and others on the crew called a "blue screen of death." "It would just turn blue. You'd have no data coming through," Williams said today, according to the New York Times' story.

With the computer frozen, the driller would not have access to crucial data about what was going on in the well. [...]

Now this is not to be construed as a Microsoft bashing exercise on my behalf. XP eventually evolved into a rather decent OS, people I trust tell me Windows 7 is also pretty good and personally, I am a heretic because I actually think MS Active Directory is a great infrastructure for managing morons (even if it is essentially is an imitation of Netware NDS). In any case, Microsoft have lost the crown of Evil Empire to Apple, so that too may have tempered my feelings.

No, whether MS systems blue screen or not is not the primary issue here. The issue is that BP management actually relied on a Windows OS to do something as critical as monitoring the Deepwater Horizon's safety system. Every OS has a purpose. MS offerings are for end users and mid-range office networks. They are NOT for systems where 100% uptime and availability is a mandatory consideration. Let me illustrate with a simple example - airlines DO NOT use Windows to run and control modern airliners for a very good reason. Why? Because a blue screen while attempting to land would be lethal, costly and highly embarrassing. They typically rely on RISC based systems who's core design is aimed at stability and reliability at the expense of fancy bells and whistles. Airlines KNOW better because system failures for them are usually instantaneous and spectacular.

The fact that BP management actually allow Windows systems to monitor their rigs speaks volumes about the complete contempt they have for considering anything other than the bottom line. That they are too big and important to bother with basic things like corporate responsibility or being accountable for their actions. That consequences can be hidden from. That events such as the Texas City Refinery explosion are inconvenient, but acceptable, collateral damage that it is more cost effective to simply ride out than spend money on to prevent. BP are quite simply to important to care.

Will BP be a lesson to others? Not particularly likely. The only chance of that happening is if they are forced to forfeit all of their assets as reparations and their corporate carcass is hung out on a gibbet to rot for all to see. Anything less and corporate hubris will dance along on it's merry way, safe in he knowledge that they are immune to all standards of human decency and it will all be business as usual.

Tags: BSOD, bp, deepwater horizon, disaster, gulf, microsoft

Views: 37

Replies to This Discussion

Yup, and Texas Rep. Joe Barton felt the need to apologize to them for the way the government was treating them, over the oil spill.
Seems to me that BP's (un)safety record constitutes a callous disregard for human life, not to mention the environment. I sure hope they get investigated for criminal charges.
They have VP for safty and he spent his testimony dodging responsibility.

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Well, one major political party is all for corporate power, and the other is spineless, so don't hold your breath.
If the Obama administration doesn't come down hard on BP he will be viewed (rightly so) as in their pocket. The 2012 election will be a giveaway to the loons of the right if decisive action is not forth coming. Serious hard time in the general prison population should be the plight of some of the over paid BP and Deepwater Horizon executives.
Either way Obama goes on this they will spin to the loon right advantage. The window to deal with it properly has come and gone, and Obama missed the boat.

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