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Poll Results: What level of blame would you assign to the infamous BSOD in the BP oil spill?

See how your peers answered this question: What level of blame would you assign to the infamous BSOD in the BP oil spill?

On July 30, 2010, I asked readers of the TechRepublic Microsoft Windows Blog to answer this poll question:

What level of blame would you assign to the infamous BSOD in the BP oil spill?

At the time I posed the question, BP was just about to perform a static kill on the well. The good news is that the process worked, and it appears as though there will be no more oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. The bad news is that it appears that much of the oil already spilled is actually below the surface and scientists and other experts are not sure what that means with regard to economic impact. This is a story that will take years or perhaps decades to play out completely.

However, when it comes to the poll question, TechRepublic members applied less blame on the technology and found more fault with the people who were supposed to use that technology to prevent just such a disaster. And, as was pointed out in the ensuing discussion thread, what exactly happened, where the blame should be assigned, and how to prevent a similar instance in the future are also questions that will take decades to fully answer -- assuming they ever get fully answered.

Has this incident changed your mind about the safety of deep-sea drilling for oil and gas? Should technology play a larger role in the process? A lesser role?

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About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

19 comments
shadow7a7
shadow7a7

I would say 0% blame for BP for BSOD, I would lay that blame on Microsoft. Now the blame for the BOP not working That goes to BP.

Lazarus439
Lazarus439

...regardless of the make or model of the hardware or the operating the machine is running. The problem is that the failed computer was ignored for "MONTHS" by the people who ran the drilling platform. When the machine is part of a presumably critical alerting system, this is absolutely inexcusable. Those who failed to address the failure are responsible. No more, no less.

jimmeq
jimmeq

I remember the sometimes weekly BSOD's on NT 4.0, and they were taken care of immediately. . .by myself, a human. We are in charge of our systems, and if warnings are ignored, eventually the problem gets worse. What were the computers that were gening BSOD's used for? Why were the BSOD's not fixed?

Slayer_
Slayer_

And I remember reading it was not a windows BSOD, and that it was just a general blue screen indicating an error. May or may not have been windows.

AstroCreep
AstroCreep

From the articles I read, the employee being grilled on the problem said the software they were using was generating "Blue Screens" and was causing audible alarms, but it got to the point where it was doing it erroneously (and frequently) so the workers decided to disable the alarm. Then the "Boy who cried wolf" happened.

Strayer
Strayer

They use win xp running in the background as far as I know

seanferd
seanferd

Several varieties of "oil-eating" bacteria (including previously unknown species) seem to have been doing a really nice job of degrading the oil without creating huge oxygen-depleted dead zones. We got lucky.

Maurice Butler
Maurice Butler

Article from automation/instrumentation point of view www.controlglobal.com/articles/2010/OilBlowouts1008.html

QAonCall
QAonCall

I had a chuckle reading it thinking 'wow, this is some heady stuff, these people are pretty smart!'. Then I thought of the fools in Congress asking on TV for explanations, that if given, would fry their tiny minds. Even worse, is the thought ot them trying to put in place rules of operation, without experts like the author. geez... I don't think drilling should stop, but there has to be some middle ground between the people who refuse to allow drilling, and the need of the human race for carbon based energy.

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

"I thought of the fools in Congress asking on TV for explanations, that if given, would fry their tiny minds." "uhhh... it goed boom. then yucky-yucky. oopsie." ;-)

seanferd
seanferd

"BP and it's contractors ignored repeated warnings". Human warnings. Automated warnings. But that has been the industry's game all along, as they constantly seek to remove regulation and corrupt the regulatory bodies (like the Department of the Interior). It is too bad that so many intelligent voices within the industry itself are ignored.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Has this incident changed your mind about the safety of deep-sea drilling for oil and gas? Should technology play a larger role in the process? A lesser role?

NexS
NexS

Talking with a friend of mine, who's in his last portion of environmental and civil engineering, and his (along with his university peers') opinion was that the problem occurred because of shortcuts made to save time and money. Nothing to do with computing, nothing to do with the safety and environmental integrity, but bad choices made. Drill away, I say. Just don't be a fluckin' wanker -- do it properly.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

Civil Engineers are never fully aware that everything that they do is just building better more interesting [b]Targets.[/b] That's their sole purpose in life and they don't understand that. :^0 Col

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

No not at all I designed much better things than Grenade Launchers. :^0 Although I'm not quite as crazy as one of the other Mech Engineers that I know who was flat out going to build a [b]"Special"[/b] Carbon Fiber car and then proceed into the Police headquarters and destroy the building with it from the inside. :D I figured if you wanted to do something like that there where easier ways to bringing down a building. Maybe not as much fun but certainly safer ways [i]for me[/i] to do it. :0 Col

NexS
NexS

Their passion comes from lack of job satisfaction, so they need to find a reason to show up every day... :p Also, you are beginning to sound like a big kid with a grenade launcher -- "If i shoot it here, the whole thing will fall down. Then I'll own them!" :^0

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

With the products of Civil Engineers. Being a Mechanical Engineer I just have to think of how to destroy it. Probably more importantly what kind of Target will it be and how juicy is it to the enemy. Way too many of these things are [b]Juicy Targets[/b] that are just begging to be taken out for the fun of it. :D But in this case the Company who was paying the bills took way too many Short Cuts which they have a habit of doing with the full knowledge that the Country Of Origin's Government can not afford to have them fail. They seem to have the idea that they have a License to do as they please and others will come in and clean up their messes. Doesn't matter how many times they get caught doing the wrong thing it makes no difference to the way they do business. Look at the Oil Companies in General and then look at who gets fined by the Regulators in the US the most often and you have one and the same company. :^0 The fact that no one wants to step in and make them better Corporate Citizens is what I find confusing. The majority of people think that the way this company behaves is perfectly acceptable. Col [i]Edited to add[/i] The reason that Civil Engineers get so Passionate with their projects is because they know just how Temporary it's going to be. Though very few admit this. ;)

NexS
NexS

But the thing with engineers is that they get passionate about their projects, I think, purely because if they don't, what's left to go to work for?! :p

Jaqui
Jaqui

thy outlaw the internal combustion engine, asking if "we should keep drilling" is a waste of time. The drilling will contiinue, and increase as long as it's gasoline going into cars to power them.

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