* Posts by Bob H

380 posts • joined 20 Sep 2007

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Are you sure there are servers in this cold, dark basement?

Bob H

Re: The funniest I've seen...

I did a placement at a local TV station, they had failure on a piece of kit and a bike courier was ordered with a replacement card for a "support within x hours" delivery. They were cursing when he didn't turn up because it made doing the news difficult and they stopped cursing when they were called to say the motorbike courier had been in an accident.

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AMD opens kimono on chip futures a little more

Bob H

There is already a rumour going around about Samsung and AMD sittin' in a tree...

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Gigabit web streaming in 2016? Live tests say yes

Bob H

Re: History

I've noticed that when you do a Speedtest.net on Virgin in the UK it does the test against Virgin servers if you let it automatically pick the server. It picks a server just a 30min drive away from my house on the Virgin network.

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Bob H

As a former colleague once said when we were told our site was getting Gbit internet:

"I can't w*nk that fast."

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Bob H

Re: What about muh upstream?

When Comcast decides (and Liberty Global would also likely make such a move) to put 10/40Gbit/sec into production they'll probably change the economies of scale by market forces alone. Their agreements with Broadcom could mean that they build a 40G SDN without much concern and they could do it on the back of the RDK software development arrangement that they have with Cisco and Arris already.

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MOVE IT! 10 top tips for shifting your data centre

Bob H

This was quite a good article from the people behind Stack Exchange:

http://blog.serverfault.com/2015/03/05/how-we-upgrade-a-live-data-center/

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Lost WHITE CITY of the MONKEY GOD found after 500 years

Bob H

It's just up the road from what was Television Centre in London isn't it? Where they held the old London Olympics?

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Game of Moans: Sky coughs to BORKED set top box BALLS-UP

Bob H

One of the problems is that broadcasters, when they enter information into the schedule might not always have their system track that what is on one channel is the same event that is on another channel. Sometimes they don't match the Series CRID but sometimes they also put in a unique Programme CRID, there is also alternate instance and HD/SD linkage which I have also noticed some channels don't always provide.

We'd like to think that the broadcasters were joined up in their approach to metadata but experience tells me that humans keep making mistakes and the systems they have aren't sophisticated enough to keep from that happening. But then again they have to share data with Sky, Virgin, DigitalUK, Freesat, Rovi and the various news agencies/data companies, and everyone wants it in a slightly different format.

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G.Fast sand-slinger says it's slung bits at 500 Mbps over 200 metres

Bob H

Usain Bolt

Usain would have significant latency compared to G.fast?

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Boffin finds formula for four-year-five-nines disk arrays

Bob H

There was I thinking, "that seems like a lot of disks, but what is the minimum number?" So, after a bit of simple head maths I came to 5/1/4, which is interesting because it adds up to a simple 2:1. Now obviously the requirements of RAID-6 mean that you would probably do 5/2/3 but still I think the 2:1 principle holds.

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HMRC fails to plan for £10.4bn contract exit... because it's 'too risky'

Bob H

Hanlon's Razor:

"Never assume malice when stupidity is an equally viable explanation."

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Dark Fibre: Reg man plunges into London's sewers to see how pipe is laid

Bob H

Re: Security?

I used to work for a company that leased hundreds of fibres around London and so I regularly saw the maps. I realised that outside the KFC where I lived was a series of green cabinets which if someone had a truck/JCB it would do some serious damage.

Fortunately sensible companies traversing London tend to order dual, diverse routes with diverse points of entry, so there is no single point of failure. However if someone knew what they were doing they could do massive damage, luckily none of the advanced knowledge is public but if someone were determined they could try some espionage to get that information.

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Reg Oz chaps plot deep desert comms upgrade

Bob H

This might help you, it is a compressing proxy with pre-rendering and image compression. Not ideal for security but working on plain HTTP it should offer optimisations, especially if combined with Squid.

http://ziproxy.sourceforge.net/dia/

I don't think it is too risky to use a small server at the remote location. Squid will do transparent proxying and you can always set up a fail-over without much expense. There are lots of embedded machines that don't have the foibles of a full PC and if the OS is on a separate disk from the cache you won't have much risk.

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It's 4K-ing big right now, but it's NOT going to save TV

Bob H

It is worth noting that increased frame rates do not notably increase distribution bandwidth/size, the difference between each frame is smaller as you increase bandwidth so the impact of compression is much more substantial. If I remember correctly a notable someone told me that doubling the progressive frame rate increases the compressed bandwidth by 10%?

I hate "filmic" frame rates, people claim it is artistic but if you just watch any action film with a good eye you will know how blurred the sequences get. Any good cinematographer should know how to adjust their shooting to create an atmosphere irrespective of the frame rate and you can always adjust the look in grading. (I'm a broadcast engineer trained in both TV and film).

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NASA closing on fix for Opportunity rover's 'amnesia'

Bob H

Re: Lovely

I didn't think Vista would install on 256MB of flash?

(I'll get my coat)

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BT takes broadband to NEW PLACES. That's right: CITIES

Bob H

The City has long been poorly represented for basic broadband, so this is good news but I have long been suspicious that BT neglects areas with larger business buildings because it wants to sustain the BT Net fibre business.

In TW8 9HH all the surrounding streets have high-speed broadband but the main business block has none and BT have neglected only the cabinet that serves that building. Perhaps with this news BT might actually one-day extend their reach to such neglected buildings.

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Cold? Cuddle these HOT GERMAN RACKS, yours for only 12,000 euro – we swear there's an IT angle

Bob H

Re: Computer-powered Aga

I think the question here is can someone demonstrate effective heat transfer? If it is possible to do more than just create warm water and actually turn the water hot then there might be some money in this. I'm uncertain about the value of €12k but I've been wondering for a while now if this business model could work and someone is actually trying it out.

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UK superfast broadband? Not in my backyard – MP

Bob H

The problem is they laud themselves for getting a statistically successful level of roll outs which makes a good headline but they classically neglect the minority because they aren't making headlines. We need their KPI to focus on the unconnected not those who are getting upgraded. My village got FTTC quite quickly which is pretty pointless because we already have much faster Virgin cable, they should concentrate their more FTTC efforts in areas where they have low penetration of broadband from *any* provider rather than just giving me more choice of where I get high speed broadband.

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Google Nest, ARM, Samsung pull out Thread to strangle ZigBee

Bob H

Re: Just In Case

I've also seen vendors turn up to said meetings just to say 'no' to everything. The fun of spending a fortune to stand in the way of things, works well for those companies.

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UK.gov warned: Small biz bods 'blunted' by broadband bumbling

Bob H

Re: Obvious reason is obvious...

I've also seen this in London, I used to work in an office in TW8 on the way out of London, on a junction surrounded by office buildings and where there are lots of residential properties around, the entire exchange was upgraded to FTTC except our cabinet. It was clearly because every customer on that cabinet is business and every other cabinet was residential.

But I don't think it is just BT, I wanted service from Virgin Media Business, I tried very hard because their cabinet was within meters of our office and their ducts passed our building on two sides. But no, they didn't have coverage for our address!!

I ended up getting an EFM by bonding four lines together, cheaper than BTNet fibre but it was only 13Mbit/sec in London!

I would love to see someone like El Reg doing a closer investigation in to this, I knew I couldn't be the only one to suffer from this. Artificially keeping prices high with legacy products by not enabling VDSL or low cost FTTP at business cabinets.

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New Bluetooth tech lets you control 4 BILLION lightbulbs at once

Bob H

Re: I dont kwow why

There are lots of wireless light switches using either RF or IR, I have one from HomeEasy which works fine but is a proprietary protocol. Sounds like this technology could be applied to light switches as well as light bulbs.

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Bob H

the problem is that there isn't a good solution for low energy conversion of mains to low voltage without waste. Putting a battery in the solution reduces the bill of materials, complexity and energy consumption. You might need to replace a battery in 5+ years but that will cost you less than the energy usage from a mains converter.

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Boob Tube BOFFINS finger Red Button, trigger TELLY MAYHEM

Bob H

These TVs haven't been hacked, some researches have created an unlikely amplification attack which relies on a series of unlikely events.

1) TVs don't retune to signals which aren't signalled by the existing broadcast data tables. 'New channels available' is usually when the TV notices a change in the BAT.

2) If they swamped out an existing multiplex they would have to do a MitM attack involving receiving the existing signal, altering and rebroadcasting it (without creating a feedback loop).

3) The transmissions would have to be powerful and virtually undistorted without saturating the receiver. This is very difficult and I am told by a reliable party that the '$200' modulator they talk about has poor noise and distortion (amplification of it sucks).

4) The only result is that you can send traffic to known targets, you might use it for amplification in a DDoS but the impact will be minimal

5) The viewer would have to tolerate the disruption and wrong time/event or black screen.

A vulnerability perhaps, a serious issue requiring every news agency in the world to proclaim a vast hole in every hybrid TV? No. Wish I had the time to show why this is impractical, but paid work prevails.

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No spinning rust here: Supermicro's cold data fridge is FROZEN

Bob H

Re: DVD? ( I have mixed views)

Even DVD is considered fleeting in archive terms, yes lots of them were made but how robust are the discs and how robust are the drives. You don't want to be scratching around in 10 years looking for one which still has a good laser diode or motor drive that hasn't gummed up. The beauty of photographic substrate archiving is that if you can keep the plastic stable you can knock up the apparatus to 'read' it with things you find in a hardware store. If someone invents an industrial archive grade disk drive that can read CD, all DVD formats and WORM discs then we only have to worry about the discs themselves failing!

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BT and Neul ink gov-funded deal: Milton Keynes to be test bed for Internet of Stuff

Bob H

It is worth noting that IoT isn't about providing internet access to devices, it is about connecting intelligent devices to networks for telemetry and control purposes.

I have seen presentations by Neul and I am impressed with what is possible with 'Weightless', very low power data collection without the overheads of mobile networks.

The saddest thing is that it will get caught up in the BT management processes, burdened with consultants and their interesting project management.

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EE boffin: 5G will be the LAST WORD in mobe tech – literally

Bob H

Re: Re Also, your math is wrong...

One could probably use powerline and connect to the nearest FTTC cabinet, this gets round your transformer problem and gives up to 500Mbit/sec to each street? Besides if the base stations used a 60-70GHz mesh between themselves they wouldn't need fibre for km's.

As for calling groups the Mission Critical 4G system is based on SIP, all the complex calling groups could easily be implemented as software functions. An application on the phone could easily allow an officer to see a directory, add people to custom groups for raids etc., and probably easily roam between forces transparently.

Spend less time looking for problems and more time looking for solutions.

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Bob H

Re: Who is this guy?

Yes there is a system proposed for 4G to prioritise certain groups of callers in the event of congestion which is why they are talking about it:

http://mobile.research.southwales.ac.uk/mission-critical-voice/

The advantage for these mission critical customers is that when engaged with a network provider they can do it cheaper than with the separate infrastructure cost paid for now. The hardware cost would only be on modifying the existing control room areas to support the new interfaces. For those on the ground the upgrade would be substantial but perhaps the old equipment can be sold to cover the costs? There must be a good market for used TETRA in other countries?

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Bob H

Re: The future...

I think the main reason he might say that there is no 6G is the fact that the spectrum is already reaching the Shannon information limit for the modulation and spectrum occupation. So in terms of the air interface there is little progress to be made towards increasing bandwidth. The next steps are about how you build the network and how the phones interact with the environment. With increasingly flexible modems in phones and base stations increasingly being software defined radios hopefully we won't need much more new hardware.

The biggest challenge as everyone seems to recognise is getting them to actually put the infrastructure in. The fact that most of the networks haven't given consumers easy access to femtocells just shows how backwards we are. My village has very limited Orange/EE coverage and yet the network provider refuses to acknowledge anything is wrong. Some parts of London are difficult to make calls in because the networks are congested and yet after years nothing gets done. Investment in infrastructure seems to have a broad-brush, national focus rather than responding to demand and feedback.

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Welcome to Heathrow Terminal, er, Samsung Galaxy S5

Bob H

#fail

I'm thinking of my poor wife's family that don't speak English, getting through airports is hard enough without Samsung confusing them!

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Game of Thrones written on brutal medieval word processor and OS

Bob H

Re: If he's into self-flagellation

I was sitting next to a young lady on an airplane who was writing an academic paper in Latex, it certainly didn't seem comfortable!

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'We don't use UPS. If we did we'd have huge UPSs and tiny computers'

Bob H

I once worked in a facility where there was only enough UPS capacity for little more than half the heavy load systems but there was generator capacity for everything. That was fine operationally because as long as half the system worked all the time resilience was maintained. However it did cause secondary problems that when the systems were shut-down improperly, the abrupt lack of cooling could impact their lifespan. Fortunately it didn't happen enough to make it a real problem for us, so we accepted the rare uncontrolled shut-down and recovered later. The cost of adding sufficient additional UPS capacity would have been significant.

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Mozilla CTO Eich: If your browser isn't open source (ahem, ahem, IE, Chrome, Safari), DON'T TRUST IT

Bob H

I too was thinking, "how do we know Mozilla doesn't modify the source before compiling?"

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Justice Ministry to spaff £70k finding out how prisoners like to use ILLEGAL mobes

Bob H

Jamming mobile signals is actually illegal, I prefer my government agencies to obey the law of the land.

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Samsung sees RDK as route to DOMINATION of US set top market

Bob H

The thing that most people don't distinguish or realise is that Samsung is a conglomerate and that as part of that one division doesn't generally work with the other. Samsung isn't a minor player in PayTV STBs but they aren't among the top vendors, their retail consumer products are a separate division from their Pay TV business. The adoption of RDK by Samsung is a late play but I am unsure if they can really leverage it well with their customers.

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Oz couple get jiggy in pharmacy in 'banned' condom ad

Bob H

Re: "Come again!...."

I did have a titter at that line.

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I'm Feeling LUCKY OR LAZY™? Chrome gets hands-free voice search

Bob H

Re: Be nice if it worked

Agreed it is a bit of a fail that it doesn't work outside of Google.com

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XBOX ONE owners rage as HDMI SNAFU 'judders' Brit and Euro tellies

Bob H

Re: @SpeakTruth

Erm? Most of Europe isn't T2, most of Europe is either DVB-T or DVB-C (yes, many countries don't have dominant terrestrial TV). Germany also has a skew towards DVB-S2 for historical reasons. Many countries do have plans to migrate to T2 or have launched a mix towards migration.

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Digital radio may replace FM altogether - even though nobody wants it

Bob H

Re: DAB Bashing

If it wasn't for the fact that DAB is bad technology I would imagine that El Reg might consider standing behind it.

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Cash-strapped students hungrily eye up old, unloved racks

Bob H

Re: I'd definitely go used.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/10x-DELL-1955-Server-Blades-2xDC-2Ghz-73gb-25SAS-4gb-KVM-DRAC-BMX-Enclosure-/151152110081

£1000 for 80GB of RAM, 40 Xeon cores at 3GHz

Cisco Catalyst Gigabit switch.

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Bob H

Re: I'd definitely go used.

Agreed, when I saw that budget I immediately thought of the number of used blade chassis that you see on ebay.

I am impressed that you have one that big running at home, I thought about it and then I thought about my electricity bill.

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Is it barge? Is it a data center? Mystery FLOATING 'Google thing'

Bob H

Re: Buy and Large

Portable render farm on an extreme scale would be useful for productions that have to spend time in different parts of the world. Presently quite a few films need satellite links from field bases where the director is back to editing/effects companies to transfer the days recordings (rushes) for post production. However, for dailies you probably wouldn't need something *that* big.

My more immediate though was Google's balloon adventure, those masts on top could be used to create a tent to shield directional antennas from winds?

Here's another kooky idea, Google could buy out St Helena, float a data centre there and pay for the connectivity the island desperately wants. No one on St Helena would give a fig what Google wants to do if it was to bring money/jobs/internet and they are an independent nation under British protection.

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Torched £30 server switch costs phone firm millions in lost sales

Bob H

Re: Planning

Agreed and also I would hazard that there was a monitoring fail as well, because how long did it take them to notice the server was missing? Were the hands on support not able to notice the missing/melted asset and route round the problem?

All these 'enterprise' tools for network management and asset management always seem to be based on proprietary technologies and so badly designed that they are either just accounting tools or don't provide 100% coverage. Frankly I don't even think SDN is up to much because these boys are too busy protecting their proprietary tools.

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Reg hack battles Margaret Thatcher's ghost to bring broadband to the Highlands

Bob H

How is this for torment: my in-laws (abroad) have fibre passing through the village, their mini-exchange has been upgraded to provide VDSL, but the phone company won't fit the line cards....

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Star Wars revival secret: This isn't the celluloid you're looking for

Bob H

Frame rate

Oh for the sake of the FSM!

So, we have someone getting all nostalgic for a bygone era and using an inferior format? Will he also be recording the audio on to tape? But my biggest hang up with film is that it artificially constrains the motion because at 24fps the temporal resolution is carp (sic). It shouldn't matter what the medium as long as you are originating at the best quality possible and for an action movie, especially a science fiction action movie, you need temporal resolution! Our eyes are not designed to have things change resolution when they shoot with such a legacy frame rate (the only reason it exists is because of the logistics & expense of film media).

If they go ahead they will originate the film chemically, but as soon as it leaves the bath it will probably be scanned to digital, then it will be edited digitally and mixed with digital effects, colour corrected digitally and then rendered out. It will then be sent to cinemas digitally (in many cases) or converted back to plastic for legacy cinemas. Back when I did my studies we were told to originate at the highest dynamic range and resolution as possible and have as few processing steps as possible to preserve the quality. Plastic seems like a fail in this context.

If he shot it at 70mm with 48fps then I would be impressed, but he isn't and I am not.

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Typical! Google's wonder-dongle is a solution looking for a problem

Bob H
Boffin

Re: Google falls foul of most modern businesses big error.

I think MHL is interesting but it still has something of a dependency on human interaction which might be awkward, if the TV supports CEC remote pass through correctly then your remote might work to control your phone, but how many apps work with that logic?

The Chrome stick is cheap enough that it is fit + forget, I could buy one (if they were sold in the UK!) and know that whenever I want I can send content from my phone or laptop to the TV.

I don't think it is a game changer, but I do think it is a low cost way of showing the way forward to the market. It addresses the millions of non-connected/smart HD TVs there are in the world. It is a simple proposition but also it might boost Google's sales on their Play Store. People are more inclined to pay for content on screens of 7in or larger (inc TVs) than on phones, this device bridges the gap between phone store and TV.

I wish them luck, it certainly isn't a folly.

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Hotshots' hotchpotch hotspots: Office Wi-Fi is a great big botch

Bob H

Budget, I worked in a 20 person office we didn't have budget for such luxuries, I tried several APs and ended up with a Draytek AP800, no complaints now.

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Leap Motion Controller: Hands up for PC air gestures. That's the spirit

Bob H

Experience

On my desk I have a small Wacom tablet, a mouse and a trackball, they all play their roles well.

So today the Fedex man arrived with my Leap Motion controller saying "what is it? we've got thousands of them!", I quickly ran the install and then plugged it in. After plugging it in a few times more it worked... I think?

It complained about the lighting, damn you summer's (very indirect) sunlight and LED strip lighting. I tried the diagnostics view to see my hand, it kind of worked, but it was Google Earth that freaked me out. I had to old my hand perfectly still otherwise it went f*king nuts, after several minutes I finally got myself to England but by that point I think I was motion sick. I had to give it up. Cut The Rope? No, more like cut the throat.

I unplugged it after less than an hour and now I don't quite know what to do... Looks like some other people have had the same idea on eBay... and it says something that I checked.

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Mass Sony DVR seppuku riddle: Freeview EPG update fingered

Bob H
Boffin

Re: bad EPG data from Sky

The specifications say you should ignore invalid data, the manufacturers should handle edge cases but accounting for everything isn't always easy so there is a tacit agreement that the broadcasters will keep the data within spec. Some broadcasters do fix problems when they are raised, some drag their feet or deny they are doing anything wrong "the spec says you should ignore it so we aren't wrong". Over the years the broadcast suppliers have found many creative ways to break the specs and manufacturers have found many ways to misinterpret the specification.

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1.5 MW 'demonstrator' solar plant hits the grid

Bob H
FAIL

Re: Irrevelant

When conventional plants aren't operating at their peak they aren't as efficient as they could be and when you have to constantly cycle them between peak and idle you waste massive amounts of energy. The most efficient way to supplement the wildly irregular supply from most renewables is to store excess energy, but this poses its own challenges. If the country is big enough you can also share generation between regions/countries but that requires significant heavy infrastructure to transmit energy efficiently.

Remember that domestic only forms part of base load, that scary thing called 'industry' which provides so much real value to economies often operates on a 24h basis and doesn't shift much. Domestic supply is the most peak intensive because of things like cookers and kettles.

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Submarine cable capacity doubled with flick of switch

Bob H
Coffee/keyboard

Re: So slow

I worked for an Asian company in Europe until recently and I must say the connectivity from Europe to Asia sucks the big one. I struggled to get a consistent 3Mbit/sec to Korea at any time of the day. This kind of news is probably quite good for companies like my former employer.

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