* Posts by John Robson

1616 posts • joined 19 May 2008

Google turns on free public NTP servers that SMEAR TIME

John Robson
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Hence they are published with the disclaimer. Of course it would be good to have a flag in the not responses to say that it is 10+10 smeared time

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John Robson
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Re: Well, I'm giving it a punt

"I've configured my home network now to have two internal NTP servers"

So now you never know what the time is...

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John Robson
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Re: We have also a Google time now?

Google are doing their own thing internally, and have been doing so for a while.

Now that others have access to the Compute power in their bit barns they need a way to sync time between their on and offsite resources, and running GoogleTime (tm) seems like a sensible option. I'd still suggest pool servers for most people, but for those with ties into the Google systems that need accurate sync (not necessarily time, but sync) then this is a good solution.

For a normal home user then the conventional approach of a leap second actually doesn't work too badly - we do seem to have leap seconds figured out reasonably well...

Having computers run on a non sidereal dependant clock does seem like a good idea though...

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Renewed calls for Tesla to scrap Autopilot after number of crashes

John Robson
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"Strange how people think the word/prefix "auto" means "it does it by itself without (further) instruction from you"."

My auto gearbox doesn't change gears on it's own - it depends on me applying more throttle, or the brakes.

The automatic washing machine doesn't load itself, not even with soap/conditioner.

How many people 'pilot' their cars? I don't know anyone who would use that word. Now if the Tesla starts flying then that might be a different area of confusion - but the Model F was, unfortunately, announced on the first day of the fourth month...

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John Robson
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Re: Maybe consumer groups...

"But do we really need to test this generation on public thoroughfares?"

Yes we - do because it's only real world testing that will get us through this generation. I still don't see any evidence that the autopilot is worse than the vast majority of drivers (obviously excluding the reader who is perfect).

If I could afford one then I would have one, and would use auto-pilot, and it would be of net benefit to my safety, and those around me (I, like most people, consider myself to be a competent driver. Unlike many motorists I also acknowledge that I can miss things and get tired/grumpy/distracted/indignant and that *none* of those are qualities I want to have when in control of a tonne of lethal weapon)

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John Robson
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That hardware is there - the software isn't yet. So they don't do self driving yet - they do autopilot. Which is different.

You can tell because the words aren't the same.

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John Robson
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Maybe consumer groups...

Who haven't bought a tesla don't understand an autopilot.

Maybe non pilots don't understand how little an autopilot does in the air...

Maybe they need to look at human vehicles for their standard, not to some vision of the cars of the next generation(s) expecting those to materialise without first passing through this generation...

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UCam247 tells El Reg most of its cams aren't vulnerable to GET vuln

John Robson
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Re: @Mephistro Good...

I like that expansion of IoT: Ignore, obfuscate, Threaten (litigation)

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Netflix and spill: Web vid giant kills password masking in tests

John Robson
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Re: As bad as Amazon video on my TV

The FireTV stick and box show 0-4 mapped onto the direction and click keys on the remote and 5-9 if you press the 'option' button.

If you watch you get to know which half of the number space each number is in.

This massively reduces the search space - 5^4 rather than 10^4

That's still 625 codes given a 4 digit PIN

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John Robson
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Re: As bad as Amazon video on my TV

Proper Amazon box doesn't move it round a grid.

Took me a moment to realise that you meant a TV implementation - which TV is so badly broken?

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Grand App Auto: Tesla smartphone hack can track, locate, unlock, and start cars

John Robson
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Re: That's a lot of code

I'd rather my code was shown to be better than people than proved 'correct'

Beware of bugs in the above code; I have only proved it correct, not tried it. - Donald Knuth

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Apple unplugs its home LAN biz, allegedly

John Robson
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Oh - I quite liked the Airport range

I was considering a couple for improved WiFi (still on g at home)

I shall be looking elsewhere...

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Hacker dishes advanced phishing kit to hook clever staff in 10 mins

John Robson
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Re: Discerning?

I was more concerned with the use of the word impressive.

Depressing maybe?

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Helping autonomous vehicles and humans share the road

John Robson
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Re: Really.

It's what's written - so real 10mph. It's also incumbent on the overtaking party to do so in a safe manner (i.e. check for oncoming traffic, leave as much room as you would leave for a car, etc...).

It is however accepted that at <10mph an overtake can be accomplished where it would be unsafe to overtake something travelling at 20mph - and that is fine.

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John Robson
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Re: Really.

My reading was double yellow and therefore US, and I don't know what the regulations are there.

In the UK you can break the double white line to overtake certain classes of vehicle (which includes cyclists) but ONLY if they are doing less than 10mph.

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John Robson
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Really.

"We stop midblock and wave a pedestrian across, even though there’s no crosswalk. We cross the double yellow line to leave cyclists enough room on the shoulder."

The first is only considered in the US where motorists managed to pass a ridiculous law banning people from roads, the latter isn't hard to code for, but it is rare to see humans manage it...

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The solution to security breaches? Kill the human middleware

John Robson
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Re: Free Stuff - Brain off

A depressing test more like...

Given that we know that a USB stick can be a capacitor bank designed to fry components.... why do we ever plug anything in any more.

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Smart meter benefits even crappier than originally thought

John Robson
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Change the WiFi password as part of your routine security protocols at her house...

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'Trust it': Results of Signal's first formal crypto analysis are in

John Robson
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Re: it's great

If you're happy with the system running on a fully adversarial network then it can run through anyone's tech.

It potentially allows google to cut the wire - but that can't be done secretly.

The authors can verify that the app they get from the store is the same as the one they put there...

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Apple drops dongle prices to make USB-C upgrade affordable

John Robson
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What they need to do...

Is put an HDMI port and a USB3 port or two in an optional power brick.

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Samsung are amateurs – NASA shows how you really do a battery fire

John Robson
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Re: Only 96 batteries

Why is the mileage comparison irrelevant - that's why the 2 Gallons was being questioned as I read it...

The energy efficiency of an IC driven car is terrible - modern power stations (let's ignore renewables for the moment) run on pretty unrefined fuel and get better thermal efficiency, by some margin, than a car running on pretty highly refined juice.

When you add in the options from Nuclear, and Wind/Hydro/Wave/Tidal etc power sources then you get a better view again.

Then you consider that the gaseous pollution can be recaptured at static plants, and isn't being dumped into the lungs of everyone in every city and town across the country...

And that any improvements to power stations immediately apply to all vehicles in the country...

There is an awful lot to be said for centralised energy generation, and zero point emissions systems.

This is what we use for everything else (except household heating, and some cooking) in this country. If we operated more CHP schemes, its district heating from the waste heat of power stations then their efficiency jumps again...

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John Robson
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Re: Only 96 batteries

Also your two gallon estimation sounds low unless the Tesla cars have really rubbish range.

Or it just shows how horribly inefficienct an internal combustion engine is...

Petrol - 46MJ/kg, 2 Gallons is about 6.5 kg or 300MJ, or 83kWh

Tesla Model S are available in 60-100kWH versions

So the 2 gallon figure is fair. And, yes. They manage over 250 motorway miles on that (better at lower speeds). Not many cars, let alone executive class saloons, manage 125mpg.

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New MacBook Pro beckons fanbois to become strip pokers

John Robson
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Re: "Oh look!! It has a display. And a keyboard."

Despite my horror at the complete lack of 'useful' ports, and the lack of MagSafe power... I'm coming round to your viewpoint.

I have to add the cost of a USB-C MagSafe adaptor (or a few, for different locations) and a 'useful ports dongle (or two, one for home, one for the travel bag) to the cost of the MBPro if and when I go down that route.

The newly old MBP in the house has HDMI, Ethernet, MagSafe power and USB.

USB sticks are the obvious 'error' case, but I can't recall when we last plugged one in.

HDMI is more frequently used, but I can probably tolerate a dongle for that.

The redundancy of the ports, and the fact that they aren't part of the main board (so repair is at least a technical possibility) is seriously attractive.

Someone needs to come up with a USB-Cm, a magnetic connector that extends a whole USB-C port, not just the power.

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Ageing GSM crypto cracked on commodity graphics rig

John Robson
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Is it me...

Or is the concept of searching a terabyte rainbow table in 9 seconds on 'commodity' hardware the impressive thing here.

Of course it depends what they call 'commodity', I don't see too many PCs with a TB of RAM, and suspect that a few SSDs may be needed in parallel to get that sort of performance...

Mind - you 'as little as nine seconds' could mean 'if you're the first item in the rainbow table'

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Lessons from the Mini: Before revamping or rebooting anything, please read this

John Robson
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I was assuming this would be a look at the mini...

.. to se how *not* to do a reboot.

It's hideous, and deserves the moniker 'maxi'

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Basic income after automation? That’s not how capitalism works

John Robson
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It would put a lot of lawyers and accountants out of a job

After all, if we only need benefits for disabilities which incur additional costs then it's a lot easier to organise.

And there would be no good reason to have a zero rated tax bracket - probably paying for most of the system to start with...

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More than half of Androids susceptible to ancient malware

John Robson
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But does it run on 2.3?

Or do I care, given that I run my phone as a phone.

HTC DesireS set up as a pure phone* as a battery life of about 10-12 days.

I just can't even justify going out and buying a cheap 'feature phone'...

(* No WiFi, Bluetooth or mobile data; Voice is locked to 2G, not 3 (more efficient radios). Screen brightness is lowered and the thing does it's own 'aggressive power saving' at 30%.)

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BOFH: The Idiot-ware Project and the Meaningless Acronym

John Robson
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Re: C. An anal-gazing "Look-to-the-future" exercise,

"That would require either way more flexibility than any PHB has ever exhibited, or the use of tools (such as a mirror) which I can unreservedly say they're unable to master."

Who said their gaze was directed at their own...

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Systemd adds filesystem mount tool

John Robson
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Re: And thus..

"If all you have to work with is a single bit (1 or 0), how do you correctly inform when a coin flip lands edge?"

Easy - that's the 1, with the 0 representing landing on a face...

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John Robson
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Re: I've forgotten...

So what happens if your precious (and now massively complex) systemD crashes, or gets stuck in a loop?

A watchdog can be coded in a handful of lines of your favoured shell script - it is therefore massively unlikely to crash an burn, since there is very little to go wrong.

Paranoia is good though, so I often use cron to run the watchdog every minute (or every 15 depending on the complexity of the process being watched) -it's fractionally slower than a tight looping check, but gives an acceptable level of response for everything except safety/life critical systems - and at far lower performance cost.

Now you ask what happens if cron fails? Not something I've ever seen actually - it's as reliable as init...

It also makes for nice easy reading, and the watchdog can call on mailx if it needs to notify you that something has died and been restarted.

Indeed it can also pop a flag file in a tmp directory and *not* restart the process more than once an hour, or until reset...

Does systemD have the option to 'try this three times, then give up and email, on success reset the counter after an hour'

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John Robson
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Re: I've forgotten...

Init starts the watchdog.... Heirachy retained, clarity brought to the world...

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John Robson
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I've forgotten...

What was the problem systemD tried to solve?

Was it just that init scripts were human readable?

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Dirty diesel backups will make Hinkley Point C look like a bargain

John Robson
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Australia...

Clearly aren't taking enough power out of the wind...

The wind managed to destroy their grid infrastructure - that's not wind power in the turbines to electricity sense. It's wind power as in ripping up and bending steel pylons into pretzels.

Wind is a terrible caseload supplier, but it has a minor part to play - nuclear is already cheaper, and safer, than wind...

But to blame the Australian blackouts on their renewables is disingenuous at best.

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Ofcom blesses Linux-powered, open source DIY radio ‘revolution’

John Robson
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So...

When can I pop one on the local tall building for my community radio station?

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Self-driving Google car T-boned in California crash

John Robson
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Re: solved...

"So if all cars were autonomous, this accident would not happen."

At first, this sounds like a reasonable assumption.

But let's follow the assumption one more step...

Why take that step?

The requirement isn't that they should be perfect, but that they should be better than humanity. Frankly that is a scarily low threshold to beat.

You also have to account for other road users - and neither pedestrians, cyclists nor equestrians would deal well with cars travelling at silly speeds.

In fact the speed limit could be withdrawn for autonomous vehicles - because they could be programmed to stop in the distance they can see to be clear, even accounting for entrances/visual obstructions. This would be a naturally self limiting speed (most of the time well under the current speed limit, but significantly over it at 3am)

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The server's down. At 3AM. On Christmas. You're drunk. So you put a disk in the freezer

John Robson
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There's even a Christmas miracle in this story, because Nic says that come Dec 27 his budget was increased by the cost of “a real system with proper redundancy and backup processes.”

Why - they managed to recover from the situation without it - so we clearly don't need to spend all that money on what you call 'proper' systems...

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'Inherent risk' to untried and untested 4G emergency services network – NAO

John Robson
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*this*

The cost is vastly in the multiple layers of redundancy built into the Airwave network - that and the network over-provisioning for 'emergency' situations.

On the operational (i.e. radio) side there aren't many opportunities for a single point of failure. Even on the internal side there is a significant amount of resilience (way above any commercial telecoms operator) such that they can actually provide accurate 'call' data to piece together a complex event. Whereas every few weeks it seems some area of a commercial telecoms provider's network disappears for a few days.

Even when the police had to bring in thousands of extra officers (from different regions) to London for the riots - they just selected the right talk group(s) and got on with it. The increase in traffic was substantial, and somewhat extended. I don't see that sort of 'spare' capacity being available from a telecoms operator, they can barely manage to send a text message at or about the New Year.

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End all the 'up to' broadband speed bull. Release proper data – LGA

John Robson
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Virgin have(had?) two speed problems:

Contention - this used to be awful, haven't been with them for a while now, but it was a serious problem. I wasn't in a large city either...

Upload speed - I used to saturate my upload trivially, IIRC it was <10% of my download rate. That's extraordinarily poor. And with the vast increase in 'sharing' and 'using someone else's computer' this is more and more important.

The download was great - their customer service when presented with logs indicating a failed coax in the street cabinet was appalling. The failure manifested between 9:30 and 10 at night until 6:30-7 in the morning (temperature related) and they consistently sent engineers out at midday - who said there wasn't a problem.

Eventually I got an actual network engineer and we looked at the houses with issues, and decided where the fault had to be. We were right - and it took 5 minutes to fix it.

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'Daddy, what's a Blu-ray disc?'

John Robson
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What...

No 3D?

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More gums than Jaws: Greenland super-sharks live past 400 years old

John Robson
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Once killed you can could the rings - if you spot on alive then just follow it to its next birthday party

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Adblock Plus blocks Facebook block of Adblock Plus block of Facebook block of Adblock Plus block of Facebook ads

John Robson
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Facebook breaking posts

By pretending they are adverts

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BBC detector vans are back to spy on your home Wi-Fi – if you can believe it

John Robson
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You could have a unique identifier - maybe a number printed on the to license.

As a passcode you could probably just use your postcode - it's not as if it's a high value target. On second thoughts, maybe make those the other way around?

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How many zero-day vulns is Uncle Sam sitting on? Not as many as you think, apparently

John Robson
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Failure to responsibly disclose is one definition...

... Of a black hat. Isn't it?

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Jeep hackers: How we swerved past Chrysler's car security patches

John Robson
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Re: "It's hard, so I'm not worried about it"

Yes - if only Tesla could update their car's software without having to recall all the cars each week...

Oh wait, they can...

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John Robson
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OK - I can set a timer to cut the brake lines...

A phone with a little activator could cut them the next time you go over 50mph...

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John Robson
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With physical access I can just cut your brake lines...

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Bee queens are Notch-blocking their minions, say boffins

John Robson
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Pretty sure ...

That the worker forage for nectar, pollen is just a hitchhiker from the flowers...

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Reminder: IE, Edge, Outlook etc still cough up your Windows, VPN credentials to strangers

John Robson
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Dirty network...

Has SMB outbound blocked. To be fair it most things blocked, I had to explicitly enable some streaming a little while ago.

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Tesla's splitting with sensor supplier

John Robson
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Re: Hinkley Point C

Price would need to go up by a couple of orders of magnitude before petrol was competitive. Except that many people would buy and run a petrol genny before then, so the price of petrol would go up as well...

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John Robson
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Re: Getting Distracted

Tesla's selling point is that it's a great car.

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