* Posts by Alan Brown

3837 posts • joined 8 Feb 2008

The data centre design that lets you cool down – and save electrons

Alan Brown
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Re: AC/DC

"Most servers/switches accept DC power"

Which they then feed into a switchmode power supply to convert to whatever they actually use internally.

Meantime you pay 10 times more for DC PSUs AND given most DC feeds are based around 48V (telephone exchange standards) you have to spend 10 times more for feeder cables to the racks as they have to be substantially heavier to carry the higher currents that lower supply voltages entail.

On top of that should you draw an arc at any stage you'd better hope that noone decided to cut corners on power switches (which have to be current-derated by 80-90% for DC vs AC in order to ensure arcs are quenched) or fuses (same deal. High current DC fuses are larger than their AC equivalents because AC arcs are self-extinguishing every half cycle, whilst DC arcs have to rely on the endpoints being pulled far enough apart to quench the arc that's been maintained through ionised air)

That means that your electrical standards and precautions for "Low Voltage" high current DC have to be substantially more robust than for AC mains. I've seen more than a few spanners end up as a shower of molten sparks because someone got careless around DC busbars - molten sparks which have the potential to cause fires or secondary damage should they land on anything flammable or be drawn into the air intakes of a blade server (think of it as an injection of conductive iron dust and you won't be far wrong). That was OK in the days of concrete-floored Strowger switch rooms but not so wonderful around high density electronics.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Sooo out of date!

"Doesn't water introduce all sorts of other problems, like humidity?"

High humidity is easily dealt with (condensation is essentially distilled water, which isn't particularly conductive and moist air absorbs heat better anyway (latent heat of evaporation and all that stuff).

The bigger danger in an actively cooled data centre is things being too dry, which results in static discharge problems.

Most data centres are sited in piss-poor locations, with fuck-all thought given to their design and even less given to feeding them (power is a major problem in London with most feeder mains overloaded - hence the many stories about exploding pavements and the Kingsway incident a couple of weeks ago).

Even when you start looking at the newer datacentres - such as are popping up around Slough - you find that they're vulnerable to flooding and aircraft falling out of the sky (but they won't tell you that when they're showing you all their glossy literature and walking you around the sites)

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Alan Brown
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Re: Just wondering

The "inlets" and "outlets" are generally mesh steel doors. The problem with attaching pipework to them is that it makes them hard to open/close and get past (standard spacing in a cold aisle setup is 1.2 metres between rows)

Once you go past about 7kw/cabinet then traditional solutions end up being useless anyway and you start getting into water cooling systems where the entire rear door contains the "radiator" (actually absorber) or recirculating cabinet systems with cooling gubbins in the bottom (water cooling from the top is a bad idea because there are always leaks, even with dry-break systems.)

It's surprisingly easy to spend half a million pounds on a cooling system, as I've been finding out whilst evaluating various solutions to get rid of 120kW

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Chinese 'Superphone' manufacturer declares war on Apple

Alan Brown
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"I wondered how much the Chinese know about Hitler and I came across this unusual article"

Not a lot, not a lot in other SE Asian countries either.

Once you get off the beaten track it's not unusual to see scooter riders wearing german army-style helmets complete with nazi swastika decorations. They think it looks cool until they find out the philosophy behind it.

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KABOOM! Billionaire fingers dud valve in ROCKET WIBBLE PRANG BLAST

Alan Brown
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The gopro footage

Showed that the landing force was sufficient to wipe out the landing leg on the downhill side of the rocket.

I suspect Elon might be looking at making them a little stronger or going for 5 legs (they're inherently more stable than 4 if one breaks.)

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Alan Brown
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Re: hes got money and he is going to spend it

"What success record did the Grasshopper and DC-X have when they started flying?"

There isn't a lot of human habitation around White Sands Missile Range, unlike kennedy Space Centre.

SpaceX need to prove they can at least hit the barge every time, even if they don't recover the rockets. The remotest possibility of dropping on on a house (or an offshore boat) will scupper any permission to bring 'em onshore.

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Mega fatcat Kim Dotcom in deportation drama over SPEEDING ticket

Alan Brown
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The application was handled by a lawyer. Unless KDC had a conviction for reckless or dangerous driving, any traffic charges would be discounted.

FOIA disclosures specifically targeting this kind of item will show that speeding offences are generally overlooked when reviewing applications.

HOWEVER - the stuff which _was_ disclosed was more than enough to decide KDC is not a 'person of good character ' and it was only the lubrication provided by large sums of money which greased the wheels. One rule for the rich, etc.

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Alan Brown
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Re: @Michael Xion

It's a speeding infringement. You can't plead guilty by post for offences.

Having said that - more than 50km/h over the limit is supposed to be roadside disqualification, impoundment of the vehicle and no driving for 12 months - so it looks like the cops who booked him were cutting quite a bit of slack.

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Flash dead end is deferred by TLC and 3D

Alan Brown
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Re: Charge Trap is the key

"A charge trap .... provides significantly better per bit reliability."

Which is reflected in the 5 and 10 year warranties for 850 EVO and Pro respectively.

Samsung are extremely confident in their new tech.

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The Internet of things is great until it blows up your house

Alan Brown
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Re: Articles demonstrate just how massively overhyped IoT is

"There is no need for the IoT but a machine readable ironing prescription on items of clothing."

Funnily enough this is easy to do with a 2D barcode, but first you need something which can do the ironing for you.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Wrong answer

"With most irons, the soleplate is unevenly heated and the temperature swing as the thermostat cuts in and out is too wide."

1: Elements are generally run around the entire perimeter of the soleplate. Uneven heat is a sure sign of either a failing element or an iron so cheap and nasty it's dangerous.

2: Other than the aforementioned "cheap and nasties" I haven't seen an iron on sale with an actual mechanical thermostat in it for years (they're unreliable). Almost all of them rely on some form of thyristor and constant temperature feedback to avoid hysteresis overshoot.

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Alan Brown
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"That’s a lot for a blanket that might only cost $150"

Um. 'twould appear you is being ripped off: http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Browse/ID72/37924651/c_1/1%7Ccategory_root%7CHome+and+garden%7C33005908/c_2/2%7C33005908%7CBedding%7C37924427/c_3/3%7Ccat_37924427%7CElectric+blankets%7C37924651.htm

The last leccy blanket I bought cost less than £30 (about AU$50), so a $150 one had better bring me a marching band and a handjob.

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Netflix fail proves copper NBN leaves Australia utterly 4Ked

Alan Brown
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Re: 38% @ 12Mbps and 38% at 25Mbps

"20Mbps ADSL2 will go no faster, and even then we're pushing it on today's decades-old copper network."

Yes, but the telco has to eat the cost of laying fibre and recoup it over 20 years, whilst it can charge 100% of the ADSL endpoint equipment up front.

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Alan Brown
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"Amazing the difference in focus between Australia and New Zealand"

That's because New Zealand finally bit the bullet and cleaved lineside from the incumbent telco.

It's caused an amazing transformation and makes a significant change from the 1990s when ministerial orders kept shutting down Ministry of Commerce investigations into illegal behaviour by the telco.

Too bad NZ still has trouble admitting it has major corruption problems (see http://laudafinem.com and others), not to mention violent crime problems and serious child abuse issues.

It's gotten so bad there that even the comfortably captured(*) local version of Transparency International could no longer pretend it wasn't happening. (http://www.transparency.net.nz/ details some of the issues TI NZ won't touch)

(*) TINZ is 100% govt funded, totally opaque internally and kicked out+served trespass notices on a number of internationally lauded transparency campaigners. TI outside of NZ has been aware of the issues for a while and started distancing themselves from TINZ a few years back.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Yes, without super high def entertainment there is nothing to do.

"So if I take a 32GB USB stick to work, I get 76Mbps."

Bandwidth and latency are 2 entirely different things.

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Labour policy review tells EU where to stuff its geo-blocking ban

Alan Brown
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Re: Meanwhile, in the real world...

"There is a possibility that they might find that the audience shrinks once people can get the non-dubbed version elsewhere."

For places like Romania and Bulgaria, that's a dead certainty.

Most locals I spoke to HATE the local dubs and would quite happily drop a petrol-filled burning tyre around the necks of the govt officials who mandated these are the only versions available (As does a large contingent of native-english speakers living in both countries - Bulgaria in particular is turning into a nexus of tech support for various countries)

On the other hand, the local distributors might find that being able to sell non-dubbed versions means that sales will skyrocket.

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Alan Brown
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Re: How does this affect micro-businesses?

"Whereas price discrimination is absolutely essential in this market."

Uh yeah, right. That's a monopolist line. I've seen it used time and time again and it was the standard refrain used when opposing the pan-eu single market in most other areas.

The reality is that the regionalisation laws are at least 20 years out of date and becoming less relevant with each passing year thanks to the Internet, DBS systems and massive population shifts within the EU.

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Alan Brown
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Re: It's just like DVD region coding...

"Companies are in business to maximize profits, not to make consumers happy."

Which is why we have laws in place to prevent them from pulling anticompetitive activities.

Restraint of trade is one of those illegal activities. You need a special license (often in the form of a patent) to be able to do it legally.(*)

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Alan Brown
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Re: It's just like DVD region coding...

"if I'm a Polish company making a Polish product, I now have to arrange distribution, marketing, and advertising for my product across all the other territories in Europe?"

Nope. You just can't carve up the EU into "exclusive market areas"

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Alan Brown
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Re: It's just like DVD region coding...

" If you sold stuff then you'd want to do this too."

I run into UK resellers of "stuff" on a daily basis who seem to think they have exclusive rights to sell to UK customers and get quite vocally upset(*) when told that I'm buying £x0,000 worth of kit from France or Germany because it's half the price and the vendor is offering better support options.

It's quite convenient for "cultural stuff" that they still have this kind of legal protection but as others have said it's at odds with the single market - and the argument about school holidays is a bit of a straw man given the wide variability of those within the UK, let alone across the EU.

(*) More than one has stated they're going to take legal action to prevent the sale. None have ever done so, presumably because their lawyers have told them they wouldn't get far in court trying to retrain trade in violation of single market rules.

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Stateside security screeners sacked for squeezing 'sexy' sacks

Alan Brown
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Re: The screeners were terminated as a result.

> consider the "Underwear Bomber" and the "Shoe Bomber".

Neither of whom embarked on their flights at US airports.

Personally, I've been kind of wondering how effective a few drops of putresene in a shoe would be at clearing a screening area.

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DRONE ALONE: US Navy secretary gives up on manned fighters

Alan Brown
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Re: Have we been here before?

"But against any country able to produce a credible EMP weapon then there's a big problem for drones"

Ballistic missiles are a bit harder to spot and zap than cruise missiles (which are also drones)

EMP zapguns have been touted for decades but none have actually worked against a hardened target.

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Alan Brown
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Re: All will be well then...

"Will it ever be operational?"

Probably not.

At which point HMS Sitting Duck and HMS White Elephant might have to make do with Ospreys (which at least seem to be a reasonable platform for AWACS, over the current use of helicopters)

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Revealed: The AMAZING technology behind Apple's $1299 Retina MacBooks – a lot of glue

Alan Brown
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Re: Objection!

"Not sure of the cost on a laptop but fairly Apple only charge about $70-80 for a new battery in an iPhone - fitted with warranty. "

Considering you can buy an Iphone4 battery for about $12 (new, with 3 year warranty) and it takes about 5 minutes to change that "only" starts sounding like gouging.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Well duh!

> I just don't care about the opinions of people who start with "I'd like some Apple gear" then bitch about it not meeting their requirements.

I wish I had your luxury.

_Some_ people talk to the IT folk about specifying their kit.

Others spend 2-3k on equipment and then "discover" it won't run XYZ package. (Not just Apples. There's at least one scientific imaging package for windows which will _only_ run on laptops with nvidia GPUs)

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Alan Brown
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Re: Objection!

"Indeed, Apple gear reliability is no better or worse than any other firms."

I'll disagree.

Apple equipment failures at $orkplace run at approximately twice the rate of "PeeCee" equipment.

The all-in-one desktop kit runs at about 5 times that rate and usually expirees just outside the 3 year extended warranty.

Current policy is to keep systems running for 5 years if possible and replace at 7 if it hasn't failed before then, so this _does_ increase our IT spend.

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'Arkansas cops tried to hack me with malware-ridden hard drive'

Alan Brown
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Re: Possible, but shouldn't cops know better?

"Shouldn't law enforcement types be MORE vigilant about malware than the average jimmy-joe-bob and thus less likely to pass the clap to someone else?"

The stories elsewhere on this site about cops paying off ransomware (presumably because they didn't have working backups, _in addition_ to the lax security policies) speaks volumes about the average police department's IT abilities.

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Utah faints: Google Fiber to lay cable in thrilling Salt Lake City

Alan Brown
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Re: 1982. AT&T stopped serving land-liines in Utah in 1982.

"That's when AT&T was broken up, forcibly by the Justice Department in the landmark antitrust lawsuit."

In case you've been asleep for the last 30 years: AT&T has reassembled itself over that period via a bunch of holding companies and a couple of renames, regained local loop monopolies over most of the USA and is no longer bound by that pesky 1930's "universal service for all" settlement.

Take a closer look at that man behind the curtain.

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Why are enterprises being irresistibly drawn towards SSDs?

Alan Brown
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The real reason

Flash is cheaper then spinners.

Yes really.

For any given task set where you specified spinning drives you can do it cheaper overall with flash and usually for a longer period of time between maintenance windows.

This is _especially_ true in high speed applications where a couple of high performance flash drives might end up replacing 20 shortstroked spinning drives all hanging off a hellaciously expensive raid controller.

About the only area where flash is still more expensive than spinning media is bulk storage - and the fact that just about all enterprise flash comes with warranties at least twice that of their equivalent spinning media gives a good indication of manufacturer confidence.

I've replaced more 1Tb seagate enterprise spinning drives (constellations are best avoided) than I care to think about, but 500Gb flash drives installed at the same time just keep on trucking. By the time you factor in downtime, access speed and labour costs the inescapable conclusion is that the extra money upfront is worth it - especially as the reliability of spinning media is getting worse every year.

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Easy ... easy ... Aw CRAP! SpaceX rocket ALMOST lands on ocean hoverbase

Alan Brown
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Re: Meh

"I know fuck but why is it apparently being left exclusively to the rocket to pop its clogs on a bit of tarmac smeared on a barge in the middle of the sea and then fall over."

Because once SpaceX have proven they can do it without the "Fall down go boom" part - and do it reliably

they'll be allowed to start doing land recoveries.

The barge is at least about proving they can bring it back to a precision target as about landing the thing.

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Samsung threatens to cut ties with supplier over child labour allegations

Alan Brown
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Re: Surprise audits

> Even a surprise audit isn't that big of a surprise if the people have to come to the main entrance and wait for someone to escort them.

Exactly - hence emails circulating like "The fire service are in the building, please ensure all smoke stop doors are closed and hallways are not obstructed"

Common occurance in UK companies.

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Welcome to the FUTURE: Maine cops pay Bitcoin ransom to end office hostage drama

Alan Brown
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Re: Wouldn't fly in my office

"He could have left the company, but try finding a job elsewhere with that on your record.."

What on his record? Stuff like that doesn't show up on CVs and people have been sucessfully sued for mentioning such things during referee checks.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Eddie lives, somewhere in time

"What if you start backing up the encrypted files? Can it tell?"

Did you ever hear the story of the telephone exchange which turned out to have corrupted images onboard? Didn't matter until it was rebooted.

At that point it was discovered that the backup system had been backing up corrupted images for at least 2 years.

Do you have any idea how long it takes to restore a 3 year old backup, then all the incremental database updates since that point? Do you have any idea how much disruption it can cause when your phone numbers start ringing on the other side of town for 6 weeks?

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Alan Brown
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Re: Wouldn't fly in my office

"if this isn't done and a disaster happens and wipes that data, the individual worker is on the hook to repay the company for lost profits directly related to that missing document."

In most countries this kind of "fine" is completely illegal. The most you can do is sack the worker.

In any case, for the situation described the whole "desktop" and "fileserver" paradigm is a nasty kludge anyway. Thin clients, centralised everything solves the discipline issues at a single pass.

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Alan Brown
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Re: $300

> Notice that all the other comments just talk about how dumb the cops are for not better protecting their systems?

They are, but that's normal practice and not different to the users who refuse to pay for their systems to be covered by the sitewide backup system, then come screaming to us demanding instant repairs when a disk goes tits-up (this _has_ happened and @ $2k per recovery it adds up fast)

> No one cares about going after criminals.

I'd love to go after the criminals. Unfortunately that's not my job.

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Alan Brown
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Re: And why isn't the first word of advice to be

"but keep them available for months, then they ask for the ransom."

That all depends how long you keep your backups around for.

On most systems at $orkplace I can tell you what date any given file changed for the last 3 years AND offer to restore that version for you AND if there are other copies of the same file anywhere across the enterprise.

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Samsung admits its Chinese supply chain STILL has labour-rights and safety problems

Alan Brown
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Re: Well...

"2) that Samsung joins the likes of Apple and presses for better conditions in the factories of their supplies."

2 points were made:

1: Samsung has already taken business elsewhere in a few cases.

2: Samsung is not only auditing the factories, but also the _suppliers_ to the factories - so hiding all the kiddies in cousin Wang's premises down the road isn't going to work for long.

I'm pretty firmly of the opinion that the factory owners concerned have made representations they're paying decent wages and obtained contracts on that basis, then shortchanged the workers and trousered the difference. It's a time-honoured practice which didn't originate in china.

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Alan Brown
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Re: A bit dodgy use of pronouns

"Take the BBC B, without a monitor or disk drives, adjusted for inflation you'd be forking out £1,176"

I don't need to inflation-adjust. People in "some commonwealth countries" were paying more than that for the things back then, thanks to 200% import duty AND 40% sales tax.

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Alan Brown
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Re: A bit dodgy use of pronouns

"The problem is the huge electronics assembly industry in China built to produce goods at the lowest possible price and the highest possible speed."

As I understand it, the Samsungs of this world specifically don't go for the cheapest bidder because they want to ensure everything is above board. They also audit companies before they start contracts.

As with scheduled fire brigade visits in this country, if you have warning an inspection's on its way then you can remove all the wedges holding the fire doors open. Should the fire brigade show up without warning one evening and find half a dozen exits chained shut (this _has_ happened at one place I know of) you can be assured the language used the following day won't be pleasant.

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Alan Brown
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Re: And that means...what exactly?

"Doesn't China always end up with a free pass to do whatever it likes without any real consequences?"

Taking your business elsewhere has very real consequences when you are a customer the size of Samsung.

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Soil and sand harden as SPEEDING MISSILES and METEORS SLAM into GROUND – boffins

Alan Brown
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"OK, now repeat the experiment with a pointed tip"

Such things end up blunting very quickly on things more solid than water.

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Sinister lobby group (AT&T, Verizon among membership) sues FCC to kill net neut

Alan Brown
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Re: The lesser evil, for now.

" It is basic capitalism and no surprise that they have all joined forces to NOT compete against each other"

It's basic capitalism (and past history) for the telcos to amalgamate - which is how AT&T came into dominate in the first place - refuse to interconnect with competitors, wait till they go out of business and swoop in on them at fire-sale prices

This time around they're supposedly different companies but if you lift the curtain and look at the web of cross-ownerships and holding companies, it's hard to escape the conclusion that the AT&T borg has reassembled itself already and is just maintaining a facade to try and "fool" anti-trust regulations.

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National Grid's new designer pylon is 'too white and boring' – Pylon Appreciation Society

Alan Brown
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Re: White pylon

"Our great-great-great-grandchildren will be able to shovel a couple of kilos of nuclear waste"

Only if we persist in using inefficient uranium PWR systems.

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Alan Brown
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Re: White pylon

There are a couple of places where wind turbines are worthwhile - places that have consistent wind and good exposure, plus not so far from the grid that major new builds are needed.

Such places are not in the UK - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Te_Apiti_Wind_Farm

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Google research bods hope to LICK BATTERY life limits – report

Alan Brown
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A team of 4 is google researching which battery maker and /or R&D house to invest in.

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Eyes on the prize: Ten 23-24-inch monitors for under £150

Alan Brown
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There are only 3 or 4 panel makers:

AOC, LG-Philips, Samsung and maybe a couple of others.

Everyone else wraps their cases around those panels (including iiyama - they may have made great CRTs but the LCDs are fairly run-of-the-mill) - and I've opened samsung + philips monitors to find AOC panels inside too.

For monitors with external PSUs, it's fairly easy to make up a molex adaptor cable to feed them 12V from the computer.

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Alan Brown
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Re: @david bates

"You Brits have to get a license to watch TV? Are you serious???"

At least you have to have a TV and be watching live broadcasts.

Pity the poor belgians: TV licenses there are mandatory for every address, TV or not AND there's no belgian state broadcaster receiving the fees.

Many other countries have rules that merely having something capable of receiving means a license is required.

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Alan Brown
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"it depends on who you get from the TV licensing people"

1: "TV licensing" is a wholly-owned for-profit subsidiary of the BBC

2: They outsource enforcement to Crapita

3: The only "training" given to the "TV licensing people" is along these lines:

"Everyone has a TV. Therefore anyone who says they don't is lieing"

It gets even more fun when you have a license and they pound on your door claiming you don't.

FWIW if one ever does come a-knocking, they are _extremely_ camera shy.

As in "run away quickly" camera shy.

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'It's not layoffs, it's operationalising our strategy'

Alan Brown
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US export licenses

Do those apply to something that's made in Malaysia and never sees US shores?

Anyway, all it means is that the buyers for those projects will purchase them on the open market.

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Kia Soul EV: Nifty Korean 'leccy hatchback has heart and Seoul

Alan Brown
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Re: Could we just...

I want a Kamback, moondiscs and spats

Not that the CD matters a jot until you're going at least 45mph.

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