* Posts by rhydian

317 posts • joined 6 Aug 2008

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Why IP telephony is about more than just saving money

rhydian
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Re: VoIP is fine...

"Well you are lucky, in Germany the first carriers are letting their ISDN equipment rot. So it's not uncommon to have frequent line breakdowns... or even occasional crosstalk between channels. (How is that even possible on ISDN? And no, I can rule out analogue crosstalk as the A/D-conversion happened in a controlled place far away from any analogue phone line or people speaking.)"

It seems that in the UK the ministry of defence has basically told BT/Openreach that they can't kill off ISDN, so we still get a decent service. Our only issue was last winter when violent lightning storms cooked our ISDN30 termination unit at least twice. It seems the standard surge protectors that would be fitted to an ISDN line aren't fitted to ours as the attenuation penalty would be too great for the line to function. Luckily we're on next-day fault repair as standard.

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rhydian
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Re: VoIP is fine...

"You always still have a PSTN gateway, but you move as many people off it as you can. A slightly higher internet connection is going to be cheaper than multiple landlines."

Out here, internet connections come in two flavours: Expensive or Unreliable

Unreliable is the current ADSL link. Approx 6mbit, so not the worst around, but the local exchange, despite serving a sparsely populated area, regularly suffers contention. Add to that past experience of losing ADSL for two days versus an ISDN line that only seems to die if we suffer direct lightning strikes and ISDN wins on unreliable.

Yes we could go for a leased line, but a 2mbit (burstable to 10mbit) leased line here costs over £1,700 a month (no, that isn't a typo). Our 12 channel ISDN30 is around £170 a month so is a no-brainer for us.

We've deployed VoIP/SIP trunks at other offices (usually those with FTTC) and it works well. If we ever get FTTC/FTTP service to our main office then I will probably bin the ISDN30, but until then it can keep solidering on.

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rhydian
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VoIP is fine...

Until you move out to the countryside, where internet bandwidth is at a premium, and ADSL reliability takes a nosedive.

Yes an ISDN30 old and expensive, but its pretty much bombproof. No contention issues if the exchange is overloaded, no waiting for BT Wholesale to fix the DSLAM in the exchange (again) and most telcos regard them as a priority.

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Vodafone didn't have a £6bn tax bill. Sort yourselves out, Lefties

rhydian
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Re: What a load of rubbish...

"...you remember that the next time you tax a loved one to A&E."

What rate is that tax paid at? I.e. will a broken leg cost me a granny or next door's pet spaniel?

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Are you ready to ditch the switchboard and move to IP telephony?

rhydian
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Cost vs. Reliability

First of all, this is a great piece, discussing VoIP while not treating it as a panacea. We've been looking at SIP trunks etc. for some of our offices, and have a lot of legacy kit.

The main consideration for us is reliability. Many of our sites are in rural areas, where even 4mbit broadband could be considered luxurious. In these kinds of areas, leased lines/EFM are seriously pricey, and for our use an 8 channel ISDN30 does the job well. Yes ISDN is old hat, but its still with us for a reason, it is nigh on impossible to kill it. We have moved to hosted SIP/VoIP in some of our smaller new build offices, but only where FTTC was available. We also stick voice handsets on our ADSL lines for service when the phone system UPS runs out of juice during power cuts. Also, ADSL can suffer from local/exchange congestion (even on 20:1 business packages) while ISDN gives you all the channels you're paying for no questions asked.

That is not to say I'm against VoIP on the internal/site side. Our last new build office phone system was an Avaya IP office with proprietary IP handsets. This was because we needed it in a hurry, and with proprietary systems its a lot easier to get a service contract than to find someone willing to support something more "homebrew", even if it is simpler and more reliable. At our largest site I've been uprading our inter-building links, and while I have put in 20 pair cables for our Proprietary Nortel system, I've also ensured that there are spare fibre cores to cover any eventual upgrade to VoIP.

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BBC: SOD the scientific consensus! Look OUT! MEGA TSUNAMI is coming

rhydian
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"Don't knock our BBC - it might get privatised, then what?"

Then we can all stop being forced, by law, to spend £145.50 every year on a corporation we may or may not even watch.

"Compare it to ANY other broadcaster ..."

You mean all those private broadcasters I can choose whether or not to pay for?

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Keyless vehicle theft suspects cuffed after key Met Police, er, 'lockdown'

rhydian
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Re: @Stuart22, AC

@Stuart 22

Unless you want bikes to carry properly visible registration plates (just like motorbikes and cars) any police detection of "stolen" bikes would involve either having to upturn and check every bike in a cycle parking rack or officers stopping cyclists in the street to "check their details". Neither of which is really workable on a large scale. As mentioned before, bikes are much too easy to hide (in plain sight or in the back of a transit) and are still ridiculously easy to steal.

As for these cars being "Range Rovers and BMWs" the simple fact is that its no longer worth stealing anything much lower value than a BMW, Audi or Mercedes. Aunt Doris' Fiesta won't yield much in saleable parts, so they're usually taken for the fun of it or during house break-ins to take the loot home. Rangies and BMWs usually attract the more violent organised crime gangs, with reports of people being threatened and attacked so they hand over the keys. I've never heard of someone being threatened at knifepoint if they didn't hand over a set of bike lock keys.

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rhydian
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@Stuart22, AC

OK, so some bikes have stamped frame numbers.

First of all, are these a legal requirement?

Are these held centrally like car VIN details?

Are they required to be tied to a specific identity/registration document?

If I owned an expensive (£1000+) bike, I'd treat it exactly as I would a classic car with no anti theft devices fitted. I'd get a proper aftermarket lock and alarm and park it in secure areas only.

It took car manufacturers fitting standard immobilisers (and enough years to see off most old cars without) to cut "bread and butter" car thefts. What's needed is for the cycle industry to do the same regarding decent anti-theft measures.

And as for the police caring more about cars, try getting them interested in a 10 year old banger being pinched...

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rhydian
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Re: Old-school tech

Proper factory fitted immobilisers combined with properly meaty built-in steering locks essentially killed off the old crooklock as a device to stop joyriders.

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rhydian
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Re: Just a beginning?

Without registration, serial numbers and chassis numbers how do you expect a stolen bike to be identified?

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Verizon posts WANTED poster for copper rustlers

rhydian
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Re: Rethinking the problem: Why are the theives that desperate?

"Is there nothing the Transit can't do?"

Drive more than three inches away from the rear bumper of the vehicle ahead?

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rhydian
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Re: Rethinking the problem: Why are the theives that desperate?

Things are a bit less sophisticated with UK copper theives.

They take a Transit Tipper, lift a manhole cover, tie a chain to the underground copper bundle then simply drive off, tearing out the bundle and stuffing it on the back of the van.

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Dixphone's half-year P&L accounts are in. So much RED INK

rhydian
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Nice to see DixPhone is sticking to "premier" customer service...

My parents' microwave blew up the other day, a day before my sister was due to visit them with her baby daughter. So, it was decided that, as I live closest to any kind of electrical shop, I would go shopping for a new microwave. A model was chosen off the currys website and reserved before I left.

Cue me arriving an hour and a half later. I walk up to the desk and announce I have a microwave reserved. I am then led to the microwave display shelf and asked to "point out" which one it is. The problem was the only microwave that looked anything similar to what we'd ordered was marked as a "conventional oven" for £40 more than the website advertised. It took 15 minutes of the salesdroid looking before the we finally worked out the shelf ticket was wrong, and we ended up having to match product numbers. Turns out the "conventional oven" was in fact a microwave and was the right item.

So, salesdroid now grabs said microwave and takes it to the till. The only problem is he bashes the box against a load of end-of-row displays before arriving at the till. Luckily the till applies the right price and of course they try and sell me a £15 warranty...

Next time, when I'm not in a hurry, the web or John Lewis will be getting my business...

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rhydian
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Re: Comet?

"Is the Internet not allowed in your city?"

Last time I checked, I couldn't walk in to a big "The Internet" shop and walk out 10mins later with a new kettle. You can't always wait for delivery.

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Thought your household broadband was pants? Small biz has it worse

rhydian
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Re: BT are the problem

We had to use VM Business cable for one site because they were the only firm who could supply us without going down the leased line route. 50/5 isn't mega quick, but it works pretty well.

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rhydian
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Re: No FTTC for us

We outfitted a 4 person office with FTTC and VoIP in August. Once the internet connection was up and running we were off. Call quality etc. perfectly reasonable.

We did have an outage recently (our supplier, Voipfone, had a major issue) but that was an hour or two. As you say, the real problem is that despite the lack of any technical cleverness, a standard phone line very rarely breaks.

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rhydian
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Re: SMEs with at least one employee?

A sole trader has no "employees" (i.e. someone else you pay to work for you)

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rhydian
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Re: BT are the problem

"Or, more correctly, BT don't want the hassle of small businesses who want business SLAs for domestic prices, and will give BT too much grief when they don't get what they "expect"."

Business ADSL/FTTC costs are higher than domestic ones, and the SLA is usually next business day, so not overly onerous compared to the two business day Openreach now has to apply to domestic lines.

Next day and same day are more expensive still.

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rhydian
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The leased line/superfast broadband "grants", as you say, paid a contribution towards the installation costs of a leased line. The problem is that while the installation costs are pretty considerable on leased lines, they're usually less than two months cost of rental, which as a rule is 10 times higher than FTTC.

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rhydian
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Re: Regulatory requirements for a phone line need to be updated

Yep, Openreach's SLA is for voice and whatever you can throw down the line "as voice" (e.g. fax/moden). ADSL and ISDN are basically "best effort", and if they can't or won't supply them then its your problem.

This is why I tell people to report any slow broadband fault that's obviously a line fault issue (noises/crackles/no dial tone) as a voice fault and keep broadband out of it.

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rhydian
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Re: No FTTC for us

Its saddening, but reassuring, to hear from someone in the same ridiculous situation as us. For most offices under 30 users a business grade FTTC connection would be ample bandwidth. However telcos don't want to roll these out, much prefering long term contracted EFM/leased lines.

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Virgin Media's ad fibs EXPOSED by bitter rival BT

rhydian
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Re: The only good thing about BT is....

I've signed up to the Royal Mail's junk mail opt-out here: http://www.royalmail.com/personal/help-and-support/how-do-I-stop-receiving-any-leaflets-or-unaddressed-promotional-material

Its all a bit "get a from from the locked filing cabinet at the bottom of the dark stairs behind the sign that says 'Beware of the Leopard'" but its cut my junk mail to pretty much zero.

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What a pity: Rollout of hated UK smart meters delayed again

rhydian
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Re: Meanwhile....

It was considerably cheaper for me to have a meter than to remain on unmetered. Then again I do live alone so it might be different for a large family.

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rhydian
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Re: Meanwhile....

"We didn't have a choice, it was compulsory, something that has been changed after our test run was over."

I take it you're in the South of England? Sounds about right for round there.

Here in Wales you have three choices:

1: Standard, unmetered water on a fixed rate based on the Rateable Value of your house. About as accurate a way of judging water usage as an ouija board

2: "Assessed Rates". Your water usage is estimated on factors such as number of residents, number of bathrooms, dishwasher/waching machine and so on. Slightly cheaper than option 1

3: A meter. Compulsory in new houses, but you can get one fitted to any supply for free. If you find that you're paying more on a meter (not likely unless you're filling a swimming pool) then you can have it removed (I think there was a limit of a year or so). Anyone who buys the house after you must keep the meter and can't have it removed.

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rhydian
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Re: Pointless and dangerous fads

The meter in my house is a Denis Ferranti electromechanical job. It allows me to view my energy usage at a glance (through the rotating disc) and simply works.No ifs. No buts. No phoning home. My electricity supplier requests meter readings, and I supply them. Someone checks it physically about twice a year.

How on earth will a smart meter benefit me? My usage is allready minimal.

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EE's not-spot-busting small cell trial delights Cumbrian villagers

rhydian
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Re: Signal strength?

Put a chair next to an upstairs window. Use the phone while sitting in that.

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rhydian
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Re: well...

When you're over two miles from the nearest exchange (or even cabinet) 2mbit is good going, so anything that provides more bandwidth than that is a real bonus.

Plus of course there's the bonus of usable mobile reception when you're out and about (and for when Openreach take weeks/months to replace downed overhead lines)

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Hi-torque tank engines: EXTREME car hacking with The Register

rhydian
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Charlie Broomfiled from Practial Performance Car Magazine...

... has done something along the same lines. He took a Meteor and bolted it in to a Rover SD1 shell, and used an epicyclic geartrain (from a Leyland Leopard bus) to connect the low reving Meteor to the autobox from a V12 Jaguar.

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Mighty Blighty broadbanders beg: Let us lay cable in BT's, er, ducts

rhydian
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Re: What are the odds ...

But the point still stands RE access and resultant damages (or lack of)

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rhydian
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Re: What are the odds ...

Talktalk etc. allready have access to exchanges for their LLU equipment.

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rhydian
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There's nothing stopping anyone else installing a network (look at all the "self help" village fibre schemes popping up). As you say the problem is paying back the investment it takes to build the network out in the first place (see how long it took the cable companies to start turning a profit)

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rhydian
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Re: Are Ofcom a complete waste of space?

The problem is that a lot of the FTTC installation work is being subbed out to Openreach subcontractors (basically Kelly communications and M J Quinn). These contractors aren't on salary/hourly rates like proper openreach chaps, but are rather paid per connection/per job. Therefore if they can "sort of" get it working quickly they can do more jobs in a day and make more money.

The problem with this is that you end up with rushed jobs (can't find the address within 5mins? Cancel the job) Or customers being presuaded/misinformed to make a job easier (I'm sorry, I can only put the new master socket in the hall where the line comes in, you'll have to run your own extension to where you actually want it).

I've had my run-ins and issues with openreach guys in the past (no IT pro hasn't), but they're still a country mile better than the subbies.

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Million Mask March: Anonymous' London Guy Fawkes protest a damp squib

rhydian
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Re: Morons

"CAREFUL NOW!"

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Mobile coverage on trains really is pants

rhydian
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Re: Nonsense!

For all their faults EE does cover Mid and North Wales very well with 3G. During my road trip to the Isle of Skye I was rarely without signal, and usually had passable 3G, even at Glencoe

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EE TV brings French broadband price war to the UK

rhydian
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Re: "70 free channels"

Not everyone gets all the Freeview channels. Outside of main transmitter sites the number of multiplexes transmitted drops from six down to three, so you end up with a very limited choice of channels.

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rhydian
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Re: They just don't get it ?

If you don't like the big ISP/Telco offerings why not try the smaller ones.

I moved from EE to Virgin Mobile. Same network coverage but cheaper per month

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Getting to the BOTTOM of the great office seating debate

rhydian
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All this "design" and no mention of sorting out the worst part of office design: Wiring everything up.

Floor boxes last about 10mins before the lids get trashed

Dado trunking means you end up with desks around the perimiter

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As bankruptcy looms for RadioShack, we ask its chief financial officer... oh. He's quit

rhydian
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Unfortunately niche shops like Radio Shack these days have to be very small and definitely online to thrive. The days of chain stores selling electronics are numbered due to the basic fact that you can have just about any component sent from anywhere in the world direct to your door for (relatively) little money.

That said, the last time I was in the Wrexham branch of Radio Shack it was for a reel of brown speaker cable that I needed that day. I've given up on Maplin (unless its an emergency) as their choice is limited.

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Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills

rhydian
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Re: Number ranges

The US and Canada share a numbering plan...

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rhydian
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Re: This would be the same BT...

Glossing over the fact that all of the aforementioned companies all work across borders already (apart from possibly talktalk) none of those problems are insurmountable and will be subject to debate in the case of a Yes vote.

As for prices, if they really were skewed so much by the cost of providing universal service to outlying regions of Scotland/Wales/NI/England then I'm looking forward to my reduced Licence fee/line rental/Mobile costs*

*reduction delivered by flying pig

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rhydian
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Re: If prices go up, we'll know who to blame.

Indeed, the Irish situation does give some ideas for how an Independent Scotland will develop

e.g. Currently BT (and its Irish counterpart) count calls from NI to the Republic and vice versa as national, rather than international calls.

IMO the interesting bits will be in the borderlands areas. Currently TV, Radio, Phone, Electriciy, Gas and Water are all supplied as though there were no border (e.g. the Caldbeck TV mast near Carlisle transmits both English and Scottish channels). How will these be divvied up?

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rhydian
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This would be the same BT...

Who currently charge landline calls from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland at the same rate as regular national calls.

Call me cynical, but these companies might be just a bit concerned that an independent Scottish comms regulator might just be given some teeth...

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Smart meters in UK homes will only save folks a lousy £26 a year

rhydian
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Hourly pricing is a total non-starter...

Are the government and the electricity suppliers really expecting me to pay more to cook my dinner at the time I decide to have it (6 pm) just because a rather large proportion of the nation also finishes work at 5pm and lives about 45mins from work?

My current dumb meter is a traditional rotating disc type, and I can check my energy use "at a glance" already. If the disc is going around slowly, I'm not using much, if I've got the washing machine, hob, oven and immersion heater on, it screws around like a disc cutter.

I already submit meter readings online to my supplier, and once in a while someone comes to read the physical meter. As I live alone I'm very good at making sure items are turned off when not in use, and I have changed all the bulbs that I can/want to over to CCFLs or LEDs. The only traditional bulbs left are in places where there are no CCFL/LED bulbs that fit or where I need the light to come on immediately.

Ergo, a smart meter will be of no benefit to me whatsoever.

Also, what about rural areas where there is mains supply but little/no GSM coverage. How will these meters "phone home"?

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BBC Trust candidate defends licence fee, says evaders are CRIMINALS

rhydian
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Re: Fairhead also defended criminal penalties for non-payers - and over 70 sent to jail.

The same bloke that used to drive the "TV Detector Van" around my local town.

Said "TV Detector Van" was a long wheelbase Transit Minibus (you could see the seats through the tinted windows FFS)

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rhydian
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Re: Not bad value really

"Wrong ! take down your Arial, put up a sky dish. done. No BBC payment needed"

The equipment (dish, receiver/decoder) is equipment being used for receiving live television broadcasts, therefore by law it needs a licence.

I could have the decoder plugged in to my TV and use it as a media server with no problems. The second I plug a dish in to it (or technically an internet connection) and watch a live broadcast from anywhere its licence time.

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rhydian
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Re: Evil

"A better idea would indeed be to fund the BBC with a tax on cable, satellite, and other subscription TV services."

That's as sensible as the guardian columnist that argued that all broadband connections should be taxed to support newspapers.

Why should the BBC be paid for by people who have decided that they'd rather watch something else?

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rhydian
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Re: Not bad value really

So many people make the sky argument/comparison but miss the basic fact.

I don't *have* to pay Sky/VM/BT to watch live TV

I *have* to pay the BBC.

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rhydian
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Independence?

"It ensures independence, universal service for a universal fee and ensures creative freedom"

Independence? The telly tax simply ensures loyalty to the government of the day, not independence.

Universal service? I'll give them that, but its only as a hangover of being given the best spectrum and the best transmitter sites back in the day (Radio/TV) or OFCOM licence requirements (TV EPG listings). DAB coverage is still far from universal despite their latest transmitter roll outs.

Creative Freedom? Then why are so many of their programmes (especially daytime) so formulaic and identical to those produced by commercial rivals?

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Carphone Warehouse, Dixons return from honeymoon with injured numbers

rhydian
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Re: I'm not at all surprised...

"Recently? My local one was like that years back. I have not visited them since."

It was two weeks ago (last saturday in August) in a North East Wales town famous for its Lager.

"I thought that mobile shops only exist to make banks look good."

With something like a phone (where size and feel are pretty important) I much prefer to see it in the plastic/metal first before signing my life away for two years.

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rhydian
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I'm not at all surprised...

Mother rhydian needed a new mobile the other week (and I needed a SIM only contract). So we steeled ourselves for a trip in to town on a school holiday saturday so she could gauge the look and feel of a few handsets, and decide on the one she wanted.

First stop was Tesco (she's a tesco mobile customer and didn't want to change networks). The "shop" was a dark, pokey corner of the electricals department. No Moto Gs in stock.

Next stop was Carphone Warehouse. The store was a part of a shopping centre so a decent size and very attractive. The problem was that during this very busy day they only had two people working (one on a "desk", the other at the till). We waited patiently for 10-15 minutes for the guy at the till to finish trying to sell someone a new phone and contract. He made no effort to acknowledge us at all. In the end we simply walked out, as did 4 or 5 other people in that 15 minutes.

In the end, in desperation, we tried the EE shop opposite. Its was packed, but they had at least 3 staff on (possibly four) and had a wide range of phones on offer (including both the Moto G and Galaxy S4 mini that we wanted to try). Unfortunately EE doesn't cover mother rhydian's home and they didn't offer us a signal box.

Therefore seeing Carphone Warehouse's revenues falling is no surprise to anyone who's actually tried to buy from them recently...

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