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* Posts by Nigel 11

2484 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

HSBC websites fell in DDoS attack last night, bank admits

Nigel 11
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Good publicity for that movie

The more these idiots do this sort of thing, the more all the sane people in the world will start thinking that there must be a good reason to find and watch that movie.

Definition of a fanatic - someone who redoubles his efforts when he's forgotten his aims.

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BOFH: Uninterruptible patsy supply

Nigel 11
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Re: This whole tale

A beancounter once decided to save 0.01 cents per unit by substituting a glue, on an order that said "Non-Parametrically specified, DO NOT SUBSTITUTE".

The units were disk drives. About 100K units had to be replaced under a manufacturer recall, because they would all have failed in service within a year. (Something outgassed from the glue settled on the platters and built up in lumps until it crashed the heads).

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Nigel 11
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Re: Obligatory UPS anecdote...

I can't remember why they weren't set to shut themselevs down

Mine are set to shut the servers down when the battery power reserve is down to 30%, about 5 minutes later. Usually the mains is back on before then so the server stays up 24x7.

Except for the time the cleaner unplugged the UPS to plug in her vacuum (in a room she shouldn't even have been in), and then found the UPS "Off" button on the UPS within the five minutes, and even worked out she had to hold it in for five seconds, all because she didn't like the bleeping noise while she was hoovering.

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Nigel 11
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Mushroom

Re: There's no excuse for IT to bypass UPS issues.

Add to that, there are 5 racks around the factory with UPS protecting them; 3 of these have flashing red lights indicating a fault. These have been showing the same fault since I have been here. I'm told that a request for replacement batteries was submitted and they are waiting for details of when this will happen.

I saw what happens if you leave a battery in a UPS for ~3 years after it first complains that the battery is failing.

First, the battery gradually swells. Initially past the size of the aperture through which you are supposed to replace it. Good built-in obsolescence, that. So they needed a new UPS not a new battery. Then it swells past the size of the welded steel compartment it rests in, with sufficient pressure to bend the steel. By the time they'd procured a whole new UPS the old one was immovably wedged in the rack. But you couldn't actually see why it was stuck, until finally, one night ...

It exploded.

Not on my ship. Someone sent me the pictures.

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Pacemakers, defibrillators open to attack

Nigel 11
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FAIL

Re: Secure, Reliable, Cheap pick two

Can't we have a third option: nonreprogrammable and reliable, like the ones they made in the 1970s and 1980s? Nothing to be hacked, short of opening your chest cavity. Completely secure, but by being dumb not by being "secure", like the unbreakable firewall known as an air gap.

Sometimes less is more.

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'No cutting off people's internet based on secret evidence'

Nigel 11
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Mushroom

Data Protection Act!

The moment they accuse you of something, all data relating to what they accuse you of becomes personal data and they have to supply you with a copy of all the personal data they hold if you make a data-protection act request. It'll cost you a tenner, but it'll probably cost them a lot more.

If they refuse and say it's not personal data, they have either committed a criminal offense or they've irrevocably lost the right to use that data against you. Ditto if they miss out anything that they later try to use.

If they disclose anyone else's personal data then you report them for that to the data Protection Registrar (and the third party if you can identify him).

If they accuse you of something that's not true and cause any damaging action to be taken against you, such as disconnection, then demand damages. They have libelled you. Even if you just feel the need to write a letter to put the record straight, try invoicing them for the cost of writing it (at £250/hour as your own legal adviser) and small-claims summons them for non-payment of your invoice.

What have you got to lose? This isn't even civil disobedience. It's just requiring them to be civilly obedient!

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'Hypersensitive' Wi-Fi hater loses case against fiendish DEVICES

Nigel 11
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Re: Inquiring minds...

You forgot this. At 2W it is working on 900Mhz. It is at 33,33cm. So the radio wave it self is too big to harm you, your cells and your DNA. It just does not happen. It is also non-ionizing radiation. So no harm there.

Your physics is wrong. The wavelength being bigger than your head doesn't mean it cannot interact. It just means you need to use different mathematics to properly model it. (Were you right, holding a nail and sticking it into the live hole in a plug would be harmless ... a mere 50 Hertz! )

It is absorbtion of EM radiation that makes your ear get hot, at least in part. And the calculation is that the nearest parts of your brain may be warmed by a small fraction of a degree celsius by the same radiation.

Harmless? Almost certainly. Your normal body temperature fluctuates daily by more than this amount, and it rises by much more and at a greater rate in response to a mild infection. Nevertheless, "no biologic effects" is provably untrue.

There's also a putative mechanism whereby HF radiation could cause Zeeman splitting of energy levels in free radicals causing more of them to escape destruction by the body's anti-oxidants at the site where they are generated. They could then be free to cause damage to less-well-protected tissue further afield. Experimental proof of the effect would be VERY hard to come by, the effect would be small, the epidemeology proves mobiles are mostly harmless, but the physics is impeccable.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Inquiring minds...

Teeth and bone contain piezo-crystals. They change shape depending on electric field. (Also vice versa, which is why evolution made it happen. A stress concentration in a tooth or bone, such as an incipient crack, generates an electric field that probably signals to osteocytes that a local repair job is urgently needed, and precisely where).

Anyway, this makes radio detection by a filling in the upper jaw very plausible, and I believed that it had been reported at least once. If it's an urban legend, it's several cuts above the average.

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Nigel 11
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Re: I think we all know the cause of his symptoms

There was a reported case of a man whose mercury-amalgam dental filling created a resonant cavity and piezo-crystal detector in one of his teeth. (Teeth and bones are natural piezo-crystals). He ended up talking to a psychiatrist about being able to hear a local radio station playing inside his head 24 hours/day. When he said "if you put your ear on my jaw you'll hear it too" the psychiatrist did ... and did!

A visit to a dentist fixed his problem.

Never say flat-out impossible. You'll probably be wrong. (My head says a FTL star-drive is a rare exception, my heart still hopes otherwise).

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Nigel 11
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Pint

Re: In princinple, what is the difference.....

And Voice of America, so I'm told, was once transmitting 10MW of short-wave AM aimed at the USSR.

Let's see. Inverse squares ... one mobile on max = 2W at 2cm = 10MW at a shade over 400m.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Think of the Children!

Of course these days almost everyone has a TV, and it sometimes seems that the lower the household income, the bigger the TV will be...

Leading to another self-perpetuating bureaucracy that ought to be hit on the head.

Scrap the TV license. Reduce the income tax personal allowance by sufficient to generate the same income. People too poor to pay income tax get to watch TV for free without having to break the law. There is no collection cost. There might be a few esoteric religions that feel offended.

OK, put an "I do not watch TV" box on the income tax form, to claim back your allowance. Telling lies to HMRC is a really bad idea, especially since they now have a much shorter list of people claiming not to have TVs, and the ability to collect the fine when they catch you through your next year's PAYE.

Next for the chop, NHS prescription charges: a tax on the chronically ill to subsidize the acutely ill, that probably costs more to administer than it actually raises. You couldn't make it up ....

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Nigel 11
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Boffin

Re: Inquiring minds...

Actually an ordinary GSM phone *does* have enough power to have biologic effects. At maximum power output (one bar reception condition, 2 watts) it does actually raise the temperature of your ear. It's also slightly raising the temperature of your brain. I'd be unwilling to say that this is *categorically* harmless, though a simple epidemeological approach shows that it must be pretty close thereto.

Anyway, using a mobile for a long time in minimal reception conditions is unusual. More normal conditions have an RF output 100 to 1000 times less. As for domestic Wi-fi, the output is lower than a phone on minimum power AND it's not pressed to the side of your skull. Inverse squares: 2m instead of 2cm means your exposure is down by a further factor of 10,000.

And "leakage down mains cables" tells you that the complainant is a fruitcake. The last place GHz RF goes is down a directly or indirectly earthed conductor!

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AMD to decimate workforce several times over?

Nigel 11
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Other acquirers?

Samsung? Same rationale as HP, but maybe a happier marriage.

TSMC? If they fancied competing with Intel rather than just fabbing whatever someone else tells them to.

I also wonder if AMD isn't now so weak that Intel needs to throw it a few sops? Intel really needs AMD, because if it weren't for AMD then Intel would be a monopoly and regulated as such. Far better that it has an independant competitor that's more a terrier than a wolf.

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British car parks start reading number plates

Nigel 11
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Re: Pay or park somewhere else...

Quite. It's fair enough to complain about being charged for parking on the public highway that you've already paid to drive on. Especially when the motive is clearly to raise revenue rather than to help with traffic flow. But when it comes to someone's private property, he has the right to charge whatever he likes and you have the right to agree, or to go elsewhere.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Confuse the system

Are you absolutely certain you know where the public highway ends and the private car park begins? Also it's not against the law to have a private camera taking pictures of vehicles on a public highway.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Lego Brick parking

If the above report is true, then they are breaking the law. Certainly inform trading standards. Possibly inform the police, if they refuse to raise the barrier without payment.

In order to extablish a parking contract there has be a notice that's clear to read while driving in, with an escape lane or escape clause for those who choose not to accept the contract and wish to leave immediately.

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Nigel 11
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Coffee/keyboard

Re: The March of technology, the creep of the surveillance state.

RFID'ed pigeons. Brilliant!

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Nigel 11
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Re: Free parking should be the norm

Brent Cross is busy at week-ends, but if you are sensible and head straight up the multi-storey without trying to find a place on the shopping levels, it's not THAT busy. Well, not except in the run-up to Xmas in a good year for retailers, when the queue to get in tends to block the North Circular. (Not as bad as the one at Thurrock that causes a tailback on the clockwise M25 as far as the Hertfordshore borders on a bad day, but that's another story).

I don't mind paying for parking if the charge is not exorbitant. A good retailer ought to know what its car parking spaces are worth. A bad one will run out of fools to rip off soon enough, and go bust, so the problem is mostly self-correcting.

BTW if you are even slightly aggrieved by a retailer's car park operator, do draw the correspondence to the attention of the store manager woth the suggestion that this is likely the last time you have shopped at his store! (You may get some vouchers to lure you back, and the car park operator may get the order of the boot if enough folks do likewise. Definitely worth the stamp! )

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Nigel 11
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Coat

Re: I see a growing market

Or you could get a plate like WM110MW and a single screw

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Nigel 11
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Re: Not quite so easy

Have they changed the rules? Last time I had to buy a numberplate, I had to show the vehicle registration document for my vehicle, and was told that this was a legal requirement. (This was at a high street car parts shop). Of course, it wouldn't be the first time an on-line trader was operating illegally.

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Nigel 11
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Civil court

Arguments in civil proceedings are on "the balance of probabilities". If you've been filmed reading the contract, you can't argue that you did not understand it unless it's (deliberately?) misleading or unclear. (You might have a better case if you were a foreign tourist with minimal English). If on the other hand you did not read the notice, the argument will be over whether it was displayed sufficiently prominently for that to be an unreasonable action on your part. (Note - what's reasonable on a bright sunny day may not be reasonable after dark or during a snowstorm).

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Nigel 11
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It can't assume agreement!

The private parking company has to establish that you had accepted a contract with it. This means it has to display its terms and conditions in a place where they cannot reasonablty be overlooked. (For example, un-lit notices at night fail this test, as do vandalized notices). They also have to comply with all relevant contract law, for example no unfair terms, and no small print that a person with driving-legal vision might be unable to read under the prevailing conditions.

They'll bully and bluster, but if the contract is not valid for reasons such as the above, take photographs to prove it, and tell them that you'll see them in court. "Honest John" in the Telegraph has examples of this most weeks! (There's also legislation concerning harassment, if they continue to pester after you've told them "see you in court" and requested that they cease harassing you.)

Incidentally penalty charges have to be fair. If you agree that you owe something for parking there, but that what is demanded is exorbitant, the best policy is to offer a smaller sum, or see them in court if they decline it . If the court agrees that a tenner was fair, they'll have lost a small fortune in legal fees. This applies, for example, if you overstay what you paid for by a few minutes, especially if you can argue that the car park was not busy and you deprived no-one else of a parking space.

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Nigel 11
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Unhappy

Not quite so easy

It's not quite so easy to fake a plate with a paper print-out, given that it's a criminal offense to display a fake one and that policemen and traffic wardens are quite good at spotting fakes. You need a friend in the auto trade who will knock up a fake using the right hardware and no paperwork, or ... the big weak spot ...

The crim steals the plates from some other poor sod's car. They're often held on with nothing more than screws or sticky pads. Provided it's the same colour, make and model of vehicle, you get the hassle and he gets off scot-free. The crims do this already, to escape speed cameras and freeloading on your car's insurance (now there's something easy to fake - an insurance certificate to con another driver with after a minor accident!) Expect number-plate theft to become even more popular.

However, because of this it's quite easy to deal with a parking fine. You tell them that it wasn't you, and with a bit of luck you can also say where the car was at the time, many miles from that car park. If necessary you say "see you in court". If you have good character a court is likely to decide that there is quite enought doubt. Especially if you reported the theft of your plates to the police, and keep the crime reference number.

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Six months under water and iPhone 4 STILL WORKS

Nigel 11
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Meh

Re: Meh.

The impressive thing is that water didn't get in until the battery had run down. (If at all? ) Score +1 for "no user-serviceable parts inside".

As remarked above, it's not water that kills electronics, it's the electrolysis that happens very rapidly if you mix water and electricity. If ever someone tips (say) a glass of wine into your lap-top, IMMEDIATELY yank out the battery pack. You can then probably rescue it by washing it under a tap to get the wine out (sticky acidic residues) and then drying it out in an airing cupboard for a couple of weeks. Just make damn sure all the water is evaporated before you put that battery back.

Cola does kill electronics. The Phosphoric acid does much the same as water plus electricity, though you might get a few minutes grace to was it out. If you don't wash it thoroughly enough the acid concentrates as the water evaporates. Did I mention it also dissolves teeth and aggravates gout?

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Foxconn: Worker who lost half his brain in accident must leave hospital

Nigel 11
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makes you realize how civilised (some) UK employers are

Someone I know tripped (no-one's fault) and ruptured a disk (badly), causing inability to drive for more than a few minutes (essential for the job) and serious back pain. It'll probably never get any better. End of career, and definitely nothing to envy.

The company's insurance has taken over paying his salary and pension contributions until he reaches retirement age (many years away). This even includes a new "company" car every three years and free fuel, because the car perk allowed unlimited use of the car by his wife when he wasn't using it for work.

I don't suppose all UK employers are this decent, but the story from China rather puts things in perspective. Hope people get to read this behind the great firewall.

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Western Australia powers up 10 MW solar farm

Nigel 11
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Re: Couldn't they come up with...

You'd have to compare the relative efficiency of (a) direct solar-powered water evaporation and (b) solar-PV electricity generation followed by electrically-powered reverse-osmosis. I expect that the thermodynamics have been studied and the solution that they are using is the better one.

As to why they aren't scavenging energy from fossil-fuel plants for water purification, I don't know. Come to that, when you burn Methane one of the major outputs is pure water (two H2O from every CH4), and it should be trivial to condense it rather than pump it up the chimney, if water is a valuable by-product rather than "just steam".

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Nigel 11
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Re: "...it’s rain-free about 80 percent of the year..."

It's an issue that needs to be addressed. Cleaning solutions with minimised water consumption are part of the design of these plants. (Not sure if they've cracked water-less yet). Obviously the availability and price of water for cleaning in the middle of a desert may be an issue. In some places there may be plenty of low-quality groundwater unfit for drinking or irrigation, because of salinity or Arsenic content.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Semi-congratulations

Until there's enough solar capacity to remove the daytime demand peak from the fossil-fuelled generation plant, the fact that solar needs daylight is not a problem. Many parts of the worlh have higher day-time demand than evening because of industrial processes. In hot parts of the world air-conditioning demand is highest when the sun is streaming down (especially in solar-friendly parts of the world with nearby deserts and therefore low humidity, where it gets a lot cooler quite fast after sun-down).

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Nigel 11
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Re: Well Done Those People

Don't know about "few places". Solar power is appropriate anywhere that has barren land and a climate that is sunny either most of the year, or for the parts of the year when the demand for power is highest.

That applies to pretty much any roof under which air-conditining is required on sunny days, especially if closer to the equator than the UK. It applies on a utility scale anywhere there is a desert within HVDC transmission range of a city. Most of Australia, SW USA, Spain, Arabia immediately spring to mind.

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AMD unveils 'sweet spot' processor for 'sexy' tablets

Nigel 11
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Re: Mini-ITX variant?

Thanks for the pointer to the ITX board. That's one heck of a passive heatsink! I'd assumed that these CPUs were slightly too hot to run with completely passive cooling. My current Atom gets pretty wam , and (from memory) it is about 10W less.

I'd still prefer a 4W CPU, though.

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Nigel 11
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Mini-ITX variant?

Anyone know if there's going to be a Mini-ITX motherboard sporting this chip (with a fanless heatsink). A quick Google didn't succeed.

I built my own almost silent always-on PC with a passively cooled Atom board a couple of years ago, but it's a bit slow. One of these looks like a perfect upgrade (along with an SSD to replace the HD). If I can get it as a board instead of a full tablet, that is!

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'It's not a post-PC world: Just a post Windows one, maybe'

Nigel 11
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WTF?

Why do people find it so hard to see ...

Why are people finding it so hard to see that Tablet devices and PCs are two different classes of device, and that many folks will use one of each (plus a smartphone making three).

Apple gets it. That's why the UI on an iPhone is not exactly the same as on an iPad, and why the UI on an iPad is not at all like the UI on an iMac.

Touch devices are for data consumption, for output-mostly usage with small amounts of clicking and even less typing. There are some business applications that fall into that category. For these, going to tablets makes sense. I recently visited a sofa shop where the salespeople all had iPads. They could show you what any sofa would look like with any fabric, and then take your order while sitting on the sofa. Neat! (Pity the sofas were crap).

But for serious data creation you need a keyboard and/or a precise pointing device (mouse). For many classes of serious work you need multiple windows open at the same time nxet to each other, or overlapping. For 6+ hours/day working with the computer, you need a big vertical screen and ergonomically acceptable keyboard and seating. A company that expects staff to work those hours on a tablet, will soon be sued by staff suffering from RSI. (And even if they don't sue, productivity will be way down and "sickies" way up).

Two different tools. Why does Microsoft and half the rest of the world think that they should be forcibly merged? It's possible to build an amphibious car, but most people know that they need a car, or a boat, or both.

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Don't delete that email! Why you must keep biz docs for 6 YEARS

Nigel 11
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Re: Not far enough....

As with many such things a modicum of commonsense is needed. In the case of archiving e-mails that may in part also be personal, people need to have confidence that the archive is automatic, that reading its contents will never be a matter of routine, and that if personal information is uncovered in the context of an retrieval for proper business or legal purposes, then it will remain private. Some of this is already mandated by law, more of it ought to be, and a good business won't routinely be spying on its staff because that's very bad for morale once it becomes known or even suspected.

After all that is said, the bottom line is that if you are using your employer's hardware, you can't expect the same degree of privacy you'd have if you used your own. So don't post stuff that would cause anything worse than moderate embarassment were it to become public.

Most of us aren't BOFH's. I've more than once found embarassing user content while doing a sysadmin's job. I've never revealed information that was not intended for my eyes.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Deliberate decision not to archive

However, if I were in business I'd worry that a dishonest customer might present a very biassed selection of e-mails that I sent to him in support of some dispute. Or even edit such e-mails. Would you want to be unable to prove bias - or fraud?

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SpaceX confirms Falcon rocket suffered engine flame-out

Nigel 11
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Meh

RAID for rockets

Disk drives are not supposed to crash either. As long as the failures are predictably confined, this design equates to RAID for rocketry.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Though

Provided (big proviso!) failures are always non-destructive, it's more like you've got (at least) one spare engine. Think of a passenger jet. It's not unheard of for an engine to fail mid-flight, but it's usually no big deal. It's all but unheard-of for a plane to come down because of both engines failing.

Bad idea to put all your eggs in one basket if you can avoid doing so.

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Home-grown drone finds ‘missing’ hiker

Nigel 11
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Re: Improved accuracy

Drop the water attached to a brightly-coloured helium party balloon by about 10m of nylon monofilament. Just as long as the lost person can still walk, he'll find it without much trouble at a distance of a kilometer or more. So accuracy not needed, just lateral thinking.

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Nigel 11
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"Smuggler's mule"

I'd be a lot more interested in realizing the "smuggler's mule" device in Bruce Sterling's "Heavy Weather". It's basically a self-navigating gas-powered pogo stick, or perhaps one should say a monopedal kangaroo robot. Bounces its way across just about any terrain in 30-ft jumps. One seriously cool idea, with the sole drawback that it's hard to think of a legal use for it!

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Scottish brainiacs erect wee super-antenna

Nigel 11
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Unhappy

Away from head

Yes.

Until a bug replaces a plus by a minus, and the beam is directed straight at your head, and then the phone ramps up the power so a sufficient wattage emerges from the other side of your head.

So if the battery life suddenly drops by a factor of maybe 100 and/or the reception suddenly goes cr*p, you have been warned. It's trying to kill you.

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Nigel 11
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Alert

Re: Headsets in the vertical plane.

Not sure I like being called a very "effificent absorber of radio signals", though. Makes me sound a bit fat. : (

It's the conductive (watery) bits of you that are the good absorbers. Adipose tissue is unlikely to be a major contributor to absorbtion of microwaves!

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Nigel 11
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Meh

Re: "can save more energy than would be supplied by a battery occupying the same space"

Re increasing battery life, or not: It's the milliwatts needed to power the computation versus the milliwatts saved with respect to a conventional antenna. It may cost more to compute than it saves in transmission, much as a better compression algorithm may save less on transmit time (or cost) than it costs you in CPU time (or electricity).

For some reason I'm reminded of Vinge's "zones of thought" SF universe.

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Liquefied-air silos touted as enormo green 'leccy batteries

Nigel 11
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Re: Gahhh....

There was a recent press release from Siemens trumpeting that their latest CCGT had broken the 60% barrier, so state-of-the-art is a little under 40% of waste heat going up the chimney. Isn't that plenty? And just as "wate coolness" could be stored in gravel, so could waste warmth.

I agree the overall thermodynamic efficiency of liquid air energy storage won't ever be high, but it looks to me as if a lot of the "wastage" can be made up out of low-grade heat that's going to be wasted anyway.

If the liquid air storage plant were sited alongside some large factory that both emitted much waste heat AND needed air-conditioning, things might get better still (scrap the electrical air-conditioning, and just pipe the cold air into the factory).

Still wonder why things have gone quiet on the big Vanadium redox flow-battery storage front. That looked like a pretty efficient way to store electricity, albeit one that needed Vanadium by the kilotonne.

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Nigel 11
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FAIL

AC grid

@Robbie The reason why all long-distance links are HVDC is very simple: Every single generating set in a linked AC system has to be exactly* in sync, as otherwise they end up consuming power instead of generating it.*

Utter nonsense I'm afraid. An electricity grid is self-synchronizing in the same way that two people pedalling a tandem are self-synchronizing. If something synchronous (generator or motor) gets even very slightly ahead, it will start supplying energy to the grid until it is back in synch. If it gets behind, it will start draining energy until it has once again attained the same speed as everything else. If the total power drain exceeds the amount of power going in, the frequency and voltage of the whole grid will droop, until regulators at individual power plants notice this and open valves to increase the flow of steam to the turbines. The regulation is totally decentralised. There's no single control centre, no master grid-regulation station that could be attacked by terrorists.

The only time there might be trouble is if a (synchronous AC) generating plant gets disconnected from the grid and has to be reconnected. This requires careful monitoring of both the frequency and phase of the plant to make sure that they both match the grid before the connection switch is thrown. Otherwise, there would be a massive surge that would blow "fuses" and probably break many other things.

As for HVDC, as other people have observed, technology has advanced since Tesla and Westinghouse's day. Transmission losses are reduced with HVDC, and HVDC to grid-AC conversion is no longer impossible or uneconomic. Long-distance HVDC has another large bonus. It is immune to the effects of solar storms (which increase as the length of the line increases). If a huge CME induces a DC current in a DC line, it either adds to or subtracts from the power being transmitted, but it doesn't appear as any sort of abnormality to the plant at the ends. When the same happens to a conventional AC line, the DC current cannot be transformed by the transformers, and instead becomes waste heat inside the transformers. If someone doesn't break the circuit fairly rapidly, the transformers catch fire. In other words, either we suffer a short-term blackout or a long-term blackout (possibly an end-of-civilisation blackout were all the safeties to fail). Had a Carrington event occurred in, say, the 1960s, this would have been a real possibility. Today, we know to watch our sun closely, and to cut the power to save the grid if it throws another big belch at us).

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Ubuntu 12.10: More to Um Bongo Linux than Amazon ads

Nigel 11
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Unhappy

Re: Ubuntu?

If all we need is a distribution that boots direct into Gnome 2 for that much-like-XP experience, then it already exists, and Linux will conquer (not the Ubuntu flavour, though).

The block is Microsoft data-format lock-in. Openoffice and LibreOffice are not entirely compatible with MS Office, and the (slight!) incompatibilities are the reason that businesses continue to fork out several hundred quid per employee on MS office licenses, than loading one of the free Office softwares onto their Microsoft systems and then planning an exodus to Linux.

It's not just Office, of course. Outlook is another lock-in. Ever tried using Thunderbird as a mail client in an organisation that uses Outlook calendar functions? Then there are Access databases. And of course, all the proprietary Microsoft-only applications that they've bought from third-party vendors.

Truth be told, LInux lost the corporate desktop before Linux was born. The only business that can easily migrate to Linux for everything, is one that has yet to buy its first computers. And the trouble is that start-up businesses usually don't have anyone who knows about Linux and about the Microsoft data-format lock-in trap. By the time they are big enough to have even a part-time computer system manager, Microsoft will rule their roost.

The unhappy face should be crying. The business model that Microsoft uses is very similar to that of a Cocaine cartel (albeit legal). By the time the user realizes Cocaine (or MS software) is not his friend, it's too late for most users to do anything about it.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Apps yes, OSes no

Perhaps Canonical will offer a paid for, ad free version. It's fair they make money after all?!?

Closed source thinking.

With open source, the source is public and someone will take the source of your no-ads version and rebuild it and put it up for download. You are not allowed to withhold that source from them, if it's a derivative program of a GPL'ed work. If you've tried to protect yourself by (say) copyrighting the artwork, it'll just take them a little longer to replace that with their own. Red Hat do copyright theit graphics, probably more because of Oracle than the free distributions. If Centos slipped up, I very much doubt Red Hat would do any more than bang off an e-mail telling them which copyrighted graphic they missed.

Red Hat understands this. AFAIK they are happy with it, but if they are unhappy it'll do them no good at all. So they actively encourage people who aren't willing to pay to use Fedora, which is a sort of years-long much-better-than-beta test. It also gives them a chance to garner feedback on radical re-designs before they inflict them on paying customers!

And if you aren't happy to live close to the bleeding edge, there's Centos (bug-for-bug compatible with RHEL) and Scientific Linux (very slighly less bug-for-bug, in that they fix any bug that's causing problems at CERN, even if Red Hat don't).

And of course, there are several Debian-flavour distributions that aren't Ubuntu. And of course, you have very great freedom to remove any packages that offend you, and install replacements that don't.

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Nigel 11
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Re: So what?

X-rated Xenosaur?

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Nigel 11
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Re: What if...

@Peter

If you want Red Hat but don't want to pay, take you pick from CentOS or Scientific Linux. Or Fedora, if you don't mind living on the bleeding edge. I used not to, until they inflicted Gnome 3 on me. Apparently Cinnamon is now a standard Fedora package, so I may pay a return visit soon.

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Nigel 11
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Mushroom

I am a buyer, not a sellee!

Personally, I find unsolicited advertising of most sorts actively encourages me NOT to buy the product. The more intrusive the advert into what I'm actually trying to do at the time, the greater the enduring hostility towards whatever is being advertized.

Exceptions, by the way, are mostly old media. Ads in trains and on walls and in newspapers and magazines present themselves while I am not busy with something else, and I may start thinking "interesting" rather than "annoying".

A long time ago I decided that I'd always be a buyer, never a sellee. If I want something I'll actively go and look for it (and the best value method of obtaining it). If I don't yet want it, advertizing it to me has value for the advertizer between zero and minus infinity (the most annoyingly intrusive ads get the entire company, not just the product, onto my mental no-buy list until the memory fades).

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Huawei: Inside the lair of the not-so-hidden dragon

Nigel 11
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Last sentence

depend on just how much it’s prepared to bend to Western expectations of how a technology company should be run

Hmmm. You mean have the company run by a board of despots who stuff as much of the profits into their own pockets as they can, while skimping on the R&D and putting as many employees in their own country out of a job by outsourcing manufacture to somewhere that slave labour is all but legal? (Which somewhat ironically, is often elsewhere in China). Not giving a damn about the long-term future of the organisation, because the short-term determines how many more millions they'll have to retire on? Replacing doing the right thing for its customers, with extracting every last penny from its customers by any legal means and many not so legal?

Compared to many of our companies, this sounds pretty utopian. It also sounds not unlike the non-company that I'd like to buy shares in if I could, but I can't - John Lewis partnership. Anyway, more like that, than a limited company. Also shades of how a top UK university used to be, before the government decided it ought to be run by professional parasites, sorry, managers.

If it's just an act, it's a very expensive and successful one.

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Oregon farmer devoured by own hogs

Nigel 11
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Some animals are more equal than others ...

and occasionally, the other way around.

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