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* Posts by GrantB

214 posts • joined 11 Jun 2009

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Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers

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The Nokia ENIGMA THING and its SECRET, TERRIBLE purpose

GrantB

Re: It's the Internet

Makes sense. The Internet is after all just a small black box with a blinking red light and completely wireless.

Hope that Nokia knows that if the red light on the top of the box stops flashing, the Internet will be destroyed.... or at least an epic fist-fight break out.

3
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Virgin 'spaceship' pilot 'UNLOCKED tailbooms' going through SOUND BARRIER

GrantB
Boffin

Re: Right Direction?

I used to think the same.

I saw images as a kid of the shuttle being transported on top of a 747; so thought why not just launch a disposable rocket stage + small lifting body return craft (say a Northrop HL-10) via a B52 or 747?. The carrier aircraft could be relatively cheap & reusable and carry the assembly to high altitudes & near mach 1, before launch rather than accelerating the rocket from zero feet and zero speed.

Turns out, it is not such a great idea in general, in particular when trying to throw tonnes of mass into space.

For a start, it does not win you very much. To make orbit you need ~mach 25 delta-v, so even if the carrier aircraft is traveling mach 1, you are only 4% there. Just carrying 5% more rocket fuel would give you similar win.

Then to hit that mach-25 you need a big rocket anyway. When you have a big (but very light) tube full of rocket fuel, the easiest way of assembling that tube of rocket fuel is having it sit vertically on the ground, rather than strapped under or over the launch aircraft & stressed to take G's horizontally and vertically.

Finally every Kg of mass you have to accelerate to orbital speed and have to bring back (especially if you have a reusable return vehicle that has wheels, wings etc) costs lots of money per Kg, so best that you dispose of as much of it as you go - i.e. a multi-stage disposable vertical launch rocket for putting stuff into orbit that you want to keep in orbit.

This is why the rocket scientists from Von Braun onwards stick to conventional rockets.

There are interesting alternatives of course; I liked the thinking behind the McDonnell Douglas DC-X, and for small payloads, something like a carrier aircraft or balloon to get a smallish (solid fuel?) rocket above the dense atmosphere might work out (i.e..nozzle design could be optimised).

Even the Skylon might fly one day, but DC-X/Skylon have never got anywhere near space and (as this accident shows), SpaceShip 2 is still a work in progress.

5
1

Gates and Ballmer NOT ON SPEAKING TERMS – report

GrantB

Re: Your "best idea was to quit reading."?

Did he take responsibility for Longhorn?

Seemed somewhat pointed that during this time, Bill Gates was responsible to software architecture...

Weird thing was that even Elop could had been successful during this time; Microsoft had few competitors, so all they really needed to do was crank out minor upgrades of Windows and Office to keep the gravy train running. They really didn't need to roll out any major architectural upgrades to Windows.

7
2

Apple iPhone 6 Plus: GORGEOUS FAT pixel density - but it's WASTED

GrantB

Re: Always Critical of Apple

You are the second poster to claim that in this thread.

Sounded a bit high so I actually spent the 30 seconds to Google it.

Looks like they did sell a lot; claiming 10m sold in 60 days, but not 30.

Apple will also no doubt sell an awful lot of the 6+ once they fully crank up worldwide, but I guess the most obvious point is that there is serous demand for big-arsed phones. Not sure I get why, but then I use a 4" phone as a phone in my pocket and tablets and lastops when I need more screen real estate

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1

Siri: Helpful personal assistant or SERIAL APP KILLER?

GrantB
Boffin

Re: Book a hotel...

Can you imagine the Amazon version?

Where can I buy the Sonos 3? ... Amazon.

Where is nearest coffee shop? ... You can buy coffee via Amazon

Please book me a flight to... Amazon now allows you to book flights by one-click...

Basically, requires a lot of trust in the integrity and quality of the assistant, and I don't entirely trust the marketing departments of any company if the got there hands on the controls. Why do any mobile advertising, if your trusted assistant could just literally tell people what to buy?

That being said, I travel a bit and at times, if an assistant had good local data (they mostly don't yet), then could be huge advantage of using a bunch of apps like travel guides, maps, local websites etc.

2
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Stand clear! Will HTC's One act as a defibrillator for Windows Phone?

GrantB

Re: I've said it before...

You have also summed up the big problem with things like Cortana; you are impressed by it doing things that Apple and Android have had for years.

I have a Nokia 520, and it does what I want for the right price, but don't have Cortana yet. Even when it comes, still going to just another catch up feature, but probably not quite as slick as the integration with Google on my Nexus 7 tablet. I don't use Siri, but it is a couple of years ahead of Cortana in development.

Thing is that the 520 is nice little low end phone; if they kept building up that modest success with small regular improvements, then maybe my next phone would be the next model up. Instead the newer devices in the range (like the 530), seem worse if anything, and the app situation is not improving; one app I used on WP8, is now defunct and no alternative is available.

I think phones like the HTC one, seem like afterthoughts - stick a model out there, same hardware but with WP and few Microsoft people might buy one, but given the same hardware for the same price could be running Android with more developed features and far more apps, I can't see any appeal (and that is from somebody with a WP8 phone)

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Microsoft unsheathes cheap Android-killer: Behold, the Lumia 530

GrantB

Not even a Nokia 520 killer

The Nokia 520 is actually a pretty good phone for the price; I brought one last year after comparing with similarly priced Android phones.

App support is very weak, but I mainly use the phone as a phone, GPS and for creating a wireless hot spot and using my Nexus 7 instead for anything else that needs apps. Have 8Gb SD card fitted and spare battery I can swap in makes it more useful as well for me.

Given the 520 is more than a year old, was quite interested in what the replacement would be. Few small improvements like better screen/camera and/or battery life and I might be tempted to upgrade and hand down the 520 to my daughter.

Problem is that the supposed replacement, the 530, is worse in just about every way than the 520. Screen is lower quality, less memory, worse camera, the quad core CPU being weaker than the old CPU/GPU combo , removal of hard buttons etc. Add to that, Windows Phone 8.1 sounds like basically a beta version of what was a stable OS, with a few useful features for me (eg swipe keyboard like my N7), but some backward steps and buggy.

Good review that covers the difference here:

http://www.trustedreviews.com/opinions/nokia-lumia-530-vs-520

Sad really, as the 520 was probably the only modestly successful Windows Phone ever, and the closest thing to a win that Nokia had got to in the last few years; but instead of building on it, Micro/Nokia seem to have failed yet again.

Oh well, my next phone will be Android and not by Nokia, which will be fine, but I still find with my wife's Nexus 5 running the latest version of Android, that Android still requires a little more fiddling to 'just work' like the 520 did out of the box.

0
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How practical is an electric car in London?

GrantB

Re: On Street Parking

Strangely negative way at looking at it to point out that 37% of Americans might be using dirty power that adds to total emissions. Surely that means that most Americans ( near two thirds) would reduce emissions by using a Leaf? Not to mention that vehicles like your diesel VW are far less common in the US compared with vehicles like the Ford F150.

Even if there wasn't the option of buying electric cars, then the stats you present show it would be better for the environment to retire some of the big coal powered thermal generation and move to pretty much anything else, up to and including nuclear.

But key thing is that 'your milage will vary'. Here in NZ, power is relatively clean; the vast majority being hydro, geothermal and wind with gas/coal mainly being used to top up at peak. Add to that, second hand Nissan Leaf's are available as second hand imports from Japan for about £10k, and one suddenly looks like a reasonably option for a second car.

2
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NASA finds first Earth-sized planet in a habitable zone around star

GrantB
Boffin

Re: Yay! They found Krypton!!

When you say 'distant past', it is 'only' around 500 light years away.

Not exactly in the neighbourhood, and would take a wee while to get there given we don't have a warp drive handy, but you would have to assume a fairly stable star and planetary system would remain ticking along for millions of years without suddenly exploding.

0
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Faster, more private, easier to read: My 2014 browser wishlist

GrantB

Re: My requirements are simple

1. Yes, Chrome UI is pretty much good enough

2. Yes - I have only 3GB on this POS work computer, and Chrome or FF, a typical workload of dozens of tabs open call it to spin the (slow) lappy drive.

3 + Stable would be good. Desktop browsers are good enough, but Chrome on my Nexus 7 is very crash happy.

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GrantB

Re: "Universal sync tools"

'Also includes possibility for different profiles with standard ones for Home, Work and mobile'.

This is such an obvious one, that Google in particular don't seem to get. Not that Firefox, Windows/IE or Apple are any better.

Google try and force one profile for Gmail, Google+ and Chrome, presumably to target one person with adverts. Even though Google+ has 'circles' they don't seem to be integrated into anything else.

In actual fact, at home/Home profile, I am going to be more interesting in gaming and stories like the one on the Sinclair QL. Might watch a Youtube video or something 'NSFW'. At work, I view a lot of internal web servers not reachable externally; no point having those links in my home profile, nor cache the history.

Same thing goes for things like Google+; I don't think Google knows what they want from hit, but while Google Hangouts actually works pretty well for online meetings, the integration as a business tool is pretty awful. Logging into a daily meeting on Hangouts, and get stopped by a Google+ prompt asking me if I want to spam all my old school friends? If I am inviting some random colleagues into a one -off remote hangout meeting, really don't want to add them and all their details into G+.. and so it goes

2
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Big Beardie's watching: Alan Sugar robots spy on Tesco petrol queue

GrantB

They forgot something

"The OptimEyes does not store images or recognise people..." [yet] is the missing word.

Hate to admit I have worked in Market Research, but as advertising loses effectiveness (because we are exposed to so much of it every day), there is an arms race to exploit technology to try and target advertising.

Once the cameras are there and hooked up to an response based advertising system, they will want to track effectiveness. It always comes back to half of the money spent on advertising is wasted, but hard to determine which half. They will want to track things like increase in sales of products like chocolate depending if the customer has been subjected to advertising while waiting vs those not exposed. That in turn leads to demand to associate those 'throw away' facial recognition images with an unique ID which can be tracked, perhaps by credit cards, loyalty cards and things like blue-tooth ID's (I know of one local company analysing customer behaviour by tracking smartphones).

Can lead to some negative outcomes for consumers - for instance, 'pay-at-the-pump' was largely removed here in NZ, as petrol stations want you to come in and buy stuff while paying. Seems to also be a perverse incentive to force people to wait longer in the station as well - more likely to see advertising and buy more stuff.

Having worked in the industry, I would assume that people are working on taking the technology now deployed and adding functionality to it - for instance analysing BMI and switch advertising to offer weight-loss programs and/or fast food.

Funny thing is that when Minority Report came out, most people were appalled by the advertising that recognised individuals and exploited it like 'hey, dave, been a while since you last had a drink of X...', but of course advertising agencies where thinking the complete opposite - like 'mmmh, that is a great idea'.

Not sure I am that worried yet; a good salesperson will recognise you,offer you the usual and know if you like X, then you might like the new Y that is on special or just released. Not a problem if people do it, but automated scanning systems seem that much more scary.

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Deploying Turing to see if we have free will

GrantB
Facepalm

Re: Stop making me think about sex. It's irrelevant.

Ok, so let me be the first to confirm that you are indeed old fashioned and sexist. Simple test of this would be to ask yourself if a women or young (< 25 say) person would have read an interesting article on the nature of free will, and had to comment not on the nature of determinism but because the author dared to use a female for an example.

I find people complaining about 'politically correctness' generally can't even define what it is, and why doing something like acknowledging 50% of people in any example scenerio might be female is so wrong..

The possessive 'his' may have for many years been defined as 'belonging to or associated with a person or animal of unspecified sex', but language changes, there are alternatives 'their', and without having read the paper, you don't know if the author was talking about a specific person like like Alice, Bob or Eve.

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Microsoft: Oh PLEASE, HTC. Who says Windows Phone can't go on an Android mobe? – report

GrantB

Re: I don't think so..

"Unlikely - Microsoft can count activations rather than installs..."

Microsoft can indeed count every single Windows Phone and give a break down of which version and model etc.

The fact that they don't give actual numbers is a pretty clear indication that they are not something that they are proud of

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iOS 7 SPANKS Samsung's Android in user-experience rating

GrantB

Re: Horseshit indeed.

I am somebody who reads the Reg. And yes, I am a geek.

Its not that "the average person couldn't even figure out how to set the time on their VCRs" it was just that it was often not worth the effort. I have a microwave that loses the clock time after a power outage (it is on a circuit that trips relatively often). Takes about 5 obvious button presses so if I am walking past and notice is is not right, takes about 2 seconds to correct. Compare that with the clock in my car stereo (not the car clock) - I had to read the manual to find the arcane sequence of mystery buttons to set. So generally I don't bother.

Coming back to Mobile OS UI, I feel that I am qualified to comment as an owner of a iOS (Touch/iPad 3), Android (Nexus 7) and WP8 device (Nokia 520). All have some nice features and some drawbacks. None are perfect. I haven't used iOS7 yet, but agree with the order: iOS6, Android second and WP8 the distant third. ICS on the Nexus is in many if not most respects the better OS for me, and but the share amount of variation among devices and customisation make Android much more painful to support.

Working in IT, I get to deal with support for family and friends. With Android devices (so many of which are still running 2.3), when people ask questions it is always a more painful. iOS is obviously more consistent and simple to support, explain how to do things. No family and friends own a WP8 device, so I am spared support on that.

4
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It's Grand Theft Auto 5 day: Any of you kids remember GTA the First?

GrantB

Re: London 1969

Back in PS2 days, I really liked 'The Getaway' / Black Monday games which were Sony attempts at a European GTA.

Quite liked having realistic central London as a setting, Range Rovers, round-a-bouts and British gangsters for a change.

Never popular and the PS3 version which I was looking forward to never happened.

0
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Swiss space plane to launch robotic orbital debris destroyer

GrantB

Re: The slow approach, good housekeeping

It will go away eventually, so you are right in that anything new should be planned to automatically de-orbit along with any rocket stages or other components.

Problems is that will still be exceptions - the scary one being the possibility of a collision with something big leading to a cascading shower of debris. This is pretty much what the Chinese achieved with their anti-sat test. Doesn't have to be all man-made either - there have been small Near Earth Asteroids that could have taken out some big satellites or space stations. Either could make a mess that force a clean up or face not putting anything into orbit for some time.

The other is that getting objects into space is still hard and not production line boring yet. That means things go wrong and satellites can still be put into orbit DOA or with unexpected orbital paths. That and simple accidents like dropped bolts and tools off the space station, or other parts simply breaking off/exploding.

So any investigation into accelerating the decay of space junk is reasonable, but still seems like a big job simply because space is big (even LEO to geo-stationary space) and changing orbits from one bit of junk to another will require huge changes in velocity. A reusable de-orbiter with Ion or chemical rocket thrusters, will takes ages to move from one object to another. Still careful routing and using the objects mass to help change orbit, might be possible over time to take down some of the largest chunks.

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'Silent' staff stood by as £100m BBC IT project tanked – DG

GrantB

having been there..

This classic best explains why management claim not to know:

Genesis of Failure

In the beginning was THE PLAN.

And then came The Assumptions.

And The Plan was without substance.

And The Assumptions were without form.

And darkness was upon the face of the Workers.

And they spoke among themselves, saying,

"It is a crock of s--t, it stinks."

And the workers went unto their Supervisors, and said,

"It is a pail of dung, and none may abide the odour thereof."

And the Supervisors went unto their Managers, saying

"It is a container of excrement, and it is very strong,

such that none may abide it."

And the Managers went unto their Directors, saying,

"It is a vessel of fertiliser, and none may abide its strength."

And the Directors spoke among themselves saying one to another,

"It contains that which aids plant growth, and it is very strong."

And the Directors went to the Vice-Presidents, saying unto them,

"It promotes growth, and it is very powerful."

And the Vice-Presidents went to the President, saying unto him,

"This new plan will actively promote the growth and vigour of the company, with powerful effects."

And the President looked upon The Plan, and saw that it was good.

And The Plan became policy.

And that is how S--t happens."

5
0

Ballmer's emotional farewell to Redmond: I LOVE THIS COMPANY

GrantB
Boffin

Re: Ballmer not a bad CEO give some credit

To be fair, a slash and burn manager would make Microsoft very profitable in the short to medium term. They have a 100,000 employees and you have to wonder just what the hell that many people do all day given that software development is normally not that labour intensive that you have to have an army of people.

Imagine for example if they simply stopped all expenditure on WP8; they would still make a huge profit margin just collecting patent royalties on every Android sale, not to mention they could hand the whole development mess over to Nokia to try and make it work.

The choice of new CEO will be interesting. Nokia happen to have a CEO who owns a chunk of MS stock, CEO experience at downsizing a large company during market transition.. and probably is keen to move job soon ;-)

0
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Microsoft unveils push-button app generator for Windows Phone

GrantB

I actually now own a Windows Phone 8 phone

"It's hard to imagine that Windows Phone owners would want to install many of these, rather than just pulling up the corresponding web page in their mobile browsers."

Er, I have WP8 phone, and the ability of the native IE mobile browser to mangle webpages is unparalleled in modern mobile browsers. Safari on my iPod Touch, Chrome on my Nexus 7 are perfectly fine mobile browsers, so on those devices I am happy to just use the mobile version of a webpage, but with WP8 an app, generally works better.

Pretty obvious though that the aim of this is to generate large numbers of crap apps that nobody will use - but will blow out the number of apps in the store to match Apple/Android. Pretty sad really.

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0

Samsung brings back clamshell phones with added Android

GrantB

nice idea

I had a Panasonic flip phone that had two really nice little features missing from my current smartphone.

First was that the 'gesture' for answering a call or unlocking the phone was simply to press the spring loaded hinge release button. Phone flips open and ready to make/answer a call without even having to look at the phone. No pocket calls either.

The other was such an obvious feature I have no idea why it has gone from newer phones; a nicely integrated multi coloured LED on the outside of the phone, which indicated status such as message received, power low, charging etc. It meant that when the phone was sitting on my desk at work, or when waking up in the morning, I could spot a missed message or the phone needing to be charged with out having to pick it up and check it. I notice lots of people now compulsively check their iPhones or Android phones for messages as the can't tell when the screen is off.

My daughter inherited the old flip phone, so it was funny to pick it up recently; the screen seems tiny, and weird not to simply press the icon on the screen, but even with an old battery, it still ran for days without charging. Progress.

1
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Only 1 in 5 Americans believe in pure evolution – and that's an upswing

GrantB
Trollface

you forgot the troll icon

Take this one as your trolling badge.

0
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CONFIRMED: Driverless cars to hit actual British roads by end of year

GrantB
Boffin

Re: All at once or none at all - or maybe only a few?

Hundreds of cars? Meh, guided missile cruisers and other military systems such as AWACS have been able to track and target hundreds of objects in real time and 3 dimensions for many years. That includes incoming threats moving at supersonic speeds.

Even on a busy round-about with 5 or more roads merging, you are probably only looking at a few dozens cars at any point in time being a threat or which the system needs to exchange signals with.

Compare that with meat bags currently driving vehicles in busy traffic; I occasionally ride through a complex round-about system with inner and outer lanes and 5 entrance/exit points. Even a ZX81 could navigate it better than some drivers I see failing to cope.

Should be pretty obvious from the road toll in most countries that extensive driver training and enforcement does not work that well.

0
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Water, sunshine or pig s***: How will YOU power your data centre?

GrantB
Windows

Re: Has anyone tried...

" large volumes of lukewarm water "... once nice use of otherwise waste heat from a local geothermal plant is a prawn farm;

http://www.hukaprawnpark.co.nz/history

There are other agricultural options such as hothouses growing orchids or similar as well.

If somebody really is looking for a data centre somewhere with a bulk supply of 'leccy on tap, I would suggest Manapouri - underground, vast amounts of cold water flowing through and 800MW on tap would power a lot of ARM server blades. That power is currently mostly going into a smelter, but that is looking like it could be shut down, leading to an excellent lair/data centre for evil genius types.

( http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manapouri_Hydroelectric_Power_Station)

0
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Apple dodged all UK corporation tax in 2012

GrantB
Facepalm

"Company's like Apple should be Made to pay the FULL TAX in the country where the profit was made. (BEFORE THEY MOVE IT OFF SHORE)"

Yeah, about that.

How do you decide how much profit is made? What is the correct <FULL TAX> amount is?

The issue is this. Profit = sales-price (ex sales tax) - cost of sale (the wholesale/build cost of the idevice + overheads).

Now the country (UK in this case) does in fact grab the sales tax. The consumer is paying of course, but Apple are collecting it and handing it over to the government. No problems there - hence governments moving increasingly to load up on sale taxes despite customers increasing ability to buy overseas making an ever increasing loophole.

The real problem with your plan is that the cost of sale is whatever Apple claim it is. So if the overheads of rent, power and wages is £1 per iDevice and the theoretical ex-VAT price of device happened to be £100, then all Apple have to do is pay £99 per iDevice to their Irish supplier. Result no profit in the UK, but the £99 goes back to pay the actual £10 build price of the device in a low taxation country. In actual fact Apple and other companies tend to bury the costs not in hardware costs but in brand or IP payments which are relatively intangible.

To challenge the profit being claimed, you would have to have a massive governments department to determine if every transaction claimed as a business cost was valid - and given that the transactions could be anything across any number of countries, this would be a near impossible task. How would the the tax man determine if the Apple brand (i.e. a payment made from Apple UK to Apple mothership) is worth £1 or £1 billion?

"Then if the company chooses to move profit to another country the country it moves the profit to has the choice to tax the incoming transferred profit"

Which means double taxation. And again 'moving profit' - how do you define that when you see a $1 coming into a company in Country A, is it profit, refund, payment or just another transaction?

1
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Microsoft tweaks WinPhone YouTube app to fix Google gripes

GrantB
Facepalm

"...cheerily observes that it can't want to roll up its sleeves..."

I had to read that twice, assume it should be "...cheerily observes that it can't wait..."?

One thing I don't get; I thought the first rule of web app security was 'never trust the client', so why would Google have to ask MS nicely to please insert ads or implement controls?

I get that Google want to float targeted adverts and not force them to be part of the content stream, but guess they can simply turn off the API for MS clients, so MS don't really have a lot of room to refuse any demands if they want to produce a custom app for YouTube.

Is this really a WP8 app only issue? Would have thought MS would have provided a YouTube app on W8/W8RT as well.

0
0

Google hit by building automation security FAIL

GrantB
Boffin

Re: And who in their right mind puts a BMS on the Internet?

Used to play around with smart-card access control system for a building I worked at.

At the time, I thought getting it hooked up to the net would be a neat idea - could feed in things like public holiday and daylight saving changes, (main doors were unlocked by default during business hours) and being able to log in remotely and say turn on air-con ahead of time for people working over the weekend, or unlock doors in a loading dock when a courier driver turned up late etc.

In the end we decided that keeping an air-gap was not so bad. Users could copy across the odd update on CD or USB stick during regular maintenance updates, but surprising thing to me about this story was any system like this connected to the net, security was an obvious concern up front.

QNX should be secure enough (most RTOS have security backed in at a low level, so the fault must be with some very dodgy DMS software and lax firewalls.

Part of the problem in my experience is that maintenance teams looking after these systems tend to lean towards old-school sparkys, alarm technical or locksmiths who have migrated to a new IP connected world in which firewall configuration is a required skill and cutting keys from brass no so much. Don't get me started on HVAC maintenance people though...

3
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HTC profits PLUNGE 98%: Pins hopes on HTC One, 'Facebook mobe'

GrantB
Boffin

Re: CURSE of WIN PHONE 8

I don't buy into the argument that WP8 is entirely to blame for HTC woes, but I think it would be fair to argue that HTC might be hit harder than Samsung by weak WP8 sales.

Fairly obviously Samsung are large enough that they can develop and release phones running a number of OS's - besides Android and WP, they also sell Bada, Tizen and whatever their feature-phones run. If Samsung ran into difficulty selling phones running one operating system, they have plenty of others. Samsung also put so little effort into WP phones, that some WP fans suspect conspiracy rather than incompetency: http://www.wpcentral.com/samsung-trying-sabotage-windows-phone-8-edge-out-microsoft

Compare that with HTC who got their start making Win Mobile phones for MS. The 8X phones are apparently decent hardware, and relatively unique design (compared with Samsung). You have to suspect that they made more of an effort in WP phones, as they can't seem to get ahead with their Android range.

Interesting thing to me (as somebody considering a new smartphone), is that even if a HTC flag ship phone was very good, if it is similar specs and similar price to a Samsung SIII/S4, then why wouldn't I just buy the Samsung? To stand out in a crowded market they have to be significantly cheaper or better than other Android phones. If they are the former, you get reduced profits (as reported) and they have a tough time ahead to cram more into phones to be better than a S4.

Doubt that going down the Nokia road would work either - they would have to compete with Nokia in a much smaller market. Tough times ahead...

0
0

Outback geothermal plant goes live

GrantB
Boffin

Reinjection

Geothermal plants can be more efficient than this, but total energy conversion efficiency is not usual the primary aim, as the energy comes for free once the plant is built. Hence things like total cost of plant (and whether there is multi-stage turbines/heat exchangers factor in to it - i.e it might be cheaper per kWh to get 10% of the total resource energy rather than extract more and get 15%.

Haven't read up about this particular plant, but suspect most of the energy not turned into end-user power, will be reinjected into the ground to keep the plant running for a long period of time and to avoid having to dispose of geothermal fluid after it is used to drive the turbines.

Oh, and I suspect PV cells are not that efficient either if you are comparing total recoverable energy in an area to 'end-user power'. Geothermal is a great way of providing base-line power overnight. Would be interesting to see a mixed plant though - i.e. boost geothermal fluid temperatures using a solar furnace during the day.

0
0

Who's a Siri boy, then? Apple hoards your voices for TWO years

GrantB
Facepalm

Re: Now i hate apple....

Should not respond to trolls, but rather obviously there is metadata associated with every query; location, date/time stamps and user ID/device history etc that is used to give a suitable response.

After dropping the user id (and location?), purging old records using the date time stamps is a one line SQL delete command.

Developers working on voice recognition would love being able to replay millions of voice samples before and after algorithm tweaks, but given that storing the data has some cost associated with it (and diminishing returns adding more data), I would imagine Apple are keen to throw it away after a 6 months.

1
1

Gov.uk named THE BEST THING Britain has made all year

GrantB

Re: Language support?

Nice to see Welsh though.

Wonder how much the site cost?

I pretty much always interact with the government online (car licensing, company office etc) so I took a look at my local equivalent: http://newzealand.govt.nz/#content to compare.

I would say the gov.uk looks cleaner - more modern style, but achieves that by simply displaying less content. The massive advert for 'inside government' aligns to the bottom of the page does look like it fits in one screen, but then you scroll down and find more.

So not a bad effort, and would give it a thumbs but. But design award winning? Maybe not., it just looks and works like decent site should

0
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NZ plans interception law refresh

GrantB
Boffin

Re: I need help...

I'm from NZ as well.. but think I understand the point of all this.

The GCSB are/were not allowed to spy on New Zealand citizens. Makes sense - most countries have similar rules (such as the CIA not able to operate internally in the US). For internal threats, you use the police who are kept inline by the justice system. Spy agencies have no oversight except for the (political) government, so you don't want them doing whatever the PM feels like - i.e. go dig up some dirt on <political opponent X>

It turns out when looking at 'who can the GCSB spy on', that there were other grey areas. For instance they can't tap a NZ phone line or cell phone calls without a warrant, but apparently it is OK to ask telco's where a cell-phone was or what calls were made to/from to a landline. If the cell or landline belongs to a NZ citizen are they able to spy? God knows in the case of Kim Dot Com where one house might have 4 people, half are NZ citizens, half not.

I think John Key is going the wrong way here in response. If the agency you are responsible for is found to be breaking the law, failing to do their job, the answer is probably not to simply make a law change and make it legal, but to fix the problem.

If Kim (a NZ citizen) was breaking laws in NZ, then let the police handle it. Why the hell is a spy agency who are supposed to be looking at threats to NZ from external forces, getting involved with helicopter raids for somebody who at worst has committed or helped with copyright violations in some other country? And if the GCSB was getting involved out of boredom or whatever, why did John Key either not know or approve of it?

5
0

Samsung vs Apple: which smartphone do Reg readers prefer?

GrantB
Thumb Up

Re: Android, but not sure which

I am pretty agnostic on the Apple iOS vs Android debate*, but you just picked up on real issue that annoyed the hell out of me.

I had a ~Gen 1 iPod Touch and it was great to fire it up, and check Wifi reception around the office and house etc. When I upgraded quite a while latter, I went to download a wifi scanner and found that they had all gone. No problems, right.. just needs app writers to use the official API... except for some mysterious reason there doesn't appear to be one that app writer can use.

The default Apple handling of Wifi is not great (only showing a few of the available spots) and it loses connection to my work router and randomly won't reconnect, so would love to be able to dig deeper.

*IPad and ~3 iPod Touches of various gen's at home, but Galaxy Nexus phone and Nexus 7 tablet.

There are pros and cons for both - I found my IOS devices were better out of the box - just having a familiar book reader, calculator and notes apps etc all installed and ready to go makes upgrading so easy - plug in new device, sync and iBooks opens on the last page I read, Podcasts are all there etc.

On the other hand, having set up up the Nexus devices fully over time, I find that I get very use to widgets and the swype keyboard.. so somethings are definitely better on Android devices.

Overall, I think for me it comes down to price for my next purchase. An SIII and iPhone 5 are similar prices here in NZ, but something like a Nexus 4 or similar is significantly cheaper and operates much the same as the Nexus 7 I use everyday... so that is probably where I am going next.

1
0

Movie review: Oblivion

GrantB
Thumb Up

Re: RSVP in Dream Speak. Always Transparently Clear of Fab Intentions with Great Inventor Engines ..

Pretty sure that amanfromMars is on the brink of becoming self-aware.

That or committed to a safe and secure facility.

Hard to say, really, but I do like his posts for putting a bit of crazy back in to the internet.

1
0

Flexible flywheel offers cheap energy storage

GrantB
Meh

15KWh?

Not sure if this is particularly good or not.

Low tech Lead Acid batteries are good for about 40Wh per kg. So 340kg of lead acid batteries would seem to give a similar amount of storage (~14 kWh) without even looking at other battery tech like Lithium-ion which is far better. I know flywheels have been trialled as storage for bus's etc, but there is always the scary issue of having to deal with the potential for a flywheel to disintegrate following an impact. Not sure from the description how much this is an issue for the deforming flywheel.

Existing battery technology obviously have life-cycle/recharge issues, but new tech like like this flywheel have a habit of not competing with existing technology in the real world due to maintenance and production issues.

Still would love to see if they scale up - I think there is a place for very big (ferris wheel sized) flywheels to absorb wind/solar PV energy and release it. Can this tech scale to store MWh?s Would be cool to see.

1
0

NASA-backed fusion engine could cut Mars trip down to 30 days

GrantB
FAIL

Re: LENR emerging soon

"...Long wait list of customers starting this April..."

Yeah, right. Same nameless list of customers who were going to get a device last year.

I think Ian Bryce has nailed the trick used in these demos, so surprised people are still trying to push this version of the old cold fusion/perpetual motion scam.

His report can be found linked from here:

http://www.skeptics.com.au/latest/news/cold-fusion-at-energy-conference/

Seems like a reasonable explanation, at least without Rossi fronting up with more evidence, a simpler explanation than cold fusion magic.

2
0

Android FOUND ON TABLETS inscribed with WORD OF GOD

GrantB
Facepalm

Re: Techology and Faith

No, just you that are not right. Had to face palm at the logical fallacies in your post.

Newtonian physics hold up just fine given the scales and speeds we tend to operate at in daily life. Apples still fall down the same as in Newtons day. String theory is interesting, but right now the best evidence we have is for exactly one universe which has the same laws applying everywhere. The Higgs-Boson seems to confirm that the standard model still hold as our best explanation of the universe.

Atheism is not a faith - look it up and try to understand. Holding the null hypothesis, which is that you don't believe in god/gods in the absence of evidence is correct and always will be. You can't be wrong if you change your world view in the face of evidence.

Just get your god of choice to chrome plate the moon over night as a demo of there ability and I for one will take another look at your claims.

26
0

Android's US market share continues to slip

GrantB
Boffin

Re: it must be late

Look again; it does.

Although whoever created the graphs did a poor job, changing colours and time period scale between graphs which did not help make it clear.

Interesting how smooth the graphs are though; the 2 year contract approach in the US, obviously works to smooth the peaks and troughs of iPhone/Galaxy model launches.

2
0

Giant solar-powered aircraft to begin cross-country flight

GrantB
Meh

Re: I , for one, am fascinated with this

Any big multi-jet airliner, including the 787 is not a reasonable comparison for the reasons given in my original post. Any theoretical electric powered airliner will have to be radically different

Sure the first commercial airliners carried about 20 passengers and flew much slower, but there descendants are still in operation world-wide. I recently flew (commercially) on a 19-seat Beech 1900D turboprop. (http://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/seat-map-beechcraft-1900d). That flight was one in which a 787 would have been less than efficient.

In other words, many smaller, slower commercial airliners have their niche.

>However, the modern traveller won't go back to that!

Yes they will if the price is right.

30 years ago people could travel faster in airliners like the Concorde. People overwhelmingly choose flights on slower, cheaper aircraft. People also choose to take a cruise on a ship rather than fly, or simply don't have a choice on some short haul routes such as island hopping where small turbo-prop aircraft are the right choice. Jeremy Clarkson lamented that ships and aircraft generally travel slower these days as cost, fuel economy and emissions become more important than speed in getting from a to b. Teleconferencing is always going to be faster than business travel.

Banging on about airport capacity misses the point - when your take-off speed is closer to 50knots than a few hundred knots and massive runway required for a 787, your air-port requirements change a lot. I am sure, Airbus 380's and the like will continue to haul big groups of people across the Atlantic in bulk for a very long time, but for island hopping, many airports are far from capacity, and near silent, slower electric aircraft could fill in gaps nicely.

>And would you be happy for the transatlantic flight times to double as well?

>Not to mention that transatlantic at low speed also requires that these aircraft can still fly at night...

Wouldn’t worry me.

I live in NZ and of the last few dozen commercial flights I have flown with various airlines , non were across the Atlantic and most were relatively short ranges during the day.

Given a significant proportion of a ticket goes on fuel, I would be happy to save some money and fly a slower, greener, electric aircraft if airlines had them. Would love to fly on a modern air-ship the size of the R101 on day rather than being packed into another 737 or similar.

I can’t imagine seeing a purely solar powered aircraft in commercial use the near future either, but some small steps like taxiing an A380/B747 via a few KW of electric motors driving through the undercarriage, rather than using big turbo-fans (~5MW at taxi speed). In the longer term, who knows; but it won’t look like a 787.

0
0
GrantB
Boffin

Re: I , for one, am fascinated with this

A 787 is designed around the (slightly less powerful) General Electric GEnx or RR Trent engines and (fossil) fuel powering them.

Whatever a theoretical Solar PV powered 'large airliner' looks like, it won't be a 787. As others have already pointed out, on take off (at several hundred knots) it is accelerating and lifting tonnes of fuel - in fact if it had to perform an emergency landing it would have to dump something like 50,000kg of fuel. The two engines also have to have significant power reserves to allow controlled flight on one engine. Critically, the flight profile is designed around that power, and therefore the profile is based on the need to climb as quickly as possible to an optimal cruising speed and altitude where the jets operate most efficiently.

Compare with a theoretical solar aircraft - it needs far less power to accelerate and climb in comparison. It can operate much lower and slower, possibly even changing flight profiles so that flights are grouped around mid-day take-off and evening landings. So power (and therefore fuel cost) requirements are far less. Surface area would also be significantly greater - I assume any aircraft using PV to boost range would use a flying wing or airship design to give a comparatively massive surface area. Travel would be classic airship style - i.e. more like a cruise liner than stuffing people into a tin can and flying them at Mach 0.85 from airport to airport. These days nobody can book a trip on a super-sonic airliner, (maybe with the exception of Virgins Space Ship one) but many people travel by cruise liner and that is quite a profitable industry, traveling slowly between sunny island destinations..

I am still not sure PV airliners would be very feasible with current or near future technology (assuming we don't have have Diamond Age style tech in the near future), from a cost/benefit point of view. Commercial air-line flights did start off with aircraft such as classic DC-3's that were powered by a few piston engines producing a few hundred KW, so 78,000KW is not a reasonable requirement.

As you say, this technology is interesting and likely to be useful in specific situations such as very long loitering drones or satellite replacements, rather than being applied to trying to lift a few hundred tourists from A to B, but using a 787 for back of the envelope calculations is not reasonable.

0
0

Nanowires boost photovoltaics sunlight capture by 15X

GrantB
WTF?

Re: Great . .

WTF just isn't enough when you get stupid responses like this.

Those 'hours of darkness' cover the off-peak period of 23:00 to 07:00, (when I get reduced rates) as that is when lowest usage occurs. Not much solar needed then.

This might of course change if we get more electric cars plugging in over night, but for now appliances and lighting (LED/Compact Fluoro ) used at night are becoming more efficient, and less people are using electric ovens to cook meals at home. Looking at overall demand (not just residential), business peaks tend to be during the day with the cost of refrigeration and air-con.

The study I linked to in an earlier post, shows that in Australia and in other areas like the southern US, air-con is the biggest draw during the day. By the time dusk comes and PV energy drops to nothing, transition should be smooth to baseline hydro/geothermal etc + gas plants which can spin up quickly and meet any shortfalls, but the gas plants you want to run them for as few hours as possible - and mass, distributed PV helps that, as well as reducing peak air-con load in summer.

0
0
GrantB
Boffin

Re: it is possible

Yes, people are negative about PV, but seems obvious that regardless of any significant break-through like nanowires (and there has been a stream of similar stories about breakthroughs that later fail to scale up to bulk manufacturing and distribution stages), that slow and gradual improvements in cost and/or efficiency offset against rising electricity prices means that PV will increasingly become cost-effective to supplement other forms of generation.

Just read this Australian story moments before reading the Reg article on the nano-wires:

"Since the last hot summer in 2010, our electricity system has seen a lot of changes. For one thing, almost 2 gigawatts of distributed generation has been added in the form of domestic solar PV. To put that in context, 2GW represents a touch under 10 per cent of average summer demand"

http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/summer-on-the-nem-what-the-extreme-heat-didnt-do-to-demand-76173

At the moment, the thing that deters me from installing PV at home, is the cost and complexity around inverters and metering more than the cost and effort around the panels themselves.

3
0

The Lynx effect: The story of Camputers' mighty micro

GrantB
Pint

Good times

I remember pouring over the magazines and being impressed by the Lynx.

Great name, reasonable keyboard and graphics as well as promises of expansion to large amounts of memory, but even at the time I was a bit cynical about whether they would deliver the memory and how well it would work in practice. I had already brought a Spectrum and was waiting for Microdrives to appear so had already learnt that when computer makers at the time promised something 'very soon', it might never actually appear.

Once I read reviews that mentioned slow screen handling that was difficult to scroll, I was less impressed and the C64 was a similar price with few drawbacks other than rubbish basic.

On the list of also made it home computers (Lynx/Dragon etc), I am hanging out for the Reg to get around to the Memotech MTX 512. Now that was one sexy looking beast in the adverts, but it obviously failed for some reason.

0
0

Father of Android Andy Rubin steps down for Chrome OS boss

GrantB
Alert

I see your problem

"Google's not the front-runner with this. Microsoft's Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 share kernel code as well as a user interface"

Thing is, that seems like the entirely wrong approach to me.

Sharing a common kernel between a mobile and desktop device is more or less OK, though I suspect small/low powered mobile devices like iPod's and Android phones are benefiting from running a kernel that has been stripped down and tuned for mobile, and not just the desktop kernel recompiled for the target processor. Things like quad-core fast ARM processors in mobile devices are making this less of an issue.

On the other hand, sharing a common user interface between a 4" mobile device and a 27" multi-screen desktop is absolutely insane. Google and Apple don't currently attempt to do this (and are wildly successful with there respective products), whereas Microsoft and Ubuntu have attempted this and failed IMHO.

Either scaling up a mobile UI (Win8) or scaling down a desktop UI to mobile (i.e. classic Win Mobile / WinCE) has not worked historically, and while somebody (Ubuntu?) might come up with something that works, I am not holding my breath that one UI will work seamlessly across platforms.

The obvious thing that Mobile and Desktop OS's should be sharing is apps. Chrome and other apps like email and twitter clients should work consistently across devices and seamlessly share state. Right now, I can post this response on Chrome on my Win7 notebook but when I pick up my Nexus 7 (which shares my Gmail login), it is totally unaware of where I left the pages open on the desktop. Gmail works a little better, but it frustrates me when I use an app like maps on the N7, but switching to a desktop version, it can't pull up the address of the last place I was looking at on the mobile.

Some apps won't scale well, but many would, as they already have to scale between a ~3" phone and ~10" tablet, and at least classically, we can run apps in a window or docked as a widget. Not sure if iOS/OSX is much better than Android/Chrome or Win8 in this respect, but Google really need to get ChromeOS and Android running the same apps unchanged. Don't care if they merge kernel and drivers, but hopefully they won't attempt to merge operating system UI.

0
0

iPhone 5S and lower-cost sibling coming this summer?

GrantB
Mushroom

Re: Yawn...

"80% or 90%" of the market?

Reference please.

From what I recall, Symbian was the market leader in Smartphones until set alight by Mr Elop.

Before the iPhone, Windows Mobile held a significant market share percentage, and then RIM.

The key point in any analysis is that Apple created and hold a large percentage of the very profitable top end of phone sales, and that 20% of 2013 market would be in absolute numbers probably more than 50% of the market in 2007. They seem to be growing sales, if not marketshare, by retaining that the old interface.

Competitors that replace their OS during the same time period (RIM, Nokia, MS) don't seem to be doing so well.

0
0
GrantB
WTF?

Re: Still with the tincy-wincy liddle screen?

Bob is trolling here, but by 'them' squirming around, you mean Apple, and by "...their software is totally unprepared for fragmentation" you mean iOS?

Forgetting about future versions of iOS, right now the OS runs on 3.5", 4", 8" and 10" screens in a couple of resolutions and a number of different CPU generations. Apparently the AppleTV also runs it, presumably at whatever resolution your TV runs at.

I very much doubt that Apply could not up the screen-size to 5" or similar just as easily as Samsung. Of course Apple, being Apple, they may not choose so but iOS support of different screen sizes/resolutions is not the problem.

But when did fragmentation become not an issue?. I still see new Android phones shipping with 2.3, and Samsung sticking the Galaxy brand on everything which can't be good for fragmentation over the long run.

1
3
GrantB
Boffin

Re: Yawn...

Why sure, having observed the wild success of Windows 8, Windows Phone 7.x and 8, they could drop in an entirely new interface (or two for good measure) and also go from about 20+ % of the phone market, making billions to about 2%. But hey, there user interface won't be five years out of date like other OS's.

</sarcasm>

I agree that they are painted into a corner to some extent - like Microsoft with Windows XP/Vista/Win 7, people are pretty happy with a basic, predictable app launcher interface that does not change widely. Personally, I am pretty happy with that as well.

I liked buying a new bike last year and finding the clutch on left handbar, gear-shift on left foot, accelerator on the right handbar etc. Quite glad that vehicle manufacturers don't change there minds on controls every model year.

I use a Nexus 7 tablet (Android 4.2.2) and an iOS iPod Touch/iPad Gen 3 (iOS 6.x) on a regular basis. Both operating systems have little things that I would like to see change - iOS to allow live updating on widgets/icons (which it already does to some extent) and a swype style keyboard like the Nexus.

Android to figure out what the return button actually does and make it consistent, and opening HTTP links from emails to actually open more than one link in Chrome. Also Android 4.2 is good enough now - please no more overlays from Samsung, HTC etc.

In both cases however, I would like them to tweak the little things and make it better but NOT to throw out the current interface and create a new unpolished UI that reflects whatever is fashionable in UI design today. Yes, I am thinking of Ubuntu/Unity, Gnome and of course Microsoft that has to push tiles and things like all upper case letters on menus everywhere.

If UI fashion de jour continues on the current minimalism path, pretty sure we will end up with black writing on black buttons on a blackground and nobody will actually be able to use a computer. But they will look styley .

14
1

Redmond slashing Win8, Office OEM rates for small devices

GrantB
Holmes

Re: despite Microsoft offering customers deep discounts on Windows 8 upgrades

Pedantic and wrong.

Terminal Services is the.. service (the hint is in the name) that Microsoft give to the service which accepts remote connections.

'Remote Desktop Connection' application from Microsoft (sitting on my Win7 task-bar right now) is the application that makes connections (the hint is in the name) to a machine running Terminal Services via the Remote Desktop Protocol.

So the original poster was quite correct. They RDP'd to a box in the same way we FTP files - using a File Transfer Protocol. The actual client and server details are unimportant, compared to the protocol being used.

And while I haven't had to RDP to a W8 box yet (on the basis that I am actually yet to see a Win8 box actually being used), I can just imagine it would indeed be rage inducing.

19
1

Australian supercomputer to use geothermal cooling

GrantB
IT Angle

Re: Geothermal for cooling?

That building has "... a ground loop system of 350 pipes to use the Earth as a heat sink or heat source".

That sounds like a ground source heat pump (http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Generating-energy/Choosing-a-renewable-technology/Ground-source-heat-pumps)

Storing heat underground is not what I would describe as geothermal (in which the heat is not created above ground), but then my experience is with high pressure and temperature systems generating MW not trying to cool buildings/computers with that.

1
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