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852 posts • joined 11 Jun 2009

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You should install smart meters even if they're dumb, says flack

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Australia vs UK

@Pompous Git: I see that the base interest rate in Australia is currently 1.5%; in the UK it's 0.25%, making PV a correspondingly better investment compared with sticking your savings in a bank. And of course the tariff models are separate. But I didn't get PV just for financial reasons.

You also dis the technology on the grounds that it can raise your neighbours' voltage and blow their appliances. Yes, that might happen if there are two of you on the end of a long piece of damp string, but in my suburban setting it has no noticeable effect at all on the voltage, which I monitor at the most sensitive point - the inverter, as I have a low impedance supply. So you can't generalise, especially considering that the maximum power it has ever generated is about 3.5kW, which is scarcely more than a kettle. Putting on a kettle will reduce the voltage the same amount as full sun (with clouds around it, i.e. momentarily) will increase it. In addition, IIRC the distribution company has the right to refuse permission for you to connect if it thinks there is enough installed capacity in the area to cause an issue, but I would be interested to know how often this has happened, if ever.

You may not be aware that in the EU a simple fudge was made to harmonise the UK/IRL 240V with 220V elsewhere by mandating that all appliances must operate at 230V+6%-10%; this would not have happened if things would be upset too easily.

PS "MIssus"? How presumptuous!

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Backwards-running meters

@Martin-73: "A standard twisty wheel with pointers meter will run backward during feed-in."

A standard twisty wheel with pointers meter which doesn't have a ratchet will run backwards, but as soon as you register your PV installation (which you have to if you want any generation tariff), your electricity company will be very keen to change it for an electronic one.

Incidentally, these dumb meters (or the one I have anyway) indicate on their displays if they have ever experienced reverse energy flow, presumably to detect fraud. The LED that flashes for every fraction of a kWh consumed also comes on steadily during periods of reverse energy flow.

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Dying pensioners

@ledswinger: "Unless you dispute the official line on climate change, fuel poverty and excess winter deaths, then it is a simple matter of fact that all the eco-bling of wind turbines and PV saves polar bears, but kills pensioners."

Very smug little argument, but ignores the fact that the brokenness of the energy market means vastly inflated prices unless you religiously change supplier every year, which is just the sort of thing that the poor pensioners you are using as your emotional pawns are not going to do (just as they are not likely to take up green incentives such as insulation grants). Direct your ire at the big six rather than microgeneration, which they hate as it undermines their monopoly.

Still, I'm glad that you think it saves polar bears.

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Exploding capacitors

@PNGuinn: Ooh, that might be fun!

Probably not. The inverter is in a steel case with a very chunky aluminium heat sink on the front, so it would require quite a major conflagration for it to get out. And the capacitors are quite likely just to fail to capacitate, rather than go out in a blaze of glory.

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Re: Downvoted pv panels

Perhaps it's because I don't live in Australia that I never have to clean my solar panels, Pompous Git. Find it hard to believe by all means, but confirmation bias is a powerful thing, and judging by the unnecessary advice about working on roofs, it's not hard to guess your opinion on solar PV.

A replacement panel will have its own micro-inverter. They are a better than stringing panels in series because partial shading has a lesser effect, but 5 years ago they were not economical. The faulty panel can just be taken out of the string and and the existing inverter will work just fine with the remaining ones.

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Re: Are your WiFi devices built using old valve tech?

Shurely the worse mistake is not to know the difference between power (kW) and energy (kWh).

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Re: Downvoted pv panels

"(especially taking into account ongoing costs such as maintenance, cleaning, etc)."

They don't need regular maintenance or cleaning or "etc", whatever that might be. I've had solar PV for 5 years now with no cleaning or maintenance whatsoever, no noticeable drop-off in performance, and my non ideally-situated 2.75kWp installation has generated more than 12MWh. From what I read, the capacitors in the inverter might die eventually, but so far so good.

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Got to dash out for some rubber johnnies? Amazon has a button for that

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Re: Actually quite useful

"Because they're cheaper?" No, because they were cheaper when you were sucked in. Do you still check to see if they are still cheaper?

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Re: Play-Doh???

More logical for you - not more logical for them. As has been pointed out, the only purpose of these is to sell you overpriced branded goods with the ultimate weapon of concealing the price entirely, which they wouldn't do if you could choose what you bought.

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"Saved a blinking fortune."

Really? The next time, before you order something you didn't really need because it was available with Prime, you should look around to see how much it costs elsewhere. It might be a revelation.

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Ford announces plans for mass production of self-driving cars by 2021

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Re: It's nowhere near ready yet

"How are automated cars going to deal with those if they can miss a white lorry?"

Because for every widely-publicised incident like that, there are 100 non-newsworthy incidents of preventable collisions being caused by human drivers which would have been avoided by autonomous vehicles. You so eloquently described how you were misled in a similar situation; how do you even know that your average driver might not have crashed into that white lorry too?

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English Uber alles in London taxis? No way, TfL – taxi app titan

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Black cab dinosaurs

@astrax: "going for regular examinations (called "appearances") in which the examiner can ask for practically any road, cul-de-sac or point of interest in a 20 mile radius"

Why? Just why, nowadays? Because "the Uber drivers' SatNav fluffing mid journey"? Car breaking down is more likely.

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Virgin signs up record ultrafast broadband subs

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Re: Meh

I've had Virgin but not Openreach availability for years.

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Re: "The proof is in the pudding"

I take your point, smartypants, but upload speed is becoming more important with our ever-increasing cloudiness, and I'm not sure this was anticipated when the specification of DOCSIS 3 was hammered out. According to the Wiki, they appear to be addressing that now with version 3.1+.

We're not talking about symmetric communication here - just slightly less blindingly asymmetric.

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"The proof is in the pudding"

No it isn't, it's in the eating of the pudding.

But don't forget Virgin's dirty little secret - upload speeds.

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Violence, vandals and vomit: London's naughtiest tech Tube stations revealed

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"a collision, or worse"

Ooh do tell us - what's worse?

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The developer died 14 years ago, here's a print out of his source code

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"Lightening"

Lightning is weird, but calling it lightening is more weird.

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Samsung Note 7: Probably the best phone in the world. Yeah – you heard right

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Re: Battery....?

Yes. And Samsung devices have a pen holster, so you don't lose it, unlike MS or Apple. If Apple had a holster, it could contain a connector to charge the battery the Apple Penci has to have.

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Licensing issues too, maybe?

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Re: Probably the best (...) in the world

Clickbait.

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Re: Still using my Note 2

@AC "which I find pretty useless as it's just not practical running that from a backpack when hiking etc"

Chasing Pokemon, you mean. :)

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Samsung eyeballs new Note

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64GB of RAM?

You seem to be making a habit of this...

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Re: Fixed battery - disaster

"Disaster"? No-one cares that tablets and increasingly laptops have non-removable batteries, so why worry about phones? People seem to be living in the past, when batteries really didn't last very long.

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Huawei P9 Plus: Leica-toting flagship gets a big brother

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Re: Barelling

@Paul Crawford: I agree, especially as you can still market your camera as having the same number of pixels, and that big number is the only thing that matters anyway...

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Barelling

"barrelling, for which there is no magic cure in a 7mm thin device"

Do you mean barrel distortion? There's an easy cure: reverse the distortion in software. Of course this results in non-uniform resolution, but is a technique much larger cameras employ.

PS I think you mean 64/128GB of flash memory, not RAM.

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TP-Link fined $200k, told to be nice to wireless router tinkers after throwing a hissy fit

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It is, but because different jurisdictions have different limits, these different limits now somehow have to be enforced in hardware rather than software, which means more product variations, leading to higher cost.

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Avoiding Liverpool was the aim: All aboard the world's ONLY moving aqueduct

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Excellent article

Thank you. However, while it may be the world's only swinging aqueduct, it isn't the only moving one. There is the much more modern Falkirk Wheel which is just as mind-boggling as it rotates in a vertical plane, without tipping the water out! (I guess though that you could argue that this isn't an aqueduct as it doesn't carry water across something!)

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IPO spews email addresses to hundreds of recipients. Twice

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Why oh why...

...can't email clients pop up an "are you sure?" if you try to send something with more than a few addresses in To: and Cc:?

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ZTE Axon 7: A surprise flagship contender

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Controller chip refuses to charge it any more?

What? Never heard that one before. Battery charge controllers are not like printer toner cartridge chips you know.

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"a battery that can be removed and replaced in less than ten seconds"

Except that's not the whole story, is it? To change the battery requires the phone to be rebooted; to connect it to an external battery, assuming it wasn't completely flat, results in no loss of service.

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Re: A question of balance

Depends whether their hard disks contain helium or not.

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"Most batteries wear out because of overcharging."

Can you point me to convincing evidence for this please? The phone contains circuitry that will prevent overcharging, so leaving the charger connected overnight does not mean you are a "dimwit".

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Uber opens up on Oz deactivation policies, just a little

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"Deactivated"?

Do these people know how their language comes across? It's as if they consider their drivers to be robots.

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Magnetic, heat scanners to catch Tour de France electric motor cheats

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Re: I love Bluetooth

I agree that there are a lot of ludicrous Bluetooth-enabled devices, but for this one there is definitely method in the madness, because it allows the motor to be switched on and off without having to run a very obvious wire from it to the control on the handlebars.

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UberEats into food delivery with new app launch in London

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Destroy the competition

When you're sitting on a huge pile of cash you can subsidise new ventures like this in order to destroy the competition, and then you can charge what you like and the consumer is the loser.

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Flash. Bang. Wallet: Marcher crooks target UK Android users

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Re: If you are using your phone for 2FA

When 2FA becomes sweet FA...

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Verification image

Santander (and probably others) has for a long time shown you an image previously selected by them, and a phrase previously entered by you, after you have entered your customer number, but before you enter your secret information. Assuming the user is awake, this ought to defeat attacks which present the same spoof site to every user.

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Re: why it's Droid-only

Except this isn't, for once, a Flash vulnerability. It appears to be another vector which just pretends to be something to do with Flash in order to get the user to execute it. 99% of Apple users won't know their device doesn't use Flash so would behave in the same way anyway.

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New solar cell breaks efficiency records, turns 34% of light into 'leccy

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Re: In terms of watts per dollar...

@Killing Time: the thing you've overlooked is the much higher efficiency of hot water production from solar thermal than from diverting exported solar PV into immersion heaters. I looked into the latter in some detail as I have solar PV, and besides the relatively small amount of hot water you'll get, you need things like a large EMI filter and a lots of heatsinking. At least in the UK, PV plus thermal is the best way to go.

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Re: Science is a filthy tease...

@Andrew Jones 2: I haven't noticed any efficiency drop in my 5 year old PV installation so far, though I accept the capacitors in the inverter might not last for ever.

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Re: Science is a filthy tease...

@Spit the dog: have you really not worked out that if the energy produced by the installation over its lifetime is far more than that embodied in it by the use of "Mongolian coal!!" (and it is), then the net result is beneficial?

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Re: Barking in the wrong forest.

No (isolating) transformer is required by law to connect solar panels to the grid - is that different for wind turbines?

One thing you can't get away from is large capacitors to store the charge necessary to produce mains AC frequency.

The enormous variation in the power of the wind makes it hard to design something that will produce anything useful at all most of the time without destroying itself in a storm. Turbines also create vibration and noise (you will soon regret bolting one to the side of the house) and require maintenance. A car alternator's front bearing isn't designed to cope with the forces imposed on it by large wind vanes. You would also need to protect the alternator from the weather. People have tried to stick propellors on car alternators for decades with very little success.

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Helium... No. Do you think this is some kind of game? Toshiba intros 8TB desktop drive

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@Len Goddard

Somebody needs to step away from the keyboard...

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Surface Book nightmare: Microsoft won't fix 'Sleep of Death' bug

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"the stylus became part of the detritus... in the bottom of my laptop bag"

Yes, that was a big mistake - unlike Samsung Notes, there is no holster for the stylus. I'd much rather have a slightly less comfortable slimmer stylus than none at all because it's been lost or left at home. Oh, and as it knows when the stylus is in the holster, it can be programmed to save power by not looking for it when it knows it's not there.

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"the battery discharges even whilst powered off."

Ah, fond memories of the Original EEE PC in 2008 - I sent mine back twice for motherboard replacement to fix this fault and of course as it didn't, then got a refund.

Just opened my "eee" folder on Yahoo Mail to check that for the first time in more than 5 years. Only took it a couple of seconds to retrieve that from who knows where...

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"Why on Earth would a non-responsive bluetooth module stop a laptop from sleeping?"

@Jeffrey Nonken: because it's a hardware fault. You have a broken computer. The OS doesn't know, for instance, if the Bluetooth module is in a mode where it's slurping power at maximum rate and so will flatten the battery rapidly while everything else is asleep. Maybe its designers responded to angry complaints from similarly-afflicted users that their batteries go flat in sleep mode, and decided that honesty was the best policy: the OS shouldn't make promises it can't keep?

You can't blame any OS for not miraculously finding a way to work properly on broken hardware. Who knows - maybe the Surface Pro is being similarly dishonest about a hardware irregularity, leading to the "sleep of death" that people are complaining about?

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'Apple ate my music!' Streaming jukebox wipes 122GB – including muso's original tracks

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Re: 122GB ? Pah. Windows 10 OneDrive client ate over 200GB of my files!

...which is ironic as not so long ago it was Microsoft that was forcing us away from that.

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Re: A: he is not a real musician

Yes, you missed at least four things here (having read the original blog and then checked to see if The Reg had picked it up):

- You can only download it again while you have internet access (obvious but still important)

- The system can conflate different versions of the same song, replacing one with another

- Apple doesn't support WAV files, so the original material has now been compressed

- If you take up the 3 month free subscription to Apple Music and then cancel it, all your music is gone forever, apparently.

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What's wrong with the Daily Mail Group buying Yahoo?

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Re: Yahoo

TBF, spam does auto-expire and the filtering is of similar effectiveness to other providers in my experience.

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Ubuntu plugs code exec, DoS Linux kernel holes

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Re: Updates issued for still-supported OS version!

Are you new here? Since when has "newsworthy" been a necessary criterion for a Register article?

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