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* Posts by Richard 12

1562 posts • joined 16 Jun 2009

Visual Studio 2012: 50 Shades of Grey by Microsoft

Richard 12
Silver badge
FAIL

Grey icons traditionally indicate disabled or unavailable options.

I'm pretty sure that's actually specifically stated in a previous version of a Windows GUI style guide.

So clearly the GUI screenshots are intended to convey that every single feature has been disabled and is unavailable.

I'll stick with a version that actually works, thanks.

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Shove off Prince Harry, now Norway's teen royal in fresh photo uproar

Richard 12
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There's more to it than geotagging

Background details will give approximate location, and foreground may give precise coordinates.

Plus, they are supposed to be working rather than taking photos anyway!

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Kidney-for-iPad fanboi sues after illness strikes

Richard 12
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Merely giving up a kidney doesn't make him an idiot.

After all, in the UK alone there are hundreds of living donors who have done the same - for free!

It seems that the actual donation part was not done all that well - either he wasn't really a suitable donor or some aspect of surgery or aftercare was botched or poor.

Good luck to him though - most teens do at least one spectacularly stupid thing, just most get away with it.

I can think of a lot of adults who would probably have been taken in by this kind of thing - most of the people on the Jeremy Kyle show, to begin with.

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Vodafone and pals can't kick the habit of cheap mobe prices

Richard 12
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Re: Hi, Mr. Cynical here

Rule of thumb is that price-to-retailer is around 3-4 times cost, and price to end user 4-5 times manufacturing cost.

That's to cover all the fixed costs of bringing a device to market - things like the hardware & software engineers, testing etc for compliance with standards and regulations, IP licences, marketing etc.

Then the retailer you buy it from needs to make some money as well to pay their rent and staff.

So those prices all sound pretty reasonable.

Also, remember why iSupply do those tear downs in the first place - they are advertising their services in finding suppliers and manufacturers for similar devices.

So they are probably going to underestimate the cost to get more business, as nobody can bring them up on it anyway.

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Euro NCAP to mandate auto-braking in new-car test

Richard 12
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Re: @Richard 12

Yes, to drive safely you do have to do that.

However, if you take a look at a motorway you'll clearly that that very few drivers really do so.

I see a lot of tailgating action on the motorways that looks exactly like "Set cruise control slightly too fast, get really close to the car in front then suddenly realise too close and slow down a lot."

Oddly enough, almost always the cars that have this feature as standard.

Adaptive cruise control is supposed to fix that, perhaps it does.

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Richard 12
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Unhappy

Re: Even better idea

I really dislike cruise control.

It means that drivers have an incentive not to maintain a good separation between them and the car in front because they have to disable it (and thus re-enable it) to do so.

It probably also increases stopping distance because they won't have their foot on a pedal - so further to physically move before braking starts.

I've driven a few cars with it, tried it out and decided that I had less control of the vehicle so I don't use it at all now.

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Microsoft tightens grip on OEM Windows 8 licensing

Richard 12
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Facepalm

Re: Well you are overlooking something

Corporate installs?

We have our own images and buy our own licences, and I don't think we are alone in that.

Yet Dell still ship the machines with Windows pre-installed. Hoping that they don't actually end up double licensed by some magic or other, but as that isn't directly my problem I don't pay much attention.

Remember that home use remains a small proportion of PC sales.

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Martian lakes seen where NASA Curiosity rover WON'T BE GOING

Richard 12
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Happy

Re: `miffed`

They are intending to, in the 2016 and 2018 missions.

The 2018 mission is even hopinh to bring some stuff back!

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Valve: Games run FASTER on Linux than Windows

Richard 12
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Happy

Re: You seem to be missing something here

If the hardware will run at a 16% higher framerate, then that's 16% more detail that can be put into the game.

So higher resolutions, more realistic meshes, better texturing and/or more complex shaders for better lighting and Other Things.

Which is nice.

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Richard 12
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Nah, it'll be simpler than that.

It will be "Click this link, type your Steam login details. Now go have a cup of coffee while Magic Happens."

Partly because it will fail if it isn't - their key target market wants one-or-two-click solutions with the minimum of fuss - but mostly because completely automating that kind of thing is much easier in Linux than Windows.

If they manage a good (soft) launch, then a lot of people will start wondering "Why buy Windows for my next computer when the Linux version is easier and runs better?"

That's clearly Valve's aim, and it will be interesting to see if it comes to pass.

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Richard 12
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FAIL

Re: Gabe!

Different situations - Steam worked from day one, the initial annoyances were down to needing an internet connection to initially register back when broadband was less common and more expensive.

When Steam first launched (9 or 10 years ago? I feel old!), I did find it annoying to have to take my laptop to an internet cafe for a couple of hours to download updates for Half-Life 2 after installing it. The box did say that I needed a connection to 'register' the game and the downloads were clearly marked as updates and I could just click "Go ahead" and let it run while I did other stuff (emails home etc). Once done I could play whenever I wanted without a connection, and these days that download would have taken five minutes and I may not have even noticed.

Heck, I didn't have to wait long for *everything* to get downloaded and install on my new PC last year - all I neeedd to do was install Steam, type in my username/password once and click "download all my stuff". A win for Steam as I didn't need to bother finding my disks.

Everyone I know who has tried Steam has found that it works pretty well and doesn't distract from the game - the complaints about it for the last five years or more are merely about DRM as a concept, rather than Steam's implementation.

None of that applied to GFWL. I had to keep clicking through loads of things, retype my details many times and I could not leave it going while doing something else. It simply doesn't work, and it's now pissed off enough people that nobody who has heard of it is going to want anything to do with it or its successors.

Basically, this kind of system is only accepted if it's seamless and almost invisible.

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Richard 12
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Mushroom

Re: Gabe!

I doubt Windows Marketplace will affect Steam much.

Yesterday I bought a game that used "Games for Windows LIVE". This was a terrible, terrible mistake. DO NOT DO THIS.

After it downloaded and apparently fully installed, it took over an hour just to 'create' an account so I could play my game (despite already having a Windows LIVE account), it adds about a minute to the game startup and actually kicks me back to the main menu after it logs in - I click "Play single player game", it moves on to Load/Resume/Options, sit there for a minute while GFWL logs in and then have to click OK to get kicked back to the main menu and I have to click Play Single Player again.

It's totally destroyed my appreciation for the game, because it slaps "GFWL!!!!!" in my face like a wet herring every time I play and I'm never going to forget spending a completely frustrated hour pissing about with this unnecessary crap.

Steam on the other hand - it took me about a minute to sign up, and almost every game I've bought through it worked fine with no messing about. I barely even register its existence when I want to play, and it does let me play offline with no internet conection - which GFWL does not.

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Lenovo: 'Us, buy Nokia? Surely you jest'

Richard 12
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Headmaster

Re: Please, please

Presumably Nokia have entered the Olympic archery contest and forgotten their arrows, so are shooting wads of cash at the targets.

You know, that actually makes about as much sense as their current market strategy...

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UK's thirst for energy falls, yet prices rise: Now why is that?

Richard 12
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Re: Brown Out Blair Out Cameron Out

Our hydro is "STOR" (surge) demand - the typical example is a cup of tea in commercial breaks.

The "interruptible" contracts you're thinking of are probably the frequency response loads which can shut down instantly for up to 20 minutes (freezers and the like.) They exist to keep the Grid itself up and running while STOR starts up (75-360 seconds). They aren't there to get the peaking generators running.

CCGTs take a lot longer than you think to reach max. output - 40-50 minutes when 'hot', 75-110 minutes from 'warm' and 75 to 150 minutes from 'cold'*, although they can generate about 2/3 capacity within 30 minutes if you really go for it (treat them as a gas turbine). This is seriously fast for a fossil fuel system, the only faster ones are open cycle gas/petroleum turbine and conventional diesel generators which are used for UPS and grid STOR.**

The CCGTs are currently intended as "peaking" generators - peak demand is predictable so they are brought to temperature just in time to meet the peak demand at full efficiency.

You are right that at the moment we don't need to keep the gas running because wind and solar penetration is very low, and fully coverable by our existing STOR for long enough to get enough high-efficiency CCGTs going.

If current wind peneratration plans come to pass then frequency response plus STOR isn't going to be big enough for long enough to warm up CCGTs from cold.

So that leaves us building a lot more STOR diesels & turbojets and keeping more of the CCGTs warm and hot - both increase CO2 emissions.

Even now it is unclear whether we're actually reducing CO2 emissions when balancing the extra CO2 from the low-efficiency fossil-fuel STOR etc against the lower CO2 emissions of wind***.

Reading their recent publications it's clear that National Grid are shitting bricks. (Very diplomatically, but still...)

* Kehlhofer, R., et al., Combined-cycle gas & steam turbine power plants. 1999, Tulsa: PennWell Publishing Company.

** Boyce, M.P., Gas Turbine Engineering Handbook. 2006, Oxford: Elsevier.

*** Wind is not carbon neutral as it needs a lot of expensive maintenance, offshoire wind doubly so as it takes a lot of fuel oil to get out to the turbines.

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Richard 12
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Flame

Two thing - fractional distillation and crackers. Look them up.

The oil that comes out of the ground is a mix of many different types of oil, petroleum and impurities, so one of the big jobs after extraction is separating the stuff out.

Even after doing that, it's also relatively easy to crack heavy oils into lighter oils like petroleum if that's what you want.

These are what refineries are for.

Light oils into heavier ones is more difficult but can also be done.

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Richard 12
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Re: The root cause of all of this mess?

Not true, in this case it's actually Blair and the Green Party.

The coal mines were going to close either way simply down to safety concerns - we care if our people die down't pit so the costs escalate and countries who pay less attention to the odd mining disaster rapidly become much cheaper.

The problem we have here is the over-emphasis on wind and the outright refusal to build any nuclear plants in the last decade. Thankfully now that some Greens have realised that nuclear is the only carbon-neutral baseload generation, as we've got a chance of starting to build the plants we needed years ago.

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Richard 12
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Re: In Orlowski's world

In the real world it is miniscule.

It also won't get any higher until our politicians stop pandering to the idiot Greenies and start doing some joined-up and medium to long-term thinking as opposed to the current extremely short-termist, market and headline-driven approach.

Swapping a small amount of CO2 emissions for mercury and heavy metals pollution is not sane, and cutting CO2 by deliberately blacking out and pricing out consumers is also rather crazy. That's before you note that CO2 emissions per kWh are likely to increase by pushing wind as more gas turbines are needed sit in hot standby ready to sync.

The National Grid has repeatedly warned that our current path leads straight to rolling blackouts ("demand management") and various charities have already pointed out that the number of people in fuel poverty is increasing - as a direct result of this push to wind and solar.

The next ten to fifteen years are going to be extremely painful, and somebody in power is going to feel a sharp red-hot poker within that time period - but it won't have been their fault, because the ones who set us on this course will have quit before the faecal/fan interface occurs.

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Richard 12
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Re: In the 1950s....

Actually, your domestic water supply uses energy to purify it, and you could argue that they are effectively the same thing.

At the end of the day, all your domestic services (Electricity/gas, water, sewerage, broadband, phone) come down to energy, maintenance and capital infrastructure costs.

Such a shame that the first is being squeezed by short-term thinking... As is the second and third...

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Richard 12
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FAIL

@mr_jrt

We'd need tens if not hundreds of GWh of storage - remember that flywheels and salt batteries are still fairly experimental and are really intended to provide the few minutes of UPS before the diesel generators kick in at sites like data centres and power stations.

So the only storage technology that could actually scale far enough is pumped storage hydroelectric.

Yet oddly enough, the Scottish seem unwilling to let us drown most of Scotland to provide the capacity.

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Qubits turn into time travellers

Richard 12
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Pint

Re: Practical applications ...

You already will have did*.

Such a shame you won't listened* to yourself.

* Time travel tenses are hard.

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Hidden Grand Canyon-sized ICE-HOLE hastens Antarctic melt

Richard 12
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FAIL

Re: Doin yer own fact checking .. and checking out the sKeptitard from FourX land

And why do you think that's a good place to measure from? Hint - nowhere is.

The Earth's crust is not static. Is that place being uplifted, in which case it's less than 35cm, or is it descending in which case it's more?

Any single place to measure mean sea level is fundamentally wrong, it must be measured at many places around the world to account for local crustal variations.

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Skype: Nearly half of adults don't install software updates

Richard 12
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FAIL

Re: Ha, that's arssing ironic

Important is not the same as critical.

Calling my inlaws on the other side of the planet is important, but nobody is going to die if it breaks down so I'm not going to spend £2.50 a minute for a shitty international line when I can pay 5p a minute for a reasonable VOIP line.

Oh yes, and Skype is generally more reliable and better quality than international phone lines anyway.

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Richard 12
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Happy

Re: Or maybe

You might be onto a winner there, we could call it "Aptitude" because it'd be a pretty good thing.

That said, Windows does have such a system already - Steam updates everything you buy through it.

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USB charges up to 100 watts

Richard 12
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FAIL

Re: I still think Douglas Adams was right...

I strongly disagree. The car cig lighter socket is a horrible design, completely unsuited to its current purpose as the contacts are very poor and unreliable.

How many times have you had to wiggle yours to get it working?

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Richard 12
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Go

Re: Size of Desire outweighs solution advantages

I've seen a few USB power supply modules for UK wallplates, so you can get them already.

About £20 IIRC.

This would have the possibility of making them a lot more useful - I can see monitor, printer and netbook manufacturers jumping on this, as 'generic' PSUs are much cheaper than branding your own.

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Richard 12
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Unhappy

Except even they are saying you'll need 5 different ones

Because you know for certain each USB3 PDS-powered device will come with a PSU at the very lowest profile it can possibly run on. (Also, PSUs are quite inefficient when run at the low end of their rated output.)

That said, Profile 1 (5V, 2.0A) is already in existence, most tablet chargers are rated at that.

The new bits here are the 12VDC and 20VDC ratings - do these higher voltages need to be negotiated between PSU and device (expensive), or do you need a cable with even more cores like they did for USB3 in the first place (expensive)?

More importantly, it won't do anything about the myriad of utterly shit "USB chargers" out there that claim 1A or more and not delivering anywhere near that, or even exploding because they don't meet any of the creepage clearance and insulation requirements. Take a look at this one.

(I really hope that's a clone and not a genuine Apple. Possible story for El Reg?)

I know it's not the USB Promotor Group's direct legal remit, but it is already incredibly difficult to buy a legitimate USB charger and I see this making it worse. Somebody needs to start stamping on the charlatans (and Amazon don't appear to care, I've seen so many from their 'partners' being left up after a multitude of "it exploded on me" reports).

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Microsoft promises Metro developers 'fame and fortune'

Richard 12
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Making some money?

That's probably true, if Microsoft like you they might pay you to develop something.

If yours is the only one of a useful type of application in the WP8 store then it might do pretty well, at least in the first few months after WP8 launches.

However, you won't be getting a 'huge hit' like Rovio managed and it would be stupid to bet your business on WP8 alone.

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Expert: EU Microsoft competition fine could reach $7bn

Richard 12
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Ok, we'll ignore the monopoly bit

I actually agree with you that it is not relevant, as the merits of the previous monopoly case are not at issue here.

Microsoft appear to be in contempt of the EU Commission by failing to implement agreed behaviour.

In their case, such contempt carries a maximum fine of around $7 billion.

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Richard 12
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@Callam

How about an accurate analogy?

Let's say you were accused of nicking my car.

You make a bargain with the court where you agreed to pay my taxi fares for a few weeks, as it was pretty clear to your lawyers that you were going to lose the case and go to prison.

Then you don't pay up.

What happens next is you are in the dock for contempt of court, which carries a much bigger sentence than the original accusation.

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Judge: Apple must run ads saying Samsung DIDN'T copy the iPad

Richard 12
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It's a very old and obvious design

Go watch 2001 A Space Odyssey, and take a look at the tablets shown in the film.

Who copied who, and how much do Apple owe to Mr Kubrick?

Actually building a real device to that design was quite difficult, but that's not the claim they have made.

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Hubble spots ancient spiral galaxy that SHOULD NOT EXIST

Richard 12
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Re: I wonder what

We already did!

The microwave background radiation is the glow of the big bang!

It's just red-shifted a long way on account of the Universe being a lot bigger than it was then.

We've even mapped it, albeit not at a particularly high resolution.

Isn't science amazing?

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WinPho to eke out 4% of US smartphone biz

Richard 12
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Re: There isn't even a decent torch app in the WinPho app store

And bingo, there's the problem.

Why does your TORCH need your music and video library?

Those are completely unrelated to the primary function of the app, so can only be for nefarious purposes.

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PayPal is bleeding market share and it's all eBay's fault

Richard 12
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Re: Second Hand Background is Wrong

I have to disagree with you there.

Paypal's dispute behaviour is extremely important to their long-term health, and it's almost certainly their key strategic failure.

The reason for this is that the most important asset of any online payments provider is the trust of buyer and seller.

Both parties need to be confident that if the other fails to deliver, the dispute will be resolved quickly and effectively.

Without that trust, Paypal will fail because nobody wants to use it.

People don't use a service that they think will screw them over, and trust is extremely hard to regain once lost.

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Olympic Security cock-up was down to that DARN software

Richard 12
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Re: Blatantly wrong operating model

You are correct.

They were (and are) only offering hourly rates in the "agency model", and apparently refused to pay for any of the incidentals.

Like being paid during training, or transport to and from the Games themselves.

It now appears that the reason most of their security staff didn't know when their shifts were because they never intended to tell them until a couple of days before each shift, yet G4S still seem surprised that many of them took up other employment.

Mr Buckles, here's a hint: A contract stating "You will work X hours each day from Day Y to Day Z for money W" is going to be fulfilled by far more people than a contract that effectively says "Don't call us, we'll call you."

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Richard 12
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Re: "They have promised to meet all costs faced by the police and armed forces."

G4S can take the monetary hit quite easily.

From the G4S website: "G4S has announced a seventh consecutive year of underlying revenue, PBITA and dividend growth in its preliminary results for the full year January to December 2011"

Last year their revenue was £7,522m, operating margin of 7.1%

The reputational hit is rather harder to quantify of course.

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Valve to raise Steam for Ubuntu

Richard 12
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Re: @SoaG: Valve's entire catalog will move

No harder than a MacOSX version, and probably easier in many cases due to wider OpenGL support.

In some cases it's actually trivial, as if you picked a cross-platform SDK to build on then almost everything will work fine - games don't have to interact much with the window manager.

If you use OpenGL, then the hard parts are sound and joystick, both of which should be abstracted by your SDK.

That is why WINE works so well.

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New UK immigration IT system late and £28m OVER BUDGET

Richard 12
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Terribly sorry Dave, but that's bollocks

The economy and the country would be utterly devastated by a vast influx of millions of people, as every unemployed person in the entire world who could raise the cash for a ticket came here.

Unlimited immigration only sort-of works if you have an empty world, transport links are very low capacity and no local infrastructure or other support is required. Even then it's nasty.

The influx rapidly overwhelms the local infrastructure and local population, resulting in poverty, death and disease.

Take a look at history and tell me if it actually ever worked - and remember that it was never unlimited.

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Tablets, copycats and Weird Al Yankovic

Richard 12
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Re: Lead time

...and shipping it on a slow boat from China.

Transport lead time alone is 6-8 weeks.

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Metro, that ribbon, shared mailboxes: Has Microsoft lost the plot?

Richard 12
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FAIL

@AC 03:33 - They are ignoring decades of HCI research

For example, one of the basic fundamentals of HCI has been to make elements that you can 'click' on or 'touch' to activate look vaguely like physical buttons, using things like outlines, shading and drop shadows.

This has long been considered critical to a discoverable GUI interface, so much so that you'll even see that on the printed overlay for physical touch interfaces like microwave ovens.

Another is that anything 'hidden' must have an indication that it exists and how to get it - for example, comboboxes have that arrow indicating more options are available, all windowing systems allow windows to be partially covering others, and since the mid-90's the vast majority include a way of seeing the currently running applications (eg the Taskbar)

Metro is the very first GUI that throws away these fundamental ideas.

I cannot believe that every HCI researcher since 1970 was really that completely wrong.

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Build a bonkers hi-fi

Richard 12
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Happy

Re: Cables

My favourite are gold-plated TOSLINK optical.*

Because obviously the gold plating improves the quality of the light...

* I actually have these, because at the time they were cheaper than the normal ones and had physically stronger ends. Presumably not enough people were fooled and they had to dump them.

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Apple rejoins EPEAT green tech cert program

Richard 12
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FAIL

Amusingly, *none* of the iPads ever made meet any of the requirements

So does that mean that any iPads purchased by US Governmental depts need to be sent back because they do not meet the requirements?

Or does this EPEAT requirement only apply to stuff that isn't "cool"?

It's not just Apple though, there are no tablets that are EPEAT registered in the US whatsoever.

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O2 outage outrage blamed on new Ericsson database

Richard 12
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You'd still want compensating though.

After all, you pay for those services to be delivered, so if they don't provide them you should be getting a refund.

You also clearly consider them to have value, as otherwise you wouldn't be dropping ~£100 a month on them.

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US deploys robot submarine armada against Iranian mines

Richard 12
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$100,000!? Fail!

Come on, if you want to do it this way then your foxes have to be a similar cost to the number of mines each can destroy.

Otherwise it becomes an economic battle that you will lose.

That is why mines (sea and land) are effective, after all. Very cheap and fast to deploy, extremely expensive and slow to clear.

I am wondering why they think this is better than the traditional methods though, as it's slower and costs more.

I suppose kamikaze robots sound cool, and it is a logical evolution of the torpedo. Which probably answers the question. You don't torpedo mines...

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How to fix the broken internet economy: START HERE

Richard 12
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FAIL

Re: Geographical availability

This drives me utterly barmy.

I want to give you my money for $ELECTRONIC_FILE, yet you refuse point blank to take it because I don't happen to live in the USA.

I'm even happy to give it to you in US Dollars and take the currency exchange risk upon myself, yet you still refuse.

So I can either go without or infringe the copyright. (And in this case, infringing demonstrably doesn't harm you.)

While it might become available for me to buy months or years later, by then I've forgotten about it/am no longer interested. In many cases it never becomes available to me.

Either way, somebody else gets my money for something else. Well done, that region-lock was a great idea!

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Move over Raspberry Pi, give kids a Radio Ham Pi - minister

Richard 12
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Re: Rasp Pis in school

He's a politician, ergo "Statement of intent == Achievement"

Never mind the real world, like almost all our current crop of politicians he's probably never seen it, having gone straight into lobbying or political researcher then become a politician.

And now they want to do the same to the Lords. $Deity help us.

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Climate was HOTTER in Roman, medieval times than now: Study

Richard 12
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Re: The alarmist scientists know

Postdoc researcher pay has always been piss poor and well below average income, and probably always will be as there are far more people than posts.

The difference the funding level makes is whether or not said postdoc position exists.

You cannot blame anyone for wanting their position to continue to exist, or be surprised at project leads wanting to have as many postdoc researchers as they can get their hands on.

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Nutter bans Apple purchases over environmental fudging

Richard 12
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FAIL

Re: The one that more than a single brand uses.

Microsoft Windows is not a brand of keyboard.

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Can neighbours grab your sensitive package, asks Post Office

Richard 12
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Happy

Re: Did somebody mention HDNL without an expletive?

HDNL are apparently extremely variable.

If your local geezer in a hatchback is dedicated and enthusiastic, presumably it's pretty good.

If they aren't, well, you're screwed.

Personally, I always get things delivered to my office. It then rocks up on my desk without any bother, usually much faster than if I'd ordered for delivery to home.

The only downside is that if the parcel looks particularly "interesting" then everybody stares at me until I open it!

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Gov: How can renewable power peddlers take on UK's Big 6?

Richard 12
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Re: Level Playing Field

Good idea, except that's not how the FITs work.

Domestic FITs are quite simple:

You get paid a fixed price that's several times the "end customer" rate for every kWh you generate, regardless of whether you consume it yourself or not. Then you get an added kickback for 50% of whatever you generated at another fixed price that's just under the generation market rate, because they don't think it's worth metering what you actually export to the Grid.

The upshot is that Granny and people in rented accommodation are subsidizing the landed gentry.

Industrial FITs scale down the rate a bit, but it's still way above.

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