* Posts by AndrueC

3118 posts • joined 6 Aug 2009

Stop lights, sunsets, junctions are tough work for Google's robo-cars

AndrueC
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Unhappy

Re: Roundabouts...

The worst ones are those that have lights immediately after the exit

Yah, there's one like that on the main artery into Banbury from the M40.

It's a pedestrian crossing and quite active during rush hour. There's space for two cars to wait - the third will block one of the busiest roundabouts in the town. The council have tried to encourage people to keep it clear with road markings but honestly by the time you realise the traffic is stopped it's just too late.

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AndrueC
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Re: Roundabouts...

No fully autonomous cars have been tested at 08:30 in Birmingham, UK on a roundabout with motorway slip roads.

Or at 1630 driving through Kings Heath :(

I only commuted back that way once. After that I always just went north to get onto the M5 then round to the M42.

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AndrueC
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Happy

Re: Roundabouts...

put intelligent traffic lights on all roundabouts.

That would likely make them less efficient. Roundabouts are usually more efficient than other junctions simply because of the drivers' ability to go at 'any' time. They work really well unless overloaded in which case they fail spectacularly :-/

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Pizza delivery by drone 'trialled' in New Zealand

AndrueC
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Joke

Re: Doesn't seem very useful

What's a lazer?

A ray gun that doesn't try very hard?

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Arthur C Clarke award won by Adrian Tchaikovsky

AndrueC
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Re: Talking space spiders?

A Fire Upon the Deep

Is one of my favourites. It has a remarkable ability to convey the size of the galaxy. Or at least makes it feel bigger than most other books imply. The idea of it being so big that interstellar civilisations can be born and die all without ever contacting any other species. The last part of the final chapter is haunting.

"Can anyone hear me"?

:-/

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False Northern Lights alert issued to entire UK because of a lawnmower

AndrueC
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Joke

Re: Sheep

A relative of mine used to work somewhere festooned with large, low frequency aerials of the vertical type

The area involved was many acres, so they used a low tech approach for grass cutting : Magnetically inert sheep!

There might still be security concerns. I hope they were all positively vetted.

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AndrueC
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Joke

Grass can interfere with work whether you smoke it or mow it apparently :)

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Angler hooks German's todger at nudist lake

AndrueC
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Facepalm

Initially the man thought he’d caught his todger on some weeds in the lake - a popular spot for fisherman and nudists

I initially mis-read that as '..a popular sport..'.

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Corbyn lied, Virgin Trains lied, Harambe died

AndrueC
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Happy

Re: OK Jeremy--renationalization--what then?

You can "nationalize" what you like, but the name of the party is the Labour Party

Like I used to say to my French teacher at school.

Je m'apelle Andrew, pas André.

:)

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AndrueC
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Re: OK Jeremy--renationalization--what then?

Hey, if Britain wants to nationalize their passenger service, knock yourselves out. But how is that going to help the problem with crowded/late/dirty trains?

Actually it might. There is a curious correlation between passenger numbers and ownership. One could conclude from that graph that if they are re-nationalised passenger numbers will fall and the problem of overcrowding will go away :)

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London cops hunt for drone pilots who tried dropping drugs into jail

AndrueC
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Joke

Re: Time for Trebuchets!

Quadcopters make a furious whining sound and attract attention.

Sounds like a typical politician.

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AndrueC
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Joke

They parked a big black Eurocopter EC145 in it's way

I thought it was dangerous to operate aircraft near to flying drones.

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UK IT consultant subject to insane sex ban order mounts legal challenge

AndrueC
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Meh

Re: Victimless noncrime

I thought that doctors were not allowed to grass you up to the boys in blue

They are allowed to if they think it's appropriate and can be forced to give out information by a court order. English law isn't as concerned with privileged communication as some judicial systems. I think about the only PC that is sacrosanct is client/lawyer but even that has exemptions. Spousal privilege isn't complete either. Certain categories of crime allow the prosecution to compel a spouse to give witness against their other half.

And i don't think you can ever stop your spouse giving evidence against you if they choose.

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AndrueC
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Re: "He was found not guilty, therefore he is innocent"

We have double jeopardy as well but a few years ago it was modified to allow for retrial if the evidence has significantly changed.

More info here.

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BT best provider for 10Mbps USO, says former digi minister Ed Vaizey

AndrueC
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Stop

Re: Bloke on cloud nine talks rubbish

He is talking bollocks when he suggests they shouldn't be pushing FTTP. Not pushing the sensible option for decades is what got us to the mess of needing to sweat copper now.

They tried in the 1980s. Sadly Thatcher killed the plan in favour of letting foreign companies in to provide competition. That's where VM came from. I posted a link in a previous response explaining how BT was at the world forefront of fibre optic research and manufacture and was tooling up big time. Then Maggie refused them a broadcasting license and opened things up to the cable companies. BT knew it was screwed and sold the tech. off to the likes of Fujitsu.

It is inaccurate and unfair to blame BT for a lack of foresight. I wouldn't even accuse the Post Office of that. The problem all along as been government interference.

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AndrueC
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Unhappy

Re: Gigaclear

Well if gigaclear can deliver fibre to the home in rural locations, what's BT's excuse?

Gigaclear don't have to offer a wholesale service over their fibre. They can charge what they want and get 100% of the RoI because they are the only ISP customers can sign up with. BT's profit margins are largely controlled by Ofcom and as they have to offer a wholesale service over it the RoI ends up being shared with other CPs.

This is almost certainly why only BT won the first round of BDUK contracts. No other company could come up with a viable business plan when told they had to share the fibre.

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AndrueC
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Mushroom

Re: Sadly he may be talking sense

You could do that by re-nationalising it?

Because of course the government has an excellent track record of budgeting for and managing large infrastructure projects?

Or because the last time the government was in charge of UK telecommunications it declined to invest in it and pretty much ran it into the ground?

Or because when BT offered to massively modernise the network in the 80s they decided instead to allow foreign companies to come in and cable up the most lucrative areas?

Or because the best organisation to be in charge of transportation of all our precious and private data is the government?

There are so many ways that openreach could be better. But putting the UK's telecoms network back in the hands of the government has to be the most stupid idea of the lot.

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Cops break up German sausage fight between pair of Neubrandenburgers

AndrueC
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Re: "tomato-shape ketchup containers"

That was the Bunfight at the O.K. Tea Rooms:

Ah! Well I was barely into my teens when the Goodies were on. Not too surprising if the memories are a bit faded :)

Thanks for the YouTube clip - hilarious

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AndrueC
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Happy

(For anyone not nearing retirement age, it consisted of hitting people with Black Puddings.)

And tomato-shape ketchup containers are no defence if I remember correctly :)

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AndrueC
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Joke

the 49-year-old may face charges of property damage.

Quite right too. That's no way to treat a valuable item. The sausage might have got badly bruised.

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LinkedIn sues 100 information scrapers after technical safeguard fail

AndrueC
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Joke

Nor any potential 'investors' from Nigeria or South Africa

Gives me an excuse to link to one of the sillier Dilbert cartoons.

:D

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'Daddy, what's a Blu-ray disc?'

AndrueC
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Facepalm

Re: quality..

Does this make you cry a bit more?

"* High-grade optical fiber for distortion-free sound

* Gold-plated connectors provide precise contact for the best sound quality"

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AndrueC
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Re: quality..

One of the advantages over vinyl that CDs have is increased dynamic range. Unfortunately the loudness wars took a chunk out of that :(

Then we lost another chunk of quality when MP3 became about the only format used commercially.

Another chunk was lost when people decided they couldn't be bothered buying a proper hifi but would just attach their <insert portable music player here> to a pair of cheap speakers using bluetooth.

So I think it's entirely possible that a well engineered vinyl album played via a good hifi-system would sound better overall than a lot of what people are listening to today Personally I go with lossless music streamed from a home server played through a Squeezebox Touch and a Onkyo 507r with Q Acoustic speakers.

It'd sound even better if my ears weren't nearly fifty years old though. I suspect that makes the most difference :(

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Baffled Scots cops call in priest to deal with unruly spirits

AndrueC
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Joke

Re: It's happening already.

If that isn't a euphemism it certainly should be.

Is that a chihuahua on your hedge or are you just pleased to see me?

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Nobody expects... a surprise haemorrhoid operation

AndrueC
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Joke

At least this article gets right to the bottom of things.

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AndrueC
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Re: Much less likely in America, paranoia rules here

I had a band on each wrist, and they were the red striped allergy warning ones, just because I said I get hay fever.

What was written on them - "nil hay by mouth"?

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Idiot flies drone alongside Flybe jet landing at Newquay Airport

AndrueC
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Alert

Re: Risk?

Or have you never flinched when a stone is thrown up on the highway and bounces off your car windscreen

I once a hit a pigeon (bumper or thereabouts not windscreen) shortly after joining the M5 from the M42. That made me flinch. It also made me laugh a bit as I looked in my rear view mirror and saw a small cloud of feathers.

I suppose the laughing makes me a bad person. Sorry.

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UK local govt body blasts misleading broadband speed ads

AndrueC
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Boffin

Re: Is raw speed everything?

One of the things I used to see is the "contention ratio".

It's not mentioned any more.

That's because it's no-longer useful. Rate adaptive services weakened the concept and I think the wide range of bandwidth usage across users and exchanges makes it unhelpful.

Instead what CPs do is rely on triggers. They upgrade network links as/if/when they get close to capacity. It's still possible to calculate contention ratios but you have to specify a context. And the wider the context the less useful it is. The contention at an exchange might be interesting to know. But the national average contention ratio only has curiosity value. It's of no use in planning. It would be like Tesco trying to use a national contention ratio to decide how much milk each store should get delivered to it (0.35 litres per person for instance).

But network capacity planning is a funny thing. Very complex. It's amazing how high a contention ratio can go before anyone starts complaining. VM are probably experts at doing that in the UK. Usage patterns are a huge factor. Providing 1Gb/s to a thousand users who want to watch IPTV is easier than providing 100Mb/s to a thousand users who want to download stuff all day. It's all about the traffic - is it bursty or constant. Constant traffic is the difficult thing to handle. But interestingly something that's constant can become bursty if you raise the speed. IPTV is the best example of that. For a 5Mb/s connection IPTV is constant and a pain to deal with. But on a 50Mb/s connection it's bursty and far easier to cater for.

AAISP have a good article on it.

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AndrueC
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Happy

Re: government pledge

Request it, yes. But the CPs will still be entitled to charge for the extra costs involved.

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AndrueC
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Boffin

Re: Making it up as they go along

It was the ASA actually. A slightly more irritating organisation than Ofcom :)

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AndrueC
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Meh

It's a misunderstanding over the ambiguous term 'up to'

It is not being used in the sense of: You will be able to drive your car at speeds of up to 200mph.

It is being used in the sense of: Your car is capable of being driven at up to 200mph.

The former statement is unlikely for the vast majority of us (good luck finding an opportunity to do that on your daily commute) and any car salesman claiming that is on thin ice. But the latter statement is entirely reasonable. Even if you don't have a driving license and leave the car parked in your garage the statement is still true.

The problem stems from marketing mis-use of the term and customer optimism. The same techniques that snake-oil sellers have used for ages. The trick is simply never to buy anything purely on the basis of marketing material. There's nothing particularly difficult to understand about why DSL is line dependant and all ISPs have to offer an estimate at sign-up.

The 10% solution suggested by the ASA just further confuses the issue in my opinion. The fact that 10% of an ISP's customers get the headline speed means nothing because it is still not considering my particular circumstances. All it's saying is that 10% of an ISP's customers happen to have a good quality line. Whether or not I can get those speeds is purely down to the quality of my line, not anyone else'.

The only time it can matter is if an ISP is cherry picking the lines it accepts but they don't. Most DSL based ISPs have no control over the line quality (KCOM is the only exception) so connection speed will be the same no matter which ISP I go with. Now the ASA or Ofcom could choose to impose rules based on network capacity by forcing ISPs to publish figures for peak time slow down. That at least is under ISP control and is a useful differentiator. Sadly they don't do that (but Thinkbroadband does.

So customers are left with a pointless ASA rule and no practical way to influence the performance of their telephone line.

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Hitler ‘ransomware’ offers to sell you back access to your files – but just deletes them

AndrueC
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Joke

Re: Still musing

If it involves trying to contact Vodafone you'll still be in the queue waiting to speak to someone.

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Your colleagues will lie to you: An enterprise architect's life

AndrueC
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Meh

Now all you need is an environment where people are patient and will wait for you to go through your processes. One where every sale isn't essential so the sales staff are happy to drop a lead to avoid messing your infrastructure up. One where the marketing department are more laid back and see no need to follow the latest trend or randomly change websites and email signatures on a whim.

And if that feature you suggested but that no-one in management thought was needed turns out to be essential after all...well then you implement it. Hopefully you had the sense to lay the groundwork by making your code generic and flexible. Hopefully your scheduling has enough slack to let you do it in the required time.

I'm not knocking the idea of a controlled, well planned environment. I do my best within my own kingdom (such as it is). But when a large sales opportunity arises that requires you to release your development version when you're only just ramping up customer use of the release version you can't just refuse and say that it needs to go through three months of testing and QA. No - it has to be made available within a few weeks.

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Internet of Car...rikey what the hell just happened to my car?

AndrueC
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Meh

Those are good points, and yes, you're right that it's not universally true. But if you get a new printer do you just plug it in and see what the OS can do with it or do you automatically install the software on the CD that came with it? It was CreativeLabs who first taught me to just trust the OS. After their installer has dribbled half a dozen shortcuts to useless crap all over your desktop and eaten up a hunk of storage you being to see the light.

So I'll amend my view. If something is critical and has to work every time without fail or at least fail safely then, yes, trust hardware and associated software. But for the other 95% of stuff that we all just buy for personal use expect problems if you rely on the manufacturer's software.

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AndrueC
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Happy

"so I ended up applying my own update from an Android hacker's cloud store"

Yeah I thought about that but the link came from a contributor to a thread on XDA where a group of hackers (using the original meaning of the word) were dissecting the infotainment centre to work out how to install Play store apps. There were at least half a dozen knowledgeable hackers who had the chance to call foul on the posting and several who had already applied it. The thread is still ongoing (here for anyone interested) so I think it was a pretty small risk.

Pity the patch didn't actually fix what I wanted and now that the message has come back I have even less idea what 'improved' is supposed to mean.

If the costs to fix software mirrored those to physically fix hardware we'd get better products

True but we'd also have less innovation and I don't think computers would be as endemic and ubiquitous as they are now. Then again maybe that would be a good thing :)

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AndrueC
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Bollocks. Ever heard of Microsoft ?

Lol, of course MS does also produce hardware ;)

But there are degrees of bad and MS software is not as bad as 'true' hardware manufacturer's. At least MS understands the value of investing in software development. Hardware manufacturers seem to see it as an afterthought.

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AndrueC
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FAIL

Based on the state of Honda's infotainment system I'm not surprised. Only this morning I was greeted by 'Process System not responding. Would you like to close it?' then I had to wait a couple of minutes for it to reboot before music playing resumed. They've issued a couple of patches but so far the only one that claimed to address the issue said that it was 'improved' whatever the hell that means.

And of course the updates should only be installed by the dealer. And apparently 'only if the customer specifically asks'. In my case the dealer couldn't even do that so I ended up applying my own update from an Android hacker's cloud store.

I've said this before and it remains true. Never trust software that comes from a hardware manufacturer.

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Brit network O2 hands out free Windows virus with USB pens

AndrueC
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Stop

..and would hopefully be using a more up to date version of Windowsan operating system not on that list.

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Email proves UK boffins axed from EU research in Brexit aftermath

AndrueC
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Meh

Re: Article 50

There's hope that after the next election, your MP won't be Andrea Leadsom.

Only if she is assigned to another constituency. South Northants is one of the safest Tory seats in the country :-/

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AndrueC
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Facepalm

Re: Article 50

I also blame the public lack of engagement with the EU. MEP elections pass with barely a murmur. A lot of people not only don't know who their MEP is - they don't even know they have more than one. One bloke I spoke to when I tried to explain and tell him how to find out who his MEPs were said "why would I want to know anything about a bunch of foreign politicians".

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AndrueC
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Meh

Re: Article 50

If you're a UK voter, write to your MP requesting him/her to vote down every attempt to invoke Article 50.

My MP is Andrea Leadsom. I don't think such a letter will have much effect :-/

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Virgin signs up record ultrafast broadband subs

AndrueC
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Happy

Re: Great news,,,,

goes through many of the issues with Docsis networks

Yes but DOCSIS only concerns the coax cable part. If you look at this wikipedia article you can see that..

"..One way to think of a CMTS is to imagine a router with Ethernet interfaces (connections) on one side and coaxial cable RF interfaces on the other side. The RF/coax interfaces carry RF signals to and from the subscriber's cable modem."

And once you have Ethernet you can share it by coming up with pretty much any routing plan you want. Split CP traffic at the head-end, at a regional node or to a fixed peer link. The latter is the easiest. Instead of VM sending external traffic to LINX, Level3 etc. it routes all the data to/from certain addresses to PlusNet, or Talk Talk or Pulse8. You'd probably want to set up a VPN to isolate the traffic but that's easy enough.

Technically you could argue that it's pointless and even wasteful. It probably is. But what it does is create a market where CP's can compete. You'd have to regulate things so that VM couldn't undercut the other CPs but that's easy. Split VM into 'VM openreach' (cables) , 'VM Wholesale' (handles the routing malarky) and 'VM Retail' (continue to sell the service to customers). Personally what I'd suggest is give serious consideration to merging 'BT openreach' with 'VM openreach' and 'VM Wholesale' with 'BT Wholesale'.

I think I should stop at this point as the howls and screams coming from the VM board are starting to annoy me :D

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AndrueC
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WTF?

Re: Great news,,,,

I believe it's very difficult to unbundle an HFC-based network.

I'm curious why that might be. Sub-loop unbundling, yes. Clearly each cable can only be served by one node (or at least sharing a cable would be difficult). But I'd have thought each node sends its data back to the head-end over Ethernet. Even if not I'd expect the head-end to aggregate it as Ethernet before sending it on. So what are the technical impediments stopping VM offering a GEA equivalent?

But even that's not needed. All VM have to do is agree to isolate other CPs traffic through their network and route directly to them or allow the CPs to take their traffic off at regional nodes. That's what BT wholesale does. Once the data is travelling over Ethernet it should be easy to allow other CPs to get involved.

The only difficult bit I can think of is that VM will have to get better at how it manages node capacity. Their customers might not have much clout but other CPs are going to get arsey if their customers are suffering because of poor capacity management by VM.

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AndrueC
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Happy

Re: Great news,,,,

Additional information about Maggie, BT and the cable companies(possible pay wall).

"Unfortunately, the Thatcher government decided that it wanted the American cable companies providing the same service to increase competition. So the decision was made to close down the local loop roll out and in 1991 that roll out was stopped. The two factories that BT had built to build fibre related components were sold to Fujitsu and HP, the assets were stripped and the expertise was shipped out to South East Asia."

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AndrueC
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Meh

Re: Meh

there seems to be stuff all chance of that happening

Eh? Haven't you heard about Project Lightning?

Not that I'm a huge fan of VM (they run their network too hot for my liking) but credit where it's due. They are finally growing the network.

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AndrueC
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Meh

Re: "The proof is in the pudding"

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

..annoying jitter and speed reductions in peak hours afflict quite a few of its users as well.

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Private moonshot gets the green light from US authorities

AndrueC
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Go

The company thinks that the Moon is a potential future source of rare earths, the substances so prized for manufacture of electronic devices, and hopes to find a way to return them to Earth

You should be careful about getting things back from Moon to Earth because The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

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