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* Posts by AndrueC

2329 posts • joined 6 Aug 2009

Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?

AndrueC
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Unhappy

The real problem is too many people

..in one corner of the island. As another poster wittily pointed out "The problem is London". Successive governments have steadfastly refused to do anything serious about encouraging businesses to take root 'oop north'. With today's internet connectivity making location less important it's surely gone beyond a joke.

I suppose some might argue that HS2 is an attempt to address this but it can't carry anywhere near enough people and anyway my point still stands: Why the *bleep* do so many people have to gather within such a small area in one part of the country just to sit at a desk with a keyboard and monitor. We do have such things in other parts of the country you know.

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AndrueC
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Headmaster

Re: Solution

Solution

Less people?

What - so we can build smaller houses?

Actually you do have a point. the UK has an obesity crisis at the moment so 'less' people would be a good thing ;)

Anyway - sorry but less v. fewer is becoming a pet hate of mine.

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Virgin Media blocks 'wankers' from permissible passwords

AndrueC
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I used to play a game called Earth and Beyond that had a rather daft filter. It would filter things regardless of white space. As a result the most innocuous of sentences in chat channels would get censored eg - 'It watched me' became 'I* ***ched me' resulting in minutes of fun while everyone in the channel discussed what the censored word might be. Even better it included foreign swear words so for a while I knew a few Dutch, French and German swear words.

Very educational :)

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EE fails to apologise for HUGE T-Mobile outage that hit Brits on Friday

AndrueC
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Re: Pathetic

Last things to mention. Until this post on El Reg I have seen no reports of this anywhere else except the Daily Fail of all places.

I think I did.

And the parent page has links to a lot of companies including 'T-Mobile' although you need to select the UK specific link there. The Virgin Mobile link appears to be taking complaints from the UK - at least most of the comments yesterday were from UK users.

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AndrueC
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Meh

Not only creates that total independence of any network connectivity (unless I want to enable traffic updates)

That was why I have Co-pilot. Normally it doesn't need a network connection and after one unfortunate return trip from the New Forest I appreciate the need for that. The first time I fired it up for the outward leg it quickly gave up trying to update and ran on the older maps. But I think on the return leg it actually started to download at Milton Keynes and then stalled. After that it didn't want to know until I got back home to wifi.

My guess is that it started to overwrite the maps and was then stuck. If true that's just shitty programming. Programming 101 - download stuff to scratch and only copy over the working stuff when you know it's good.

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AndrueC
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I wonder if that was affecting my mobile this morning? Something was and if I hadn't been able to read road signs and use basic navigation sense it'd have left me stranded at Milton Keynes around 9am. Co-pilot vanished up its arse trying to download a map update and of course Google maps won't do anything without data even if it knows the destination (home) and patently has the maps already cached locally.

Meh. It gave me an excuse to swear at my phone so it wasn't all bad :)

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Galileo! Galileo. Galileo! Galileo frigged-LEO: Easy come, easy go. Little high, little low

AndrueC
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Joke

pointing in the right direction at the Sun, at least

Upwards?

Okay, I'll get me coat :)

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Shoot-em-up: Sony Online Entertainment hit by 'large scale DDoS attack'

AndrueC
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Mushroom

The DDos page from the tweet is interesting but this one is more fun :)

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TV transport tech, part 1: From server to sofa at the touch of a button

AndrueC
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Leading UK cable network operator Virgin Media

Yup. Of all the cable operators in the UK Virgin Media is without doubt the leader ;)

Good article though, would be interesting to have others looking at the transmission chain for satellite broadcasting and that of IPTV.

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Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors

AndrueC
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Joke

Re: Password fields need to be bigger.

Password restrictions.

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AndrueC
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Re: @J.G.Harston

because I can spell.

But one of the cornerstones of avoiding a dictionary attack is to not spell things correctly My passwords aren't in any dictionary precisely because they aren't spelt correctly ;)

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AndrueC
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Re: Sad but true

Not the most secure set up I have ever seen.

On the plus side one assumes no-one can get to the admin interface from outside your LAN and that anyone actually on your LAN is trusted. Sorta ;)

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AndrueC
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Re: @J.G.Harston

It's intended to make life more difficult for key loggers, shoulder surfers etc.

And it fails miserably where I'm concerned. It seems I rely on finger memory for passwords and being asked for characters in random positions just doesn't work. I get round it by firing up Notepad and typing the password with the digits underneath.

Oh and my VbV password is 14 characters long. I know because after 0 to 9 I have to repeat 1 to 4 :D

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No Apple fanbois here: Man United BANS iPads from Old Trafford

AndrueC
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Re: Terrorism

Hell yeah. What short story is this from? Where the spectators* were given mirrored match day programs.

A Slight Case of Sunstroke by Arthur C Clarke.

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What's the nature of your emergency, Vodafone?

AndrueC
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Meh

I haven't watched adverts on TV for years. I time-shift with my PVR and the FF button is always available.

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The final score: Gramophones 1 – Glassholes 0

AndrueC
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Facepalm

Re: Hmmm

and use the pub to flog drugs in private

God it's time I went home. I mis-read that as 'use the pub to foul dogs in private'.

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Is the tech jobs market really on the up-and-up? Tell us about it

AndrueC
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I wasn't aware that IT had been going through a lean phase. I was made redundant last October and had a new position within a month. As for the survey, you missed a reason for wanting a new job 'Reducing commuting time' ;)

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America's hot and cold spots for broadband revealed in new map

AndrueC
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an average speed of 10.9 Mbps. That means the state that houses Apple, Intel, Oracle, Facebook and Google has lower broadband speeds than

Most of the UK.

But not a huge difference especially if you consider the difference in land area and population density. Sometimes being small and living shoulder to shoulder is a good thing :)

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Stalwart hatchback gets a plug-in: Volkswagen e-Golf

AndrueC
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Meh

Re: No spare wheel?

What happens when you get a puncture then?

I suppose you use a canister of foam they provide. My Jazz has that although there at least a spare is an option. Still - in over 25 years of motoring I've never had a puncture and the only times I've had to inflate a tyre was when I (a lot younger) clipped a curb and let some air out and when a valve developed a fault. In the latter case it was a very slow leak so I just had to top it up once or twice a week until I had the time to get it replaced.

I'm not saying a spare tyre isn't nice to have - but I don't think it's essential equipment that some would claim.

But yeah, the range is the killer for me. I'm surprised it's that bad. I love the different regeneration options on lifting off though. I'd hate to drive a car without any 'engine' braking.

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Brit kids match 45-year-old fogies' tech skill level by the age of 6

AndrueC
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Re: I call bollocks.

I bet you don't claim your a car mechanic or say you fix your friends' cars for them (or they ask you to fix their car)?

Indeed not but what does that have to with the text that I quoted:

The problem is that we are increasingly cutting off people from accessing what's below the shiny surface. In fact on many mobile devices you don't even get to have root access by default.

I don't see any mention in there of people claiming to be anything and that was the point I was addressing.

Leading to vary degrees of disasters when people don't realise they have broken an important constraint in a lower building block.

Now that's true. And likely a lot of car drivers could lower their fuel and repair costs if they knew more about how motor vehicles worked. I'm not saying that it's wonderful that humans do this. I am however suggesting that we wouldn't be anywhere near as technologically advanced if everyone had to know everything about a tool before they used it. It's a compromise we continue to make and have very little choice in that. There isn't enough time for all of us to learn everything and very few of us are capable of keeping all that information in our heads if we did have the time.

So - today's sprogs are doing what we did and what our parents did and what our parent's parents did. Building on someone else' expertise without needing to understand it. James Burke did a couple of interesting TV series on this in the 80s. Available on YouTube last I looked.

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AndrueC
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Re: I call bollocks.

The problem is that we are increasingly cutting off people from accessing what's below the shiny surface. In fact on many mobile devices you don't even get to have root access by default.

But is it a problem? I can drive a car without needing to know what goes on under the bonnet. Does it matter if a SQL developer doesn't know assembly language for any CPU? Does it matter that the vast majority of The Register's readers probably don't know how to build logic gates let alone how a transistor works?

Human technological progress has always mostly been about combining things together then wrapping them up to hide the complexity.

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Cor blimey: Virgin Media pipes 152Mb fibre to 100,000 East Londoners

AndrueC
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it would be really great if the upload speed was even a quarter as fast as the download speed.

Sadly the architecture of cable networks imposes limitations. Because several properties are sharing a single cable something has to prevent collisions (put simply something has to stop you and your neighbour both trying to send a packet at the same time). DOCSIS3.0 helped quite a lot but it's still an uphill struggle. xDSL doesn't have this particular limitation because everyone has a dedicated cable - in theory(*) an xDSL modem can use any frequency it wants for whatever purpose it wants whenever it wants.

I think it's fair to say that xDSL is topologically more suited to bi-directional networking than cable (no surprise - given the original intent of cable). But later versions of DOCSIS have done a helluva lot to workaround the limitations of the basic architecture. There may be more to come and the guys doing the research are well aware that upload speed is important.

(*)In practice it can't. Frequency plans exist to minimise interference between cables in the same bundle and the DSLAM will almost certainly only support particular up or downstream rates.

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AndrueC
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Re: Q from the US

What do ISP's in Blighty charge for high-speed internet service? Capped, uncapped, Metered Usage? And at what speeds? THANKS.

It varies. One big difference here is that our national telco was forced to open up its local loop many years ago. It fully supports LLU and it also provides wholesale access for both telephony and internet. In theory it even supports SLU but no-one much likes the pricing on that so it's never really taken off.

Then there's Virgin Media which this article relates to. They own and operate a cable network that covers slightly more than half the country. They've never gained dominance (not even in the areas where they provide a service) so don't have to share the network with anyone.

There's also a small historical oddity KCOM which operates the telephone lines around a town in the North East.

What this all means is that roughly half the country has access to cable (up to 152Mb/s) and everywhere has xDSL of some variety(*). The choices there being:

* ADSL (up 8Mb/s depending on line length) - This is being phased out and now only exists on the smallest exchanges.

* ADSL2+ (up to 24Mb/s) - Available on nearly every exchange.

* VDSL (up to 80Mb/s depending on distance to cabinet. Most people seem to be getting at least 40Mb/s) - Currently being rolled out and available to approximately 80% of the population at the moment. Slated to hit 95% within a couple of years.

Almost no-one is completely without a broadband service of any kind these days but some remote properties might be limping by on 512Mb/s ADSL.

Service levels:

* VM seem to like running their network hot (capacity barely keeping pace with user demands) so suffers from jitter.

* xDSL rarely has local loop capacity issues but the wide choice of ISPs allows for quite a bit of market differentiation in pricing, throughput, allowances and customer service.

As for pricing:

http://www.uswitch.com/broadband/ (other comparison sites exist).

Note that for most of the UK population any ISP can be used. The only exceptions as noted above are that not everyone has VM Cable and there's one town in the North East (Kingston Upon Hull) who only have KCOM.

A few areas have true FTTP or FTTB but not many at the moment. However anyone with deep enough pockets can get fibre laid to their property.

(*)Yes they overlap. Pretty much every property in the country has a copper line feeding it so has access to xDSL if it wants it. Intriguingly a lot of properties that could have a cable service have preferred to stick with copper. One may well wonder why.

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AndrueC
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WTF?

Virgin Media has announced the largest single expansion of its fibre optic network yet

I didn't know it had been doing any expansion. Or is this just another speed upgrade?

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Surprise! Government mega-infrastructure project cocked up

AndrueC
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Re: assumption - better network = less commuting

unfortunately, a large percentage of businesses still think that unless you park your bum on your seat in an office with all your co-workers then you're not working.

My current employer (like my last one) allows us to work from home occasionally as long as there's a good reason. But 'because I want to' is not considered a good reason. The irony is that for both employers I worked in a satellite office, hundreds (thousands in the previous job) of miles away from anyone who could see whether I was working or not.

But there you go. My previous job I had to drive 12 miles to sit in a small office with a lousy internet connection instead of staying at home with a very good connection. My current job I commute 60 miles mostly by train in order to sit in a small office. At least this one has a reasonable internet connection though.

Come my annual review I might suggest he consider allowing me to work from home three days a week instead of giving me a pay rise. That should be an interesting discussion.

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AndrueC
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Re: UK still leads the way in ripping off the taxpayer

The UK is the 51st most densely populated country in the world, Australia is 235

And of course HS2 is running through England where most of the UK's population is. The first third being where most of the English population live. I can't easily find any figures for it but this page shows the the HS2 is basically following the line of greatest population density from SE to NW. Between 1000 and 250 people per Sq km it looks like.

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AndrueC
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Re: UK still leads the way in ripping off the taxpayer

but then HS2 doesn't have to cross deserts and croc-infested rain forest

It does, however, have to travel across some of the most densely populated land on the planet and fit between/into/over a lot of important infrastructure. No-one much cares how you smash a railway through desert in the back end of beyond but when you're linking London, Birmingham and Manchester you have to be more thoughtful.

Mind you my thinking on the subject of HS2 is that we don't need it and it'll be an expensive white elephant. We should have spent the money on national FTTP. Just so long as we did a better job on that than the Aussies. Which is unlikely. Most western governments are pretty shit at that kind of thing.

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BAD VIBES: High-speed video camera records your voice from trash

AndrueC
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Joke

Mary had a little lamb, it used to jump so high.

One day it jumped into a butcher's shop and now it's in a pie.

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NASA tests crazytech flying saucer thruster, could reach Mars in days

AndrueC
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Joke

Awesome! But can I be the first to say:

She Cannae go any faster, Cap'n!

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Brits STUNG for up to £625 when they try to cancel broadband

AndrueC
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Meh

Re: Setup costs

If they're not providing the service they should then fuckem.

One problem with that is that the most complex and error prone part of a connection - the last mile - is often not being supplied by the ISP. Everyone except for VM customers and people living in Hull(*) are reliant on BT openreach for the physical cable. Even LLU only replaces the DSLAM and is still reliant on BTor. Even the exchange backhaul is usually BTor.

And FTTC is BTor for cable and cabinet.

It's entirely possible for an ISP to only own whatever is in their server room. And I imagine there are companies that will rent that kit as well. It could be that your ISP is nothing but support and billing staff.

Legally your ISP is still responsible but they don't always have much control over the last mile. With FTTC they can't even request a DLM reset. The disconnection charges being levied here are probably just the ISP passing on BT's charges.

(*)Oh and a handful of people on alt nets.

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AndrueC
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Meh

Re: cost no more than outstanding contract

£625? That's £52pm.

Not if it's an 18 month contract. And 24 month contracts exist ;)

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AVG stung as search revenue from freebie scanners dries up

AndrueC
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WTF?

Re: Toolbar install

However the arrival of Windows Security Essentials was the nail in the coffin. It renders AVG pointless.

I thought MSE had been shown to be the worst AV of the lot?

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AndrueC
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Unhappy

Re: I feel a vote coming on...

I would say Avast for granny but lately that's been getting spammy and confusing to novice users.

Yes, it has. I use that on one of my home machines and am getting fed up of it offering me various products. I'd remove it except that I hardly ever use it and as you ask - what do I replace it with?

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Pleased to meet you. I'm Joe Bloggs, MVP, vExpert, Cisco Champ

AndrueC
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Re: Preschool Diplomas

I don't remember when I last showed anyone my degree certificates. It has maybe been once or twice in the last 20 years.

I've been a programmer for nearly 25 years and I've never shown a certificate to an employer. Not that there'd be a lot of point. None of mine relate to computing. Even better - the highest qualification I have is an old style OND. That added a certain piquancy to the couple of times I had to help interview candidates where our minimum entry requirement was a good degree :)

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AndrueC
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I was a member of Borland's TeamB for a while. Perks included a license for everything, and once a year a flight to their California HQ. Oh and moderator rights on their News Server which allowed me to exercise my inner demon occasionally :)

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Trying to sell your house? It'd better have KILLER mobile coverage

AndrueC
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I have to admit when moving house I'd want to be within 500 metres of an enabled FTTC cabinet. 300 or less for preference. But mobile coverage - meh. Adequate to make and receive texts and calls if I'm lucky but it's not a deal breaker. I lived without a mobile for 30 years and I don't make many calls on it even now.

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14 antivirus apps found to have security problems

AndrueC
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Go

Re: Point of Issue

I suspect the reality is that the "insecurity" of C has less to do with the language itself, and more to do with the underlying application code being written 10/15/20 years ago and not being looked at since

I'd say it's mostly due to the code age but a fair amount is also down to the language. Although it's true that C/C++ code is not inherently unsafe it's also true that there's not a great deal of pressure within the language to dissuade you from unsafe practice and even less to encourage you to good practice. You can improve things a bit if your compiler supports 'treat all warnings as errors' but that's a choice you have to make and reliant on the verbosity of your compiler.

The good thing about both those languages (and I'll always have a soft spot for C++) is that they trust the programmer and allow them total control.

The bad thing about both those languages is that they trust the programmer and allow them total control.

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Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart

AndrueC
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Re: It's about real-time pricing, not just turning things off

Electricity - although costing about 3x/kWh than gas - is typically a few per cent of domestic costs compared to gas-powered heating and hot water, which account for 40 per cent or more of the bill.

But isn't that just because most homes don't use electricity for heating and hot water? It'd be interesting to know what the savings would be comparing on-demand electric heating v. gas central heating. I'm not interested in storage heaters because they are (in my opinion) just a bad idea. But perhaps it would be cheaper to have genuine electric wall heaters. There's surely scope for them to be more intelligent than a single thermostat for the entire house.

But..I believe that electricity for heating is inherently less efficient than gas because of the transport losses. The closer you burn the fuel to where you need it the less wasteful it tends to be.

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AndrueC
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Joke

Re: Just sayin'

Every time the government or big business say they are doing something for your benefit you just know they are lying.

Fixed that for yer :D

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AndrueC
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Meh

Re: He's dead right.

Modern electronic meters have a LED on the front,

My 35 year old house has analogue dials for meter reading. And a fusebox that uses actual fuse wire. Come to think of it a better way to spend money might(*) be to pay to have the consumer unit in properties like mine upgraded.

(*)When it involves (however indirectly) taxation I always struggle to come up with a good reason for spending money.

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AndrueC
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Stop

Re: Perfectly logical

The reason you need a smart meter is so that the people who make smart meters can sell them.

And the people who make appliances can use the information as a marketing tool to persuade us to replace perfectly functional things with newer versions.

And never forget of course that the government can increase taxes to pay for this (and prolly 'forget' to lower them later when it's complete) in order to protect the environment and future generations.

Oh dear. My cynicism seems to be showing :-/

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AndrueC
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Meh

I'm still not convinced smart meters will really help. I take energy usage seriously but I wouldn't gain much from such an app. By being interested in energy saving(*) I already know how to determine which appliances are the worst offenders(**). Those not interested will probably ignore the display anyway.

And when all's said and done what is anyone supposed to do with the knowledge that their fridge is the biggest consumer? Go into the kitchen and give it a good talking to? Spend several hundred pounds replacing it with a newer model in order to save a quid a month?

Does anyone really leave energy hogging appliances running excessively long without realising it? Would such people pay any attention anyway?

I suppose that if the HID glows bright red and flashes with a 'whoop, whoop' siren when household consumption goes above some chosen limit that might trigger a response. But I suspect the likely response will be to throw the HID in the bin or a soundproof drawer rather than to turn off the appliances causing the problem.

(*)More a hobby as a result of a lifetime of being a resource concious programmer.

(**)Hint - the warmer it gets, the more power it consumes.

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BMW's ConnectedDrive falls over, bosses blame upgrade snafu

AndrueC
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Meh

Re: No thanks - no remote control

If you need to check your car is locked just get off your fat arse, go to the window and press your lock button.

My car is left at a train station and during the day is over 50 miles from where I work. I believe that the curvature of the Earth prevents me from seeing it. Well, that and the roof of the multi-storey car park. Plus I'm still using the original batteries in my key fob so I suspect the signal won't get that far.

But I don't think I've ever wondered about the car doors so not a problem. House doors though..yeah. I ruined one Christmas holiday because I thought I'd left the front door open and flapping in the breeze. I hadn't - it was closed and locked. But that haunted me all week.

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AndrueC
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Joke

the constant flashing of the bulbs reduces the life of the bulb and indicator unit.

Strangely a lot of them don't seem able to maintain good speed around corners as they often come up behind me (ooh er missus) on single lane roads then drop behind when it gets twisty. Perhaps they are trying to prolong the life of their tyres as well.

If wear and tear is to be minimised it would help if they had some kind of obstruction early warning system. Like "There's a roundabout ahead. You might as well ease off now rather than slamming on the breaks at the last minute".

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NSA man: 'Tell me about your Turkish connections'

AndrueC
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Joke

My mugshot is a pair of buttocks.

That should be fine for a passport as long as you're not wearing glasses or smiling.

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Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage

AndrueC
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WTF?

So was it a coincidence that the weather site was also very flaky?

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BT: Hey guys, we've developed NEW MOBE TECH! It’s called... 2G

AndrueC
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Happy

Sat in an office in Brum. one end of the office 3G, other end 2G

Here in Brindleyplace my S3 is saying 'H' so that's either H or H+ (I'm getting 5Mb/s average so impossible to know based on that).

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MYSTERIOUS Siberia CRATER: ALIENS or METEOR not involved, officials insist

AndrueC
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Unhappy

Re: Giant golfer? Not likely.

You've never seen me golf

You, I might have seen. My ball in the rough on the other hand..natch. I play either bright yellow or bright orange and still the buggers can vanish without trace barely an inch off the fairway.

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Rural mobile coverage: Tweeting twits to join chirping tits in UK's national parks

AndrueC
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Meh

Re: Hooray

Unless you call £53 for 7 days or £88 for 15 days rental expensive ?

For the UK - yes. Granted people sometimes get into difficulty in really bad weather on the top of what we like to call mountains(*). But suggesting people should take a sat phone when they go walking around our national parks is a bit silly. The biggest communication problem we face on our small island when out enjoying the scenery is trying to get away from twitters, texters, talkers and the beeping noises that accompany them.

Now if you actually live in a remote(**) area it can be a bit of a pain but then you'll be making more use of it so investing in a proper installation might make sense.

but when your several hundred miles from the nearest person

Extremely difficult to achieve in the UK. In fact about the only way to do is it go and sit on a small rocky outcrop in the north Atlantic ;)

(*)The rest of the world call them 'rocky hills' :)

(**)Again, our definition of 'remote' is not the same as in most parts of the world.

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X marks the chop: Microsoft takes axe to Nokia's Android venture

AndrueC
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Joke

Re: Buzzword bingo

http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/1998-12-27/

Maybe the new CEO is Scott Adams in disguise playing the world's biggest prank.

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