* Posts by BenR

166 posts • joined 4 Aug 2010

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RIP Sir Terry Pratchett: Discworld author finally gets to meet DEATH

BenR

First Spock...

... and now Pterry.

2015 can just pack it the fuck in, or just fuck the fuck off.

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Out of time: Huawei, LG unveil watches nobody wants to buy

BenR

Re: Smartwatches

Yes. Just a shame there's all the additional bollocks on there doing things that one doesn't need, sucking up battery power the whole time.

i don't want a quad-core mini-puter on my wrist - I already have a perfectly serviceable, better-spec'd one in my pocket.

I don't want it monitoring my heart-rate - i take my watch etc. off when i go to the gym anyway.

i don't want to talk to my watch - i can already talk to various bits of tech on my person anyway, and while it's novel, the novelty value wears off quickly, and after that isn't really useful and makes you look a bit of a tit.

It doesn't need a touchscreen - the entire thing can be controlled with three simple buttons like the Pebble.

It doesn't need complex apps, or its own storage, or GPS, or anything else. These are all just fripperies that suck up power and take away from its primary function.

Just a screen, a battery, a vibration motor and a small speaker, a Bluetooth 4LE connection to my phone, and enough processing umph to display a text message / call notification, and the facility to control the playing of music.

Anything else is - to my mind at least - a waste. Make them cheap, simple and usable and you might get people buying them. As it stands, they'll go the way of the 3D TV.

If Pebble made a circular version of the Pebble Steel in a choice of black or chrome, that fit a standard 22mm watch strap, and included wireless charging, and nothing else, they'd have my money just as quickly as i could type my card details into the website.

i wish i had the technological and manufacturing wherewithal - I'd Kickstarter such a device right this second.

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BenR

Smartwatches

Other wearable tech I'm not so fussed with, but for a smartwatch, i want it to do a few key things, and not much else:

1) it has to tell the time.

2) the battery has to last a couple of days at least, if not a week.

3) i want to be able to pair it with my phone to display notifications.

4) It has to look like a decently-classy watch (not bling-tastic, and not too non-normal) and provide 'normal' functionality (i.e. decently waterproof to a sensible level - say 25m - so it can survive doing the washing up or not being taken off in the bath / shower)

That's it. Doesn't need to do more than that. I don't need to be able to make calls on it, or read messages, or use it as sat-nav, or anything like that. I want it effectively as a second-screen that will buzz when I get a message, as if my phone is in my pocket i often don't feel or hear it.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Dropping the level of functionality would help the battery life a lot i suspect. A quad-core Snapdragon 400 in a watch seems like total overkill!

Even the Pebble tries to do too much, and I'm not sure I like the look of it. The Qualcomm TOQ looks like the right kind of thing, but looks awful! Quite like the Asus Smartwatch, but they need some development and the battery life isn't great. Some of these new watches from LG and Huawei look the part, but have so much kit in them that they don't need really... LTE on a watch?!? What's the point if you (as everyone does) ALREADY HAVE A PHONE!!

Also - I saw an idea about batteries being put in the strap of the watch - either a flexible cell, or metal links with a small 50 mAh battery in each link that connect together. I'm amazed someone hasn't developed this further.

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COSMIC FATTY from the DAWN of TIME simply can't exist – astroboffins

BenR

Re: Checks Bible, looks up Genesis...

Well, you always leave the tricky jobs until last... gives you time to have a think.

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Apple design don Jony Ive: Build-your-own phone is BOLLOCKS

BenR

Don't get me wrong

I like Apple kit - especially the iPhone. every time i've picked one up and played with it i've been impressed with the quality of materials; the feeling of heft; the elegant simplicity of the design.

I don't own one, and probably never will, because I don't get on with the Walled Garden, and i have gotten so used to Android as an OS on my phone that changing to anything else would be jarring. Especially with all the dicking about moving contacts across, and photos, and everything. iPhones (and iPads and the like) are great if you've already bought into the homogenous Apple infrastructure as many of my friends have.

I mention this, because I don't want to be misconstrued as a raving Fandroid, Apple-bashing at every given opportunity, whether warranted or not.

But I read this article - and the precursor article on the BBC - and the first thing I thought was "What a jumped up pompous twat* Jony Ive has come across as!"

[ * - stronger language may have been used.]

As a PRODUCT designer, he has responsibility for the look and feel of the device. Is it heavy, but not too heavy? Does the glass-and-aluminium give a good feel? Are the corners too rounded? Curved back or flat? That sort of thing. I suspect that there is a lot of back and forth between him and the engineers. I doubt he has much input into specs. Allegedly, he has some input into UI design and feel, but the actual workings are obviously up to some programmer in a dark room somewhere,

Stick to what you know.

I imagine this is probably more levelled at the Google Project Ara modular phone than MotoMaker - although knowing Apple and Ive it could be anything I suppose! If it *IS* aimed at Ara, then he's made himself look even more of a dick, as the entire point of Ara is to allow customisability of the *HARDWARE*, not necessarily the appearance. And if it was simply a dig at MotoMaker, then my original "pompous twat" comment holds.

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BenR

I like some of Ive's designs, but really:

"Abdicating your responsibilities as a designer"?

What a pompous twat.

Abdication of your responsibilities is important when you're talking about safety, or quality. I wouldn't want members of the public getting involved in the intricacies of detailing post-tensioning strand on the Milaeu Viaduct for example. Or any old DIY tinkerer playing with the control board at a motorway communication centre.

Letting people choose between pre-manufactured alternate components which are then factory installed by people in the same facility is a very different kettle of miscellaneous swimming things.

i can only presume Sir Jony is against the options list on cars being available as well, as that level of customisation goes against his intrinsic design beliefs.

I repeat: What a pompous twat.

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Switch it off and on again: How peers failed to sneak Snoopers' Charter into terror bill

BenR

Re: The problem with the bill as I see it..

This is exactly what I came here to say.

If you have a good reasons to suspect a particular person - fine. Go to a judge, explain why you have these suspicions (even if they are a bit vague and nebulous), and then monitor them until your heart is content. Even if one were to slurp up data, you'd still need to have good reasons for looking at a particular person's records - and those same pointers would be enough to convince a judge that further targeted surveillance was warranted (literally).

Why can they not understand that for most people the issue is probably less about the data being available in controlled, overseeable circumstances, and more about the fact that the Police, GCHQ, SOCA and the rest have all *ALREADY* proven themselves to be totally untrustworthy!

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Skin colour's irrelevant. Just hire competent folk on their merits, FFS

BenR

Re: The only problem is...

I stand corrected.

I work in neither field personally, so I have no idea. Thanks for letting me know.

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BenR

The only problem is...

I agree with this entirely. The only basis for discrimination in employment should be the ability to perform the job tasks in question. (And, as an aside, it should be far easier to be rid of someone who is NOT capable of doing their job than it currently seems to be in the UK at least. I understand the provisions for "at-will" employment in the US makes this a lot easier.)

The only problem you have to watch for is that you don't get into a self-fulfilling prophecy loop. As in, the only people you can interview for $tech_coding_job are men, because men are the only gender who have the experience at the level required, hence no women apply, and so on down the line until you reach the point we are currently at, where certain educational courses are themselves wholly unrepresentative because of the future job prospects.

Certainly in my field, this isn't because of any kind of in-built bias or residual mysogeny (not that I've witnessed or experienced at least), but more to do with the proportions of applicants we get.

There is of course the age-old argument that you don't see equality drives in female-dominated professions. I don't see the DfE harping on about a 50/50 split for nursery and primary school teachers, and nor do I see the NHS / DfH going on about nursing...

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Jupiter Ascending – a literally laughable train wreck of a film

BenR

I actually went to see this - having paid actual cash-money! - the other day.

The plot, such as it is, could be accurately summarised as sci-fi 'Cinderella', with elements of 'Blade Runner', Star Wars (particularly 'Empire'), and 'Soylent Green' thrown in. I don't think the plot was irrevocable in truth. It had some interesting ideas in them, but you had to dig for them.

Visually, spectacular. Truly beautiful. Sadly, it should have been an indication of the film quality when even the billboard review quotes were all focused on the cinematography rather than anything else.

The script - ah, the script! If i was to describe it as "beyond fucking wank" I'd be being generous. It's all over the place. Characters come with little introduction, and go with even less fanfare. Two of the main characters are summarily dealt with by simply not giving them any more screentime, with no indication as to their fates. Seemingly important characters are, in some cases, not even named. Sean Bean plays a character with more facets than an insects eye, and all of them are underused. The dialogue is truly truly woeful, with members of one of the Universe's most powerful, 'Entitled' families speaking as though they're secondary (high) school students one second, before being made to sound like C17th royalty the next, often within the same sentence. It's as though they had a load of set-pieces they wanted to film, and wrote a script around them to bodge them all into 2 hours.

It's by no means the worst film ever made - but was very disappointing.

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The new Falcon Heavy: MOST POWERFUL ROCKET since the Apollo moonshots

BenR

They've set the bar very high.

If the booster-cores now don't land perfectly synchronised like an Olympic ice-skating team, then I'll be extremely disappointed.

How long do you reckon before the SpaceX lads are channelling 'Top Gun' and are asking permission to 'buzz the tower' at KSC with one of the landing components?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdHBsWXaHN8

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Deprivation Britain: 1930s all over again? Codswallop!

BenR

@LucreLout Re: 1930s

I'm mostly there with you.

I too never knew that sort of poverty - I came from a single-parent family, and although my father was not one of the type the CSA would have had us believe all absentee fathers are and always paid his child support to my mother without fail, my mother still worked TWO jobs in local education (as a nursery nurse and a part-time youth worker), as well as a weekend job with one of our neighbours on a sandwich fan at football matches, in order to support us and to put me through university. I never went hungry in the manner described by some of the older generation, but I am *FULLY* aware of just how much my mother sacrificed for me to have a better life. The only reason she could even contemplate affording her own home was through Right To Buy.

But even then, while attending university, to make ends meet I lived at home, and was fortunate that my hometown university (Sheffield) was ranked third in the country for my course at the time, so i didn't class that as a disbenefit. I also took a part-time job myself, where I worked stacking shelves at a local supermarket for 20 hours a week after lectures. I graduated, got myself a good job with good prospects, got myself my professional qualifications, and am now fortunate to be living in the sort of financial comfort that my mother could have only dreamed of at my age.

I too had no more opportunity - due to either my background, home life, upbringing or through my failing (and since closed and reopened at least twice) local comp than anyone else in my peer group. I worked hard to get where I am, and to be in a position where when I have kids they will have some of the advantages that i did not.

This is how the world *SHOULD* work - each generation building on that which came before them.

Quite why I should be expected to feel guilty that some feckless imbeciles have been unable to take a system that worked perfectly well for me I shall never know. Even more so when I see parents walking round during the day, drinking cheap lager and smoking endless fags while failing to maintain control of the three or four children running round only to hear the refrains of "It's not fair the government cut our benefits! How can we feed our kids now?"

Work hard. Have aspirations. And most of all, if you truly believe the situation to be so bad that you consider hope for your own self-betterment to be lost forever, be willing to sacrifice and forgo things for yourself in order to provide better for your children.

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Blu-ray region locks popped by hardware hacker

BenR

Re: Forced to view content (Adverts etc.)

<quote> Sir Runcible Spoon: 'That action is prohibited' <- Another good reason to rip/re-author</quote>

Indeed. When DVDs first came out and they didn't have the advertising bollocks, the film trailers and the anti-piracy copyright shit before the menu even popped up, they were brilliant! Hence why one of my favourite DVDs is 'Mystery Men' ("To ze Old Disco Room!") which has none of that.

At least when they put all the trailers on VHS tapes, the fast-forward button still worked! Locking out any button-presses/menu access is deeply beyond amusing! You media-conglomerate bastards!

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Apple strap-on wristjob: You WON'T be able to spend more than $5,000!

BenR

Re: Vulgar or Something

And, as an added bonus, it'll make you look like the First Prime of some Goa'uld or other...

"Jaffa, kree!"

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Trolls pop malformed heads above bridge to sling abuse at Tim Cook

BenR

It makes you despair

As much as I couldn't give a flying fuck one way or the other as to Tim Cook's sexuality - who or what he decides to shag in the privacy of his own bedroom is nothing to do with me, as long as it's not children or animals - I thought his statement (other than thanking 'God' for the 'gift') struck the right note. He basically said that he was announcing it now in case it helped those people who weren't clear on their own sexuality be more comfortable with it, or to try to show support for those who were taking stick as a result.

That neatly matches my own opinions on religion - I think it's a crock of horseshite, but I'm not about to decry it as totally worthless if it helps some people in some way to deal with their own pain and loss and suffering (and before anyone points it out, yes, of course I am aware that in a lot of cases, the pain and suffering is often CAUSED by religion - YMMV).

This level of uninformed, uninspired, rampant bigotry in trolling is sadly unsurprising in this day and age of keyboard warrior dickheads spouting off behind a veil of anonymity. Like your mum always said - "If you can't say anything nice..."

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Xperia Z3: Crikey, Sony – ANOTHER flagship phondleslab?

BenR

Re: Wet soapy action?

In case any marketing bods are reading this - or in fact anyone in advertising as well - take a tip from Bill Hicks.

Kill yourselves now.

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iPhone 6: The final straw for Android makers eaten alive by the data parasite?

BenR

Premium Android

There will always be a requirement to have a 'premium, top-end' Android device, and claiming this comes from Samsung doesn't cut it for me. I've never picked up a single Samsung mobile device - be it phone or tablet - and been as impressed by the build quality as i am by the build of an iPhone, my own Xperia Z1 (which I adore) or the HTC One M8. Samsung sell well because of the range of devices, and the more pragmatic approach to encrypted bootloaders etc. Surely there has to be some money to be made here?

Sony are currently going down the incremental update route that has fared so well with the iPhone... the Xperia Z to the Z1 was a big leap. Z1 to Z2 and subsequently Z2 to Z3 are much smaller steps. Now they have a working formula, they can carry on with incremental updates. i wonder how much of that reported loss is down to historic events that they're paying down or writing off?

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

BenR

Re: No real surprise, really

And how much do people want to bet the next most common password is 'Swordfish'?

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Tim Cook on pale, male Apple: 'As CEO, I'm NOT satisfied'

BenR

Re: let me guess...

Wasn't it not so long ago that affirmative action lived under another name?

And wasn't that name "positive discrimination"?

"All discrimination is bad, but some discrimination is better than others" seems to be the message here.

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Feel free to BONK on the TUBE, says Transport for London

BenR

Re: Not yet.

I also don't understand how using my credit card is easier than using an Oyster card. After the initail sign up for auto top up and setting up a direct debit to pay my credit card in full every month, they become interchangable in usage.

The answer is - it isn't. Not for you at least. They aren't making this change to help you (where 'you' represents a random variable defined as 'someone who already lives / works in London and uses TfL services at least once a day). TfL are making this change because:

a) it simplifies their model, as they aren't having to run three or four charging models (cash either on the bus/tube or paid for as a ticket in advance; debit/credit card on the bus/tube or in advance, contactless debit/credit card and Oyster.) Look for them to phase out Oyster in four or five years when everyone has had their current card replaced with a contactless one.

b) combined with a) above, it practically removes any requirement they have for handling cash at all (as stated in the article).

c) it makes life for tourists / other irregular London visitors much easier, as they don't have to prat about getting an Oyster card in the first place, then topping it up yadda yadda yadda...

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Measure for measure: We visit the most applied-physicist-rich building in the UK

BenR

I thought the same thing - suspciously circular reckoning going on!

The second is determined by the frequency of the flip of a caesium atom. But it seems in order to get the right flip, you use microwave radiation of a specific frequency. How do you know your microwaves are the right frequency?

However, having read the original response, I think the answer is that you don't define the frequency. You know that at some frequency, fx, the caesium will 'flip'. You therefore aim a microwave generator at the caesium, and increase the frequency until 'flipping' begins (which you presumably measure in some way - I'm guessing some kind of EM emission?). At which point, you know the frequency at which this is occurring, and thus can work out how long a second is? And rather than use the number of cycles in a second, you run the test over a long period of time and count the number of cycles to reduce the error, and then further reduce it by running many many many repeats of the test, then use Clever Maths (TM) to get to a final number?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_fountain seems to explain it.

I still can't quite get the idea that it's a bit circular out of my head, but I'm guessing the Uber-Boffins at NPL are much much much clever than me and know what they're doing. If it was as circular as it appears to my (our) brains, I'm sure the peer-reviewed journals would be filled with a lot more comments along the lines of "You're a pillock."

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TalkTalk whips BT with riding crop over sport fibs in telly ad

BenR

The Watchdog is wrong too

You can also get it for 'free' through Virgin Media TV.

Although if you get it through such a source, then you can't use the BTSport app or watch online, as you are required to have a BTInternet account to do so.

(Although you CAN watch it online through the Virgin Media TV portal / phone app.)

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SpaceX 'Dragon V2' ROCKET PODULE can hover-land on Earth - or MARS

BenR

Re: Funding challenge sorted

Closer to being a Dreadclaw I think.

Although they aren't that 'accurate' in canon... just mental psycho-crazy AIs.

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UK's pirate-nagging VCAP scheme WON'T have penalties – report

BenR

Re: Sort out the pricing...

They need to sort out the fragmentation too.

By the time you've finished paying for LoveFilm, Netflix and NOW! TV to be able to get House of cards, Orange is the New Black, Banshee, Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire etc., that's nearly £20 a month!

Which wouldn't be so bad if I could drop everything barring internet connectivity, but most firms (I'm looking at you Virgin Media!) bundle stuff up so tightly that it costs you more to not have stuff - such as dumping a home phone line for example.

End these counter-productive, anti-competitive 'exclusivity' agreements for certain shows and channels, then we might get somewhere.

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ENTIRE UNIVERSE created in supercomputer. Not THIS universe (probably)

BenR

I think his point was that a universe of 350 million light-years squared implies it's a 2-dimensional, planar universe.

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Denmark dynamited by cunning American Minecraft vandals

BenR

Re: 19.000

In fact the comma as thousands separator is also used in the USA, Canada, Australia, NZ and swathes of Asia too (ie the target audience for El Reg and then some).

That's true. But DENMARK (where the original text was written) is in Continental Europe, which is why I said Continental Europe, but explicitly excluded the UK so that some poor Americans didn't think this was just another weird thing that all Europeans do...

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BenR
Boffin

Re: 19.000

Not enough clues as to if this is sarcasm or not, hence the following explanation:

In Continental Europe (as in everywhere barring the UK), the period / full stop is (sometimes) used instead of a comma as a thousands separator, with the comma being used instead as a decimal mark.

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UK.gov data sell-off row: HMRC denies claims it'll flog YOUR private info

BenR

re: ObnoxiousGit

Exactly the same can be said about access to DVLA data - and yet it seems that anyone and their nan can look at the DVLA database to send out parking 'contractual charge notices'...

i don't recall being asked about that when i applied for my driving licence.

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BenR

Re: Welcome to our country

<quote>What we got is a peculiar bastard hybrid government that never stood for election.</quote>

Governments don't stand for election. In the UK, a particular person stands for the seat of MP of a constituency, and the party with the most seats is asked to form a government. With the voting system we have, this is the only way a government can be formed.

It's exactly the same as the people who whinge about how they "didn't vote for that cockwomble Cameron to be Prime Minister". These people have, at least, the benefit of being entirely correct in their assertions - just not for the reasons they suspect!

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Lost artworks by Andy Warhol found on 80s-era FLOPPY DISKS

BenR

Re: Not that easy

Probably the least simple thing about it would be finding a still-working Amiga floppy drive if my experience is anything to go by!

A500, A600, A1200 - owned all three, and every single one of them had to have the drive replaced at least once (I think it was three times on the A1200!)

It's not like I was trying to ram slices of toast or something in there...

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Got a Netgear router from Virgin Media? Change your admin password NOW

BenR

SuperHub2 modem mode

I am a (relatively) techie person, although my job isn't working with networking kit in an IT environment, and I have a SuperHub2. I dearly dearly dearly wish that I could have just kept my little dinky VM modem with my own router, but VM tell me that they "aren't compatible with speeds higher than 20Mbps" for some reason. I can't work out whether that's just the party line their helldesk folks have been told to spin (surely they're all DOCSIS3.0 compatible?) or whether there is some technical element of truth to it... I'd be interested if anyone knows the truth.

Onto the 'Super' Hub 2. Modem mode on mine simply refuses to work correctly. When it was installed, once it had been proven to be working correctly "as-is", the first thing I did was flick it into modem mode to use my D-Link DIR645 with it... and nothing. The 'modem' wasn't assigning a WAN IP address to the router. I found this odd, as the router itself had been functioning perfectly fine an hour beforehand with my old dinky VM modem:

- Tried swapping cables, just in case. Nothing.

- Tried plugging the 'modem' directly into a machine to see if the machine would get an IP address... it timed out and assigned itself a 169.xxx IP address. Obviously: nothing.

- Reset the Hub at least five times while trying various things. Nothing.

- Tried various combinations of cables, networks cards, boxes, machines and both router and 'modem' settings. Nothing.

- Hit the VM forums for some support, and got the usual nonsense from their 'Technical' support people (i.e. power cycle it; do a software reset etc. - all the stuff I'd told them I'd already done.)

Eventually decided to run the SuperHub2 as a router for a week and try again. Still nothing, although some random software update turned up in the logs, but wasn't installed as the security hash was for the wrong bit of kit. At this point I start wondering if I've maybe just been unfortunate and got a bit of kit borked from the factory - I suppose these things can happen now and then.

Got fed up, phoned VM Helldesk - who were surprisingly sanguine about the entire affair. Explained what I'd done, and was told immediately that they'd replace the unit - I didn't even have to power cycle the damned thing while I was on the phone.

Engineer turned up and replaced the unit and had basically the same problems again. (Full disclosure - it did, on first turning modem mode on, give the router an IP address, but then it seemed to pull down some kind of software update which borked it again.)

The engineer, bless him, was very helpful and tried all sorts of things while I was there, but we eventually ran out of time - and to be fair to him, it worked flawlessly (for small values of 'flawless') when in router mode. He seemed to think it could be some form of incompatibility between the Netgear SuperHub and the D-Link router. Not sure what to think about that - I know in the bad old days this could happen between different manufacturers, but one would hope that the various firmware IP stacks would have been able to talk to each other over an apparently standard protocol by now!

So, the upshot is I'm currently sat using the SuperHub as VM intend - as a router. As it seems to work well at my house and I can get a decent signal from it in every room, I'm tempted to just leave it as-is. Might give it another go once the new firmware update comes out, but it's annoying. My only other consideration is whether to hit eBay and buy an old Cisco router / VPN tunneller so I can route a lot of my traffic through a VPN so I don't get hit with throttling for having the temerity to use my 'unlimited' internet connection to stream video using the TorrentStream protocol.

Anyone on here got any thoughts or similar stories of woe? If anyone has any potential solutions I'd be interested to hear them.

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Virgin Media's 'little(ish)' book of deals contained BIG FIBS, rules ad watchdog

BenR

Unreal deal!

He's right - that is a cracking deal.

I've just talked them into 30Meg internet, TV XL with a TiVo box and a second 'normal' HD box for £38 a month, and paid the line rental up-front to get the £60 saving so it's only £120 for the year...

I thought I'd got a good deal but now I'm not so sure!

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Cheap 3D printer works with steel

BenR

Re: solar power will be the limiting factor on what humans can do in the long run

Cock.

Just realised I've misread a decimal place:

You're looking at a 20% conversion efficiency probably, so you need to increase your area by a factor of five. So that's 100km² / GW. The area of the Sahara is 9.4 million km². That gives you a total power output of 94,000 GW, or 823.4 PWh per annum. Planetary energy consumption in 2008 was approx. 144 PWh.

Not 82.3 PWh as I initially read while I was typing. So the entire Sahara would generate about FIVE TIMES the current energy consumption of the planet, so including for losses etc. you'd realistically need to cover only about 40-45% of the total area.

Which is STILL over 4 MILLION SQUARE KILOMETERS!

Which would STILL require over a HUNDRED YEARS WORTH of our current energy usage to create the array.

And it STILL wouldn't generate power for 50% of the time, no matter the fact that the 50% capacity reduction was taken into account, so we'd either need to store the excess (in ma-HOO-sive batteries for example) or simply turn off the planet when it's night-time in North Africa.

It's still a f**king stupid idea, whichever way you look at it. Just because it's only 40% of a stupid idea doesn't help.

[Slinks away in shame at making a rudimentary mathematical error when typing]

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BenR

Re: solar power will be the limiting factor on what humans can do in the long run

I ran out of edit time:

But let's not even consider the embedded energy of the array either.

Polycrystalline panels have an embedded energy of 4.07 GJ/m² ( http://perigordvacance.typepad.com/files/inventoryofcarbonandenergy.pdf ). So to build the entire array would require:

9.4 million km² x 1 000 000 m² / km² x 4.07 GJ/m² = 3.8258 x 10^13 GJ.

1 GJ = 0.001044444 GWh, hence 3.8258 x 10^13 GJ = 3.9958 x10^10 GWh = 39 958 PWh.

Therefore, to build the array, we'd need to utilise the entire energy consumption of the planet as it (just about) currently stands for 39 958 PWh / 144 PWh / annum = 277.5 YEARS just to build the array that wouldn't even power a quarter of the planet.

Does that seem like an efficient use of resources to anyone?

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BenR

Re: solar power will be the limiting factor on what humans can do in the long run

Bollocks! A small fraction of the Sahara desert alone could generate more electricity than the human race currently uses.

The Solar radiation flux onto Earth's surface is about a kilowatt per square meter. Allowing 10% for harvesting efficiency and a factor of two for dark night-times. you need 20 m^2 per kW power-station output. A large power station is a Gigawatt: a million kilowatts, or 20 square kilometers of desert covered in solar panels.

10% for harvesting efficiency is a nonsense. I refer you to Wikipedia:

Solar cell efficiencies vary from 6% for amorphous silicon-based solar cells to 40.7% with multiple-junction research lab cells and 44.4% with multiple dies assembled into a hybrid package.[11] Solar cell energy conversion efficiencies for commercially available multicrystalline Si solar cells are around 14-19%.[12] The highest efficiency cells have not always been the most economical — for example a 30% efficient multijunction cell based on exotic materials such as gallium arsenide or indium selenide and produced in low volume might well cost one hundred times as much as an 8% efficient amorphous silicon cell in mass production, while only delivering about four times the electrical power.

However, there is a way to "boost" solar power. By increasing the light intensity, typically photogenerated carriers are increased, resulting in increased efficiency by up to 15%. These so-called "concentrator systems" have only begun to become cost-competitive as a result of the development of high efficiency GaAs cells. The increase in intensity is typically accomplished by using concentrating optics. A typical concentrator system may use a light intensity 6-400 times the sun, and increase the efficiency of a one sun GaAs cell from 31% at AM 1.5 to 35%.

You're looking at a 20% conversion efficiency probably, so you need to increase your area by a factor of five. So that's 100km² / GW. The area of the Sahara is 9.4 million km². That gives you a total power output of 94,000 GW, or 823.4 PWh per annum. Planetary energy consumption in 2008 was approx. 144 PWh. So the Sahara, assuming you could cover it ENTIRELY with solar panels, keep them clean, and with an exact 50/50 split of day/night, and that each panel was generating it's maximum possible theoretical output the entire time it was in sunlight, would provide about half of the planetary energy requirements. Realistically, probably more like a quarter or less.

And then, on top of all that, you've got transmission losses to take into account. You'd lose another 10% or so in that. Again, from Wikipedia:

As of 1980, the longest cost-effective distance for Direct Current transmission was determined to be 7,000 km (4,300 mi). For Alternating Current it was 4,000 km (2,500 mi), though all transmission lines in use today are substantially shorter than this.

Can anyone spot any problems with this plan? Answers on a postcard...

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RIP Comet ISON: ???-2013. We hardly knew ye

BenR

Exactly as designed.

It was clearly a stunt for 'Disaster Area'.

Once Hotblack Desiato comes back from his year spent dead for tax reasons, he'll be pleased that the R&D has continued apace.

5
0

Samsung to spend ENTIRE budget of London 2012 OLYMPICS... on ADS

BenR

Not necessarily

You've been exposed to marketing efforts from at least two companies and have chosen the product you liked best. The fact you were exposed to the efforts of more than one company indicates everyone's marketing was successful, regardless of the option you chose. The final purchase decision is sales, not marketing so someone's sales strategy didn't pan out, but everyone's marketing succeeded.

None of that to say you're weak minded or easily influenced, but to attempt to place yourself out of the reach of marketing is foolish. You're getting messages but failure to acknowledge them makes you more open to efforts which you don't recognize as marketing.

While I know what you mean and broadly agree, you've forgotten a sub-set or two:

1) the sub-set of people who see the advertising, then go and have a butchers at a product in the shops and/or read reviews in a variety of forums and decide it isn't for them for various reasons (in my own, personal case, feeling the build quality of my aunt's S3, deciding it felt like a shoddy piece of plastic that wouldn't last the rigours of a 24-month phone contract, and looking for something else);

2) the sub-set of people who have previously owned Samsung mobile kit and were disappointed by the quality, support, features, software bloat, et al.

Both are likely to be skeptical of a huge marketing campaign. Those that shout loudest frequently have the least worth listening to.

Samsung have tried to develop a 'premium' line, without doing anything in particular to make it 'premium' in any way, and having successfully managed to do so, have then diluted it by attaching that premium brand to anything they think will tolerate it.

While I'm impressed by Samsung's product cycle, I'm less impressed by the overall quality of the product. Personally, I'd prefer a less rapid product cycle with more time given over the build quality and development of features other than gimmicks. Their marketing campaign won't do a damned thing to change my mind otherwise.

3
1

Ten top stories from New Who

BenR

Missing from the list: (in no particular order)

As suggested by others:

The Doctor's Wife

Silence in the Library

Midnight

Inexplicably omitted entirely:

Waters of Mars (minus the piss-annoying robot)

The Impossible Planet

38 Minutes (I think that's what it's called - the one where they're falling into the star)

0
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'Only NUCLEAR power can SAVE HUMANITY', say Global Warming high priests

BenR

Agreed, but

Agreed, but while what you say is true, in the short-to-medium-term, uranium based fission is proven technology that is (relatively) easily commercially deployable.

While the fuel has limited availability, the last time this point was brought up I seem to recall discovering that there was sufficient commercially-accessible uranium to power the planet for at least 50 years based on even the most conservative of conservative assessments. More than enough - when combined with our current CCGT for peak demand, and whatever renewables happen to be generating - to keep us going for the foreseeable future. Plenty of time to perfect and make commercially available additional technologies like fusion and thorium molten salt.

On the waste front, there is a perfectly feasible generating cycle that will burn the really *nasty* waste (the long-term, deep-geological, 200k-year half-life stuff) and leave you with waste that, while still quite unpleasant were one to start swimming in it, is clean and easy to deal with by comparison (no hard gammas, no risk of critical mass, stable isotopes with relatively short - several hundred years - half-life). As has been said by many people, many times, on many forums - the big problem with previous - and to an extent, current - gen tech is that much of it was set up to produce waste that could be reprocessed for weaponry. Take that limitation out, and there are other fuel cycles that can be used that are much more friendly. Doing that even reduces the amount of enrichment that is needed, so the fuel will last that bit longer!

You'll note the frequent use of the phrase 'commercial'. Don't kid yourselves here - Commerce is key to all this. The bigger the company; the bigger the turnover; the bigger the aversion to risk. Proven tech is the name of the game, because it's well-understood and makes money. If thorium molten salt and thorium pebble-bed and everything was really "READY", it'd be out there making money already. I have no doubts about the science, but I wonder about the viability once it's upscaled from a research project to something of commercial generating capacity.

Now - where's my robot monkey butler and flying, auto-pilot controlled car? I believe these are all technologies which were promised within 25 years over thirty years ago!

3
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BitTorrent awarded distributed storage patent

BenR
Thumb Up

Re: Erasure codes

Upvoted, because I was going to make the same joke.

In a way I'm glad I didn't, as it seems people have missed it...

0
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Linus Torvalds seeks REDEMPTION for every coded SIN

BenR
Joke

Re: Woodland Creature?

>>>(cough*cough*moronic*woodland creature*cough*cough)<<<

"Stupid Sasquatch"

2
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iPAD AIR WORLD DEBUT: Our Australian team gets an early fondle

BenR

Re: Pants

My understanding - which is far from perfect so I will happily be corrected - is that the dreadful Americanism of 'pants' = 'trousers' is from when such garments were more fittingly referred to as 'pantaloons'.

From a country still doggedly fixed on pounds and ounces, and feet and inches, such anachronisms shouldn't be unexpected!

2
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Locked into fixed-term mobile contract with variable prices? Not on our watch – Ofcom

BenR

Re: Has always been this way, no need for OfCom

A contract requires both parties to agree terms.

If one party varies those terms, the other party must agree or the contract is void.

This is basic law.

Yes - and if one of the contractual terms to which one agrees is that the cost increases annually in line with RPI, or at a fixed %age as defined in the contract, then as long as that is the only rise that is enforced then the contract is perfectly legal and in fact still stands.

Obviously, there's an argument over whether the normal extra £1.20 a month these rises normally comprise is in fact an accurate RPI increase or not, especially when the infrastructure is already paid for; it costs telcos *ABSOLUTELY NOTHING* for you to make a call or send a text; and that the only way £1.20 pcm is a 3% RPI is if your monthly bill is over £40 all in, which includes them taking an increase in the loan repayments for the hardware in the first place.

No-one is denying that telcos are taking the piss - but saying that payments increasing annually with RPI as a contractual term voids a contract is incorrect.

3
1

Boffins spot LONE PLANET roaming interstellar void

BenR
Headmaster

Re: Dyson Sphere

Probably not. Assuming when they talk about size they're referring to mass, and assuming the average density of large gas giants to be similar (i.e. this has approximately the same density as Jupiter despite being 6 times more massive), then the ratio of radii is the cube-root of the size multiple, so in this case the cube-root of 6 = 1.817, so slightly less than twice the radius, or slightly more than 3.5 times the diameter if you prefer.

(NB: if they were talking about ACTUAL dimensions, then 6 times the ACTUAL size would of course make it 216 times more massive for the same density, although it is theorised that Jupiter is about as 'big' as a planet can get before the additional mass causes it to become 'smaller' but more dense - see the Jupiter wiki article.)

This gives it an approx. radius of about 126k km. Bit on the small side for a Dyson sphere - unless it was a very small, relatively cool star. For reference, Jupiter would need to be about 75 times more massive to fuse hydrogen properly and be a red dwarf. 50 times the mass and it'd probably be a brown dwarf in itself. This exoplanet still has a way to go then.

I'm sure someone will correct my maths if I've made a balls-up somewhere!

0
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Reg readers! You've got 100 MILLION QUID - what would you BLOW it on?

BenR

Re: Enforcement

Upvoted, but i'd take it further still.

How about a general "Become effective at what you're actually supposed to be doing?"

3
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Oz sawbones extract fork from old boy's todger: Gents, start your wincing

BenR
Gimp

Re: Nothing like variety!

From the article;

"a wide array of self-inserted foreign bodies", including ... vegetables (carrot, cucumber) ... parts of animals (leeches, squirrel tail, snakes) ... fluids (glue, hot wax).

O.o

The mind boggles.

Icon, well, because.

0
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Guardian lets UK spooks trash 'Snowden files' PCs to make them feel better

BenR
Happy

Upvoted:

Just for this:

"Would you stop being ignorant? We do not have the information, we do not have it here nor there, we do not have it anywhere, we do not have it in our SAN, we do not have it whitehall man"

That has made my day.

12
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Microsoft's next device could be a Surface Watch

BenR
Alien

"Hello computer...?"

"A keyboard. How quaint."

1
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CLIMATE CHANGE forces women into PROSTITUTION - US politicians

BenR
Holmes

@deshepherd Re: Gender sensitive framework

Actually, in that case I can see why the effect on women particularly might be considered separately - for example, women are probably more likely to be walking on the streets with children to and from school, and thus will be disproportionately benefited by such a change.

The rest of them are totally crackers though.

1
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UK.Gov passes Instagram Act: All your pics belong to everyone now

BenR
WTF?

Facebook / Instagram etc.

"For the first time anywhere in the world, the Act will permit the widespread commercial exploitation of unidentified work - the user only needs to perform a "diligent search". But since this is likely to come up with a blank, they can proceed with impunity."

Surely if you have an account with the like of Facebook or Instagram and you upload photos to it, then such a 'diligent search' should turn up the fact that the photograph is associated with you, and thus you own the rights to it? Alright, the meta-data might be deliberately stripped by the uploading process (I hope they get caught out doing that as it'll be fun!), but if it's in your account as uploaded by you on such-and-such a date...?

At the very least it should give companies a starting point to find the creator of whatever it is, and you'd like to think that if they are ever taken to court that the beak in question would look unfavourably on a company who hadn't gone past even the first level of checking?

Or am I being hopelessly naive? Or perhaps missing something startlingly obvious?

The real question I suppose is "How diligent is diligent?"

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