874 posts • joined 26 Mar 2012
Re: Too much tax.
Talk of bancruptcy dramatically underestimates the extent of house price increases over the last couple of decades. If house prices were to drop by about 10%, that would be regarded as a crash; 20% would be a major crippling disastrous crash. And yet, even after a 20% drop, most houses would still cost a lot more than they did 10 years ago and a hell of a lot more than they did 20 years ago. Hell, just 5 years after I bought my house, its price could have dropped by 50% and still been higher than when I bought it. That's insane. (That has since been redressed somewhat by 2008's shenanigans. But even with that -- one of the most catastrophic financial crashes in history, apparently, directly linked to mortgages and house prices -- its still more expensive than when I bought it.)
Anyone think allowing shops to be converted to houses is likely to cause a drop of anything like that size? Especially given that so many commenters here have explained that it's already being allowed in their areas, and yet we don't seem to have seen a giant devastating house-price earthquake on the news.
> If a bleeding grocer can deliver in a one hour slot booked up to three weeks in advance, why can't Amazon, DHL, DPD and others, given that logistics is their one and only job?
The reason for this was the Royal Mail's monopoly. Up till a few years ago, it was actually illegal to charge less than £1 for a delivery unless you were the Royal Mail, no matter how low you could get your costs. As a result, every other courier service was forced to ignore the domestic market (who are out during the day) and stick to businesses (who are always in during the day and generally shut at weekends). Now the monopoly has been removed, we're beginning to see changes. But, to be fair, switching from Monday-to-Friday 9-to-5 to Monday-to-Friday 6-to-10 plus weekends is a huge change. It was never going to happen quickly.
Just imagine how much further we could be by now if a government had rescinded that stupid monopoly law a few years earlier.
Re: Too much tax.
> The principal problem with building new stuff is that it reduces the price of nearby existing stock
My argument with this point is simply with the idea that it's a problem. Housing in the UK is too expensive. Hordes of people can no longer afford anywhere to live. More and more people are living with their parents well into their twenties, sometimes their thirties. And a decrease in house prices is a problem? How? A thing that is far too expensive will get cheaper: yay!
No-one ever makes this argument about computers for some reason. Or medicine.
> Tesco because they screw over the dairy farmers and pay a price per litre of less than cost
The reason Tesco do this is that the dairy farmers sell the milk to them at that price. I agree it's not great for dairy farmers, but it's essentially no different from what's happening to musicians: oversupply. If you're selling something at below cost and you keep doing it, it's not your business; it's your hobby. It seems that a lot of dairy farmers, just like musicians, keep doing their work because it's their hobby. That is of course their right. But, if it is a business rather than a hobby, some of them need to consider going into other lines of work. And, if enough of them do so, the price of milk will go up.
Re: @mark 63
> Sensible and even enjoyable shopping is about more than just an inadequate catalogue on some American site and wating for delivery.
But it's the websites that have the excellent catalogue; it's the high street shops that don't have half of what their firms supposedly sell in stock.
> Some things, even for utilitarian shopping, need direct contact and trial, e.g. shoes and clothng, how does that computer screen or keyboard feel or the fan sound?
Which is precisely why in the UK we have distance selling regulations, which are actually very sensible and work well.
I buy most stuff online now, but yes, some things need that hands-on experience -- the main one being glasses. And, lo and behold, opticians are one of the types of bricks-and-mortar store that seem to be doing perfectly well.
Shoes, though... well, yes, it's nice to try them on before buying. But I have size 12 feet. Despite humans in this country getting taller and taller for my entire life, every high-street shoe shop still has only two policies regarding size 12. One: buy just one pair or size 12s and don't restock when someone buys them. Two: ask the customer if they'll try size 11 instead. I got into the habit of not even browsing, it was so dispiriting. Instead, I'd go into a shoe shop, approach the first member of staff, and say "Can you please show me which styles you have available in size 12?" They could then show me the two crappy pairs of clown shoes they had and I could leave. Mind you, a lot of them couldn't even answer the question, their stock management was so shite. Buying shoes from Amazon or Surfdome is sheer unadulterated paradise in comparison. Shoe shops are near the top of the list of firms that have killed themselves.
> Towns can, and sometimes are, also an aesthetic and social experience. Or do you imagine just a line of tea shops, restaurants and pubs ...
You appear to be implying that tea shops, restaurants, and pubs provide neither aesthetic nor social experiences.
> ... while all the money that should be spent in them goes to some Amazon off-shore tax paradise on its way to USA?
What, because it's spent in a pub? What on Earth are you on about?
> Or perhaps you really do exist just to consume as efficiently as possible.
What's the problem with efficiency? In days of yore, our grandmothers used to do the shopping by wandering into at least five different shops every day, and no doubt having a nice chat with the shopkeeper. All very nice, and no doubt aesthetic and social, and doable if you're a full-time housewife. Going to one big supermarket that sells everything you need in one go is efficient, yes, in that it is doable for those of us who don't live in 1956 and have full-time jobs and overtime and kids. We can even go to Tesco after work, whilst the quaint little high-street shops close as soon as we get out of work, presumably because they're run by business geniuses.
> As for the difficulties of access in towns: abandoning them is not the answer.
What Tim actually suggested was converting shops into houses, so that people could live in them. How on Earth does living in an area equate to abandoning it?
> Despite all the talk, successful towns are still busy with shoppers browsing books and music in book and music shops, examining and buying food in markets and food shops witht the possibility of discussing new items that one would hardly do on the on line shopping pages.
Music shops? Are you serious?
And people do discuss products online, all the time. In these very forums, for a start.
> But towns have served well for thousands of years for a reason
Not with shopping high streets, they haven't. That's quite a recent innovation. A lot of these precious high streets that must never be lost are in fact rows of converted houses. Why shouldn't they be converted back again?
Re: A missed opportunity
Good to see people trying to plug that particular gap in the market. However, since the Royal Mail is now privatised, and the Royal Mail and Post Office Counters are supposedly separate entities, and the Royal Mail have lost their legally enforced monopoly status (due to persistently awful service), what I would like to see is the Post Office offering us some other choices. Go in with a parcel, have it weighed, have the person behind the counter tell you the different couriers' prices and options.
Re: With you on this
> "Privatise the lot of them" - Yeah because that works out sooo well everywhere else it's been tried with public services
Would you rather buy a mobile phone made by Apple or the Post Office?
Re: Not Trickle-down economics...
> Well, I thought economics was about movement of goods and services through society, which does not have to involve any movement of technology.
Well, no. Other than eating berries straight off the bush or killing wild animals with our bare hands or giving birth, almost everything humans do that increases our wealth involves technology -- it's just that most of our tech inventions are so old and established we no longer think of them as tech. Pottery, baskets, clothing, flint-tipped spears, mattresses: all tech. Money: very definitely major revolutionary tech. Exchanging goods and services at any more advanced stage than person A giving person B a pretty stone they found in exchange for sex is impossible without technology.
> Technology can move without direct economic exchange - e.g. when a patent expires.
When a patent expires, the price of the tech drops, the number of people able to use the tech and the extent to which they can use it increase. That obviously has an effect on the economy -- if the tech is particularly useful, it can have a massive revolutionary effect.
You appear to be saying that it doesn't count because no-one actually pays for the patent to expire, so people effectively gain some technology for free. But that doesn't mean it's not part of the economy. Whether someone gives me enough food to buy a meal or just gives me a meal, that's obviously part of the economy either way.
Re: it's so unlike Tim Worstall to get the wrong end of the issue, isn't it?
> It's a shame that TW starts off by saying "that is the only part of trickle-down economics that undoubtedly and provably works" and then goes off to attack Zoe Williams instead of dealing with the elephant in the room that the majority of so-called Trickle Down economics *doesn't* work.
Well, since that's the part Williams was writing about, duh.
Re: Not Trickle-down economics...
> You've missed my point. It's the technology trickle-down that brings the benefits, not the (supposed) economic trickle-down.
They're the same thing. What do you think the economy is?
Re: Great article
> it's a rich toy, no use for putting stuff in Orbit or into deep space.
I heard a British space industry expert on the radio on Monday morning (sorry, forget his name) saying that, actually, they're all very keen on getting satellites into orbit with spaceplanes, and certainly believe it's doable. That may not be Branson's aim, but still a lot of the discoveries his team make will contribute to this goal.
> Funny, I seem to recall the first attempts to develop space vehicles being down to governments. Kind like how the first electrical computers weren't developed to be sold as playthings for the rich either
Both were developed as parts of major war efforts. I don't think anyone claims that war isn't a great motivating factor. In the absence of war, spending by rich people works pretty well. Safer, too.
It is perhaps worth pointing out that both free markets and wartime are manifestations of the same thing: competition. Most of the time, nations compete a bit. During war, that competition is ramped up to insane levels, and we see all sorts of wonderful new inventions. But no-one is interested in non-military applications of those inventions. Look at how NASA's funding has been slashed since the end of the Cold War. Famously, after WW2, a British government committee was formed to look into non-military uses of this new computer thing Turing had developed, and they concluded that, over the next fifty years, British industry would need three of them. Outside wartime, we need rich people spending money on toys if we want development not to be driven by those sorts of short-sighted dunces.
Re: Yay, lets fine the victims...
Thank you very much, Non-Spartacus. It's been six years, and that's actually the first decent defence of the bailouts I've seen.
Re: Yay, lets fine the victims...
> only a single banker was prosecuted after the crash. Just the one. And he wasn't even a high level executive.
Please explain which executives should have been prosecuted, and which laws they had broken. Then we may consider your complaint properly.
Re: Its not overly harsh
> Indivual members of staff can be done over for all kinds of misconduct already - mainly financial such as insider dealing and money laundering.
Insider trading and money laundering are both deliberate actions. I don't think there's been any suggestion that the employee in question screwed up the batch job on purpose.
What is the point of customer service?
Surely the key way to assess a company's response to a complaint is to look at whether the customer is satisfied with the result. But that doesn't seem to be what's happened here.
The communications watchdog said that Three UK failed to handle some subscriber gripes in a "fair and timely manner".
Ofcom added that, during the regulator's investigation of the company, Three UK had wrongly closed unresolved complaints on its system – while some calls passing through the operator's customer service team had not been officially logged.
Ofcom also noted that, although the investigation identified certain shortcomings in Three’s complaints handling processes, the harm to consumers was mitigated due to the efforts of frontline customer service staff.
So Three have, according to Ofcom, actually dealt with complaints perfectly well from the customers' point of view -- but their complaint-logging processes have been crap.
I have worked in customer service. I've worked for companies where good staff are trusted to sort customers' problems out and everyone's happy if the customer's happy, even if it's all dealt with in five minutes and there's no official record created; and I've worked for firms where the really important thing is logging every detail of the customers' comments, even if they're even more pissed off after contacting you than they were before.
Speaking as a customer, I give much less of a damn about complaint logging than I do about complaint resolution.
Re: More fool you
When I got a Vodafone phone with a brand new number, I got a cold sales call -- and an obnoxious one at that -- within five minutes of turning it on.
Do they still insist on that annoying thing where there are two different Vodafones and you can never tell which one you have to ring for service and they act like you're an idiot for not knowing? I forget the details, but I haven't gone back.
Re: never had a prob with three
Same here. Tried them ten years ago and immediately cancelled because they were utter utter shite. Been back with them for the last three years and they're superb.
It's always nice to see a company recognise a problem and fix it.
> some shoes clearly have different wavy lines on them. ... The lines down the sides are similar, but not the same.
Been and checked this now. Also went and checked Nike's and Reebok's sites. In all three cases, the logo is different on different shoes, variations on basically the same shape. I could certainly understand any decision that said "THIS version is your trademark and variations on it are not", but only if it applied to everyone equally.
Also, Nike put their squiggly line on all their shoes (that I saw), but both Vans and Reebok have a lot of models without their squiggly lines.
So, whatever you may think, I doubt either of those criiteria are the basis of the ECJ's decision.
> this wavy line they are claiming isn't on most of the clothes and shoes they make.
And? Why would you even begin to think that was relevant to trademark law?
In fact, most clothing manufacturers don't put their logos on most of their clothes (unless you count the internal label). Putting a logo on the outside has become popular in sportswear circles, but, for instance, Next make shoes, put their logo on (I believe) zero of those shoes, and still have their logo recognised as a trademark.
Re: "Squigly line logo"
Yes, it is unique to Vans. I've always thought it's a pretty crappy trademark myself, but I did use to wear skate shoes a lot and when shopping would instantly recognise Vans thanks to that mark, which is surely the point of it.
Thinking about it now, that wishy-washy logo is one of the main reasons I've never bought Vans. It helps their shoes look bland and dull. Not the effect Vans are hoping for, presumably, but still a distinctive and recognisable mark informing my buying decisions.
Re: Just sayin'
Apple keep going on and on and on about how wonderful it is that their devices are encased in aluminium. But this is marketing nonsense. The bit of the phone that is protected by being made of strong aluminium is the case -- the one bit that doesn't matter. The very fact that it takes an impact so well means that it is transferring the force to the screen and the internal components. Drop a plastic phone, and the plastic absorbs the impact. But it looks less shiny and expensive.
Over the last few decades, drivers haven't been made safer by using more and more rigid metal in the construction of cars' bodywork.
Consider this an official complaint.
This article is simply not up to the standards I expect of El Reg. I mean, honestly, you write:
Apple's invention has "excellent flame retardancy, electric insulation properties, and crack resistance, and produces only negligible amounts of toxic substances during incineration, if any at all".
However, it seems that even sitting on a mobe can cause a fire. Basic physics would suggest a larger bottom might make this more likely, as a bigger behind exerts more pressure on anything carried in the back pocket.
Why the hell has the phrase "crack resistance" not been worked into the latter paragraph?
Re: Econimics as a fashion item?
> Only an idiot would ever say such a thing.
Like the Buddha, you mean?
You can lead a horse to English, but you can't make it parse.
> Pretty unequivocal in what it is saying. Add a blue LED to a Red one and a Green one and you can get a white "bulb".
Really can't be arsed giving a point-by-point breakdown of the piece, but you maybe need to learn the difference between "and" and "therefore", and note that Tim was explicitly writing about both bulbs and screens.
> Half your selective quotes don't refer to the LED work, but instead to other uses of GaN - not part of the Prize award. What was your point?
So what's your point now? You claimed that the whole article was completely dismissive of the scientists' work -- because it cast doubt on points made which you also insist are nothing to do with their work. I point out that the article is full of praise for the work. Even if half the quotes are irrelevant (because they relate to some of the work's broader applications rather than just LED bulbs), so what? They're still praise. I can't see even a smidgen of this derisory contempt for the Nobel-winners' work that you claim saturates the article. You're reacting to something that isn't there.
Re: It's a PHYSICS award
I have, twice. I can see why you might think that it says that you can only get white light by mixing red, green, and blue, but it really doesn't. One might even say that it has been carefully worded to avoid saying that. RTFA.
> instead it comes across as trying to downplay the significance of the Prize.
Oh, yes, I see what you mean:
It's an excellent piece of work, enabling a whole new ensemble of energy efficient lamps and colour LED screens, and fully deserving of the prize. And yes, it might well change society in wondrous and wonderful ways. ... whatever happens in the world of lighting, gallium nitride has already changed our world. It's the basis of the higher density we can now achieve in optical storage. ... this is a good example of basic research that got commercialised very quickly. Blue lasers are still (just about, depending upon which generation of them you want to talk about) in patent and that's why the portion of the research done at Nichia Corp was so valuable to the company.
Yeah, it's practically dripping with bile-laden derision.
Re: Time to roam the technical journals
> It's not just about better light. The invention of usable blue LEDs, and the race for efficiency that followed, launched a broad range of new technologies.
From the article:
But, before we go there, we should point out that whatever happens in the world of lighting, gallium nitride has already changed our world. It's the basis of the higher density we can now achieve in optical storage.
> I would call it a world changing invention.
From the article:
And yes, it might well change society in wondrous and wonderful ways.
Re: It's a PHYSICS award
Oh, and also, the Nobel Committee did write:
As about one fourth of world electricity consumption is used for lighting purposes, the LEDs contribute to saving the Earth’s resources. Materials consumption is also diminished as LEDs last up to 100,000 hours, compared to 1,000 for incandescent bulbs and 10,000 hours for fluorescent lights.
Re: It's a PHYSICS award
> The first 4 or 5 commentards already did a neat job.
Their explications were certainly very interesting, but they were writing in response to an error that was not in fact in the article.
> Its a "could fill 4 football stadiums" moment. ... That then gets cherry picked by the Guardian, who push a pro-renewables editorial agenda.
So... what? Therefore no-one must respond to it? I don't get it.
Like I said, that pro-renewables agenda is accepted by our governing classes and is the basis of legislation that affects us all. It doesn't seem that unreasonable to write about it.
> By which point we are so far away from the fact that it's a Physics prize, awarded for some bloody good work that the Nobel itself is irrelevant to the meat of Tim's article.
Again, so what? The Register had already covered the news of the prize here. So what's your point? The Register may publish one and only one article about each piece of news? When one piece of news brings a particular related issue to public attention, The Register may never write about that related issue? Again, I don't get it. Just how fucking boring do you want this website to be?
> "Worstall on the Weekend - Will the LED revolution be all it's cracked up to be?" would have been far more apt and pissed me off far less.
You do know writers don't write their own headlines, right?
Re: @ scatter
> Well it results in the same illumination levels for longer periods of time.
I.e., more lighting.
> The thrust of the article was that there would suddenly be a big increase in illumination levels
I've just reread it in case I missed something, and nope, sorry, you've projected this onto it; it's just not in there. The article points out that, when light gets cheaper, we buy more of it. It doesn't go into specific details about exactly where that spending occurs.
> it's always rolled out by people trying to diss energy efficiency in lighting.
I don't see any of that here either. I don't think that pointing out that increased efficiency may not have the effects some people claim it will is the same as opposing efficiency.
> We did start to light up more stuff immedeately
I don't think the article suggests at any point that we didn't.
> I think if you take all those lumens into your equations you'd get quite a different figure.
I think you're mistaken about what that figure is. It's not money spent on things that happen to emit light; it's money spent on lighting.
And even if you did take those things into account, the result would be that we're spending more resources on lighting, not less.
Re: It's a PHYSICS award
> I don't really understand that Physics stuff, so what I'll do is have a stab at explaining it, get it wrong
Whatever you may think of Tim's article, he has at least explained the economics he's presented. Unless you explain the bit Tim got wrong, you're not exactly outdoing him, are you?
> focus in on a small quote from a commentary surrounding the actual awarding of the prize
Hmm. A quote from an eminent physicist explaining the societal importance of the prize in a way that is both representative of what lots of other people are saying about it and is also illustrative of the basis of current legislation. It's hardly some obscure immaterial point, is it?
Apart from that, you seem to be angry that a writer has used something that is currently prominent in the news as a springboard to talk about something that is closely related to it. But surely that's a completely normal everyday event.
Re: @ scatter
> I'm sure there'll be some rebound through people leaving lights on longer ... but that's quite a different thing to adding lots more lighting to increase illumination levels within the home
Leaving lights on longer is adding more lighting to increase illumination levels within the home.
Re: What if energy comes from clean sources? Does it then matter?
> One thing this author seems to have ignored, is that energy, sooner or later is going to stop being from fossil fuels, and from cleaner sources.
By "ignored" do you mean "written about the other day"?
Re: Let there be light!
> The curious thing is why local government think they are in such desperate economic times.
They don't. They're pretending they do in order to blackmail the public. "Nice library you've got here. Be a terrible shame if something were to happen to it. Like, for instance, Westminster threatening my gravy train."
Re: Apologies, typo here
> Does it get more complicated given the ambient light cast off by the myriad devices in our lives like computer and TV screens and the dozens of other devices with luminous displays even if it's just a green led on the router, a red one on the switch and a blue one on the modem?
Depends what you're measuring. If you're measuring the actual cost of bringing your home up to a certain level of litness, yes, that all complicated matters considerably. But if you're measuring the amount that humans spend on lighting, it doesn't. A router may throw a bit of light into a room, but that's a side-effect; when someone spends £50 on a router, they never think "And 30p of that comes out of my lighting budget."
I thought a lot of the backing was rather good -- special mention to Adam for playing some interesting bass for the first time in his life. Where it all went wrong was every time Bono opened his mouth. The melodies are just so twee.
Where the leprechauns are
> I've never even heard of a leprechaun outside of:
> 1-US cartoons
> 2-English people on St. Patrick's Day
Clearly never been to Dublin Airport, then.
Two or three columns
Older users may also regret the inability to use the phone in the old two column view – it uses three column view by default (meaning smaller tile text) and it isn't possible to reset it to a two column view, an accessibility snafu.
Either the 735 has a special version of WP8.1, or this is wrong. I can certainly switch back and forth between two or three columns on my 1020.
Settings > start+theme
Re: Here is what I don't understand
I have often said that, regardless of the arguments about the economic justification for subsidising alternatives to oil in order to cut pollution, there is a decent justification for spending some of the defence budget on them.
I believe that's also Sarah Palin's argument for drilling in Alaska.
Same with agriculture, actually. We currently pay farmers to produce food we don't need because of some romantic idea that no farmer should ever have to change career, which seems like a collosal waste of money. Surely it would make more sense to spend some of our defence budget on farmers in order to ensure that we always have the expertise and infrastructure to produce our own food, just in case.
Re: Capitalism is hoping it wont catch on.
> There are too many vested interests to allow a truly disruptive technology like renewables catch on.
A list of truly disruptive technologies that overturned (or are overturning) massive and powerful vested interests:
Nuclear electricity generation
Gas electricity generation
The Suez Canal
It's an incomplete list.
Re: Economic sense isn't enough
> far fewer people than you expect will rush out and buy it.
How do you know how many people Tim expects will buy it? And why specify that they buy it promptly? All he said was "then people will buy and install it". Economics happens at the margins, so that's all we need.
Re: Tim's hopes for solar and wind are doomed
> It's also wrong. The Sun does shine at night.
That was, in fact, my point.
Re: Is your money where your mouth is?
Since the whole point of carbon taxes is that they make fossil fuel more expensive in order to increase the incentives to develop alternatives, we are all of us paying through the nose for the development of alternative energy. Almost every thing we buy is more expensive as a result of those taxes.
Re: Tim's hopes for solar and wind are doomed
> the sun does not shine at night
I am duly impressed by your level of technical expertise.
Re: petrochemicals -- just, not fossil fuels
> We stopped finding things to burn in 1965. (by which i mean that the rate at which new oil fields are discovered peaked in 1965. We've found less and less every year since
We stopped finding things to burn in 1965. (By which I mean that we did not stop finding things to burn in 1965.)
Re: Good point
> neither of those two methods change the amount of energy available.
Obviously not, but they do lead to changes in the techniques we use to harness the available energy.
The amount of energy available is the same as it always has been: inconceivably huge, more than we could ever need. Availability doesn't matter; harnessing matters.
I think you are mistaken. You're arguing on the assumption that The One Percent are the top 1% of society, either by income or by wealth. But they're not. "The One Percent" is a catchy marketing term used to mean "those fucking bastards with their cigars and their top hats and their private jets who are to blame for everything wrong in my world." The idea that 1% in this context indicates some sort of fraction -- a hundredth, say -- is frankly naive.
Re: Piketty is all about wealth distribution. This is all about income distribution.
Of course they have something to do with each other, but they're nowhere near as closely correlated as you seem to think. As I mentioned elsewhere, I'm in the UK's top 10% by income and bottom 10% by wealth. And I am not remotely unusual in that respect. Most people with mortgages, for instance, have negative wealth.
Re: You seem to be misunderstanding.
Employment follows demand in aggregate. Changing career can still be very difficult for individuals.
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