* Posts by Graham 24

159 posts • joined 27 Mar 2012

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UK air traffic bods deny they 'skimped' on IT investment after server mega-fail

Graham 24

Failover not necessarily the answer

Failover works well for hardware failures. It's not so good for software failures (and this apparently was a software failure), since typically the software on the failover system is the same as on the primary system, so has the same bugs. In a worst-case scenario, it's an older version that has more bugs / expects or produces different data structures / has worse performance (or all of those).

The theoretically correct way to do software failover is to have multiple teams develop, test and validate the software completely independently, so that when the primary system fails, you switch to another system that is supposed to do the same thing, but correctly this time.

In practice this approach generally doesn't work - the secondary system is not subject to the same day-to-day running that exposes latent bugs, the costs of doing everything twice upsets the beancounters, preserving the necessary independence between the teams is really difficult, the primary systems failure may have corrupted the very data the failover system needs to work properly... ... the list goes on.

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TALE OF FAIL: Microsoft offers blow-by-blow Azure outage account

Graham 24

Openness Preferred

Given the choice between this approach of telling all, and the opposite approach of a "there there, don't worry your pretty little customer head about it - we've fixed the problem, and that's all we're saying", I would prefer the first.

At least with openness I'm in a better position to decide whether this sort of outage is likely to reoccur.

As a somewhat stretched analogy, if my car broke down, was towed to a garage and subsequently returned to me working again, I would expect the garage to tell me what was wrong and what they did to fix it.

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Goes like the blazes: Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 late 2014 edition

Graham 24

Re: Single page view ?

<cynic mode>

The advertising department had it removed so that this one article now counts as three page impressions.

</cynic mode>

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Four tuner frenzy: The all-you-can-EEat TV Freeview PVR

Graham 24

Generous Space?

Since the retail price difference between a 1TB drive and a 2TB drive is about £25, and the cost of the contract over 18 months is about £460, 1TB of space hardly seems "generous".

No mention of extending storage with an external device, so I assume that's not possible either.

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The STEALTH Plug-in Hybrid: Audi A3 e-tron Sportback

Graham 24

Re: They've made the same charger cable FAIL as Vauxhall and BMW...

I think at the moment these cars are only suitable for those that have secure access to charging points (domestic garage building, patrolled/monitored work car park etc.) I really can't see how it would be practical for someone who, for example, only has on-street parking and drives to the railway station as part of a daily commute, which is a real shame, because the "short journey within a town" is exactly the scenario the vehicle itself is ideal for.

As for driving off while plugged in, they have an interlock that prevents any vehicle movement if the cable is physically connected, whether it's charging or not.

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Graham 24

Re: Why does every ev need its own charging cable?

Probably because without the cable, you can't simply get home and charge the car using that 13A socket on the garage wall. Even if you install a dedicated charging point at home with the correct cable, what do you do when you go to visit someone and need to charge up before driving home again? If they only have normal domestic sockets, you're going to need the cable.

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Graham 24

Re: The Eco Option?

Overall "ecology" is always arguable, since it depends (as posted elsewhere in the comments) on how the electricity to charge the batteries is obtained.

However, a key point for electric vehicles is not overall fuel economy or even overall CO2 emissions. It's emissions at point of use. Your 2.2L hatchback driving in an urban environment is pushing out some nasty stuff (and if it's a diesel, some *very* nasty stuff in the immediate vicinity of people - there's a reason Paris is banning diesels from 2020). Petrol cars aren't perfect either, of course, but better for the immediate environment than diesels. Electric cars are *much* better than either for the people who have to walk down the pavement next to the road you're driving on.

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Searching to destroy ... Bing? Facebook JILTS Microsoft

Graham 24

Well, when I use Bing to search for that phrase, the page you mention is right at the top - first link.

You must be clicking the search button incorrectly.

More seriously, the problem is that Microsoft can't win. There will be lots of pages with that phrase on them (Google claims 8,500 results, Bing 30,000). If Microsoft don't put their own pages first, someone like you says "Bing is rubbish - they don't even index their own site". If they do put it first, someone else says "Bing is rubbish - they always favour their own site above the rest of the internet".

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EU law bods: New eCall crash system WON'T TRACK YOU. Really

Graham 24
Boffin

Re: Lies, Lies and Politicians

If you have a reasonably detailed basemap and GPS coordinates for the last 60 seconds of travel, then yes, it's fairly easy to determine which road you're on.

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400,000 Windows Server 2003 boxes face SUPPORT DOOM

Graham 24

RIsk reduced, not removed

True, you don't get as many people doing their online banking via a Server 2003 machine as you do via XP, but the risk is still there, even for a machine not connected (directly) to the internet. The vast majority of these systems will be on a corporate internal network, and therefore indirectly vulnerable to downloaded exploits.

An end-user downloads some malware via one of the usual vectors, but instead of infecting the local machine, the malware scans the network for vulnerable 2003 machines and infects one of those.

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Drone in NEAR-MISS with passenger jet at Heathrow airport

Graham 24

Also, civilian radar doesn't really detect the actual aircraft - it detects the transponder in the aircraft that sends a pulse back in response to an interrogation request from the ground radar.

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Oracle bypasses SAS/SATA controllers in flashy new servers

Graham 24

Re: Coding solution?

Probably because it speeds up well-coded SQL, that's already optimised, as well as the queries that are badly written.

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Google kills CAPTCHAs: Are we human or are we spammer?

Graham 24

Re: Hmmmm...

Provided the image is of a bird, we have five years before this method is obsolete:

http://xkcd.com/1425/

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Chef and HP cook up partnership for infrastructure as code – even on Windows

Graham 24

Re: Ansible & Salt

If you think you're at risk from producing unstructured code, and apparently have a history of producing it, surely the approach is to change how you write the code, not the language you write it in? Any language can be used to produce an unreadable hair-ball, and any language can be used to produce structured, documented and maintainable code.

If a developer was producing C++ code that made extensive use of goto and setjmp, I wouldn't be thinking that the solution was to change to Java.

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Part 3: Docker vs hypervisor in tech tussle SMACKDOWN

Graham 24

Re: Not disruptive?

"They're significantly sub-optimal for everything else, but they're widely deployed because there's nothing better that's widely-available."

So what's better then, even if it isn't widely available?

"it's much easier to tune a workload in one place rather than two"

Not if the container has very limited tuning capabilities and the hypervisor and guest have much more sophisticated tuning capabilities. Just because something is easier to do doesn't mean you end up with a better end result.

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Docker, Part 2: Whoa! Spontaneous industry standard! How did they do THAT?

Graham 24

Change of heart?

Can I ask what's prompted the change of heart from

"I might write it for Docker, once Docker has things like FT, HA and vMotion, but I'm honestly not sure why I'd bother, Docker seems like more work than AWS and doesn't offer a fraction of the flexibility you get when using a proper hypervisor."

(http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/09/17/pay_for_what_you_provision_cloud/?page=2)

to today's

"Docker looks set to become a major component of modern IT infrastructure."

As far as I can see, Docker still doesn't have FT, HA or vMotion-esque features (unless you consider those to be present one level up, at the parent OS level). Are they coming in some future release?

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Docker: Sorry, you're just going to have to learn about it. Today we begin

Graham 24

Define an entire operating environment with a text file?

Sounds interesting...

Can you post an example text file?

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Graham 24

Differences from virtualisation?

"Done properly, applications that are jailed cannot impinge upon the resources of other applications that reside in other jails, cannot see their storage and shouldn't even be aware that those other jails exist."

For a hypervisor, I could say:

"Done properly, operating systems that are virtualised cannot impinge upon the resources of other operating systems that reside in other virtual machines, cannot see their storage and shouldn't even be aware that those other virtual machines exist."

In the spirit of enquiry, how does a container differ from a "full fat" virtual machine?

I'm thinking of this from the point of view of the application - presumably each application "sees" a certain number of CPU cores, a certain amount of RAM, a certain amount of disk space and so on. That sounds a lot like a standard virtual machine to me. There must be a difference though.

Is it just that the containers share the RAM associated with the "parent" operating system, so there's some efficiency and performance gains, or are there some specific technical differences aside from performance?

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Fat upstart Nimble embiggens revenues by 77% in ONE quarter

Graham 24
Facepalm

But they're getting longer by less - so the rate of increase is dropping. It's a good way to spin increased losses - you get to use words like "less" and "reduce" in the same sentence as "loss", hopefully disguising the fact that you're still losing more money than you were before.

Looking at the chart, I'd estimate approximately a total loss so far of about £130M. Or to put it another way, even if they make profits of $25M /year for the next four years, it's 2020 before they are really in the black.

I like the growth strategy though:

•Get new customers

•Grow Global 5000 customer base

•International expansion

•Encourage customers to expand app load after purchase and buy more product

I read that as:

•Get new customers

•Get new customers

•Get new customers (not in the US)

•Get customers to buy more things

That must be why I don't run a business that loses $100,000 per day - there' no way I could think of such a creative strategy of "get more customers and get them to buy more things" - that's business genius right there.

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Let's vote on breaking up Google, say MEPs with NO power to do any such thing

Graham 24

Re: Precedent has been set...

If you're that fussed about the analytics, you can always add www.google-analytics.com to your local hosts file, pointing at the loopback address.

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Graham 24
Coat

Re: New Start-up idea: Euoorle / Findo

I'll join - it sounds like it would be cool.

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We have a winner! Fresh Linux Mint 17.1 – hands down the best

Graham 24
Joke

It's an oldie but...

... if you're going to do the computer innuendo thing (btw, I don't claim credit for writing this):

Micro was a real-time operator and dedicated multi-user. His broadband protocol made it easy for him to interface with numerous input/output devices, even if it meant time-sharing.

One evening he arrived home just as the Sun was crashing, and had parked his Motorola 68000 in the main drive (he had missed the S100 bus that morning), when he noticed an elegant piece of liveware admiring the daisy wheels in his garden. He thought to himself, "She looks user-friendly. I'll see if she'd like an update tonight."

Mini was her name. She was delightfully engineered with eyes like COBOL and a Prime mainframe architecture that set Micro's peripherals networking all over the place.

He browsed over to her casually, admiring the power of her twin, 32-bit floating point processors and enquired, "How are you, Honeywell?" "Yes, I am well," she responded, batting her optical fibres engagingly and smoothing her console over her curvilinear functions.

Micro settled for a straight line approximation. "I'm stand-alone tonight," he said. "How about computing a vector to my base address? I'll output a byte to eat, and maybe we could get offset later on." Mini ran a priority process for 2.6 milliseconds then transmitted 8K. "I've been dumped myself recently, and a new page is just what I need to refresh my disks. I'll park my machine cycle in your background and meet you inside." She walked off, leaving Micro admiring her solenoids and thinking, "Wow, what a global variable. I wonder if she'd like my firmware?"

They sat down at the process table to a top of form feed of fiche and chips and a bucket of Baudot. Mini was in conversational mode and expanded on ambiguous arguments while Micro gave occasional acknowledgments, although in reality he was analysing the shortest and least critical path to her entry point. He finally settled on the old, 'Would you like to see my benchmark routine?' but Mini was again one step ahead.

Suddenly she was up and stripping off her parity bits to reveal the full functionality of her operating system software. "Let's get BASIC, you RAM," she said. Micro was loaded by this stage, but his hardware policing module had a processor of its own and was in danger of overflowing its output buffer, a hangup that Micro had consulted his analyst about. "Core," was all he could say, as she prepared to log him off.

Micro soon recovered, however, when Mini went down on the DEC and opened her divide files to reveal her data set ready. He accessed his fully packed root device and was just about to start pushing into her CPU stack, when she attempted an escape sequence.

"No, no!" she cried. "You're not shielded!"

"Reset, baby," he replied, "I've been debugged."

"But I haven't got my current loop enabled, and I can't support child processes," she protested.

"Don't run away," he said, "I'll generate an interrupt."

"No, that's too error prone, and I can't abort because of my design philosophy."

Micro was locked in by this stage, though, and could not be turned off. But Mini soon stopped his thrashing by introducing a voltage spike into his main supply, whereupon he fell over with a head crash and went to sleep. "Computers!" she thought as she compiled herself. "All they ever think about is hex."

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The Big Data wrangling CIO you've probably never heard of: But his kit probably knows YOU

Graham 24
Joke

Re: I don't think so ...

>>> also Pearl should be Perl

Maybe it's a new scripting language designed to be run in a shell?

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NetApp cyclists part from storage firm... go to Bora Bora

Graham 24

Re: Hope they've sorted the legals

The car's probably not a problem. Typically cycling teams are sponsored in part by one of the three main drivetrain & component manufacturers (Shimano, Campagnolo and SRAM), and there is usually a requirement to black out the names of any component made by someone who isn't a sponsor.

I bet it'll be an interesting discussion if the new team is part-sponsored by Shimano, and the main sponsoring name is the name of a key product by a competitor. Most people watching cycling and seeing the name "Bora" are going to think "I must buy some Campag. wheels" long before they think "I must buy a German kitchen appliance".

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Graham 24

Hope they've sorted the legals

Bora is the name of a rather expensive (£2000+ a pair for top-end) wheels made by Campagnolo, an Italian manufacturer of cycling components.

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Bendy, but hangs loose too: Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 10-inch Android tab

Graham 24

Re: John Lewis

The VAT-back offer isn't specific to John Lewis - it's run by Lenovo. Applies to a range of their hardware.

See https://lenovo-offers.com/winter-vatback

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WATCH Rosetta's Philae's SUCCESSFUL drop on Comet 67P

Graham 24

Obligatory XKCD reference

Looks like XKCD is doing a "live" stream too...

http://www.xkcd.com/1446/

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How mobile device management is taking on the BYOD challenge

Graham 24

Re: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

Why do you say that software development is not suitable? It's mainly editing text, which is ideally suited for a remote-working scenario (protocols like RDP are very efficient for text).

It's a problem if the devs insist on downloading a 5GB repository to the local client, but provided you keep the source code, compile and link etc on the server end of the remote link, there isn't a problem.

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Boxing clever? Amazon Fire TV is SO CLOSE to being excellent

Graham 24

Re: WiFi?

Try a wireless extender like http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0055Y6PUA?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00

My parents (why do we end up doing all their tech support?) had to get a WiFi signal up a level, and then through a thick external wall (an extension was added to the house, so an external wall now is inside the house), and the wall was made of granite blocks. Before extender - very spotty, dropped out 10 times a day. After extender, no problems at all. Much less hassle than running an ethernet cable.

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Fujitsu waves 50PB+ MONSTER at hyperscale storage freaks

Graham 24

Re: Where's the corresponding tape silo?

Thing is, a single replica implies twice the cost of hardware, power, cooling etc, never mind the bandwidth to keep the two replicas in sync. Often it isn't cost effective.

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Graham 24
Stop

Where's the corresponding tape silo?

How do you back up that much storage?

"The system’s usable capacity depends upon the number of data replicas, two or three for example, set up to protect against data loss."

Data replicas, assuming they're on the same hardware, don't protect against a fire in the DC, or a few burly gentlemen on a dark and stormy night with sledgehammers and a Transit van.

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Can you really run your business on a smartphone?

Graham 24

Everyone apart from me, obviously...

>>> "I am sure everyone reading this has their email delivered to their phone already. It is just such a no-brainer, and it took me less than five minutes to get my Hotmail, corporate and private email all configured on the Lumia email client."

How does this work? Let's say I have a corporate Exchange Server behind a firewall, and a personal e-mail account accessed via POP3.

How does the phone even get to the Exchange Server?

When the phone connects to my personal ISPs POP3 server and downloads email, it's gone from the POP3 server. If I then connect later on from a desktop home computer, any new mail is then on the computer. Does that mean that half my personal email is on one system and half on the other?

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WHOMP, there it is: Seagate demos Kinetic disk drive

Graham 24

I mst be missing something...

"The idea is that applications can directly use banks of these drives without having to go through complex filesystem software stacks"

Are they suggesting that applications write directly to these disks, rather than using the underlying OS's filesystem?

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Me GIVE you $14 SQUILLION gadziddly-DILLION

Graham 24
Boffin

Customer / Mark Selection Strategy

There is a school of thought that far from being "a creative tour-de-force of logical ineptitude" these e-mails are carefully written, and the style, spelling and grammar are deliberate.

If you are running a business (and that's what this is), you don't want lots of people who ultimately have no intention of buying your product taking up time with your sales people. You want to filter out those who are never going to buy as soon as possible.

These e-mails go out to tens of millions of people. For a scam operation, you don't want lots of people getting hooked with the initial contact, and then for you to invest time and effort only for the vast majority to realise it's a scam at some point in the process and back out.

What you want is a few *really gullible* people to reply to you, so you can focus your efforts on those who are likely to ultimately part with their money. The purpose of the style and content of the e-mail is to provide that initial filtering. You'd have to be a complete idiot to think that there really is a Nigerian price who has just left you $10M in his will - and that's exactly the sort of person they want to contact them.

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EE launches 150Mbps '4G+' in the heart of London

Graham 24
Facepalm

Re: FUCKIN LONDON AGAIN!

A business launches an expensive service in the place where there are lots of people willing to pay high prices for it and the underlying infrastructure is in place to support the back-end network needed.

I can't for the life of me imagine why they didn't launch it in the Isles of Scilly or the Outer Hebrides instead.

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UK smart meters arrive in 2020. Hackers have ALREADY found a flaw

Graham 24

Re: The questions of communications

SIM card and a cut-down "3G dongle" in the meter itself is the obvious one. The supply side of the meter will always have power, even if the consumer side is turned off.

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Graham 24
Unhappy

The actual government PDF makes for depressing reading

See http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN06179.pdf

It contains phrases like

"Demand-side response involves electricity users shifting (or reducing) demand usually prompted by price"

which translated means

"we will charge more for electricity and gas at peak times"

and

"a proportion of savings experienced by suppliers may be expected to pass on to consumers"

which translated means

"We expect the energy companies' profits to go up as a result of this"

The good news is

"Licence conditions allow suppliers to access monthly (or ‘less granular’ i.e. less frequent) consumption data for billing and other regulatory purposes without needing consent. There will be a clear opt-out for daily collection of data, and an opt-in will be required for use of the most detailed half-hourly consumption data"

Whether the companies choose to honour a consumer's opt-out choice remains to be seen. My guess would be that they will encourage people to opt in by "charging less" for opted-in consumers, whereas the reality would be charging more for opted-out ones.

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Microsoft fitness bands slapped on wrists: All YOUR HEALTH DATA are BELONG TO US

Graham 24

Re: Cycling

For cycling, ANT+ is fast becoming the de-facto standard for speed, cadence and power measurements, so provided it speaks to (or more accurately listens to) ANT+ devices, it should be OK for cycling).

You can do speed via GPS, but a wheel sensor is much more accurate.

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Even a broken watch is right twice a day: Not an un-charged Apple Watch

Graham 24

Long-term battery life

My concern would not be the fact it needs charging every night (although that would be a pain without some sort of induction pad, and inconvenient even then - forget to put it on the pad as you go to bed - no watch the next day).

If it needs charging once per day when new, how long will it be before the battery gets "tired" and only has 50% charge capacity. At that point the watch keels over half way through the day, making it useless.

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Doctors urged to adopt default opt-out approach to care.data scheme

Graham 24

Opting out seems to be common

I popped into my local surgery recently, and said I wanted to opt out. The receptionist simply turned round, picked up a form from the shelf behind her, and gave it to me. I got the impression that this was an everyday occurrence for them.

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Caterham Seven 160 review: The Raspberry Pi of motoring

Graham 24

Re: Sold

Not sure that's true anymore. It certainly was when ABS first came out, but modern ABS systems don't let the wheels lock up. The reluctor rings provide sufficient speed information to let the system modulate the brake pressure up to 50 times a second as a wheel speed drops, and independently for each wheel, before any wheel starts to skid.

I doubt very much whether a human driver, no matter how skilled can

a) detect a skid in a few milliseconds

b) pump the brake pedal 50 times a second

c) provide different brake pressures to each wheel

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Graham 24

Re: Sold

Yes, but if the Caterham and 2CV had ABS, they'd stop even quicker than without.

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Graham 24

Re: Prices - Need the exact model for a comparision, but...

Does that include all sales taxes? List price in the UK for a base-model X1 is £24,230, but that includes 20% VAT (our UK sales tax), so it's £20,190 ex tax, or about what you paid.

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Graham 24

Re: Sold

It's all very well saying that you don't want all the techy stuff, but when your small child runs out into the road on one rainy afternoon, I bet you won't be thinking "cars don't need ABS".

There are some things that these days cars *can* do better than the driver.

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Graham 24

I agree it's rare - I just think it's bad for a car company to give a journalist a car to review when it's technically illegal to drive that car on the road.

It's the journo who would get fined, not the marketing bod from Caterham who thought it was a good idea for the publicity photos.

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Graham 24

The spacing is wrong. It looks like the actual VRM is S16 OCC, and moving the O to the left is an offence, with a £1000 penalty.

See http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2001/561/introduction/made for the whole thing and http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2001/561/schedule/3/made for the precise layout details.

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Graham 24

Was it supplied to you with that number plate? That's a £1000 fine just waiting for a bored traffic cop...

Nice PistonHeads reference, by the way.

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Warning to those who covet the data of Internet of Precious Things

Graham 24

Re: How can IoT stuff help me?

>>> Apart from the 'convenience' of remotely read gas/electricity/water meters (no need to be there to let a meter reader in once a year)

It's not about convenience for you. If the only reason was to make life easier for the householder, the utility companies wouldn't be suggesting smart meters for new builds, which usually have the meters in an external box, so can be read without requiring access to the inside of the property.

It's about:

a) reducing their costs, while not passing those savings onto the consumer

b) implementing demand- and time-based pricing, to further increase their profits and to help load-level the demand.

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Bad news, fandroids: He who controls the IPC tool, controls the DROID

Graham 24

Re: How many

"Strangely, I don't know a single person that's ever had a [malware] problem, and I suspect everyone else is the same..."

Those applications that do things like log your online banking keystrokes tend to keep quiet about it, you know. The whole point of most malware is that you don't realise it's there.

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