1135 posts • joined Friday 1st June 2012 10:28 GMT
Re: Look on the bright side.
"Not in my lifetime..."
Sorry to hear you've got a terminal disease. The polls are pretty unequivocal. The Tory vote has been trashed by Cameron's Blairite NuLab stance and the rise of UKIP, but the Labour voters remain firmly united behind the party that has rained economic death on this country. Which is understandable if you are on the payroll of the state. Looking at the percentage of GDP represented by government spending that's about half of the population dependant one way or another on the public spending (civil servants, state pensioners, welfare claimants, public sector employees, companies who are primarily suppliers to the puiblic sector).
The destruction of the Tory support base is a great things, it shows that people have seen through their cyncial lies and incompetence. Unfortunately that hasn't been matched by an understanding amongst Labour voters that the unsustainable shambles we now have is almost exclusively the fault of the Labour party (with a load of millionaires on their Parliamentary front bench, just like the Tories).
Millitwerp will, without doubt be our next feckless, useless, traitorous prime minister, like so many before him. I'm no happier than I suspect you are with this idea, but "call me Tony" Cameron isn't going to reverse the damage he's done, and Labour support remains united (kif misguided).
Re: Infrastructure and dick-swinging
""who built the Eurostars."
That would be Bombardier, "
Largely in Bruges, using Alsthom TGV technology. A token bit of work was done in Birmingham, at a plant now long closed.
"Yes, assuming there are not better options for spending the money."
Well, Keynes intended government infrastructure spending to make up for a temporary shortfall in private sector demand. Over the past fifteen years or so, the governments of the day have provided a stimulus of around £600bn through cumulative spending in excess of receipts, a number still increasing at the rate of over £100bn a year, so borrow-and-spend clearly hasn't stimulated growth.
I very much doubt that Keyenes would advocate borrowing more money in this situation, and pi55ing it up the wall on unneeded transport links. Instead of seeking out daft ideas like HS2, the self proclaimed Keyenesians of today should ask themselves how the problem of too much borrowing will be solved by more borrowing.
Re: Is Tim London based?
"Build it big and only after its been running for a decade do the cost benefit to see if it was worthwhile. "
It'll be a bit late by then, and we'll have wasted several billion despoiling the countryside. Sadly the train enthusiasts want ME to pay for their extravagance, and I don't believe their numbers. I'm academically and professionally qualified to comment on these things, I've managed multi-billion infrastructure programmes, and HS2 is a daft idea. There are no material benefits from speeding up the time taken to travel between two of the already best served cities in the land, particularly when they manage to bu99er it up by failing to provide proper interchange with HS1 in London, or with Birmingham's existing rail transport system.
HS2 is a fail on so many levels it isn't true. Fictious demand, fictious costs, fictious benefits. And all largely based on a TGV-type technology that will be obsolete by the time the line is planned to be in use (ignoring the cost and time overruns).
Re: Infrastructure and dick-swinging
"If you can get beyond the immediate short-term objections and see the long-long-term benefits, the picture can sometimes change somewhat"
5hitload of jobs? You mean a few thousand navvy jobs, probably all foreign employees of the sub contractors that will tender cheapest because we slavishly apply EU procurement rules. Probably not much real benefit to the UK economy, certainly no enduring benefit.
Aren't tied to our 1900's legacy? Our trading partners will judge us on our airports and telecoms, not how quickly we move fat Brummie councillors to their conferences with DCLG.
Expertise to sell? This won't involve much UK technology as we have no expertise in high speed railways. Look at how Hitachi provided the commuter units for the Channel Tunnel link, or who built the Eurostars. Even the WCML Pendolino's were built outside of the UK by Fiat and Alsthom, with some token assembly and fit out work at Washwood Heath (just before they shut the place).
Immortality for governments? Only in their vacuous little brains.
"Previous experiments with sterilized poo got rid of diseases but also destroyed the nutrients and bacteria which made it as effective as dumping sand on the garden."
Raw sewage always has been a problem, subject to treatment it's fine. For starters you don't sterilise sewage sludges, you just treat them in a manner that kills off the pathogens, primarily by putting the settled sludges into an anerobic digestor. The nutrients are unaltered by this stage, and as an agricultural fertiliser you're not much interested in adding any bacteria, so loss of non pathogens isn't a problem. As soon as its mixed with soil, naturally present bacteria will get to work to continue the decomposition process.
Treated sewage sludge is widely and successfully used as a a fertiliser the world over, with the problems either mythical (eg the EU nitrates directive), or created by careless disposal of (particularly) heavy metals into the sewers. Heavy industry, metal plating, hospital radiology departments are known problems, but unlikely to be an issue on Mars for a few years yet.
Re: We are all saved!!
"But a high-density battery would transform the usefulness of wind and solar - you could store all that unwanted off-peak energy and use it when needed"
Only if they can fix the problem of self discharge.
Re: ENERGY density, not power
Well said. But a more pressing concern than the terminology is how they manage to go from 49 kWh/kg to 12 Wh/kg.
I appreciate the other stuff that goes into the finished product, so a factor of three (or even ten) difference, but to lose three order of magnitude? Looks more like a typo than anything else.
At 49 kWh/kg you'd have thought that they'd have a game changer for transport and the energy sector on their hands. At 12 Wh/kg nobody is going to bother to get out of bed for that.
Re: UK Govt needs a kick in the balls
"The UK govt is just scared of the massive fines they would need to pay and ignoring the reasons WHY they would need to pay those fines"
Why would the government be scared of fines they pay (in the grand scheme of things) to themselves?
Re: Betting against the MAN
" I hope it can remain outside of any government influence (US or otherwise)."
A lovely idea. But it ain't going to happen. How do you think that governments around the world continue to spend VASTLY more than they raise in taxes, year in, year out, without the whole system collapsing?
The answer is by more or less subtle forms of expropriation (that's theft by the state, to you and me). Tax is part of this. Inflation is another. State mandated programmes are another (eg where companies have to do something for the government that they don't get paid for by government). And when things get really bad, the state just steals outright - happened in Cyprus a few weeks back, happened in the US under that crook Roosevelt a few decades back.
So any form of money that they can't monitor or control (or steal) is a threat to the politicians, to the state bureaucracy like the tax collectors and administrators. Bitcoin, sadly, is doomed.
Re: Retirement Plan
"I wonder how many MPs (of any party) have shares in Arqiva?"
None. Arqiva are wholly owned by Canadian and Australian pension investors. So what's going on here is that whilst the UK has a broken, unfunded fuck up of a pension system, and a huge public spending deficit, Gormless George is handing Canuck and Aussie pensioners a £150m bung, even though the mobile operators explained carefully that the problems of infrastructure build out were not cash, but rather the public sector's shit headed red tape that stops anybody doing anything in this country.
Re: We need to be careful we don't get what we want ...
"If I owned 1% of Vodafone shares, would I get 1% of profits?"
In simplistic terms yes. Few companies distribute their entire profit (otherwise they won't be replacing their assets as they depreciate), but even if Vodafone didn't pay out the full amount, you'd still own 1% of their balance sheet where the retained profit shows up, and 1% of their future income streams.
Taking Vodafone, if they paid out 100% of their profit, then over time they'd have no surplus cash to renew the network infrastructure, to buy 4G licences and the like, and over time that would drag on their business and reduce its scale, so your investment declines in value. Or they'd need to borrow more to renew assets, which would reduce the future profits through interest payments (a self compounding problem in this hypothetical example because as debt ratios climb, so would the interest rate).
Ultimately the 100% payout company would see equity (shareholders) decline in importance until they disappear. When a company's gearing (ratio of debt to equity) starts to go wrong, it reaches a financial event horizon, beyond which the interets payments become unafforable, or the creditors can trigger breach of covenant clauses, and seize control of the company. Certain big banks have a track record of engineering these situations deliberately.
Re: I blame obama
Well, their 2012/13 FY results show them making £1.96bn taxable profit. They paid out £574m in corporation tax to assorted government, so that's about 30% tax rate.
But that ignores their employers NI and business rates which will more than double that. If you ignore what Tesco are taxed on, and just look at gross governemnt confiscation as a proportion of profits, then you'll find that the thieves and wasters of governments take more of Tesco's profits than Tesco's shareholders.
Re: But HP don't take the piss?
"In the mean time, as someone who gets to make a decision on purchasing kit, it looks like HP are the winners here"
As somebody sitting in a company enduring HP's 5hite service and products, I wish you good luck choosing your vendor on the basis of their unproven claims to be paying their fair share of tax.
Out of interest, why would you want to do business with a company who not only have messed up every major acquisition they've made, but also seem to be claiming that they ignore their fiduciary responsibilities to shareholders? And as a major offshorer of UK and US jobs, why is it that (allegedly) paying their fare share of taxes is a good thing, but you're happily prepared to endorse and reward their export of jobs in the pursuit of profits?
Re: In the fantasy relm of Corporate __________
"Prices need to come down to their HDD equivalents"
Why? You go on to say you have different storage needs to others. Currently SSD offers significant performance advantages for which people will pay, and it is a simple speed/cost decision, with a side order of track record and durability considerations. On current technology, getting the cost down involves reduced fabrication size, and that eats into NAND endurance (and retention after the write endurance is reached), so if it gets cheaper it still won't offer you the long term storage you want.
Re: Cost of repair/patching?
"Will the meter suppliers be required to support them fully for upgrades and bug-fixes for the 20+ year life of the installation?"
You jest. Because the DECC/OFGEM specification continues to be a moving target, and because the technology is immature, there's fat chance that these meters will last twenty years, even if the hardware itself is durable over that time period. Not only have DECC managed the feat of coming up with a specification that's not compatible with the smart meters being rolled out in the rest of Europe (so increasing the already unjustified costs), but the mass roll out of unproven technology means that the channces of the real benefits being realised are nil. In eight years time, the clowns of DECC will be insisting that to save the plant, another £12bn needs to be spent fitting new super smart meters.
Re: am I strange?
"Once upon a time while crossing the Pacific,with only a single interruption for a lovely meal. Heaven!"
Speak for yourself. My experience of flying is a terrifying misery of being restrained in a noisy, smelly, uncomfortable aluminium tube, surrounded by hundreds of other frightened peasants in close proximity to two or more large devices spinning at around 70,000 rpm, themselves adjacent to thousands of gallons of jet fuel. The meals are diabolical parodies of food, and the prequel to this highly unpleasant transit is two hours of disrespectful incivility and dramatic pantomime performed by retards, intended to persuade me that my end is nigh at the hands of terrorists.
Re: A few theories
> not triggering bombs in the hold or contacting an outside party to do so.
Surely if you were able to trigger a bomb on a plane remotely via a mobile you'd want to be safely on the ground when you did so??
Well the evidence is that terrorists these days are relatively indifferent to blowing themselves up. But even so, an interesting feat of logic by the OP, who believes that Al Twatada will obey any request to turn their mobiles off. Wouldn't want to hurt anybody, would they?
"But with Vista it really wasn't Microsoft's fault so much as Intel and their crappy drivers and hardware"
The driver issue was down to hardware makers in part, but MS shouldn't have released it if there wasn't hardware support. And there are plenty of other things wrong with Vista that were never fixed, and they were MS' fault.
Re: Frankly Mr. Shaw....
"Windows 8 is the NT 6.2 kernel. Vista was the NT 6.0 kernel. So machines six years ago, designed for Vista, can run something that is in some ways Vista SP2. Really no more impressive than XP SP3 running on a laptop designed when Windows 2000 came out."
Which may be the problem. Instead of building something new that works, they keep on trying to make the NT code do yet more things. All software gets upgraded and bug fixed, but there comes a time when simply bodging a security fix in, or sticking a crappy new UI on some bits of the old dog simply isn't enough, particularly if you want to have common code across a wider range of devices. I suspect the Windows code is simply too big, too poorly coded and too little understood by Microsoft themselves to enable it to be transformed into something new and good, but they don't have the courage to build something new.
Re: This will struggle to compete with low-end Android devices
Initially I thought you were wrong, because I doubt that low end smatphone users in emerging markets really care about the OS.
But on reflection, if the article's correct that it is a 2G device, then I'd guess they are crippling the device intentionally. What's the use of a smartphone with a 2G connection? Maybe its part of Elop's death wish for Nokia?
Re: Winners? @Don
But the winners are the lawyers, if they manage to make it stick. And for the complainant's and their lawyers there's no downside if they lose, other than their own time. In most civilised countries if you sue somebody and lose, you cop their legal bill, but not so in Merkin Land.
But it's a fair question why any shareholders would give their case to the lawyers. For the complainants, either they've sold their stock, and thus don't care what impact a win would have on the company and its remaining shareholders; Or If they do still hold, then the hope is a payout from the D&O insurers, and a change of direction (and possibly board members) that would give the shares a quick boost - at which point they sell.
So for former shareholders the rationale of joining the complaint is retributional and loss recovery, for current shareholders it would be a sophisticated form of ramping.
Re: Something smells
"This deal was rotten from the start."
That's as maybe, but the example given of Autonomy trading with VMS Automation is complete rubbish. In both cases the companies should treat the revenue as top line sales, and show the cost in the sales, general and administrative (SG&A) categories. To net off the revenues just because there's reciprocal trade would only be appropriate within the same group, and that doesn't appear to be the case here.
Look at how the same sort of reciprocal trade would be treated elsewhere. If a power company buys a £5m alternator from a company whom it sells a similar value of gas and electricity to, you'd expect the turnover of both companies to increase, and the costs to appear elsewhere (probably on the balance sheet of the power company, and cost of sales for the equipment maker). If outsiders analyse purely on top line growth, that's their problem for being idiots, not Autonomy's, who (on this small example) were complying with UK and IFRS. And I'd be very surprised if US GAAP says anything about discounting the value of any sales to companies whom you've purchased things from. The only case the shareholders have regarding the VMS deal is if neither company actually needed the software - but given the $4m disparity, and the nature of their businesses that looks improbable.
Let's be honest, this legal action is just US legal carpet-bagging, which given their fundamentally flawed legal system is business as usual over there.
Re: China involved in cyber-attacks
"One name for you: McKinnon."
I think your point is that if they knew their stuff McKinnon wouldn't have got in. But there's a follow on, that if they'd spent less time hounding the guy and trying to extradite him, maybe they could have spent the time asking how a lone oddbod was able to get in so easily, and what they ought to do to stop things getting worse. So two fails for the price of one.
But now it's all the fault of the Chinese. Lucky for the US taxpayer that its never the fault of the US authorities.
Re: I'll give it a pass
"my impression is (urban myth?) that when the ssd is gone, it's truly gone. "
Depends on the failure mode. In theory if you exhuast the NAND write cycles the data should still be readable. For most non-enterprise applications your chances of using the full number of programme/erase cycles are almost non-existent. But if you've a firmware failure or a hardware meltdown then you could have a brick on your hands, and that's a more likely scenario than exhausting the NAND endurance.
No reason to believe that SSDs are more or less secure than HDDs, or that failures will be more or less graceful.
Re: RE: Fragmentation
"The difference is that this doesn't impact on the performance. "
True, but the block erase issue is the "new fragmentation", and can impact performance. For the original poster's benefit, SSD's can write data to an 4k "page", but can only erase a block of pages of around 512k. It has to erase blocks because it can only write to erased pages (unlike an HDD that can overwrite existing data). Like an HDD deleting or moving a file or page of data on an SSD only moves the file - it doesn't erase the old data, which still sits around until it is erased by the drives firmware, or the issue of a TRIM command by the OS. If there's sufficient free or erased space when you command a write, then you see no problem, but as soon as the SSD has to start moving pages around and erasing blocks before it can write then it is like swimming in treacle.
If you're lucky with your hardware and OS, and TRIM commands are issued silently and you'll never know (or need to know) what's going on under the bonnet. Also if the SSD's "garbage collection" works adequately then you'd probably never come across the problem. But if you're using the SSD as a system and data drive, then anybody whose activity involves big file copies (like video edits) and takes up a large amount of the SSD capacity may be at risk of this occuring because you run out of free or erased space. TRIM will stop that. The same can happen with a lot of smaller file writes, but most of us won't fill a large drive with small files.
If the garbage collection routines are good then (perversely enough) a few big file writes and deletes will fix the problem, albeit you have to wait for them to complete. Plenty more of this if you search the web, but just a personal suggestion that you don't plan to fill the bulk of the SSD unless you're sure that TRIM will work.
Retrofit SSD's are at particular risk of being installed on systems that may not be TRIM compatible either because the OS doesn't support it, because they've got older hard drive controllers that don't pass the command from the OS, or other hardware incompatibilities.
If all that sounds off-putting, don't let it. My home machine runs off a 230 GB SSD, and it is excellent - things just happen instantly. But I've got a separate HDD for my large FLAC music collection, for videos and such like. Eventually the photo collection may have to migrate to the HDD, but at the moment I have space to spare.
Re: Makes sense
"That's exactly what I just said."
Only if you're both the same AC.
Re: One key difference between 8 and Vista
Well, let's see how MS deal with picking up their poop. In the case of Vista they issued W7, and expected users to pay again to replace a faulty product. Yeah, there were service packs, updated drivers and the odd bug fix, but in essence if you bought Vista, Microsoft expected to hide behind the EULA, and should you want to have a working, modern copy of Windows you could pay all over again.
Whilst many will be expecting MS to fix W8 with a service pack, I'm less sure that's the way the beast is moving. Things like Orifice 365, and other pseudo cloud/SaaS offerings make me think MS will currently be struggling less with the software, and more with the business side of whether they can make users pay for 8.1. If they balk at doing that for 8.1, I'm sure that's only temporary, and future service packs will be chargeable.
Microsoft still dominate productivity software and desktop OS, and will do for years, but their arrogance, incompetence, profiteering and misjudged innovation look to be slowly killing them. It had all of the feedback it needed during the public beta phase, and it simply ignored it, presumptiously telling the customers that it knew better than they did, lambasting PC makers for not making the hardware, and distributors for not shovelling the 5hit onto corporate customers. The idea of embracing touch for new formats was good innovation - the misguided bit was to to try and foist it on everybody. The idea of a common code base across devices was good innovation - the misguided bit there was to persist with the huge, bloated and antediluvian code base of Win 32, when a ground up new build was needed.
And all those things make me suspicious of Microsoft's claims to be ready to fix the faults of W8 - this is not a contrite company; it is not a listening company; and it is not a company with any respect for its customers or business partners. I fully expect some token changes in 8.1 like a half baked start button (that doesn't even do what the current third party add ons do), but I doubt they'll completely eliminate those rubbish "apps".
Re: A good plan, but what about user density?
"This idea is good in principle"
But only in principle. In practice I suspect this is the result of lobbying by Torangeeverywhere to enable them to shrink their infrastructure maintenance bill, rather than anything to do with better coverage.
I must say I'm amused by the eighty fold increase in mobile data that is forecast. Unless they are proposing to replace fixed lines with mobile that won't happen, and mobile operators have failed to step up to that plate time and time again. I doubt that anything has changed in that respect. Other drivers like mobile penetration aren't going to materially change, the opportunities to view mobile content aren't going to grow unless you can force more people onto long public transport journeys, and we've got developments like H.265 that will reduce bandwidth for mobile video viewing. I don't doubt there's growth, and a lot of it...but 80 fold?
Re: Maintenance costs slain by electric motors?
Combustion/electric drives are mainly used on systems where weight is no problem, such as railway locomotives, and to a lesser degree starting now on shipping. Not only are they heavier, but if power is critical you need to make up for the conversion losses between alternator input and motor output.
On a flying vehicle this seems to combine weight, complexity and inefficiency in all the wrong combination, but the makers hand may be forced by an inability to make the design work with a mechanical drive.
Re: Why more Weimar?
" I think the debtmonetization express is going to roll to ultimate wreckage whatever happens."
Well, you never heard such squealing as when the sequestration cuts came into effect. Of course that's only about a 7% cut, so nothing like the 50% cut that's needed if Uncle Sam wants to balance the books. I'm with you that they won't sort the deficit out, with the US going the way of Europe (lots of lovely but unaffordable entitlement schemes), but the US military will still have to make their own guns or butter choices.
And offer a five star general a choice of troops,or aircraft, or bombs, or some applied research that might one day make a weapon, what's he going to choose? Nope, not research. Which means that all those exciting rail guns, death star lasers, and scramjets simply aren't tangible enough, and are at risk. With scramjets it's a pity, because there might be civil applications many decades hence.
Re: to see if Apple can keep its place at the top of the tech tree.
And at least he uses his real name, unlike Eadon.
A threat to OFCOM?
If Wheeler's running the FCC, how will OFCOM be able to retain the title of World's Most Useless Telecoms Regulator? And I'm sure we would have given them Ed Richards if they'd asked.
Another example of Britain innovating, and then the Yanks really commercialising the idea.
Re: But remember...
Oh yes. Those early "art" films featuring Ms Lumley that are no longer in circulation. Mmmmmmm.
This could explain why my Casio waveceptor is still useable after being variously wacked into brass door handles and steel scaffold poles. And I'd wondered why metal was leaving marks on the "glass" that just polished off. It's predecessor was retired after an encounter with the bottom of a swimming pool.
Maybe they should stop wasting time on sapphire, and move straight to make mobile phone screen out of whatever swimming pool coatings are made of, which is clearly the hardest material in the universe.
Re: Tip of the Iceberg
"However - let them be a lesson to anyone or any corporation that taking security and data protection is a serious, time-consuming, expensive and specialised business."
And doomed to failure when these machines are connected to the internet. Air gapping has its limitations, but its a damned good start, as is separate systems within the company for separate functions.
Re: Dear Daddy
F*** me, having to sit in the office bitting my tongue hard whilst my eyes water with uncomfortably contained mirth.
Re: Eat charcoal
Why would I want to eat charcoal? The simple pleasure of a well formed, properly timed guff is one of life's pleasures. From the varied pungencies, half-lives, volumes and auditory effects much joy is to be had. You can even change the future: Drop your guts in an emplty lift, and you increase the odds of an attractive lady getting in the lift by a couple of orders of magnitudes (albeit you'll be treated to a dirty look, and labelled in office gossip as a filthy blighter).
Re: Use Chrome
"Adobe has become an embarrassment to the software industry with their poor security, crappy update practices"
I must say that there's a swampful of other contenders for the honour of "Most embarassingly crap software company", and Electronic Arts appear to have actually won this by public acclaim in the US.
Until our gormless law makers start work to heal the festering sore of "licence agreements" and their ilk, second rate software will continue to exist, continue to be built, and continue to make money for third rate companies like Adobe (and Microsoft). I can appreciate that software companies can't guarantee that their software will always work for my particular requirements, but the law should require them to fix security and functionality flaws, accessibility issues of poor design (referred to in Shadow Systems brillant post) should be legally required to be fixed. In fact I'd guess there are laws on that last one already, but nobody enforces them, even though we have a quango or two paid good money to do just that (like the useless Equality & Human Rights Commission, who have a £27m a year budget).
Re: Use too much Leccy? @Will Godfrey
"So how does the smart meter (at the entry to the house) know the difference between a refrigerator and a disabled stair lift?"
If you read the spec that Wim Ton linked to you'll see that they refer to these "unnecessary" loads, as ancilliary loads, and there's a load of stuff about the interface and system requirements. Of course, the smart meter on its own can't control them, you need a new compatible device or dedicated control switches. As installed the smart meters won't do a damn thing that's useful.
As we can match peak demand anyway, and will always have to the whole ancilliary load switching idea is a typical bit of crappy, wishful and misguided public sector thinking.
Re: The solution to your chickpea problem
That only leaves one answer then: You've been flogged plastic chick peas. Possibly the output of some municipal plastic recycling programme, where the processed chopped and pelletised plastic was a light brown, and looked like chick peas, and somebody thought "I know how to make a bob or two on those!"
Good luck with the rest of the bag!
Re: Whilst I can see the value.....@Roland6
"But this fact (re. hot water and tumble dryer) has enabled me to convince some of my non-IT clients that it is okay to leave their brand new All-in-One with a 25w PSU running and so avoid problems caused by them pulling the plug..."
Router & modem all in one? Must be a crappy affair if it gets its knickers in a twist over power cycling. I've got the much maligned Virgin Superhub on a timer switch to turn it off overnight, so power cycled each day without any assistance, and it works a treat (arguably better for the regular resets).
And although the hot water and tumble dryer do use a lot of power, leaving any "vampire" devices on constantly does add up. As a rough guide for those who can't be bothered to do the maths, take the value in watts of any always-on device, and that's about the cost in £ per year. So a 25W router/modem will cost £25 a year to run if always on, which is about a quarter of the annual running costs of a tumble dryer. Stick a timer switch in the router's mains socket, with power off overnight and you'll save the cost of the timer in year one, after that you're £8 a year better off for the life of the kit. If you're ALWAYS out during the day you could save £16 a year by the timer turning the device off then. As a suggestion don't be too aggressive in the planned timings, otherwise you'll end up frequently over-riding the programme and leaving the device switched on, which defeats the purpose. If you've got any gaming PC's with active subwoofers, then they can be similar vampire power users that don't get noticed when they're left on, and these can be connected to the same timer with a multiple socket extension.
Re: The solution to your chickpea problem
You didn't put salt in before they were fully cooked, did you Lester? Most pulses harden up if there's salt added before they're soaked and cooked, and all the books I've read on the subject (as a curry fiend) are explicit that salt goes in only when the pulses are fully done.
Re: Last all week?
"Dry staples, a supply of eggs, and some vitamin supplements and your diet is monotonous but sustaining."
Which is where hot sauces come into their own. If (like me) you're losing a few pounds by cutting the calories, then the miserly portion size and limited interest of dollop of lentil broth can be completely hidden by adding sufficient hot sauce to give it a real bite.
Re: Whilst I can see the value.....@Peter Gathercole
"If only I could persuade my wife that the tumble-drier really is one of the biggest expenses."
Well, at least make sure you've got a decent condensor dryer that doesn't have an external vent. Vented tumble dryers are not merely hideously inefficient at drying, but they then promptly expel all the hot air out into the cold, and (through the ventilation of the rest of the house) suck in a replacement volume of cold air, so making for a significant impact on your heating bill as well as electricity.
With a decent condensor the heat is at least kept within the thermal envelope of the house, and you're not pumping fresh cold air in. The extra cost of an A rated condensor usually won't payback, so go for a good B rated device from a respectable make - cheapy condensors don't always work very well, and you'll then get damp air in the house. Also, the condensor models are usually sensor controlled, which (in this house) stops SWMBO from baking the clothes for bloody hours, which used to happen with the primitive vented model we had.
Using a plug in energy monitor should enable you to nail that 500W of base load, but a suggestion is your fridge or freezers. Anything over ten years old is suspect, and anything over fifteen years old will probably pay for itself in lower running costs within two years (well, if the new one is low priced). Older models had inefficient compressors, poor insulation, and the seals wear out. You don't tend to notice the worn seals, but the continuous loss of cold air can make for near continuous running.
One other thing that many people could do - many modern houses use multiple GU10 or MR16 bulbs, which easily adds up to a lot of heat and power. Early LED versions of these bulbs were rubbish, but the latest 4-7W versions are excellent. No point using 500W to illuminate a room if you can do it with 50W, and in a moderately well used room the LED light will pay for itself in eighteen months, and last for a decade or two.
Re: Whilst I can see the value.....
"How much compulsion is there in this 'offer'? Can I say "no thank you" and stick to a clockwork meter?"
Yes. Last paragraph of my post covered that.
Re: Whilst I can see the value.....@Tom Welsh
"In my own case, that is completely untrue. My little Owl meter tells me, more or less...."
Absolutely right. Smart meters are a typical big government solution, built by spending your money for you. Not as an explicit tax, but simply requiring the power companies to recover the cost. If you had the choice of a £30 energy monitor, or a £300 smart meter, and knew you were paying I think most people would choose the former.
To be fair, there is some limited evidence from early roll out of standards-non-compliant smart meters that electricity use comes down by 5%, but I don't know whether that's properly assessed. At a guess it may not have been properly compared to the savings from people handed energy monitors, nor properly adjusted for other factors like appliance replacement (almost any new appliance will use less power than the device it replaces). The "sales" pitch and installation of smart meters often includes energy efficiency advice, so that's something else you'd need to allow for and exclude. I tried an energy monitor, found it of limited use, and it now sits in a drawer at work.
More worryingly, the early evidence is that gas smart meters produce no savings at all. So there's about £5bn of mandated investment across the land with not a single penny in benefits looking likely. Almost as good value as HS2.