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* Posts by Ledswinger

2143 posts • joined 1 Jun 2012

Oh, shoppin’ HELL: I’m in the supermarket of the DAMNED

Ledswinger
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Re: Don't use these evil things ever!

"Maybe we all need to consider the larger consequences of using automated checkout tellers at grocery or other stores."

Where do you stop on that road? Will you ban ATM's for putting bank clerks out of a job? Computers for making HR administrators and accounts clerks surplus commodities? Car factories for making artisan customer builders unemployable (and them in turn for reducing the employment prospects of grooms and stable boys)?

You are Ned Ludd, and I claim my five pounds.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Co-Op

"The last time I shopped regularly in the Co-op the assistant served you with everything you wanted. Then your money was put into a little container on an overhead cable"

My god, you must be old! Have you transitioned to an Elder race, or even Sublimed? What are the supermarkets like in the sublime?

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Ledswinger
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Re: Automated till hell ...

"Absolutely - I make use of the services of a trained operative every time."

Same here. But the unfortunate thing is that this is a tech site, and it's people like us that built these things.. C'mon, somebody round here is responsible for this! Own up, and accept the good kicking you deserve.

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Exciting MIT droplet discovery could turbocharge power plants, airships and more

Ledswinger
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Re: Nothing will make airships viable.

"So...never say never."

Alright. "Not in our lifetimes" then.

The wonder properties of graphene have yet to be scaled up, and I've likewise seen no progress on other wonder materials like artificial spider's thread, which in theory could be as strong as high grade steel and a fraction of the weight.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Of declining importance for power generation

"Excuse Me....do not confuse a "peaker plant" quick remote start generation with normal CCGT operation(s)."

Excuse you indeed. I work with the planners who are looking at this day in day out, and the UK will see CCGT to OCGT conversion specifically because of the short cycles and unpredictable negative demand that renewables represent.

At present there's virtually no OCGT on the UK grid even for the peaking plant (have a look at DECC DUKES data to see the detail if you doubt this) and we use CCGT of varying merit largely dependant upon age. In other countries it is more common to have a mix of OCGT for peaking and CCGT for mid merit, but with the smoothing that a truly national grid allows there's less requirement than say some regional grids in the US, that also have more variable diurnal loads.

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Ledswinger
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Of declining importance for power generation

In the UK, and much of Europe, the obsession with subsidised intermittent renewables means that it is not cost effective to build new combined cycle plants, and in future it won't be cost effective to operate existing CCGT plant in combined cycle mode. So much of the industry are planning to downgrade the existing high efficiency CCGT to open cycle plants (cheaper to operate, quicker to respond from cold than CCGTs, but less efficient).

As a result this development will only be of interest to the fewer remaining plants run on combined cycle, and even they will probably be reluctant to invest given the uncertainty. In the US things are rather different, and I'd expect this to be explored with interest.

So our comedy energy policy will make fossil fuel plant less efficient. For comparison the electrical efficiency of an OCGT is around 40%, compared to a CCGT of 55% (thermal efficiencies are about 8% or so higher). In broad terms, this pushes the efficiency of gas back towards the higher end of the coal plants being forcibly retired under LCPD. Well done DECC and other tree huggers!

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Iranian cyberwar chief shot dead. Revolutionary Guard: Assassination? Don't 'speculate'

Ledswinger
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Re: "Any assassination could be seriously damaging to this nascent diplomacy"

"I'd be more inclined to believe he said the wrong thing or spoke to the wrong people, perhaps in a hushed whisper,"

Maybe, but this is Iran, where making people disappear isn't a problem for the authorities, so if they just wanted him dead there'd be no need for it to make the newspaper. The people around him would know he'd been "disappeared" so the deterrent effect is still there.

With their control of the press they could have hushed this up even it were a foreign act, so the authorities wanted this to be public knowledge, and that implies they want the population to believe somebody is attacking them.

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Ledswinger
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"Any assassination could be seriously damaging to this nascent diplomacy"

Which could be most convenient for those Iranian leaders who oppose any diplomacy. Rather convenient that it involves a relatively high profile victim, yet an area which isn't really seen as a cornerstone of Iranian defence or offence.

Given the Machiavellian scheming that passes for government in Iran (or much of the rest of the Middle East) this has to be one of the more likely explanations?

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NSA: Yes we 'experimented' with US mobile tracking. But we didn't inhale

Ledswinger
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Re: Thank God

"Land of the free for a given value of free"

I think you're onto a winner with that. And it would avoid confusion with Belize, whose national anthem is "Land of the free".

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Ledswinger
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Re: Thank God

"The US Guvmint shutdown won't affect the NSA spying operations."

There's a delicious irony that there's no money to provide the services US citizens might want and might ask for, but plenty of their money to pay for them to be spied upon without their consent.

I think we can dispense with "Land of the Free" , but in future how would our colonial cousins like to refer to their fatherland?

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Ledswinger
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"how can the spooks be certain which of the two places I may actually be for certain?"

There's always the chance of error.

In the UK they could just check up the CCTV or traffic cameras against a place and time that the phone has been tracked (common enough in serious criminal investigations). In countries less in love with surveillance cameras the limited coverage would make that more difficult, but theres other ways of cross matching people to locations. For example, you probably wouldn't hand your ATM card to somebody else with your PIN, so its a fair guess that an ATM withdrawal on your card is you, and a phone at the same place and time probably means you're carrying it.

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British support for fracking largely unmoved by knowledge of downsides

Ledswinger
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Joe Public

"Clearly, individuals are now making sophisticated risk assessments of the benefits and dangers of fracking, and coming to their own conclusion"

Whilst agreeing that the public have got bored of hippy doomsayers, I think it's fairer to say they're making an uneducated guess about the benefits and dangers, both of which have been over-played. So the potential resource is probably not great enough to materially alter our need for and dependence on gas imports, likewise the risk of water contamination is hugely hyped (being both unlikely, but also fairly easily treated).

A sophisticated assessment leads to a resounding "meh".

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Cerberus circles BlackBerry as Canucks warn of more losses

Ledswinger
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"Probably just buying to get hold of the IP"

No, this is the notoriously secretive Cerberus. Buyers of last resort, and scavengers, and they're after the still fairly strong balance sheet. The IP will be sold on, but it's Blackberry's cash and investments, saleable fixed assets, plus the residual service payments that make this worth the while.

You're right that the handset business will be thrown in the bin, unless they can find a rich mug willing to buy it. HP might fit the bill.

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Analyst says Brit rail broadband plan is TRAIN CRAZY

Ledswinger
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Re: A fundamental problem with this...

"That is fine if you are just looking at the Virgin West Coast services. It doesn't work so well if you also look at the Watford AC (London Midland), Watford DC (Overground) and Bakerloo Line Services that run alongside them."

Well, the same train length argument applies to the London Midland trains where more could be run as 12 coach formations than the handful that currently are, and that's a 50% capacity increase. You could also close some minor stations that constrain capacity by more seats than they fill - eg Apsley, maybe Kings Langley and so forth.

The DC services can be considered separately, since these are effectively isolated from the WCML equation. Arguably the answer is in part to make it all "underground", or all "overground", because solving capacity constraints is difficult with the mixed traffic.

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Ledswinger
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Re: A fundamental problem with this...

"Your anecdotes are not the same as a detailed analysis of the problem and the most cost-effective solution"

I'll state it again for the hard of thinking:

You could add 20% capacity to WCML services in about two months, at a cost running into a few hundred thousand pounds, just by the elimination of first class. That doesn't require "detailed analysis", it just requires morons like you to count the seats, and see the blindingly obvious:

http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CDAQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.virgintrains.co.uk%2Fassets%2Fpdf%2Fglobal%2Fseating-plan.pdf&ei=_2JMUvy8DuTs0gWUloGYAQ&usg=AFQjCNEwZ1hpQlNEswi0mO3x1NexhM35PQ&bvm=bv.53371865,d.d2k&cad=rja

Regarding your point on a daytime freight moratorium and speed, I've already offered you 45% extra capacity on the WCML, and probably more on the Chiltern line, within existing speed limits, timetabling and infrastructure. How much more do you want? Why this obsession with a conventional rail solution, that will actually place us 40 years behind the cutting edge, since that will be maglev or similar by the time this ridiculous scheme might finally be open?

I can only conclude that you're AC because you had a hand in the HS2 business case. In your case I think I'd hide in shame as well.

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Ledswinger
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Re: A fundamental problem with this...

"No it's not. A huge part of the benefit is the freeing up of capacity on existing overcrowded main lines."

Wheep! Wheep! Wheep! Train enthusiast alert! Head up arse £50bn solution to non-problem alert!

There's no shortage of intercity capacity between London and Birmingham, or anywhere else on the WCML. The West Coast Main Line could add 20% more capacity by the simple, cheap, and immediate measure of ripping out the first class Pendelino interiors and fitting all carriages out as standard class. So an 11 carriage Pendolino has 589 seats, but if we replaced all first class seating and the first class galley with standard class seats you'd add another 113 seats on every single train. And you could add another twelve-twenty five percent by the modest cost measure of one or two extra carriages in each Pendolino set and further extending the platforms. And that 20-45% increase in capacity could be delivered within existing timetables and at existing speeds. There's similarly straightforward solutions for the commuter routes at peak times, if the will is there, but whilst the idiotic HS2 scheme persists the industry is in denial about how to fix those as well.

And that's before we look at the Chiltern line to Birmingham which is nowhere near capacity. Within existing train timetabling we could easily see extended trains with existing platforms at most stations (the intercity stations mostly appear capable of handing twelve coaches, but rarely see more than eight, so there's a 50% capacity boost without running more trains, just adding carriages. And we've even got the spare carriages kicking around, as the retired Mk3's from the WCML and HSTs can be refurbed to a very high standard, as Chiltern's silver train sets demonstrate. The Chiltern line could without much stretch double its capacity between Birmingham and London without undue investment, particularly if they had a daylight moratorium on running freight trains. And the silver trains could all run at 125 mph if the signalling were addressed, further cutting journey times.

You've also conflated speed with capacity. If speed's the problem, then sort the signalling out on the WCML, regear the Pendelinos for 160 mph, straighten the curves at Weedon, Leighton Buzzard and Wolverton and you're done. Admittedly we might need SNCF to do the signalling work given the history, but cost overrun and technical failure are bigger threats to HS2 than to a further WCML upgrade.

So, maybe you think that £50bn is a good price for not disturbing the first class fat cats, and ignoring what we could achieve with existing infrastructure? I don't.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Sounds crazy and backwards

"(*) Even on non-electric lines. The main cost there would be stabilising the voltage supplied in the carriages."

All the inter city trains I've been on for some years have had at seat 240V for passengers use even in peasant class. So at least you could charge your phone even if you couldn't get a reliable signal to use it. The problem with broadband will be the ones that bedevil Chiltern Railways free wifi - that you have to mess around and register, signal is often too weak in the carriages, the kit simply doesn't seem reliable, and not all trains are fitted out, so if the wrong set is put in service there's no wifi fitted. Then you've got the slow speed of the connection from train to backhaul, shared between everybody (with some optimists trying to stream movies with limited success, but using a fat share of the limited bandwidth).

You could overcome these problems at a cost of more and better equipment, but why should those who don't need or want continuous connectivity pay to subsidise those that do?

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Ledswinger
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A fundamental problem with this...

...is that the whole comedy business case for HS2 is based on the "lost productivity" of all those businessmen needing to rush between Birmingham & London. If this improved coverage is so important that it needs government intervention (always a success, of course), then it will improve productivity such that most of the fictitious "benefits" of the unneeded train set will vanish.

Or, is it simply that our porcine MPs need this connectivity because they wish to be able to update their expenses claims as they waft along in publicly funded first class splendour?

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'Instant translation' glasses to come online for 2020 Olympics

Ledswinger
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Never mind the quality, feel the speed

Solving the speed problem would seem to be achievable, and it would be fantastic if they can make it work, but I have reservations that they will solve the speed issue, but then struggle with the quality of machine translation.

Untrained speech recognition software will get you perhaps 95% word recognition at best, possibly a whole lot less for real world on-the-fly commentary. In my experience the quality of speech recognition hasn't changed remarkably over the past decade. But when it does have a problem, it won't just create an error like a typo, it will typically insert grammatically correct words for the errors, that then feed into the translation software with interesting results. And that's before we consider the quality of software translation. If Google Translate is anything to go by, then I'd guess we're talking about 75% accuracy.

Any reason to believe that the recognition and translation accuracy will improve in time for 2020, other than vague hopes founded on Moore's Law?

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Former Microsoftie in AUTOMATIC BEER MAKER funding plea

Ledswinger
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"I've never brewed my own due to a lack of space, but I imagine I'd get a great deal of satisfaction from putting in the effort and eventually working out how to create a decent brew. You know, doing it properly and persevering until it's done right?"

Welcome to the world of country wines, my son. No need for hundreds of beer bottles, just a single demijohn, and six wine bottles. Cheap, compact, easy, and yet challenging. Rose petal wine is a personal favourite, but I'm also persevering in my efforts to make good wine from tetra pak juice, with some very good results from pineapple or orange juices.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Shortcuts, shortcuts, shortcuts

"The hard part is the sterilization of the equipment. "

Bloody hell, what equipment are you using, rocks and wood? Sterilising plastics, glass, stainless steel and aluminium is a piece of pee - bleach, rinse, rinse, rinse and you're done.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Real men drink real ale

"Boots used to do a home brew lager kit. Boil up the golden gloop with water, add yeast, ferment, bottle."

It's all still out there, but not from Boots. From the "one box and add sugar" kits (even sold in larger Tescos), up to some quite passably beers made with full malt extract. Not the real McCoy for one moment, but with a bit of care and a very modest investment you can prepare a home brew from a kit that you can serve to friends without shame. I've got a Tarwebier conditioning in bottles as I type.

As in the days of yore, the same rule applies: If you're adding sugar (sucrose, that is) then the end result will be piss.

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Ledswinger
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"As a rule of thumb, the further you get from there the worse, but Britain has made it especially awful."

You've also experienced how Britain took the idea of fast food, and then eliminated the one single point of the product, then? Worst of all is when you get to a McD's and find the staff are all British natives. At least if they're all Polish or foreign students you stand a chance of getting your food quickly.

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In defence of defenestration: Microsoft MUST hurl Gates from the Windows

Ledswinger
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Re: Always a PC

"Even if they stop "growing" and just maintain current revenue for the next ten years, they are still making a shitpot full of money every 5 seconds."

That's what the boards of Nokia and Blackberry reckoned. And the board of HP are currently on the same hymn sheet. In tech, when people realise a company is in decline, they flee like passengers on a stricken cruise liner, and soon that incredible cash flow is waning, nobody wants to do business with you, and soon your yesterday's FT/WSJ headline.

In the corporate IT space, MS have a monopoly largely because nobody clever and agile challenged them. But I wouldn't want to be as MS shareholder if Google really meant business in enterprise, for example. Or even Apple. In the corporate space iPhones and iPads have cracked open the door. What if they got off their fat-margined bottoms, and started looking at what would make a secure, reliable enterprise client? MS are still hide-bound by the need to milk the cash cow. The company that defeats them won't be playing by the same rules.

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Dixons preps home 3D printer for plastic-piping punters

Ledswinger
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Re: 52 quid for a block of plastic?

£1,200:£52 Looks like a much better ratio than you get for the supplies on ink jets.

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Ledswinger
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I'll buy one

But will they give me a refund if my mini-liberator explodes in my hand?

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Steve Jobs AIRBRUSHED from history by APPLE months before his death

Ledswinger
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Re: bling blong!

"How much has this door cost in total?"

Don't consider the cost. It's a symbol.

Unfortunately it's a symbol that the company has lost its way, and cannot see that there is no market or shareholder value from patenting a revolving door a hundred years after such things were invented. In some ways removing the image of Saint Steve is quite fitting, because he was somebody who was hugely product and brand centric.

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Microsoft investors push for Bill Gates defenestration: report

Ledswinger
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Re: how much skin do you need to have in the game ..

"Based on this, they are obviously seeking a chairman who would have pretty much no influence whatsoever."

That's how it should work. For complex, publicly listed companies the chairman (or head of the supervisory board if that's the local model) should not have much influence on the company's direction. That's what you pay the CEO for. The job of the chairman is to hold the CEO and the executives to account, assisted by the non-executive directors. In that respect Gates has failed, because it was investor pressure, not Billyboy who called time on Ballmer. We've had a string of bum acquisitions, two recent core software flops, we're still seeing security flaws in the OS and browser, we missed out on tablets, phones, the internet, and so forth.

This is part of a wider problem with corporate governance the world over, in the shape of the poor quality and/or low performance of the non-executive directors. All too often these people either don't voice their concerns. won't voice them, or aren't listened to. In US companies its not unusual to find non-execs with no valid experience in related industries, and the world over it is common to find cliques of rent-a-non-exec types taking a fat salary from umpteen different companies to whom they can devote no worthwhile energy.

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HP promises software-defined networking 'ecosystem' and app store

Ledswinger
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Re: with their track record

"one wonders if this will last given the 180s of the past."

Indeed. You can only snigger when you imagine the HP board talking about the vast opportunities that having a proprietary app store will offer. BCG will have brought along some pretty Ivy League graduates with huge, well manicured Powerpoint presentations, listing the vast value and remarkable growth value that Google Play and the Apple app store have created. The execs themselves will be so out of touch that they've never even heard of the tumbleweed strewn wasteland of Ovi, or the customer-free app stores that many mobile networks tried to launch. And because they don't understand anything, they'll have overlooked that the vast, vast majority of app store revenues are from consumers, and their plan is for a B2B app store.

Way to go boys and girls. Everything you've touched has turned to ordure, and you reckon that yet another diversification will turn the business round? Perhaps PWC could do a survey of "the world's 500 most wildly optimistic companies", and then at least HP would come top in something.

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Amazon to hire over 85,000 temporary elves for Christmas

Ledswinger
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Re: And boy

"

And boy.. Are they going to make you sweat for minimum wage."

You reckon minimum wage jobs should be physically (and perhaps mentally) untaxing, like IT?

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Scientists to IPCC: YES, solar quiet spells like the one now looming CAN mean ICE AGES

Ledswinger
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"I was listening to Radio 4's ....climate change propaganda"

There, fixed it for you. The BBC have always been great enthusiasts for planet wrecking climate change, and actively censored any of their staff who wouldn't toe the party line.

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Google: Thanks for the billions in revenue, UK. Here are your taxes, that's ... £11m

Ledswinger
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Re: Bears, Pope and so on

b) where does your 1 in 20 figure come from because that is completely incorrect?

Good thing you're AC, because your claim that I'm incorrect is utter shite. DWP figures show that there were 3.3 million claimants for disability living allowance, ONS data shows UK population 63.7 million. Using the magic of mathematics, anybody other than a retard will see that my statement is correct, indeed, if anything I was erring on the side of caution. If you weren't such a tit you'd have been able to check this for yourself on the internet. Possibly you're getting on your high horse over the total number of disabled in the population, which isn't anything to do with the point I was making.

a) Does it occur to you that they might be housebound so you won't see them milling about on the street?

What leads you to believe that I'm basing my judgement on random observation of people in the street?

c) what basis do you have that any significant proportion are not truely disabled?"

I didn't say they were (although I did infer it, I agree). The fact is that we have an outlier rate of disability claimants of working age compared to all comparable developed economies, yet we don't have any particular circumstances that might cause or explain high levels of disability. We have a large population and most of us don't marry our cousins, so there's no exceptional birth or genetic defect rates. Our roads are amongst the safest in the world, so no excess levels of road casualties. And we have offshored almost all heavy industry, and the accidents that go with it, and we have an active and effective health and safety culture for the bit that remains. You could suggest that our wars have increased the number of disabled, but sadly the out of control handout culture that started this mess now means that the clowns of ATOS try and control new claimant numbers by turning down servicemen who are genuinely disabled as a result of our various wars, and even if we correct for that it doesn't materially alter the basic numbers.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Bears, Pope and so on

"What is required is for the government to get some balls and get the laws in place to enforce it rather than penny pinching benefits from the disabled."

Actually it needs to do both. We spend about £13 billion a year of disability benefits, which in GDP terms is twice the OECD average, and reflects fifteen years of Nulab using "disability" as a cover for unemployment, so that we've now got over 3m people claiming disability benefits.

Round here' it's bleeding obvious that nothing like 1 in 20 people is sufficiently disabled to need to claim disability benefits, so I can only conclude there must be entire towns of disabled located up north, or somewhere else remote. Unless self inflicted morbid obesity counts as a disability.

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NSA's Project Marina stores EVERYONE'S metadata for A YEAR

Ledswinger
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Re: "This will never stop"

"Democracy requires that everybody has the same information and can participate in government."

And it requires a spectrum of opinion amongst those likely to get elected. But from a distance there's precious little to tell between the two major power blocs that seem to alternate in power in most Western "democracies", and neither of those parties has any intention of offering a commitment to stop this mass surveillance. Sadly, there's also plenty of evidence that if they did make such a promise, they'd ignore it as soon as they were in power.

There looks to be no prospect that mass surveillance will be scaled down any time soon, and therefore you can be sure that it is only a matter of time before the politicians start using it to smear opponents, and crack down on those who speak against the official line. That may sound fanciful but twelve months ago we didn't know how the government were scraping and storing every single thing they could. It clearly isn't about fighting terrorism, so everybody should be asking themselves why government is doing this. Unfortunately there's no nice explanations, and anybody who votes for a mainstream party in the US, UK, Australia is actually supporting this.

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Hundreds of hackers sought for new £500m UK cyber-bomber strike force

Ledswinger
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Re: I'm up for it.....

"Something along the lines of the little seen dress uniform from Star Trek TNG. Mini-dresses for dudes."

Mini-dresses for the dude-ettes, you mean?

Speaking for myself, the uniform must have a cloak. Think Star Wars, LoTR, Hairy Potter, Gladiator, Black Adder, all the best characters have cloaks.

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Ledswinger
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Re: IT wizards?

"he also uses the word "cyber" which to me is a big flashing neon sign shouting "I have no idea what I'm talking about""

Well, to be fair you know he's no idea what he's talking about because he's a politician, with a degree in philosophy, politics, andeconomics.

The term cyber warfare (or cyber anything) isn't very attractive, but what convenient term exists for this? Looking on the bright side, those doing cyber warfare will presumably by cybermen.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Money for old rope.

"apart from anything this guy got caught, so he's not that good, is he?"

Well, the NSA have been caught red handed, but they seem quite good at data slurping, so I don't think we should conflate the ability to do one thing with the ability to cover up that you are doing that.

If your intention is offensive cyber ops, then you can put additional resource into covering your tracks that may not be available to schoolboys, I'd have thought.

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Ledswinger
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Re: How many hackers does it take to change a lightbulb?

"Seriously, you'd hope - against all common sense and reason - that anything that was actually critical would be a long, long way from being accessible over the internet."

Actually, there's a lot of good reasons why some SCADA is internet connected; obviously you would hope that it has adequate protection to misuse, but I don't think that we should consider that no infrastructure must ever be connected to the internet - in practical terms any remote access, for example leased lines within the PSTN could be equally vulnerable.

The most important measures are (1) good basic connection security, and (2) adequate safeguards to stop plant being crippled if that security is breached. As Stuxnet showed, air gapping won't necessarily protect you. In that case, a simple independent speed governor on each centrifuge could have stopped the attack working, at a few dollars a pop. The most remarkable thing (if you believe Western accounts of the "success" of Stuxnet) was that the Iranians watched about 1,000 centrifuges go bang before they cottoned on.

Operators well might choose to persist with using the convenience of internet connectivity for their plant, and accept the risk of some modest inconvenience (for example DOS attacks, or even intrusion), but as long as the attackers can't cause lasting damage then the threat is of no greater severity than (say) the occasional power cuts we are already exposed to.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Money for old rope.

"I'm considering signing up myself."

They'd probably recruit you. But if they wanted to do this, then the first person on the recruiters list should be that schoolboy arrested the other week. Script kiddie or not, he seemed to have caused some mayhem, which would appear to be the desired outcome of this half-a-billion-before-we've-even-started programme.

Having said that, I don't see any real world benefit to the UK from frittering £500m establishing the First Battalion Cyber Troublemakers, regardless of who they recruit. Looks like it is just politicians spending many hundreds of millions the country doesn't have on something it doesn't need and hasn't voted for. Business as usual, then.

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Hong Kong's data centres stay high and dry amid Typhoon Usagi

Ledswinger
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"If the wind speeds were only Force 8, 40 knots, then a bit barn in a barn would have been quite enough to prevent any outage"

Beaufort scale refers to mean wind speed, not the peaks. At force 8 you could easily have gusts of twice the mean, and so the gusts could be around 80 knots, so over 90 mph. If you're after resilience then you'd design for a hundred of two hundred year event (and then maybe add a bit more just in case).

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French data cops to Google: RIGHT, you had your chance. PUNISHMENT time

Ledswinger
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Re: Fines are fine

"Jail is better."

Putting the boot on the other foot, perhaps Google should stop their services being accessed from any French IP address, and systematically eliminate anything French from their search results. That would be most amusing.

Would France even exist if you could only find it with Bing?

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Fondling slabs during takeoff WON'T end in a fireball of death - report

Ledswinger
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"You can't trust everyone to ensure that their devices are in flight mode by themselves, not everyone knows how to do it and even those that do can make a mistake. I've landed before and suddenly felt my phone vibrate as a text came in when I was pretty sure that I had flight mode on."

I'm sure that every day hundreds of thousands of "live" phones are transported by air with no problems whatsoever. There's no way the cabin crew can check that passengers have turned off their phones, and there's no way of getting to phones in hold baggage once loaded.

If mobile phones are sufficient to endanger flight safety, then its about time that any aircraft not certified as fully mobile phone proof at all stages of flight had their air worthiness certificate revoked. I'm not in favour of allowing @rseholes to yap into their mobiles on planes, but lets not pretend this has anything to do with flight safety (other than the possibility of fisticuffs between passengers).

The only real safety dimension is perhaps the fire risk of lithium batteries. We've all seen the exploding laptop/tablet/phone stories, and sooner or later somebody's device is going to catch fire on an aircraft, and I hope I'm not on that flight. The subsequent reaction of the authorities will be interesting, since the only logical action is to accept the risk, or ban the transport of lithium powered devices by air....

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WHY didn't Microsoft buy RIM? Us business blokes would have queued for THAT phone

Ledswinger
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Re: That last sentence says it all.

"MS have made vast strides in security and that most of the problems with Windows these days are caused by the users rather than the software itself."

Then get rid of users! They do nothing but mess up beautiful, nay, perfect IT architectures that would operate faultlessly if the malign influence of users could be eliminated. Imagine how much more efficient the average CIO's empire could operate without any filthy users making their unreasonable demands that the software and hardware actually work, easily and effectively!

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British Gas robo home remote gets itself into hot water

Ledswinger
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Re: Not needed@ Ben Rose

"Thanks, interesting information, but it ignores the costs of running the electric water pump. Surely significant?"

In energy terms not that significant. A typical gas boiler will be in the 8kW to 20kW range, depending on the age and the property. The circulating pump will only be using around 60W. Even though 'leccy's more expensive, it's still a trivial amount compared to the gas when you consider the volumes used by the CH system. At 60W versus even 8kW, the fact that electricity is two or three times the price doesn't matter. The condensor fan is going to be, at a guess around 10W, so the same point applies.

Regarding the heat loss from the HW tank, unless you really need it (eg unpredictable shifts) you're better off having it on generous timer settings, and letting it cool down in between. You're right that a lot of the lost heat will got to space heating, but that's only useful if you'd have the CH on anyway. If it's an upstairs tank in an airing cupboard, then you're throwing away heat unless you've got about two feet of insulation in the loft above the tank, and you've done air tight sealing of any pipe runs into the loft space. That's because although the area's small, the heat differential will be on average twice that of the normal living space relative to the loft space. In the grand scheme these losses aren't huge, but why pay to waste the energy if you don't have to?

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Ledswinger
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Re: one thing we do well in Britain is building regulations

"within a year all the houses he has tested will have a hole knocked in a wall and air brick fitted to solve condensation problems"

I'm not surprised. The air tightness requirements only work in the real world if you have heat recovery ventilation and probably humidity control. That's expensive, and only saves energy if properly installed and set up. Great for the sort of fancy clinical houses designed as showpieces by architects occupied by two bright, never-at-home twentysomething pseudo-hippies, but not something that looks ready for the mainstream anytime soon.

I suspect the public sector obsession with carbon and climate change will continue to push stricter standards, and then in a few years time there will be a shocking piece of research that finds that these modern houses have dreadful air quality, because the standards didn't sufficently allow for the gaseous and particulate emissions from gas hobs, oxidised cooking spills, carpet and furniture fumes, particulates from vacuum cleaners, aerosol over-spray, or even the scurf and gaseous emissions of the occupants.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Not needed@ Ben Rose

"My boiler instructions say to run at MAX temperature when it's cold outside. This is apparently more efficient. In that case, why is it not more efficient at all times?"

In all conditions the maximum heat transfer rate is achieved with the highest primary circuit temperature, and that will be necessary in very cold conditions if your boiler is correctly sized for the property and a given "worst case" of heat loss, which usually translates to low temperatures, although humidity, wind and precipitation can have complicating effects. In those very cold conditions, a properly sized boiler would be operating almost continuously, with just a bit of slack for hot water needs. As you'll have observed that's rarely the case and reflects the fact that historically, most boilers were considerably over-sized, which kept people warm, but meant you didn't have an efficient system, and used more gas than you needed to.

The reason why maximum heat transfer rate isn't necessarily the optimum in other conditions is because you don't then need full output of the boiler, and if you are pumping heat energy out of the boiler faster than the system can use it then either the house thermostat is shutting off the heating frequently, leading to short cycling (see below), or the return flow to the boiler is above the ideal temperature, in which case the temperature difference within the boiler isn't high enough for efficient heat transfer, and the primary circuit 'stat will start to cycle the boiler.

And now....cycling. The reason you don't want short boiler cycles is because every time you ignite the boiler, a volume of partially burnt gas is vented, which is an energy loss. The boiler, being vented to the world, cools down quickly, so with every ignition you're reheating the boiler internals, another energy loss. And when the burners are turned on or off the lower flue temperatures until the boiler stabilises mean the condensor won't be working at optimal efficiency. Those losses are quite small, but under optimal conditions a good condensing boiler can be 92% efficient - in the real world it doesn't take much to start to significantly reduce that. Other influences on cycling can include TRV's fighting with the house stat, poorly sited house stats, and perhaps worst of all, poorly balanced radiators. If the radiators are properly sized, then for optimal system operation the heat loss between the inflow and outflow should be 11 C. I'm a bit of a loon, I've spent fifteen quid on an infra red laser thermometer, and I've balanced my system. Who else does that? Most plumbers operate to rules of thumb like "close the lock shield valve and then open it three quarters of a turn" which does nothing to balance the system (lock shield valve is the exit end of the radiator, usually covered with a non-turning cap to stop people messing with the set up).

The reality is that modern condensing boilers are quite efficient pieces of kit. However, all plumbers, and most other aspects of central heating design and control remain in the dark ages, and having a crApp to remotely control the heating, or even a programmeable thermostat doesn't alter that. The best systems would monitor both inside temp and humidity, would monitor external temp and windspeed, calculate estimated heat loss from its own output, adjust the primary circuit temperature automatically, and use individual readiator controls not just to turn radiators on and off, but to balance the system. And it would have a programmeable house thermostat that starts off with some sensible timing and temperature defaults, and then learns what the occupants do (including some experimenting like turning the heating down occaisionally to see if the occupants react), as well as some sensors to work out when the house is unoccupied, and react automatically.

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Ledswinger
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"For houses in a place like Britain where there are lots of old homes that aren't efficient and lots of new homes that are almost as crappy this is especially true."

Actually, one thing we do well in Britain is building regulations. Bureaucratic, conservative and very restrictive, but broadly speaking very good at ensuring compliance with standards. So the majority of new homes are built to a very good standard of energy efficiency. In very rough numbers 80% of UK houses have properly insulated lofts (more than 200mm of insulation), 80% have insulated cavity walls, and 80% have decent double glazing. There's still a sizeable minority of older houses lacking in some or all of these measures, but things aren't as bad as some think.

The sizeable minority of older houses you've got a point on are dominated by cheaply built terraced houses in former industrial towns, but even with these increasingly we are seeing double glazing installed, which does wonders for the air tightness. That certainly doesn't bring it up to new new build or passivhaus standards, I grant, but certainly sufficient to negate the idea that turning the themostat up will immediately leak out through the gaps.

And the standard of the older houses is being improved (for selected Labour voting poor) by levies on electricity bills, resulting in about £2bn a year being spent by power companies to fix (mostly) rented housing, which is great for the occupants, great for the landlords, not so good for anybody that actually pays their own bill with earned money. This government policy is unfortunately flawed, because it is encouraging investment in crappy life expired housing stock (eg cramped, damp, solid walled terraced housing) much of which should be subject to slum clearance, and replaced with something modern.

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Hey, out-of-work BlackBerry bods: How about a job at Motorola?

Ledswinger
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Re: Not only in Waterloo

"I understand Google is also keen on picking up people escaping from Redmond…"

Why? Code wise, Microsoft have done nothing of late, indeed nothing really since NT. There's been various lipstick put on the pig (or a halloween mask in the case of Windows 8), but the only core skills at Redmond are sticking fingers in ears whenever the customer's voice might otherwise be heard, politicking, and operating a slow and surly bureaucracy.

Maybe Google do want a piece of that.

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15% of Americans still holding off from this newfangled interweb thing

Ledswinger
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Re: Have you got figures for Earth?

"How about some figures for the remainder?"

Only a refusenik would be positing a question that a search engine can answer in 0.35 seconds on a slow day....Did you get somebody else to type this for you?

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T-Mobile pulls BlackBerry products from US retail stores

Ledswinger
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Re: Stock valuation floor.

"The stock valuation floor of any company is potentially $ 0. If anybody buys anything it will only be the patents."

Au contraire, mate, there's some good pickings on this carcass. Not only are there substantial (if declining) revenues from customers, but there's plenty of tangible assets on the balance sheet, and more staff to be fired to prop up the P&L. To avoid repeating myself:

http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/containing/1966711

Fairfax aren't stupid, they could double their money by a controlled two year shutdown of Blackberry. The main things to consider are that the brand is now all but worthless, the work in progress is worthless, the customer base is evaporating, and there's no chance of turning this round. In which case you approach the business like an administrator, looking to minimise outflows, maximise inflows, and recover the most money you can, rather than trying to pretend this is an enduring business.

Vultures fulfil a useful function of cleaning things up; in this case they have been circling for a while, all wanting a piece of the action, but not wanting to move too soon. For real vultures you want to make sure you don't get eaten by a real predator, for the financial vultures they are just trying to strike a balance between waiting for things to get bad enough for a good price, but hoping not to let somebody else gazump them. It'll be sad to see Blackberry go, but go they must.

The same story of corporate life and death will be told many times again; I'm looking forward to the day that it will feature Microsoft.

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