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* Posts by Ledswinger

2154 posts • joined 1 Jun 2012

Hunt's 'paperless', data-pimping NHS plan gets another £240m

Ledswinger
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Re: US Study. Zip code, gender & DOB identified 87% of *all* people in database.

"I wonder how the Minister would feel if someone managed to de-annonymize his records for example?"

The curious thing is why use the postcode at all? If you're in a new house you often don't have one for months, and for up to a year after you do, third party systems don't recognise the one you get allocated. On its own It isn't accurate enough to address things by, but is accurate enough to perhaps identify you by. And then we come to the problemette of who owns the postcode, who controls it, and what organisations have to pay to use it.

Cheif Idiot Cameron is determined to privatise the Post Office (not necessarily a bad idea) but allowing the private company to have the intellectual property of the postcode address file (PAF), which is an exceedingly bad idea. Taxpayers have already paid for the creation of the PAF infrastructure as a national asset, but Cameron thinks it would be a good idea to give it away. He's been told this is a bad idea by senior colleagues, and the gormless fool has ignored them. How's that going to work out? There will be inadequate controls to stop the privatised PO from changing and messing with the PAF at their own convenience, and I'm sure that an organisation as obsessively self focused and user unfriendly as the PO will immediately look to hike charges to use PAF. Maybe the regulator will step in? You think? Unfortunately not, the postal regulator is part of OFCOM, the owrld's most ineffectual and useless regulator - the same people who allowed them to introduce complex, inconvenient and user-hostile charges for parcels based on a combination of what shape it is, what size it is, and what weight it is (which is why Amazon's packaging suddenly became a lot crapper than it was).

I'm sure that the newly prvatised PO, running by Cameron's rich City mates will manage to make an expensive mess of all services that currently use postcodes, from health to commercial logistics, from mapping to third party parcels servicves.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Who foots the bill?

"The GPs aren't going to pay out £K to mailshot everyone. They have enough financial problems already."

The biggest financial problem GP's have is how to count the loot that they themselves take out of the system, with average salaries over £100k for a four day week, plus whatever they can get renting practice buildings back to the NHS, and milking incentives for additional services or performance. And the vast, vast majority don't dirty their hands or interrupt their golf by seeing patients out of surgery hours (or charge yet more to do so).

Try that in IT: Ask your boss for a six figure salary. But only doing IT work four days, the other day "updating your professional knowledge". No late nights, no weekends. A free hand to work privately in any capacity and for any employer you choose. Provide your own and your junior colleague's offices and rent them to your employer at a nice margin. And your competence and employability only to be judged only by your peers running the same arrangements.

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UK fraud office hauls Olympus into court over accounting scandal

Ledswinger
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Re: Interesting in Japan they committed fraud to cover *lossess*

""most fraud is committed to cover losses" or hide profit."

Most serious "report & accounts" level fraud for listed comapnies is committed to hide a failure to meet expectations. Sometimes that's losses, but usually it is that profits have been made, but are below market expectations. I worked at director minus one level for a company that went down due to accounting fraud (and whose directors are serving porridge, even under the lax UK approach to fraud). Operating profits and turnover were growing, but not as fast as the market expected.

The problem then is that having missed one quarter or half year's targets and falsified the difference, it is most unlikely that you will neet the subsequent period's yet higher targets (and to do so honestly requires you to back fill the cash hole your fraud created in the frist case, so an even bigger ask). The fraud gets bigger, and very soon you're having to pay dividends on false profits, leading quickly to debt and solvency problems. Even if you don't have cash problems, when the cat is out the bag it usually triggers breach of covenant clauses, the banks want their loans repaid, and then you certainly do have cash problems.

Incidentally, corporate accounting fraud creates an opportunity for unscrupulous lenders (= all of them) to trigger a solvency crisis, and take an otherwise sound company out of the hands of the shareholders, and then re-sell it as a going concern, keeping all the loot for themselves. Not mentioning any particular thieving Scottish based bank, of course.

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Gov IT write-off: Universal Credit system flushes £34m down toilet

Ledswinger
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Re: Peanuts

"Seems pretty trivial write off on a project of this scale - not a patch on the billions wasted on the NHS IT project."

That's because they've only just started, and they've only written off £34m of circa £425m spent to April. I've no doubt the 100 day review period is fully chargeable by the fat cat contractors, so the total to date will probably be around half a billion spent. As with NHS, FCS, or Nimrod, it isn't until they've spent billions they admit that things will never work.

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Give us a break: Next Android version to be called 'KitKat'

Ledswinger
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Re: Hershey giveaways

"Even worse, they apparently had a popular desert of pears poached in wine with custard. Yummy, but sadly it was fish sauce custard. For which the inventor should be burning in a very special hell."

How do you know?

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Ledswinger
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"But it means quite a bit to the company that updates Android (Google). Google is American, so the tie-in to them is more with Hershey than with Nestle. They had to contact Nestle simply because they hold the global trademark on the brand. That's the way it is, take it or leave it."

Well surely they should have gone for something through and through American? I'm sure Hersshey have got plenty of alternative and wholly owned brands that they apply to their disgusting, excrement flavoured mastic, and not had any embarassing need to deal with slightly suspect Swiss megacorps.

But I think that that Kit Kat was in fact perfect, in a brand name that has worldwide recognition, even if applied to completely different products. The alternative "Kisses" has no food related recognition in (say) Europe, excepet amongst a tiny handful who know it refers to a product made of mashed dead badgers and settled sewage sludges.

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Ledswinger
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Re: So Google and teamed up with Nestlé?

"Whatever happened to "Don't be evil"?"

They looked up the original commitment, and luckily it had been mis-typed: "Don't be Levi". So they haven't, and they can now be evil.

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Ledswinger
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Re: How about

"N - Nutella"

Disallowed. Nutella not a snack, merely a particularly disgusting concoction that should be force-fed to all European chocolate snobs. Maybe the Italian air foce could carpet bomb Belgium with the stuff.

I'm not really one for any cholcoate spread, but at least Cadbury's do a passable chocolate spread for the kids, unpolluted with the hazelnuts, acorns and sawdust that Nutella consists of. Mind you, only to be expected, as Nutella is made by Ferrero of Ferrero Rocher fame.

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Ledswinger
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Re: "They should've named the next version of Android after Kendal Mint Cake"

"No, no, you're thinking of Dwarf Bread, it lasts for months... years... decades... aeons!"

You're not thinking of Elven lembas? I tried to make some myself recently, based on a bag of out of date muesli, some almost out of date porridge oats, butter, golden syrup, brown sugar and a bit of honey. Nice, and definitely moreish, yet in some intangilbe way not quite the sum of its parts.

And I'm sure the out of date cereals weren't to blame - I'm a strong believer in "home maturing", with a particular predilection for out of date Stilton that tastes of soap and smells of ammonia - magic!

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Microsoft's $7.1bn Nokia gobble: Why you should expect the unexpected

Ledswinger
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The dancing dad of IT

They bought aQuantive to challenge Google, and in doing so dissolved $6bn dollars to nothing in a matter of months. To challenge Google they've thrown cash at Bing, and created the search engine nobody uses. The wasted money on Soapbox to challenge Youtube - anyone remember Soapbox now? They blew billions adding a touchscreen interface to Windows 8 to challenge Android, and the world and his dog hate it. They conjured up Surface to challenge Chromebooks even after Google had largely strolled on from them.

Seems to me that Microsoft are really desperate to be Google, ignoring the fact that Microsoft investors can already have their share of Google simply by buying the shares. Like a badly dancing dad, Microsoft are embarrassing themselves with failed attempts to keep up with the kids. Nokia have actually done the decent thing here, and let go of a business that they can't be successful in any more. Microsoft on the other hand have failed to learn that their business is a monopolistic enterprise gouging cash cow, and that's all their investors want. The laugh is, that even if they did make a Googlealike, by the time they have achieved that Google and its current business model will have either been supplanted by a newcomer, or morphed into something different.

Milk the existing franchises, but stop pretending you're going to create anything new, Steves.

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Microsoft - do you really think you can take on Google with Nokia?

Ledswinger
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Re: Nokia basically is wp8

A nice idea, but the reason Apple can do this is because they were customer centric (give the customer what they want before they even know they want it), and they were retail consumer focused (ie not business).

MS are now trying to play in too many markets, they still have an enterprise software bias, and they never, ever listen to customers. You think that'll change anytime soon?

I'm afraid this is just normal big company M&A - an onanistic activity indulged in by the boards of companies who want a diversion from problems in the core business that require hard work and pain. I know, my employers went on an ill judged European acquisition spree that required multi billion write downs, left the company hugely indebted, and forcing it to sell some of the good businesses it did have, and throw tens of thousands of employees out the door, and left us with a whole range of rag-bag assets in markets where we had neither scale nor purpose. Meanwhile the core business festered for a decade whilst these shenanigans played out, and is now under all out attack from various quarters, and the board still don't know what to do about it.

We'll hear the usual management consultant bullshit about "synergies" and growth. But they always say that. In blunt terms, what will MS be able to do that Nokia's management weren't? Both had unfavoured phone OSs, both had respectable cash piles to support development, both were dependant upon past glories. As the lower end Chinese handset makers show, anybody can knock out a basically competent handset in hardware. What does Nokia bring to the MS party?

Lets face it, all the manufacturing has (or will) end up in China, all the software development will be done in the states, and they won't need many Finn's to specify future phones, inevitably based on something like LG or Sharp touchscreen, Qualcomm and ARM baseband processors, Hynix memory modules, TI and CSR chips for the extra functionality, LG battery, ST Micro accelerometer & compass, and somebody else's camera.

The really remarkable thing is why MS didn't specify their own phone and have somebody else make it, just as Apple have done. No multi-billion assets at risk, can be quietly trialled under another name whilst you practice, and you have access to your OEM's expertise in phone making. Apple aren't the only virtual manufacturer, ARM, CSR, Imagination Technologies have all made a success of this on the inside of the phone. But all the people actually assembling phones are suffering the same fate as the PC assemblers, fighting over wafer thin margins and often making a loss because there's no barriers to entry in this market. And failing to learn the lessons of their own success, MS are buying into exactly the wrong part of the value chain, and doing it at the wrong time.

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Microsoft's Nokia plan: WHACK APPLE AND GOOGLE

Ledswinger
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Re: Skype is worth more!

"Ok, how does it work out that Skype is worth $8.5billion but a company that makes things and has an investment in actual things is worth $7.2billion?"

Because intellectual property is far more highly valued than tools and fixed assets. Most physical assets are subject to depreciation - they wear out, and require relatively expensive maintenance and repair. And other than patented or registered designs (which are IP) almost all physical assets are easily replicated. So you could spend £20m on a new production plant, but other than any trade secrets and patents, there's nothing to stop anybody from setting up a plant making a similar product, be that a phone, or a bucket.

A good patent requires no maintenance or repairs, and a decent bit of code can last for donkey's years. You might suggest that Silverlight (for example) isn't such code and you'd be right, but I'd raise you the kernel of NT, which has been and remains the foundations of desktop Windows for two decades. Likewise, the cobweb infested Cobol that keeps so many banks in business was written donkey's years ago, and still works. MS Office hasn't really evolved much in the past decade, with the bulk of the functionality unchanged - sticking a disjointed new UI on the front of your OS or your applications is only window dressing, and the core IP remains what it was. Now Android is relatively stable, how much will the kernel really change? Likewise IoS.

Normally brand is another excuse for paying through the nose. But in this case the Nokia brand is a bit shabby and soiled by the reversals of strategy and the muted reception for WinPho, whereas Skype was seen (by MS) as new, exciting, sexy, and unsoiled.

Looking at the history, the odds are against MS. They don't have a name for good hardware, they have a very poor record of making a success of acquisitions, they've been very poor when trying to make money in new markets, and they've just made a biblical mess with the entirely foreseeable botch up over Windows 8. At the core of all these failures has been a corporate arrogance, a refusal to listen to customers, which probably comes from their near monopoly in business and office OS and productivity software. If they can sell WinPho/Nokia products in volume to gormless enterprise CIOs then maybe it will all work out, or if Nokia's goodwill in emerging markets is retained. I don't see this myself.

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HTC trio suspected of pilfering design IP

Ledswinger
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"Shame about HTC at the moment."

Don't worry, they can't be long for this world, judging by the known exec departures, and now the fact that two fairly senior execs, and a senior manager were busy conducting a fraud with an apparent value of around US $70k each.

What with RIM, Nokia, and HTC all racing for the wooden spoon at the same time you have to wonder which of them will be first into the phone maker's afterlife.

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Nokia drives cars into the clouds: Hear HERE, you're here, hear?

Ledswinger
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Re: while Google Maps can leave you lost in the wilderness when the signal disappears.

"Someone want to show Nokia how to cache maps on Google Maps..."

No, somebody show Google how to have a maps and navigation tool that doesn't mess its underwear as soon as it loses network connection. Yes, I could faff around looking to cache my route beforehand, but I've got better things to do. And the implementation of Google maps is such that (on my SGS2) it takes forever to get and display a satellite fix, despite the fact that Navmii can get a fix in a few seconds on the same hardware.

When it works Google maps is brillant (and even more brillant for free). But move outside of good mobile data connectivity and the limitations quickly become apparent. Nokia had phone satnav cracked five years ago, and Goole still haven't got an application as good. Which is a pity, because whilst I'd buy a Nokia handset, I'm not buying a Winpho device.

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US gov preps sale of TOP SECRET disease research island

Ledswinger
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Re: Asbestos and NIMBY's

"There's also a shocking (ha!) shortage of 120VAC with most electric being 3-Phase 240VAC; great for large equipment but less than ideal for daily appliance and convenience use."

You've never visited Europe, I take it?

I think what you mean is that either voltage is just dandy for appliances, but Merkins have already decided to standardise on 120V, and you'd have to order in stocks of 240V toasters and the like.

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Fandroids blow $200,000 on secret PANIC BUTTON for their smartmobes

Ledswinger
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Megaphone

Re: "Report a WinPho sighting" ????

Well, I've seen one in the past six months. Not sure how many switching cycles this device is rated for, but as a Winpho alert I doubt it'll get worn out.

Still, another coded message to moron smartphone designers: We now also want assignable physical buttons (and micro SD, removable battery, two days or more battery life, proper DNLA client, and and and and).

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Vodafone mulls $100bn Verizon stake sale - now about that $10bn tax bill...

Ledswinger
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"BTs market capitalisation is ~£30bn, and given Vodafone's interest in fixed line operators elsewhere "

Should be big synergies of customer dis-service, as the two operations could share worst practice by comparing notes.

The interesting thing is whether they'd then unbundle and sell Brokenreach? That'd open up the possibility for greater transparency in UK broadband, and create a company that might not be distracted by trying to become a half @rsed sports broadcaster.

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Behind the candelabra: Power cut sends Britain’s boxes back to the '70s

Ledswinger
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@Lee D

" My microwave has (deliberately) precisely two controls - one for power (which could have "defrost" and "incinerate" and I'd be happy) and one for time. What else could you possibly want?"

Big mechanical levers for those two controls, rather than piddly buttons? Something between a railway points lever, or a ships telegraph, depending on what suits your home decor.

And separately, treat that Oregon Scientific clock with kid gloves if its an RM113 or RM116. They don't last forever, Oregon don't make anything equivalent now and it's a bu99er to get a decent quality MSF alarm that's as easy to use. No problem getting an MSF alarm, but of the four or five different ones I've had, they suffer from UI's every bit as pants as your average cooker, or miss out on nice little touches that matter, like crescendo alarm, proper backlighting, two alarms, proper display.

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Ledswinger
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"I want to know why these devices need to know the time in the first place"

They don't, I do. Because it is often relevant to know that "the pie needs to come out at twenty past, but the roasties won't be done until half past, so the yorkies can go in a twenty five past".

Its just a pity that the makers haven't managed to make time setting obvious and easy, nor have they worked out ways for the clock to set itself.

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Ledswinger
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"And of course such power cuts are also opportunities for a couple of hours of doing more interesting stuff than watching a movie together."

But the pleasure will be spoiled when part way through the interesting stuff, every flaming light flashes on, and the whole house starts bleeping, groaning and wheezing.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Power Cuts

"I resolve the microwave issue by not bothering. We don't use it as a clock so I don't see the point. "

Two reasons: On present and last ovens, the beggars won't work without the time being set after a power interruption. And second, even if it will work unset, yu've got either a malignantly flashing display, or the wrong time forever telling you that you weren't clever enough to set a clock.

A pity that device makers don't build in MSF signal receivers (if Casio can do this on a thirty quid watch, no reason that a £100-£600 appliance shouldn't have it).

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Dell to axe 1,000-plus call-centre bods, enterprise staff in prep to go private

Ledswinger
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Re: sources claimed fresh layoffs are now happening every Wednesday.

"If they are going to cut people they should do it in one go, then let the survivors get back to work."

What and miss out on the repeat delights of "Layoff Wednesday"? Think of it as a sort of weekly prize draw, but in reverse.

Unbelievable that any company could have management this callous and incompetent. What makes Dell think that they'll be better at cloud and enterprise offerings than they were at making and flogging PCs?

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Finance watchdog: Big fingers + tiny mobe screen + banking = doesn't end well

Ledswinger
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Re: Not just mobiles...

"In this case, the payment was for a few days later, so it could still be amended and authorised again - but that may vary from one bank to the next."

Which shows the value of NOT using the Fast Payment facility to send money immediately, and instead scheduling the payment for a day or a week ahead, as these (with my bank) are easily amended until the money goes. I shall bear this in mind when making future payments, as I'd not really considered making scheduled payments for this purpose, but it's seems a sensible idea.

Fast Payment is great for paying the odd bill, where you're either very careful, or know and trust the payee, but perhaps best avoided for anything that could be tricky to resolve if it goes wrong.

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Tesla tops $20bn as Elon Musk claims arm-wave design tech

Ledswinger
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Re: Y-A-W-N

Well he's proposed the re-invention of evacuated tube transport. And although not original, it's a better idea than the sort of HS2 w@nk proposed by the trainspotters.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Battery life

"in fact, Tesla claims that their batteries will retain 70% of their capacity after 5 years and 50,000 miles"

Wooohoo. My diesel car retains 100% of its tank capacity after five years. Electric car owners must be very easily pleased.

What is 70% of not much?

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Green German gov battles to keep fossil powerplants running

Ledswinger
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Where Germany goes

The UK will slavishly follow. And in this case, having broken their wholesale market and power generation model, their only way out is to raise further subsidies to support thermal power. And that's subsidies on top of the costs of inefficient intermittent operation of fossil to fit in around the random convenience of renewables.

In the UK this will be done (in Ed Davey's wet dreams) by the "Capacity Mechanism". At face value that is being mooted to pay owners of back up plant to peak lop, or large users to load shift, all int he name of "effciency". But actually the biggest element of the Capacity Mechanism is the plan to use this to subsidise thermal plant that DECC's idiotic policy has made uneconomic. So cue continuing costs of renewables subsidies, rising costs of thermal plant, AND new subsidies for thermal plant. In future it will be uneconomic to run any form of power generation without some form of government support, because DECC and the EU have successfully destroyed the power market.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Ramp up hydrogen creation

"They create hydrogen when there is an energy surplus. "

Perhaps you'd care to do the calculations? Sadly the end to end efficiency of multiple conversion phases is pitiful, and so renewable hydrogen (using current technologies) is simply irrelevant to grid scale applications. Particularly unhelpful are the energy demands of gas compression and losses on decompression.

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IT now 10 percent of world's electricity consumption, report finds

Ledswinger
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Re: Advertising?

"It would be interesting to know what proportion of energy consumption is down to advertising."

Typical marketing budget is around 4% of turnover, and advertising spend as a percentage of GDP is a similar sort of number. So not unreasonable to conclude that if it is 4% of GDP, then it's not that far different from 4% of energy use.

Admittedly advertising doesn't usually involve heavy durable assets that you'd associate with big energy use, but that actually makes the energy intensity worse, because the spend is associated with printed material (paper and inks being very energy intensive to make) or with energy use by electronics (TV adverts, a share of your screen on advert supported websites). Note that for it to be around 4% we are (for example) reallocating the energy use of the entire nation's tellies during advert breaks to "advertising" rather than "domestic use", but I think that's correct for these purposes of largely idle speculation. You'd also include the entire energy use of advertising agencies, including their building heating costs, the electricity associated with processing their payroll runs and the like.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Is that all?

" 3 TV's on, 4 mobile phones charging, 3 tablets plugged in, 2 iPods on the go, wifi speakers blaring, four laptops and a tower plugged in, Xbox, wii, music production..... It goes on and on and on and so do my bills."

And still it's probably your fridge and freezer that form the largest single common use.

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More brutal PC numbers from Dell as revenues stay flat, profits sink

Ledswinger
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Re: Not Dell

"I can't find any "standard" desktop PCs there at all "

Errr, you can't have tried very hard:

http://www.scan.co.uk/value-systems

http://3xs.scan.co.uk/

I can assure you that Scan have amongst the most adaptable of specifying capabilities of any retailer, and will happily sell standard laptops, desktops without peripherals, or whatever you want. I've recently bought a mongo gaming machine from them, but (because I already had a pile of carryover parts) with a fairly unusual configuration - fast processor, bags or RAM, up market power supply, quiet cooling options, data storage but no boot drive or OS, no graphics card, no onboard graphics, no monitor, but with keyboard. They built it, tested it, and I got it cheaper than I could source the bare components, with a better warranty, and simply had to slam in the SSD and graphics card and load up the OS.

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Ledswinger
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Re: OK not Dell, then what?

"Custom built is not a practical option for the vast majority who don't enjoy messing about with PC parts"

Plenty of boutique makers and even larger PC assemblers who will offer a standard spec using good OEM parts. As it's all brand name kit, and the standard spec is tested and warranted to work you're not particularly exposed if the supplier were to disappear.

Admittedly, you'll pay more like for like than Dell, because Dell use proprietary kit, cut down custom versions of branded stuff, creaky plastic cases, vast standardisation and vast economies of scale (oh, and cheap, sh1t offshore "support"). For the big corporates, they'll be desperate to waste their money on HP, Dell and the like. But for anybody sensible buying business PC's why wouldn't you talk to the larger boutique makers?

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Telefonica and Arqiva set to mop up BILLIONS in smart meter cash

Ledswinger
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Re: Demand Side Management

"Yet despite all of this, their own figures show that there was no change in the median amount of energy used in the home, it stayed at 3,300kWh"

All built into DECC's farcial plans and assumptions, is that EU "product policy" will cause a dramatic reduction in power consumption. What this means is that they assume that the continuous tightening of product energy efficiency will cause household demand to fall. As you suggest that doesn't happen very much, partly because the incremental savings aren't that great. And in fact, smart enabled devices and household networks will have incremental demand running 24/7, only a few watts, but it all adds up, and goes on to baseload..

The strange thing is that even if DECC are correct, and big savings are to come from more efficient products (because the makers simply design them to be more efficient) why waste £14bn on crappy smart meters? Because they want to force time of day tariffs on everybody, as part of their ongoing master plan to mess up every aspect of energy supply and inflate costs, without the inconvenience of having to nationalise it.

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Wow! British Gas bungs a million remote-controlled sales-droids in UK homes

Ledswinger
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Re: Or

"The CEGB had a legal obligation on security and continuity of electricity supply."

Did it, now? Last time I remember three day weeks and reading by candlelight was when the combined incompetence of state owned infrastructure failed to deliver power because the ingrates were on strike. Every aspect was owned and operated by the state, and still the bunglers couldn't do it right.

Given your daft opinions I understand why you're posting AC.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Pass those savings one British Gas

"Because if they had transparent charging you would be able to tell who was the cheapest and everyone would switch to whoever had the cheapest Tariff. "

Obviously you've never heard of the concept of price comparison web sites? A novel innovation that means you don't have to do much work, and they'll give you every tariff in the land, in order of price. Not too hard for you, was that?

"Basically, the entire concept of privatised electricity/gas and "competition" is based around using confusing Tariffs to trick customers into not leave after you edge the prices up."

As it's piss easy to change suppliers, just shop round once a year, and if you're notified of an impending price rise. Are you twerp enough to just take your insurer's annual price hike? I doubt it, so why any big deal of energy prices? And the prices in Tesco change all the time, do you bleat pathetically about that too?

Privatisation reduced prices significantly for a decade or so - there's a few reasons they've being going up over the past few years, partly world markets, but also Gordon Brown's economic incompetence that has caused sterling to slide, making any globally traded commodity more expensive, and DECC's idiot "green" and social policies that are currently adding about £150 a year to your bill. So the whole "privatisation is wrong" hand wringing ignores the expense, inefficiency and incompetence of state suppliers (maybe you're too young to remember how crap they were under state ownership, but I'm not).

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Ledswinger
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Re: Pass those savings one British Gas

"Wow, with all that money they are saving, how about the reduce the unit cost of electricity and pass the savings on to the consumer. Radical I know."

The cost savings are negative, but rest assured they will be passed on to you, as part of the ever increasing proportion of your bill that pays for government mandated nonsense.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Did we overlook this?

"If you don't pay your bill they can cut off the power by SMS without entering your premises"

Maybe, after about five letters and a visit to the property. That's because the regulator will fine energy companies if they cut off vulnerable customers, and the only way to establish that is to visit. In practical terms they probably wouldn't cut you off, they''d set a smart meter to pre-pay mode, and add any debt to the applicable tariff - and they have to notify you in advance.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Meter Readers

"The power companies are delighted that they are going to save money (and energy) on meter readers because of smart meters"

Oh no we aren't. You call installing a £260 device to save about £7 a year "saving money"? In forty years you'd recover the costs, but only if the capital is free. As it isn't, smart meters increase the costs by about £11 a year per meter.

And what's more, the clowns of DECC have required the supply company (not the network operator) to install the things, so your average big power company with say 5m customers has to find around £2.5 billion quid to install new gas and electricity meters, then when you change supplier the new company will probably be leasing the old supplier's meter, cue much faffing around, complexity, cost and confusion behind the scenes.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Costs hidden...

"The trouble is that the utility companies do all they can to hide these clues by averaging bills over long time periods, etc"

There's no desire to "hide" what you're using, and in fact the information from at best two manual meter readings a year wouldn't tell you much even if it formed the basis of a non-averaged bill. The reason that we offer fixed monthly direct debits is because most people don't want the alternative: If you want to pay your bill quarterly (or even monthly) in full then there are options to do so, although you may have to search hard for them. Due to the variations in seasonal demand your winter energy bills will typically be three or four times higher than summer (or rather, you monthly 'leccy bill would be twice as high in winter as summer, and your gas bill about five times). And there's extra - in aggregate people who pay quarterly and monthly in full suffer more bad debt when the big bills roll in, so the tariffs are about 10% higher than the normal monthly direct debit.

Residential monthly billing is particularly rare because of the need to send round a meter reader (or the onus is on the customer to accurately and regularly provide a customer read). Smart meters could solve that, but that's hardly justification for spending £14bn, mind you.

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Bill Gates' nuclear firm plans hot, salty push into power

Ledswinger
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Re: No Radiation?

"it's just that the potential harm of nuclear power is beyond compare. "

Compared to what? Maximum number of deaths due to nuclear accidents, weapons testing and weapons use is about 5m tops, using the most extreme figures I can find. That's nothing compared to the harm from pandemics, famine, poor sanitation, poor air quality, warfare, state oppression, cigarettes, road accidents, drugs & alcohol, and suicide. As a broad brush, you can attribute an indicative figure of about one million deaths a year to each of those causes, year in year out.

Nuclear seems quite safe to me, even on the figures from the scaremongers. A pity it is so expensive that it isn't economic.

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Ledswinger
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Re: @ledswinger

"And that alone kind of suggests that this is all b***ocks."

It is. Unfortunately energy policy is driven largely by the EU, who are (in all things) clueless, and obsessively focused on renewables at any cost. German energy policy is in chaos due to the over-build of renewables (and the daft idea of abandoning nuclear). Spanish enegy policy has all but collapsed due to the overbuild of renewables, and Italy has had to have huge policy about turns in the energy sector. And by following the same nonsensical ideas, the UK has a failed energy policy, albeit we're still in the political denial stage - we've already seen the farce over solar PV feed in tariffs, the government's Green Deal programme is a barely believable quagmire of unappealing bureacracy, they propose to spend £14bn in a panickly rolling out of smart meters to save trivial amounts of money on manual meter reading (because the EU told them they had to, and nobody at Westminster had the gumption to tell Brussels to take a hike), and they've got all these wildly complicated ideas about demand side response, capacity mechanisms, and idiotic ideas that splitting vertically integrated companies apart will somehow make a difference. UK energy policy is a bit like your grandad's medication - hundreds of different pills, the majority of which are trying to counter the undesired side effects of the preceding pill, rather than contributing to solving the original problem.

You'll have seen various press coverage of SSE and nPower suggesting that the lights will go out and costs will go through the roof. OFGEM warned Parliament of the post 2015 capacity gap at least seven years ago. Meanwhile Rome burns and Ed Davey fiddles, as have all his useless predecessors.

We could and should stop the mass roll out of smart meters; the money spent to date on renewables is more of a problem - if you stop the subsidies for the existing plant then the people who built them in response to government policy and incentives have to write down the value and take a loss, and it then becomes apparent that government promises are totally worthless when taking investment decisions - so why buiild CCGT, nuclear, or anything else? But if you don't stop the subsidies, then intermittent and unpredicatable renewables continue to disrupt the power market, cost money for stuff all output, and make fossil plant uneconomic so requiring more intervention, more complex rules and yet more subsidies, whilst reducing the net thermal efficiency.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Forget fusion?

"Why don't Bill Gates, Warren Buffett et al. each chuck a couple of billion of their personal wealth into the pot and just get the job done?"

Because it's not just cash sitting in a piggy bank. Most likely it is already invested in other businesses, or loaned to them. Even if the owners hold it as "cash at bank", the bank is using that as part of its deposits to lend to other businesses or to invest.

It is a common fallacy that the world if full of idle money; In reality you always have to make a choice between how it is being used, and if you don't make that choice then the institution that holds the money for you will make the choice on your behalf.

Given that there's plenty of things you can get a return on now, would you invest in fusion when it still looks to be thirty years minimum away from producing energy?

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Ledswinger
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Unhappy

Re: Why isn't this being done in the UK?

"The government's latest plan (which they aren't mentioning in public yet for obvious reasons)"

Oh, they are, but it is under euphemisms like "demand side response", and "capacity mechanisms". This involves using back up plant to hopefully peak lop, but also "load shifting" where they hope that big eneregy users like refridgerated or air conditioning warehouses can be persuaded to turn the chillers off when it suits DECC. And they've also got a beady eye on the future opportunity to turn your fridge off at home using smart meters, home hubs and networked appliances. All available in various publications on the DECC web site, which is full of complex and expensive solutions to otherwise easily fixed problems.

"and they aren't building enough gas plants fast enough to replace the coal plants when they go offline"

No. I think there's only one CCGT under substantive construction in the UK, although there's about five consented and ready to move towards formal planning. In part we don't need to replace all of the LCPD closures, because our reserve margin was too high (due to previously centralised planning that built power stations to keep miners employed, or extra oil stations for when theminers were on strike). But when we factor in the full extent of LCPD closures, the retirement of Wylfa, then we do need a bit more decent fossil plant. DECC could and should have resolved that, but the last government were so keen on the War on Climate Change that they weren't willing to wake up and sniff the coffee. Note that all of this DSR and capacity mechanisms will not be properly operational until about 2018, so (with a firm kick up the @rse) we could have built the necessary CCGT by then, and not bother with convoluted, expensive and unreliable attempts to ameliorate peak demand. In many ways DECC's policy will reduce peak demand, but only because their expensive solutions will force our modest remaining industry out of business.

"the power companies, civil servants and government have known this was coming for 15 years at least, and resolutely refused to do anything"

Don't blame the power companies. We'll invest if there's some certainty that we'll be allowed to build and operate our plants, but DECC and government will only provide certainty for their bl00dy windmills. And we've warned politicians for the past decade or more of the capacity gap that was emerging as a result of the LCPD closures.

The ultimate root cause is this obsession of politicians with carbon. The low carbon technologies simply aren't developed enough to work properly in meeting our demand, but regardless they have been incentivised rather than putting money into research. As a result we have £30bn of ineffectual eco-bling despoiling the landscape. You have two choices: If you subscribe to the AGW religion, then you have to accept that government policy is sensible, if expensive and probably unreliable. Or you could accept that climate changes anyway, we might be making a tiny change at the margin, but we'll live with the good and bad consequences, and build some decent proper reliable plant, maybe perhaps funding renewables research (but not production).

With that £30bn spent on renewables, you might hope we'd be making energy efficiently now. Unfortunately, on DECC data released yesterday, power station conversion losses remains the second largest point use of energy, almost twice the scale of all industrial energy use, more than all forms of domestic energy use, and almost as large total transport energy use. A sensible strategy would capture and use the 46 million tonnes of oil equivalent that disappear up power station cooling towers, but instead all of DECC's daft incentive schemes are for nonsense that can be classed as "renewable" heat. Neither government nor civil servants have a clue, nor a grip on what needs to be done, nor on how to improve things.

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Apple KILLER decloaked? Google lovingly unboxes Nexus 7 Android 4.3 slablette

Ledswinger
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Re: Nice but...

"They are supposed to be gateway drugs into selling you adverts and services. "

Which means people have a choice. Buy a Nexus 7 and accept that it is Google's spec, or buy better specified tablet which will be higher priced by virtue of the need to earn the margin at point of sale, and because the better spec costs more.

An unfortunate side effect of selling the Nexus 7 at such low margin is that the economics of paid for repairs are questionable, making it essentially a disposable device. I'm not sure I like that aspect.

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Royston cops' ANPR 'ring of steel' BREAKS LAW, snarls watchdog

Ledswinger
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"I can't see any justification for the police recording *any* ANPR data long-term"

Most serious crime isn't solved immediately, and in many cases it goes on for months before being detected, never mind cracked. A recent court case round our way involved drugs deals done fifty miles away over a period of a year, and the ANPR data was used both as supporting evidence in court to the crims movements, and operationally to track the dealers to their supplier. In many serious cases, it becomes important to know where the subject of interest went before he was known to be "of interest", and you can't do that without recorded data. Even with duplicate or stolen plates, if you've recorded the data you know the movements of the cars involved, and if I report my plates as stolen one morning, then the police will automatically deduce that somebody has been up to no good in a car with my registration, and they can start looking for both perps and the crime. Piece that together with CCTV and other evidence, and swapping plates isn't quite so anonymous as some people seem to think.

Personally, I'd rather ANPR was used against serious crime rather than road tax dodgers (who could be caught by non-ANPR means). Unfortunately, if you want ANPR to be used against serious and organised crime then that means recording and retaining the data.

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Ledswinger
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"Who's to say they aren't storing the photographs as well?"

They are, although perhaps not in the way you think. Dedicated ANPR cameras usually only record an image of the plate, but many CCTV cameras can be dual use with software monitoring the video feed to provide slightly less accurate ANPR capabilities, and these will indeed automatically record both images and plates. Even the dedicated cameras are often co-located with CCTV so that cross referencing is very easy. There's plenty of stuff about this if you search with the terms ACPO ANPR.

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Ledswinger
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Re: And in Brum

"Rumour has it the local wags drive past those, and the ones on the A34 (about 15 miles away) simultaneously with identical number plates"

Which won't confuse the systems, which will simply flag the plate as copied. And that means that any drivers of cars with those plates have a very high probability of being stopped as soon as they drive past an ANPR equipped traffic car. I can think of better ways of spending my time than baiting the traffic police.

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Ledswinger
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What's changed?

How is this different to the ACPO national network of ANPR cameras?

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Sammy had Sweet Fanny Adams to do with Swiss Fanny madam's blast

Ledswinger
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FAIL

Re: Ledswinger

"My girlfriend didn't see anything wrong with it when I showed her after work. I recommend reading Caitlin Moran's "How to be a woman". Essential reading for feminists,"

Thank you for the patronising advice. Re-reading my post, do you think I was claiming any moral high ground?

But regardless of what your girlfriend might think, I know my wife and female colleagues would be offended. You certainly can't please all the people all of the time, and a perusal of my output will show that I'm not above some gutter language but this came across as gratuitous and sexist.

An interesting challenge for you: The lady in question is quite pleasant looking. Would the headlines have been the same if she'd looked like Mo Mowlem?

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Ledswinger
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Thumb Down

Re: Headline excellence...

"OK - what part was sexist? The madam?"

You pathetic knob. If you really can't see why women might take offence, then I'm not going to explain it to you. Care to repost under your normal pseud, so we can bear it in mind in future?

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Ledswinger
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Unhappy

Re: Headline excellence...

"Outstanding!"

Or maybe not. I can't see the few female readers of the Reg being amused. Even I don't find it funny, and I'm a sexist old dinosaur in so many ways, and an appreciative reader of Viz.

And then they wonder why so few women go into tech. Wouldn't be the whiff of misogyny and flatulence that lingers over IT, would it?

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