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* Posts by Ledswinger

2412 posts • joined 1 Jun 2012

Euro Parliament axes data sharing with US – the NSA swiped the bytes anyway

Ledswinger
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Re: European Parliament seems to have started to grow some balls.

"Interesting times perhaps?"

Not at all. All they've said is "We're really, really cross about this". Had EU leaders grown some, they would have cancelled the forthcoming trade talks as a symbol of their anger, as a marker of unwillingess to be reated like sh**, and because any economic talks will be on an uneven playing field given the incessant political data scraping of the NSA.

The other thing they should have done would have been to have announced that Europe was open to, and would welcome Edward Snowden, with guarantees of immunity against prosecution, exrtadition, or rendition. Now THAT would be the way to show Washington that their behaviour won't be tolerated.

But that's all a bit radical for Europeans.

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Doctor Who's 50th year special: North American theater tix on sale Friday

Ledswinger
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"so hats off to the BBC"

Actually no.

The BBC's ambitions to make their output more palatable to the Yanks have repeatedly compromised the entertainment value of a number of programmes (Torchwood and Dr Who immediately come to mind as relevant examples, but there's others). Since I have no choice but to pay for the fairly paltry BBC output that I find entertaining, I'd rather they focused on UK audiences tastes, knowledge and interests. I don't care about the fantastical ambitions for BBC Worldwide - if they can sell what they make then that's fine, but not if they start changing the programme content to suit some global anglophone average.

Maybe the BBC just want to make a name for themselves in America, that's also fine by me, but in that case give me back my licence fee, surrender the UK public service broadcast obligation, and f*** off to the US of A.

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HAD IT with Planet Earth? There are 12 alien worlds left to try out

Ledswinger
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Re: Habitable?

"A single super-massive planet may even have several habitable moons"

Some may even be populated by Ewoks.

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Ledswinger
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Re: @Evil Auditor

"As I hinted earlier, I don't mind seeding dead planets"

What you do in your spare time is your concern, but it sounds like a long lonely journey, when a box of tissues and a copy of Razzle would suffice.

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Locked into fixed-term mobile contract with variable prices? Not on our watch – Ofcom

Ledswinger
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"What is the relation between the RPI and the costs incurred by the operators? "

Having previously lived in a world of differential price indices, I'd guess that RPI is not a bad index for the range of costs that network operators cover - certainly better than producer, consumer, construction price indices, or some yet more complex OFCOM-owned measure. The real problem that I think you're alluding to is that it is applied to the total bill. Not only (as others have commented) do the infrastructure costs not go up with inflation, but neither does the cost of the handset - a few fag packet calculations suggest that on a typical bill only one third of it would be variable opex upon which you could argue that an inflationary adjustment was valid.

However, the operators need to recover the costs of new customer incentives and acquisition, and bogus "inflation" rises was one way of doing this that was relatively painless.

I wonder what the unintended consequences of this move will be?

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Ledswinger
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Re: Customer Retention

" Insurance premiums on cars used to go down the longer you stayed with the insurer"

In actuarial terms, the "no claims bonus" was always flawed. The numbers simply don't support the logically sound idea that not claiming shows that you are a lower risk driver, and therefore less likely to make a claim in the next year. But a few companies offering it meant that everybody else had to, and to make the numbers balance they have to raise premiums for loyal customers. Elsewhere it's most unusual to even try and pretend that year on year prices will reduce.

There's introductory discounts on all manner of services - mobiles, fixed line, ISPs, insurance, gas, electricity, boiler servicing, film rental, music streaming etc, yet at the same time there's costs of customer acquisition and on-boarding that make year one customers unprofitable, and sometimes for several subsequent years. Somebody has to pay for that, because a company can't lose money on new customers, and then make it cheaper for them in future years. To eliminate the problem, you'd need to mandate that new customers must by law not be offered introductory discounts, and must pay the costs of customer acquisition. Doesn't take much thought to see how badly that would work out for consumers.

So by switching on the basis of price, you contribute to the problem that you are complaining about. Loyalty is rarely rewarded by companies - more often than not they want your nice regular payments, but regard your loyalty as merely an opportunity to cross-sell yet more big margin services that you could get elsehere for less. If you don't care about price (as some people don't) then don't switch. If you care about price, accept that you have to switch, and just be pleased that regulators have made the process relatively painless?

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Ledswinger
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"I would much rather have to buy my phone, then maybe the market would be a bit more competitive, as right now phone prices are ridiculous."

Cheaper than they've ever been, on a like for like basis. I suspect you're thinking of the range topping handsets from any company you care to name. But the manufacturing costs are what they are, as the BoM data will tell you, and the margins charged then reflect the norms for the market segment (ie i5S and SGS4 have big profit margins) and distribution chains (retailers won't stock and sell you a £400 phone for a 5% gross margin). So I very much doubt that a fully purchased handset market would offer materially different prices.

The Nexus devices are a bit unusual, in that they are largely partly "profit free" models sold at not much above manufacturing, distribution and warranty costs, but sold that way because they support Google's agenda, and that's the only way I can see that will reduce handset costs - where somebody forgoes normal commercial margins in order to make money from you a different way.

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Surface Pro 2: It's TOOL-PROOF and ultimately destined for LANDFILL

Ledswinger
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Re: Thanks El Reg

"Surely the importance of being able to repair it is inversely proportional to the reliability of the thing after two years?"

No. Warranty won't help you if you've got accidental damage. But there's something that El Reg didn't mention that is an equal part of this debate, and that's the cost and availability of parts. Anything that's sufficiently model specific usually costs an arm and a leg, and then it is uneconomic even if technically possible to repair it.

Try dropping a Nexus 7 tablet, and then compare the cost of the repair with a new one. Things might be different for an iPad, but only because there's so much margin baked in in the first place, given that the BoM costs (like for like) don't alter by much. Even in the case of a phone, the costs of a fitted replacement screen are usually a significant chunk of a new phone, possibly of a better spec, and with a year's warranty.

So whilst I agree that things should be serviceable, the very low costs of modern automated and integrated assembly (that makes the devices cheap) then ensures that they are very easily put beyond economic repair. Maybe we just need to accept that post-manufacturing rework always will be very costly, and that does mean that inexpensive devices are not worth repairing.

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Met Police vid: HIDE your mobes. Pavement BIKER cutpurses on the loose

Ledswinger
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Re: Locking people up @Loyal Commenter

"Tackling the social inequality that leads to criminal behaviour is probably a much more efficient way of sorting things out in the long run. After all, if the governemnt weren't hell bent on demonising the poor and forcing people into further poverty, we probably would see less opportunistic and petty crime committed by those with little alternative."

Bollocks, bollocks, and thrice bollocks. Crime is not "of necessity" in the age of the welfare state, it is a matter of choice, not to pay for food or housing, but to get stuff that the welfare state won't pay for (drugs, booze, and technology trinkets, primarily). I can't speak for your grandparents, but mine weren't well off, but they didn't steal, because they had a moral code and adhered to it; Most of the poor today don't steal either, for the same reason. If it were about food for survival, then there'd be a problem with shoplifting of vegetables: Funnily enough that's not the stuff that shops need to put alarms on.

But there's certainly a slice of the population who are criminals, often members of extended inbred criminal families (I know, my wife has to deal with these scum, and the "inbred" reference isn't an insult, it's a matter of fact), and regardless of how much money they have, they are still going to be criminals. Some of these people are still dealing drugs, abusing their kids and partners, and stealing even though they've somehow or other managed to get themselves a mortgage and five bedroomed detached house. The continued criminality worldwide of people who've got more money than they know what to do with (drug lords, serial fraudsters, oligarchs) likewise shows that being a criminal isn't cured by these bastards having money.

So, to summarise:

Being poor doesn't force you to be a crim

Crims aren't stealing out of necessity

Being rich doesn't cure crims

We'd all agree that rich criminals are the minority, but your pathetic suggestion that the government force people into criminality by being insufficiently generous is the most appalling, wilfully misguided shite I've seen posted here in a long time.

Just for fun, let's turn things on their head for a moment, and decide that you're right, and the problem is destitution and government oppression. Given that the IFS expect government to spend £214 billion quid a year on "welfare" next year, or £7k per year per average tax payer, exactly how much more would you think that we should contribute to buy the criminals out of their habits, and where will the extra money come from?

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HTC chief exec to focus on designing new mobes, sticks Wang in sales etc

Ledswinger
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Bizarre

Seems odd to me that the bloke should hand over some of his duties as the company's chief executive officer, in order to fiddlea round in designing handsets (or telling those already paid to do so how to do their job).

That's not leadership, that's a company in crisis, which could explain their dismal corporate performance and struggles to make any money, along with recent management departures. The HTC One gets great write ups, so why is the CEO messing around in that area? It's sales and marketing that are the problem, and clearly his "value added input" has messed that up, so perhaps he'll do the same for design.

Oi! Chou! Stop being an idiot. Employ the right people, set clear, achievable targets, and hold them to account without interfering.

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Volvo: Need a new car battery? Replace the doors and roof

Ledswinger
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Re: Facts and figures?

"You can bet your bottom dollar that if a car made with composites rather than steel would be cheaper to make, we'd already be seeing them in mass-production."

Not the case at all. You've got many bright ideas yet to see the light of day, because (for example) of the need to recover existing investments, because of concerns about market acceptance, over and above those ideas that nobody's thought to try yet.

To continue the aviation analogies, if sense had anything to do with it, flying wing configurations would be the norm for airline transport, but there's never been much market acceptance by customers of anything radical in aviation (perhaps for obvious reasons)

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Ledswinger
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Re: Facts and figures?

"Also, if it's that good, why not replace the entire battery with a lump made form this 'super capacitor' material? ."

Because if you can make panels you already need for structural and aerodynamic reasons into power storage, then you don't need a separate battery, reducing the overall component count, assembly complexity, and total weight. You may also have other disadvantages of assembling as a single "battery", such as heat losses in charging and discharge that aren't a problem with a large surface area. Indeed, if your energy is more widely distributed, then any point failures would not be as exciting as a point failure on a single energy storage brick.

If you think about how (for all the challenges) the 787 is revolutionary for aviation in terms of construction and performance, through the use of CF and different approaches to electrical systems, and consider how that might change car making. Does it really make sense to make car bodies out of metal at all, with the all the necessary rolling, bending, punching, welding, corrosion protection? And if you're asking such fundamental questions then you'd question why you have so many different components, which can be eliminted, integrated into other parts, or made differently through smart tech. Could you ultimately 3D print a car body? I'd have though so, and a better, lighter car than we currently make with steel origami. Could you print the car round the drive train, or pre-assembled interior? Maybe. Could the panels combine solar charging with energy storage? Certainly, though it wouldn't help us much here in the UK.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Bang the car, short the battery

"I'd be worried that one damaged cell could overheat and then it cascades and CFRP is known to burn rather easily,..."

To judge by what I see on the roads, most existing cars burn rather well, and require only modest provocation to do so. However, we have generally managed to an adequate standard the risks associated with the use of petrol, so I'd suggest that the fire risks of super capacitor panels would be easily managed. The use of lithium batteries looks to be much more troubling, both from the likelihood of fire starting, and from its intensity and difficulty of extinguishing it.

Also worth bearing in mind that composite aircraft have lightening resistant CF panels, so several aspects of the problem have probably already been solved.

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MacBook Air fanbois! Your flash drive may be a data-nuking TIME BOMB

Ledswinger
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Re: Not possible.

"It's worth pointing out that the Dell XPS range was a pro-sumer product aimed at the gaming market . Dell even managed to ship these around the time of Windows Vista's release without working graphics drivers."

And in addition to the graphics card overheating and early death (in part a card build problem, in part a case/airflow issue AFAICS), Dell shipped them with own brand X Fi sound cards that never had working drivers under Vista. You could (with some diligence) track down a suitable driver on the Creative web site, but it was a pretty poor experience, but Dell's offshore "support" was laughable. I was absolutely delighted to get back to non-proprietary components, and away from Dell.

The laugh was that (as you say) the XPS machines were targeted at the high end SOHO/gaming user, but the cheapo Inspirons of the same vintage were far better, having working drivers, ATX standard parts, and better cooling, and they were far easier to clean and maintain than the hulking great BTX cases, and didn't come with the high risk, low value frippery of RAID 0 that many XPS machines shipped with.

In my experience Dell provide an object lesson in how to lose a customer for life. It's good that Apple seem to have learned that lesson, but there's plenty of other computer makers who seem determined to stick their fingers in their ears to avoid hearing this (like HP).

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Google shares surf ad-destroying mobile tsunami to RECORD HIGH

Ledswinger
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Re: Is it worth it for the business

"I don't like Google but I will give them credit for being very very successfull. I can't even begin to imagine what it would take to knock them of their pedestal.."

In the mobile world I can. To generate ever increasing earnings that US investors believe are their birthright, Google needs to become ever more intrusive and pushy. At the moment most people are relaxed about the balance between Google's push adverts, and the benefits of a "free" and pretty good phone OS. But all that needs to happen to change the world is that (a) a new, free or near free OS comes along (not today, but maybe one day Sailfish, Ubuntu, Firefox or something from far, far away) and offers equivalent functionality at a lower "cost", and (b) Google needs to over cook the afverts or personal data use. Neither of those are guaranteed, but neither are far-fetched.

Taking that a bit further, if I am the product, then perhaps the world is slowly changing and a bit of free software will no longer be sufficient price. Google would then have to cash subsidise their software, maybe even pay people monthly to use it. Sounds a lot more far fetched, and maybe there's a compromise, where they make real content available for free. So instead of paywalls, Google users get free access to news content, but WinPho or Apple users are barred (or need to install Google spyware on their platform). Likewise MS or Apple owned content. In some respects this might complete the digital publishing revolution - in the days of print, we effectively paid the physical costs of the publications, and the intellectual costs and margin came from advertising sales. With marginal distribution costs now negligible, the advertisers would give me the content for free in return for me receiving their adverts. A bit like the "free" commercial TV model, or Spotify "free". Not sure that their force fed commercials interrupting me are the future model (or I hope not), but I'd see more that Google would have the ability to feed me the ads much as they do now, but doing more for me (otherwise they offer an open goal to Firefox).

The other threat to Google is similar, but emerges as software agnostic phone makers. In which case the current crop of Android makers start to offer the same hardware with competing OS. Maybe you'd have to pay for an ad free OS, but there might well be a market. Google could threaten to withhold some aspects of Android despite it's nominal "open source", but the makers have the immediate option of WinPho.

Despite the pre-eminence of Android, there's no guarantee that they can exploit that customer base, given that the market is accustomed to changing handsets every two years.

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Extreme ultraviolet litho: Extremely late and can't even save Moore's Law

Ledswinger
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Re: Dropping off the exponential?

I wondered that. Maybe the decay constant was never 1.8, but it didn't show up until we'd got a lot more empirical data, and better ability to project?

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ITU to Europe: One charger for all mobes good. One to rule them ALL? Better

Ledswinger
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Re: Good news....

"are making things so much nicer"

Well, I agree that there's a big convenience benefit. Just a pity that the ITU and EU have only taken thirty years to get round to it, and only then on fairly spurious eco grounds.

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Windows 8.1: Read this BEFORE updating - especially you, IT admins

Ledswinger
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Re: Microsoft Partner Downloads

"The most that I have managed so far is 1.76 Gb.... download interupts, continue download...... download finishes but each time it finishes incomplete..."

Judgement upon those rushing to download the latest Windows crud. I suspect Richard Dawkins might struggle with a better scientific explanation.

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Ledswinger
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...but even so, the arseholes could have made our lives easier by offering it through Windows Update. But then again, why should Microsoft think what might be best for customers,given that they seem intent on persuading them to go away.

Which made me think, there's been a trend over recent years of tech CEO's behaving in ways that are only logically explained by the idea that they work for a different company to the one whose name appears on their business card. Nokia, Blackberry, HTC, HP and so on. Given that they can't even fix Windows 8 properly, nor make the half baked fix easy to install, this tends to suggest to me that Ballmer falls into the "working for the enemy" category.. If Google aren't paying him, shouldn't they at least donate a suitable sum to a charity of his choosing?

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Hypersonic MEGA METEOR pulled from lake, then Russians drop it

Ledswinger
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Re: the russians

"but at least their scientists are pretty much first rate."

If they're so first rate, then they can't possibly need all 570kg of rock. I could make millions flogging Genesis meteor (tm) fragments to the rich and vain around the planet. Maybe commission a few famous designers to come up with suitably pretentious artefacts, have my rock sliced, disced and polished accordingly, and then market through the normal channels for selling to those with money to burn.

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Price rises and power cuts by 2016? Thank the EU's energy policy

Ledswinger
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Re: It all started with...

"Okay, I stand corrected on that one (ill informed... sadly)"

OK, I'll stand down the dogs, and think about apologising for my tone...

Certainly privatisation put the kybosh on plans for new nuclear, but you need to remember that the costs of Sizewell B were around £80/MWh even at 2000 prices compared to wholesale prices at the time around £55 (IIRC), and that from planning announcement in 1969 it took almost thirty years before it was operational, largely due to planning, but also design choices. Even the already built nuclear assets of British Energy became uneconomic, leading to the company going bust, renationalised and eventually sold to EdF.

With reduced regulation the newly privatised companies sensibly undertook a "dash for gas" to build CCGT stations that cost far less to build and operate (excepting fuel), had less risk, lower complexity, no long term liabilities, and were more easily sited near to demand, reducing transmission losses (compared to middle of nowhere locations like Wylfa, which only justified its location because of the "over the hedge" location of a now closed aluminium plant).

Centralised planning under CEGB left us with expensive and inflexible coal and nuclear assets, built in the wrong locations for reasons that had little to do with energy demand. In theory there's no reason why the state couldn't deliver low cost efficiency, but the practical evidence is that it never does, usually due to the sort of political meddling that they've now taken to with privately owned power companies, all in the name of "climate change". You might hope that simply reforming the market as DECC's current Energy Market Reform (EMR) is intended to do will fix these sorts of problems. But if I might quote from a Cambridge University report by their Energy Policy Research Group:

"EMR displays a huge amount of economic illiteracy:

– on the theory of finance

– on the theory of optimal taxation

– on the nature of supply and demand in markets

– on economic instruments for reducing externalities…

• EMR also suffers from a host of practical and implementation

problems and has little empirical efficacy basis.

• EMR, if it is ever seriously implemented in the UK, will fail to

deliver at reasonable cost.

• The contrast between the UK government’s unwillingness

to accept economic analysis vs. its willingness to accept

climate change science is striking."

So to an extent, it doesn't really matter who owns the assets: You get real and tangible benefits from a competitive market, but sooner of later the dead flesh hand of government decides that it should have a share of the benefits to spend on its self-selected good causes. That then means that policy has and will continue to drive wrong and costly outcomes drives through selective interventions that compromise the ability of industry to meet demand efficiently.

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Ledswinger
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Re: It all started with...

" It all started with...Thatcher. She privatised...Ever since they were privatised, the cost of electricity has gone through the roof."

That is crap, and you are either ill informed or intentionally dishonest. Which is it?

Electricity prices fell fairly consistently from privatisation in 1990 right through to 2003. See chart 2.1.2 on page 10:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/65940/7341-quarterly-energy-prices-december-2012.pdf‎

And that's when the government's Renewables Obligation kicked in, followed by the government's energy supplier obligations like CERT & CESP, then the EU's Renewables Directive, then EU's Emission Trading System, then the government's Energy Company Obligation & WHD, more latterly by the government's UK Carbon Price Floor, and soon to be joined by the government's Capacity Mechanism. Have you spotted how the words "government" and "EU" appeared rather frequently in that lot?

And in your enthusiasm for state management and for the party that has repeatedly rained economic death on this country, you overlook that last time the state ran the whole show we did indeed have to get the candles out.

"

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Ledswinger
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Re: four words... WE NEED NUCLEAR POWER

And four words: It costs too much.

UK government are desperate to get EdF to commit to a new nuke at Hinckley Point to give them something to announce so that they can pretend their comedy energy policy is working. However, EdF don't want to sign and the sticking point is money. Even on starting cost projections EdF need £100MWh to make it work, compared to wholesale prices at the moment of £45 MWh - and that's assuming that new nuclear power doesn't have to shoulder the vast social obligations that government think should be in your electricity bill, nor the costs of subsidising renewables.

Then you've got the problem that both previous EPR projects are six or more years late and three times over budget. If the French will bankroll the Hinkley Point over-run then that's fine by me, but if not then we're looking at £300 MWh, which is almost seven times current wholesale prices, even including EU and UK carbon taxes.

Feel free to help yourselves to nuclear electricity at that cost, but lets make sure that customers who don't want a seven fold price increase can opt out, leaving those who do to pay themselves. Technically and safety wise I think nukes are a fantastic power generating solution - its just the way we currently do them isn't economic. If that changes I'd welcome them with open arms, but I don't see that anytime soon.

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Ledswinger
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"Where's the huge margins?"

"They build them away, as any good listed does."

Unfortunately that's rubbish for a single country based company. Any competent observer can track if cash is out of kilter with reported profits, or if the balance sheet is mis-shapen, or if the tax rate is inappropriate to the described business, or the dividends don't correlate with the P&L result. And there's nowhere for SSE to hide the money, added to which they are legally obligated to report costs and profits by segment to OFGEM, who do their own audit on those figures, over and above the normal statutory audits.

If you were talking about a multi-national company, involved in multiple business lines, or with tendrils to opaque tax havens then you'd have more of a case, but that's largely the province of big US tax dodging tech & coffee companies, pretending that they buy licences or services at vast cost from offshore subsidiaries.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Odd thoughts but...

"Efficiencies in use of energy, insulation, new building materials - and massive decline in heavy industries that used electricity - should mean our demand for electricity supply decreased, but apparently not.",

It has. In 2008 UK electricity production was 385 TWh, by 2012 that had come down to 361 TWh, despite an increase in the population from 61m to 61.4m in the same time frame. The slow change reflects the fact that housing stock is (in the bigger picture) added to rather than replaced, and that the changes in British industry haven't been great over this time frame.

"Just because the generators are turning doesn't mean that there is a light bulb on at the end of the line. "

I believe you'll find that electricity requires a circuit, in which case you are accusing the electricity industry or others of hiding a ten trillion watt lightbulb somewhere. I think somebody would notice that, myself.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Milking the bunnies

"The populations are using more and more energy for televisions, home cinemas, central heating, luxuries, iphone etc. etc...Surprisingly there are no viable energy solutions available for the ever increasing demand. So what do we do, nothing, we continue to consume as ever before.."

Globally yes. But in Europe in general, and the UK, no. UK and European total and peak power demand has been sliding for about five years now. The problems we now have aren't about excess or growing demand, they are about the move from having excess supply capacity to insufficient capacity. And where government should have thought about cost and security of supply, instead they spent all their meagre intellects and much money on the drive for renewables, which contribute only modestly to gross generation supply and nothing to peak capacity.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Cloud cuckoo land thinking...

"Call me cynical but why on earth would I believe an energy sector player when they tell me they are going to close gas plants by 2016? "

Because the spark spread (look it up) is below the cost of keeping the plant open, particularly if your running hours fall due to subsidised renewables, and your effieincy is clobbered by the intermittency of the same renewables. If there's a prospect of the plant becoming economic in future then it may be mothballed rather than closed, but in the chaos of European and UK energy policy that still involves a risk.

"Green taxes - I have a degree of sympathy there with complaints, but context is everything ie how much of our energy prices are down to green taxes (and what are those taxes used for ie supporting the poorest and energy efficiency measures)? 10%?"

Don't mix up the green and social aspects. DECC already have, and it's a right pig's ear, albeit one that keeps me in a job. The social costs are about £2bn a year at the moment across industry (aggregate costs of WHD, CERO, HHCRO and CSCO schemes), and as there's 26.5m UK households, with average annual leccy bills of around £500, that's 15% just on social obligations - obligation costs are recovered on electricity bills, not gas bills. If you included gas bills then you could say that the average social cost was circa 7%, but for consistency you'd then need to include the £2bn spent on winter fuel payments by central government, pushing the aggregate figure back to 15%.

The subsidies for renewables are hidden by the way that they are funded. Not only do you have direct subsidies like grants, tax allowances, ROCs and LECs, but you've got a market structure that meets demand by selecting the lowest marginal cost (not paid price) of plant that could meet total demand, and then pays everybody the highest marginal price. This worked well in the days when all generation could be despatched as required and before subsidies wrecked the merit curve, but now means that wind power enjoys an unintended must run status. As a consequence, in addition to the subsidy credits it also gets paid the same as the most expensive plant in the market. Unraveling the full value from this is difficult - the direct subsidies are about 5% of your bill, the benefits of system marginal pricing probably add at least the same again. And that's why developers are rushing to carpet both land and sea with wind turbines - despite their paltry and unreliable output, the economics are excellent.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Physics!

"Gas should be piped along the gas pipelines and used at the consumer end with only one conversion point."

Sadly not. To simplify a range of complexities, the limited benefits of using waste heat from small scale local generators are more than offset by the low efficiency of small generation, the loss of economies of scale, and the grid context (need for full grid cover for peak demand, impact on baseload from embedded generation).

Microgeneration at the household level is very inefficient, and uses noisy, short lived assets. I should know, having reviewed one of my employer's customer propositions in this space - it was laughable, and didn't even make financial sense with government Feed In Tariff subsidies. The quoted efficiencies by suppliers make the flawed assumption that the thermal and electrical outputs are needed at the same time, and ignores the grid context that means any material microgeneration output means tweaking down nice efficient baseload.

Larger scale CHP has a little bit more going for it, but even then the capital cost is vast, around £5k per property, yet still requiring full grid cover because the power element can't be sized to meet peak demand. Put simply a small GT or large reciprocating engine will never have the efficiency of a decent CCGT.

The correct solution for heat is actually to take the heat from big power stations and use that where circumstances permit (high density housing or business needs). For any big coal plant more than half the input energy is lost up the cooling towers. With suitable encouragement that could have been sold to residents and businesses in nearby towns and cities. Modern piping can easily shift heat long distances, so a run of up to ten miles to an urban centre wouldn't be a problem, but the limiting factor is the average network length per property, because insulated pipes cost at least £1,000 per metre (so detatched houses aren't economic to supply, and even semis are usually too expensive).

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Ledswinger
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"Well... all this and price gouging by the energy companies (shareholder return is the only thing that matters - investment is contra this"

Do please comment when you know what you're talkiing about. The reason that there is a risk of blackouts is because EU rules are forcing the shut down of most coal plant, and prior investment by companies in efficient gas plant is being undermined by the way government has mandated and bribed renewables developers to build wind turbines.

Take SSE, simply because they are a UK listed company, and they are present right across the energy chain but with minimal foreign activity to confuse the numebrs. Their return on assets last year was a miserable 2.4%. My building society are getting that on my mortgage. Where's the huge margins? Where's the reward for the risks and skills needed to operate ten of thousands of km of network, to build, run, maintain and upgrade high relaibility power generation? Where's the incentives to invest, when previous investment has been expropriated by government, or made unprofitable by their policies? For the foreign owned UK power companies, but for the fact that there's no buyers, it would make sense to sell their UK operations.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Oh no, it will be worse than that ...

"We are already paying subsidies for "green" sources and nuclear, so why not those to ..."

Not sure why the sarc tag, as this is DECC's solution. It's called a "capacity mechanism", and it's arrangements are being drawn up as we speak, and involve paying people to maintain the gas plant in working order, whilst paying fat subsidies to the crappy renewables.

Sitting in the hallowed halls of one of your energy suppliers, I can assure you that we don't send round toughs, and we don't have much clout with government. That's why you are at increasing risks of blackouts and higher energy bills, precisely because the politicians are idiots, and haven't listened to industry (or even their own regulator, who briefed MP's on these risks at least five years ago, if not longer). Note in particular that the cause of the risk is that you have (a) EU mandated closures of coal plant under LCPD, and (b) retirement of gas plant because under the current market rules set by government, these are unprofitable to run.

Bear in mind that the risk of blackouts is rising, not absolute. If everything works as National Grid project, with no failures and no unexpected rise in electricity demand, then you'll be fine, the lights stay on, and everybody's happy (apart from at the rising bills to pay for the tree huggers follies). In the near term we have a bigger problem with gas, where a cold winter could tip us over the edge, because we don't have enough storage. Last winter we came within about 48 hours of losing gas supply, although in the first instance it will be big industrial users who are told to stop using gas (those in interruptible contracts).

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Let police track you through your mobe - it's for your OWN GOOD

Ledswinger
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Re: 80:20

"People have identified a number of situations where there may be problems - rural areas, limited functionality on phones. But that's no reason not to press on with a solution "

No, it's no reason not to press on with a trial to establish how well it would work (or a reviewing of the Swiss and other experience).

Even with a modern smartphone in areas of network coverage there's often topographic circumstances where the typical cheapy phone GPS receiver doesn't work with any accuracy for point locations, even though the software makes a good fist of your location as you drive, so rushing out a handset based measure could be a half baked fix that then becomes a barrier to a better, if slightly pricier network solution.

Wouldn't you rather have the best affordable solution, rather than the quickest knee jerk solution?

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Ledswinger
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I doubt any sensible person would mind their location being shared when making an emergency call, particularly when approximate location is already tracked and recorded by the network.

The problem of handset based (GPS/wifi) solutions is that they depend on a compatible and enabled phone with sufficient battery life to do that, even in the way you suggest. So no use for dumb phones, possible problems for foreign sims roaming in the UK, and always the risk of unforseen tech or power problems (eg with rooted phones running custom ROMS, or unsupported phones).

I reckon on that basis the answer has to be network based. Lets see what the industry reckon the cost of network based tracking is, and whether that makes sense. For some ballpark figures, if the costs nationally were half a billion quid to add this capability (which seems generous to me), and these were amortised over four years, then it adds about 20p to each monthly bill (or equivalent on PAYG top ups).

Given the hundreds of quid being added to (say) my energy bill by government rules that don't benefit me, adding a few pence to my monthly phone bill seems a no brainer.

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McDonalds tells fatties to SUPERSIZE THEIR BRAINS

Ledswinger
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"No it's not to reach your calorie limit, it's to reach the daily requirements that your body requires in order to have the correct balance of proteins, carbs, lipides etc"

I don't think anybody really mooted trying to live on McDonalds, with the exception of that film producer trying to make a point that you can't live on the stuff. But that's no more extreme than saying you can't live on any unbalanced diet, processed or not. Even on a balanced diet I doubt that most people get their fully daily requirement of everything.

In fact, today's a fast day for me. So I've probably not acheieved my daily allowance for anything. But that (the Michael Moseley Fast Diet) is one way of enjoying McDonalds and not ending up a lard arse.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Fiction?

"Does Dad barbeque in the back yard? "

And that's different to buying from McDonalds? Not in this house it isn't. I'm still struggling to convince my wife that the letters s-a-l-a-d do not feature anywhere in barbecue, but it's a fact.

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Ledswinger
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"This is exactly the kind of bad eating habits that most doctors would like to see people avoid."

I'd hardly say that my very infrequent binge eating at Chez Ronnie is a matter for the concern of doctors. But your post seems to have got itself in a muddle. I'd need to eat 2x my McDo blow out to hit my calories for the day, not 3x.

And even I'd draw the line at six Big Macs and three cheeseburgers in one day. That could sit heavily, and it could mean a "three flusher" the next day.

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Ledswinger
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"Good point but, disappointingly, you can still be hungry after a Big Mac. "

I find hunger can be kept at bay by two Big Macs. On one occaision I did have to add a cheesburger as well.

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Ledswinger
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No. Flogged their stake about five years ago.

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Ledswinger
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"And is there really no other option than a multinational on those occasions? Support your locally owned and run greasy spoon and go for a bacon sarnie* (and a proper cup of tea) there instead."

I do that as well, but this thread was about McDonalds. I think the very varied quality of greasy spoons and "traditional fast food" are part of the reasons for the success of the big chains. I love a proper Cornish pasty, but I'd say that the good ones are outnumbered by the bad in a ratio around ten or twenty to one, and those bad ones tend to feature undercooked onion accompanied by gristle in salty brown water, all wrapped in an LD50 of heavy, unpleasant pastry. Likewise, the best fishnyips can be infinitely more succulent than McDonalds offerings, but you really need to know the establishment before going there, to avoid the charlatans flogging expensive, badly cooked, bone riddled coley fillets accompanied by pale, flacid, greasy chips. Even the simple bacon sarnie can be a problem, with poor availability of bread of the requisite thickness and quality, and a common enthusiasm for cheap and undercooked bacon.

The whole point of McD's is that the product is fairly well standardised (so I know what I can order before I get there, and what it will be like when I get it), and the food is processed and homogenised (so that I don't end up with mouthfuls of blubber or gristle). Or perhaps more correctly, I can't tell that I have ordered and chosen to eat something made from blubber, gristle, spincter, eyeball, ear, spleen, nostril, and every other dangly, wobbly dirty bit of cow.

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Ledswinger
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Re: As an educated Yank ...

"As an educated Yank ... ... the entire mcdonalds franchise is a horrible, horrible embarrassment"

Why? It's not pretending to be something it isn't. It meets a clear market demand. It's globally pretty successful. And when I'm really, really hungry, a couple of Big Macs, or a Big Mac and a Chicken Legend really hit the spot. As for the sugary drinks and shakes, they can stuff those where the sun doesn't shine, likewise the horrible desserts, but the core product is something to be celebrated.

The only complaint I do have is the variability of service where they don't police the franchises effectively, but there's far worse places.

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Ledswinger
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"Big Food trying to get themselves in the same sentence as healthy."

Maybe, but I don't care. A Big Mac may not be proper food, but there's times when only something of that calorie density will do, and the golden arches are a welcome sight. I'm not fat (in fact two stone lighter than the beginning of this year), and rather resent the snooty "oh, such fatty plebian junk, it should be banned/taxed etc". And if those who dine there too regularly wish to do so, and "lard up", why not allow them to do so?

Admittedly there's a health cost we all bear from the overweight, but as with smoking, I'll wager that the pension and life extension health costs that arise from successfully stopping people becoming hambeasts are greater than the costs of living with the problem and dying earlier.

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Reg readers rise to Vulture 2 paintjob challenge

Ledswinger
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Re: Gotta have a little fun with the UFO nuts

You're onto something!

But rather than celebrating Amanfrommars' often unintelligible output, what about a selection of some of the commentariat's more reviled/celebrated/interesting posts, painted as fluorescent green against a black background in a fixed phosphor dot style font? Part Matrix, part Tron, part commentard.

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Ledswinger
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Military green, with Korean lettering

It'd be a blighter to find if lost, but think of the panic and subsequent free press coverage if found by a member of the public. Perhaps a painted note on the fuselage asking the finder to contact the military attache at the North Korean embassy.

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Custom ringback tones: Coming to your next contract mobe?

Ledswinger
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"So if I call Subway it will instead of "ring ring" go "eat fresh" "

That depends. RBT could presumably be paid by the organisation that the call is for, in which case they pay and they choose. Or you could pay and have your choice. But don't forget the companies already have this option at no cost by having your call automatically answered and playing their own recorded message. Usually this pseudo RBT is bad music and intermittent honey tongued lies about how valuable your call is to them, but a few are daft enough to force feed you product advertisements.

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Rubbish broadband drives Scottish people out of the Highlands

Ledswinger
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Re: News from the trenches

"study a little of exactly what civil society entails"

No, sir, I think you need to study what civil society entails. It isn't a bottomless pit of public spending to bring every desirable aspect of town to country, nor even country to town. And it isn't about magicking up broadband as a universal human right, to suit the convenience of a few, at the expense of the many. If you beg to differ, where's the line? Do you want rural public transport to have the frequency of the Bakerloo line? Of subsidised arts and culture to give the people of remote hamlets local access to performances by the RSC? Or rural emergency services response times of a handful of minutes? Or access to expert healthcare in well equipped hospitals?

It works both ways, but there's a reason why the countryside is relatively pretty and relatively unspoilt, and a related reason why stuff's cheap for those in the satanic mills.

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Ledswinger
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Re: News from the trenches

"You may find your pint of Milk, Loaf of Bread and other such consumables has just gone up 3000%"

Only if I choose to buy it from you, which obviously I wouldn't. There is no such leverage where I can grow my own or buy on the open market. Funnily enough, those are both options for the rural broadband requestors - do it yourselves, or be prepared to pay what a commercial provider demands.

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Ledswinger
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Re: News from the trenches

"The question is if investment into further development of those area's might benefit the larger community on the long run. "

Well come along then! We understand how the rural digital have-nots benefit. But make your case as to how rural broadband helps those who currently live in well served urban areas, and those who currently live in a rural area and don't care about the lack of broadband?

As somebody living in a well served urban area paying a commercial operator (VM), I can't see how I am helped in any way by subbing your broadband. Probable outcomes are a very marginal decline in some urban property values, and rising pricing and more development in rural areas as reluctant townies find they suddenly can live in nice rural areas and still be connected.

So even if the financial case were supported, will the proponents of rural broadband be happy with higher property prices and additional development? My money's on the notion that they want the convenience of broadband, but most would be deeply unhappy with its consequences.

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Ledswinger
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The modern day Clearance

From Wikipedia: "On 23 July 2007, the Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond unveiled a 10 ft-high bronze "Exiles" statue in Helmsdale, Sutherland, which commemorates the people who were cleared from the area by landowners and left their homeland to begin new lives overseas."

Maybe the clown can now unveil a big bronze statue to the modern day clearances, depicting those cleared from the land by the failure or the Scottish Parliament to subsidise roll out of free rural broadband, piping red-hot grumble into every remote croft?

The new statue could feature a frustrated highlander, kilt akimbo, sitting in front of a PC connected by a dial up modem featuring the flag of St George. A box of tissues is next to the keyboard, but it is symbolically unopened. This poignant work of art would be installed at the mouth of Glencoe, depicting to the world how even today all suffering in Scotland is the fault of the English.

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MI5 boss: Snowden leaks of GCHQ methods HELPED TERRORISTS

Ledswinger
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"I guess the UK must have it's own Guantanamo Bay somewhere else in the world where the terrorists are interrogated,tried and executed,"

My money's on Rhyl.

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Ledswinger
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"Thank god somebody is protecting is from the imminent threat of Brazilian invasion"

Too late for that. Every bird in London has a Brazilian, so that's about three and a half million.

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Ledswinger
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Re: The problem is

"The reason we don't have the IRA blowing up bombs is simple. We *negotiated* with them, and discovered that there was enough common ground to move forwards."

No, the leadership (as opposed ot the thugs at the bottom) were ensnared with the promise of power sharing, and sucked into the foul bureaucracy that passes for democracy. And as a result c**ts who previously spent their days plotting to murder civilians now spend their time arguing about the minutes of the last meeting, and feeling slighted if non-attendees or a meeting don't send apologies.

Let's not pretend this is about concensus. There is no common ground, but the outcome for those in Norn Iron who don't wish to murder or be murdered is a good one.

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