* Posts by Ledswinger

4767 posts • joined 1 Jun 2012

Hospital info thief malware puts itself into a coma to avoid IT bods

Ledswinger
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Eeugh! Where did you get that USB plug if you are in your underwear?

Hospitals had better start using packet sniffing to uncover this sort of thing.

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More than half of punters reckon they can't get superfast broadband

Ledswinger
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No, YOU stop moaning. At least you don't have to put up with Virginmedia's endless price rises and lack of customer service.

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Facebook to hire 500 more in Blighty

Ledswinger
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Re: Where are they employed?

Cynical? Moi?

Cynical, yes. Right, maybe not.

Local employment taxes and rules are very difficult to dodge, as Uber have recently found. Thinking about other tax avoiders like Starbucks and Amazon, it is only the property and employment taxes that they DO pay.

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Ledswinger
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Re: 1000 real people

it is not easy to imagine what these people will actually be employed to do.

I would guess they'll be a sales force to try and drum advertising revenues. So although glossed up as "tech company hires happenin' peeps 4 da noo London 'quarters" (Note 1), it probably just means "tax dodger seeks sales droids to bolster their top line".

1) As you can tell, I'm rocking it down wiv the yoof (complete with my zimmer frame). Chillax, bros! Lets tope some peng! Whatevs, latez! Yo! (Note 2)

2) Think of me as the Honey G of tech. Bwahahahahahahaaa!

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UK PM Theresa May's £2bn in R&D still a drop in the ocean

Ledswinger
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Re: Confederation of British Hypocrites

where R&D spend gets a 150% tax credit

That's a subsidy you have to make up elsewhere or forgo tax take. The good thing about an offsettable levy is that those who do the levied activity get the benefit - anybody who chooses not to pays the tax.

I suspect that either way there's immediate attempts to game the system - banks claiming that a new bonus structure represents "research". Talking of the apprenticeship levy, I went to the "Skills Show" at the Birmingham NEC this weekend, taking the Padawan Ledswinger to scope out what was on offer. That was an exhibition focused on youngsters looking for post-school training+work opportunities, up to and including degree apprenticeships and it was excellent, showed off people like AIrbus, JLR, BAES, Qinetiq, Dyson et al in an excellent light, and was damned good for people seeking more vocational types of training in say construction or other trades related activity.

Funny thing was that the whole IT sector was conspicuous by their absence (within the IT sector Birmingham City Council and O2 were key exhibitors, so kudos to them, a pox on all the other "IT" companies who couldn't be arsed). Whether UK or foreign owned, the poor showing for IT was f***ing disgrace that every large UK IT employer ought to be ashamed of, useless bastards (GCHQ, this includes you).

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Ledswinger
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Confederation of British Hypocrites

So the CBI want government to spend more on R&D (3% of GDP equates to an extra £10bn?), at the same time as they lobby for lower taxes on business.

Where's the money going to come from? And if business want R&D to support their shareholder returns, why don't they do it? As a personal thought, the Apprenticeship Levy appears to be looking to have a fairly good early outcome for those sectors where real technical skills are needed (I'm less sure about the service sector). Maybe we need an R&D Levy on businesses?

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Barnet Council: Outsourcing deal with Capita has 'performance issues'

Ledswinger
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Re: It's Barnet council that has "performnace issues"

There is no good reason why an important contract, of any size, should have significant performance challenges in any area, if it was properly let and managed.

Actually there is a very good reason, and that is because the goals of vendor and customer differ. Note the comment that Capita weren't provide strategic IT advice. Why would they? It would be about improving performance (expensive for Capita, probably no new revenue) or reducing Barnett's costs (when Capita broadly speaking make their margin as a share of turnover).

For a small business, outsourcing can get you access to services you can't provide efficiently at small scale, or which would be a complex distraction to do right. For any large organisation that rarely applies because big organisations have scale by definition, and their raison d'etre is doing complex things. This is at the very heart of outsourcing problems and affects corporate customers just as much as the public sector. Outsourcing is a great tool, but only for things that the buyer doesn't want to do, and doesn't really care about the cost or quality.

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Ledswinger
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Re: saved???

moving any back-office job out of London has to be of ultimate benefit to people who have to be there

Moving those jobs offshore increases our balance of trade deficit. Instead of going with a rubbish outsourcer whose commercial interests are not aligned with the buyer, Barnett would have been far better to have sought a shared services agreement with a competent local council with systems capable of taking on more load. And, despite my low opinion of local government, there are some local authorities able to do that.

of ultimate benefit to people who have to be there (like firemen, NHS staff and bus drivers) and everyone that depends on them.

That's an interesting logic for public sector services. In economic terms it might be argued that the whole purpose of London is to service the fat cats of the City, and property speculators pushing up property prices, and what you're proposing is that anybody who doesn't physically need to be there to support aid said fat cats (directly or indirectly) can sling their hook?

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Ofcom slaps ban on BT/EE 4G spectrum bid

Ledswinger
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Re: Are Ofcom admittting that they fcuked Up? Or is Theresa May confirming they have?

A few points for you to work on Ofcom, if you're reading

And what would be the chances of that? Ofcom have had their head shoved somewhere the sun does not shine for a very, very long time. Whilst I'd agree with everything you say, Ofcom were given a perfect opportunity early this year to grasp the Openreach nettle, and they failed comprehensively and utterly. Sharon White could have been the new broom, could have reinvigorated telecoms regulation, but instead she opted for the Civil Service core values of doing nothing, and doing that slowly. In light of that there's little prospect that Ofcom will come to their senses on technical issues or regulatory conflicts.

And with VerminMedia openly backing BT/Openreach, you've got the largest incumbents across copper, mobile and cable all singing loudly from the same hymn sheet of vested interest.

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Launch set for GOES-R satellite capable of 30-second weather updates

Ledswinger
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Re: "...most dramatic weather in near-real time"

better data usually helps to clear the haze

That's what the Met Office have been saying for decades, Sadly,, many millions of quid on new kit don't have appeared to have improved the accuracy.

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Three CEO confirms hack, 133,827 customers were exposed

Ledswinger
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You should be publicly drowning the thieves in cold cold porridge

Good point. Use the same bowl, do the crims first, and after a couple you'd have a bowl full of "Porridge Plus" (tm). Then the corporate idiots who allowed the data to be hacked could be treated.

In all corporate data leaks the fault still lies squarely with the company who manage the database. Even if the software has vulnerabilities, the company could have chosen not to use it, or put in proper mitigations and protections, in this case they didn't do that. If Fort Knox had as a main front door a cheap and flimsy UPVC affair, when the place got raided it wouldn't be the fault of the door maker, would it?

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Ledswinger
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and for that I sincerely apologize

I can appreciate that for a man paid, what...£500k a year, that's an onerous task, saying sorry (without admitting liability, natch). But what if his customers are British and want him to apologise?

I say hanging's too good. Public drowning in a washing up bowl full of cold porridge, that's what's needed. Do it at the Institute of Directors on Pall Mall, and you'd find that suddenly British companies started to take data protection seriously.

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Windows cmd.exe deposed by PowerShell

Ledswinger
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Re: feedback?

but they wouldn't still be in business if they didn't listen at all.

I disagree (politely, of course). MS have a default monopoly in a couple of fields, and massive footprint in a few other important areas (plus of course some areas where they're a nobody). MS don't listen, but they remain a business because there's vast financial and technical inertia, and the market has few choices. The market certainly does have other choices, but the costs of switching at a corporate level are vast. Ultimately customers will switch, but they need an innovator to provide them with an easy solution that works, and at the moment we're not seeing that offer.

MS is like any other corporation - they are born, they grow, they mature, they become stiff and arthritic, and then they are killed by a faster, leaner predator the never even saw. MS are stiff and arthritic; We're now just waiting for the predator.

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Smart meter benefits even crappier than originally thought

Ledswinger
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Re: natual consumption reduction

...that's a good point - I wonder if the DfBEIS factored the cost of batteries in their energy (un)savings?

Probably not. A more substantial battery problem is that the gas smart meters are mostly (if not universally) powered by a sealed battery with a life expectancy of ten years (also generally the certification life). As a sealed unit this means that the gas meters will need to be swapped out every ten years, and recalibrated, or thrown away and replaced.

In theory the old style "classic" meters certification rules give a ten to twenty year removal and recertiifcation timescale, although in practice those can be left in use for 25 years or more and still work fine, whereas the smart meter simply stops working when the battery is dead.

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Ledswinger
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But to return to my issue, who do I contact if I have an issue with my meters?

Your new supplier should report any concerns to the mater asset manager (likely to be British Gas). Because Ofgem and DECC botched the roll out concept, and made suppliers responsible for buying, installing and operating smart meters (instead of the regional electricity distribution company), the supplier who you are with when the smart meter is installed usually remain responsible for the asset for its whole life, even when you change supplier. Complaining directly to British Gas won't help, because their responsibility is to your current supplier, there's no ongoing contract between you and them.

If your existing supplier won't sort it out, phone them up again, tell them you are registering a complaint (they have to record these to retain their licence to operate), and if they won't take action ask for a deadlock letter so that you can escalate to the Energy Ombudsman (if after eight weeks they haven't sorted it you don't need the deadlock letter). If it gets investigated by the Ombudsman, they can be forced to fix the problem, and regardless of outcome the supplier gets charged about £400 as a case fee. This cost, plus the much higher visibility on Ombusdman complaints tends to provoke some action.

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Ledswinger
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Re: No shocks here

The only point I can see for having smart meters is so that the electric company can charge me the spot price instead of the average for a month.

That might work for generators, it doesn't work for suppliers. What suppliers actually do (and is little understood by customers, and not at all understood by politicians) is to act as a risk manager for residential customers, providing (as far as practical) a flat rate price in a volatile market where the wholesale costs vary half hourly, with big seasonal swings, where transmission costs are allocated by peak demand, where distribution charges vary by location, time, peak demand and connection capacity, plus an overlay of government costs like the Renewables Obligation, Warm Homes Discount, Energy Company Obligation, Smart Metering, etc etc. The suppliers buy forward contracts to guarantee they have the necessary energy to sell, they hedge demand, weather, gas prices, and currencies. And if they get the forecasting and hedging wrong, they are "out of balance" in the wholesale markets, and not only do they have to pay penal prices for the extra spot capacity they have to buy, they also have all of the costs of the balancing systems thrown at them. If a supplier gets those complexities wrong, they'll find themselves losing so much money that they'll be out of business in days.

In theory you could set up a supplier selling "spot" to consumers, and avoid some of these risks as a supplier - but then the customers take that risk, because no generator would seek to sell all their capacity on the spot market as there's too much risk. If you're buying forward capacity as a consumer, that works like a take or pay contract. if you're under your forecast then you paid for energy that you didn't use, if you're over then you could be looking at the excess being charged at £35/kWh on a winter peak, or a whole lot more.

So do suppliers want you to pay a wholesale tracker rate? Not at all. We make money by managing wholesale market risks to a flat rate. The people who want you to be faced with either time of use tariffs (or worse still "dynamic pricing" that's a step closer to following wholesale prices) are the clowns of DECC (now BEIS) and Ofgem, because it suits their agenda of forcing customers to adapt to the system they've built, rather than building a system to deliver what customers might want.

Another commentard make the observation that in energy markets don't appear to work, and he's right, but perhaps for the wrong reasons. Markets don't work here because government want the market to produce a specific answer they've pre-decided is the right answer - a market outcome is not what the policy makers want. However, the conclusion that if markets don't work we should re-nationalise the lot is similarly flawed, because the problems stem exactly from public sector ineptitude in policy and decision making. The market (mostly) doesn't want to pay for expensive "solutions" chosen by a climate change industry that has captured all recent governments; Government demands that you do pay for those. Until you've squared that difference, neither markets nor state ownership will produce an adequate answer.

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Ledswinger
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The only way to meet the projected numbers of passengers would have been every resident of Hamburg travelling to Berlin at least once a week, and vice versa.

Not far off the logic for both HS2 and Heathrow R3.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Simply...

Ofgem is a narcissistic organisation,

Yes, a bunch of aggressive, bearded, sandal wearing communists (and that's just the women).

actively tries to cover up/surpress complaints

Incorrect, they have VERY detailed guidance to ensure that reported complaint numbers are as high as possible. And there have been multimillion quid fines repeatedly dished out to companies found to be in breach of standards.

and is obsessed by thinking competition is the answer,

Yes, although this has come from government policy making departments. Ofgem is just an over powerful administrator and in this respect is doing what it has been told by all recent governments.

Ofgem itself needs to be investigated in the role it played in surpressing direct complaints regards @CoopEnergy,

How is fining Coop energy £1.8m last month for customer service failings "suppressing direct complaints"? And that ignores the millions of pounds Coop will have had to pay to the Energy Ombusdman for complaint escalations.

Anyone that thinks Smart Meters will reduce Consumer Energy Bills is deluded,

They do have a clearly measurable effect in the short term as a very small reduction in electricity use, whether that persists in the long term is unknown (I doubt it). But politicians and greenies have persuaded themselves that these are a good thing - I'd agree they are deluded, but no more so than over money sinks like HS2, Hinkley Point, or Heathrow R3.

Smart meters about complicating/obfuscating bills

Not an objective, that will be merely incidental as the government want to push complicated and expensive time of use tariffs onto as many people as possible, whilst they fight the 1970's battle of peak demand. In aggregate, peaking power isn't actually that expensive when averaged across the whole system, but government having spared no expense in screwing up energy policy, and they see TOU tariffs as a brillant way to hide their ineptitude in providing security of supply. Also, it is very important to accuse suppliers of incompetence and profiteering as a smokescreen to try and hide that serial incompetence.

Hint to the Commentariat: Expect double digit price rises from most if not all suppliers early in the new year as they have to pass through rising wholesale and system costs that they are all exposed to. Now could be a very good time to consider taking the cheapest two or three year fixed price deal, and possibly to make sure that's with somebody you expect to still be around in three years.

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IoT upstart Sigfox gulps down €150m funding but falls short of target

Ledswinger
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Ludovic Le Moan

Now there's a name you'd assume was an Aardman baddy.

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KCL staff offered emotional support, clergy chat to help get over data loss

Ledswinger
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Trollface

I wonder if the Chaplain says: "Do not worry my son - it is undoubtedly all part of God's plan" - or "That is God's punishment for your sins".

The former for social sciences data, the latter for real science data. Sadly the arts faculties are unlikely to have data to lose.

Now, ignoring the mechanics of the IT department's ineptitude, people will be searching for a reason, and I think the Chaplaincy WILL be able to offer a reason: God is angry with KCL.

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Virgin Galactic and Boom unveil Concorde 2.0 tester to restart supersonic travel

Ledswinger
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Re: Who will want to fly from England?

Are the people who can afford this going to be based in London?

I can only assume you've never been to London. No matter what happens with Brexit, London is one of the top five global happening places. Doesn't matter if others are bigger, in net terms richer. In the world of the rich you're nobody if you don't have a pad or business interests in The Smoke.

There will always be people in London interested in this (and looking at the proposed scale, I can't help wondering if they could get the takeoff run and noise levels within London City limits. That'd be a game changer for the City.

Not that I like London, or have any time for the filthy rich...

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Ledswinger
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Re: Surely some mistake?

Blimey I'd have a go at that price

When it was $5k return, that was probably about the average house price.....

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Ledswinger
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Re: Concorde: proof engineering and beauty are not exclusive.

Staggering piece of engineering.

As a matter of fact yes. But another matter of fact is that the taxpayers of Britain and France paid a vast subsidy for the rich and famous to flit between continents. Sadly most of the engineering learnings don't seem to have been worth much, given that nobody's built an SST since.

So we should conclude that Concorde was certainly big, noisy and clever, and it was also a job creation scheme for aerospace engineers.

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Ledswinger
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Completely wrong! The 747 was designed by Boeing's "B" team (excellent BBC documentary on it) whilst the "A" team worked on the Boeing 2707 SST;

I know that US firms looked at SSTs - and they have revisited the idea time and again. But rather than being completely wrong, I'm completely right. The Europeans didn't have the resources (and more certainly vision) to work on both wide body and SST through the 1960s, and as a result the majority of 747 design work was completed before work really started on the A300 (itself only 260 passengers). To an extent there's the state direction of European aviation at the time, and that always results in vanity projects, "picking winners", and misplaced political judgements.

There was then a repeat of history, when in 1992 Airbus launched the fuel guzzling four engined A340, which was not what airlines really wanted, particularly when they knew the B777 twin motor of similar capacity and range was only months away (you can argue the details on performance, sales volumes speak for themselves). And of course, the low fuel prices of the early 1990s didn't last, and airlines simply couldn't afford to run a jet fuel hog like the A340 by the mid 2000s.

Sadly Airbus still suffer from that heritage and a corporate inferiority complex, and that led directly to the belated attempt to build a bigger and better 747, the financially troubled A380, enthusiastically launched into a market actually demanding large, high efficiency long range twin motors. And with Airbus's skills being drained by the A380, the A350 went into service three and a half years after the B787. The A350 might be the right aircraft for a change, but there's almost ten times as many 787s flying as A350s. The opportunity cost of wasting excessive resource on a single project is a long one, and Airbus still haven't learned that lesson.

Seems to me that the US aircraft industry are generally rather better at predicting what airlines will want. That's not to take away from the individual successes of the Airbus programme (like the A320), simply to state that Airbus have a strong track record of not seeing opportunities from their customer's perspectives, not managing their development resource well, betting too much on high profile, high risk programmes, and as a result too often having the wrong product in the shop. And interesting to observe that the A320 design programme was started as a standalone from the core of Airbus.

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Ledswinger
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Fuel and airframe costs didn't kill the supersonic travel, Noise restrictions did.

Actually, it was that there wasn't an end to end business case. BA might have eventually run Concorde profitably in an expensive niche market, but the British and French taxpayers never saw a return on the vast costs of development because no genuine commercial sales were made.

Launching an aircraft that used three times as much fuel and carried a third of the passengers of the then new wide bodied format, at the same time as the OPEC embargo was never destined for success. The oil crisis probably couldn't have been predicated, the move to wide body could. There was a further economic price, and that was the opportunity cost of Concorde - the huge technical challenges of SST development forced the Anglo-French aviation industry to put all their eggs in the supersonic basket, whilst Boeing, McDonnell Douglas and Lockheed bet successfully on wide body, and thus owned the global wide-body market for the subsequent four decades..

So that's what killed SSTs - that they might be economic if you give them away, but there is no business case for development and building. We'll see if Beardo's people can do things differently - I suspect they'll find that they are no more able to overcome the technical and certification issues than Airbus or Boeing.

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Brit smart streetlight bods Telensa named 'global market leader'

Ledswinger
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Re: @m0rt

I've taken my measuring gear out on the main road near us. Under the old lighting, you could see many metres into the dark parkland to the side of the road, with the new lighting, it's under 2 metres. Shocking.

I can't speak for what's gone in and what came out, but as a rule the replaced lights will have been sodium vapour lights, and most of these had appalling "spill" in all directions. Which was great if you wanted to illuminate the dark parkland, but as a rule most highways lighting is intended (yeah!) to light the highway and the pavement with the minimum of spill. So only lighting a couple of metres behind the column is probably absolutely intentional. In situations where you need all round illumination you'd use a larger luminaire and/or different design.

As for whether you could design better lighting, yes, within limits - you know what LEDs are like for light output and light quality. It can be pretty good, done well, but for streetlighting the key demand is long life and reliability (like a design standard of 100,000 hours MTBF/80% rated light output), so there's things you can do with shorter life room lighting that represents a more costly challenge with streetlights. Realistically LED streetlighting quality will improve, but as a generational thing.

Round my neck of the woods (but not a job by my company) the county council have re-lit all the A road junctions with high power LEDs on tall columns, and the improvement in visibility over sodium vapour is unbelievable. Having said that, the latest SON gas discharge lamps give LED a run for its money - buy the right bulbs and the life is up to 80,000 hours (claimed), the efficiency is comparable, and you have a much less harsh quality of light than LED. But they don't have the "eco feel good" appeal of LED for councillors, and they still require a new luminaire and new electronic control gear compared to an old sodium lamp.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Is there a reason why...

From my persepective, the use of these lights - what is their primary purpose?

From the point of view of the installer, the purpose is to light the highways to the relevant British Standards and other relevant regulations. For the commissioning body (usually a local authority) the fundamental purpose is public safety. That's why, for example, main road junctions have much better lighting than straight bits of road or lower traffic routes.

There have been many attempts to turn off, remove or turn down streetlighting, but the vast majority of these have met with public objection - if you can turn them off when nobody is around, nobody complains, but if it is YOUR daughter trying to walk home at 02:00 in absolute pitch black because some eco-twat has turned the lights off, you might be unhappy. In some instances turning the lights off to save energy has been reported as a major contributor to fatal road accidents.

There are relevant standards published by the Institute of Lighting Engineers (available on the web via quick search) for ensuring that stray light doesn't cause a nuisance ("Light trespass"), and there are measures that can be taken, but you'd have to ask the local authority since they are the people who commission the services (or provide them themselves). Since the recommendations for light trespass are in lux, you may need to buy a £10 light meter to be sure of your case.

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Ledswinger
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Is that an off the cuff remark based on your own opinion or is this a result of investigation and evidence?

That based on working for a company that designs streetlighting installations, erects and manages these things (not to mention the day to day experience because our large HQ and surrounding estate has had LED streetlighting for a decade now). But you stay up there on your high horse.

Since you think there should be more "joined up thinking", what exactly would you like joined up?

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Ledswinger
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This. 'kin idjits, the lot of them. I miss stars.

Actually, LED units are a lot better for sky watchers. You wouldn't try and stargaze next to any streetlamp, but the LED luminaire design is at least much better at stopping upward light spill. The traditional nasty dark orange 30W low pressure sodium units use designs unevolved from putting a candle in a pie dish, with the result that a third of the light goes upwards. That's a big part of the orange cloud glow above towns, rather than ground reflection.

In terms of simple efficiency, LED streetlights don't offer much better luminous efficiency than a good gas discharge lamp, the reason you'd install them is much longer life, better controllability, and modest energy savings of about 8W on a single column on a residential road, and most of that saving is from the fact that you don't have the upward and sideways spill.

It is a personal choice, but I think that the split spectrum light from an LED luminaire is much better than the horrible single wavelength from a crude LP sodium lamp. YMMV.

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UK warships to have less firepower than 19th century equivalents as missiles withdrawn

Ledswinger
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In USA, republicans are all for sinking quadrillions and dubloonions into military funding.

To be fair, I'm not asking for the (useless) British government to spend significantly more on defence, I'm asking that they get me my money's worth from what they do spend.

But through poor specification, repeated design changes, lack of forward planning and outright incompetence we design an asset and then because the costs have gone up we buy too few of them. Through an excess of ambition, poor management, poor decision making we end up doing stuff eg like spending £4bn on Nimrod MRA4, and then scrapping the whole lot. Or specifying a modification to the Chinooks we bought, which the MoD's own flight safety people wouldn't permit to be used, even when we were desparate for helos in Afghanistan. Or <insert innumerable defence procurement fuckups here>.

We do have to cut our cloth according to our means and needs - but that's no excuse for the colossal waste of our military spending, or for its ineffectual outcome.

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Ledswinger
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Given the ability of modern radar to effectively direct that solitary gun and make every shot count,

The gun is a bit of a side show in a proper war, which would be missile based. It is only useful for frightening drug smugglers and pirates, or plastering irregular forces in an onshore barrage. That's not a very big "use case", really. Even against (say) Iranian speed boats, the chances of hitting or damaging them at 27km with a 4.5 gun are next to nil, and even if you do, chances are they've already launched a sea skimmer at you.

Maybe they will buy and fit a Harpoon upgrade - but given the MoD record on planning and procurement, how much hope do you have of that? I have precisely zero confidence that MoD and government have a clue about ANYTHING. Can you name any government department that under this or the past two governments has shown any evidence of doing a good job, or of knowing its arse from its elbow?

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Ledswinger
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Re: "the Royal Navy find itself with a historic low of 17 usable frigates and destroyers,

Maybe because they are less relevant in modern warfare perhaps?

That depends on what you plan to do with them. Seems we have neither the quantity or quality to keep Russian submarines out of our territorial waters, nor any aircraft to assist.

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Ledswinger
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Re: A worrying trend?

What next - broomsticks instead of guns for the army? Paper planes for the air force?

I think we're already there. The RAF are having to fly strike (=bombing) missions with the Typhoon, exclusively designed as a fighter, there's no maritime patrol capability. The army have had all manner of equipment issues for year and years.

Returning to the RN, you have to remember this is only the latest part in a very long running saga where our "warships" are not only fewer and fewer in number, but for the most part carry fewer and fewer weapons. Your average RN frigate isn't a match for an Israeli gunboat that has the same displacement as an RN offshore patrol vessel, and that's before Harpoon is withdrawn.

We have an energy policy designed by Greenpeace, and now we have a defence policy designed by the Peace Pledge Union. There really needs to be a public enquiry into how our military have been shat on by successive governments, followed by the public drowning of the guilty (because we probably don't have enough bullets to shoot them).

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'Pavement power' - The bad idea that never seems to die

Ledswinger
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Don't forget that the 6 million+ tonnes of soil nutrient-depleting chomped up trees (2014 figures) need to be shipped over from the US to feed Drax alone.

The recent fall in the exchange rate will kill the economics of Drax. IIRC from their published data, they have a series of currency hedges that'll protect them for about a year to eighteen months, but after that they simply won't be paid enough for wholesale electricity to make a net profit.

In the real world they'd go bust, but because of the huge and ongoing fiasco that is UK energy policy, government will be forced to find some way of keeping Drax open. With no reserve margin to speak of, they need the capacity to stay available, and that will mean some cludge to give Drax plc more money. Or they'll hope for a jumbo sized pre-pack insolvency, where a mate of one of the senior creditors can buy the assets on the cheap, and with all the previous equity and junior debt wiped out, they'll in theory be able to run the plant profitably.

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Ledswinger
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In parts of the world where sunshine is plentiful and reliable, solar hot water systems are a much better idea. You can use them to drive Solarfrost cycle cooling systems (modified low-temperature ammonia pumps) and as it gets hotter you get more cooling.

Maybe, but I'm sceptical that these can be made economic. Technologically, little or no problem that can't be overcome. But I work for an energy company with world class expertise in power-to-gas, methanation, CAES, pumped storage, district heating, district cooling, battery storage, heat storage, power-to-heat on district heating systems, solar thermal assisted district heat etc. And the one thing we've learned is that multi-stage systems are resolvable technology problems, and usually unresolvable economic problems.

Throw more subsidies and we'll build anything, but half the problem is that these are trying to address the system problems of ineffectual renewables. At the core of that is idiot politicians failure to understand that for an energy system to work, capacity must be despatchable - which should have meant renewables having to buy the capacity to back up any down time ideally against an average system load profile.

However, we are where we are. And in the case of UK or European energy policies, our location on the map is some place called "Screwed".

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Ledswinger
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I live in a place that's much sunnier than the UK and most of the EU

And that's dandy. In parts of the world where sunshine is plentiful and reliable, then PV's a great idea. Even more so when peak solar output is closely correlated with peak demand. Throw in some battery storage and you can really be cooking on sun.

But in the context of the UK energy system that doesn't help. Our peak demand is the coldest winter days after dark. During winter capacity factor on solar is about 5% (less on cloudy days or if there's snow). So for the UK government to subsidise PV at the ridiculous rates that it did in recent years was madness. All that it achieved was to take demand away from thermal plant, without obviating the need for the thermal plant for those cold. windless winter days and nights. As a consequence the utilisation of thermal plant fell, efficiency fell as well (so offsetting a fair bit of the claimed benefits of the PV) and government had to introduce subsidies to keep thermal plant available.

UK energy policy has left nothing to chance in ensuring that the end user pays the highest possible price for energy. Networks have been required to spend billions on connecting new "renewable" plant with a guaranteed return, wind turbines have been subsidised and mandated, solar PV has been heavily subsidised, new nuclear is getting a big fat subsidy, new interconnectors will be subsidised by regulated returns, biomass plants have had big fat subsidies under various schemes, thermal plant, nuclear and interconnectors all get "capacity market" payments. To make up for a broken and disfunctional welfare system, government throw a £1.5bn at Winter Fuel Bribes for pensioners, energy companies are required to throw in about £500m to a similar scheme (Warm Homes Discount), and then a further £700m to energy efficiency measures for customers. And even that list is only the big ticket stuff - below that there's vast amounts of subsidies and transfers on all manner of other rubbish.

It is a huge, huge mess.

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Adobe fined a whole million dollars for 2013 mega-breach

Ledswinger
Silver badge

Re: Lessons learned

Security is hard and expensive. Insincere mumbled apologies and derisory compensation are cheap.

FTFY.

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Microsoft, Slack et al will 'laugh their asses off' at IBM's biz messaging tool

Ledswinger
Silver badge

Re: I don't get it

Because this is obviously not a project that has actually been worked on by a team, with proper milestones and so on and so forth.

Why would they need all that? The only buyers will be clueless "enterprise" buyers, inflicting this on thousands of hapless, angry (but powerless) users. The PHBs can't even turn on a computer, and rely on PAs to do everything, so they will neither see, know or care.

In the world of enterprise software, there is no lower bound on quality.

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Google's new VR Daydream View will cripple your phone

Ledswinger
Silver badge

Re: Boo

since Pixel has actually been designed for VR use

No! Noooooo! NOBODY can possibly believe that, no matter what marketing peeps claim. It's a phone FFS.

I'll wager that it was designed with "being a phone" in mind, and maybe a bit of Facebookery, Youtube, and cheapskate satnav use. The people writing the press materials wouldn't even know what VR stood for (well, maybe Victoria Regina, but not much else).

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Race for wireless VR headset heats up

Ledswinger
Silver badge

Re: hmm

With an installbase of 60m PS4 gamers,

You don't think that if VR is to take off, it is going to be gaming platform rather than hardware platform that matters (so Steam et al rather than PSn et al)?

But in any event, the hardware is so poor that I think we're looking at another tech flop like 3D TVs. Look at the picture at the head of the article, and then ask whether that's ever going to be mass market? Try it - put an airline "sleep mask" on, sellotape a tin of beans to that, then don a pair of closed-ear headphones. Comfortable? Stylish? Good for hours of gaming?

VR can only become mainstream when it is as subtle (note 1) and lightweight as a pair of Google Glass specs plus a pair of earbuds.

1: All things are relative, But I'd rather look a Glasshole than be caught in the junk being touted at the moment.

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Ledswinger
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Pint

Re: Needs more padding

when you realise how much money you pissed up against the same

No different to any other male-dominated hobby, where serious money is paid for "the right gear". If you're a fly-fisher, your rod and reel together could well cost a grand. A serious "starter" road cycle is £500, with the real men's machines over two grand. Photography has always been about spending a minimum of two grand on a collection of camera bodies and lenses. In golf, otherwise sane men pay silly money to dress like Rupert Bear, even sillier money to be part of a club of like-minded nerds, and eventually end up spending £300 on a single club, when they could buy an entirely adequate full set of 12 clubs for less than that. A ten pin bowling enthusiast will be tempted by bowling balls costing the fat end of £500. Let's face it:most men are suckers for any form of hardware related to their hobby, so a bit unfair to single out the VR brigade. Even on appearance there's a male need to look weird in a collective manner: So as noted, golfers dress like Rupert, fishermen have an entire parallel universe of dedicated apparel, ten-pinners have to wear clown shoes (its the law, I believe), and cyclists seem bent on making themselves look like insects. VR enthusiasts don't look any more twatty than those others, do they?

Bizarrely, there are two hobbies where this appears to break down: Firstly, road running, where for some reason you're pushed to be able to spend more than a couple of hundred quid tops, and even fully togged up you don't look unduly weird. This smacks of either ignorance or lack of ambition on the part of the shoemakers and clothing companies.

And secondly (disclosure: my sport of choice) Couch Potatery. I am now at 8th Dan, and regularly take part in regional championships, and mentor our local youth squad. This involves no kit other than a pair of horrible old grey joggers, a holey t-shirt (plus a telly and sofa that I had already), and some consumables such as beer and pork scratchings (much cheaper than cycling, where a 100ml bottle of chain lubricant can cost up to twenty quid).

I'm hoping that CP will be a demonstration sport in Tokyo, and if Team GB can see the massive medal potential that our talented and dedicated CP'ers have, we should get development funding, and be contending for medals in 2024. As a community we're particularly proud that our Paralympian CP'ers are always part of our core squad - none of this double standards and discrimination that we see in gymnastics or field events! CP is open to anybody able to find a sofa, some time and imbued with a degree of laziness. It is blind to race, gender, religion, sexual orientations, blindness, disability, social class.

My only worry is that CP might go the way of rugby, and from the first flush of success we will then see the amateur sport lose out to well-funded professionals, enjoying lucrative sponsorships from people like DFS, Marks & Spencer Home, top regional sponsors like Lee Longlands, or supplier-sponsors like Mr Porky Pork Scratchings. And once you get to that stage, you're into performance enhancement, doping scandals and all the rest - I want CP to stay CLEAN, stay AMATEUR. YOU can make a difference! Write to the IOC, demanding that CP is a demonstration sport in Tokyo, write to your MP demanding that measure be taken to ban professional CP, and pester UK Anti-doping to proactively develop tests and measures! TUE's would normally be a problem, but so many of the top CP'ers have Asperger's that it would actually be a far more level playing field than in athletics or cycling.

I think I might have gone a bit off topic there. Oops.

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Ledswinger
Silver badge

Re: Eye-tracking is the breakthrough we need

With regards to cutting the cord, is there any way to achieve lag free local wifi?

Probably not wifi as we have it now. You can minimise gaming/VR problems over wifi, but they aren't usually down to pure latency. If you've got a high strength wifi router, a good signal at the device, a good antenna & processor on the device, there's no interference, and no device contention, then you'd be unlikely to perceive any worse latency over wifi compared with ethernet.

Unfortunately, back here in the real world, most of us use cheap routers, have interference from our own domestic appliances and via powerlines, competing signals from routers within a few hundred yards. And then there's other people in the house streaming movies, mobile phones, tablets, Chromebooks etc all happily auto-downloading large auto-updates, the signal perceived by the device varies depending on aspect relative to the router, you've structural attenuation and reflection from the house.....

Now, unless you can tick all those boxes as solved, what happens is that the router frequently gets frames that don't match the checksum, and the frame is discarded (there's no error correction on the UDP protocol used by most games, so suspect data is simply discarded). The consequence of that is that the latency varies dramatically and that causes particular problems for games, added to which the causes of bad packets can last from mangling a single packet, through to about two seconds of lost data - that's why you see other characters jumping around maps, shot by somebody you didn't see, or don't see your inputs reflected in the game. If you put the heavy lifting on the PC, you avoid the need for such a meaty processor and power on the VR headset (VRH), but you'd still have the problem of packet loss between PC and VRH, which would be most significant for online VR gaming. Put simply, VR gaming over wifi would be pants other than in the absolute optimal conditions.

It would perhaps be possible to improve things with a new wifi protocol optimised to support gaming, but that'd involve new routers, new receivers, and new game software. All do-able, but probably on a ten year time scale by the time it is in production (of course, I don't know what's being developed now). A more feasible short term solution would be a single purpose transceiver on the end of an ethernet wire, using a single purpose gaming protocol that isn't competing with wifi, which means the protocol can be properly optimised and the system designed to overcome or avoid interference effects. It might be feasible to do that over radio, but in this application a better solution might be Li-fi. Li-fi has hitherto been a solution searching for a problem for several years. That ought to be far better at avoiding the interference problems of wifi, subject to having the continuous connection between VRH and the Li-fi receiver.

If that could be made to work you'd solve the online gaming connectivity issue (within the house, at any rate) and it would be possible to do that heavy-lifting split. Whether a market that seems happy with cardboard holders for phones as a VRH would pony up the additional (guessing) £100 for a Li-fi link I don't know - and don't forget that for widespread adoption it has to be as simple as a console (and indeed on that basis probably use a console rather than a PC for the heavy lifting).

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Mark Zuckerberg is dead – Facebook confirmed

Ledswinger
Silver badge

Re: This is deplorable @ Gene Cash

I had my "I aten't dead" card all ready.

If it will make you fell better, I'll announce your demise in a new thread elsewhere in the forums. After a gushing but sadly inaccurate and unfelt eulogy, all Commentards can express their condolences, share fond memories. Give it a short while, and then you'll be able to play your card.

Everybody will be happy - I'll have issued the sort of codswallop praise the politicians give each other when one joins the queue for the firey escalator, the Commentariat will have come together in grief and sorrow (and undoubtedly raised a glass or two), you'll be able to do your e-Lazarus routine, and then we'll all be relieved that in fact you're still with us.

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2016 in a nutshell: Boffins break monkeys' backs to turn them into tragic shuffling cyborgs

Ledswinger
Silver badge

Re: Not ethical

very nasty stuff

You'd have thought enough poor bastards had been mangled and disabled in the past two decades of continuous hobby wars (plus the far greater number injured by road accidents) that there wasn't any need to cripple a few poor bloody monkeys.

Having said that, if this leads to a cure for a range of crippling injuries and diseases, would the guy still be a villain, and would wheelchair bound vegans be refusing to accept a "cure" when the dirty work has already been done?

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Ledswinger
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they'll probably let him do research on condemned prisoners

Waste not, want not.

But why stop there? After the research has been done, suffocate them, skin to be tanned for wallets and car seats, any flab for soap, meat for restaurants (or feeding prisoners if it doesn't taste good), bones for fertiliser. And brains, nipples, noses, eyelids, tongues, rectums, dangly bits, miscellaneous internal organs that the butcher can't sell, ears, fingernails.....they all go into burgers for a well known fast food chain. Gherkins and fries with mine, please!

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America's tragedy: Trans-Pacific Express cable repairs delayed

Ledswinger
Silver badge

No more streaming grumble flicks for the lot of you...

Well, some of you. Yanks hoping for some hot Asian babe action may be as frustrated as Chinamen hoping for some decadent West Coast silicone action.

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Trump's plan: Tariffs on electronics, ban on skilled tech migrants, turn off the internet

Ledswinger
Silver badge

Re: And we thought BREXIT was bad

Look on the bright side, the pound may revalue against the dollar as it sinks

Why is that a bright side? The UK has lived beyond its means for decades. We import too much, don't export enough, and we have a balance of payments and a balance of trade problem. If your idea of a good outcome is the UK buying ever more cheap foreign tat on the back of rising indebtedness, then yes.

If you want an economy rebalanced from imports, with some credible balance of payments, a stronger manufacturing sector, and the excess weight of the City of London trimmed back, then you should be delighted that sterling has fallen and stayed down. The price of that is admittedly higher import prices (gas, raw materials, some foods, foreign holidays) so as we see already there will be inflationary pressure and a modest squeeze on living standards, but you'd have to be mad to want to see our macro-economic situation revert to where it has been for the past fifteen or twenty years.

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The Reg seeks online community manager

Ledswinger
Silver badge

Re: two tribes

don't want to disrupt group 2 from their cozy bubble too much, and maybe add a "here be monsters" warning to the comments pages

I've a better idea. Keep the Twattersphere and FB community wholly separate from the comments forums. All parties will be a lot happier that way, and I doubt that advertising that you *might hope* to punt at commentards would be the same that that you'd be able to get paid for via Twitter, FB and Linkededin.

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Karhoo who? Uber challenger shuts down after burning through $250m

Ledswinger
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Re: 250 million?

The private sector, it would appear.

Doesn't matter what you pretend your "business model" is, just set your self up as eCOfeeco, issue a self congratulatory press release from your shed, announcing your paradigm shifting innovation, fill it with techno babble, and launch your Stage 1 funding round. Over skinny soya lattes talk about "unicorns", exit strategies, balancing value between secondary buyout or IPO, mutter about mezzanine finance and the latest deal multiples, whilst stroking your goatee.

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Ledswinger
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It is the same with any business out there - start small, keep your expenses low and stay away from ....

...wanky management consultants?

The world may not have needed Karhoo, but it un-needs people like Accenture, Mckinsey, BCG, PWC, KPMG a whole lot more.

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