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* Posts by Ledswinger

2472 posts • joined 1 Jun 2012

Say goodbye to the noughties: Yesterday’s hi-fi biz is BUSTED, bro

Ledswinger
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Re: @ Simon Harris - This new stuff looks boring

"The formula you're looking for is QS = (PxW)/(NB x LOC)"

You need an exponent in there somewhere, and I'd suggest it must involve brand. As in all techy male interest fields, brand is everything. Audiophile sound quality is no different. Sony can make things as heavy, costly and button free as they like, and it'll never cut the mustard. On the other hand Mark Levinson could rebadge a Raspberry Pi and the true believers would worship it as the second coming.

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Computing student jailed after failing to hand over crypto keys

Ledswinger
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Re: A masters degree in computing?

"You mean GENIUS ... Shirley"

Of course he doesn't. "Genious" is clearly the opposite of ingenious, and a highly appropriate term in the circumstances.

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Storm-battered Rockall adventurer recalls 'worst experience of my life'

Ledswinger
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Re: So once again ... @BlueGreen

"It's hard to care if you can't see them die, innit. "

Perhaps you give generously to every single deserving cause that comes by. But I doubt it. So when we push aside your veil of sanctimonious cant, I suspect we'll find plenty of charitable causes you chose not to support, and probably some where you gave modest amounts, preferring instead to spend money on such fripperies and technology, excess food, and entertainment.

I've yet to meet anybody in the UK (although your language suggest you may be a Merkin) who earns a decent wack and then gifts all of that to charity, and I doubt that you do.

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Ledswinger
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Re: 1985??

"People can still claim bits of land for their countries by landing on them? I thought that went out in the 19th century at the latest."

Still works. China's busy doing it in various parts of the South China Sea. Russia's just done it in Crimea. Argentina tried it back in 1982. Obviously if there's a shed load of natives able to fight back things can get a bit complicated, but rule number one of territory grabbing is only to do it if you think that the previous owner can't fight back.

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Ledswinger
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Re: So once again ...

"which is why many charities now employ professional fundraisers and try to get people to subscribe to regular donations"

Ah yes, the joy of chuggers (every one of whom can FOAD). About time, in my view, that charities accepted that "charity" was about free will, not coercion and guilt laden marketing.

A few months ago the Red Cross sent my wife two admittedly cheap drinks mats and a begging letter for some humanitarian crisis. They didn't get anything back, but we've now had another two drinks mats and a cheap pen, asking for help in respect of Syrian refugees. Again, they got nothing, but I'm now getting hopeful of a full blown Middle East war, because if the Red Cross can raise the stakes accordingly by sending out matching place mats then it'll save me having to fork out for a full matching set of place and drinks mats. Have you seen the price of proper cork backed mats? It's an outrage.

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Dubai to get HUGE climate-controlled DOMED CITY and giga-mall

Ledswinger
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Burj Khalifa: Cost USD $ 1.5 billion, One World Trade Center: Cost US$ 3.9 billion. I think the logic is sound. Build while its still cheap, make money later.

The reason that Burj cost a mere $1.5bn was because it was built by very poorly paid immigrant labourers earning less than ten dollars a day (and when you check this out, you'll also come across the realities of immigrant workers' total lack of rights and protections in Dubai, and their servitude to employers).

Be careful what you wish for.

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Ledswinger
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"We already have 100MW of solar power here with a heck of a lot more to come."

Not much against the 9.7 GW of thermal plant that Dubai relies on, though.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Conspicuous consumption @James Hughes 1

"So how would tourists get to Dubai once the oil runs out? Electric Zeppelin?"

"Dubai is on the coast.I'll let you fill in the details."

I presume you're suggesting people swim, given that a cruise ship uses around three times as much fuel per passenger km as a long haul jet.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Conspicuous consumption at it's worst

"But that's exactly why Dubai are spending their wealth rather cleverly"

Actually it's most unlikely to be their oil and gas wealth, because Dubai doesn't have much in the way of oil and gas, although other emirates like Bahrain do (all part of the loose federation that is the UAE). And history shows that Dubai don't spend this borrowed money wisely, either.

So not only is the Dubai property boom a case of building your house physically on sand, but financially as well. Back in 2009 Dubai World came a cropper after borrowing shedloads of money for vanity projects, and some $24bn of debt was "restructured" down to around $14bn. As you'd expect, arseholes like Royal Bank of Scotland had big buckets of exposure to the Dubai property boom, so British taxpayers ended up bailing a load of the Dubai World debts out for idiot London bankers. In addition to the writeoffs by international lenders, Dubai was bailed out by the oil and gas wealth of fellow emirates Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.

Clearly property investors have learned nothing, banks have learned that the more stupid their lending decision, the more likely it is that they will get bailed out, and I think the same lesson has been concluded by the rulers of Dubai, so we're now back to business as usual.

Now, we can beg to differ, but personally I think that building a mercantilist economy and a global retail destination is actually a huge risk if people believe that oil will start to run out. How will people get there if there's no airlines or no affordable fares? And what's the point in zillions of square feet in retail space if the only customers are a handful of Russian oligarch's wives who flew in on private jets? Meanwhile, the other oil states are doing two far more sensible things - trying to build conventional economies to keep a fast growing and increasingly bored population happy, and using the surplus to buy relatively safe and diversified foreign assets.

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'Spy-proof' IM launched: Aims to offer anonymity to whistleblowers

Ledswinger
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Re: commendable. But...

"What could possibly go wrong?"

Well, anonymity is pointless. Unless every unverified report or accusation is fully investigated, then being anonymous doesn't help one bit. And even then, the circumstantial evidence often points to one or a very small number of people.

A bigger concern is the treatment of whistleblowers who are traced. Here in the UK PIDA isn't worth the bog roll it is printed on. Didn't help Dr David Kelly, did it? Likewise my friend and former colleague who reported a serious fraud at a listed company. As a result three directors and two others were sent to the big house, but he's not worked since, not been compensated for his actions, and a subsequent well founded allegation of malpractice at a large and dodgy Scottish bank has been repeatedly ignored, stonewalled and "long-grassed" by UK government and regulators.

My advice to potential whistle blowers: Don't report it, you will lose out. Don't get involved, it is probably illegal. If it is the state, you're stuffed - go along with it after creating a suitable paper trail of questioning the behaviour, and then accept the official assurances that it is all above board. If it is the private sector and there's no violent criminals involved, do try and maximise your chances by asking for a golden goodbye under a comprehensive NDA if they so wish. And do stick to the NDA - why make your own life uncomfortable for no reward?

If somebody offers you a web site for whistleblowing, just laugh and keep walking.

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O2 and 'leccy firm's MNVO bid flops as £25m glugs down the drain

Ledswinger
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Re: O2 hardly an appealing choice of network

Not much to choose, IMHO. But as the OFGEM limitations on energy tariffs doesn't apply to non-energy business we still don't know why SSE didn't follow through. Perhaps somebody close to the deal might care to let the rest of us know?

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F1? No, it's Formula E as electric racing cars hit the track

Ledswinger
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Re: Are electric cars really usefull?

"Considering that an Astra with roughly equivalent spec (the 2 litre diesel automatic) lists at roughly £24k,"

I would contend that nobody actually pays anything like £24k for an Astra, regardless of spec or list price. "I could have an entry level Beemer 3 series, but an Astra diesel sludgematic coffin dodger special edition is a far better investment, and a superior ownership experience". Bwahahahahahahah!

As for rebates and "lower operating cost", that is certainly true at the moment, but only for a while. If EVs gain any market share government won't be able to cope with the lower revenues, and they'll have to end the ridiculous subsidies, and introduce road pricing or other taxes to raise an average of around £1k per vehicle in taxes that would otherwise disappear. The congestion charge exemption is a similarly time limited subsidy, unless EV's somehow cause less congestion than ICE cars? As soon as London is filled with EVs do you think they'll revoke the congestion charge?

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Ledswinger
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Re: Are electric cars really usefull?

"Take a look at the Vauxhall Ampera"

And take a look at its price tag of around £34k for a car the size of an Astra. You've got to be a rich eco-warrior to be able to afford one.

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Ledswinger
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"Give 'em a bloody chance!"

I think they've had ample bloody chance, given that the earliest semi-practical electric cars date back to the same years as the earliest semi-practical ICE vehicles, between 1880 and 1890.

I'm not sure how road car technology will be enhanced by having a dull race* between identical ultra-light non-road electric cars, where the drivers leap into another car when the battery goes flat? As much as anything, to spur innovation you need variety, but with single suppliers this smells like a bit of window dressing for Renault. And then there's the fact that EV's are all about the battery - energy density, cost, durability, and speed to charge - with 130 years of battery development still not offering much benefit, I can't see that a token bit of pretend racing will do anything. They'd be better off instead of spending the money custom building some undoubtedly expensive F1 lookalikes putting the money into fundamental research by blokes in white coats.

* Formula 1 is dull enough already - imagine it with quieter, slower cars with lower endurance.

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India’s Karbonn launches £26 Android phone

Ledswinger
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Re: Trickle Down

"It was a miserable user experience"

It was indeed, but only against more expensive opposition. If you'd never used a capacitive screen smartphone before, a Galaxy Ace was a joy of capabilities. If you compared it to the then current Galaxy S2, it seemed awful.

But thinking forward a couple of years, this "old spec" niche may be filled by something of similar spec to the Galaxy S3. As the S3 can still hold its head up against the latest S5 model, this sounds great for users, but, shall we say, "interesting" for phone makers. The days of £600 list prices are numbered (well, for people not in a particular walled garden, at any rate).

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Top ten car gadgets: Get your motor running with new shiny-shiny

Ledswinger
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Re: Devices limited only by the car you put them in.

"A dash mount phone holder is stymied because the dash is a textured finish."

The phone holder mentioned in the article is suitable for mounting on textured surfaces. I've got a different product that claims to do the same thing. Cheap suction mounts won't stick, but the more upmarket versions use some fancy 3M gel that sticks to almost any surface. For these mounts you'll be paying around twenty quid or so.

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Japan makes Prius palatable with road map to hydrogen cars

Ledswinger
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Re: Oh dear

" converts water to H2O"

Yes, yes, I know that's not much of a feat. But hopefully you do know what I meant to type.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Oh dear

"hence 3-5x the CO2 emissions (given the same energy generation mix - in fact it would be even worse because clean energy sources are currently a limited resource)."

Whilst I'm no fan of renewables, I need to point out that the vast build out of the damned things means that most developed world markets are moving to a world where we (in the industry) expect to see some points of time where wholesale power prices are nil (under the committed FIT regimes we could even see low negative power prices at some times of low demand).

So from that perspective we expect to have got lots of electrical power kicking around when nobody really wants it, and converting power to gas is quite straightforward. In the medium sized plant we've already got operating in Europe it is working well, converts water to H2O (we blow the oxygen off because it's not economic to do anything else with). The hydrogen can be menthanated and pumped into the gas grid, or at low volumes fed in directly as H2. The simple problem is not really the efficiency issues, it is the asset cost - this is not cheap kit to build, and it is out of the money in a fossil gas world.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Go Japan Go

You may hope, but where will the energy come from for electrolysis of water to hydrogen & oxygen?

If we consider each country's energy trade balance then I start to see a problem. Exclude fossil fuels, and who has now, or might realistically have a surplus of energy of any kind? Even in countries with high levels of wind resource (eg the UK) these still contribute fractional levels to domestic energy needs, so the chances of wind producing (net) exportable power are small. The only other scaleable renewable energy is not homogenously distributed, so if solar energy is used then the energy powers will be the desert belts of the globe (because they not only have the best solar resource, but also vast areas of land with no alternative uses). So in your H2 world the likely energy powers are the countries of the Middle East and North Africa. And who will pay for the capital intensive solar capture, electrolysis, storage and transport of H2? In part the existing oil-based sovereign wealth funds, in part the banks. Who has the expertise in managing energy transport, shipping, distributing and marketing chemical fuels?

Oh, dear, sounds like we're back in the very same place you don't want to be - raw energy in the hands of the Arabs, the usual crooks in charge of the money, Exxon, BP et al doing the operations and marketing. And as icing on your cake, at any global scale, of course, saturating deserts with sufficient solar collectors to fuel the energy needs of the fast growing developing nations and the import dependent developed countries will significantly alter the albedo of these regions, and contribute to a rather clearer form of AGW, although I suspect the hippies will ignore this.

There is an alternative, and that's nuclear. Lots, and lots of nuclear. For the UK, even if we cut total energy demand by 50%, we'd still need to build six times as many nuclear power stations as we currently have to support an H2 economy - something of the order of 90 reactors. On a global scale we'd need to use either (or both) fast breeder reactors or thorium to make sure there's enough nuclear fuel to go around, and the total system costs would be astronomical.

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Rockall batters plucky Brit adventurer

Ledswinger
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Re: @theModge - Just how inedible are seabirds really?

"They taste of paraffin, apparently."

Not like he can drop into the nearest Happy Shopper for a tin of overpriced beans, though. A 300 mile odd swim to Stornoway may be a bit much on an empty stomach, and if he was anything like me he'd get there and refuse to pay the outrageous price.

If he's got an internet connection to update Twatter, is he reading this? Looking down the thread I suspect we won't be keeping his spirits up with positive talk and helpful suggestions.

Sorry Nick!

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REVEALED: The sites blocked by Great Firewall of Iraq

Ledswinger
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Re: God is great and Frank Herbert is his prophet.

"It helps if you bomb flat the vital infrastructure, too. Thus ensuring it's a third world nation."

You can't bomb people back to the stone age if culturally they never left.

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Ledswinger
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"I heard their internet links can be a bit dodgy"

I'm with sjsmoto on this. I'd rather somebody chopped through an undersea cable than my neck. And going from liberal, easy going Sweden to mad as fuck Iraq........what's that about?

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Ledswinger
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Re: God is great and Destroy All Monsters might be his Prophet

"I won't even go into the utterly despicable French/British behaviour post-WWI and Skyes/Pikot, which deserves a separate introduction of the people involved to the Black Box of Pain."

Guilty. M'lud. And of course there was the British government's Balfour Declaration, that through a combination of subsequent Goldman-esque politicing and European guilt over The Austrian's activities eventually led to the formation of Israel and the expulsion of the Palestinians. Factor in French, Russian, British and American interference throughout the Middle East ever since, and "westerners" in the most general sense really have a lot to answer for. If the British civil service (past and present) burn in the fires of hell for this and everything else they've ever done then I'll be happy to get a long stick and bag of marshmallows to share with you. But...

...what about your lot? Would things have panned out better and more peacefully if the Brits and Frogs hadn't darkened your doorsteps? In both Britain and France we had centuries of epic bloodshed and civil war in our transition from wiping our arses on stones and believing the crap spouted by religious leaders, through to having access to quilted labrador pelts on a roll and going shopping on our sabbath. I suspect that even with the efficiency of modern death machines, the same journey will involve less bloodshed (end to end) for the peoples of the Middle East (not that I'm condoning or excusing the Western interference).

But we are where we are. How about the people of the Middle East stop worrying about what their neighbours believe, say or practice in their own minds or homes, put the guns and bombs away, and round up and burn ALL religious books, religious scholars, zealots, religious officials and tribal elders? In the meanwhile the UK's foreign aid budget could buy one hell of a lot of Andrex, and the NATO air forces could deliver that - Hercules drops to metropolitan areas, surgical fast jet deliveries to smaller towns, and drones firing three ply cluster packs or JP233's onto isolated rural targets. Global peace would break out as Middle Eastern men were suddenly able to retire for a comfortable dump with a copy of the Arabic version of Viz.

As softening up work we might have the collected works or Richard Dawkins translated into Arabic and then carpet bomb the whole Middle East with it?

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Ledswinger
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Re: God is great and Frank Herbert is his prophet.

"And the last step; wait for a genuine democracy to break out, stage a coup, put your own dictator in charge and help him kill those democrat terrorists."

That's Ukraine that you're thinking of, where US interference is what toppled the last nationally elected president, leading to instability between factions that might otherwise have been managed.

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Ledswinger
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Re: God is great and Frank Herbert is his prophet.

"Don't forget the first step, Invade and make sure they have nothing resembling a competent government left"

Come off it, they didn't have a competent government to start with. The deservedly dead Gadaffi killed about a million in his hobby war with Iran, and was caught red handed gassing the Kurds, before starting the first Gulf War, killing another 40,000 people. Iraq's people suffered under years of sanctions due to Saddam's misgovernance, and saw none of the wealth from oil or gas.

I grant you he was fairly effective at suppressing the inter-group fighting, but that's hardly a reason to vote for him unless you celebrate the values of brutality, corruption and repression.

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Cybercrooks breed SELF-CLONING MUTANT that STEALS your BANK DETAILS

Ledswinger
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Re: Worm-like information stealing banking Trojan

"If open wasn't the same as execute then email attachments wouldn't be dangerous."

Or if email clients were configured by default to delete all executable/high risk attachments, and to have easily changed rules to adjust that as required.

In a corporate world there's a lot more control of such things, in the personal world email clients have stagnated for years, with rudimentary filtering that is neither enabled by default, not lends itself to managing either attachments or embedded links and objects.

I suppose the lack of investment in email clients is yet another casualty of Microsoft's "give it away free" policies of prior years. The sooner that company curls up and dies the better.

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We need to talk about SPEAKERS: Sorry, 'audiophiles', only IT will break the sound barrier

Ledswinger
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Re: Ancient technology

"The Cambridge psychology department at the time was using Quad electrostatic speakers (which looked confusingly like portable electric heaters)"

"At the time"? I'm outraged. The original ESL 57s are still made new and sold by Quad Deutschland, for about €4k a pop. Or you can buy an original Quad Ltd pair on Ebay for a few hundred quid, and have them refurbed by One Thing Audio for about a grand including new stands, new treble panels, reworked and resprayed grilles and new electricals.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Clearly there's an need for intelligently designed speakers

"Clearly there's an need for intelligently designed speakers. As listened to by God"

Quad electrostatics are the chosen speakers of the almighty, and all those of good taste and discernment. And they even sound fantastic playing MP3's off the phone into the pre-amp.

/smug

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Microsoft thumbs nose at NSA, hardens crypto for Outlook, OneDrive

Ledswinger
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"So moving forward, each session needs to be uniquely attacked and decrypted, regardless of if you know the private key or not."

Only strengthens email against spies who haven't backdoored the software....

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NASA aborts third attempt at finally settling man-made CO2 debate

Ledswinger
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@jhudsy

"CO2 has been pretty much confirmed as the cause of AGW."

Likewise, the world is flat, and the shape of people's heads tells you whether they are criminals.

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GCSE Computing teachers cry victory as board decides NOT to bin tech teens' work

Ledswinger
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Re: Assessment methods

"Picking up on Leadswinger's comment in the original article, how do we all think these skills should be assessed?"

But to turn to the meat of your question, the answer is elements of all four. There's some elements of knowledge that timed tests (=exams) are the most obvious way of testing (spelling, for example...) but all of the mentioned techniques do have a place. My original comment was driven by a personal beef that it is daft to have 80% (frequently 100%) of your performance in one to three year's learning decided by a mere couple of hours at an uncomfortable desk in a sweat-scented sports hall in the height of summer, an exercise that primarily tests rote learning, and in such a short time can't possibly scratch more than the surface of the topics taught. In answer to your "anything else", we could consider oral exams or vivas - the best way to find out what somebody knows is always to talk to them, although there is a risk that the marks end up being too subjective and soft.

Testing across a range of assessment methods would allow people's different skills and attributes to shine, and enable the assessment to cover a wider range of skills and topics. I still think that all marked assessment work should not be marked by the teachers - the assessment process should ensure that their is anonymity between marker and marked, to stop "back scratching" generosity.

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Cambridge Assessment exams CHAOS: Computing students' work may be BINNED

Ledswinger
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Re: @Arnaut the less

"The object of education is not to facilitate your business. "

Well at least it's succeeding in that, then.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Guus Leeuw

"Have you looked at the two course works the article is about?"

Of course I have. Maybe the joys of Dutch (?) academia were similar to your life in coding, in my experience (coding defence systems) I can't think of anything that was similar. It's a bit Godwin-esque to mention Einstein, but I'd point out that school all but wrote him off because he didn't fit the academic model that school used to denote success. If being a good coder is reliant on the programmer remembering what he's done in acute detail, then its not a good omen. Working methodically within a design, keeping track of what you have done and need to do are (in my view) a much better way of working than hoping the coder got high grades in history at school and has a good memory

How would I fix continuous assessment? There's a number of problems but the first and most significant one (in my view) is conflict of interest when teaching and marking are done by the same people. We don't let kids mark their own homework, and so as far as possible we shouldn't let schools do their own marking of any assessed work. They mark somebody else's, so there's no increase in cost or workload (other than some shipping of work around to schools doing the same syllabus). With appropriate technology even the admin of shipping the work around could be automated. Where the work is more applied than written, an external invigilator could supervise, much as happens for some current exams.

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Ledswinger
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"Closed-book too, as it should be."

Of course, because closed book memory tests are sooooo representative of useful skills in the real world. In practice these work strongly in favour of people with good memories for arcane detail who can write quickly. Those two skills are fairly unimportant in my business.

"Continuous assessment is a total joke."

That's a separate (and contentious) point to the merit of closed book exams. I'd rather we fixed the flaws of continuous assessment rather than continued to rely on single chance end of year exams where many talented students don't shine, and where sometimes lazy chancers get lucky and get grades they don't deserve.

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Hey, Marissa Mayer: Flexi working time is now LAW in UK. Yahoo!

Ledswinger
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Re: More "management versus labor" mentality

"traditional job requirements are that you work in the office or store or whatever"

Alan proves that time travel is possible, by posting his comment from the year 1860, when employer and employees knew their rightful positions.

Helpful message to Alan: Don't be on the Lady Elgin crossing Lake Michigan in September of your year - it sinks.

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LG drops G3 quad HD Android mobe with FRIGGIN' LASER camera

Ledswinger
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Re: Interesting phone but not original

"you may be blinded by LG's sparkle, but based on their previous history, this phone will be an orphan very quickly."

But who do you go to that has an unimpeachable track record on supporting devices for even eighteen months after last retail availability? I can't think of anybody in the market that hasn't orphaned a recent handset. Apple appear to have the best track record on that, but there's a heavy price to pay, both in cash, and limitations on device specification.

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What's it like using the LG G smartwatch and Android Wear? Let us tell YOU

Ledswinger
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Re: I'm a bit disappointed in the LG model

"/petulant "I wanted to look like Dick Tracy!" petulant/"

Wear any "smartwatch", and in my humble opinion they'll have granted the first half of your wish.

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Drone's drug airdrop mission ends in failure for Irish prisoners

Ledswinger
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Re: If I may...

"The (US at any rate) military also makes the distinction that drones can operate without a pilot,"

Surely the only distinction is that a drone doesn't carry an onboard pilot?

Manned craft can take off, route and land based on just a flight computer programme, whilst the meat sacks doze and talk about football or whatever (or they can fly by the seat of the pants if they so choose). And a drone needs somebody to take the decisions and programme the route parameters, whilst allowing (usually) full manual control. The only real difference is that the drone operator is remote, and rarely pays for his or the machine's failings with a pound of their own flesh, whereas the on board pilot has (quite literally) skin in the game.

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Ledswinger
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Re: @Rob

"and from what I understand local pilots will handle the take off and landing on the base"

For the air forces, yes. And historically this results in quite a few accidents. The US army on the other hand aren't guided by any stupid ideas of officer pilots existing as superior beings, and their NCO drone controllers routinely allow their drones to take off and land themselves. The RAF has been following the USAF model, unfortunately, so presumably we'll be paying for a few broken Taranis until the RAF wise up to the idea that the whole point of a UAV is the U bit.

My knowledge on this is rusty and dated. Where's Matt Bryant when we need him?

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USB charger is prime suspect in death of Australian woman

Ledswinger
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"The offending one in my case was CE marked, and branded by the major electrical reseller were it was purchased."

Which is a major flaw in the official response. First, most consumers wouldn't know what the vast number of small print hieroglyphics on chargers mean. And second, even if they have some awareness those markings may either mean nothing useful (eg on untested kit), or have been applied fraudulently (eg on equipment the OEM knows is not compliant).

The CE marking shows this only too well. Supposedly meaning that a device conforms to EU standards, but widely understood to stand for "caveat emptor".

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Unexpected Termination Error at Year of Code: Chief dumps venture for other UK.gov riches

Ledswinger
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Re: A Year Of ...

"... would be a much more sensible proposition."

Yes. But let's face it, done well, software coding isn't a good bet for volume jobs. Great for IP owners, certainly, because you can keep selling the same product time and again with a token bit of bug fixing and upgrades, but as a big bet for Britain in the jobs stakes, it's never going to come off.

But I think our digression here misses the real point of the story, which is that government sucks in those with negative talent - from the experience-free hangers on at the bottom (as in this story), right up to the top where gormless, over-privileged, Fluck & Law faced Oxbridge boys bray at each other from both sides of the house, with all the majesty and intellect of howler monkeys. Thinking about this further, I suspect Complete Fucking Idiocy (CFI) is in fact the mysterious dark energy that binds the universe together; knowing that we have a portal (the British government) that sucks CFI in, can we not use this as some form of power generation? Idiots are clearly and unfortunately renewable, but we might as well try and make use of the cretins.

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Home automation while it's hot: Winter warmth for lazy technophiles

Ledswinger
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Re: and your hot water (@ David Pickles

" I'd like to be able to set the hot water according to the use I intend to make of it, and not be forced to store a tankful at a far higher temperature than I would ever need."

See other comments on legionella. A close relative has a usually benign and not uncommon condition that makes them vulnerable to respiratory infections (we all know somebody like this, who gets a cold, and "it always goes on my chest"). By turning the hot water tank down to 40C I might save around £20 a year if it is properly insulated. Is that saving worthwhile when it exposes said relative to legionella?

The reason water is stored at relatively high temperatures in the first place was of course nothing to do with legionella, and everything to do with the fact that unless you were very undemanding, instantaneous heat demand could not be met by combi boilers or electric water heaters. In the summer this is less evident, but for several weeks (sometimes months) each winter your heating system runs very close to full capacity, and there's big downsides to sizing a boiler for both worst case weather, plus maximum instantaneous how water demand.

Regarding your "could it be done" question, the answer depends on how much hot water you want and how fast. Think for starters of an instant electric shower. Tolerable in summer, when you might get 7 litres of warm water a minute out, crap in winter (as the incoming water temp is far lower) when you'd get around 3 litres a minute. If that flow rate is adequate for you then they're cheap as chips to buy and a few hundred quid to have fitted.

Most people want rather more. For illustrative purposes a decent shower is normally considered to be upwards of 10 litres a minute and most power showers will easily deliver over 20. A 7 kW elec shower takes around 30 amps. You could parallel up two of those, and you'd still have a weak 6 l/min flow in winter, but you would be at the limit of the typical domestic supply, usually designed around 100 amps (the balance being needed for other potential elec uses - kettles, TVs, hair dryers, white goods etc). So electricity can't do it unless you've got a fatter pipe coming in than is normal and a new consumer unit - all of which can be done, but it will cost a hell of a lot to do that. By the time you can get (say) 15 litres a minute in winter, you'd be pulling 150 amps just for the shower - it just makes less sense than storage.

Gas combi boilers can work, but only up to a limit - typical largest combi is 30 kW, with up to 25 litres a minute at 30C temperature lift. In practice that's big power shower territory in summer when you could get the full 25 litres a minute. But in winter 30C over 4C means you start tapping it down. Obviously whilst the shower is on the heating is not, but if its a quick shower then thats not a problem. But that's £2k before fitting, £3k when fitted (so double the cost of a normal combi) it's floor standing, so you usually lose a kitchen cupboard, and if you don't already have a combi system it will cost around £1k to modify the house plumbing. At the end of all that you've got a spent £3k on a mongo combi boiler that will be very inefficient for space heating because it is dramatically oversized (an adequately insulated mid sized detached would only need a boiler half that size for space heating).

So in short, you might get what you want, but it'd cost an arm and a leg

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Ledswinger
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Re: and your hot water (that must reach 60C to avoid legionella risks)

" I set my hot water thermostat to 40'C ....no family/friends/relatives have suffered from Legionella... "

If you're healthy and lucky it could pass for a mild case of flu. There's about 350 cases a year in the UK that are detected, or which about 10% are fatal. Half are from foreign travel, and the rest domestic. But, as respiratory infections in the healthy aren't tested for cause, the chances are that the incidence of legionella is much higher - even if you thought you had flu, you might go to the doc for a sick note, but he's very unlikely to swab you and send off the samples.

In large part the domestic risk is a legacy of the Victorian idea of the roof tank - combi boliers and direct hot water systems are far less vulnerable because the water doesn't get partially dechlorinated as it does in the roof tank, and these system tend to be less prone to accumulating dirt. Moreover, in summer, roof tanks can easily reach 30C or more, which is ideal for encouraging any legionella to breed before the water is drawn into the hot water cylinder.

I'd agree its a very small risk. With a direct hot water system you might choose to reduce the tank temperature to 50C and that should stop any legionella breeding (eg if it comes in through mains water supply), although that's below the recommendations of the HSE. Personally I wouldn't go to 40C, because that's within the breeding temperature range.

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Ledswinger
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Re: @Adam T

" I guess this could be partially remediated by having multiple thresholds around the temperate settings so that you delayed the switch on in one room until another room or two also wanted heat, provided the first room didn't breach some second threshold, etc. etc."

Certainly could, but that'd be a marginal benefit because the boiler is sized for peak winter demand, so running two rooms is still almost as bad as running one room.

I must say that if I was looking at the problem, rather than throwing money at trying to ring out 1% of the gas bill, I'd be inclined to look at super-insulating the house including high performance wall insulation (search Register, Aerogel if you missed that article a couple of years back) and paying attention to air tightness, and installing a big heat recovery ventilation system.

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Ledswinger
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"Isn't one of the big savings gained by adjusting the _boiler_ temperature (not the room thermostats) to be as low as practical (at least for condensing boilers) "

Generally no. Optimum thermal efficiency is generally where you have the largest difference between the boiler outlet and return temperatures, not the lowest system temperature, but the benefits of the greatest temp difference is constrained by the design parameters of boiler, system and radiators. When the architect or plumber (a balance of evils there) specified your system, the boiler and rads were sized according to expected heat loss of the room and rated radiator heat output assuming a typical boiler output aimed at 80C, an expected radiator input temp of 75C, and a radiator exit temp of 64C. If you lower the boiler output temperature then you reduce the heat output of the radiators against the design (because the delta T between radiator and room falls). In practice the house and radiators stats should arbitrage all of this away and out of sight so that it seems to be working, but you could actually increase your operating costs if the system efficiency is compromised by too low a boiler exit temperature. Set your primary heat circuit temp too low enough and you'll have a very low temperature differential between heat circuit and your hot water (that must reach 60C to avoid legionella risks), leading to poor efficiency on that side of the system.

Get yourself an infra red laser thermometer (a top gadget, available for about £18), and make sure that the boiler output is about 78C, then go round and with all TRVs turned right up, tighten the lockshield valve (other end of the radiator, usually with a blind cap that you need to remove) to make sure that each radiator is set to see an 11-12C drop between inlet and outlet temperature (the more closed the valve is, the higher the temperature drop, which is initially a bit counter-intuitive). When you've gone round and done that, do it again - the dodgy installation standards invariably mean that messing with some radiators changes the pump pressure arriving at other radiators, so the system setup is an iterative process. That's called balancing the system, and is what plumbers should do - in practice most apply rules of thumb like "turn the lockshield off and open a quarter of a turn", and some just leave the lockshield fully open, meaning the system is unbalanced, average return temperature is too high and you'll get a lot of boiler cycling. The £18 should pay for itself in two months, but I'd expect that you'd need to allow better part of a day to do this properly (oh, and you'll need something like black electrical tape to stick on any chrome fittings you're trying to measure the temperature of - partly because infrared thermometers don't work on reflective surfaces, and because you don't want to bounce the aiming laser in your own face).

Who says you don't learn anything on the Reg?

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Ledswinger
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@Adam T

"What I really want (and what I suspect could really make savings) would be individual control of each room and each radiator."

A lot less than you'd think, because the individual rooms are still within the thermal envelope of the whole house. So even with a radiator off, that room will stabilise at (say) 16 C, sucking the heat through internal walls, floors or via air exchange, and then your temperature gradient to the outside world in the "isolated" room is not actually very much different from other rooms through the critical winter period. It is possible (but uneconomic) to insulate individual rooms and fit seals on the internal doors, but then you've start having condensation and damp problems if the door was opened allowing warm damp air into the now cold room. And there's another consideration, that the more radiators you're NOT using because they've been turned off by timers, the more the boiler will have been over-provisioned, leading to less efficient operation from cycling and flue losses.

Basic thermostatic valves are a credible compromise where you want to gently "top slice" the heat output of a particular radiator, but remote control radiator valves are simply a complicated solution for people living in a house that's too big, or not understanding the basic thermodynamics of the house. And most timer valves have battery operation, so you'd need to factor in a couple of quid for each radiator per year, which makes a further small but regular dent in the savings.

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Google starts selling Glass to Brits – for £1,000 a pop

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Re: Hmm.

"There are many cheaper ways to look like a complete and utter prick..."

But few come with better anagrams: Lax, gross leper.

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Traffic lights, fridges and how they've all got it in for us

Ledswinger
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" For example, the temperature of the fridge could be monitored allowing an alert to be generated if the temperature goes outside defined limits for a period of time, for example when a toddler (or drunken / sleepy adult) merrily raids the fridge and leaves the door open, ...."

Err, most fridges have crap control of temperature in the first place, so I'd have little confidence that the new web connected models would either be better able to monitor something they currently can't manage. Things are different for well made fridges by reputable makers, but then there's little chance of temperature going out of spec.

As for "door open" alerts, wouldn't it be simpler just to have good basic design that causes the door to close itself? Kitchen draws are expected to shut themselves gently these days, so I'd have thought that getting a fridge to do the same would be a better way of spending any available design money than stuffing it full of electronics to tweet that the door's open, could somebody do something about it?

Admittedly the compressor failure notification would be a new capability, but why spend money to monitor one of the most reliable pieces of equipment in the home? The incremental complexity of the monitoring kit and communications would probably make the new product less reliable than an old dumb fridge.

Which brings me to the root problem of TIOT. The internet of things is shaping up as a riot of technically possible solutions, desperately searching for some problems. On the occasions where a problem can be solved, it often seems an expensive solution for a mildly inconvenient or infrequent occurrence, often with significant additional risks. So TIOT has given rise (for example) to ninety quid fire alarms that require wifi and a user account to activate, and then turn themselves off if waved at. Or you could buy an expensive thermostat that requires professional installation, and then tries to guess your habits - great if you are too dim to programme a simple timer or programmeable thermostat, and you don't mind it telling servers all round the world when you're in or out. And at the end of that, these thermostats still need to be told if you are on holiday, or require heating on and off outside of the normal pattern.

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YouTube in shock indie music nuke: We all feel a little less worthy today

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Re: Happens everywhere

"The problem is not the polices of Youtube; the problem is its actual existence. If we want diversity, we need new monopolies laws for the Internet age."

I suspect that we don't need new laws, and the existing ones would suffice just fine. On any metric Youtube has a dominant market share, with numbers circulating showing that it played 44% of music videos viewed worldwide even back in 2011. If a print distributor with a 44% market share tried to offer discriminatory terms to smaller publishers, they'd find themselves on the sharp end of a competition investigation in not time at all, and undoubtedly enjoying a draconian fine for abuse of market power.

As far as I can see, you are correct that the problem is one of corporate funding of politics, but the impact of that is not blocking new laws, rather it is ensuring that existing ones do not get applied.

In all of this, it looks to me as though Google are sowing the seeds of their own downfall. They appear to believe that this behaviour is acceptable and legal, and will have no consequences for them. The correct response for music enthusiasts is to try and live a Google free life - different search engine, no Gmail account, make sure your next phone isn't Android, avoid Youtube.

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AMD details aggressive power-efficiency goal: 25X boost by 2020

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Re: Maybe answering the wrong question@ BlueGreen

"We really need to ask why we need these huge datacentres, why people have to have everything 'on demand' etc."

I have to say, the idea hadn't crossed my mind, so maybe you should repost that, substituting "I" for "we". Unless you're Charleyfarley, and that's the royal "we"?

But it's a fine idea, and it needs somebody to take it forward. Perhaps you could establish a people's soviet committee, who could prepare a list of "approved & permitted" purposes for computing. Anything not on the list would of course be bourgeois profligacy contributing to climate change, and by definition would be unapproved and not permitted.

On second thoughts, no, I don't like that idea. If you were to emigrate to North Korea, you needn't be troubled by the thought of fellow citizens indulging in frivolous use of computing power for trivial self gratification?

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