* Posts by Ledswinger

3304 posts • joined 1 Jun 2012

Japan showcases really, really fast … whoa, WTF was that?!

Ledswinger
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Re: Fast, but not that fast

"only 28.2kph faster than the record held by a French TGV"

Either way, the power demands of rail or maglev at high speeds is immense. The world record TGV was deploying about 20MW (the fat end of 30,000 hp), and for a shortened configuration IIRC.

Whilst these very high speeds approach the speed of short haul air, you also get close to the energy use per passenger km, and you need a "runway" that extends from start point to destination.

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UN: E-waste's 42 MEELLLION tonnes represents 'valuable' (and ‘toxic’) urban mine

Ledswinger
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Re: Economics 101

"Therefore we got over the hurdle and ended up with a well functioning and financially viable capability for domestic recycling."

Ah yes, financially viable. I remember that, before the China-led super cycle came to an end, and the price of commodities and oil dropped through the floor. Now the plastic recyclers are all in trouble, along with scrap dealers, but the rules are set to continue to mandate this "valuable" recycling.

But why? The materials came out of the earth, if it is not inherently economic to recycle them without the "assistance" of lawmakers, why bother? In a modern landfill electrical waste is less of a problem than many naturally occurring minerals. If industry want to recycle things fine, but recycling for recycling's sake is more expensive for no obvious benefit.

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Mortgage data splashed all over the net. Thanks HSBC Finance

Ledswinger
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Re: Oops...

"What HSBC will be doing, after all this has come out, is just what they are doing now. No action will be taken, and they will swan along as before."

Au contraire, they're a furrin company, and in the US that means that the machinations of the state and federal authorities will be loaded against them, when compared to the way a domestic company would be treated - or even investigated in the first place. It is unsurprising that there have been five major "money laundering" settlements in recent years with non-US banks (HSBC, Lloyds, ING, Standard Chartered, Credit Suisse) and only one against a US company (JP Morgan).

HSBC can expect to be clobbered for a moderate to large fine (even if this is a "settlement without admission of guilt") and they will then be hounded by class actions from lawyers pretending to represent customers, and separately from lawyers pretending to represent shareholders. The adverse publicity will not help their business. Overlay the costs of restitution and credit monitoring, and this works out expensive.

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Trading Standards pokes Amazon over 'libellous' review

Ledswinger
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Re: Trading Standards

"The real route of recourse is a claim in defamation against Amazon. However this would be extremely expensive. I'm talking hundreds of thousands of pounds."

Amazon are being berks. They have the power to shove reviews at me that I don't trust (the Amazon Vine programme), but then won't do anything about factually inaccurate? Lazy twerps. They know that they can out-lawyer individuals and even middle sized companies, so they won't get sued in the UK, where class action is ineffective and losing a civil case incurs the other party's legal costs.

What they are overlooking is that if Trading Standards are demanding a clarification of intermediary responsibilities, there's a good chance this will get wrapped up into future policy making machinations (with possible support from the likes of CAB, Which? and others). I doubt Amazon want new legal obligations, but for the sake of idleness today they seem to be encouraging them tomorrow.

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UH OH, it's MOBILEGEDDON! Your site may lose, well, PENNIES

Ledswinger
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Re: "Mobile Friendly"

"So you want the internet to look generic? You want every site to have everything stacked in blocks?"

Better than the living hell of Flash, and all the ADHD inspired blinking, flashing, poppy-uppy sh** that web designers wallow in, whilst making the general UX poorer and more confusing, and making data and content subsidiary to self-aggrandising presentation. Just like the Graun has recently done.

How about we compromise? A few static pictures, embedded links, a small choice of fonts and colours would be all you're allowed.

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America was founded on a dislike of taxes, so how did it get the IRS?

Ledswinger
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Re: House prices

"I'm guessing that >50% of the UK population live in comutting distances to London?"

Broadly speaking yes. The train journey from the West Midlands to London is about an hour and ten, I'd say that's a practical limit of commuting when combined with the feeder/destination journeys. Taking the West Midlands and all closer regions (London, South East, East) and you have 46% of the mainland population. Those in the more outlying reaches of the West Midlands may complain that it can't be done, but that 46% doesn't include the nether reaches of the South West region (like Swindon) or or the East Midlands (like Leicester).

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Lack of secure protocol puts US whistleblowers at risk, says ACLU

Ledswinger
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Re: The point?

"there is no need for the government to hack communications sent to the government."

There certainly is. The whole point is not to help and facilitate whistleblowers, but to facilitate the identification and subsequent hounding of whistleblowers. Government is a bureaucracy that runs for its own benefit. It does not desire people to let on to its own failings, and the purpose of whistleblower policies and communications channels is (a) primarily for appearances sake, and (b) to catch those who might embarass the bureaucracy.

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Ledswinger
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Re: It's really....

my bottom after a stonkingly hot curry:

"You know of what I speak, Commentard, a great hog's eye, lidless, wreathed in flame."

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What's that THUD sound? It's your Lumia's best feature after unflashing Windows 10

Ledswinger
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Re: I know reality TV@ Hellcat

You're really selling it to me, the whole Windows phone/Nokia package.

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Segway bought by former patent spat adversary Ninebot

Ledswinger
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Re: The segway always was a solution looking for a problem

"A lot of computing power utilitised to balance an unstable device for .... what reason? "

For the reason that riding a Segway is the most marvelous fun. The "off road" ones are particularly fab.

You remember fun, don't you?

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Lib Dem manifesto: Spook slapdown, ban on teen-repelling Mosquitos

Ledswinger
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Re: British politics in a nutshell

"It's been that way from the start and ain't gonna change any time soon."

That, sir, is where you are wrong. On a balance of very strong probabilities we'll end up with a Labour/SNP coalition. That'll keep Labour in power and happy to 2020, but they'll have to give something big away to the SNP to keep control. The vermin of the Labour party are determined at any cost to try to cling to power (see postal vote fraud, "open door" immigration, "carriers for votes" etc etc). Now, anything they give to the SNP strengthens the case for English votes for English laws - and that'd routinely keep the Labour party out of power in England & Scotland (SNP would supplant Labour, and Labour usually only gain power over England through the combination of Scots and Welsh socialism plus the over-representation of Scotland & Wales at Westminster.

Sooo,..... coming up to 2020, we can expect that on the basis that "coalitions are now the norm" the Labour party will attempt to stiff the country with a proportional representation system. All the smaller parties will support it, Labour will simply for short term expediency, and we'll end up with the sort of shit headed muddle the Belgians and Italians have.

So if 5 years is "soon", I'll wager you £5 that the system will change soon. I'll also wager that through self interest, the Labour party will find some way of making a system that is systematically worse than FPTP, and still favours a scenario that is biased towards the incumbents when the change is made.

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In some ways, dating apps are the anti-internet

Ledswinger
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""Survival of the fittest" is.... about the ability to out-breed your opponents by any means."

Those looking for evolutionary success should get down the sperm bank, then, rather than wasting their time with crummy dating apps.

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It's 2015 and a RICH TEXT FILE or a HTTP request can own your Windows machine

Ledswinger
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"Oh, wait, we'll be getting Service Pack X (Windows 10) soon."

Judging on past practice RTM and public release will be little more than extended beta testing. Enterprises will wait for the inevitable SP1, and still there will be regular Gb+ patch sessions. Of course Spartan will be vulnerable - even if (which I doubt) it were ground up new build, it is evident that Microsoft simply cannot design and write secure code.

I concur with the complaints of other commentards but project this forward to Windows 10: So for ten months time "How have Microsoft produced a package of such vulnerable code, when so much of it is recycled and has been around since what, Server 2003?"

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Bloke hits armadillo AND mother-in-law with single 9mm round

Ledswinger
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Re: Varmint?

" an armadillo decided to break into his grans house - it went in through the wood panelled walls"

So the problem with armadillos is simply that Merkins don't remember the tale of the three little pigs, the moral of which is that you make your house out of materials suitable for the purpose?

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National Grid's new designer pylon is 'too white and boring' – Pylon Appreciation Society

Ledswinger
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Re: White pylon

Re: Wind power: "Such places are not in the UK"

Don't believe the NZ propaganda! They're claiming a load factor of 32.4%, which is good for onshore units, but not so good compared to the 37-39% year round average achieved by UK offshore units. And whilst not universally true, as a general rule it is often impracticable to build decent size (5MW+) turbines on land, so you'll see the NZ site has poxy, short-bottomed 1.65 MW units - they're letting more than half the wind energy drift on by.

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Ledswinger
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Re: VAWT@ anothercynic

"I agree that a row of QR5s on their 14m stalks would be nicer to see than one massive 60m wind turbine quietly rotating in the wind"

But unfortunately the boundary layer effects mean you'll always get less output from any wind turbine closer the ground (or even sea surface). This really mitigates against VAWT, which lends itself to smaller scale units.

That's why the latest designs are offshore monsters HAWT up to 220m tall.

In theory VAWT could be built offshore, but nobody's done anything at any meaningful scale, despite some tens of millions of dollars thrown at research into offshore VAWT.

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Ledswinger
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Re: White pylon@ Pen-y-gors

"Our great-great-great-grandchildren will be able to shovel a couple of kilos of nuclear waste into their hot water bottle and keep the bed warm without wasting any hot water"

Managing nuclear waste is a fairly straightforward concept. It has a cost, but ultimately it came out the ground, you shove it back into the ground. I know this is challenging for the calvinist-guilt ethic that seems to be an essential for all "environmentalists".

The UK's spiralling decommissioning costs reflect 1950's designs that have more irradiated mass than modern designs, and in particular the appalling practices at the Sellafield plant primarily related to nuclear weapons development. Sellafield alone represents 74% of total UK decommissioning costs, and that's virtually all down to research and armaments. Nuclear power decommissioning costs will turn out around £40bn (undiscounted) including the sites not included in the NDA portfolio. Over their lifetime the assets concerned will have generated around 3.2 PWh of electricity, so the decommissioning costs for nuclear power are about 1.25 p/kWh, and modern designs would probably be less than a quarter of that. It'd be even cheaper if the bunglers of the civil service could be kept well away.

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Ledswinger
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Re: White pylon

"Here's a potential safer nuclear alternative....."

PBMR has been around for many years now. It's proven at concept level, it works, and it lends itself to much smaller scale plants than say the huge EPR plants that Areva are struggling to complete and commission in Europe.

There's certainly reason to believe it would be less prone to the sort of catastrophic meltdown of Chernobyl or Fukushima, but against this the proportionate overheads of smaller nuclear plants will be much higher, and certain operational, security and logistical details really don't work in favour of smaller nuclear plants. So as a result it has never really managed to make itself economically viable, and the idea has repeatedly been passed on.

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Ledswinger
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Re: White pylon

"Wind turbine efficiency is already pretty dire "

That's true. But you're assuming that they are intended to be efficient and effective. Any deductive reasoning leads to the conclusion that wind turbines are built solely for the sake of being seen to do something. Total UK spend on renewables to date is around £38bn, which has purchased around 20 GW of wind and solar PV capacity, with an average load factor (across onshore wind, offshore wind, solar) of around 25%, with around 6% load factor on the 100 coldest days of the year.

The same money would have bought 10 GW of nuclear plant (event at EDF & Areva's comically over-priced offer for Hinkley Point C), but that would have operated at around 90% load factor, and because outages are scheduled, close on 100% availability on the coldest days. So nuclear power would give you twice the total output of the crummy renewables, reliably and when you need.

So I come back to the tokenism of wind turbines. Monuments to muddle headed thinking, erected at the behest of civil servants and politicians spending other people's money.

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Data centre doesn't like your face? That's a good thing

Ledswinger
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"assuming that by the time they noticed that the content was incorrect I could have written and backdated the first document"

No! You'd honestly consider undertaking fraud (for which you'd be personally liable in most jurisdictions) to benefit the reputation of your employer (for which you get little if any credit) and for the sole reason of hiding their organisational incompetence of neither having the spec, nor the process to realise and correct this omission in the first place?

If I might offer some advice, having worked in a number of situations of institutional fraud, never, ever cover things up for the business. Unless you're a shareholding director, fraudulent practice won't benefit you, but the risk you're taken is your entire future career, and possibly your liberty. Might sound extreme for "mere paperwork", but if you were falsifying ISO9000 compliance, that compliance is presumably relied upon by customers, and the fraud will be deemed to have been done for financial advantage. And potentially the business would have been embarrassed by a blot on the audit scorecard, but that's retrievable. If they were found to be cheating the audits, then the customers simply won't renew - will your employers thank you for that?

Very few corporate frauds start off as vast and wilful attempts to steal - the vast majority are some attempt to put right a missed ambition - sales targets not met one quarter, earnings below expectations, operational KPIs below the bonus threshold. And the perpetrators usually plan to make things good next quarter or next month, conceal the evidence, and nobody will be the wiser or worse off.

And whilst your intention was to cover your tracks well enough to avoid detection, that's what people like all the jailed, sacked and unemployed fraudsters thought. Remember Enron, and Arther Andersen? The demise of the $100bn a year Enron empire, and the 85,000 employee Andersen's business came simply because the board wanted to hide a few underperforming projects, planning to make things right in subsequent quarters. The Satyam fraud reported elsewhere on the Reg today is another example.

If you're prepared to do fraudulent things, at least make sure that you personally benefit from the risks you take - but even then I'd say don't do it. I've worked in an IT firm with people currently doing time for a fraud they hoped they could hide, but that benefited them.

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Australia finds $1 BEELLION to replace No-SQL DATABASE

Ledswinger
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Re: Hmm...

"I'd be tempted to leave the bloody thing exactly where it is."

Probably right. Sounds as though they want new software architecture, new data architecture, a new and fashionable operating environment, new hardware, and a revised set of application requirements.

What could possibly go wrong?

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Ledswinger
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@knarf

"We call it austerity in the UK"

No, you call it austerity. Where sane people live, the UK bunglement's actions of spending £100 billion each and every year more than they raise in tax revenues is rightly regarded as insane profligacy that can only end in tears. If you want real austerity, go to Greece, and even there, with one in four of all workers unemployed, and one in two of all young people unemployed, they are still only managing to balance the budget (which is why they keep on needing new international loans to repay existing loans).

So for every one of the UK's 30m taxpayers, they're going to have to pay the interest on £50k of debt each year (probably forever), and your "austerity" is adding £3k a year to each individual's personal allocation.

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Instead of public sector non-jobbery, Martha, how about creating REAL entrepreneurs?

Ledswinger
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@ J.G.Harston

" why hasn't Britain produced .....a BAE Systems"

What, that useless company that have never developed any aircraft at pure commercial risk, instead relying on the commercial nous of Hawker Siddeley, building aircraft originally designed decades ago with slide rules? That same useless company that piddled away billions on the over-budget, over-due, never delivered Nimrod MRA4 (after achieving similar ignominy with Nimrod AEW3)? The same company that is behind the over-due, over-budget, fault ridden Astute submarine? The same company behind the vastly expensive and essentially purposeless Typhoon? The same company behind the crummy and costly Bowman radio system?

Given the incredible heritage of its predecessor companies, BAES is a tragedy that we can hardly be proud of.

And I might add that ICI was bought by AkzoNobel and no longer exists, although I'll accept that ARM and AstraZeneca are doing well for now.

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Aluminum bendy battery is boffins' answer to EXPLODING Li-ion menace

Ledswinger
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Re: For once the news on the battery front may actually lead to something.

"I haven't done the numbers but if you consider that subsidies could prevent needing to build new power stations they might be a good investment"

Evidently you haven't done the numbers. But I work with those who have done the numbers. Renewables (subsidised or not) only avoid the need for fossil fuel plants if they can deliver with total reliability at times of peak demand. If that's Arizona, where peak demand is during hot sunny summer days due to air conditioning, then it can work. But in the UK, where peak demand is on the coldest, stillest winter evenings, then renewables and any credible storage technology simply can't cut it, because there is no scenario under which you could capture sufficient power from renewable sources when it is available. Even if you overcame that by putting PV on every building roof in the UK and putting a wind turbine in every field, you've still got to store the power for months on end, and in volumes sufficient to power the UK through (eg) the very cold, calm winter conditions that prevailed in 2010-2011, for say three continuous weeks.

If in your world of renewables plus storage on any single day you can't meet demand, then you either face up to power cuts in the worse conditions, or you're back to having centralised fossil or nuclear back up, and you still need the grid at the same size (or with greater capacity) to do what you'd like. So the underlying fixed costs remain the same or greater, before you've added storage and further build out of renewables.

To date, UK energy policy has frittered the fat end of £40bn on "renewables", and at this particular instant that £40bn is generating less than 2% of total midday demand on a mild spring day. Even at EDF's farcical pricing for Hinkley Point C, the same money spent on nuclear would have delivered just short of 10GW of reliable capacity, or about 30% of today's midday demand. And you want more subsidies, and more money spent just to store renewable power?

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Ledswinger
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Re: For once the news on the battery front may actually lead to something.

"A stack of these sitting in garages or cupboards soaking up PV panel output would pretty much solve the intermittency problem."

Fine for off grid applications where cost and space are not a problem. But here in the UK solar isn't cost effective without ridiculous subsidies (14.38 p/kWh, for output that on wholesale markest would be worth about 3p/kWh on average). If you then add in storage that has a not insignificant cost - I've been working on future cost projections for grid storage, and even allowing sustained double digit annual price falls, storage doesn't wash its face. You've then got extra control gear and complexity for the storage, which is more cost over and above the storage itself. You've got the floor space occupied, which might seem irrelevant, but it's still taking up an area of the property, which at build cost is typically around £800/sq m.

And if you're still requiring the grid as your back up, who pays the fixed costs of the networks, systems, and central generation? Under current arrangements where most of the costs are boiled down to a bogus marginal price, the PV+storage enthusiast would not result in any reduction of system costs, but at marginal pricing they'd be charged to those without this options - ie those in high density housing including flats and apartments.

Maybe that suits you, but it becomes a dramatic extension of the current dystopian subsidy regime, in which wealthy middle class types have their energy bills subsidised by everybody else (ie, weighted towards the less well off).

The sooner DECC is stopped from its idiotic wanking around with vast market distorting subsidies the better. If people want to install PV at wholesale market rates of circa 3p, then they're welcome, but I don't want to support the bastards.

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Bonking with Apple is no fun 'cos it's too hard to pay, say punters

Ledswinger
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Re: Vodafone wallet

"'Excuse me Barkeep, do you accept cash in this fine establishment?'"

Or rather "do you accept wireless cards..."

AFAICS the mobile networks and phone makers sat on their hands for so long that the contactless payment market marched on by, and they're now playing catch up. In theory an NFC phone and a contactless card are duplicative, except that the phone invariably requires an "e-wallet" between my bank account and my phone, and potentially carries additional complications and hazards.

As long as I carry a physical wallet with cash and assorted ID's, then there's no real benefit to me in using a phone for payments, and in this respect the phone industry would have been better off (a) improving default handset and system security, and (b) routing into contactless payments by getting third parties to tie NFC IDs to subscribers and loyalty schemes (so, eg, my phone NFC chip could identify me as a National Trust/Clubcard/RNLI or other member).

In their haste to "own the money", the phone industry ignored that they needed to "own the pocket" first. Obviously "owning the handbag" may be a bigger challenge.

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EE springs Wi-Fi phone calls on not-spot sufferers, Tube riders

Ledswinger
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Re: Pah

"What I love is how many people simply plug in their AP and let it auto select channels."

Fools! It's not as if the technology could and should sort itself out without having to have its hand held by a meat sack, eh? And that's before we come to the rubbish security defaults, and loophole-addled firmware.

I suppose almost all aspects of Wifi are a bit like all aspects of USB connectors, most "smart TVs" and any multimedia browser add-on - classic bits of Friday afternoon engineering, let loose on an unsuspecting public because it was all too much effort to do the job properly.

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UK.gov: We want Britannia's mobe-enabled cars to rule the roads

Ledswinger
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Re: Autonomous?

"51 billion quid means there is a vast tonnage of gravy on that train"

More gravy odour than real liquid gravy. As with the mythical benefits of HS2, most of these benefits are due to people being assumed to do something more useful in the vehicle and other spurious "benefits" like labour market flexibility (for which read "zero hours contracts, lower wage rates, part time working").

If this benefit were real, then a combination of banning self drive cars, and mandating the use of taxis would deliver even more benefits: The same "productivity" benefits are all delivered, an additional waged driver is actively employed for every journey, and transport efficiency of cars will magically increase from the circa 1.6 occupants per car to around 2.6 (in government terms a professional driver still counts as part of the beneficial load). And in fact the biggest benefit would be getting strap hanging commuters off of packed commuter trains and into their own taxi. Obviously the roads would be more congested, but the great thing would be that would allow even more time for personal productivity and greater working hours for the taxi driver. And the roads would be so grid-locked that serious collisions would be all but impossible, adding great financial benefits from the "savings" against the DfT costs of serious road accidents.

Obviously there's some minor practical difficulties, but when you're spouting ***t about the "benefits" of anything in the future, the important thing is to come up with a humungous number, justified by a 300 page economic analysis full of more holes than Swiss cheese, but that is so long and dull that nobody in their right mind can be bothered to read it.

I might add that if anybody wants to make driverless cars take off, then they need to make it look a llloooooonnnngggggg way more desirable than the Little Tykes Cosy Coupe pictured with the article - what were the designers thinking?

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BT thinks EE customers will FLEE from enlarged four-play mobe biz

Ledswinger
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"(EE) get so many poor reviews. Except they keep winning the best business provider award"

Well they didn't ask me and my many thousand colleagues, of whom something like 90% think EE's service stinks - not so much the "customer service" because we rarely have much to deal with EE staff, but the raw, underlying signal service. EE stuck in a picocell because of the crap coverage at our offices, but that's no help when you're off site, and their crap coverage comes home to roost.

I'd guess the "best business provider award" only measures connectivity at large business customers' registered offices?

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Ledswinger
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Re: Churn

"Anyone prepared to tolerate EE's shitty service should be able to swallow BT's equally shitty service."

Possibly, although EE would have to have gone some to have matched BT's legendary customer indifference. I would suspect that this is a polite way of saying that the BT brand itself has some negative equity in some corners, and those EE customers who have already fled BT's landline services will probably rinse and repeat at renewal time.

Having said all that, this document is just a "don't sue us afterwards because we warned you" publication, and therefore has to present both sides of each equation, rather than giving anything away about management thinking.

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Put those smartphones away: Google adds anti-copying measures to Drive for Work

Ledswinger
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Re: The more I think about the security of Google Cloud.

"the more I am convinced it's more secure than traditional systems."

Google shill or total fuckwit? I'm undecided, myself.

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Home Office awards Raytheon £150m over e-borders cancellation

Ledswinger
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"Yep, there is the hand of the Civil Service in this."

Certainly is. But the idea that Raytheon continue to be an A list supplier is a lesson for all other suppliers: Fail with impunity. That's not to let the wankers off the hook over at the Home Office who clearly mismanaged writing the specification, evaluating the tender, accepting the offer, and then overseeing failure.

But if they'd announced a five year ban on new work for Raytheon, then they'd be sending a lesson to suppliers: Don't fuck up yourself, don't accept contracts we've pre-fucked up.

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Dutch Transport Inspectorate raid Uber's Amsterdam office

Ledswinger
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Re: How does it work in the UK?

"Nowt wrong with the Skoda octavia mate"

I'd agree - used to have one myself. But a ten year old, fifth hand one, stinking of bodily fluids, with shagged out seats, suspension and fittings, driven by a part time, non-owner driver is still no transport of delight.

I'd be happy to see UK taxi fares doubled if they'd actually mandate the use of large, modern, clean cars driven by careful, competent drivers who are clever enough to wash, and happy to keep their opinions to themselves.

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Ledswinger
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Re: How does it work in the UK?

" How does it work in the UK? I try to avoid death as much as possible..."

Well round my way there's a steep sided valley, with a 30 mph road down one side up the other. Last time I caught a licensed taxi (driven by somebody who didn't appear to have learned to drive according to the British Highway Code), the taxi was just short of 80 mph down and up, in a car that appeared to be shared between multiple drivers "because working less then 16 hours a week doesn't affect benefits". It was like being in the back seat of a Stuka, without the fun of an MG15 to use on dog walkers and garden gnomes.

Obviously things differ for those who might be at risk of exploitation and abuse, but for grizzled types like me, I fail to see how Uber can be much worse than the scabarous offerings of the UK's comically uncontrolled "licensed" taxi operation. Last time I was in Germany, I caught a taxi to the airport, and was chauffeured in a new Merc S class with leather seats. In most of the UK you're lucky to get a vomit-scented 2004 Skoda Octavia.

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Part of CAP IT system may be scrapped after digital fail – MPs

Ledswinger
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Re: The last time I was involved in paper maps for field registration...

"Yes, I'm sure it'll be loads better this time around."

It probably is, as there's a range of intermediaries offering OS mapping for planning purposes. I had to get a 1:10,000 plan of my house just to apply for planning permission just to move a s0ddin' fence eighteen inches in my own garden, such is the all enveloping scope of the public sector. Getting the plan was easy and painless (so long as circa fifteen quid wasn't counted as pain), submitting a planning application to Numptyton Borough Council rather more painful.

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Spookception: US spied on Israel spying on US-Iran nuke talks

Ledswinger
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Re: France?

"When and how did France become a major threat to the USA?"

Simply by being French. The UK and other Anglophone countries are poodles for the Yanks. You've covered off China and Russia. The Germans and Japanese are quite introverted in foreign policy, which leaves France strutting its stuff on the international stage. From a US point of view, the threat isn't necessarily military, it is anything that might challenge their hegemony, which they believe to be a natural and enduring position, as of right.

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Ledswinger
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Re: So only Israel is allowed to have Nukes?

"If so, it explains nukes and power plants."

Not really. Building nuke power plants doesn't help you with a petrol/gas shortage, and if electricity shortages are a problem then they could easily sort that out by building a few CCGT power plants (and if the Iranians would give up on nuclear power the US would certainly lift sanctions on conventional power plants.

Make no mistake about it, the Iranian interest in nuclear is about weapons. But if you were the Iranians, and had an unconstrained, aggressive regional power (Israel) waving nuclear weapons at you, and the US arming your opponents, what would you be doing? They're also thinking that Pakistan have the bomb, India have the bomb, the Norks have the bomb. They know enemies like Saudi are busy with nuclear power programmes (whilst denying weapons ambitions) as are intermediate regional players like Egypt and Jordan. And unfortunately the US has persistently taught the world a vital lesson about carrying a big stick. Another lesson the US taught the world was that Saddam and Gaddafi were deposed because they didn't have WMD, not because they did, lies to the contrary not withstanding in the Iraqi case.

Ignore the fact that you probably don't like the Iranian government, imagine you are the Iranian president, consider the threats and challenges to your power, consider the fact that the US are continuously pouring billions of dollars in advanced conventional weapons into the hands of your enemies, and ask why you'd consider putting aside your nuclear weapon ambitions for one moment?

Petrol and electricity generation really have nothing to do with it at all.

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Force your hand: Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Ledswinger
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Re: Looks ok but...

"Cooler I think would be to have backlit LCD keys so you could have any character you like displayed"

I think this could have real value as enabling single SKUs for all world markets, rather than having every language needing its own physical keyboard. Not sure how keyboards work at all for non-Roman alphabets, but I guess they already have to lump it with circa 84 or 102 key keyboards, so it could still improve things for those users.

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Hated biz smart meter rollout: UK.gov sticks chin out, shuts eyes

Ledswinger
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Re: A waste of money

They don't get"an uplift", the subsidy comes in the firm of ROCs and LECs that they then sell to suppliers who are obliged to buy them. In future new plant will get payments directly over the wholesale price but this will completely remove any relationship with the wholesale price because these new subsidies (CFDs) will mean they get paid the same whenever they produce power.

Now, if I'm having to explain basic stuff like this to you then it follows that you don't have a clue about the UK energy markets, and that whilst you're happy to share your valued opinions, you can't be bothered to do the briefest on line research that could have informed your views.

[old git mode]

I can remember when the Red commentards were both opinionated AND well informed.

[/old git mode]

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Ledswinger
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Re: I don't get it at all.

"The companies involved will turn a profit though, so that's alright with politicians sucking at the corporate teat."

FFS, every time "smart meters" get a mention on the Reg, ill-informed commentards come rushing to bleat about the fat cats installing smart meters to make more money. Could you at least check your facts with a Google search or two before spouting rubbish?

The UK smart meter programme is enshrined in UK law by the last Labour government (Energy Act 2008), rubber stamped by the current government (Energy Act 2011), and is in response to Westminster's interpretation of the EU Directives 2009/72/EC and 2009/73/EC. The views and opinions of energy suppliers have little or no bearing on this, which is ultimately a product of the "green" thinking of the EU, and wishful thinking about the energy savings DECC hoped would come about.

Maybe the energy suppliers will get rich anyway? Not very likely, because the costs of avoiding manual meter reading are small - about ten quid a year, and the case for sacking the meter reader by installing £400 of complex, unproven trickery doesn't really stack up unless a forty year cash payback appeals. And if that does, then form an orderly queue because you can be the asset owner, by becoming a Meter Asset Provider. It is most unlikely that smart meters will be owned by your energy supplier, more likely to be owned by the banks, who will then charge the supplier handsomely for the privilege of using the meter, and it will then get passed through to you. In just the same way as OFGEM's disastrous and incompetent Offshore Transmission Operator rules, in which the banks made more money from renting out wires than the windfarm owners made from the blasted windmills.

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Ledswinger
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Re: A waste of money

"why is it that renewable generators only tend to produce when it befits them the most, i.e. when the subsidies and prices we are paying are at the highest (usually times of highest demand)"

Utter, utter drivel. The subsidies to renewables are volume based and not time-related, and the owners invariably operate to maximise power output, added to which the marginal cost of renewable power is close to zero, so once built there's no logic in not running even if the wholesale price component is low.

As for producing at peak demand, that is invariably after dark in winter. So no solar output, and (because the coldest weather is associated with high pressure and calm conditions) very weak wind power output. This is the fundamental problem with renewables - not very reliable, and not available when you need them. You could fix it with energy storage, but you then build in vast additional capital costs over and above the economically challenged renewable plant.

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Standard General bids to save RadioShack from oblivion

Ledswinger
Silver badge

Re: Next

"but is there a <high street> retail option?"

Not for hobby electronics. The fundamental problem is that mail order has always been cheaper and more efficient than a physical retail operation. This is made worse in the UK because a physical retailer expects to be loaded up with an expensive lease, laden with "upward only" rent reviews, and worse still, will have to pay extortionate business rates for no say and virtually no services from the council that pockets those rates. Those two things alone probably need a minimum 50% uplift over a mail order price. A recent PWC analysis concluded that retailers pay taxes equivalent to 59% of their UK profits, primarily driven by business rates, and the overall burden of taxes on retailers has increased by 65% since 2005. Funnily enough you often hear local and national politicians prattling on about the sad decline of the high street, yet they never mention their part in its downfall.

Factor in modest footfall for specialist stores in even quite large towns, and the maths can rarely work. Even if they've shrunk the business to the few profitable sites, they'll then find they've lost important economies of scale in procurement, brand, and overheads, so cure a repeat shrinking cycle. Because the time insensitive customers will find it not just cheaper, but easier to buy from a good online retailer, it seems unlikely that specialist chain retailers can survive outside of a few big city sites.

I suggest somebody writes to the National Trust and asks them to buy a Maplin store when they go bust, with a view to preserving it in its full glory. Against the likelihood that the NT will refuse, those who haven't been in Maplin of late should perhaps take the opportunity to revisit the place while its still there.

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UK.gov shovels £15m into training new quantum engineers

Ledswinger
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Re: 6G smartphones

"WTF is 6G supposed to do anyway?"

Nobody knows, nobody cares. But the dimly functioning proto-brains of our half wit politicians have registered that 3G was supposedly better than 2G. And 4G is supposedly better than 3G. Using reasoning of which algae would be proud, they conclude that 5G, 6, or 7G must be incrementally better, and will without doubt deliver fantabulous riches and societal benefits that cannot even be dreamed of yet...

5G sounds a bit close for comfort - you know, like they might have to deliver something. 7G is perhaps too far off even for the "jam-tomorrow" liars of the various political parties. So 6G it is!

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Millions of voters are missing: It’s another #GovtDigiShambles

Ledswinger
Silver badge

Re: Plus ça change then

"AFAIK we still have plenty dupes and dead people in the system, supporting quite a lot of fraud"

Well, fraud works better for some parties than others. Particularly the one that enthusiastically inflated postal voting a few years back, and from press reports (even in the Graun) seems to be involved in nine out of ten formally investigated cases of electoral fraud. You know the one, the one that promised an end to boom and bust just before the biggest financial crisis in recorded history, and the same one that embroiled us in a protracted and disastrous war on made up evidence.

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Boffins bothered by EU prez's proposed science funding cut

Ledswinger
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Re: Politics and Science

You expect too much, sir!

I on the other hand, am able to admire the breath-taking stupidity of inviting the participation of a bankrupt, inherently corrupt non EU country that is in the middle of a civil war and eventual disintegration.

Although on that last statement, its interesting the extent to which maps all over the world are trying to erase arbitrarily drawn 19th century borders, and the extent to which Western governments are bitterly trying to oppose that processes of self determination wherever it should occur, be that Crimea, Kurdistan, Northern Iraq, Scotland, various Spanish provinces and a whole host of other places.

And that's where the science budget comes in. It's important that the "statesmen" of the EU have some form of carrot, given that they don't have a stick (and if they did they wouldn't be able to agree who would hold it, nor which end). So ptooh to European science, lets use the money as a bribe (over and above various billions already spent bailing out the crooks running Ukraine).

This is what the believers in Greater Europe want.

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Intel's cheap and Android's free: Not any more, says TAG Heuer

Ledswinger
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Re: Not a Bad Idea

"had mine for over 10 years and cost about the same as a decent laptop of the same era"

As much as a laptop, for a watch made by a company famous for over-priced champagne and perfume? If any other readers are proposing to invest laptop money in a pretend prestige watch churned out by a $30bn a year corporation, send the money to me instead, my need is greater than yours.

For a decent watch my money's still on a Seiko 5. Honest, mechanical, self winding, durable, and yours for as little as fifty quid (and made in Singapore, or at least mine was). But unavailable in any of those comedy hugely over-sized and overly ostentatious cases that seem de rigeur for "me too" Swiss watches.

The very idea of a TAG smart watch seems to me to be the epitome of vanity - a device with commodity innards that will last barely a couple of days without being recharged, useless without a phone, and then you're paying extra for the faux prestige of the name plastered on a mass produced case all masquerading as "Swiss craftsmanship". Mind you, the margins that LVMH will be trousering will make Apple's 50% profit margin look like the most amazing giveaway.

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Another GDS cockup: Rural Payments Agency cans £154m IT system

Ledswinger
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Re: There's an effective way to ensure these systems get delivered working on time.

" Dave the turd"

It's no good posting AC. Your language gives you away as a Tory.

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Home Office splashed £35m trying to escape e-Borders contract

Ledswinger
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Re: A confidential arbitration process

"The civil servants still managed to screw up the contract and left the public exposed to excess costs"

Nothing new here. NHS contract cost, what, ten billion quid for nothing? A billion written off on the regional fire control centres. Multiple billions written off by the bunglers at DWP and the MoJ. Gazillions repeatedly written off on crap defence procurement. Two thirds of a billion written off on universal credit. Lord knows how many billion wasted on Gordon Brown's criminally incompetent PFI blunders. Something of the order of thirteen billion wasted annually on overseas aid to keep dictators in Mercedes, fight climate change in Peru, rebuild Gaza so the Israelis have got something to bomb next time. DECC are currently spending money at the rate of a third of a billion pounds a month for no useful outputs whatsoever (unless you like expensive electricity), and so it goes on.

This is the lasting legacy of Gordon Brown - a profligate, incompetent civil service that simply has no concept of the value of money, and a complete inability to stop pissing vast sums of public money up the wall: Easy come, easy go.

Clearly Labour are looking to go back to their old tricks, the Liberals would be quite happy to go along with that, and sadly the pathetic, lightweight due of Cameron & Osborne clearly aren't man enough for the job of deficit reduction either.

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Flying cars will take to the skies in 2017, if government allows

Ledswinger
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Re: I can see the mayhem now...

"Second thought, make it easy for them to get flying. They'll soon become extinct."

Exactly! What are we waiting for? I have a similar idea concerning would be jihadis trying to get to Syria, for whom I propose a mandatory sentence of transportation to Syria.

The only remaining problem is how to get politicians recruited to either scheme.

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Wham! NASA claims 'picture-perfect' blast-off for tricky MAGNETIC EXPLOSIONS mission

Ledswinger
Silver badge

Re: Shapes

"It ought to be called a tetrahedron formation (or a triangular pyramid)."

Either way, surely you'd always have a pyramid (loose or otherwise) from four points if they're not aligned on a plane? Sounds like they're trying to make it sound like it was planned (or just padding out the press release).

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