* Posts by Ledswinger

3583 posts • joined 1 Jun 2012

Sony phone chief vows to keep losing money forever and ever

Ledswinger
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Re: Good thing I'm a greedy shareholder

I had an option to get a Sony smartphone last year, I went with the Samsung... Just this week I bought some new headphones, but this time I didn't even give Sony any serious consideration.

So, even as a shareholder you won't buy your own company's products? If that's the case, what is your logic for holding the shares?

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Smart Meter biz case still there, insists tragically optimistic UK govt

Ledswinger
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Re: How, just how, please tell me?

"So how did/are things going so badly for you?"

Because this is a government mandated, led, and managed scheme, in which unelected bureaucrats decide how to spend other people's money, and telling other people to actually do the work whether they want to or not. It's yet another UK example of the Stalinist approach to government, involving central planning, vast investment without benefits, and a total lack of any democratic mandate for the idea.

Left to their own devices the industry would have done things differently. We'd probably have simple automated meter reading units, owned by the distribution networks who own the old style meters, and they'd be installed only on an asset renewal basis as old meters reach the end of their life. By their very nature digital meters would permit greater variety of tariff and better approaches to pre-payment.

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Ledswinger
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Re: I had a smart meter fitted last week

"So thanks British Gas for fitting the smart meter"

and they thank you for the extra £250 going on your bill to pay for it you moron.

I can't help thinking that it should be "El Reg commantards thank the British Gas social media engagement team for shilling us with this advert".

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Ledswinger
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Re: I had a smart meter fitted last week@ Peter Gathercole

"Roger Witcombe, chairman of the Competition and Markets Authority (a government institution), who was a guest on the discussion about energy companies and overcharging, mentioned smart meters as an aid to choosing supplier,"

One of the few benefits of smart meters will certainly be for prepayment customers. Due to the specifications it is almost impossible to stop prepayment smart meters from having access to all the tariffs available to credit customers, and that should significantly lower the costs for people on prepayment arrangements (currently pre-pay tariffs are generally much higher than credit tariffs). Switching suppliers should also (in theory) be a lot easier, because changing suppliers when you have a prepay arrangements can be quite difficult under current arrangements.

Not that that justifies the near £20bn cost of the scheme, mind you.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Err... surely a mistake

However, what the mandarins did here was to ensure that not a single old school buddy from the revolving door entities (energy retail, telecoms companies, G4S and security franchises, etc) will lose out of the deal

The principle beneficiaries of this scheme will be the Meter Asset Providers, who will own the meters. Because the energy suppliers cost of capital is too high (and business model not asset based) the vast majority of this MAP activity will end up with financial services companies. They'll get a fat and guaranteed return on several billion quid, with no material risk, zero sales and marketing cost, and not even the usual financial services risk of mis-selling fines.

G4S, Crapita, telecoms providers will make (by comparison) minimal amounts, and the energy suppliers will act purely as tax collectors albeit gaining some very modest benefits for bad debt and meter reading costs that OFGEM expect to be passed through to consumers.

The best thing consumers can do is to refuse to have a smart meter fitted, unless they (a) believe the claptrap about the benefits, or (b) they want access to better PAYG services, or access to time of use tariffs (there will be a subset of people for whom these are real benefits, even if that's not you or me).

Note that if your supplier offers to fit a smart meter in "dumb" mode, that will probably just mean that your energy supplier won't have the meter data, but chances are that when Crapita get the Data Communications Company running, it may still hoover up the data even if your supplier can't access it.

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Jolla cuts hardware biz loose to concentrate on Sailfish licensing

Ledswinger
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Re: Hooray. Hooray. It's a Jolla, holla-day

"and perhaps by now I'd be using Sailfish on a re-purposed Hudl. As it is I'm going to receive a museum piece, eventually"

When it comes to phones, something is rotten in the state of Finland, it would seem.

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Chinese takeaway, hold the Google: Xiaomi Mi4 LTE Android

Ledswinger
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Re: What's the Mandarin for Caveat Emptor?

What's the Mandarin for Caveat Emptor?

A set of characters that looks surprisingly like the Roman alphabet sequence: Made in PRC

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Pisspoor EE customer service earns it a cool £1 MILLION Ofcom fine

Ledswinger
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"the pinnacle of poor customer service still has to be Scottish Power though.... OMG talk about terrible."

But look at what the energy regulator did - twelve day sales ban. To the dribblers who only think a fine with "hundred million" on the end is an incentive, I can assure you that a relatively short sales ban REALLY concentrates directors minds. During that time customers continue to churn away, but they can't sign up new ones. All the sales staff are being paid to sit on their backsides, and watch any commission targets start to slip. Directors start to worry that their targets for market share, churn, or new sales won't be met. Morale takes a hammering in the business, with everybody blaming everybody else. External reputation takes an enormous hit because all of the sales partners and intermediaries have to be told, and have to tell potential customers that company X isn't allowed to sign up new customers due to their piss poor service.

That's what OFCOM should have done to EE. A million quid won't even be a rounding error on their end of year results.

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Chair legs it from UK govt smart meter installation programme

Ledswinger
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Re: Variable tarriffs

You miss the point

Au contraire, sunshine, you miss the point, and you miss it spectacularly. Even though E7 has a higher daytime rate than a flat rate (see next paragraph) the opportunity for consumer gains from price arbitrage still exists, and in fact exists to a greater degree because the peak/off-peak range is greater than if the E7 daytime rate were the same as a supplier's standard flat rate. Its that range that can drive arbitrage benefits for those able and willing to change their demand.

Coming back to the perceived unfairness of the higher E7 day time rate, this reflects a dramatically simplified demand curve where the cost of energy varies. On APX today, there's an eleven fold variation between overnight minimum at 04:30 and daytime traded peak at 08:00 (peaks in the morning because it's summer). What this means for people on a flat rate is that they are paying extra for all off peak electricity, about par for the course in standard periods, and getting it cheap at times of peak demand.

You can cut any number of different tariffs, what you can't do is say "I'll have the E7 tariff during the E7 period, but then I'll have the 24hr flat rate at times of higher demand".

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Ledswinger
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Re: A modest proposal

If they're going to all this trouble, why not install really smart meters that do algo trading?

They don't need to do trading - you could just take the wholesale spot price plus the network, balancing and settlement costs, plus a residential billing cost and the cost of a hedge contract to avoid being hit with "out of balance" charges and similar.

Because supplier margins are around 4%, that's all you'd save, unless you can move all your demand off peak. But if you can, there's a contract already offered for that in the shape of Economy 7, but it suits relatively few customers.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Variable tarriffs

In theory the fuel cost could be varied according to demand, which would level off consumption etc.

How? The discretionary element of peak demand is very low unless you're prepared to turn off all the TVs and computers, and sit round playing snap. Or the population could all eat salad, and we'd be freed of the tyranny of using electricity to cook on. Or people could sit in the dark, saving all that wasteful lighting. Shops, offices and factories could shut by law at 5pm, so that there's no wasteful overlap between domestic and commercial light and heating.

Is this really your vision of the 21st century? The cost of a peaking optimised OCGT is a few quid a year on the average bill. Personally I'd rather have that than piss about trying to match my usage to whatever cock-and-bull generation curve that DECC's policies create.

And E7 will soon be history, as the mass build out of wind and solar creates vast unpredictability and huge wholesale cost swings, and overnight charging of EVs raises overnight demand and prices. The only way you'll get cheap power in five years time is letting the system operator dictate what random times of both day and night your "discretionary" appliances may run.

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Ledswinger
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Re: What benefits and to whom?

If they are so beneficial to the generating businesses why don't they finance it themselves instead of the taxpayer?

Generating businesses don't need meters - they trade in the wholesale market, and it is the suppliers who have an interest in customer meters. But to take that as the thrust of your question, suppliers are expected to finance these (as in buy them, or rent them from their parties), but that increases the cost base, and gets factored into everybody's bills.

What you seem to be suggesting is that smart meters should be self funding from cost savings. The reason that doesn't happen is that the cost of manual meter reading is only about £5 per meter per year. There's some other expected savings from reduced estimated billing costs (maybe two quid a year), and some hoped for reduction in bad debt, maybe another couple of quid per meter per year. Sadly that won't pay the costs of smart metering, which are probably around £20 per meter per year (depreciation, interest, additional opex).

So why are we doing it? Because DECC love the idea of spending your money on their toys, because the last Labour government made up the cost/benefit analysis, and because the current government are equally clueless. From an industry point of view, smart meters will be rolled out not because we want them, but because we will be subject to draconian fines if we don't comply. For customers, it's the slippery slope to complicated time of day charging, which DECC hope will disguise the vast increases in average bills that energy policy has already committed to. This is what passes for "democracy" in the UK today.

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Ledswinger
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Re: What benefits and to whom?

From the 2011 impact assessment over 20 years:

"Total consumer benefits amount to £4.64bn and include savings from reduced energy consumption (£4.60bn), and microgeneration (£36m). Total supplier benefits amount to £8.57bn and include avoided site visits (£3.18bn), and reduced inquiries and customer overheads (£1.24bn). Total network benefits amount to £780m and generation benefits to £774m. UK-wide benefits from carbon savings amount to £1.1bn."

Believe that if you want, its from the School of Made Up Numbers that claim that HS2 has economic benefits.

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Ledswinger
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Firstly they need to make make a stardard for the meters and ensure all providers can use that stardard as it stands if you have a smart meter currently you cant switch to just any provider as not everyone is up to spee yet.

Supposedly the SMETS2 specification (available on the web) is that common standard. But the underlying problem is that DECC, in a complete fit of idiocy, decided that meters should be the responsibility of the energy suppliers. As network connected assets, my cat could have told them that meters should be the responsibility of the distribution operator (which is how things originally were). Civil servants like the idea of multiple owners of things like meters, because they believe this will provide some mystical benefits from competition. But when (say) electricity supply shows how competition really works, of gravitation towards identical low margin commodity propositions from a small number of large providers, where economies of scale are paramount, and customer service is something customers demand but won't pay for, the civil service fools squeal "foul", and spend years looking for "market failure". We're going through this again at the moment with the CMA inquiry, but we've had repeated inquiries, reviews and investigations over the past twenty years.

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Ledswinger
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Re: "I thank Baroness McDonagh for"

"as we approach the wreck we need to find someone dumb enough to stand on the footplate."

The unfortunate thing here is what this says about Amber Rudd. I suppose appointing a history graduate from Cheltenham Ladies College as energy minister signifies everything that is wrong with the Conservative party, and with the depth, breadth and quality of our rotten and useless parliament (and things are no better on the opposition benches).

Clearly Ms Rudd isn't clever enough to realise that the whole misbegotten smart meter project is a huge waste of money that this country doesn't have, in return for no meaningful benefits. At the same time her department is saying there's no money for energy efficiency schemes, the clowns (including her) are still proposing to splash £19bn up the wall (assuming no project over-runs!) in return for nothing.

And she's clearly not astute enough to realise that the Major Projects Authority report (plus DCC delays), along with her arrival, are a heaven sent opportunity to re-run the cost benefit analysis, conclude that the whole scheme is a waste, and kick it into touch in a manner fully compliant with the rules handed out by Brussels.

I don't expect much from Lightweight Dave, who seems uniquely talented in getting into pickles entirely of his own feckless making, but he's surpassed himself with this appointment, ensuing that UK energy policy will continue to be even more of a slow motion train wreck than the smart meter programme.

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Microsoft: This Windows 10 build has 'NO significant known issues'

Ledswinger
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Re: Hallelujah - File Explorer's file path limit is not 256 any more !

It's 2015 ......

....but most of the code was written on tablets of stone in hieroglyphics. You can just imagine some snooty chief code scribe announcing that "256 hieroglyphs should be enough for anyone".

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Smart meters set to cost Blighty as much as replacing Trident

Ledswinger
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Re: Privatised Industry

While I havnt replied until now I wanted to say I am enjoying reading your posts.

Ledswinger: On a mission to inform and entertain, and where that is not possible to cause moderate offence.

It is nice to hear from people within the industries and get that viewpoint.

Well, what you're getting is my viewpoint. The industry view is much more careful, because we have to work with the politicians, civil servants, and regulators in the long term. We couch our corporate language very carefully, we avoid saying things like "you're fucking mad if you believe that!", and we never, ever say "told you so!". More's the pity, because energy policy is a complete mess, everybody in the industry knows it, but equally everybody knows that there will be consequences for pointing out that the emperor has no clothes.

And because we are businesses, we have to make money: Where DECC are busy destroying the wholesale thermal market, we have to follow the subsidies for things like wind turbines, renewable heat, PV, etc. We know they cost a fortune, don't deliver much, and that the cost goes on to customers bills, but the only alternative is to pull down the shutters and watch somebody else do it.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Noses in troughs

"those cardboard boxes should be recycled!"

Keep the tramps in them, and send 'em to a district heating plant. They'd qualify as "renewable" power, and if dried and pelletised they'd work a treat, and you'd be able to claim Renewable Heat Incentive. In a small biomass plant you'd get 8.6p/kWh, with RPI uplift for twenty years. That'd mean an average tramp would give you about 750 MJ, say 200 kWh, and that means a tramp is worth about seventeen quid just from RHI.

To qualify you'd need to make a quarterly declaration of sustainability to OFGEM, and to meet their requirements you might have to establish a captive tramp breeding programme if there's any risk that culling, pelletising and burning them might cause the tramp population to decline. Or you could just use the half a million people that die in the UK each year. In energy terms it wouldn't pay for itself, but that never matters with DECC's idiot subsidy programmes.

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Ledswinger
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Re: of new energy infrastructure that will tackle climate change

Will it be noticeably different by 2020?

No. The SMETS2 specification is so limited it would have been an embarrassment in 2009. The idea of a single kill switch for auxiliary loads was always complete idiocy, but it had to be built in to tick the box and claim the "savings" that justified the programme in the then Labour government's impact assessment.

Are business customers getting smart meters too?

In theory they all should have had them by April of this year. Commercial meters don't have to be SMETS2 compliant, so they only need to be AMR (automated meter reading) types.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Privatised Industry

Government have friends in the Elecrtic Business

No they don't. We're the modern day whipping boys, blamed for every failing in government energy policy, government welfare provision, the environment and everything else. If you have a look at who is benefiting from this programme, then it gets back to some of the usual parasites sucking on the public sector teat: Crapita, CGI (Logica, as was), and Arqiva. With Telefonica having a greasy hand in it too.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Cost Benefit Analysis?

If that's where the wind is, put the wind farms there.

The 30% is a blended figure, and as noted is a load factor. So an on-shore a well sited wind turbine (including coastal sites) would produce a long term average of 25% of the "plate rating", and an offshore wind turbine about 35%.

In case that's not clear, take a 1 MW wind turbine. If it were always able to run at full power for all 8,760 hours a year, you'd get 8,760 MWh. In reality wind output will be reduced if the wind is non-existent, low, or too high (the blades have to be feathered to avoid damage to the unit), and what you actually get is about 2,600 MWh per year. Critically, you don't get much of that power at the coldest times of year, because those are associated with stable high pressure systems. So on the coldest 100 days of the year you'll have a 6-7% load factor from UK wind turbines - my employers are one of the world largest wind farm operators, and we actually looked that data up for DECC. Sadly they didn't take much notice, and the wind power nonsense continued unabated.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Cost Benefit Analysis?@ Rol

Personally, I'd see those behind Economy 7, behind bars for manslaughter.

The main reason for E7 was that the then state owned CEGB had a problem of under-utilised overnight plant, and local authorities weren't willing to pay for communal gas boilers in the large social housing developments being slung up in the 1960s. The local authorities briefly tried fitting individual gas boilers, but combined with the poor construction of the day this caused problems (look up Ronan Point if you're interested), and suddenly there was a match made in somewhere beginning with "h".

In pure economic terms, dry electric heat is actually not too bad. It's safer than gas (even in low rise situations), it requires virtually no servicing, and the capital costs are much less than gas. But against that the controllability is poor and the running costs are higher. The alternative is a wet heating system, but in a high rise or high density development that means a large boiler or CHP, retrofitting risers and laterals for a heat network, adding heat interchange units and heat meters plus radiators, all of which cost around £15k per property. Nobody is in a hurry to do that, even to save £200 a year on the electricity bills.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Or you could just...

Or you could just train up a few thousand plasterers to externally insulate half-a-million cold, damp, redbrick properties in Northern England

Tell me about it. Indicative cost under Energy Company Obligation for solid wall insulation is about £7k a property on average, although that average is reflective of the bias of need towards terraced housing.

So for £19bn we could actually insulate 2.7m homes with solid wall insulation, representing almost half of the solid wall housing stock we have. Simple, reliable, durable. No reason energy customers should pay the entire cost for the properties of private landlords to be improved, so if we made it a mandatory 50/50, this would pay for almost all solid wall housing stock in the UK to be improved.

No point adding heat recovery ventilation - it's expensive, offer limited benefits, often doesn't work very well, and the potential benefits will be completely lost unless you fit un-openable windows. But otherwise you're quite correct that there's far cheaper ways of saving energy than smart meters, and the whole programme should be scrapped immediately.

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Ledswinger
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Re: How do we power all this?

Thanks for the numbers, they are truly frightening!

My pleasure. Page 46 or so of this.

In the grand scheme of things this isn't that big (a small CCGT would cover this) but as you say, all moving in the wrong direction for no reason.

And what about the back room infrastructure needed to receive the data?

56m meters, reading every 30 minutes or so will create around 980 billion data points per year. Actual data per point won't be much just for billing, but it's starting to get big just from volume and frequency (and there's other data that the meter can record about power quality, peak loads etc). I'd guess that when you include greater telecoms energy use, the smart meter DCC, and the additional processing by suppliers, you could get to around 200 MW mainly from the smart meters and intermediate telecoms. Note that's just for residential. If you include business smart/AMR meters then you can add in another 20%.

The gross 240MW of load for residential and business smart metering would equate to 2.1 TWh, and if the hippies want that from a wind farm then (ignoring it won't be baseload that's required) you'd need about 600MW of capacity costing a mere £2bn.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Cost Benefit Analysis?@ Tom 7

All perfectly possible now - which may explain why the companies are desperate to fit the old 'smart' meters

Actually we're not. Three companies are already under investigation and facing multimillion quid fines by the clowns at OFGEM for failure to roll out smart (AMR) meters to business customers fast enough. And in the past twenty four hours OFGEM have issued a note to all energy suppliers telling them that one of the highest "enforcement priorities" for 2015/16 will be smart meter roll out.

So, contrary to your bizarre ideas, this is being driven first by EU/UK government diktat, and then by a regulator bent on forcing this misguided programme forward at any expense. Our part in this is simply doing what we're told under the threat of vast fines, in an arrangement where OFGEM are rule maker, investigator, prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner.

"that they <energy companies> effectively got the government to agree to by 'lobbying'

Here we go for the millionth time. This is an EU directive, translated by the last Labour government into UK law. We didn't lobby for it, it is nothing but a benefit-free nuisance for us. if you don't like it, see either side of the House of Commons, and take it up with them.

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Ledswinger
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Re: of new energy infrastructure that will tackle climate change

"They can turn off a whole household, but not part of it."

Crap, expensive, unnecessary they may be, but they certainly can turn off part loads. The SMETS2 specification has what's called an "ancillary load" switch, and this is specifically designed for households to be able to connect non-essential loads that (household willing) can be disconnected at the grid operator's choice.

Regarding frequency response, there is a thriving market in this, with companies bidding in to National Grid's ancillary services market for all manner of stuff - frequency response, short term operational reserve, system balancing reserve, black start and other services. It's actually a very effective market, but nobody outside the industry pays any attention because it is both dull and complex when you get below the high level that we're talking about.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Never mind Nuclear Weapons

If people would come to their senses about nuclear power (that it is cleaner, 'greener', and safer than basically everything else) then we would hardly need meters, let alone 'smart' ones!

"Too cheap to meter" has been comprehensively disproven over many, many decades. Nukes are expensive to build, expensive to run and expensive to decommission. As a reliable future energy source they are great, but the UK is going down the idiotic path of committing a vast amount for a single site installation of the unproven Areva EPR design, rather than going for a modest update on older designs from Westinghouse or other proven designs, and building those out sequentially.

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Ledswinger
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Re: How do we power all this?

53 million smart meters, each one averages say 1W internal usage, I thought we were trying to reduce our electricity usage?

You are on the right lines, but your figures are wrong. 1W, you say? On average for old ones, yes because the 'leccy meter used 2W and gas ones zero because they were driven by line pressure not needed by end users.

OFGEM's latest predictions, released a couple of weeks ago show a smart gas meter will use 1W, a domestic smart electricity meter will use 3W. The in home display will use 0.6W. The communications hub will use 1W. So we move from an average of 2W per two meter household to 5.6W per household. This means that smart meters will consume a total of 1.23 TWh each year, up from 0.4 TWh per annum.

One consequence of smart meters is that the power use of most of the additional loads is downstream of the meter, so you'll pay for the extra energy used. At around £5 a year extra you may not notice, but that's an extra £130m a year onto electricity bills forever, in addition to the vast cost of the meter install programme.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Cost Benefit Analysis?

"In any event, the government has already thought of this eventuality and sorted it out by paying generators to turn off wind turbines when there is an excess."

That happens when there's a network or system constraint. But if you think about it, the only reason we will see nil or negative wholesale prices is because of the way that windpower gets accepted onto the system and then paid. The reality is that windpower was never economic without a subsidy, and therefore it has a high average cost, and it has a true marginal cost to consumers. This idea of "free" energy is bollocks, touted by idiots that can't count.

Moreover, if this "free" energy makes its way to the consumer, how does the whole system get paid for? In addition to the wind subsidies, there's the costs of transmission, distributions, sales & billing, balancing and settlement, the costs of standby and generation backup, the costs of synchronous fossil plant that has to run to keep the grid stable even when all loads could be delivered by renewables.... and of course the fossil fuel used during the 70% of time when wind power is not available, and the 90% of time that solar isn't (those figures are load factors, for anybody not clever enough to work it out).

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Hide the HUD, say boffins, they're bad for driver safety

Ledswinger
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Re: Wrong question

If you want the ask 'How many dots on the HUD?', you need to compare reaction times with someone being asked 'How many dots on the instrument panel?'.

And this illustrates what a crock of shit this "research" is. In the real world we drive with radios on, passengers in cars, satnavs as distractions, the need to look down to check the speedo. What's the point in doing a test so poor it isn't even a simulation, that doesn't counter for real world variables?

I'm sure somebody will already be spewing their lukewarm tea in outrage, because reduction is normally part of the scientific method, to but to posit that an HUD is dangerous when they haven't allowed for the fact that drivers ALREADY spend too much time being distracted by other things in the car is what real scientists would probably term "a load of old cock".

"Boffins" my arse.

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French Uber bosses talk to Le Plod over 'illicit activity' allegations

Ledswinger
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Re: Banning Uber reduces you to third-world status.

Seriously. I've heard the UK has it better than most when it comes to taxi service,

You hear wrong. It's fairly good in central London, but very expensive. Elsewhere it's bloody awful, with ancient, dirty, smelly, unroadworthy low-range crates driven by people who clearly have never passed a UK driving test, and rely 100% for navigation on a cheap satnav.

but in most parts of the world it can only be described as freaking awful. If a government bans or seriously restricts Uber (talking to you........Germany.....)

My experience of German taxis has been that they are reasonably priced, reasonably punctual, modern and good quality cars. Last time I was out there the taxi was a leather upholstered modern Merc S class, driven precisely and carefully. If UK taxis were like that I'd be burning tyres to have Uber banned. As things stand, I can't see how Uber can make things worse in the UK.

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Ledswinger
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French Uber bosses charged with four crimes under French law

1. Innovative practices

2. Offending vested interests

3. Not living in the past

4. Getting off their arses and doing something commercial

Hanging's too good for 'em, I say.

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Google harms consumers and strangles the open web, says study

Ledswinger
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Re: But it's the system.

"a system which turns innovative genius into monopolistic monstrosity"

Well, as long as Krusty the Clown and his colleagues at USPO haven't been too generous in granting yet more patents for prior art, there's no real barriers to somebody coming up with a new search engine. And that's all Google have of any worth in the desktop space, really.

Gmail, Maps, Google+, Youtube are all commodity services that I don't use, or could live without. And mostly they're flawed in some critical manner as well. If somebody comes up with an equal or better search engine, then Google (who have repeatedly shat on their "don't be evil" claims) will find the customers have gone.

Same goes for Android. Whilst not loving either, I'd turn to Windows or IOS if the offer were right (or Android's were wrong). But for preference I'd rather have nice a phone running Sailfish, Firefox, or even Ubuntu, if they would iron the bugs out.

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Sky bangs on Ofcom's door – demands BT competition probe

Ledswinger
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Re: Why @Bluenose

There's so many points where your argument is flawed that I'm at a loss as to where to begin.

The role of distribution ownership can be separated from content sales without any harm at all (in the same way that Sky don't own either the satellites or the dishes). And the role of distribution operator would definitely benefit from being divorced from content (which is in large part what net neutrality is all about).

I'm more than happy for BT to buy EE. I'm more than happy for them to go into TV. But if that's the focus of their management attention, they should get out of the asset ownership business because their cost of capital will be too high, because they won't give it enough priority or resource, and because of the total lack of transparency and effective regulation by OFCOM.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Without supporting Sky in any way...

"Overpriced and usually with a complete misunderstanding of IT themselves, "

In all forms of construction related activity, there's currently a desperate shortage of good project managers, what with Crossrail, Network Rail's enormo-programme, Highways Agency mid way through hosing £11bn on roads, housebuilders unable to keep up with demand, vast investments in crappola wind farms and solar PV, distribution networks looking to spend £17bn in the next five years on wires projects, etc. And it won't get easier any time soon, given the misbegotten plans for Hinkley Point, HS2, and the additional runway for Gatwick or Heathrow.

The best PM's gravitate to complex projects where they can earn big bucks, meaning that anything with a regional or rural dimension or tied to a soiled brand like BT will struggle to find good ones. Easy to find cheap, inexperienced or incompetent ones, and I suspect that's the problem. Along with the fact that this combines basic civils work with network design and install. Investments involving "IT + anything" are rarely a good combination.

The most galling thing about BT's FTTC roll out (which doesn't affect me, on glorious, glorious 100 Mb/s cable) is the apparent disconnection between different projects, leading to a failure to predict and quickly resolve problems that repeat time and again across the programme. You'd have thought that the scale of the project would mean that they'd be able to plan the damned programme well, and then operate a cookie cutter approach for the projects, like having resources like a KB for problems like "trunk road wayleaves" and for every other problem they've encountered.

My name is Sam Tyler. I had an accident and I woke up in BT's project planning team. Am I mad, or in a coma or back in time? Whatevers happened it's like I've landed on a different planet.

Oooh, and did I mention my 100 Mb's pipe?

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Ledswinger
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Re: A possible solution?

why not build something to compete against them?"

They did. A fairly comprehensive (leased?) satellite infrastructure, plus a highly popular TV service. Problem for them is that BT have decided to go into TV rather than sorting out the infrastructure that only they can.

Not that I'm defending Sky - I won't have anything to do with them whilst that ghastly leathernecked old buzzard and his equally ghastly family have any financial interest in the company.

Oi! Murdoch! Hurry up and croak!

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Tech Mahindra posts profit warning: The end for Indian outsourcing?

Ledswinger
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Re: Strange picture

"a random group of middle aged Indian people sitting on plastic chairs looking vaguely grumpy"

That'll be HP's Global Service Desk. Trust the Reg to get a picture for the wrong company.

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Ditching political Elop makes for a more Nadella Microsoft

Ledswinger
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Re: Mobile vision

A funeral.

Probably, but I suspect that even now everything is still to play for. In the enterprise mobile space there is clearly no king. Apple is too expensive and inflexible, even though the marketing execs love it. Android is cludgy and unfocused (and relevant enterprise apps like Touchdown are misbegotten, user-hating shite, along with garbage like Afaria). Blackberry are still spinning out of control like Moonbase Alpha.

All (!) Microsoft have to do is make their own phones play oh-so-easily with Exchange, make Office work on mobile as though it had been designed that way in the first place, sort out default security so that it just works for both hardware and software, ensure the whole lot works with common enterprise setups (anything from Citrix through to MS-own Lync). Make sure the phone doesn't need third party crapps like Symantec, or add-ons like Acrobat. And ensure that the phone comes by default with applications that the enterprise demand, like mobile device management, a secure email client, a secure browser, and easy remote configuration.

It doesn't matter whether consumers like them, and in most companies it doesn't matter what employees think (although if you make their life easier, not harder, then the path to adoption is a lot easier).

So, on balance it's going to be a funeral.

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Windows 10 is due in one month: Will it be ready?

Ledswinger
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Re: Not every "home" user is a "consumer" user only.

"There are not a few people for whom their "home" PCs are still working tools, and need to be stable as much as their "work" counterparts"

In net terms my home IT (W8.1 Update + Classic Shell) is substantially faster, more stable and more useable than my enterprise IT (W7). Admittedly there's only a minor stability difference between the clients (which in my experience favours 8.1 Update), but when you throw in all the rest of the joys and benefits that "professional support" in enterprise has, any intelligent home user probably doesn't know how lucky they are.

The interface of 8 and offspring is still a mess. But as an OS, in all round terms it's the best that Microsoft have ever offered. I was going to say "but that's not saying much", and then thought that the fractalised Linux distros are hardly something to write home about, and there's a long list of known issues within the kernel. Likewise Apple OS - an impressive marketing achievement rather than a technical one.

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The slow strangulation of telework in Australia

Ledswinger
Silver badge

Re: Whinging Auz

Nationalise the lot and make them government businesses with a clear services public good mandate.

Maybe you're too old to remember the days of national telecoms monopolies. I can, and they were shit. Along with 99% of other state monopolies. All that happens is that service gets worse because you've got nowhere else to go, and because the useless politicians intervene more, and use the monopolies as grace and favour appointments for their mates.

If the state owned the assets, but then contracted out operation and management on a region franchise basis things might change, problem is that the state doesn't have the money (or will) to nationalise the assets. But they could still achieve something similar that would work for both the UK and Oz. Force the legal separation and demerger of the telecoms infrastructure assets from the current integrated monopoly. This asset business would be attractive to pension funds and utility investors, giving low cost of capital and a willingness to inject more capital if the returns are there. Then, invite bidders to contract for the management, operation and upgrade of regional parcels of infrastructure (that the regulator defines, this isn't a pick and mix for the private sector). There's plenty of companies would like this work. The franchise could be for twenty five years to offer continuity, but subject to a stringent SLA including improvement critiera - and reviewed on a staged basis perhaps every five years. Material failure against KPI of the SLA would allow other operators to submit bids, which would focus operators minds, but if they consistently hit the KPIs then the franchise can't be contested. The KPI need to be non-technical and customer led - I wouldn't care how the network makes things work, but if the purpose is to deliver national broadband then they could choose whatever technology was economic.

All of this is simple, has exemplar models in other sectors - in concept similar to the French affermage model, and the regional splits in networks is common in power distribution. All that's required is a good, pragmatic regulator who takes a customer perspective. Sadly they are as rare as hen's teeth, particularly in telecoms.

This could give the UK and Oz about 98% genuine high speed broadband coverage in perhaps five to seven years. But for those living miles from anywhere, then it's always going to be uneconomic to provide services without either a subsidy or customer contributions.

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BT: Let us scrap ordinary phone lines. You've all got great internet, right?

Ledswinger
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@Kubla C a nt

I doubt BT really want this, but with the licence review there's all the pressure from competitors to force a demerger of Openreach. By adopting an extreme opposite position like this BT hope that OFCOM will end up taking the middle ground, which curiously is the current status quo that actually does suit BT.

With a new to post and inexperienced civil servant as the chief exec at OFCOM I'd expect BTs strategy will probably work. Regrettably.

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Capita: Call centre workers, can you fall on your swords? Please?

Ledswinger
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thumbs up for Capita

The commentariat (self included) are usually sticking it to Capita, but on this occasion I think we should celebrate what looks like a generous and voluntary package.

There's always some sob stories in these situations, but at least those so minded get the chance to run away on good terms with a big bag of shekels.

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Kamikaze Rosetta probe to ram comet it's chased for billions of miles

Ledswinger
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Re: A Mythbusters ending!

"A Mythbusters ending! "

Or just a form of cosmic litter dropping by people who should know better.

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Vodafone splashes €2 BEEELLLION to kick German TV sideways

Ledswinger
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Re: Accompanying image

Nope, it's a late model Spit. And I'll wager it's the BBMF's mark 16.

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Germany says no steamy ebooks until die Kinder have gone to bed

Ledswinger
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Re: So it's OK to invade Poland...

"it still doesn't make jokes about invading Poland any fresher. Please, get some new material for all our sakes."

What you want Germany to do something that we can joke about for another seventy years?

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Ecobee3: If you're crazy enough to want a smart thermostat – but not too crazy – this is for you

Ledswinger
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Re: Does it really save that much?

"You drop the thermostat to 15℃ when you are out. Eventually, your house will get to 15℃ and your heat loss rate will be two thirds of what it would have been. But, until it gets to that temperature the reduction of your heat loss is less than a third. And when the heating goes back on, it has to work harder to raise the temperature of the house."

That sounds suspiciously like the common argument that "if you turn the heating off, it uses more energy to warm the place up" which is simply untrue (and in any event, a higher delta on the primary and return heating circuits would actually make most heating systems MORE efficient, not less). Unless you've got a poorly insulated high thermal mass house, then any half decent boiler can easily warm the house up in a few minutes, and there's no reason to set it for 15C when you're not there - why pay to keep the cats warm when they've got fur coats? In a well insulated house even turning the heating down by a few degrees will cause the boiler to turn off for a fairly protracted length of time, so you wouldn't be using gas at two thirds the rate you were in your example, even though that would be the case over a more extended time period. Potentially 10-15% of your total heating bill is being spent on eight hours a day or so of 15C heating of an empty house.

A well set up heating system should (typically) see the CH go off twenty minutes before the house becomes vacant. With perhaps sixteen hours of daily occupancy, that twenty minutes is 2% of your space heating energy use. If the system is properly configured, then it would come on ***just*** in time to raise the temperature to the desired level for occupants coming home. If that's only ten minutes difference, you've saved another 1% of your heating bill. Now, if you vary the heating by time of day when you're in, then you're probably cutting around a further 7% from your heating costs (when you're active you can run a lower temperature and still be comfortable).

You can do all this yourself with a dumb-ish programmable thermostat and time (I've had this for two decades), but it's a pain to set up. A good smart thermostat will do all of that for you with minimal effort, and for many people can save more than 20% of their heating costs for no change in comfort. Stuff the tree hugging issues, and look at it as an economic and practical investment, and there's relatively few scenarios where a smart thermostat doesn't make sense, particularly if you do your research and avoid the crummy "me-too" smart thermostats rushed to market by some makers. Arguably the optimal solution is a Nest. Install, let it get settled in, then when it is working to your satisfaction stop it connecting to your wifi if you've got privacy concerns.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Not for brits

"Or get an electric shower."

If you enjoy flow rates equal to being pissed on in winter, when the incoming supply is 4C or less. Electric showers would be great if you could get them to run at ratings of 20kW....

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GCHQ: Security software? We'll soon see about THAT

Ledswinger
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The major US and UK ones, yes. It's the minor players, the Europeans and Russkies that are "a problem".

It seems logical that you shouldn't be using Kaspersky if you've anything to hide from the Russian authorities or their oligarch mates, but they should be a better bet than (say) Symantec if you wanted to reduce your exposure to snooping by the NSA.

A better approach than relying on security software to defend your secrets is to not connect your private computer systems to the internet. Whilst there's plenty of ways of bridging an air gap, they are only likely to be used for known + high value targets.

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Failing to zap bogus reviews about your biz is illegal, snarls regulator

Ledswinger
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Re: Pointless until someone gets fined

Investigations are all good, can we actually see fines (and punitive ones too)

You could be in luck. The competition authorities aren't like the poodles of OFCOM, ICO or ASA, and believe in issuing big fines. In this first instance you might see only an instruction to desist, but if the law has been broken, or if instructions to desist are ignored they'll wrench a few arms out of sockets with multi-million quid fines.

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Ledswinger
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How about they go to an actual problem, like companies who prey on elderly people with "YOU HAVE WON £50,000*" envelopes.

That's not a competition law problem, and wouldn't therefore be within the remit of the CMA.

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