2554 posts • joined 1 Jun 2012
Re: Market prices.
"and FOSS is just as free in Oz as elsewhere"
Yes. But the Australian public sector doesn't have a good track record on procuring even simple software like payroll, does it? And having made a billion dollar pigs ear of the Queensland health payroll system, all concerned were rewarded, instead of being imprisoned forever:
With IT talent like this, imagine the mess the Aussies could make of FOSS.
Re: @Rupert Fiennes
"Yeah, it would be great to see methane produced using technologies unsuitable for electricity generation (eg, wind, solar)."
Volume, mate. That's your problem. Total wind and solar output is around 3 million tonnes of oil equivalent (MTOE) annually. Total transport fuel demand is around 63 MTOE. Factor in the 50% end to end losses of renewable power to transport gas and all the wind and solar energy in the land would meet 2% of your transport demand. How much more of the country do you want coating in PV and wind farms?
From a performance point of view chemical fuels are a far better bet than batteries, so power to gas is a more promising technology, but it relies on huge volumes of electricity to cover an worthwhile fraction of electricity demand. If you electrified most UK transport you'd need about four times the generating capacity we have at present, and the only technology going to deliver that is a vast build out of nuclear.
Re: shot Brazilian
"I have always suspected there is an overwhelming venality within the Metropolitan Police"
In that case I'd differ. I honestly believe that the Met believed they were doing the right thing. The red mist descended, and some poor innocent bloke gets murdered. The Met didn't intend that, unfortunately they (in my humble opinion) were recklessly culpable.
However, the question is whether Sir Michael Wright, acting as coroner was correct to instruct the jury that "unlawful killing" could not be returned as a verdict. I am aware that the jury heard the evidence and I did not. But if Wright knew what the verdict could not be, logically he knew what is was. In that case why bother with a jury? A cynic might conclude that the government lent upon the coroner to do that. And of course the Blair autocracy was no stranger to forcing the mechanisms of justice, as the laughable Huttonwash over the death of Dr David Kelly showed. Funnily enough it was the Blair government that enacted the whistleblower protection rules under PIDA 1998. But as with all smug, lying, f*ckwit politicians, he didn't expect it could be applied to him. The continuing delays in the publication of the Chilcot enquiry suggest that the despicable political classes are sticking together on these things, but that's hardly a surprise given that the verminous Cameron idolises the even more verminous Blair.
Re: Actually it goes back much further than that. Alien and sedation act.
"but the over all concept is nothing new."
Yes, but we plebs thought that we lived in a free-er and more enlightened age. Go back five years, and anybody who claimed the state was engaging in continuous, widespread, and ever more pervasive mass surveillance of the general population, complete with mass data retention and block recording of voice calls would have been deemed a tin-foil hatter, a conspiracist, or a loon.
Unfortunately we now know the tin-foil hatters were right on this one. An interesting thought is that the tin foil hatters are now warning of the increased militarisation of the police (in both the US and the UK). The apologists will say that there's nothing to worry about - SWAT teams throwing stun grenades into babies cots (US) is just unfortunate collateral damage, and the execution with soft nosed bullets of Brazilian electricians (UK), well, that was nothing more than a health and safety misunderstanding. For the first time ever in mainland Britain, the mayor of London is arguing that there's a need to buy water cannon for crowd control.
Personally I wonder why the politicians are tooling up the nearest things they've got to private armies. Are things really so bad that they think they need protection from a lynch mob? As somebody well in tune with the underlying economics (which, contrary to the politicians are NOT good), I think they may have point.
Re: Whats the choice?@ cray74
"Using the waste heat from dry cask short-term nuclear waste storage for the drying process has a more karmically appropriate ring to it."
Smooth, sir. I raise a glass to you!
Given that wriggling and runaway hippies could be a problem, presumably your idea would also "neutralise" them? Whilst shooting them would be fun, it's messy, bullets cost money, and there's all that risk to the gun operators. And there's a nice bit of karma in wiping hippies out with a good dose of radiation. They could all go out with their last words being "I told you nuclear power was dangerous". So even they would be happy - they'd proved a symbolic point, reduced fossil fuel use, and been recycled.
Re: Hopefully no one living downstream
"The point being - the dam might still be upright after an earthquake, but if the water's been displaced a landslide then it's still going to get awfully damp downstream."
True, and not the only instance - Vajont in Italy had a similar disaster. But the fact remains that if you aren't going to take some risks then you won't build anything, the thing is to avoid situations where you've got half a mountain that can fall into the reservoir - usually this can be predicted, as it was at Vajont (just ignored by the decision makers).
Re: Whats the choice?
"Just don't stand downwind unless you want to get stoned off the smoke."
Naaaah. I was thinking of dessicating the f*ckers first, shredding them, and using blower to move the shreddings onto a fluidised bed burner. Maybe have oxygen injection to get the temperature up further still. The weed residues would be converted to power immediately.
An alternative would be pyrolysis, and then burn the syngas in a gas turbine, which again would convert the psycho-active substances to kinetic or thermal energy. In that case I'd have the waste heat fluffed off through radiators just to spite the dead hippies.
Re: is that Lewis's knee jerking?
"which seems to be a combination of national pride in their national parks/landscape, well founded distrust of their government, a genuine lack of belief that this project made any sense and the refusal of their government to consider alternatives"
You forgot to add "and being deceived by the strident, often inaccurate, frequently dishonest PR campaigns by smug, middle class, first world based NGOs, who personally enjoy the benefits of the modern world, but are only too keen to stop the less developed world enjoying them"
Re: Whats the choice?
"Cut back the forests or cut back the number of humans?"
Burn hippies for fuel, mate. Gaia will be happy. Non-hippies will be happy. Electricity users will be happy. "Limits to growth" types will be happy. Pension funds will be happy. Welfare departments will be happy. Heavy rockers will be happy.
What's not to like?
Re: Hopefully no one living downstream
Actually there's a lot of dams in tectonically active parts of the world. If the dam is well designed and constructed, and the geology appropriate they are amongst the most enduring assets ever created by man.
On the other hand, if the geology is inappropriate, it can be very difficult. A little story bears this out, along with the folly of building dams where they are convenient for people rather than where they are appropriate. Back in the 1970s, the publicly run Severn Trent Water Authority believed it needed additional reservoir capacity. After much umming and ahhing, central government granted the funds to build it, and also mandated that it should be built at Carsington in Derbyshire, largely on the grounds that they thought there was a dearth of recreational water sports facilities in the East Midlands, and with a side order of not needing to relocate too many of the natives. Carsington was a dry valley, with no significant water source, so this decision made it an expensive to build, expensive to operate pumped storage scheme, using 10km of tunnels and pumps to extract water from the River Derwent. It suited government because it was lightly inhabited, not exceptionally scenic, although the underlying geology was very poor. A Leicester based engineering consultancy went public when the work started, and predicted in one of the civil engineering publications of the day that the dam would fail, complete with diagrams showing the mode of failure. The water authority pooh-poohed this, and ploughed ahead. Some years later and few weeks before the topping out of the dam, it collapsed in exactly the manner that the Leicester based firm had foretold. £35m had been wasted building a castle in the sand, and it all had to be scraped away, redesigned and built properly, for an outturn price of around £105m, being completed years later, after privatisation of the water authority.
Had the dam lasted a bit longer, it would have been pumped full. And when it then collapsed, 35 million tonnes of water plus a few million tonnes of mud would have washed away the town of Ashbourne and most of its 9,000 inhabitants, before wiping out the 1,000 or so living in the village of Rocester, and causing untold damage further down on the River Trent in what would probably have been the world's second worst peace time dam failure.
All of this is a matter of public record if you know where to look, but is rarely presented in this way because the bureaucrats responsible didn't want to be embarrassed. I was involved a few years after the collapse, but as far as I know nobody was sacked (although the bitter and resentful engineers of the water authority made sure they never employed the consultants who'd predicted the outcome so accurately). The key takeaway is only ever build where the geology is ideal, and not to have your decisions swayed by the specifics relating to the peasants, be that the need to relocate them, or the desire to let a tiny fraction of them enjoy a bit of sailing.
Re: woah there
"I say, yes, go for hydroelectric, but don't make a ton of people needlessly homeless to do it."
If you're determined not to "spoil" national parks and scenic valleys, and you don't move local residents on, then you simply won't be building hydro schemes. There's a dearth of geologically and hydrologically suitable, uninhabited sites, even though there's lots of sites that fill one of the three key criteria.
Even in the UK, most of our reservoirs have involved the moving on of "drowned communities" (1). Beneath the Derwent Valley reservoirs were once the villages of Derwent and Ashopton. Tryweryn Reservoir resulted in the flooding of Capel Celyn. Haweswater resulted in the loss of the villages of Measand and Mardale Green. The Elan Valley dams flooded Nantgwyllt, and so on.
It's a simple call: You build where the land allows you to build, not where it suits the current residents. Curiously enough, if I object to wind farms in the UK, I'm a NIMBY and should be ignored according to Greenpeace. However, if I were a Chilean peasant scratching out a desperately poor existence, then I'd be "an indigenous people", whose (supposed) views, traditions and rights should be safeguarded to keep me in picturesque poverty and ill health for the benefit of the consciences of interfering middle class do-gooders from developed countries, and to an extent for students travelling on gap years who often become middle class do-gooders on their return to the lands of flushing toilets.
(1) Did you see! I used the magic, magic word "communities", and that shows I'm a right-on, socially conscious sort of person.
Re: Lower CO2 emissions maybe
" But I don't see the hippies protesting outside coal mines clamouring for the huge multi-meter sized holes to be closed down."
In western Europe that's because they've already won that battle, by virtue of persuading the EC and European Parliament to introduce emissions controls that most coal plant can't meet. The ever creeping standards for these things means that DECC expect there will be no active coal power plant in the UK power market by 2025 or thereabouts.
You did vote for that, didn't you?
Sorry mate, it's many years since New Scientist was a reputable source, in my book (indeed, if it ever was).
The whole "flooding valleys creates methane" story is not universally correct because it depends on what and where is flooded, and where it may apply there's a simple answer of stripmining the reservoir bed back to sub soil or bedrock. Even if you don't do that, as IAS pointed out above, a hydro electric dam has an asset life of hundreds of years, so the short term methane emissions are a one time cost for a very long term reliable resource.
And as usual the hippies have ignored what nature does, which is to erode soil and rock, and wash living and dead plant matter into water courses. If the tossers applied the same logic to any lowland river in the world they'd find that nature generates millions of tonnes of methane all the time, and they'd be protesting in Parliament Square demanding the immediate closure of the River Thames. Likewise wetlands and rain forests are major sources of methane, but you don't hear the hippies demanding the levelling of the Amazon basin to stop its methane emissions (the Amazon basin alone is perhaps 5-6% of global methane emissions). What Greenpeace object to is the fact that somebody's lives might be improved.
Re: Lower CO2 emissions maybe
" but there is an incredibly large amount of concrete in dams with the associated CO2 emissions."
But that's largely irrelevant unless the alternative is sitting in the dark shivering. All infrastructure uses lots of concrete. Hydro is admittedly worst at perhaps 3,000 tonnes per MW, next worst is that old hippy favourite, crappy, expensive intermittent wind power, at around 300-500 tonnes per MW. The best is CCGT at around 20.
"Don't feed the troll"
Why not? The initial responses were rather good, and far more entertaining than comparing pixels and screen sizes.
Re: Bad poll?
"This is a typical sound-byte poll. It asks a loaded, nuanced question, while the audience is uninformed of context."
But it doesn't matter, because the US (like the UK and other western bi-ocracies) has two parties with few tangible differences, who are more than happy taking turns with the big chair.
This sort of "poll" is being used to support Obama's plans to tax carbon, but it wouldn't matter if the GOP were in power - they would need to raise money to support "defence" spending, and they wouldn't wind back Obamacare. In Europe similar polls and "focus groups" have been used to support similar policies.
"Almost everything has been rewritten since then, although the transition was so well executed that nobody noticed."
No, there WAS nobody to notice. The transition could have been excellent, it could have been appalling. If a mime is squashed by a tree and there is nobody to laugh, did it ever really happen?
Re: Return home ?
"Do none of these drones allow you to control them through, say, mobile phone tech?"
AFAIK not out of the box. But a highly competent home-brewer could cobble together a lightweight phone into the onboard control system. For the truly ambitious it might be feasible to relay the onboard camera as a video call to the controller's smartphone on the ground, given a bird's eye view. Probably not feasible at the same time as a video call, but linking the GPS to give height speed and location data would give the ground controller data when out of sight.
Re: Return home ?
"Eh ? So the return home mode amounts to "crash into any object that blocks radio contact". Some mistake surely."
Not for kamikaze missions. I would guess that ne'er do wells around the world have been looking at this (and mooted parcel/pizza delivery by drone), and thinking "we too have packages we'd very much like to deliver".
Maybe the drug mules and suicide bombers could go on strike against the threat of disintermediation of their bit of the value chain? That Ned Ludd, he was right all along!
"When the Chinese, and Russians start demanding payment..."
You assume the Chinese economy doesn't go pop like Soviet Russia did. The situation is the same, of vast misallocations of capital, although the Chinese have built infrastructure rather than military hardware, but the outcome will be the same. The Russians would be ****ed in a rather different manner, in that if the US economy went pop, their economy would deflate quickly with a rasping wheeze, because half of government spending is financed by oil & gas revenues. If the US or China hit the stoppers, demand falls, prices collapse, and suddenly they don't have the money to spend - Russia, like most other energy resource economies has got its government spending critically leveraged against high oil and gas prices.
Re: fighting Princess Leia in a wet rubbish hopper
"who is wearing nothing but a wookie skin"
Mmmmm. That sounded even better. Until I followed the link. No problems with her clad in nowt but a wookie skin, but leaving the face on could put me off my stroke.
Re: Crony Capitalism
"But it's in everyone's interest that UK companies get the business, rather than some random Californians who are much less likely to use the money earned to buy anything off
By that logic we should set corporation tax at zero for all internationally mobile companies, unless the objective is simply to generate work for a few carpenters, digital cinematography vendors, on-site caterers, a few itinerant thespians, and lighting experts.
Re: Filmed in the UK for the tax breaks,
"But mostly filmed in front of a green screen."
Well that got us the Harry Potter Studio Tour (eye-wateringly expensive, but great fun if you enjoyed the HP films). It would be nice to think that we'd end up with Star Wars World, where we could ooh and ahhh at all the sets, animatronics, props and such like for Stars Wars. Maybe take it a step further, and offer experiences like fighting a bad tempered Princess Leia in a wet rubbish hopper (mmm...there's a pleasant thought).
Sadly I suppose they've long since lost all the props that were used in Star Wars and it's far too late.
If it's so good...
why does the pic show a bloke who needs a hard hat and a safety harness? Looks like the title should have read:
DARPA's Z-Man gecko tech turns MAINTENANCE LACKY into FRIGHTENED GUINEA PIG
Re: Wow. Non voting "B" shares that give you *no* control whatsoever in the company.
"You are indeed all Marki Mark's "bitches.""
Indeed. But nobody here is speaking out for Spotty Zuckerberg, so I'll have to do it.
What a coup! The bloke enriches himself fabulously with dumb share buyer's cash. He cements his position in such a way he can't be removed. He ensures that he can pay himself what he likes without any effective challenge. He awards himself absolute levels of executive authority. He ensures that not only does he have a board of cronies (or patsies), but that even if one did suddenly find a bit of moral fibre in their soul, they've got no clout with Zuck. He cashes out sufficient of his ownership to mean that regardless what happens to Facebook (including his options) he need never work again, and he'll still die as one of the richest people to have ever lived.
I've seen people in the UK using a listed company as a personal ATM, but they're now in prison. Zuck appears to have managed to do this within the law. But who's lost out in the Facebook example? Everybody had access to the prospectus, and subsequently to SEC filings, and they've presumably invested money they can afford to lose. Many have made a killing, some have lost. Any sensible investors recognise that this is a big, over-priced Ponzi scheme, but so what? Every buyer is hoping the music doesn't stop whilst the parcel is in their hands.
Hats off to Zuckerberg, I say, even if Facebook is a pile of privacy invading cr@pware, and even if he is a ***t. I wish I'd thought of this.
Re: I need to get some t-shirts made up...
"The financial side of things rather depends on what the financial incentives are, wouldn't you say?"
For using EV batteries for peak lopping, no. The problem is that the grid demand profile is largely fixed (unless you're going to have an alarm that only wakes you when the wind is blowing, or on a rota basis through the off peak hours). But EV use is broadly correlated with peak demand (travel from commuting and business use), so regardless of the incentives you won't be able to offer up your fully charged EV to support the morning peak because you'll be using it. In the evening the same applies, and later into the evening peak your EV batteries are low on charge, so there's not the spare capacity.
Obviously if EV's have larger batteries (impact on cost, weight, efficiency) but there's still the degradation from battery cycling, on an asset that will be very expensive to replace.
Re: I need to get some t-shirts made up...
"(unless it's a repurposed electric vehicle, a storage concept which Mackay  seems to like)"
Mackay may like it. But if you think about it is a daft idea. Demand has a morning peak, and a higher evening peak. During the morning peak chances are the EV is actually in use, and during the evening peak the battery is low on charge. Obviously if you don't use the EV much then things are better, but then why bother having one? Factor in that batteries are expensive and have a finite life, and you'd have to be mad to allow National Grid to empty the "tank" just because DECC have messed up the electricity system.
"What's the point in having judges (magistrates even). If all they can do is read a matrix of number of offenses vs. crime, and dish out the relevant penalty?"
I think you'll find that the system is a little bit more nuanced than that. What's being talked about is the maximum fines here, and those are rarely imposed (in the same way that maximum prison sentences are rarely imposed). The magistrates do have some discretion, some use it well, some use it poorly. What will be of interest is how these pan out in practice - if the maximum fine quadruples, does the average also?
On the one hand this is not about deterrence or punishment, its simply a reflection of a wider move amongst governments who have realised that they can raise more money through punitive fines - the Spanish government did something similar recently, and I think the French also. Think of it as a selective stealth tax. Of course, it is targeted at you and me. The true riff raff don't pay fines anyway, the rich won't give a toss about these fines still (a days pay for a Premiership footballer, and that's if his lawyer can't get him off), and as Huhne demonstrated, politicians believe that the law doesn't apply to them.
The next step will be far more widespread use of all types of enforcement cameras, but with a particular emphasis on speed cameras, because that's one of the easiest things to target. As usual poor or deliberately dangerous driving will be ignored because that's too difficult.
Re: @Ledswinger Thoughts
"Their silence, however, is not something I would complain about."
Neither was I!
"but they can't look behind at the same time - that's why ears were invented."
So we'd better make push bikes noiser, then?
The unpleasant and pervasive noise of traffic is on the threshold of becoming an avoidable evil, and clowns who like the status quo are working hard to keep cars noisy. Maybe they could have a pedestrian with a red flag walk in front of each electric car, to ensure that the car sticks to a responsible speed and doesn't knock anybody over?
"Seems sensible to me."
Possibly because you haven't read and thought about it. As the single system can be challenged and interpreted in regional courts, then you'll see "challenge tourism", where (eg) French companies challenge a Danish-owned patent through a French court. Any company with dodgy grounds for appeal will use courts in the third world parts of the EU where judges can be suitably bribed or threatened. Patents that don't suit particular governments will find the challenge much tougher in those countries. And the costs of defending your patent against wrongful challenge will (in the words of the European Economic and Social Committee, the whole new system could "undermine the defendant's rights to have access to justice".
Admittedly there's the prospect of appeal if somebody doesn't like the findings of a court challenge, but as far as I know there's no inherent right to appeal, leave usually has to be granted by the court system of the country concerned, so if the local justice system is weak, it may be incredibly costly or even impossible to get a fair outcome.
There's certainly plenty of theoretical sense in a pan-European patent system, but given the unstable, politically motivated beast that the EU is, and the patchwork quilt of cultures, levels of economic and infrastructure development, how well do you expect this to pan out? There was lots of theoretical sense in having a pan-European currency, and that's hardly worked out well, has it?
"Why the need for a custom machine and the complete clusterfuck attempt at security?"
Because this is the Post Office. The same people who think that having a retail outlet closed for 75% of the weekend is just fine, the same people who moved away from weight as a means of pricing to complex user unfriendly mix of weight and various combinations of all dimensions so that nobody has a ****ing clue about the cost of postage until they get to the post office, the same people who charged so much that Amazon now use any crummy fourth rate courier they can find because the post office are uncompetitive, the same people who like to have ever expanding lists of things that are supposedly too dangerous for them to carry, the same people who slashed their already derisory standard levels of compensation for lost or damaged post, the same people who seem to put all parcels marked fragile in the drum of a cement mixer for four days before (maybe) delivering it. And the same ****s who now charge over twelve shillings to post a small letter first class.
Re: And for the rest of us (Fanbois included)
"Get fat but hey, isn't the body art cool?"
Looking for the positives, at least it creates more options: Get fat before the tramp stamps go on, and you can fit more on. Or, get fat after you've been stamped and you have your own expanding work of "art".
There could be a whole new class of tattoo art for the obese: Themed art, like Jabba the Hut belly tats, hidden tats in the flab creases for the morbidly obese, or tats designed to use natural wobble and flow to create the impression of a moving image. Maybe use military developments in invisbility cloaking paints to offer "airbrush" tats, so that somebody with the physique of Roseanne Barr appears to have the body of Rhianna?
"Nah.. It would have happened already "
I hope you're right mate, but worth considering that the costs of termination on calls to mobiles is still three times that of landlines. With one in eight households now having no landline, the phone pests are seeing the pool of targets shrink, and if termination rates are near enough similar then logic suggests that you start calling mobiles.
We shall see....
OFCOM seem to think that lower termination rates would be a good thing for consumers. Unfortunately, as soon as mobile termination rates match landlines, the cold callers and scammers will realise there's a much better chance of a mobile phone being answered than a landline, and it doesn't cost any more to pester people on their mobile, and then where will we be?
Oi OFCOM! You useless knobs! How about customer-set termination rates, so that I can establish how much it costs to call me, according to the dialling number? Nothing for known friends and family numbers. A very small amount for businesses that need to have my number (again on a permitted number basis). And an arm and a leg for known spammers, number withheld, and international calls (ideally accompanied by a cost per minute that I can levy, perhaps around 70p).
"I'm not sure I'd describe someone else reading my quite frankly rather banal email traffic "terrifying"."
I think their concerns have passed over your head with quite some clearance. I doubt my web activity is of much interest, but I *do* find it terrifying (1) that the state considers it necessary and appropriate to have absolute access to what I read, write, watch of listen to on line, or say over phone lines or even VOIP. And that the fuckers record and store this whenever they can in as much volume as the hardware I've paid for them to have allows.
Considering that the state rarely backtracks, is a serial offender when it comes to both mission creep or outright incompetence, and will not allow itself to be held to account, the last people on earth I want to have oversight of my in and outbound communications are my own government. It's a sorry state of affairs when I'm more relaxed about the Chinese or Russian government's ability to spy on me than my own or "allied" governments.
(1) Admittedly in an arm chair manner, rather than an "about to be eaten by a lion" manner.
Re: All good stuff
"Unless you produce yourowm power..."
Actually no, it's just the same. If you produce your own power at any scale then you've got exactly the same issue that your capacity investment is fixed, but your power demand varies. That's why wholesale and B2B power prices vary by day and by season, because meeting peak demands means more lightly utilised plant.
What Google are doing (in the article) is reducing off peak demand, and that's the least useful form of power reduction whether you generate in house or buy from the grid; What you really want to do is reduce your peak load, or to reschedule your peak load so that it is different from the peak grid demand. To an extent they can already do load shifting across time zones where the data connections permit that, but as far as I know there's not sufficient cable capacity to run all of continent A's data processing on continent B during continent B's dark hours when power demand is minimal and prices low. And as we now know, you most certainly can't trust continent B.
All good stuff
For commercial customers your prices are determined by four things:
How much you use
When you use it
The maximum you use in any half hour
The grid connection capacity
So a 35% power saving won't alter maximum demand or grid connection capacity needs as these are set by the data centre running at full chat. As the power savings will be maximised at lower utilisations (so off peak) the unit cost savings will be lower than Google's average unit rate as well.
At a guess this is a 5-7% cost saving on the total power bill rather than the claimed 20%. Still worth working for, but nothing to get in a lather about.
Re: You ignore China to your peril
"Whatever you think of China, it's a huge, huge, err pretty damn big market."
Not for software, or foreign IP, branded goods etc. A market is where you have a meeting of demand (a desire to purchase backed up by the means to pay), and supply (a willingness to sell at some price offered by a segment of potential buyers. China is still (on a per capita basis) a very poor country, and culturally (as with all emerging economies, including the US and Europe in their times) expensive stuff is there to be copied or stolen.
Re: Software piracy?
"However, a home brew OS would have the necessary protections from the government along with enforcement provisions."
Certainly the latter. But they've already tried this and failed. Who now remembers Red Flag Linux?
Given the vast number of alternative distros in Western markets, you might assume that home brewing an OS isn't that big a deal, but the reality is that there's precious few competing desktop operating systems, even from those regimes (China, Russia, Iran etc) who might seem to have a damn good reason to want an OS not under US control, and who you'd assume could throw the necessary resources at the matter.
Maybe all the recent NSA/GCHQ news has persuaded them that enough is enough, and they'll deliver Red Flag Linux 2 this time and force nationwide adoption (to be followed by all non-Western powers copying the approach but not the software). In that case the world's "security" agencies can sit back knowing that there's far less chance of easily snooping foreign powers, and they can concentrate on inspecting the underpants of their domestic populations. Many might conclude that was the real objective in the first place, because the political elite in all countries aren't really interested in real democracy, merely the sort that gets the right one person elected (eg Syria, Russia, China), or the supposedly "free world" version in which two sets of indistinguishable and incompetent clowns play buggins turn, not really minding who wins so long as they get their turn in due course (eh UK, US, France, etc).
Re: Double duty
"these days employers rarely provide employees a phone since everyone has their own"
Why do employees countenance using their personal device for work stuff? Done properly you've got all the corporate security and policy restrictions, and there's no way I'm letting my employers decide what I load on my phone. Alternatively you've got the problem that employees phones are not restricted by corporate IT policy, and the business is allowing all email traffic to be exposed to whatever malware the most cretinous user has loaded on their phone.
For SMEs, one man bands and business owners I see few problems, in the corporate world or data security paranoia I can't see why either side would want BYOD?
Re: PCCW is the NOW! Broadband (aka Netvigator) outfit?
"Maybe this is why they originally wanted the licences (though it seems unlikely) ?"
The rationale for companies buying things in markets a zillion miles from your home territory is usually a choice between the following:
1) The buyer doesn't understand what they are buying, but think they do, and will then be disappointed. This is 70% of most corporate company/asset/licence acquisitions.
2) The buyer doesn't understand what they are buying, know they don't, but are just doing it for ulterior motives (eg justify trips to exciting foreign location; engage bored and stupid executives in M&A to divert from the real chore of running a business; need to persuade investors that there's long term growth in new markets to cover a couple of bad quarters in the home market; churn up some tax losses; launder cash into a safer market away from dodgy home government etc etc). This is 20% of acquisitions, and where I put the PCCW licence purchases.
3) Once in a while companies do buy businesses they understand. This is rare (10% or less of all corporate deals), and even then only a fraction of these deals make money, because buying and profitably integrating a business requires commercial and operational talent, which is very different to understanding it, which is largely a technical consideration.
Re: not convinvced
"In fact, this seems a great thing for Mythbusters to look into..."
And you're volunteering to be the guinea pig? Good man!
Re: Mixed Views on this
It's more than home helps who will be on the scrap heap, given that the money is "for research into industries like manufacturing, agriculture, health, transport, civil security and household robotics".
Personally I don't think this has anything to do with household robotics, agriculture or health. The term "civil security" is a rather sinister one, and I think that's what the money's going to be spent on. The only hope is that this is after all the EU, so the chances of them being successful in building a Eurobocop is about the same as the chances of them getting their accounts successfully audited.
Re: TRAITORS@ I ain't Spartacus
"We also know that Iran has a nuclear program. But I've no idea what intel we have on why they've got it, and whether they intend to bargain it away, build it for safety, or even use it."
Do we know that? We know that they have civilian nuclear ambitions because they commissioned a power generating reactor to be built by the Russians. But if you read more widely than the mainstream Western press, it's interesting to see the extent to which the claims of WMD programs seem to come more from geopolitical antagonisms and deliberate management of the press by Western governments than to any real evidence that Iran has ever had much intention of building a bomb. If you recall, Saddam supposedly had WMD, and it all turned out to be a load of old c**k. Then Libya was supposedly buying nuclear weapons tech, which likewise appears to have been bluster and misinformation by both sides. In Syria there's quite a lot of evidence that the use of chemical weapons has been false flag activities intended to support intervention which was only hours away when British public opinion stopped Parliament from repeating the mistakes of Iraq all over again (and were matched by similar attitudes in the US), all this despite the BBC's propaganda machine breathlessly declaring that the Assad regime was using chemical weapons.
The interesting thing is that despite the lack of public support for all of these actual or potential interventions, there is clearly an influential constituency who are keen on war and foreign intervention. In the light of all that, are US claims of Iranian WMD any more credible than either Iranian denials, or the Iraqi dossier? Do we think that GCHQ-on-Sea is able to actually scoop Iranian intelligence because they send plain text emails via AOL about their plans?
And this is my problem with your proposition. Electronic spying, keeping things under wraps, depending on the "intelligence" gathered remotely keeping us safe, defending our economic interests, sounds all so pacifist and 21st century "peacekeeper". In reality this approach is why there's about 188,000 dead Iraqis (a number still increasing at around 50 per day, every day), and why the US is $2 trillion poorer, and the UK around $10bn. And the subsequent attempts to involve the West in further wars for no good reason show that nothing has changed, other than the fact that the peasants have had enough of losing costly wars started on the pretext of "intelligence".
"Now we wait for some idiot in a place like Blighty to say: "hey we can this here...""
You are behind the times!
DECC data issued a couple of days back shows that thanks to over-generous subsidies there is now around 3.2 GW of solar PV installed in the UK, and growing at around 15% per annum. That's two typical thermal power stations (sounds good if you love renewables, gaia, hippies and pandas) but of course the thermal plant will be available all year round, whereas the solar PV struggle to achieve 9% load factors in the UK. This capacity is actually about the same as the installed solar PV capacity in Australia. There's a subtle difference, because in Oz solar PV achieves a 14% load factor, which means that an antipodean solar PV array will produce 55% more power than a similar installation in the UK.
And just to make sure that the UK solar PV was as expensive as possible, the clowns of Westminster ensured the subsidies were directed to individual household level installations, ensuring no scale economies. That 3.2 GW is from 551,000 individual installed PV arrays. So that's at least 551,000 individual surveys, scaffoldings, connections, sale & warranties, 551,000 inefficient short lived consumer grade inverters, 551,000 arrays mostly with no cleaning or maintenance regime, 551,000 export meters installed, and 551,000 electricity customers getting fat subsidies off of the rest of the electricity consumers.
Re: How well does it ramp?@ Tom 7
"A large underground facility in the desert of Oz is going to be cheap "
I doubt it. Even if you built it in the centre of Sydney, London, or New York, the land would be a tiny part of the finished costs of high volume high temperature storage (although the ease of building in the middle of nowhere would make it a preferable choice to a currently populated location). In the middle of nowhere you also need to transport all equipment, personnel and materials.
The fundamental problem with energy storage is that the actual energy density is low, leading to high capex costs per useable unit of energy stored. And that's stored, not produced. There's plenty of storage technologies under development (CAES, molten salt, steam, power-to-gas) but few plants operating at scale, and few development paths to take successful pilots into low cost commercial designs. Molten salt heat storage (itself a formative technology) operates at lower temperatures than supercritical turbine-friendly conditions that the Aussies have shown can be produced from insolation, so to store that you would need something new, perhaps molten metal storage. And as the storage temperature goes up, the insulation requirements and conversion technologies become more challenging and the heat losses rise, and you're into very advanced materials science for all that high temperature, high pressure kit. To go much beyond the current molten salt heat storage technologies requires both new science, and science and manufacturing of a complexity directly comparable to nuclear power plants (in which case why not build nukes in the first place).
My personal view is that renewables are useless without storage, and we haven't yet cracked storage, ergo renewables are expensive toys. Having said that, I suspect that power to gas is the long term technology to beat, because chemical storage is an easier, cheaper, known technology, and the stored medium (either hydrogen or methane) has alternative uses in addition to power generation, such as transport fuel or feedstock gas.
Re: Perhaps it's time Amazon delivered a solution.
"I believe Wally world had the same unhappy ending when they came across the concept of trying to apply American staff relations to European employment laws."
Whilst I'm sure there's more than an element of that, I can't help thinking that if they didn't want to do the whole Roman thing, Amazon were berks for then establishing fulfilment centres in Germany, rather than at cross-border locations in Poland and Czech R, (and perhaps Holland to serve the Ruhr/Rhine cities).
Re: An honest question...
"From what I've heard, German copies had Nazis replaced by The Regime and all swastikas were replaced by another logo."
Re: Delusions and Dreams. An Economic Know-Nothings in the FT
"If the USA with its large economy can withstand the last popped bubble, surely China can too ! After all the economy is big (or already bigger now) and Manufacturing being so strong, can withstand the buffeting. They have no external debts like the US, either."
The US hasn't withstood the last bubble bursting. The vast bad debt pile hasn't been fully purged, neither trade nor budget are in balance. They've simply put off the reckoning by printing more money and increasing debt levels. That keeps things going for a while, but as any fule noes, the successful answer to a problem of too much debt is very unlikely to involve more debt. The US, UK, Europeans and Japanese are all trying to solve the problems they have by borrowing more, but over time the numbers are clear, that the marginal productivity of debt declines, meaning that when they started, each £1 of borrowing gave them (say) £2 of GDP. That was good, but the more you borrow the fewer good opportunities there are, meaning that now borrowing £1 buys you a few pence of GDP.
Japan is now exploring how bad things can possibly be made, with limited external debt. They have a declining population, and vast and increasing public debt owed to their own population. If China had learned one useful thing from the West, it should have been about the debt-related life cycles of empires, and the need for balance in all things - investment and consumption, budgets, and international trade. In a desperate bid to make themselves the world's largest economy they've sacrificed all those required balances, and pushed themselves into the same mess as the rest of us.
The ability of an economy to withstand this depends on having sufficient levels of accumulated wealth to absorb the losses (when they are recognised) from prior mis-investment. The US haven't fully done this because they tried to paper over the cracks with debt, but being a wealthy country they are better placed to take the hit, and have better capital reserves and saver protection. In China, when depositors find that the bank has folded on the back of dodgy property loans to local party officials, and taken their life savings, and the factory has closed leaving them with no job or income, how will that pan out?
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