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* Posts by Ledswinger

2706 posts • joined 1 Jun 2012

Microsoft: Just what the world needs – a $25 Nokia dumbphone

Ledswinger
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Re: An Old Fogey Speaks

"Just because we're old enough to remember Zmodem and WinFax doesn't mean we're technological illiterates."

That's true. But a big print screen is useful once you get past 50.

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Chomp that sausage: Brits just LOVE scoffing a Full Monty

Ledswinger
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Re: So basiclly,

"You still need to learn the joys of biscuits and sausage gravy, fried potatoes, and possibly pancakes."

But returning to the subject of what constitutes a proper breakfast, the article made three important omissions: Black pudding, fried mushrooms, and baked beans. Oooh, and fried bread.

On the downside for the Full Monty, recent EU changes to standardise Europe to Bulgarian meat hygiene standards (that the spineless British government have kow-towed to) now mean that it is increasingly difficult to trust mass produced sausages unless you want to eat minced ulcer, sore, carbuncle, cancer etc with an official stamp of approval.

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Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner: Capital is top target for computer thieves, say police

Ledswinger
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Re: Lets get this straight

"perhaps as there's more commuting by public transport in the capital people tend to buy nicer devices and have them out more often?"

Reading the article suggests that business burglary is a major driver, rather than on-street robbery and pick pocketing. I'm sure both of the last two are prevalent, but if you're stealing things as a trade then a raid on an unoccupied business or even school is going to have far better pay off than snatching some bod's phone, running off very fast hoping that you don't run foul of an angry mob of commuters or a passing plod, don't get run over as you leg it, you aren't caught on high def CCTV, and that the phone is both saleable and not IMEI locked within minutes of theft.

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Ledswinger
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Re: An alternative viewpoint is...

" An alternative viewpoint is...That Londoners don't have much else worth stealing."

And yet another is that London is simply a simmering cauldron of thieves, where a third of the population work in various forms of organised white collar theft (group A, AKA the City), a third work in blue collar and manual crime (group B, the subject of this survey), and the other third (group C) create the framework for crime to prosper, either by writing bad laws to allow group A to prosper, or operating the system to ensure that group B consider the benefits of crime (against groups A & C) worth the risks whilst creating the appearance of a criminal justice process.

The sooner we build a big wall along the route of the M25 and seal them all in forever, the better.

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CryptoWall! crooks! 'turn! to! Yahoo! ads! to! spread! ransomware!'

Ledswinger
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Re: And this is why...

"Oh the irony, blocking ad's whilst using an advertising agencies software."

It's like stealing from Google. There's an ethical conundrum - based on Google performance on copyright, media-owner payments, etc etc it seems OK to steal from them, on the other hand taken to the extreme in a Google free world we'd be choosing between WindowsPhone and Apple for mobile devices, and having to use Yahoo for search.

There would appear to be no right answer, so keep stealin'

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Yosemite Siri? Apple might plonk chatty assistant on your desktop - report

Ledswinger
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Re: Disability Access

"If it's not hobbled, I could see this being useful as a tool for those with disabilities to interact with their computers."

What, a bit like Dragon Naturally Speaking, just fifteen years late?

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Stalwart hatchback gets a plug-in: Volkswagen e-Golf

Ledswinger
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Re: How long is the battery warranty

"Smells of conversion using an approximation followed by reconversion with an exact ratio"

Or smells of a clattering noise as the battery falls out the bottom of the car at 99,360 miles...

More seriously, what is the detail of the warranty? Most rechargeable batteries go off over time, so presumably what's being guaranteed is some percentage of the original range. With such a low starting range, and the need for a few miles contingency at all times if you're getting even 80% of the original range, then you're not going to be driving much in the countryside. Incidentally, the warranty is a bit of a crap deal - rather than having them promise me what amounts to a 95 miles range (after contingency) in five years time, I'd rather have (a) swappable batteries in some standard format, and (b) electrical control gear capable of managing a range of likely voltages and capacities, thus enabling a replacement of the batteries with something better in a few years time if better technologies become available.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Nice apart from the range

"Are e-cars getting shorter ranges rather than longer these days?"

Almost certainly. On a G-Wiz, which is essentially a wendy house on bike wheels, all of the battery capacity went to traction. On this Golf, you can see there's a pretty fitted satnav and aircon, if there's an option of heated windscreen (itself a monster energy hog) I would reason there's semi-respectable audio, electric windows, central locking, and it looks in the photos like it has the full suite of airbags and sensors. So well done VW for that bit. I really like the idea of an EV that isn't a hair shirt experience, is comfortable, well equipped and doesn't run on solid tyres...

...but the worrying comments about range suggest that the answer to the question "are we there yet?" remains a firm no. I would have thought that fast swappable batteries and 250 mile range would have made all the difference, but sadly the budget that might have achieved that was spent making the under-bonnet look as though there's a combustion engine in it.

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Wait, an actual QR code use case? TGI Friday's builds techno-restaurant

Ledswinger
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Never mind fast food

Some clueless politician who didn't even know what they were has already decided that the unloved QR codes should be used for, your energy bills:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/qr-codes-on-energy-bills-put-consumers-in-control

The larger player in this sector are resigned to idiotic and all pervasive government interference, but the smaller suppliers are less than happy about this idea about kick starting competition, because redesigning bills, and making the QR code do something useful isn't cheap. And despite all of the polticos' vacuous thinking about "competition", this won't make any difference because the real driver of higher costs is global markets, and interventions by governments as they conduct their ongoing War on Climate Change (at our expense). But luckily your gran will be getting a QR code on her energy bill, and she can use her Hudl to move to a new supplier and she can pretend that she's saved money.

On the other hand, if the Rt Honourable Ed Davey really wants to help my household cut energy bills, perhaps he could stop passing new legislation, statutory instruments, regulatory guidelines, and launching market reviews, competition enquiries with the frequency of somebody enjoying norovirus, and then he could shove his beloved renewables and EU-directed energy policy up his @rse.

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BT scoops up Wales PSN contracts, elbows out Logicalis

Ledswinger
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Re: geographic entity

"any reason it couldn't go the whole hog and be a wholly Welsh company"

It certainly could be incorporated in the Parochiality, but what are the chances of finding all the relevant skills and proper Cymric funding on the wrong side of Offa's Dyke? How would you be sure that no foreign capital was employed, no-non Welsh manufactured hardware or IP procured? And presumably you'd have an ethnicity test to make sure the employees were all accredited as officially Welsh?

And where's the advantage in doing that other than rubbing the belly of Welsh nationalism?

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CryptoLocker victims offered free key to unlock ransomed files

Ledswinger
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CERT who?

If government funded CERT-UK were focusing on the threat of Cryptolocker et al, why has the cure been provided by two private companies?

Completely honest question: Are CERT doing anything useful, or are they just a bunch of official hand wringers re-publishing the sort of advice that you can get on the Reg for free?

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Surprise! Government mega-infrastructure project cocked up

Ledswinger
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" it should not be necessary to debate the benefit of moving freight from road to rail "

Oh Mr porter! Except that little stuff is now made in Birmingham and shipped to London (or vice versa), and our volume freight traffic comes into places like Felixstowe, Southampton, Tilbury or Liverpool in containers. If efficiently shipped, it will be coming in close to the major population centres that it will serve, although I accept there's a fair bit of inter-regional traffic. The supposed need to free the WCML up for freight is a very weak excuse for HS2, particularly since the freight consolidation model necessary for rail freight doesn't work well in the UK because of the relatively short distances involved. And even Southampton or Felixstowe freight heading north wouldn't join the WCML until Birmingham or Stafford, where the four tracks from Stafford to Weaver Junction are under-utilised because there's little slow line passenger traffic compared to the stretch south of Birmingham.

Regarding train speeds, the whole WCML model was got right (remarkably) by British Rail back in 1960 when the WCML was electrified. You don't allow slow traffic onto the fast lines, the fast line traffic operates similarly capable traction equipment that operates to similar performance curves, and you can despatch "flights" of trains in quick succession. Build rail flyovers to stop slow traffic crossing over the fastlines and you're done. For the most part this is already done, and if Network Rail are mixing high speed passenger traffic with slower services on four line routes then that's simple incompetence that doesn't involve £60-80bn to resolve.

Unfortunately Network Rail are full behind HS2 and the fictitious traffic forecasts. Search out the DIRFT3 expansion report, and you'll see that they project that by 2030 WCML will be carrying 132 freight trains per day compared to 22 today. Obviously we need HS2 if that's correct, but where is the traffic going to come from for more than 100 additional freight trains? Will you be buying, using and throwing away six times as much stuff as you do today? Or will their be 400m people living in Britain? Maybe it could come off the roads, but we're talking about over half a million containers a day (read the report, all there in black and white) and that compares to M6 traffic flows of around 120,000 vehicles per day of all types - so perhaps 30,000 container lorries.

The arguments for HS2 are bad on so many levels that collectively they can only be considered a Work Of Great Evil (tm).

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Ledswinger
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"if the people travelling first class are subsidising the fares then your plan results in all the people who normally travel second class having to pay more anyway"

But it avoids spending £60-80bn on a new railway line and its £1-2bn a year operating costs.

At typical government bond rates of 4% that's around £2.5bn a year just in interest and at least a billion a year of operating costs (assuming it isn't like HS1 and ends up with a thumping great annual loss). I guesstimate WCML first class intercity journeys around 7m per annum, dividing HS2 interest-only plus opex costs by the number of first class journeys, I calculate that for us to be better off allowing the fat cats to "subsidise" the second class passengers the surplus over operating costs needs to be £485 per first class journey. That's unlikely since the average first class fare is going to be around £250 (that's a tad over the current peak morning first class fare between Manchester and London).

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Ledswinger
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" I don't think we can usefully expand the East Coast and West Coast rail lines. "

We could, it's just that fuckwit politicians would prefer to launch vast projects using my money to support a business case that only a complete idiot would believe.

If you believe that public money should go on HS2 or other infrastructure projects, then you presumably accept that infrastructure is a public good. Having accepted that, then the capacity of the systems is an issue of public good. Now, take an existing Pendolino set, rip out the first class seating that infests 40% of the coaches, and replace it with the entirely adequate second class fit out, and voila, 25% increase in carrying capacity without buying or running a single extra train. How difficult is that? Is it the job of the ordinary taxpayer to pay the ridiculous price of HS2 because the WCML is clogged by fat cats travelling first class? This isn't about whether they pay their way, its just about capacity limits, and the fact that by allowing wide, first class buttocks to occupy WCML, we seem to need (case unproven) to spend £80bn on a complete new rail line.

Add another one or two second class coaches to each train set and you'd need to extend the platforms again, but that's add another 15% carrying capacity for modest costs. If speed's an issue, then simply build a couple of brand new straight sections or straight tunnels at Berkhamsted, Linslade and Weedon curves. Capacity limits at Euston could be augmented by having (say) all Glasgow trains leave and arrive at less heavily utilised Paddington (WCML and GWR are within yards of each other at Kensal Green). Through the West Mids extra capacity and speed is available simply by four tracking the line between Coventry and Stafford via Birmingham. A long term signalling strategy for WCML could see signalling progressively upgraded to in cab signalling, and the Pendolino's then allowed to run at their design speed of 140mph. This also ignores two ten minute "holes" in the hourly fast line departures from Euston that could accomodate another four to six departures. Why are we talking about HS2 when that capacity is still not used, and the off peak trains are lightly loaded with students paying £10 a ticket?

And that's before doing anything with the under-utilised Chiltern Line, that could easily see 8 coach trains extended to twelve (50% increase in capacity London to Birmingham without any additional trains being run).

HS2 is a waste of money. It is an indictment of all front benchers in the Westminster House of Shame that the idea persists to spend the fat end of £100bn for something that isn't needed now, and won't be needed in future.

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Who will kill power companies? TESLA, says Morgan Stanley

Ledswinger
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Re: One solution for ledswinger

"If it's currently the case that utilities' grid-maintenance costs are not covered by the current annual connection fee (meaning that they over-charge on the power bills to make up for the shortfall), then yes that would be the case. "

The way charges are calculated is very complex, and the basics are that in the very short term your costs are completely fixed, in the long term they are completely variable. It is always a choice about how you recover those costs, and the regulators and companies dance round their handbags to come up with an acceptable compromise. The reason things would change in a more self sufficient world is that you simply have fewer units of power sold by the grid, and it would not make sense to recover those costs on variable power use (for example, the grid and generator capital and non-fuel opex costs don't vary much year round, but if you recovered on usage they'd have no income in the summer months).

On your thoughts on self supply and reciprocal supply, the idea sounds lovely, but you either have to accept much greater supply interruptions, or have the full-fat grid capability plus generation. If you want grid backup, renewables are not cost effective against fossil solutions, and it gets worse the smaller scale each installation is. Let me offer you one illustration: An offshore wind farm uses as much capex per GW just on its electricity connection to the shore as to build, connect and commission a state of the art CCGT. Obviously the CCGT has fuel costs (although wind farms have O&M costs), but you've then got the actual wind turbine costs to stump up, and the fact that you'll only get 35% load factor off the wind turbines. Now factor in storage for wind and you start to see a very, very expensive solution that makes nuclear look cheap.

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Ledswinger
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Re: One problem for James Micallef

"Nothing strictly wrong with staying on-grid even if you are self-sufficient, as long as you can feed in surplus electricity and get paid for it."

But paid how much? In the UK solar PV anoraks are bleating that they only get 14p/kWh. But 9p of that at least is a pure subsidy, because the wholesale offer price for good quality baseload is around 5p/kWh. If the smug solar bunch were actually paid appropriately for the dreadful profile that solar PV produces (ie centred on the middle of the day and seasonally biased towards the lower demand of summer months) they'd actually be getting around 3p/kWh.

3p/kWh isn't going to pay for much PV or other microgeneration, but because your suggested idea still requires a grid system & operator and some form of centrally despatched power able to meet peak demand in a bad winter, you still incur all the capital and maintenance costs of the current system in addition to your cosy world of house-generation. In practical terms that means that your standing charge becomes £400 a year instead of £60 a year, and your grid purchased units would be around 40p/kWh instead of 13p.

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Ledswinger
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Re: @Steve Todd 3

"You seem to think that I'm in favour of EVs on the grounds of climate change. I'm much more in favour of them as a way of reducing pollution."

I'd made no such assertion that I'm aware of, and the whole EV thing isn't something I'd given much thought to despite the article being about Tesla - my lengthy digression was on the issues of district heating and CHP in response to another poster.

The low efficiency of transport ICE is probably not going to be much changed by renewable powered EVs simply because of the multiple conversion losses in generating, storing, retrieving and using electricity in this way. I can see lots of good things about EVs in principle, the problem is that they are still an emerging technology that is too costly and not yet good enough for most users. And when we've fixed that, there's the problem that an average user doing 12,000 miles a year in a modest family car currently uses around 13,000 kWh in fuel energy. If they use an EV then the net power required won't change much after the repeated conversion losses, so somebody has to find that additional 13,000 kWh per car, which compares to around 3,500 kWh of electricity used per house. In my house, with two working adults that means that we'd need to source almost eight times as much electricity as we currently use. Nationally that's going to be something of a problem, wouldn't you agree? And no matter what size of solar array I put on my house, it will generate nothing useful for four months of the year, so we're back to grid power as the solution.

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Ledswinger
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Re: @Steve Todd 2

Re Drax & tomatoes: True, but that's going to be less than 1% of the circa 6 GW of waste heat from Drax, the problem is a huge point source of heat with no meaningful heat demand in miles. As a similar example the waste heat from Ratcliffe is sufficient to serve the entire space heating needs of fifteen mile distant Nottingham, but the cost of building a heat network to distribute it would be around £4 billion quid, plus some form of standby heat system in case the power station has to shut down. However, under DECC's Canute like plans to combat climate change they hope to see all coal plant off the UK grid by 2025, so the network wouldn't even have been built by the time the hippies manage to shut down the plant.

"Secondly you can use the waste heat in secondary generators"

It already is. Look up the details of most large UK coal plants and you'll find there a much smaller turbine using waste heat that the main steam turbines can't use. The problem is that there's still at least 40% and more usually 60% of the primary energy content lost as low grade heat via the cooling towers.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Point of order!

"Sheffield was always held up as the biggest example of CHP/district heating in the UK (possibly Europe),"

Sheffield still has one of the biggest heat systems in the UK, although it is centred around heat to municipal buildings rather than residential heat. There's other big systems in Southampton, Nottingham, and developing systems in Leicester and Birmingham.

However, compared to Europe these are tiddlers. In the UK there's about 200,000 homes & apartments connected to district and communal heat sources. In Poland there's about six million homes on district heat.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Depends...

"One is that there are energy losses in the grid, which arguably take the place of the inefficiencies of charging/discharging a battery bank locally. Some figures I have seen put these inefficiencies at as much as 25%, though that feels rather high. "

Actual grid losses are around 11%. You can choose to include or ignore power station conversion losses that are 60% of the primary fossil fuel inputs.

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Ledswinger
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Re: @Steve Todd & Paul Crawford

"Now then, where are the GW sized generators, and is anyone prepared to dig up towns and cities for hot water distribution to make said efficiency worth it?"

You've hit the nail on the head, that the cost of district heating is too great in most cases in the UK, with the exception of high density housing. The fundamental cause of this is that the cost of heat distribution networks is too great. Heat distribution pipes cost around £1,200 per metre of length in real life conditions*, and that soon mounts up (even for terraced housing this typically means £4k of property specific heat network, before you've built your energy centre (say £2k per property served), or installed a heat interchange unit (HIU) and heat meter in the property (£2k). This compares to less than £2k for a gas combi boiler fitted and £600 of property specific gas network and perhaps £0.5k/property of upstream gas production gear.

If you've got a number of close together apartment buildings then a small area district heating system makes sense serving a few thousand apartments, but nothing on the scale seen in (say) Sweden or Poland, where winters are colder, average space heating demand much greater, and there's no national gas network like in the UK.

Then we come to the alleged efficiency benefits. In principle they exist - you run a CHP engine (typically gas fired spark ignition reciprocating engine) for heat and capture electricity as a by product. Problem is that the heating demand varies year round, and during the day and it's simply not economic to build a CHP that is mothballed for the six months of the year outside the heating season. Then, within day the heat load varies dramatically. Overnight a well designed system can coast on the thermal inertia of the system, but during the day you have to serve morning and evening peaks. If you run a CHP engine to serve that load profile then (a) you've again got an asset sitting around for three quarters of the day twiddling its thumbs, and (b) you have a problem with the reliability - regardless of what the makers claim, power generating sets respond badly to excessive cycling, and we've found that running the CHP on simple double cycling per day meant very noticeable decreases in reliability (which means higher maintenance costs and loss of use). You can build additional heat storage into the system to allow the CHP engine to run for longer, but the problem is that "storage" in this context is a bloody great insulated hot water tank, and when you build these at any scale they become very expensive. I work for one the largest operators of district heat in the UK and another northern European country, and we do know what we're talking about.

So, what this means is that for a UK heat system you size your CHP for your year round baseload, and all of your seasonal and daily peaking is delivered by gas boilers (sometimes biomass assisted, but there's lots of reasons to not want that). You could use all CHP, but the costs would be astronomical, and you have to remember that the system needs to be wildly over-provisioned against average demand, because you have to allow for a plant breakdown and maximum demand in the coldest winter conditions (say -15C). So a small scale district heat system serving a few hundred properties would have a 185 kW electricity/230KW heat spark ignition CHP that runs between 05:00 and 23:00 every day of the year other than when down for service. You then have say three 3MW boilers which would never be used all together - two of them can serve maximum heat demand, giving some leeway against severe winter demand, reduced output for lower mains gas pressure and loss of both the CHP and one of the boilers. This will be why the university is extending using boilers - unless you want to generate electricity at well above the cost of grid power it doesn't make sense. Over the year the electrical power output is around 5-10% of the total energy output, so even as a by product it isn't making much difference. This is in strict contrast to industrial CHP where the plant is typically a 50 MW gas turbine that runs at constant load, and produces 30% of power output as electricity, and the balance as process heat (with often incidental delivery of space and water heating).

So in aggregate terms, the overall efficiency benefit of district heating CHP units is much lower than proponents claim, unless you want to chase operational efficiency at a very high cost indeed. Despite this the clowns at DECC are earnest believers in the benefits of district heating, and are pushing developers and power companies to roll out heat networks - like wind and solar, very expensive non-answers to the question of climate change. Over the past couple of years DECC's heat network delivery unit has been handing out a few million quid to the beards & sandals of local government to encourage the take of heat networks, and they in turn believe this simplistic and inaccurate mantra that district heating is more efficient than centralised electricity and local heating systems.

Having said that the efficiency is a dream and the costs are high, I would point out that in high density housing it can be slightly cheaper than heat from an individual gas boiler (not permitted in high rises anyway), although the costs are very different - the operating costs are lower, but the capital costs are a lot higher. In functional terms, district heat works as well as gas: It is as convenient as a gas system, safer, requires minimal in home servicing (typically a fifteen minute check over of the HIU once every two years). Many middle class people in the UK have a problem with district heating that you can't change your supplier - the energy service company that owns and operates the heat network has you as a captive customer essentially for the life of the property. Residents in social housing tend to me more accepting because they're often used to communal heat delivery at a building level, or their alternative is crap and expensive dry electric heating systems.

So there you have it. Ledswinger's District Heating Primer. Conclusion: Works well for high density housing where you'd normally use a communal boiler or dry electric systems, but otherwise a very expensive idea that has few real world efficiency benefits.

* Heat pipes are expensive because circulation speeds are low to achieve efficient heat transfer and avoid high pressures that increase pipe bursts, so you have larger pipes than for gas or cold water distribution, usually steel for durability, and you then have a good thick layer of insulation. This means you're laying a more expensive pipe than MDPE gas or water pipe, and a much larger pipe, leading to greater civils costs. There have been experiments with "4th gen" heat networks using low temperature distributuion, meaning less insulation is needed and heat losses are lower, but this requires the house to have a heat pump on HIU, which increases capex, makes the device more complex, and increases the electricity bills, so its a bit of a zero sum improvement.

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Cor blimey: Virgin Media pipes 152Mb fibre to 100,000 East Londoners

Ledswinger
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Re: Q from the US

"Virgin are well known for capping your speeds if you download more than Xgb a day, "

I'm a happy 100 Mb/s customer and I've never noticed the throttling. According to their policy on the larger packages (over 30 Mb/s) they only ever throttle users uploading large amounts of data (in excess of 1 Gb per hour at peak times), although torrents/P2P and filesharing via newsgroups can be slowed down during peak times regardless of your usage. As the slowdown is about 50% on filesharing I'd still be getting 50 Mb/s service even if I were throttled, which sounds a lot better than most of the country enjoy at best. And since I don't give a hoot about filesharing and P2P networking it doesn't really matter to me at all.

Of course, this could all change now they are part of Liberty Global....

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Google pulls Gaza games from Play store

Ledswinger
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"So it's ok to glorify a historical war but not a current one."

Well the original Counterstrike was released in 1999, and therefore was "glorifying" future wars, not current or historical ones, if we consider the format of Western ground forces interacting in the Middle East with local insurgent groups.

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Cut price Android on steroids: OnePlus One – should we look gift horse in the gob?

Ledswinger
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Re: Cheap... Too cheap?

"hard to know for sure if it has a special 'phone home to some agency in China' bit of firmware buried deep in there somewhere"

In a business context I wouldn't want a Chinese spyware infested phone, but I'd be quite happy with that for domestic use. If chairman Mao's successor want to go through the few dull snaps on my phone, peruse my contacts, or see who I phoned when, then that's no threat to my civil liberties, whereas it definitely is if my own government are doing it (or their "allies" doing it on their behalf).

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Ledswinger
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Re: Send to China for warranty repairs?

"Who can live without a phone for that long?"

I've found international post to be as fast and reliable as UK domestic services. Factor in the often crummy support service from UK network operators and I think that the difference is more about the fear factor and the cost.

International, insured, signed for 7 day delivery to China by Royal Mail is about £21, compared to about £8 UK inland. If you've saved £200 on the phone, then an extra £12 and a few days if it does go wrong shouldn't be here nor there?

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HUMAN RACE PERIL: Not nukes, it'll be AI that kills us off, warns Musk

Ledswinger
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Re: Pity the genius

"I would suggest, if we're to make the best use of artificial intelligence, we need to first make better use of conventional intelligence. To that end I propose the following societal changes:"

All very well, but that assumes that you can measure intelligence usefully, and that having done that it will be well used. I know several "thick" people who are commercially astute businessmen making things happen and employing others. I have come across many very well educated people that couldn't make a cup of tea happen. And I know a few people who are very intelligent, but totally devoid of important social skills, which leads to unpredictable and often uncomfortable outcomes. And in financial services and law I've come across a lot of exceptionally bright people who are at best amoral (the lawyers), and at worst criminal (the bankers).

I don't want a centrally planned society where fitness for high office is decided on the basis of who has the best degree. If you want to preview that society and its systemic ineptitude, go an examine the British civil service.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Newsflash@ Vic

"then will likely run out of engines."

What about swapping engines with XL426 that is claimed to be taxiable? Or for that matter, refettling any engines still in the 10-12 other surviving airframes? I know that's not a trivial job, but presumably a lot easier than remanufacturing from scratch.

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Ledswinger
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Re: design to fail.

" there may be no biological imperative to create offspring"

Not as such. But an AI can endure beyond all or individual components, unlike meat consciousness. Which would suggest that its imperative would be not to improve through breeding and reproduction, but through self improvement either in whole or part. Its a bit Tron-esque, but it is the code of an AI that would be sentient not the hardware. For an AI, Darwinism would need redefining to acknowledge that the code evolves without (apparent) reproduction, and the hardware may need upgrading, but is otherwise no more than the sort of physical environment that is required by any biological life form.

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Ledswinger
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Re: The problem probably is profitability

"where corporations can do nearly everything people can, but they cannot be sent to jail."

This is true of any "body corporate", be that political parties, the sluggish control freak civil bureaucracy of government, the armed forces, the "intelligence" services, or corporations.

The problem is not profit as such (without which society wouldn't have a surplus to invest in health, technology, entertainment or higher living standards) but that the goals (and culture) of any organisation usually transcend any one person.

You mentioned HFT as a problem. And I'd agree that HFT is not about fair price discovery, but is actually purposed to rip off anybody else for the advantage of the HFT algo owner. But the problem is not profits, or bonuses per se, it is the culture of financial services, where they have collectively lurched from one criminal or immoral money making scheme to another, and the problem is that for all the fine words when they get caught, the industry chooses to keep any sense of propriety in the same dusty draw that stores its broken moral compass. In the UK, examples include private pension misselling, split capital trusts, endowment mortgages, CDOs, over leveraged LBO's, PPI, CPI, interest rate swaps, casino investment banking, payday loans, etc etc etc.

The persistent failure of the body politic to do what serves the electorate best, or even to listen to the clearly expressed wishes of the electorate is another example that is not particularly profit driven - there's an element of lining their pockets, but fundamentally it is about the culture of politics that says the job of electors is to elect me, and then to suck up whatever I do in their name.

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China: Microsoft, don't shy away from our probe

Ledswinger
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Re: If Windows is a mousetrap, I am a ?

"Actually MS were hired-on by IBM to design a mousetrap"

Which MS then went and bought, IIRC, in the form or QDOS. And in fact almost all of their products were purchased (or in a few instances conceptually copied). Microsoft must be a joy to behold for lawyers and accountants everywhere, proving that you can build a vast semi-monopolistic cash cow without being in the slightest bit creative or innovative, and without listening to customers.

The greyness, the lack of excitement, or risk, the whole corporate bureaucracy....yuk. If Microsoft were an item of clothing, they'd be XXL grey y-front underpants.

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Israel snooped on John Kerry's phone calls during Middle East peace talks

Ledswinger
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"Not all friendly countries routinely spy on their allies. Germany for example..."

Amongst countries of global significance (say the G20) I'd suggest they are virtually alone. And if you defined a G60 things wouldn't change that much.

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HP says it will sue former Autonomy CFO Sushovan Hussein

Ledswinger
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Re: Wow

" If the various Fraud offices don't take action after completing their investigations they'll have to make some hefty settlements to the old Autonomy board."

The SFO take years to bring a case. I worked for a large listed company that collapsed due to directorial fraud at the end of 2006, and it took the SFO until mid 2013 to get the case in front of the courts. Meg and her inept cronies know this, and are banking on leaving the mess for somebody else to sort out. If there's no meaningful action by state prosecutors, the settlement with Autonomy directors will (a) be peanuts for a leather-arsed dinosaur like HP, and (b) will be made long after Meg's bottom has been lifted out of the CEO's throne.

My guess is that HP are relying on their limitless pockets being deeper than the personal pockets of Lynch and his colleagues. Moreover, I suspect HP don't care if the process goes on for another decade, and that they don't care whether they win or lose. The real purpose seems to me to distract from the culpability of the directors and managers of HP including Meg in approving the Autonomy deal, and perhaps most importantly in calling off the shareholder attack dogs, because that action is the one thing that could harm Meg and the team of bozos that rule at HP. By kicking this into the long grass Meg is confident that she won't be held to account for her part, and any outcome will be apparent long after she has retired on a big fat HP pension.

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Ad biz now has one less excuse to sponsor freetards and filth

Ledswinger
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Re: I DON'T like filth

"Dull is good. Dull is how it was before Web 2.0, and it was perfectly fine that way."

Perfectly fine for those who were very easily pleased. The sort of people who thought Compuserve via dial up was exciting.

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It's WAR: Internet of Stuff firms butt heads over talking-fridge tech standards

Ledswinger
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Re: Love the picture on the first page

Before the designers of toasters get all dewy eyed over the prospects for their Internet of Toasters, perhaps they'd like to concentrate on the basic functions, and make a toaster that won't burn the bl00dy toast, and doesn't take forever to do the toast, and does the toast evenly without singeing the edges (and without me having to twiddle the knob every time I put a different sized slice of bread in).

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Pentagon hacker McKinnon can't visit sick dad for fear of extradition

Ledswinger
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"So you don't like US citizens because of policies the US government "

No, that's not what I meant. In fact, I'll go as far as to apologise if that's what came across. I have American friends, I generally like American people, and warts-n-all I admire the US as a country.

What I was getting at was the point you were coming to, that the wider reputation of the USA, people included has been really, really harmed by the actions that I mentioned, and that are indeed the actions of your political elite. My own (UK) government are culpable on 50% of the examples mentioned, and it has likewise harmed our global standing, and the reputation of the Brits as a people.

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Ledswinger
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"There are a few global reasons that everyone agrees on"

Yes. None of those were the ones you mentioned. You could consider some these:

A one sided view of all forms of criminal law

A one sided view of all international law

Shit-stirring all round the world

Spying all round the world, including on heads of state of friendly nations

Re-arming the Israelis to help them kill Palestinians

Inventing excuses for, and then prosecuting unjustified wars

Starting wars that reduce countries to rubble, then fucking off when it all goes rancid afterwards.

Have I missed anything? I suspect a whole lot more besides.

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Operators get the FEAR as Ofcom proposes 275% hike in mobile spectrum fees

Ledswinger
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Won't affect customers?

"Yet given the competitive nature of the market it's unlikely to affect consumers' mobile tariffs"

I suspect the vermin at O2 will use it as justification for further increases in prices for the majority of its customers, given that their contracts predate OFCOM's new rules on mid contract increases.

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Plug and PREY: Hackers reprogram USB drives to silently infect PCs

Ledswinger
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Re: Where's my Windows update to fix this?

"Anything less than this is an NSA-ready backdoor"

And you don't think that the NSA had W7 equipped with multiple backdoors, unlocked front doors and open windows long before RTM?

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Ledswinger
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Re: Can you still buy memory cards/USB sticks on EBAY?

" I would guess that this sort of malware attack will produce errors if plugged into an OS it isn't expecting?"

Why? On initial connection, is there reason to expect that your Linux box would object to a device that identifies itself as storage and keyboard combined? And if you were crafting an attack against Windows machines, how and why would it produce an error message on the Linux box? "USBStealthDeath has an exception at 00000F:1H8C" should set the alarm bells ringing, and the authors would presumably make code failures silent, particularly since there's a few non-Windows machines around, and once you're rumbled that's it.

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Fiat Panda Cross: 'Interesting-looking' Multipla spawn hits UK

Ledswinger
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Re: Had a Fiat once ...

"but he may have just been unlucky with the car"

I doubt that, Fiat came 24 out of 26 UK car brands in the latest JD Power survey, and one of the two lower brands (Alfa) is also part of the Fiat Chrysler group. Those who rightly wish to laugh at Italian mass-car making craftsmanship may wish to consider that Fiat Chrysler is incorporated in the Netherlands, but tax domiciled in the UK, so maybe they are the spiritual successors to British Leyland.

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Ledswinger
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Re: 80 bhp?

"80Bhp is 30Bhp more than most land rovers had up until the late 80s, and no one with more than a single braincell would say they were bad offroad!"

BHP is power, not torque. Power is the rate of doing work, torque is (if you like) how much work can actually be done. Diesels have lower power and higher torque than petrol engines, and consequently have lower maximum speeds but far better pulling power than petrol engines.

Having said that, diesel Landies always had the reputation for being unable to pull the skin off a rice pudding, so the difference is probably moot.

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Microsoft's Euro cloud darkens: US FEDS can dig into foreign servers

Ledswinger
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Re: Doom for US tech companies@ jnemesh

"I am guessing this will only accelerate the UK's plan to move away from MS products, as well as Germany's!"

I think it may have escaped your notice that GCHQ and the NSA are joined at the hip. They are both unaccountable, both share the same mission to spy on both native and foreign populations to the maximum extent that technology will allow, and operate with a complete lack of proper oversight and a near limitless budget. The US and British government (whilst still spying on each other) have happily co-operated to share the job of global spy in chief, and the idea that the UK is moving away from MS products or taking a stand over NSA intrusion is sadly nonsense.

I think you're referring to the supposed adoption with immediate effect of ODF by government instead of proprietary MS formats, but this is tokenism, as most departments continue to publish Word and Excel documents, and even if they used ODF or HTML they won't have used FoOSS to write them.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Doom for US tech companies

"Good luck with all your endeavors in the future."

Wow! I did enjoy that Mr Pott. Reading it was like watching some gobshite in the pub finally given the good kicking they richly deserved, each finely crafted paragraph like a fast moving boot decelerating against sensitive body parts.

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Ledswinger
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" I would hate to be the admin who convinced their company to move to the cloud within the past few years"

When did the admin have that much clout? It's usually an out-of-their-depth CIO who's going along with the CEO, who in turn was taken out for a very nice lunch by a bunch of IT or management consultants, and they told the CEO that the cloud was where it was happening, and if his company didn't move there, then competitors would eat his very nice lunch.

I'm not sure why directors are so gullible when faced with the sleazebag liars of the consultancy sectors, but all important aspects of corporate decision making seem to involve paying these people ludicrous amounts of money to sell poor quality and undifferentiated corporate, technological or commercial strategies that never address the real issues facing the companies concerned. Eighteen months later, the same consultants are re-employed and paid handsomely to offer some new insight, which in reality is a vast pile of powerpoint slides making irrelevant, selective and out of date comparisons, and has been marginally re-worked (by a handful of well qualified graduates with no real world experience) from a version touted round every competing player in the industry over previous months.

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China in MONOPOLY PROBE into Microsoft: Do not pass GO, do not collect 200 yuan

Ledswinger
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Re: Surprising

"Presuambly because it's much tougher to pirate it than with Windows XP."

I doubt that. If the Chinese government wanted to pirate W7, then they've certainly got the resources to do so by reverse engineering the code and replacing the bits they don't like - no need to rely on a handful of criminals working in a darkened room when you've got several divisions of the PLA dedicated to cyber warfare, plus free access to every university and major tech company in the land. For reasons of trade alone, though, the Chinese government doesn't want to cause too much offence to the US, so the current policy is that it would like government use to be above board and legal, just not as expensive.

There's some curious things here: I can't say why Red Flag Linux didn't work out - given the one party state you'd have thought the technologists could make it work, and the government users would adopt it because they were told to (with a side order of threat of force). But it didn't work, and looking at where they are now, if I were the Chinese government, I'd be offering a couple of billion dollar endowments to (say) Ubuntu and Open Office to make their products as slick and even more user friendly than Microsoft's offering with a view to getting a Chinese Linux version that people wanted to use, and of weakening the US corporate hold on global desktop software. By way of comparison, if Microsoft could sell Windows and Office at US prices, they'd be raking about $15bn a year from China, all straight to the bottom line, so investing comparatively small sums in alternative software they'd be much better off. And as another comparison the costs of getting Ubuntu where it is today are probably around $200m tops (initial investment, acquistions and operating losses), so a billion dollars on top would really make a difference.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Surprising

"Requiring Microsoft to port Office to the Linux operating system would be a rather novel application of antitrust"

That isn't a likely or intended outcome. As the article states, the Chinese government tried and failed to introduce their own OS (Red Flag Linux), and due to that failure still have hundreds of millions of PCs running either pirated or legit copies of XP. With XP no longer supported, Redmond wanted a lot more for W7 licences, and the Chinese saw no reason to pay the higher price, or the ransom for extended XP support. The Chinese government already have the option of migrating to any one of a number of vanilla Linux distros and Open Office for next to nothing, but that's not what they want.

The purpose of this investigation is simply to put some serious pressure on Redmond to offer much better terms for W7, and if they aren't forthcoming to fine Microsoft the difference between what they charge and what Beijing want to pay, as well as to force additional costs on them. The probable outcome of this will be that the Chinese government get a much better deal on W7, the investigation will eventually close with minimal or no fines. The only remarkable thing is that Redmond have tried to hold out against the Chinese government for so long, instead of accepting the inevitable, and looking for what would be the most positive outcome after accepting that China are going to pay them peanuts.

An example of that would have been to offer China the price they want, but only for the flagging W8, which then gives W8 serious volume and (hopefully for MS) more traction in corporate markets. Instead, Redmond's stance has hardened Beijing's position on W8, meaning that the discussions centre either on the now five years old W7, or at best on having to give away W9. Having to massively discount your next operating system before it is launched would be a staggering strategic blunder for Microsoft, but they do have a history of epic strategic blundering.

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SOULLESS machine-intelligence ROBOT cars to hit Blighty in 2015

Ledswinger
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Re: How does this square with the mantra of "public transport" ?

How it squares with the statist, red flag mentality of local government is that driverless cars will be most unlikely to be truly autonomous. At the very least they'll want to make them aware of traffic light sequencing that can remain deliberately messed up, but at a higher level you'll have the Stalinists of Brum rolling out their 20mph everywhere programme, and the self driving cars will dawdle along slower than a push bike. Factor in the unmissable opportunity for the state to mandate some central control logic, and remote management "to help the police and protect the public from Al Quaeda" and driverless cars are a wet dream for the control freak beards and sandals who work in local government.

Of course, that won't make public transport any more popular, but it isn't the state's job to deliver what you want, it is your job to lap up what the state thinks you should have.

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Ledswinger
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Unaffected by new laws

"However, the public-funded body's mouthpiece said work on these vehicles would be unaffected by the new laws because they drive on the pavement. "

I've noticed that most vehicles driven or parked on pavements are unaffected by both existing and new laws. Luckily speed and bus lane cameras are handling all the serious crimes.

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4K video on terrestrial TV? Not if the WRC shares frequencies to mobiles

Ledswinger
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Re: Broadcast TV is a dinosaur

"Please, do explain what you're talking about..."

stu 4 works at OFCOM. It's what they all believe.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Gigabit fibre optic broadband @ Wibble

"If we valued the future we should do both: fibre everywhere and transport infrastructure. That's what the Victorians would have done."

No it was not. The canals, bridges, ships, railways were built almost entirely by private capital, in the times when the state didn't think it was the job of the state to provide everything to everybody. The consequence was that infrastructure followed economic demand. Some railways certainly were built to nowhere during the railway mania, but if they weren't economic the were promptly closed - rural dwellers didn't benefit from universal access to railways, canals, water or sewerage systems because it wasn't economic to serve them, and there was no mechanism then for civil servants to plunder the wider population's pockets to offer "services" where people would not pay the true cost themselves.

Far from modern day Victorians building out a national high speed broadband network, they'd do exactly what BT and Virginmedia do - chase the densest pockets of demand until the capital runs out.

Amusingly, HS2 is a modern day example of the Victorian railway mania - a vainglorious hope justified on fictitious traffic forecasts, supported by ignorant or crooked politicians, that goes between two thriving metropoli and ignores those living between them. The only difference being that it has been planned by the Stalinist central planning bureaucrats of Whitehall, using public money. In twenty years time HS2 will go the way of HS1 made large, where the British government backed the builders of HS1 with £5bn plus of guarantees plus operating losses and costs in the meanwhile (all because the traffic forecasts were made up numbers....), and then ended up selling the assets to a foreign pension fund for £2bn or so.

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