2143 posts • joined 1 Jun 2012
Re: Dear Banks@ Pen-y-gors
"I don't entirely agree - a large proportion of personal customers in the UK don't actually pay for a current account (okay, charges for overdrafts etc) but basic banking is free. Once this was funded by the fact that they didn't pay interest on current accounts, but with interest rates at zero they don't have any income to pay for the services."
Let's stop for a moment and consider why interest rates are so low. Would it be the fault of the self same banks bleating they've no money, whose reckless lending meant the state had to bail the thieving scum out in the first place, accompanied by QE and near zero interest rates?
If they have to provide "free" current accounts at a loss for a few years, simply because their collective greed, incompetence and dishonesty wrecked the whole system, then I say tough luck. If they don't want to do retail banking, then let them close or sell their high street branches.
Re: Why renationalise BT? @Tom 7
"But ignoring the fact that BT threw our future out with the bathwater can you tell me one of the big utility privatisations that has actually reduced bills for the customer?"
Having worked for the water industry during the 1990s and managed a multi-hundred million investment programme, and now working in the power sector I can help you out on both topics:
The dynamics are different by industry. Water privatisation occurred because (a) the operations and investment arms of the regional water authorities were incompetent and hugely inefficient, (b) the same public sector organisations had allowed the network infrastructure to rot, such that renewal was happening slower than the network fell to bits, and (c) government didn't want to foot the huge bill for (largely justified) EU water quality improvements. Your bill certainly went up, but operating costs (like for like) came down massively, we got to a point where network decay and renewal moved into rough balance, and the government didn't have to borrow the billions I was busy spending on water and sewage assets.
In the case of power, the inefficiency existed, and was addressed over a decade of redundancies (we're back in that part of the cycle now in response to all the ill informed whining about the cost of energy). There was a need for some asset renewal (replacement of the older less efficient coal plant by CCGT, the original "dash for gas". And your costs did come down, year on year from 1991 through to 2003, when government got bitten by the "green" bug, which led to prolonged, continuing and accelerating pressures on your energy bill to pay for windmills, carbon taxes, rebates for the poor and elderly, insulation on the homes, sometimes on real bill payers homes, but largely targeted at the Labour voting poor.,
See chart 2.1.2 in the link below for the evidence on cost.
But that unfortunately coincided with the start of the mid noughties boom, and the emergence of China as a force to affect world commodity prices, so that on top of green meddling there was real sustained increase in the price of gas and coal (see chart 3.2.2)
"it's not true that we don't have a credible aerospace sector - Rolls-Royce and a very significant share of Airbus manufacturing, plus the largest manufacturer of satellites outside the US. And that's just the civil stuff."
You're right. Well, insofar as we make the wings for AIrbus. As Airbus is effectively French state controlled (with a nod to the Germans) the continued wing construction at Broughton has to be considered as not a safe long term bet - I work for a European owned company, and (unlike British managed companies) they are remarkably parochial. They'll never adopt a best in class solution if there's a third rate one on offer in their home country, and if something good is being done in a foreign part of the business they'll replicate it (often badly) at home, and then centralise, closing the efficient and innovative part of the business down, because they couldn't bear to do it the other way round.
Rolls Royce I'd take my hat off to. Satellite building - good stuff, but actual job numbers and income will be small relative to the rest of the economy.
But that does lead us onto defence and BAES. They seem unable to put an aircraft of their own in the sky other than as vast Euro-boondoggle programmes with huge cost over-runs and delays. The best they can do is the three country money pit that as the Eurofighter Typhoon, meanwhile Sweden (with a population barely larger than Greater London) put the Gripen into the air without having to involve every other major European economy, and with far smaller cost overrun issues.
I'd like it to be different, and for our fantastic industrial and aviation heritage to be evidenced today, but I see no sign of it. If BAES weren't such a lard arse state-suckling mess, they might have thought about the need for a competent strike fighter in time for when the Tornadoes, Jags and Harriers were retired, and built the prototype at their own cost and without the incompetent bungling of the MoD to muck it up.
"Why not just nationalise the bloody thing again and get on with it."
You're obviously too young to remember what a success nationalisation was. It's a major part of the reasons why we don't a British owned volume car maker, why we don't have a credible aerospace sector, why the railways have barely gone beyond the network built by private Victorian companies, and indeed why Britain was for so many years the dirty man of Europe due to poor management of the publicly owned water authorities through the 70s and 80s. And when the energy sector was publicly owned, it became a huge make work scheme to keep miners employed digging out coal at much higher cost than could be bought on the world market. The miners and public sector management wouldn't modernise, and eventually we were left with no coal industry, thanks to berks like Scargill (not to mention the power station workers forcing the economy onto a three day week in the 1970s. I remember eating tea by candlelight in the socialist utopia of 1970's Britain.
If you want to see how your proposal might work out, look at the energy sector today. Although the capital is nominally privately owned, you've actually got a stealthily nationalised decision making process: Incompetent public sector processes and bureaucrats decide what assets you can build where and when, whether you have a licence to operate in the "market", the rules of the "market" for power, where and what the subsidies and taxes are (all in the name of the FoE energy "policy" of the present and last bunch of twats in Parliament). Even as people struggle with the concept of a "capacity gap" that might lead to blackouts at periods of peak demand, consumers are bleating at high energy prices, yet the generating companies are taking thermal capacity out of service because it is losing money now that DECC have buggered up the system to channel all the money into wind farms and the like.
BT is grim, anti-competitive, and towards the very back of the list of organisations I'd give my custom to, but a nationalised telecoms industry would be even further back in that queue.
Re: Mass Surveillance
"so what would you do?"
Well I'd have been realistic. Failure of existing systems enabled 9/11. That should be fixed, but instituting a new, vast automated system wasn't a fix, and never will be. Mass surveillance couldn't even stop the amateurs behind the Boston bombings (despite the Ruskies waving a red flag at the US authorities to alert them). The Times Square bomber, the shoe and underpant bombers were all foiled in their intentions by their own incompetence, not by the expensive and ineffectual NSA+GCHQ. A broadly similar situation exists in the UK over terror attacks and attempts here that the mass surveillance loved by bureaucrats has stopped nothing, and ordinary policing, luck,or incompetence of the attackers has been the main ways they've been stopped.
Unfortunately, Obama and Congress (and the British parliament) have shown their true colours. They like mass surveillance, they won't condemn it, they won't stop it, and they don't care what the public think. Unfortunately, mass surveillance will evolve as some clever but misguided fool decides that he can code a system that will predict who becomes a terrorist. Two years ago if I'd mentioned Minority Report in this context I'd have been classed as a tin foil hatter. Knowing what we know about the NSA, and its links to the tech industry, and watching how the likes of Google track everything you do to predict what you'll buy, it seems pretty obvious that soon (if not already) innocent people will be labelled by an algorithm that brings together their opinions from online activity, emails, their contacts via email, Linkedin, Facebook, their purchase and travel history, what they read, their choice of news articles they looked at on the internet. And equally, people who are guilty as sin will be overlooked because such a system is flawed.
To put it simply, mass surveillance is a means of repression. There is no evidence of its successful use for real, democratic security, and plenty of evidence of scope creep and use by the wrong people for the wrong reasons. We expect this sort of behaviour from the Chinese and Russian governments, and we expect it to be used against the people.
The NSA have done untold damage to the international reputation of the USA, and fiddling around with "oversight" of their activities (which would still be done by the 1%, behind closed doors) doesn't deliver. So what would I do? I'd abolish the NSA as it now exists, and hunt down those allowed or who planned for it to become a data scooping Stasi, and I'd punish them. Oh, and I'd grant an unconditional pardon to Snowden and Manning, and award both the Presidential Medal of Freedom. As things stand that gong is probably being awarded to the highly paid, unaccountable bloke running the NSA. Is that what America stands for today?
"The play store lists neither the screen res or the cpu speed."
You could go to a library, and look them up in a copy of PC Pro? Or ask a knowledgeable friend to look it up on the internet for you?
Re: Tees and mugs?
"these would of course have "Something for the weekend, Sir?" written on them."
On the inside, in that transfer ink used for temporary tattoos. That'd look magnificent along the length of my boner. Although on second thoughts, maybe "Something for the weekend, Madam?" might be better, to avoid creating the wrong sort of impression with the wife.
Maybe offer both terms, all in the interests of pandering to the "diversity" fad?
Re: "without contributing to its upkeep"
" I think you'll find they do contribute by providing jobs"
And business rates. In broad brush terms a third of corporate taxes come from each of corporation tax, employer's NI, and from rates. The proportion raised by corporation tax declines still further if you choose to take the view that the employees' taxes are only created by virtue of the company's existence and activity. You could water that down further by including VAT, but I think that would still accrue from other spending choices if (say) Amazon weren't in business.
As ever, the problem is one of arsehole MPs doing some grandstanding for a bit of cheap publicity, when they are the root cause ot the problem (if one even exists). What Podge is forever whining on about can be summed up as "Big clever companies are adhering to the laws my party made, and the 1,000 odd pages of the companies act we rubber stamped without reading, and in doing so they're not paying what I think they ought to".
"Not really sure why people buy the Samsung handsets - at the low end they are ok but the high end seem over priced - my Moto G is a good handset and can see no reason to pay a lot more for a S3/S4? Suspect others are realising this as well."
As a Samsung loyalist, with a small family fleet of the things, and a works Sammy to boot, I'd beg to differ. From my experience the cheaper Sammy's are not a good ownership experience, including the "mini" versions of the high end models.
The full fat S2/S3/S4 were/are all excellent, and there's some excellent deals on S3's at the moment, presumably because they hope mugs will buy the S4 and the S3 is on run-out. And it's with the undiscounted premium models that you're correct about the cost problem. The S3 was pricey but still just manageable before it was discounted, but the S4 is simply too expensive to keep the momentum up. Added to which, the S4 doesn't really offer enough over the S3. I suspect the S5 will struggle for the same reason compared to the (presumably) discounted S4 models. If they make it bigger it becomes a Tab, and there's so many bells and whistles on the S4 that its difficult to see what they can add, other than some generational improvement in the camera, pointless acceleration of the processor.
I can see where you're coming from on the MotoG, but the S3 has a better screen, better camera, removeable battery and the opportunity to boost storage with an SD card. By my maths I'm paying about £170 for the S3 and the balance for my airtime (compared to the lowest comparable SIM free deals, albeit I';d get more minutes and data than I use). A Moto G will be around £140 or a tenner cheaper if you buy from a third party, although you get a shorter warranty of a year. Personally I chose the S3, but I think the continued high pricing is a key reason for the (fairly modest) problems of their phone division.
I suspect as well that the handset market is where the PC market was back in 2006/7 with the launch of Core 2 processors and flat screens for all. Unlike before, the machine still did what you wanted after a couple of years, and you didn't need to upgrade - nor even two years after that. Apple have luckily condiitoned their customers to pony up for a new handset every eighteen months at top dollar, with fairly lacklustre improvements model on model - as a result of which they can still go large, which is a card Sammy have already played. And even if the fanbois is happy with the technical performance of his phone after two years, most will think it worth upgrading because the battery performance will be down to 40% of the new capacity.
Curiously the killer "app" for all smartphones that would persuade punters to upgrade is staring the makers in the face, and it's a week's battery life in normal use. If that means a shorter battery service life then if its user changeable that doesn't matter to me, nor does an extra 1mm depth or an extra 30g of weight.
"The article needs updating as MS already stated they had extended the cut of from 2014 to 2015 for XP."
No, the article is correct, and you haven't read it or your link carefully enough. XP will not be patched for vulnerabilities as from 8 April. All that's happened is that MS have agreed to keep updating the rather flimsy Microsoft Security Essentials (and corporate products that use the same core) for another year.
XP and MSE were never going to keep the spooks and state-sponsored hackers from poking their unwanted noses in (should they see fit), and the better cybercrims aren't that far behind, so it will be any zero day vulnerabilities that are the main problem.
"Do they give you a readable copy of the full contract in the shop"
Not if you're joining O2. You do get a copy of the contract to sign and keep, but the print is light grey on coloured paper, and the font is so small that I need a bright light and a magnifying glass to read the fucker. And even then it's ten trillion words because O2 are retards, and can't write a simple, concise contract in plain English, so nobody will read it if they could.
Re: Smaller is better...
"Going back rather further, hard drives could be as large as 14 inches."
14 inches? You kids of today.
I remember the day.....ZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzz...ZZZZzzzzzzzz.....
when 60 Mb involved about five 24 inch platters in a large plastic dustbin lid type of holder otherwise full of normal honest to goodness machine room air. Hermetically sealed, you say boy? Hermetism was ILLEGAL in those days, I tell you......
Re: Maltitol is evil incarnate."
"Haribo's products in Europe use actual sugar, & their sugar free products tend to use other ingredients than Maltitol."
Pah! Us Europeans denied the real McCoy. I suppose that's come-uppance for us having pleasant tasting beer, chocolate and bacon.
I'm not enamoured of the urgent visits to the trap that are described, but perhaps Haribo could isolate the stench-inducing compounds and market them in a new product as Haribo Death Bears. I'll wager that there's actually a big market for a product that can reliably and in short order produce "Breath of Satan" trumps. I had some fine paint-stripping flatus over the weekend following the opening of some ultra-mature cheddar (with added brewer's yeast), but having the right fuel in the portable and discrete format of a bag of Haribo, that would be the business. Pop a good handful down your gullet ten minutes before going into the post office, or when accompanying the missus on clothes shopping expeditions, and share the happy world of Haribo.
You know it makes sense.
Dream on, tech hipsters
"They don't want to be told which proprietary system they'll be stuck with either, with 57 per cent saying they wanted to be able to customise the tech after they buy. "This is a great opportunity for car makers and dealerships to reinvent themselves," said Joe Vitale, Deloitte's global automotive sector leader"
I think Mr Vitale forgot to add "but which they'll completely fail to grasp, instead coming up with a range of half baked proprietary solutions, or locking into specific phone platforms without due regard for IT security, durability, support, and in some likely cases with the most abominable functionality seen on IT devices in two or three decades."
The automotive industry is addicted to a business model that makes minimal (or even nil) profits on basic vehicles, and then seeks to reverse that self inflicted wound through over-priced options. The last thing they want is non-proprietary systems, or users customising (ie "upgrading") the tech themselves. The auto makers also need to think who owns the customer experience - if the experience of using the new Toyota Priapus owes more to Apple, Google, or some other software house, then the car makers are headed towards the sort of commoditised world of pain already inhabited by most mobile handset makers.
Re: This is a sign of screwing up
"Intel management have not worked out their future well enough to face a hostile bunch of shareholders. Thus there is only one thing they can do: cut costs drastically to keep the numbers looking reasonable."
Maybe. In my view firing a few peons is merely window dressing to buy time. The solution (that Intel have long known about) is simply to buy ARM. ARM market cap is a tenth of Intel's, so it's an easy buy. US competition authorities won't say no to a major US corporation buying some foreign outfit. The UK government and competition authorities would enthusiastically say yes (speaking as a Briton, I think the evidence is clear that our governments of all political persuasions would happily sell their own grandmothers if they could find a buyer).
Corporate customers would hate it, but it's not like they've got that many alternatives, and even then if Samsung or TSMC complained, would the US or British government listen? I think not.
The only people likely to oppose it are the EU competition authorities (one of the very, very few areas where the EU generally do a good job). But if the US government lean on the spineless national governments of Europe, I'm sure the EU competition overlords would come to their senses and rubber stamp the deal. Within a few months ARM's design skills and IP will be shipped out to the US, the UK R&D would be shut down, and we'd be like the Finns, trying to remember the days when we had a world leading tech business, and wondering how and when it all went wrong.
And it's the usual "we will abide with our own narrow interpretation of the law, that enables us to keep on doing exactly what we want".
Curiously this just brings the Americans in line with the British government position that the peasants have no rights. Don't forget Magna Carta was when the barons held the king to account, not the people.
"She will be replaced by Gerard Grech, who currently heads up global marketing at BlackBerry World."
So the deciding criteria is "prior fat cat position" rather than "can do, dynamic, straight talking, hard working type with history of success"? (1)
Why can't I secure fat cat six-figure-for-doing- jack-shit gigs? I could (if so minded) focus on the failures of my previous employers - admittedly never as epic as Bungleberry. I'd be willing to toe whatever political line of dogshit that was required, to free-lunch, to attend meetings with DCMS (and to attend them with a whole host of disempowered lackeys, as the snivel service seem to require).
Who appoints numpties to these sinecures? I am available! My principles and beliefs can be hired or put aside as the appointment demands. I promise I shall not associate myself with actually doing anything, and I shall forbid the lackeys from doing anything other than massaging statistics to prove success. Hire me!
(1) No, that's not me either. I'm just railing against the injustice that he's sucking on the taxpayer funded teat, and I'm not.
Bad news for employees and customers, then, if EE remain in the exit lounge whilst lard-arsed foreign overlords hang on, hoping for a better price. There will be no proper decision making for the UK business, limited investment, difficulty in retaining good senior staff, and anything that can be fixed with sticking tape and chewing gum will be.
Re: Sugar coated models
"Want to lick!"
Do a search on 3D printed Hersheys (as that will bring up a topical story). Then tell us you'd like to lick. Personally I'd as happily lick the things that adhere to the sole of my shoe as I would Hershey's dog-poo flavoured "candy".
Hey! Yanks! You stick to electronic eavesdropping and war-mongering, and leave the chocolate and beer making to us on the right side of the Atlantic.
Re: 1.3 billion?????
"For an online recruitment system?"
Nope, for an IT system and then doing the recruiting, over the next ten years. Unfortunately that doesn't make the value any better, because according to the Daily Telegraph that amounted to £14k for every soldier recruited (and that was when project costs were a mere £1bn, so we could be looking at £18k per soldier recruited by now).
Are there any polite words to describe those involved in defence procurement?
"So, why are these agencies all scrabbling around now, likely to miss the date?"
Because regardless what happens, nobody will be held to account. No sackings, no demotions, no personal fines or liability. If the local hospital get fined (eg, as they often do for DPA) what does that matter? It's only a budget transfer from one public sector body to another.
This attitude is to be expected in the NHS, given that the politicians and civil servants demonstrate leadership like appointing as NHS chief executive David Nicholson, one of those overseeing the criminal shambles at Stafford Hospital. Indeed, the c**t got a knighthood after his culpability for that was known. This demonstrates that the NHS does not discriminate on the grounds of ability, and if that's the sahdow of the leader, you can be fairly sure the rest of the organisation is run on a similar basis.
"Dell is going to make most of its money from Enterprise as well as services"
That's been working so well for HP, Dell thought they could share the gianormous pie as well?
Re: Save billions on marketing
"By giving people what they WANT."
You wish. Since the previews of W8, Microsoft has resolutely refused to listen to feedback. That's great if you have a vsionary idea, and know what the market wants before it can articulate it. But "Microsoft" and "visionary" are words that don't sit easily in the same sentence.
So they have stuck their pudgy corporate fingers in their ears and refused to listen to users, hoping that market dominance would enable them to force change on the world, and they've blown the multiple opportunities to fix Windows 8. If third party applications can make W8 work for most users, why didn't MS listen, and embed that functionality as a choice? There's a few TIFKAM lovers out there, and a few people using WIndows with touch, they could have chosen to keep TIFKAM; the rest of us could have chosen a standard desktop, with a proper start button, menus, and freedom from Microsoft's rather sad collection of "apps".
Windows 9 already smells of WIndows 7, if you ask me. But that's in a bad way, because I suspect it will be a light working makeover and re-branding of a flawed predecessor, done simply because the predecessor took so long to be fixed after release that it never gained traction in the market. And likewise I suspect that the thieves of Redmond will expect all the people who paid for W8 to pay again for W9. Given the number of f*** ups that Microsoft have made in the past ten years, I'd imagine even corporates won't touch W9 until service pack 2 (so about 2017).
Re: Expensive Renewables
"Ask anyone who has lived in the Northeastern United States in the last half-century. They've had TWO failure cascades in that timeframe,"
Two *system* failures in fifty years. I'm calling that very good (noting that smaller events may be inconvenient aren't systemic). We have had similar frequency of system events in the UK and Europe.
Of course, if anybody really believes that microgen or self generation is more reliable, safer, cleaner and cheaper than the grid they are (generally) at liberty to do so. Other than doomsters who have moved to remote log cabins with a hundred year supply of tinned baked beans and a rifle it isn't very common.
Re: Expensive Renewables
"Unfortunately, the nuclear industry has a very powerful lobby, which has done a very good job of influencing government policy"
No. EdF had to be bribed to build Hinkley Point because they don't want to. RWE and E.ON both bailed out of their Horizon nuclear JV, like the rear gunner exiting a doomed Stuka. SSE and Iberdrola have likewise left their nuclear JV by the back door, like Elvis leaving the building. The driver for new nuclear is not industry, who simply don't have the money for this (after the politicians have fucked up the market and driven returns so low that investors don't want to know). No, the driver for new nuclear is politicians and civil servants, hooked on the opium of low carbon power, paid for by YOU.
"away from doing anything other than pretending to promote commercial alternatives (micro generation has never been any serious threat, and this has been the only successful government scheme in renewables)"
Micro gen successful? Nooooo! Nooooo! You really think that letting well off pensioners have a big discount off their power bill by carpeting the roofs of their bungalows with PV panels, and paid for by the largely less well off average consumer is a good thing? Or bunging money at middle class country folk to install a "biomass" boiler, at the expense of the masses? Or worse still, for those with a country mansion, a subsidy for laying a ground source heat circuit under Jemima's paddock? Micro-gen is a toxic non-solution, in which subsidies are thrown at weak ideas because they appeal to the beards and sandals at DECC. If these ideas gained traction in the mass market, then the costs of the grid would get recovered on ever smaller volumes, making it uneconomic (despite centrally generated and despatched power being the potentially cleanest, safest, cheapest, most reliable solution we have for electricity.
People who believe in "micro-gen" should be forced to live completely off grid. A few would cope, most would freeze or starve (and that would be a bloody good thing).
Re: the government refuses to properly invest in fledgling technologies
"Must be different in the UK. "
Not at all. The problem is that having carpeted the land and a lot of the shallow coastal seas with crappy wind trurbines, the fuckwits have finally woken up the fact that wind power is intermittent and unpredictable. As a result the only thing keeping the lights on is the decline in industrial power demand because of the economic depression we're enjoying. So, following the same "carbon is the breath of satan" logic, they looked round for a supposedly carbon free power source, and thought "nuclear, that's the answer". And so we're offering comparable subsidies to companies to build expensive and unproven nuclear plant designs as those pissed up the wall on wind.
Don't worry - if your government are fannying around with wind farms, they'll be on the new nuclear bandwagon next.
"As a smug Brit living on the east coast of the UK can I just say...."
...that you're a bit worried that we've got a few current and decomissioned nukes on the east cost (Bradwell and Sizewell, and Dungeness further south), given that there is credible evidence of major tsunamis hitting the coast of the UK?
Admittedly the frequency of tsunamis in this country appears to be in the order of a few every thousands of years, but I wonder what the impact on our nuclear stations would have been if one had hit any UK coast now?
Re: What is Renewable about Renewables?@Velv
"You can argue all you like about how much "renewables" is costing, but the pure and simple fact is that fossil fuels have a finite volume remaining on earth and we need to develop alternatives"
You miss my point, sir! I'm more than happy for renewables to be developed and installed when they work, and I agree that fossil fuels are finite (although not anywhere near as finite as the tree huggers make out).
My beef is that DECC and the EU have built out early stage renewables that have poor operational efficiency, dubious durability, poor economic performance, cost a fortune, AND STILL DON'T DELIVER POWER IN THE WAY PEOPLE NEED, nor will they in the forseeable future.
So instead of carpeting Wales with toy wind turbines over the past and next decade, and forcing the broken economies of Europe to pony up for Greenpeace's distopian vision of post industrial poverty, the billions of quid should have been not spent, or partly spent in other ways to improve power generating efficiency and security of supply, as well as grid scale energy storage research. And instead of thousands of crappy 0.2-1 MW turbines that are a waste of money, when we had cracked the energy storage problem THEN we could have built the (by then) properly developed 6MW+ offshore wind turbines with 200m+ hub heights. Incidentally, I don't buy the terrorism argument on nuclear power, but I would agree it's no answer at the moment because (due to insufficient development work largely) it cannot yet be built economically. I'd wager a guess that the fancy, over-expensive and unproven Gen4 reactors like the Areva EPR will never be economic.
Re: What is Renewable about Renewables?
"I have to pick fault with this, ANYONE who would benefit from more insulation in their house (IE it will help to reduce bills/fuel consumption) can (or could don't know if the scheme is still going) have cavity wall insulation and loft insulation installed free of charge."
I'll take your experience at face value, but the actual scheme rules are specifically written to exclude regular bill payers from benefiting from ECO obligations. I work day in day out on matters of "energy company obligations", I spend a fair chunk of my working life looking at the various ways that government force ordinary bill payers to cough up for the "vulnerable", be those the now defunct CERT and CESP schemes, the continung WHD scheme, and the various strands of ECO (HHCRO, CSO, and CSCO) not to mention the various RHI and FIT subsidies and the forthcoming capacity mechanism to throw subsidies (this time) at fossil fuel generators because DECC have wrecked the wholesale market through their previous interventions.
There's four ways you might have got it done free:
First this may have been a mop up action by one of the companies that failed to meet their CERT and CESP targets the previous year.
Second under the current ECO rules you may live in an area designated by government as a "super low output area" which broadly speaking means well below average incomes, even if you are well off. Often this is postcode lottery stuff, so if you've got a nice house with a dodgy postcode then that would explain it.
Third would be that the installers are third parties rather than the energy companies who are obliged by law to pay for this, and they (shall we say) have been economical with the truth on the eligibility criteria. Not that I'm suggesting the bureaucratic mess that DECC's obligation programme has become is a flawed mess with plenty of dodgy installers looking to cash in, oh no, not me, wouldn't suggest that in a million years.
Fourth is simply that an energy company who are struggling to meet their obligation targets are giving it away in a pell mell panic in the hope of avoiding penalties, and their programme is out of control. That was certainly the case for about half of all companies at the end of the CESP programme.
Consider yourself lucky, because the rules were drafted by DECC specifically to stop the "able to pay" from having energy improvements installed through ECO!
Re: What worries me about this news is ...
"Makes one wonder what other components of nuclear tech have been insufficiently tested before their use in commercial plants, doesn't it?"
We could ask the people who ran Chernobyl that question. Certainly in terms of UK regulation, which I suspect is fairly consistent with other developed economies, there's sh1tloads of safety and regulatory approvals needed for almost everything short of the toilet roll holders when you want to build and operate a new reactor. The problem I suspect is that this is all down to paper trails and civil service desk analysis, and you get your chit if you jump through the hoops in the right order, and that rarely includes full scale testing (and in this case, lets be clear they are only testing a very small scale model of a single rod). Other sectors often have similar problems - I'd suggest the example of the Boeing Dreamliner is one, having got certification for its dodgy batteries and perhaps over-ambitious electrics.
Re: What is Renewable about Renewables?
"Of course the windmills wear out as do the solar panels, then like EVERYTHING else they need to be renewed, is that what makes the damned thing 'renewable'?"
No, it is the subsidies that are the "renewable" bit.
So the old Non Fossil Fuel Obligation was an early effort by government to funnel customers money into unproductive and unreliable technologies. They renewed NFFO in five annual tranches. Then that was a worn out old pile of badly drafted rules (like all of government's energy policy) and renewal occurrred with the Renewables Obligation, and they had five annual rounds renewing that. Then they brought in Feed in Tarrifs as a new way of throwing good money after bad. You've got negative subsidies like the European ETS charged on proper generating assets, and poorly qualified and inept Westminster politicians made that worse by introducing the Carbon Floor Price. Then we've got other sh1te like the Renewable Heat Incentive to throw yet more money at schemes to cut down half of Canda's trees and ship them over here. And of course the rules require wind farm operators to be paid even when there's no need for their output - yet another subsidy in the guise of "Constrain Payments" - only £30m in 2013, and what's that when you're saving the planet? Not to forget the Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme, the Climate Change Levy, Levy Exemption Certificates, and in future Contracts for Differences (such as the one guaranteeing Electricte de France twice the current market rate for electricity if they'll build a new reactor at Hinkley Point)......
Meanwhile, latest DECC data issued yesterday shows that the circa 11 GW of wind capacity that these subsidies have been splurged on had a less than 22.8% load factor for offshore units in Q3, and onshore units a miserable 16.4%.
The total cost of this grand, unproven experiment is around £18bn, that has been and will continue to be funded by electricity bill payers. About two thirds of the cost are not visible in the government (or even industry views) of "subsidy", but the capacity factor tells you all you need to know. By pressing ahead pell mell with the hippy idea of renewables, DECC have created a huge rab-bag portfolio of poor quality assets - onshore wind turbines always have poor load factors, so should never have been built (and never would without the fat subsidies). By going early the existing asset base comprises huge numbers of crappy, low durability and undersized turbines, instead of letting the technology develop and installing huge offshore turbines. The chaotic thinking at DECC has made a complete pigs ear of the connection arrangments for offshore wind farms that pushes costs up even further. And at the end of all that, without energy storage wind power is not suitable for grid energy use - even if we re-engineer all our CCGT as fast response OCGT, the costs of the conversion and the greatly reduced efficiency outweigh the "benefits" of wind. Unless you're DECC or a politician, and fully paid up to the Climate Change agenda with its need for Urgent Action to Save the Planet (tm).
Recent claims about reducing the cost of energy bills are mere pantomime - the politicians are still committed to their mad, glassy eyed dream of "renewable" energy at any cost (in fact, your cost), and the only bit they've played with is a modest reduction in the insulating of houses of people who by and large are ultimately having their energy bills paid out of the welfare budget anyway.
Re: So they're planning to wait until the market shares have solidified?
"Yeah, that seems like a good plan."
But you've just said it, that the existing markets are commoditising fast, so it doesn't make sense to pile in and fight with HTC, Huawei, etc for the unprofitable scraps of the Android market (in which the real value is being made by Google).
There's waves of technology evolution, both hardware and software. In Lenovo's position I'd say they're very wise waiting to see what happens next. That might be wearable tech (and might not), it might be home and device integration, it might be the waning of Android and rise of a new phone OS with a different economic model, it might be a far more content-centric model that links content to users rather than devices. If I knew I'd be so rich I wouldn't be spending my time posting this.
Re: After the General Election
"Maybe then we'll see some consensus politics."
What, like the current coalition shower of piss?
As far as I can see there's nowt to tell between Tory, Labour and Bliberal. The same crappy energy policy, the same inability to control immigration, the same shameful under-resourced but overstretched defence policies, the same inability to control the spiralling welfare or health budgets, the same craven surrender to Brussels, the same inability to solve basic problems like high house prices and inadequate infrastructure, the same chaotic economic policies.....
The only thing the current lot seem to have achieved is freeing schools from the dead hand of local authority incompetence, which (round my way) has worked wonders. But the retards of the Labour party want to meddle with education as soon as they get in, so they'll undoubtedly fuck that improvement up in some shape.
Re: $3.2bn to complete the construction
"$3.2bn to complete the construction? thats an expensive factory!"
Other reports suggest that this the $3.2bn is for a number of closely plants, some of which are already open. In June last year press reports said that Samsung already had 24,000 workers employed at these facilities, so it would seem that we are talking about a very big plant.
Re: Why?@Dan 55
" patrons who think that Sailfish is something that will ultimately take off and make everyone a lot of money. Jolla - the main group behind the OS - just got 20M+ in VC funding a while ago. That's the modern patronage system at work. "
No, you're wrong. You just said "VC", and that's capitalism, not patronage. Patronage is where the benefits to the funder are considerably more ephmeral. You probably know as well as I do that VC's are hard nosed bunch of bastards, hoping to subsidise a few losers in return for each big winner.
"As for your "fairly average piles of code" comment, I think it's pretty clear that A) You don't understand what people like Torvalds actually do in relation to the projects they run and"
You could be right, on the other hand you don't know what my background is. My guess is you are more wrong than right on that, but the simple ad hominem is not becoming of you, IMHO.
"B) You're actually rather biased against these efforts."
Utter. utter rubbish. Re-read my comments, please. I was looking forward to both choice in phone OSes, and choice in the underlying economic models, because what I may want isn't what may suit everybody. I happily use a variety of open source and "unpaid" software, and I appreciate the developers who contribute freely to projects like Mozilla (but that sadly still isn't a work of genius, any more than Chrome or IE are), and I appreciate up to a point what Google do for me in return for aspects of my privacy (although they seem to be working to undermine the pact I thought I had with them).
I'm afraid that at that point I stopped reading due to your mis-representation of my remarks, and the personal nature of your criticism. You're generally welcome to be both abusive and argumentative with me, and I'll happily read and respond, but in this particular case I think you're out of sorts.
Re: Why?@Dan 55
An interesting idea, but I think you confuse things by comparing great artists over a milennia with the fairly average piles of code associated with Linux or Mozilla.
The nearest to patronage that I see in the world of software is Ubuntu, and that's not famous for being either a great work or its excellence is it? Wikipedia is another example you might call on, and there you've got a better case - for all the flaws and all the insults, Wikipedia is fairly reliable, and contains vastly more knowledge than any previous encylopaedic tome. But in that case, the content is mostly user generated, so the ultimate value of Wikipedia is not derived from the source code, and the genius of Wikipedia is the concept not the code.
Coming back to Sailfish, if they give it away for free, who is paying for its development, and who will pay for support and development? And more importantly if it is patronage, why are they paying? Being able to show your tame artists latest work off as a result of your largesse is one thing. But which oligarch is going to fund Sailfish, and then wave it about at society dinner parties as their lifetime achievment?
Re: Why?@Dan 55
You may be right, but your link merely says Sailfish will be "installable", doesn't say how the developers will be paid. If they are handing it out free, how do they feed their families?
That appears to include a free handset. I meant in indicative terms what's the cost to the end user of the Sailfish software?
"I'm really looking forward to jumping ship from Android to either Sailfish, Ubuntu or Tizen."
Same here. Although what I'm hoping (probably unrealistically) for is a choice of paying cash for Sailfish or Tizen and keeping my privacy, having Android for "free" and paying with my privacy, and a further choice of whatever Ubuntu and Firefox can come up with that makes their business model work.
The hegemony of Android came about because the competing mobile OS were all proprietary systems that were either simply closed to competitors, weak in capability, or costly. That suited Google who wanted users information more than they wanted the users money. But it also meant very limited choice.
If Sailfish is going to be worth its developers' while, how much will that cost me in hard cash up front?
Are Quilty's "skills" portable?
And if so, is there any area of the British economy in need of mindless and misguided trashing?
Re: How about on UK train lines?!@ dotdavid
"Actually the logic works against the business case for HS2, because it assumes that time on a train is unproductive time and therefore can be seen as a cost "
Depends which bit of the logic. For both HS2 and the asked for 4G coverage of railway lines the logic is the same because both are seeking to address (in different ways) the supposedly unproductive time of a train journey. My points are that for anybody other than a few writers, proofreaders, and coders, train time is and always will be unproductive (so resolving train time or the alleged barriers to working on the train won't help). And even if you could overcome either journey time or make the train a secure virtual office, it wouldn't matter because most business travellers are not continuously productive.
Outside of transactional activities most "overhead" staff typically do add value to their employer, but in fits and starts, and fill in the balance of nominal working hours (in some cases outside as well) with "pretend" work. You know the stuff - project updates, team meetings, mandatory training in things that don't affect you, one to one catchup meetings, conference calls, business reviews, and indeed travel itself is perfect calendafilla for some people.
Re: How about on UK train lines?!
"but proper 4G coverage along the main long distance routes (east coast, west coast, east midlands and great western mainlines) would be a big economic boost as people could be much more productive while travelling for work"
No it wouldn't be any sort of economic boost, this is the sort of sh1te logic used to make up the comedy business case for HS2. Suits (which in my defintion includes myself and most of the white collar commentardariat) are an overhead, and should be bright enough to realise that. Making our lives a little bit smoother when out and about on business travel won't save our employers any money, win any new contracts, or result in new products or services. If you can do valuable things remotely, why would you be travelling in the first place? And how will most people do anything commercially valuable in a public place like on a train without compromising commercial secrecy?
If full national 4G coverage (including all air, ground and underground) were economically valuable, then people would pay the price and the networks would happily build the infrastructure. In reality a minority of people want it, a minority of them would be willing to pay the price, and a minority of that group might actually do anything economically useful with the continuous connectivity.
Re: Who's next to visit the ISS?
"Just in case it's the Jehovah's Witnesses..."
If the docking port bell rings then there's probably every reason to hide behind the sofa, but it won't be to hide from the Jehovahs, or through any shame at not having tidied up before receiving female Chinese visitors.
Re: IT can be a pain in the arse too
"It is exactly this laziness, and it IS laziness from IT departments who either refuse to spend the money on existing tools to make the systems easier to use or fit into the business model or refuse to learn/change existing software"
I think this does require rudeness: You moron.
Do you really think that the IT department have NOTHING better to do with their time or their limited resource than enabling effing graphic designers to work from home? Do you think that the business case will hold together when the Finance bods are asked to approve a project to reskill the IT department on Macs, set up the necessary systems and protocols, rewrite the policies and controls, all so that somebody needn't strain themselves coming into the office to do a job they applied for in the first place?
WFH is a nice luxury, and I do it from time to time. But I recognise it's a luxury, and it typically only exists where the wider business need for IT mobility makes it achievable at near zero cost to the company. There's a lot of people who'd like to WFH but can't (or are not allowed to) for reasons much wider than the technology, so I've no sympathy with your friend. If they want the full "luxuries" of corporate IT, then the only short term answer is to get with the herd and use WIndows, not to carp on because IT don't jump through hoops to satisfy relatively trivial requests from a handful of users who insist that their needs are "special", when these users are actually not the value creators for the business. Like it or not, the value creators for the business are probably the front end sales people who win new business, the accounts teams who collect the cash and pay all the bills, and the call centre/shop front staff who deal with customers.
"If my house kept tabs of whether I was in or not, it could save me money by lowering the heating as described."
Is a programmeable thermostat beyond you?
Admittedly for unexpected movements you'd be saved the effort of turning the heating on or off, but for short term movements you'd save nothing because the thermal mass of the house and heating makes the system too slow to respond to you going out the house for twenty minutes.
If the summary benefit of the whole internet of things is relieving the idle of the need to program their heating, or switch it on or off as required, then I have to ask why bother?
Re: The UK should sign up now
"Why buy from the US? we're developing our own!"
Mmm. From the same people who brought you Nimrod AEW3 and MRA4. The first cost a billion quid twenty years ago for no working aircraft, the second cost four billion a couple of years back, again for no working aircraft. The MoD is incapable of specifying kit and letting contractors get on and build it, and the contractors are too reluctant to tell the MoD to stop arsing around with the spec every single day. Mix in corrupt and incompetent politicians, the results we see are inevitable.
A further problem is the (military?) obsession with trying to have cutting edge kit that causes vast cost escalation, and then results in limited purchases and excessive asset lives, so that the crews are often younger than the kit they are operating.
Re: The UK should sign up now
"Since we retired the Nimrods, the UK has no sea patrol aircraft."
The UK has no defence vision nor strategy, either.
Just as well nobody wants to start a proper war with us, given that we've no aircraft carriers either, and no modern ground attack aircraft. And precious few of almost any type of defence asset you care to name, and virtually none of those are any good for the roles we have needed them to perform in the past twenty plus years.
"You'll still interrupt the on-demand music to hear local news"
Not round here. I'd be delighted to be rid of the inane babble of DJs, pretend "local" news from pretend "local" radio stations, incessant and irritatingly cr@p adverts for the same businesses over and over again, and worst of all, DJ's reading postings off Farcebook or Twitter. Thank goodness the phone in is mostly dead.
Re: The wet dream of the liberal: "If I had the money ... I would eradicate baldness!"
"Just think how much good we could do in the world with such amounts of money. We could give everyone a decent hairdo and eradicate slapheads"
Re: What Google wants.. @Shannon Jacobs
"Actually, from the bean counters' perspective, it's the only smart way to capture technology. "
Yes, but not for the reasons that you state. The best technology doesn't win out routinely, even when buying the innovators, so sub-optimal in house technology doesn't matter. The problem of innovation in large companies is that innovating is very difficult in that environment, and probably isn't what secondary market investors or customers want.
Large corporations are bureaucracies - that's what they do, how they work, indeed quite often why they work. When I turn on a tap or light switch, I want the companies running the system to have very low risk processes that work, I want them to be risk averse, to use proven, reliable technology, and to let startups or dedicated risk takers to focus on innovation. Bureaucracy can certainly kill a company (GM, Motorola), but in both of these examples there were huge R&D and M&A budgets, and the problem was that those budgets were wasted.
- Updated Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
- Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
- Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE
- Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
- Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders