* Posts by Ledswinger

3480 posts • joined 1 Jun 2012

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

Ledswinger
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Re: Vodafone wallet

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ledswinger
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Re: Pah

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

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

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

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

Ledswinger
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Re: Autonomous?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ledswinger
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Re: Churn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dutch Transport Inspectorate raid Uber's Amsterdam office

Ledswinger
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Re: How does it work in the UK?

"Nowt wrong with the Skoda octavia mate"

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

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

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Ledswinger
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Re: How does it work in the UK?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ledswinger
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Re: France?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ledswinger
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Re: Looks ok but...

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

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

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

Ledswinger
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Re: A waste of money

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

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

[old git mode]

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

[/old git mode]

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

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

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

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

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

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Ledswinger
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Re: A waste of money

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

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

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

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Standard General bids to save RadioShack from oblivion

Ledswinger
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Re: Next

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

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

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

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

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

Ledswinger
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Re: 6G smartphones

"WTF is 6G supposed to do anyway?"

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

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

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

Ledswinger
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Re: Plus ça change then

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

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

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Boffins bothered by EU prez's proposed science funding cut

Ledswinger
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Re: Politics and Science

You expect too much, sir!

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

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

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

This is what the believers in Greater Europe want.

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

Ledswinger
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Re: Not a Bad Idea

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

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

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

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

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

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

" Dave the turd"

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

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

Ledswinger
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Re: A confidential arbitration process

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ledswinger
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Re: Shapes

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

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

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IBM staffers climb over each other in race for redundancy payout

Ledswinger
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Re: So who will they be left with?

"They'll be left with an even *more* top-heavy management structure. Eventually IBM will end up with a system where it's all managers, and no one who actually does any *work*."

In which case they will be sued by HP, who not only have that as their central business model, but have surely registered the patent on that process with the USPO.

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Ledswinger
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"Some people with mortgage insurance cannot apply for VR"

I'd suspect that they can't be stopped from applying, all that the insurers can do is point to the clause that says the insurance doesn't cover VR. Nothing wrong with that. If you're leaving a business with a wheelbarrow full of cash, on voluntary terms, why should an insurance against involuntary unemployment have to pay out?

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Ledswinger
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Re: Simple solution

"Get rid of all those who DIDN'T apply"

But sometimes those are the people you want to keep, sometimes not. I favour a market solution, of a reverse Dutch auction based on N weeks pay plus a standing severance lump sum. Everybody logs on to press the button as the offer increases (or sets their price in advance), the system tracks up the offer until the magic number have volunteered (with a maximum cost to the company as a cap on all bids). Those who want too much (or messed up their price or bid strategy trying to get the highest price) get nothing and are allowed to stay. Those who will go will be those willing to go most cheaply, and whilst they may be the more employable, if you're prepared to go cheaply then you're already disaffected, so not much of a loss.

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Ark scoops £700m to host ALL UK.gov's data centre needs

Ledswinger
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"This seems to be a rather large piece of work for a company that size, "

Ah yes, but don't forget the comment about "recapitalisation". This invariably means that the firm was either effectively sold by its previous owners, or bailed out by new ones. In this case Ark were bailed out by Revcap, a private equity firm run by former Lehman staff (now there's a good sign). Revcap's focus is on property (Real Estate Venture Capital Management being the full name), so it'll be interesting to see how this one pans out.

My guess is that this isn't the old boy network, or the brown bag network. It's an outcome of fuckwit civil servants pledging to give more business to SMEs. Being civil servants they can't do anything without a definition, and that definition said that Ark were an SME, despite being part of Revcap's £4.7bn of assets. As property companies (like banks) make their profit from the balance sheet not the P&L, I would guess that now they've landed the contract Revcap will already be looking to sell Ark to the next mug that's passing. And sadly there's plenty of IT companies willing to buy revenues at any cost, without asking where the profit is.

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UK call centre linked to ‘millions’ of nuisance robo-calls raided by ICO

Ledswinger
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Re: Seriously?

"£2000 fine and 10 minutes on the naughty step for you."

Broadly speaking yes. In the case of the ICO, the powers are limited to a max of £500k, and that's small change if you can run a scummy outbound call centre for a couple of years in flagrant breach of the rules.

Even if the people behind this pay up (and I doubt they will, hiding behind limited liability companies, or pleading bankruptcy whilst driving a new Bentley, just like that cunt Andrew Crossley) they'll merely start again from scratch.

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Consumers beware! Ofcom's seen a scary new mobe nasty: APPS

Ledswinger
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Re: The very fact

"They seem to operate behind several iterations of the public and technology."

This is universally true of all government regulators, and I've worked with a few (in fact some of this morning listening to one droning on). As it happens he wasn't old in calendar years, only in mindset.

In fact, he was explaining about how his regulator was going to act decisively to enable "smarter markets", even though " we don't know how these markets will turn out".

And I think this give a clue as to the purpose of having regulators: they employ people who aren't employable anywhere else, to radically reshape entire industries without a clue as to how they will eventually work. This could explain the entirely captured financial services regulators, the incompetent energy regulator, the clueless communications regulator, the ineffectual regulator of solictors, the bunglers of the health regulators, and so forth.

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Vodafone: Can't make calls on our network? Use Wi-Fi

Ledswinger
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Re: "EE has had UMA for some time"

<Signal boost> "but it's no longer available for new connections."

That's correct. And even if you had it on a handset, should you lose it during a reset or OS update you can't now download the UMA app. Which is a pity, because it worked fairly well (much better than O2's wanky,useless VoIP wifi client TuGo that pretends to do the same thing but fails miserably in every aspect).

I'm not sure why MNO's wilfully ignore the fact that many more people would be quite happy to ditch a landline (cf the 1 in 8 who already have) on condition that their mobiles worked reliably at home. But the words "mobile" and "home" apparently only go together for people living in caravans. Meanwhile the MNO's instead spend their money on that arse Kevin Bacon prattling on about 4G and better download speeds that the majority of people still can't get, and the majority of handsets in use won't support. And even when the knobs at EE have finished their 4G roll out, I'll wager that a good half the population will still have to hang out of an upstairs window for any reliable voice connection. Important message to mobile phone companies: I'd be quite happy to tolerate "buffer face" if you bastards would at least give me decent voice coverage and far better 3G H+ data. And whilst you're at it, the evidence is compelling that you live in caves and neither travel by car nor train, but maybe you could perhaps cater for the somewhat larger population that do - a quick look at a map will show you where the railways and roads are. Or you could just look at your own network's dropped call locations.

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Bulk comms spying is not mission creep, insists UK foreign sec

Ledswinger
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Re: How long ?

"How long will this have to continue "

For a very long time yet. So long as the hoi-polloi have access to Farcebook and Youtube they neither know nor care about data privacy. And that's why this lightweight and ineffectual minister is demanding that a line be drawn under the debate. Lets face it, he doesn't want any chance that stasi should be foiled in grasping the powers they need to "keep us safe", does he?

But funnily enough, the limp-wristed, vacuous nature of all recent governments is highlighted by his comment that Russia is now the biggest threat to our national security. If that's the case how come the clowns of Westminster rubber stamped a "strategic defence review" that scrapped ALL of our airborne anti-submarine capabilities, signed up for expensive & vulnerable aircraft carriers without aircraft (and is reliant post 2020 on the unproven, over-budget F35B), shredded our army, reduced the RAF to a handful of squadrons without any modern strike capability....

Whether its IT, defence, foreign policy, civil liberties, energy, immigration, I really don't know how the British government manages to be so world-class clueless about everything at once. If they reduced everything to a simple yes no decision and tossed a f***ing coin they'd at least be right half of the time.

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Hated smart meters likely to be 'a costly failure' – MPs

Ledswinger
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Re: It will tell me how much power an appliance is using...

Re: using"free" renewable power.

Whilst it is possible that there will be "free" power periods in the future due to the idiotic build out of renewables, if you want to take advantage of that you'd need to be on a dynamic tariff. That would mean that you'd be paying much more for power at peak times. If you're happy to shift all your tumble dryer use from winter evenings to midday on summer then it could work for you. For the test of humanity, dynamic and time of use tariffs are an unwanted and unnecessary complexity that has no value.

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The secret of Warren Buffett's success at Berkshire Hathaway

Ledswinger
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Re: It's an interesting analysis

"But it doesn't really explain why Buffett is so successful at buying shares"

Read several of the letters to shareholders. Investing involves risk, but you can minimise that risk - there is a sauce, but Buffett has generously shared the recipe so it is not a secret sauce. The long and the short of this sauce is "don't buy businesses you don't understand, understand a balance sheet, only buy financially robust businesses, and employ competent people".

The reason why the opportunities still exist is because so may poor investors are active in the market, and because too many of them are gambling with other people's money. Arguably that's what Berkshire Hathaway are doing, but there's a difference - first that they are good at it in aggregate, and secondly (unlike most fund managers, pension manager, and insurers) there's one or two men with their names on the line, every time.

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UK Supreme Court waves through indiscriminate police surveillance

Ledswinger
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Re: As Treasonas May is fond of saying...

The tragedy is that our miserable, dishonest, thick, self-obsessed politicians have finally won out over the judiciary. I have every confidence in Lord Sumption and his colleagues in interpreting the law even handedly - for decades, if not centuries, disputes the world over were settled in the courts of England because of the quality of the judges and the process. But now, lighweight scum like Blair and Cameron, and their vile acolytes have worked out that if you pass a bad law, it will be enforced.

A pox on Parliament, and all the leeches, thieves and fuckwits that sit within it. And the Lords (as "reformed" by Blair) are even worse, a bunch of jumped up placemen.

But I'd agree, that any vote for the Conservative, Liberal or Labour parties is a wasted vote.

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In assault on American values, Lockheed BLASTS PICKUP with RAYGUN

Ledswinger
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Re: Hmm

"So did it punch a hole through the engine block (quite impressive) or did it just damage the "engine manifold"?"

Our journo friends at the Reg seem to have written the bit about the block, the comment about the manifold seems to have been the original claim. Maybe the Reg don't know the difference. Given that the engine will be designed to dissipate of the order of 70 kW of heat, I can't see a 30 kW laser troubling the block very much. From the photo it looks as though the laser has tracked across the bonnet in a straight line until it actually damaged something?

I'll be impressed when military lasers can destroy things instantly, in a battlefield environment (ie movement, countermeasures, smoke, dust). To judge by this and the various airborne and ship mounter lasers there's a very long way to go yet. The other minor problem is that lasers are line of sight, which means short range. Where's the use? As a missile defence they're useless given the short time to respond, and as an offensive weapon it is a lot easier to use guided or stand off munitions.

All good technical fun, a pity for tax payers funding these attempts to develop new ways of killing people. I'd have thought there's more than enough of those.

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Canadian bloke refuses to hand over phone password, gets cuffed

Ledswinger
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Re: CAN$25,000 (US$19,900)

"Most of our readers are in North America."

I'd noticed the quality of the commentariat declining with the increasing volume. Perhaps you could all decamp to the US if that's your chosen location, and clear the way for a UK focused tech site?

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Upper house of Parliament joins the drone debate

Ledswinger
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Re: Bah!

"Requiring proof of insurance and insisting on drones carrying the owner's name and contact information would be a good first step. That way, when Tommy Tw*tface flies his new toy through the windscreen of your new toy you can at least get the bugger paid for."

Why? Bicycles have no such constraints, and cause far more damage and nuisance than drones do. Privately flown drones are like CB radio - currently a flash in the pan whilst every fad-victim thinks they're the bees-knees, and idiot politicians look for any excuse to shit out a raft of unnecessary legislation, But give it a while and the fad victims will be into virtual reality, or bitcoin2, 3D printing, or whatever, and unmanned flight can be left to the small number of useful commercial uses and responsible hobbyists, and the dust will settle.

RC aircraft have been around for years without any meaningful level of problems. Let's not allow shit-head politicians to introduce another Red Flag Act in response to ill informed babble.

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Forget 1,000 lashes for Facebook posts, Saudis now want to behead blogger Raif Badawi

Ledswinger
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Re: Do we even need Saudi oil anymore?

"The US produces more than Saudi does, especially now the shale oil is being produced in vast quantities"

But you're part of a world market. If you sterilised the supply of Saudi oil through sanctions or war, then the world's swing producer leaves the market. A drop of a few million barrels a day in demand (perhaps 5%) has caused the oil price to halve, and its obvious that to take out the 14% of world supply that is from Saudi would cause the price to skyrocket - perhaps to around $300/bbl. And things would be worse if you treated the other Gulf despots the same - they are another 10% or so of world supply.

You then get into the argument around isolationism, and why can't the US be energy independent, and the short answer is that if you declare economic war on the rest of the world, they'll do the same back. The US is big enough to exist as non importer or exporter, but you've then got the problem of what do you do for rubber, coffee, tin, copper and so forth, and the fact that you'd have to do all those low value assembly jobs you previously exported to China.

Shale is only a stop gap - production costs are too high, well decline rates high, and the costs of shale will go up rather than down because we're picking the low hanging fruit first. If the US wanted to marginalise OPEC, then they should have come up with algal biofuels - this is the only obvious non-mineral transport and heating fuel that might scale. Back in the 70's the US did some good foundation work, but shelved it when oil prices collapsed. They started looking again this time round, and will now drop it like a stone as the oil price craters. And so the world (and thus US) dependence on Saudi despots will continue.

We will eventually rid ourselves of our dependence on oil and gas, but unfortunately the tree huggers have pushed that time back by two decades by demanding crap non-solutions like wind power. All the money that might have gone into making nuclear power cleaner and cheaper, or making algal biofuels workable and cheap, that money has been diverted into subsidies for wind and solar, most of which has disappeared into the pockets of Wall Street financial investors. Which shows that the governments of the West aren't really much more democratic than the sheikhs, maybe a little bit less thuggish. But even that's changing - how many SWAT raids were there in the US last year? Around 60-80,000 instances where uniformed and heavily armed thugs broke into people's homes, mostly without warrants, and in over a third of cases finding no evidence of criminality. Who needs religious police?

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US military SATELLITE suddenly BLOWS UP: 'Temperature spike' blamed

Ledswinger
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Re: A satellite overheated and exploded??

"The current orbital situation has been likened to a room full of armed mousetraps"

So anybody with the ability to lift things into orbit and make them go "BANG" should be able to cause havoc. Which is only sensible if you don't have any orbital assets to lose, or believe that causing havoc disadvantages others far more than you. And logically (to avoid retaliation) you'd need to pretend you were really only putting a monkey into space, and it went wrong.

Monkeys! Turn down offers of free space flight from all less developed countries, the return ticket is not valid.

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Moto E 2015: The builder's cheapie gets a serious upgrade

Ledswinger
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Re: OnePlus?

It would be interesting to see what OnePlus could produce for the same sort of price.

They'd have no real advantage at the cheap end of the market - on the model One they're competing against high end models with 50% profit margins, and doing something similar for a lot less isn't really a challenge.

But at the low end nobody makes much (if any) money, and the only cost that OnePlus might save is generic brand marketing that's probably 4% if that of the final price.

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MP resigns as security committee chair amid 'cash-for-access' claims

Ledswinger
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Re: The depressive thing about Rifkind

"don't forget the 11% pay rise they're getting after the election "

Some of them won't. But after they've been "let go" by their constituents at the end of a fixed term contract, they'll be allowed to hoover up around £30k of "resettlement grant" and £40k of "winding up allowance".

And the other great thing about being an MP is the free travel and accommodation expenses - if you or I took a five year fixed term contract in London of our own free will, HMRC would take a very dim view of our employers paying for our commuting, our second homes, and for lobbyists to pay for "fact finding" holidays, but where MP's are greedy bastards writing their own chit, it's all OK. Not to mention the obscenely generous parliamentary pension scheme, with its benefits inflated by 25% by that economically illiterate twat, Gordon Brown.

If Rifkind can't get by on this gravy train, he should throw himself into the Thames. Let me know when and where, and I'll come to enjoy the spectacle.

"All in all I can't see what any public sector worker would EVER vote Tory again, I won't be."

You think it'll all work out fine under Labour? The clowns that time after time fuck up the economy, and last time round doubled the national debt, left the public spending £120bn a year in the red, allowed the banks to fuck up the economy by their rampant bad lending, and embroiled us in a decade of wars that we've still got not explanation for? Not that I'd dispute that no sane person would vote Conservative.

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Ledswinger
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Re: The impressive thing about Rifkind

"Having said that, taking money to arrange 'introductions' to government officials surely must be illegal."

Only if you're a civil servant. If you're a politician present or former (eg Brown, Blair, Straw, Rifkind, and the rest of the shower of piss) then apparently it is just fine.

The most alarming thing is that despite the embarrassment over expenses a few short years back, and before that embarrassment over cash for questions revelations, the royalty of both parties have yet again been found to be till dipping. And I saw there was even some fucker of an MP claiming that he'd done the thick end of 2,000 hours paid work outside of Parliament - I'm sure he did that by working eighteen hour days every single Saturday and Sunday, to ensure his constituents were properly represented.

As with bankers, politicians are simply endemically and systematically dishonest and venal, reflecting a general lack of transparency and of stern, fair handed oversight. Where else can you get away claiming expenses without so much as a receipt?

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Marconi: The West of England's very own Italian wireless pioneer

Ledswinger
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Re: Excellent article - cheers.

Now for one on GEC-Marconi :(

Donated to the City of London on condition that the site was cleared.

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So long, Lenovo, and no thanks for all the super-creepy Superfish

Ledswinger
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Re: "Superfish wasn't a major contributor to the manufacturer's bottom line"

"This begs the question; why do it then?"

For the same reason that most consumer laptops come loaded with crapware, that the OEM picked up a tiny payment for each piece of unrequested bloat, but which was from their perspective was pure, unadulterated profit. In the commoditised PC market, every little counts.

The hogged sectors on the disk were free (the buyer paid for that), the hogged CPU cycles were free (the buyer just had to wait a bit longer), the hogged RAM was free (again the buyer had to wait longer). We all know that the board of Lenovo won't sit round deciding what this months suite of bloatware includes, so the decision to include Superfish would have been taken by some middle manager (at best), probably in the commercial (as opposed to technical) side of the business - marketing, if you like.

However, Lenovo's misfortune won't change practice elsewhere, and you can expect the other makers to continue to shift their wares laden with unrequested crapware, and sooner of later this sorry tale will repeat. It's a bit like the long and continuing saga of data breaches - every month the wolves have another victim, but the corporate herd mere look on and laugh as their fellow is shredded, and then continue to lumber along, slow and stupidly doing what they always did.

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Lenovo shipped lappies with man-in-the-middle ad/mal/bloatware

Ledswinger
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Re: Criminal

"highest end laptops which would obviously be the best targets"

Why? If it's advertising related then volume counts over quality every time. And even ID theft is a game of volume over quality.

For the small number of premium brands who might value rich customers, they'd typically want to keep their brand clean, and association with crappy ad-scammers would be high risk, as well as likely to generate a lot of unproductive leads - Jaguar buyers (for example) will probably buy high end laptops, but that relationship doesn't work the other way round.

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Raspberry Pi, meet face: You're probably NOT Blighty's biggest PC maker!

Ledswinger
Silver badge

"Most of the first year supply problems were because the Foundation had failed to recognise that huge demand and had carried out no real market research."

On the other hand the RP Foundation actually got something to market that has been a success, whereas most of the gobshytes who "correctly predicted" its success actually brought diddly squat to market themselves.

Now, if any of those armchair generals wish to develop, manufacture, launch and distribute a low cost, low margin product with an ill defined use and target market, and to splash big money on market research, they should feel free, but that's not generally how most good things get done. Good things get done because somebody thinks they know better than the expensive received wisdom of market research.

Market research is generally for not-very-clever junior suits to prove the brilliance of average ideas to senior not-very-clever suits, and you're welcome to it.

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Inside GOV.UK: 'CHAOS' and 'NIGHTMARE' as trendy Cabinet Office wrecked govt websites

Ledswinger
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Presumably....

...the same people are behind the Graun's recent web disaster, which converted a reasonably useable news web site into a ghastly disorganised mashup of blogs spouting cack, reposting of "news" from fourth rate journalistic sources, confusion over what counted as opinion and what as news, confusion over when material was originally published, etc etc.

And like gov.uk, the readers of the Graun did choose to express their views, and the management have decided to ignore them, preferring to admire their own digital graphics. But then I thought, maybe both government and graun are right? Perhaps substance is last century, and style now triumphs content time after time? Seems to be the direction the Reg is taking, too.

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