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* Posts by Ledswinger

2412 posts • joined 1 Jun 2012

Boffins working on debris float models to track MH370 wreckage

Ledswinger
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Re: EPIRB

"Airlines could advertise the fact that they're carried to boost passenger confidence."

You reckon? "If your plane is lost mysteriously at sea, we'll probably find your body" lacks something as a marketing strapline in my book.

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Ledswinger
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Re: French non-image is different

"I think it would be better if the countries with spy satellites taking pictures of that area, would just dump them somewhere public"

Be realistic. Nobody will be showing the opposition the finest resolution images they can do, because that becomes actionable intelligence. That's despite the fact that all the major powers operate satellites, know the physics, and can work out what the resolution would be of their opponents kit.

Crowd sourcing to the untrained is unlikely to be quick or effective, and the real problem is not the false positives (although such an approach would have many) but the risk of inexpert viewers missing stuff. I'd suggest that computerised scanning of images for anomalous shapes and colours would be the way to handle raw satellite data, and I'd be surprised if somebody somewhere wasn't doing that already.

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TV sales PLUMMET. But no one's prepared to say what we all know

Ledswinger
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"consumption is not an end of itself and resources are not limitless?"

But it was always thus. Nobody in the real world (ie excluding millionaires) consumes for itself, they consume because newer products offer more than the existing equipment, or because the old stuff has worn out. The problem for TV's, mobile phones, computers is that the speed of useful end product innovation and improvement has slowed down, and the reasons to "upgrade" are becoming less compelling. And having had significant waves of innovation-driven upgrading, the demand side is stuffed with newish kit, creating a lull in "wear out" renewals.

If the TV makers came up with a compelling reason to spend £500 on a new set, people would buy it. Over older, smaller CRT tubes, a nice big flat screen was a no brainer, offering a far better experience, and well timed for the DTTV changeover. But 4K is currently too expensive and has little content., and arguably doesn't offer enough difference in quality on living room sized sets. 3D has been and gone as a technology that didn't offer a good enough experience to make it worthwhile, and IMHO Blu-ray will eventually do the same. Smart TV's still await a really good implementation, and the opportunity to sell sets on their smart capabilities has probably been supplanted, because whilst the makers messed around the market moved on, so that for casual browsing and emailing the solution is tablets.

Resources may not be limitless, but that's not stopping anybody upgrading (more like how many 42" screens do you need?), either the lack of need, or the cost, which reflects manufacturing technology and ability to pay as much or more than resources.

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EU regulators quiz mobe industry over Hong Kong group's new bid

Ledswinger
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"3 has been very much the outsider"

You could be wrong, but I suspect not: I can remember Orange's glory days when they were owned by Hutchison, and they were innovative and interesting. As soon as Orange were sold to Frog Telecom it was all downhill and the merger with T-Mobile has only made things worse, combing the sloth, greed and incompetence of the two largest national telecoms incumbents in Europe. Indeed, for EE customers, it really couldn't get worse (unless the cash strapped European owners sold a stake to BT).

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This changes everything: Microsoft slips WinXP holdouts $100 to buy new Windows 8 PCs

Ledswinger
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Re: this sounds like a deal

"because let's face it - any technology related item basically get's the $ sign changed to a £ when it launches here with no actual currency conversion taking place"

Whilst that's generally how it works, there's some exceptions. Take CoPilot for Android. $7 for the premium US edition. UK and Ireland premium edition is £20.

Which is a pity, I'd buy CoPilot at the drop of hat, but for that single fact that the thieves are trying to ream me out.

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Oxfam, you're full of FAIL. Leave economics to sensible bods

Ledswinger
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Re: Erm... really?

"Was there any breakdown as to how much of that was Gift Aid matching?"

None. Gift aid is specifically included in the voluntary income side of things, and at a quick glance I don't see that they break down the Grant Aid versus actual donated sums. If we guess that 30% of voluntary income was gift aided, then we're talking about £30m of gift aid coming from the taxman. That wasn't included in my government funding figure, although I personally still see that as government spending because it was paid in tax, and is subsequently directed by the state into the hands of a charity.

I should also point out that the £160m of government funding wasn't just or directly the UK government because it includes other governments, multilateral agencies (all ultimately tax payer funded), Oxfam associate charities with no visibility on their funding. And it doesn't include an £11m contribution from DFID for "partnership programme arrangements". In the round about £160m seems a sufficiently accurate ball park figure for the money that one way or another Oxfam doesn't get from private or commercial donors.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Erm... really?

"Why do they need a position on Global Warming? Or Social Justice?"

Because where they used to be privately funded to do things that didn't involve government, Oxfam (and a number of other large charities) are now ghastly, incestuous NGO's, busy lobbying and "advising" government, AND funded by the government through the departments they are lobbying to change the policies of.

So in 2013, guess what proportion of Oxfam income came from government? I'll tell you: 41%, amounting to £159.8m. Politicians (including the current government) and civil servants are still drunk on the levels of endless debt fuelled public spending and waste that Gordon Brown masterminded, and they really think that giving £160m of taxpayer's money to Oxfam is "austerity". I've had a look at a couple of other large charities, and the same is true for them.

Strange how on so many issues government won't listen to the voters, yet are only too happy to listen to the people they are giving taxpayers money to by the bucket load.

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Ex-Autonomy boss Mike Lynch goes nuclear: Claims HP 'misleads' its own shareholders

Ledswinger
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"If it uncovered these serious issues before purchase why did it spend $11bn on them?"

You inserted the word "serious" into that - the canned HP quote merely talked about irregularities. I'm sure they've previously claimed that the accusations were serious, but the more that HP squeeze out of their corporate sphincter, the more it looks to me that the irregularities weren't serious at the corporate scale.

In the world of software sales, there's all manner of technical accounting problems about how you recognise the value software licences that have a duration, how you handle service contracts revenues, how you value bundled hardware and software etc. I won't bore people with example problems, but there are no right answers, merely a range of judgement calls, where the business hopes its auditors and the taxman will accept its view of the way that is books sales. In my experience, all computing businesses sale close to the wind on accounting, looking to maximise sales revenue, because if you're a software business your investors don't value profits or safe accounting, all they want is growth - and then more growth. That's why actual accounting fraud and mistatement of results are so common amongst IT companies.

When the dust has settled, I guess that there will be a few token accounting errors proven in Autonomy's numbers, that these were not particularly material in the grand scheme of things, that Autonomy's audited accounts weren't too far off the mark, and that the big problem was HP's corporate incompetence that compelled them to pay a ludicrous sum of money without even understanding the business they were buying. However, if that's the case, and there is nothing revealed that world + dog have not already surmised, then you have to ask why HP's histrionic outburst? A cynic might suggest this is simply a smokescreen to divert attention from the fact that Mystic Meg and her gormless board cronies all rubber stamped this deal. By throwing this at the SFO and the lawyers, she's booted the whole issue into the long grass. It took the SFO seven years to bring criminal cases against the directors of Torex Retail after it collapsed due to blatantly fraudulent accounting in 2006: Who thinks that Meg will still be in the hot seat in 2021? But in the meanwhile she's asbestos against investors wanting to sack her and the other career goons on HP's board.

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QUIDOCALYPSE: Blighty braces for £100 MILLION cost of new £1 coin

Ledswinger
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Re: ROI

"saving themselves £40m per year in fraud"

I've found one of the most reliable ways of detecting forged pound coins is to put them in machines - the ones that aren't accepted are almost always forged, although you wouldn't notice on casual handling. And if the machine gives change for notes, the chances are that any forgeries good enough to pass the machine will be paid out as change.

I don't believe it costs the BPA anything like £40m a year. If it'll pass for real in your hand, and if the machine test indicates it is real, what are the chances they won't be able to bank it?

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Ledswinger
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Re: Coin recognition

"I think the figure of £500 to update each parking meter is vastly over-inflated. Given economies of scale, and the labour costs involved in physically updating machines, it's probably closer to £5, if that."

Hold on, in the world of PFI and outsourcing there's always two costs - the activity based costing that is the costs incurred by the party that does the deed, and a separate, totally unrelated cost, that is the invoice value to the customer. That cost is what they will record on their accounts payable ledger, and is driven by simply the highest value the supplier can persuade or force the customer to pay.

Are you arguing that the entropic forces that keep those two costs in separate universes can be overcome, and that the parking meter owners might actually pay something like true activity based cost plus 30% gross margin? If you are, then you're barking.

What will happen is that councils etc will pony up because they've no choice (other than to rip out parking meters and pay machines), but then they'll use that as an excuse for a vastly above inflation increase in parking charges. And as night follows day, they'll continue wringing their hands complaining that nobody visits their crappy town centre any more, and its all the fault of the out of town supermarkets.

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NSA spies recorded an entire COUNTRY'S phone calls for a MONTH: Report

Ledswinger
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Re: Place your bets

"10/1 it is a nuclear armed Islamic country with a reputation for hosting terrorist training camps in ungovernable badlands, a widespread fundamentalist insurgency , strong cultural and economic links to one of the big five, and a local intelligence community who are as likely working for the opposition as the home team."

London, then?

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Blighty goes retro with 12-sided pound coin

Ledswinger
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Re: 3 per cent?

" 3 per cent? That sounds like a lot."

Depends where you are - I've seen quite a few poor quality forgeries, and quite a few that I couldn't tell weren't but looked "different" to all the other pound coins in my pocket. Luckily the criteria for judging authenticity in the shop is basically size and weight, so it's an open door for forgers.

Having said that, I'm most disappointed with the pound coin forgers - there's so many different designs on pound coins there's a fantastic opportunity to get their own design into circulation, with a latin edge logo something like "less dishonest than bankers".

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MH370 airliner MYSTERY: The El Reg Pub/Dinner-party Guide

Ledswinger
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Re: Hijacking foiled scenario?

"4. Terrorist turns off all comms that they know about.

5. Co-pilot alters course without alerting terrorist."

Possible, but if the terrorist knows enough about the systems to turn them off, then logically he'd be sufficiently savvy to monitor what the co-pilot is doing. Moreover, he can't rely on a coerced pilot to carry out a terror attack, so he would need to know how to fly the plane himself, and the co-pilot is surplus baggage the moment he has finished talking to Malaysian ATC. In this scenario the only reason for not incapacitating the co-pilot is so there's no change of voice to alert the ATC who have communicated with the flight outbound from KL, but then you'd expect the terrorist to take over the flying and communication with Vietnamese and subsequent ATC. So long as he communicates according to known protocols then there's nothing to alert them until the airline goes off course.

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PAF! MPs go postal over postal location data sell-off by Coalition.gov

Ledswinger
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Re: So where were the committee...

"And why didn't they make more of an issue of it at that point?"

Select comittee's are parliamentary, not governmental, and often chairman'd by the opposition, so they wouldn't necessarily be consulted on the specifics of government decision making. They exist primarily to offer a (nominally) cross part group of interested MP's to hold government to account (albeit with no teeth). Because they aren't "insiders" to the decision making, as often as not they are commenting after the event.

As far as can be seen Francis Maude (who often gets a bad press) lobbied for the PAF not to be sold, and Michael Fallon lobbied successfully to ensuring that it was, so I'd blame Fallon. Purely coincidental that he used to be a director of a City brokerage.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Obviously..

"Like Labour hasn't cocked things up?"

Of course they have. But "the other boys are worse" isn't an excuse in my book.

"Why should Royal Mail have been deprived of one of its assets..."

Hold on, berk. Until last year we used to own the Royal Mail. The uses that the PAF has been put to, as even the select comittee have noticed now make the PAF a piece of national, critical infrastructure. And one that I've already paid to have constructed. So on the grounds that I've already paid for it, and everybody needs it, I see no reason why the chumocracy should flog it off for near enough peanuts.

And if you think that Royal Mail should keep this historic defintion of what is "theirs", how about they keep "their" pension deficit, rather than I have to fund it?

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Ledswinger
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Re: Obviously..

"So that's a price hike, then?"

Yes, of course it is. IIRC from press reports at the time, Cameron was specifically advised not to include the PAF in the sale, and specifically and personally decided to include it. Like every decision the shiney faced Etonian twerp makes, absolutely at odds with the best interests of the country, and common sense.

Presumably all his City chums were telling him what a hoot it would be to sell off an asset used by every satnav, every delivery firm, every utility, every council etc. This of course is just the start - in due course we can expect a foreign company to buy out Royal Mail, and then they'll sell the PAF to a private equity firm who will give the whole bundle a good squeeze.

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Google slams Play Store password window shut after sueball hits

Ledswinger
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Re: Not just Apple and Google

"b) technically they are legally too young to use them (although they are prepay cards, I believe they are still covered under the Consumer Credit restrictions - IANAL);"

There's a small number of prepay Visa compatible cards available. As they aren't credit cards there's no CCA issues, and you can get them for 13+ kids (my son has one of these), but they work fine for both on line and in-store chip and pin purchases.

There's a company called GoHenry that offers this for eight year olds, with (claimed) transaction type restrictions and parental controls, but not something I've experience of.

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Indian supremes demand $573m in Nokia-Microsoft phactory selloff deal

Ledswinger
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At last....

...somebody's making some money out of the whole Winpho debacle.

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Vine's 'educational nudity': 'So if I write 1+1=2 on my boobs we're grand?'

Ledswinger
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Re: Boobs

Actually, I don't mind what she writes on 'em, but I suppose the regular forum demand of "piccies or it didn't happen" will be seen as dissolute and 1970's sexist.

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Bill Gates-backed SOLAR POO RAYGUN COMMODE unveiled

Ledswinger
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"Perhaps the smelly portaloos at festivals are a thing of the past."

Ignoring the practical problems of lack of sun and the high volume of deposits, I would guess that during the "bake off" the aroma could be even worse than cr@pping in a bucket of chemicals, since the heat will drive off all the aromatics and volatile components.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Sounds a good idea...

"and one that is waisted (ahem) by just flushing away."

Maybe in your part of the world. In the UK raw sewage is settled into sludge and liqors, the liqors are treated to biological oxidation, further cleaned and the water returned to the watercourse, and the sludge is subjected to anerobic digestion (often with methane recovery for CHP uses). Most (about 75%) of digested sludges are used a farming fertiliser and soil conditioner.

There's a few areas that don't do this (eg because of heavy metal contamination of the sludges from industrial processes) but these are getting fewer and fewer as standards improve (and as China takes on the dirty work), and there's a few areas where its uneconomic to transport the solids to suitable agricultural or land reclamation sites.

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'Amazon has destroyed the unicorn factory' ... How clouds are making sysadmins extinct

Ledswinger
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Re: Sysadmins - the new buggy whip manufacturers

"The point of the article was that the skills required to build the infrastructure are being sucked up by big tech and no-one outside that area is bothering to learn."

But why should they? I'd accept that there's many situations, even the majority, where private infrastructure is cheaper and more controlled than cloud. But I can save money and have more control by doing lots of jobs that (in both business and personal contexts) I choose to outsource. Sometimes the quality of the outsourced work is poorer than a DIY approach would offer, so I tolerate higher cost, lower control, and worse quality, because the outsourced activity is something I simply don't want to do myself. At a personal level I choose to pay somebody else to maintain my car, my lawn, and do my ironing. In a business context we outsource IT infrastructure and the all desktop activity, we outsource catering, premises security, even entire facilities operations at some sites, and so forth, again because the costs and downsides of outsourcing are (if well done) less than the benefits of having somebody else do it for us.

This "get somebody else to do it" approach doesn't and never will fit all companies. But the situation hitherto was that you generally needed to build and operate your own infrastructure because there weren't adequate alternatives. There is now an adequate alternative, and there's no going back. As soon as the server virtualisation genie was let out of the bottle it opened the way for businesses like AWS to offer commodity grade solutions to businesses who don't want their fingers dirty.

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Not sure if you're STILL running Windows XP? AmIRunningXP.com to the rescue!

Ledswinger
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Re: Your all up your own arse

"how many people have a clue what the gaping of your spark plug should be"

Equally important: What is making the spark plug gape?

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Google's Drive SLASH, secret 'big upgrade': Coincidence? HARDLY

Ledswinger
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Re: De-Dupe on a gloibal scale

You don't think they already do that?

Global de-duping seems to be the basis of the Play Music service, where your uploaded stuff is supposedly "converted" to a standard bitrate MP3 format. Does anybody really expect them to convert all the ripped CDs, WAV, FLAC and odd bit rate MP3's? I'm betting on uploading, scanning and track recognition, at which point they throw away the upload and grant you access to the archive version of the track.

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Panasonic slaps Freetime EPG on 2014 smart tellies

Ledswinger
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A high risk investment

I recall the early "HD ready" Freeview sets, which turned out to be incapable of accepting HD transmissions because the tuner wasn't compatible. I'm guessing that we'll see the same thing here.

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Huawei: We'll sell a dual-boot Android, Windows 8 smartphone because, well, isn't it obvious?

Ledswinger
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Re: Huawei offer you Android and Windows in one phone...

"So you can have a choice on whether you want a Chinese or NSA/GCHQ backdoor built in"

On balance I think I'd rather the Chinese back door on my private phone, and the NSA on the works devices.

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That NSA denial in full: As of right now, we're not pretending to be Facebook or Twitter

Ledswinger
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@tom dial

"The fact that these activities have been going on for at least three quarters of a century with little in the way of observable oppression...."

Hold on, if the Stasi used people's neighbours to spy on them, that was OK, and opened people's mail, marked their typewriters etc, all OK? Because this automated mass surveillance is the same thing on a much larger scale.

You seem to be making the case that invading people's privacy doesn't count if you don't arrest (too many) people at 04:00 and give them a kicking? And what of the "valuable intelligence" that all this data collection produces? You could ask that diplomat's son, recently arrested by the armed cretins of the Metropolitan Police for the wicked crime of signing for a neighbour's parcel? Have a look at the press photos showing the moronic goobers of the Met and all their counter-terror experts digging up the garden - it's like something from the old Soviet Bloc. Some press coverage suggests that the parcel (never recovered according to some reports) was associated with a crime by a third party, but the facts are pretty clear - the Clowns in Blue arrested the wrong person, targeted the wrong house, and made themselves look stupid. I suppose for an organisation that shoots innocent people dead and walks away scot free there is no downside to f***ing up on the intelligence front, but I don't willingly pay my taxes for that sort of "public protection".

Meanwhile, have GCHQ made big inroads from all this intelligence on drug crime, money laundering, organised crime, human trafficking? Doesn't look like it to me.

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Soliton makes its way across silicon in CUDOS experiment

Ledswinger
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"Never heard of solitons before"

Same here. And whilst that may be a tribute to my ignorance, I like to think I'm pretty well educated and well informed, so I doubt there's just the two of us. Perhaps in addition to dribbling on about cat poo in quiet cul-de-sacs, the Reg could actually do a bit of journalism.

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Slash tuition fees for STEM students, biz boss body begs UK.gov

Ledswinger
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CBI: You're wasting your breath

As somebody old enough to have benefited from having all tuition fees paid, and a student grant, all at a time when GDP was far lower, it pains me to say it, but the CBI are barking up the wrong tree. Successive governments have buggered up the lower and higher education system, such that it is now always very expensive, half of it is crap, and too little is focused on what employers (including the public sector) need. There is no political understanding, no will, no vision to change this situation.

If the CBI want a solution, they need to devise it themselves, and "government should do it" is not a solution, looking at the track record. And part of that solution could involve closing the classics, economics and politics departments at Oxford and Cambridge - too many of their alumnii have contributed directly to this mess.

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My work-from-home setup's better than the office. It's GLORIOUS

Ledswinger
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"The fault for using old, probably used equipment falls squarely at the beancounters' door "

A big boy did and ran away, then?

If the IT department were competent they'd stand up for workforce productivity, and be able to justify the provision of better kit. In my business we're rolling out better kit than the in house IT team would like to offer, simply because the outsourced desktop support refuse to continue issuing and supporting rubbish for one company (and Finance have little to do with it). It's the same with XP - IME it wasn't the bean counters stopping upgrades, it was the poor strategic choices made years ago by the IT professionals, and their subsequent fear of the hard work to rectify those mistakes.

FFS, if there's a team paid to make IT work, don't you think they should deliver? Or is it acceptable to fall back on the "beancounter" excuse, whilst still claiming the salary of a true professional?

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It's BANKS v TELCOs: Mobe payments systems go head-to-head

Ledswinger
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SMS authentication at point of sale?

"David Pollington .... envisages a model where the customer logs into a website and there is a button on the screen which sends a text message to a mobile phone number for verification, "

Fab idea Dave. But you've obviously never had a mobile with O2, where text messages can take days to arrive, even when sent from and to O2 phones.

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Satisfy my scroll: El Reg gets claws on Windows 8.1 spring update

Ledswinger
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Re: As if this will make people happy!@ h4rm0ny

"Whipped up further by people who love to hate MS who treated the new interface as Christmas and their Birthday wrapped up in one and went into full on Witch-Burning Mob mode"

Whilst I don't agree, I have to admire the long, full-on rant, which oozes heartfelt, spittle-flecked fury. All the downvoters are people who have no admiration for true craftsmanship, and I say a pox on them.

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Indonesia plans 10 Gbps FTTP as part of 20-million-premises broadband project

Ledswinger
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"Those costs depend heavily on local labour rates "

Not by much. In most developing economies the benefits of lower input labour costs are completely swallowed by bureaucracy and graft, to which you then add an uplift for the often unfavourable environments (permafrost or monsoon, urban overcrowding that makes access difficult, politics, illegal property development where you need to dig, import duties on essential equipment). That's certainly the case on infrastructure projects I've worked on.

Still, it's $5k per property which you could argue is high. But FTTP in Indonesia isn't a case of just sticking in fibre between and existing exchange to premises, it'll be a complete new backhaul if it is going to work, and in that scenario $5k per property at outturn looks realistic.

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Ledswinger
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Re: I applaud their ambition.

"Or "I want somebody to subsidise where I live"..."

I offer an upvote for the translation, but it is worth remembering that in practical terms we offer subsidies for non-urban roads, telephony, water, post, electricity and gas, and to a lesser extent for many publicly provided services that have higher costs/lower direct contributions in less densely populated areas.

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Ledswinger
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"Looks like Indonesia may be the place for FTTP-envious Aussies to 'invade' instead."

Possibly. But 20 million premises is only about a fifth of the Indonesian housing stock, possibly notably less given that the target is "premises" not "homes". So this despite the brave words is another urban focused initiative, it will not serve the 20% of the population living below international standards of poverty (circa US$1.50 a day), won't serve the large urban slums, and the only rural areas to stand any chance of being connected are politician's villas (plus families and cronies) and significant tourist destinations.

Spending 8% of GDP to connect the wealthiest one in five of your population to fibre doesn't look a good use of resources to me if it's government money being spent (although to be fair, that 8% is more likely to crop up as 1% of GDP for eight years).

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Barclays warns freelance techies of DOUBLE DIGIT rate cut

Ledswinger
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Re: Meanwhile...@Captain Save-a-ho

"very epitome of the capitalist that you hate so very much"

How lucky I am to have such clever people like you to tell me what I think.

Actually, on second thoughts, no I'm not lucky, because you're an @rsehole who doesn't know what I think, clearly hasn't paid any attention to the span and content of my previous posts that might give a reasonable clue to my opinions and politics, or indeed paid any attention to the post you're angrily responding to. And what's more you're either a Merkin, in which case you're hardly able to offer a valid opinion in a UK forum on matters in the UK involving a UK company, or alternatively you simply can't spell. I'll presume the former until proven otherwise.

So perhaps you should take your ill thought, reactionary extreme right wing opinions and go find somebody to educate you on how markets work. And don't forget to ask about economic history, and how the combination of the banker-dominated Federal Reserve and the unfettered capitalism of US banks caused the biggest financial crisis of all time, largely because the bankers were chasing bonuses to make themselves rich at the expense of everybody else. If that's the world you want, I'm afraid it was given a chance, and found wanting.

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Ledswinger
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Meanwhile...

They increased the bonus pot by 10% year on year to a nice fat £2.4 billion.

Barclays techies, I'm sure your noble sacrifice will be appreciated by the truly deserving and value creating types who are dipping into that bonus pool.

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Foxtel's new football-watching shirt THROBS after every tackle

Ledswinger
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Re: ???

"but this "invention" will put them into a whole new league of fail."

You are so uncharitable. Just as the Wii introduced computer based (and ineffective) lounge exercise for those able to wave their arms, this extends the envelope, offering lard @rse couch potatoes a first time opportunity to recline on their sofa in a nasty polyester shirt, eating pizza whilst enjoy a weak simulation of the thrill of exercise. Admittedly this simulated exercise is without any health benefits, without exertion, and without doing anything other than pairing their shirt over bluetooth, but I think that's the appeal.

There would be greater health benefits from pairing socks, but I'm not judgemental, and I heartily approve of the creation of Virtual Fitness For Fatties (V3F).

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Vodafone Germany looks to provide end-to-end encryption with SIM signatures

Ledswinger
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Exceptional cases indeed

"but in exceptional cases a government agency can request a legal intercept and Vodafone will provide access"

So, in summary they'll hand over your communications at the drop of a hat to supposedly lawful (yet probably warrant-less) requests from the nose-pokers of "friendly" intelligence agencies. And with the near unlimited budget of the state sponsored hackers, you have to wonder how long it would take the "unfriendly" governments to compromise the encryption routine.

So all in all, just a bit of additional security theatre for Angela Merkel's phone.

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PM Cameron leaps aboard Internet of Thingies

Ledswinger
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Re: Why would you want to own a meter?

"and by extension, that Cameron was talking guff."

I think we could have agreed on the conclusion at the very beginning of this sub-thread, before considering any additional evidence.

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Ledswinger
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Re: "electricity meters that talk to the grid to get you the best deals"

"Innovative hackers will root Smart Meters and write software that does this for you. It will become widespread. "

No, it won't be widespread, any more than than rooting smartphones has become. In fact probably far less so, because it will be a criminal offence to tamper with a smart meter (much as it is at the moment, just far easier to detect). The design has a security log file to monitor both physical and logical intereference, including commands from non-validated sources. And even just to add "new functionality" would compromise the integrity of the device, leading to disconnection and probable prosecution (most likely criminal damage or unauthorised access to a computer system charges if they can't prove theft).

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Ledswinger
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Re: "electricity meters that talk to the grid to get you the best deals"

" Perhaps we'd buy from power stations and wind farms directly, with a fee going to the network (where the "network" is one of the old suppliers)."

A charmingly utopian view of the world, that presumes suppliers do nothing but send you an often inaccurate bill.

If you contracted with the generators directly for a flat rate of x pence/kWh then they simply become your supplier and you've re-integrated the supply and generation roles (that government is currently convinced should be at arms length or legally separated). That's not really changing anything for the better. Or you could contract with the generators and in effect be your own supplier. Then you'd need to contract on a take or pay basis and be fully exposed to half hourly system marginal price and imbalance risks, which is a future that you really should not be wishing for, particularly as the Brave New World of Low Carbon Power starts to set the marginal price on a random basis.

The idea of automating the search for the cheapest deal is another lovely sounding idea that would be pants, as the rest of the nation would be looking to do the same. Suddenly commercial risk goes through the roof (raising costs for the suppliers/generators and thus for consumers), and you've got an illiquid market because the cheapest supplier can't service the entire market - and very quickly you find that you have a monopoly supplier.

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Space-junk RAYGUN wins Australian government funding

Ledswinger
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Re: Why lasers?

"I see nothing in the article or the announcement that says anything about space-based lasers. "

And it doesn't seem to you that a ground based laser is simply going to move debris up a tiny and not very useful amount, rather than down?

The alternative is to try and slow the debris so that gravity does its business in a more convenient time frame, but that's even more challenging from the ground because you'd be firing the laser through a far longer atmospheric path.

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Why can’t I walk past Maplin without buying stuff I don’t need?

Ledswinger
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Re: Matrix Broad?

"Who remembers wirewrapping?"

Trinity wrapped in wire? I didn't see the film that was in, but I'll look out for it.

This sub thread is just getting better and better.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Matrix Broad?

That was my first thought. A pity Maplin don't sell them.. But, mmmmmm, there's a pleasant thought to while away a lunch hour with.

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China to blow away smog with DRONES

Ledswinger
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Re: Not really worse as such

" it won't be long before China begins exporting its work to a 3rd world, aka US"

Not necessarily.

As with pollution and graft, the Chinese have learned fast. So they've got a huge misallocation of capital, a looming growth cliff, an out of control shadow banking sector, a property boom that looks likely to end in tears, and vast amounts of public debt (albeit held at local government level more than centrally). So it could all end in tears with a massive crash and lower living standards.

But the UK is also loaded with debt, the Yanks are loaded with debt, the Eurozone is loaded with debt, Japan is loaded with debt, as is China. The only question is who falls off the edge of the world first. My money's on Japan, due to the ageing population, vast debt levels and no currency union to bail them out, and a worrying trade deficit. Put simply, if average interest rates hit 2%, 80% of Japan's government budget would be taken up by interest. Greece, you say? Greece was about the 45th largest economy in the world, Japan is the 6th. That'll bring water to a lot of eyes.

And if not Japan, then the next most likely country to stop spinning in the bowl and leave no more than skidmark as it disappears round the U-bend is us in Blighty. Now that would be a laugh if the Scots vote to stay, and we then bankrupt THEM, whilst Icelanders look on with a warm feeling of schadenfreude.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Not really worse as such

"China's just on a much bigger scale"

And we smug Westerners have outsourced a large proportion of our dirty activities to China, because consumers won't pay/can't afford for everything they currently want to be made to EU/US environmental, welfare and social standards.

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British Pregnancy Advice Service fined £200k for Anon hack, data protection breaches

Ledswinger
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"Interestingly he was jailed for the hack"

On Home Office guidelines (early release after 40% of sentence for a first offence) the kn0b has probably already been out of clink for nine months. I wonder what a software engineer with an unspent conviction does for a living?

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FCA drafts new rules to protect crowdfunders' lenders

Ledswinger
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"Crowdfunding is more stable, reliable, insured better, regulated better ....."

On what basis do you say that? The FSA (predecessor to the FCA) comprehensively failed to either anticipate or defend against the credit crunch. It (and predecessors) serially failed to anticipate or stop persistent misselling of anything that could be missold by the financial services industry, and merely attempted to clear up afterwards - and usually not very well. But in the meanwhile regulation has crept all over the place adding new costs, new bureaucracy, without improving anything.

In this instance the FCA's dead hand is grasping operations like Kickstarter, and will undoubtedly strangle them. Lets face it, the big banks and the VC industry don't want competition, do they. And for what benefit? If I want to engage in high risk crowdfunding, do I not have a right to do so? These services aren't making any promise of safety or returns on your investment.

No, the kn0bs of the FCA have got more than enough to do with the mainstream financial services industry, and the first two things they ought to be doing are:

1) Working to emasculate the vast lobbying power of the financial services sector, which currently works for banking insiders and against consumers and investors

2) Regular dawn raids on all large financial institutions with a single simple question: "what are you misselling or manipulating today?"

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Review of UK data protection: Should fines go OVER HALF A MIL?

Ledswinger
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Re: interesting!

"Applying a fine seems fair but is it justice?"

There is a whole range of actions the ICO can and does take, of which fines are the end of the line, after audits, enforcement notices, undertakings and the like. What would you like them to do differently? Round up the guilty and have them beaten by special services blokes in balaclavas?

As for Whitehall avoiding the answers, the ICO have wrung an undertaking of compliance out of the Treasury Solicitor's Office for example, along with a fair number of police forces and health organisations, so I think they do a reasonable job of holding government to account without fear or favour. The ICO only issue fines where they feel the seriousness or repeated nature of an offence merits it, and that seems emminently reasonable.

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