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* Posts by Ledswinger

2583 posts • joined 1 Jun 2012

Spotty solar power management platform could crash the grid

Ledswinger
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Re: 566 terawatts a day?

"But water heating makes more sense in Europe than Subsidizing Solar voltaic."

As somebody not very keen on most "renewables" I've got to concede this. Where you've got sunshine and no gas (much of southern europe) solar thermal is a no brainer - it works, it is storable, and it is cheap.

Problem in northern Europe is that nerks of government and civil service can't conceive of anything happening without their say so and subsidy. In the UK, having made a pig's ear of solar PV, they've now added solar thermal to the list of permissible subsidised technologies, for an unbelievable generous 19.2p/kWh. By 2018 there will be no form of power generation NOT getting some form of DECC & OFGEM approved subsidy, excepting the older nuclear fleet.

From an overall efficiency point of view the whole solar PV thing across Europe has been a disaster. Instead of choosing solar PV over solar thermal, they should have required industry to laminate the PV panels onto flat plate thermal collectors with insulated backs, and then mandated only combined panels to be installed in domestic situations. In volume would have been not much more expensive, the water heating would have kept PV panel temperatures a little bit lower and thus more efficient, and you'd collect far more of the incident insolation,and even store the heat beyond sundown in the hot water tank. Admittedly still expensive, still useless in winter, but probably three times as efficient as typical solar PV panels.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Reporting and Monitoring via the Internet

I wouldn't worry. The thesis of the article (or at least the title) that this could destabilise the grid and bring it down is rubbish.

Renewables (and most forms of micro-generation) operate as negative demand. When they are producing the wick gets turned down on some more flexible asset (usually gas turbines, sometimes hydro), and the system operator monitors the performance of the grid rather than individual plant. Loss of management information from solar assets might mess up the statistics, but since solar can't be despatched it doesn't really make any difference to how the grid is run.

Because of its widely distributed nature, and inherent vulnerability to fluctuations even a collective take-down of all UK solar would have minimal effect. The grid is run on the basis that one or two major plant could come off load at any time without warning (this is why reserve capacity is important). Loss of all solar be lead to some brown outs or a few moments of power loss, but not a risk you don't already have eg from high winds bringing down power lines, fire in a fuel hopper at a coal or biomass plant, safety interruption at a nuclear plant etc. An incidental impact of the expansion of renewables is that the grid is more capable of managing supply demand balance, eg through frequency response, short term operational reserve and other mechanisms.

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Ledswinger
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Re: 566 terawatts a day?

"Solar is a great idea, most roofs are empty with nothing on them, and could easily be built from solar materials, cover every roof in the UK and you would generate all the power we need..."

You believe that cobblers? In winter there's a factor of 4x between expected average summer and winter daily output. In both situations there's a good twelve hours of darkness with no output at all, and no way of storing the output for protracted periods. Factor in the high cost of small solar (£2.5k/kW) and solar rated capacity is as expensive as nuclear, with only a fifth of the same output, delivered mainly when you need power least. Add in any form of power storage to the solar costs, and it makes nuclear look like an Aldi special buy.

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Ledswinger
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Re: 566 terawatts a day?

"It's also interesting that website says instantaneous output is around 7GW, from 230000 installations. That's about THREE nuclear reactors."

Given the dismal load factor of solar (globally perhaps 20%, in the UK 10%) that's hardly a valid comparison.

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Google: Mmm. Tab-free Gmail desktop client? We won't DENY it

Ledswinger
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Re: Desktop version?

Presumably it'll just be Chrome with a new title and auto-launching into GMail. You can do that now to create a pseudo desktop application, with a bit of messing about, I suspect the "new product" is much the same thing in an easy to install package

I can't see them coding a "real" desktop email client from scratch.

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BSkyB eyes up Uncle Rupert's telly channels in Germany and Italy

Ledswinger
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"One problem is that PayTV doesn't seem to be very popular over here (Germany)."

Where's the problem? Perhaps the lack of success is why Murdoch wants equity investors to buy the manky assets off of him? The tame management at BSkyB are only too happy to oblige, Murdoch adds more money to his vast pile of cash, and powerless small investors in BSkyB wonder why their management are paying good money for old rubbish.

The only negative surprise in all of this was reading that Murdoch was still in the land of the living.

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Mozilla axes HATED Firefox-ad-tab plan ... but will try again

Ledswinger
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Re: Am I the last person on Earth...

" Am I the last person on Earth......who would be willing to pay for software?"

No. There's three other commentards who've claimed they would pay as well. Will all four of you be able to support the development and maintenance of a new paid for browser, even forked from existing versions?

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Earthly astronomers catch best-ever image of MASSIVE solar flare

Ledswinger
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Re: Enough!

" I also demand a world-wide ban on singing "The Sun Has Got His Hat On"!!"

I think the BBC are already on the case of that particular request.

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Britain'll look like rural Albania without fracking – House of Lords report

Ledswinger
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Re: @ Tom 13

"How difficult would it be to bring the mothballed coal plants back online?"

Not very, if you actually mothball the plant (ie turn it off, and keep it clean, maintained and secure). Mothballing coal plant is more difficult than gas, because it's bigger and mechanically more complex, but it can be done. Note that mothballing involves maintenance and security costs, and usually you have to keep paying the staff otherwise you lose the skills.

Or are they actually tearing down the facilities?

Mostly yes. Not in a hurry, but they aren't mothballing, so recommissioning would be very difficult. There's time yet, because not all LCPD closures have gone through, but I've seen no evidence that any coal plant is being mothballed.

Note that we did have a considerable excess of generation capacity, far more than we needed, so some of the closures have little effect. The problem is we're getting to the point where reserve margin is too narrow, and when it gets to zero, you are reliant on everything running full chat when you really need it. Given that something somewhere will break at an inopportune moment, or a nuke plant will have to go offline for refuelling or a statutory inspection, it is accepted that 15% is a decent reserve margin, 6% is critically low. I think we're about 10% at the moment, with more closures coming.

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Ledswinger
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Re: US gas 1/3 price of UK gas.

"Thumbs down for stating facts?"

I didn't downvote you, but I suggest that the thumbs down were probably for stating bollocks:

"10,000 of thousands cross the entire nation." I challenge you to prove there's millions of fracking sites in the US, or even globally.

Which is a pity, because behind the hyperbole, you've got a point that most fracking requires high vertical well densities that won't be feasible in areas of productive and/or expensive land like the UK. The green lobby are focusing on the spurious, sensational and untrue reasons for opposing fracking, the dull, pragmatic reasons would be more correct.

Ultimately the geology of the UK is also against fracking - most formations are far too heavily faulted to make the process cheap and effective. We can certainly do it, but nobody in the electricity or gas industry believes it will be cheap, nor available in sufficient volumes to offset security of supply concerns.

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Ledswinger
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Re: If it's really 2015 we're stuffed no matter what happens...

"I'd be interested in hearing what makes them think Gridco are wrong, though I do agree that we no longer understand modern peak winter demand."

Differing assumptions and strategic plays. The point I was making was simply that there is no consistent view of when reserve margin becomes dangerously low. If we have a very cold winter next year, chances of a problem are much higher than if we have mild winter. If all the LCPD plant is permanently closed we have a bigger problem than if a few are mothballed with government prepared to claim a derogoation against the LCPD rules. etc etc. DECC claim to have wargamed things like plant closures, weather conditions, system demand responses - eg DNO's have a list of companies they can ask to turn the wick down, or go to standby, but AFAIK the system has never been tested in practice. You can choose to trust them or not as you see fit.

"There are plenty of storage options, both for storage of electricity and as storage before the alternator, but few of them are productised for volume use, because "the markets" haven't seen a reason to do so."

That's because it is more economic to build a new plant with low utilisation (eg OCGT) than to piffle around with far more expensive storage. Capex for gas OCGT would cost about £250m/GW, whereas pumped storage would be about £2-4bn/GW. That, sonny Jim, is a market in action. Of course, if you want to pay but think the market isn't giving you a gold plated solution that you want, then form your own supplier, and recruit people wanting to pay four times current electricity prices - I don't think you'll get a very long queue. There's also a world of difference between the sort of short term balancing services that storage can provide (sometimes very well) and the medium term need to cover seasonal types of variation in demand and supply or more protracted loss of load scenarios.

"Add to that the likelihood that brownouts no longer work as they used to as a demand management measure. "

Lucky you're so well informed. Maybe you'd better tell the DNO's, DECC, OFGEM and National Grid, because when I was with them the other day talking about this very topic, they were adamant that voltage control has been successfully tested as a means of demand management, continues to work, and will continue to work. I suspect you've ignoring the importance of simple loads (primarily heat and light) that are major components of peak demand.

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Ledswinger
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Re: If it's really 2015 @The Other Hobbes

"What you can't do in the UK is build sustainable storage. Because markets"

No, not because of markets, because of two things you don't understand: Technology, and economics.

You give me power from a wind turbine, and I can store it for a time. Either as electricity-to-gas, electricity-to-compressed-air or as electricity-to-heat. All three have very, very high capital costs (my employers have plant doing all three of these things), and all have high losses, either in the conversions from and to electricity (for gas, compressed air), or decay (stored heat). Likewise pumped hydro is technically feasible, but uneconomic. Your obviously much lamented CEGB built Dinorwig to store power, in a scheme that cost about £3bn at current prices, yet generates not a single kWh, it merely stores it from other expensive forms of generation, and throws a quarter to a third of it away in the process.

As for Germany, yet again you're talking out of your @rse. They've destroyed the profitability of thermal generation by subsidising renewables (a move that has put up German power bills by 30%, the highest state levies of any EU country). In summer they have an excess of renewables they try and export, but Poland (for example) has had install special interruptors on the cross border links to stop German renewables destabilising the Polish grid. Owners of thermal plant in Germany are looking to shut many GW of uneconomic plant, but that's now going to require yet more subsidy because on a cold still winters day there's neither renewable power to be had, nor any prospect of storage. Meanwhile the German government passed laws to try and stop uneconomic plant being decommissioned, as though they can reverse the laws of economics. Far from being a success, German power policy has been a huge and expensive failure, forcing up power costs for all consumers to transfer the money to a wealthy few (just like UK solar FiT), and when you include the German nuclear catastrophe, actually increasing the carbon intensity of German electricity.

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Ledswinger
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Re: reliant on Russian gas?

"Since when have we been reliant on Russian gas?"

Since our own gas reserves and distribution systems were connected to the European gas network by interconnectors, and since our own reserves ceased to cover domestic demand.

We have interconnectors to Belgium and the Netherlands, and the Langeled pipeline to Norwegian gas fields is another indirect connection to the European gas market. So if the Ruskies turn off the gas through Ukraine, Germany sucks the gas out of the wider European system, prices skyrocket, and demand restrictions start coming into force.

The only way we could isolate ourselves from this would be to order LNG on long term contracts for winter delivery (we have the necessary LNG terminals, Europe is less well endowed), close the interconnectors and wave a warm hand at the freezing continentals. Completely feasible, but can you see either Millitwerp or the Bullingdon boys having the intellect or balls to do that?

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Ledswinger
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Re: If it's really 2015 @The Axe

"They have enough problem supplying a few percent of the electrical needs of the UK at the moment, how the hell can renewables supply 100%."

They can't, even the tree huggers know this, although DECC's ambition is for the UK to be a post gas, post petroleum economy by 2050. Unfortunately with all energy policy focused on CO2, you need to allow for more than just the electrification of heat that you mention - we've got government pushing the railways to adopt further electrification, and ambitions for widespread adoption of electric vehicles (DECC ambitions of 1m on UK roads by 2020, IIRC). And you need to factor in significant UK population growth largely due to uncontrolled immigration, and the energy demand in building new housing and infrastructure to serve this population growth.

All of these things need more generation capacity even as we close coal and gas plants (that's right, modern CCGT plants are being mothballed and closed because of the destabilising impact of renewables on wholesale power prices to thermal plant). Figures I've seen quoted suggest a need for a four-fold increase (ie replacement of existing assets is also required) in electricity generating capacity by 2050. The tree hugger endorsed forecasts reckon we'll only need double, but the bare numbers are that at present gas provides about 45 MTOE of power to heat, and transport energy demand is about 60 MTOE, current UK electricity supplied to end users is about 27 MTOE. There may be some benefits from smoothing peak demand, but my opinion is that at absolute best that reduces the need to "only" a three fold increment in power generation capacity, plus renewal of the plant being retired as we speak.

You're looking at a fleet of nukes (or fusion plants, or fairy dust generators) to generate around 240 GW. Hinkley Point is costing £5bn per GW, let's assume that economies of scale cut that by a third (!), and you've still got a need for £800bn of investment, before you start on the cost of new transmisson and distribution systems.

We do need to plan for a post fossil fuel world, and to eke out what we have. But the pell mell rush for renewables that cost a fortune and deliver so little is criminal incompetence on the part of EU and UK politicians. Just on current policies, UK power prices will keep increasing at 10% per annum every year until at least 2020, and given the costs mentioned above, may need to keep increasing at that rate until 2040, by which time half of GDP will be consumed by the energy sector.

Remember all this next time you hear that ghastly, ignorant, rubber faced twerp Milliband whining that high power prices are the fault of profiteering energy companies.

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Ledswinger
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Re: If it's really 2015 we're stuffed no matter what happens...

" I think we'll probably find that those "accelerate" come the blackouts."

You're on the money with the point that fracking will come too late. It will also come too little in the UK for geological reasons as well.

Some points of order/interests:

My colleagues in power generation think blackouts are more likely post 2017, and disagree with National Grid and OFGEM's assertion that the big risk is 2015/6. You can choose to believe whichever you want, but the important thing is we've not really bottomed out what modern day peak winter demand actually is.

The issue about bottoming out what winter peak demand is arises because we don't really know the cumulative effect of all those CFL's, all the dry to wet heating conversions in social housing, the de-industrialisation of the UK, the improvements in insulation through industry managed programmes (CERT, CESP, ECO etc), or the impact of rising prices on both demand and the economics of energy saving. Plus DECC hope that the forthcoming "capacity mechanism" will fill a lot of gaps, by essentially paying people to use available standby generation or to shed load on request.

In the short term, winter peak gas demand is easily met by contracting LNG in advance, and accepting there's a price premium - we've built the bloody gas terminals, so to talk of a lack of fracking as a cause for blackouts shows what a bunch of ill informed knobs the House of Lords are.

Ultimately, the fracking debate is purely about security of primary energy supply, not about short term power generation reliability ("LOLE - loss of load expectation"). The fundamental problem is that the obsession of politicians and bureaucrats with "climate change" means they make stupid, short sighted decisions. In Germany, that decision was to close down relatively modern, well run nuclear plants, in the UK it was to implemented the EU's Large Combustion Plant Directive in a manner that closed off many GW of coal capacity. And the great thing about coal, was that you could stockpile it in vast amounts, there's many global sources, and its cheap.

Your comment that "renewable build outs are constrained by cash, political power plays" is incorrect. The reality is that subsidies both open and hidden have supported the vast build out of wind and solar, and that the committed schemes for both will keep pushing your bills up until at least 2030, whilst making the threat of supply interruption worse (I spent all of today in a room full of industry colleagues, regulators and government policy makers, and these were the openly spoken baseline assumptions). Renewables are secure, in that we aren't beholden to other countries, but they aren't reliable because they can't be despatched (scheduled to run on demand), and when they do run you can't store the power, meaning that they destabilise the grid and the market.

I hope the tree huggers are pleased, they've got everything they asked for.

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Copyright minister: Those missing TWO copyright exceptions? We're still on track

Ledswinger
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Re: So who gets the money?

"You go to the Big House for using a gun, but you get a Knighthood if you use a pan."

Another triumph for Blair's vandalism. House of Lords used to be full of unelected fuddy duddies that (with a few exceptions) didn't do much interfering.

Now it's full of unelected fucky wits that are always trying to interfere. Off with all their heads, particularly Blair's plastic peers

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Carphone Warehouse, Dixons embroiled in £3.7bn merger rumour

Ledswinger
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Re: "50:50 merger of equals" - tosh

You're bang on, mate.

But one has to worry about the rationale for the deal "synergies between the two businesses". This is corporate claptrap for "there is no good reason for this deal, but maybe we'll find some change down the back of the sofa".

Total synergies are the administrative cost of one of the two listed companies' head offices, circa £10m. Deal fees to the wasters at City banks will be five times that as a minimum, legal fees another million, management consultants the same again, devising a new group name and brand identity another million, redundancy and restructuring costs about £5m. Because DSG is a product retailer, and CPW is a contract retailer there will be no real operational benefits, and neither will benefit from each other.

As usual this is corporate M&A as a diversion from the hard work of actually running a profitable, successful business. In line with other comments, I've found CPW staff OK, but as vendors of high value contracts they're probably being paid a lot more than the Currys and PCW plebs, so no CPW competence will rub off on the box shifters - if anything it'll work the other way round as dysfunctional management cyborgs from PCW try and borg CPW.

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Virgin Media sales are a bit flat under the Cable Cowboy's reign

Ledswinger
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Re: Nothing to do with @Rol

"I would dearly like to see the whole telecommunication network nationalised, because it is too important to be left in the hands of companies who time and again have proved themselves to be shameless liars, unrepentant cheats and devious free market subversives."

I'd agree that there's not a very effective market, but obviously you're too young to remember the inefficiency, waste, incompetence, high cost, and total lack of innovation that the state telecommunications monopoly had in the UK. I can, and I'm in no hurry to go back there.

Moreover, given that a nationalised industry is under the control of politicians and bureaucrats, don't you think that the Westminster House of Shame contains more than its fair share of shameless liars, unrepentant cheats and devious free market subversives?

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Ledswinger
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"They need to expand their fibre network for one thing if they want to see a big jump in subscribers."

The Cable Cowboy hasn't bought this to absorb cash (ie invest in it), he's bought it to ream it out for cash. His definition of "investment" is simply speculative M&A, so you'll see an ongoing $14bn bid for a Dutch cable network, a $1bn share buyback, takeover of the 20% un-owned stake in the Chilean cable business. However, the chances of Virgin Media expanding their fibre network can be summed up in three letters: nil.

The longer term game plan is just to buy and bolt together cable companies, strip the costs out, push the prices up, and then sell out at some future date to another investor - for example a cash rich pension fund looking for long life infrastructure assets. Legislative and commercial barriers to market entry in local infrastructure are high, so there's little competition, and the inability or unwillingness of the mobile telcos to supplant fixed line data connections means that the fixed line market is unlikely to be threatened by 4G (or even 5G).

As usual it's all OFCOM's fault. Only two sizeable local loop infrastructure players, one of whom has to offer common carriage over its assets, the other doesn't, and then a mobile telco market where there's no leadership to make wireless a credible choice (in future rather than now) for home broadband.

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Ledswinger
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What is this new devilry?

"Liberty Global, which is now a UK PLC, ...."

but still listed on NASDAQ. Presumably some contrivance to dodge taxes on both sides of the Atlantic, whilst reaming out customers with inflation busting prices increases and rough service.

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Google updates Maps app for iOS, Android, adds Uber support

Ledswinger
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Re: Offline functionality...@fandom

"I'm kind of curious, did you get past the second paragraph of the article?"

Not sure if that's aimed at me, but I'll respond. Yes, I did.

The point is that Google's idea of offline use is route or map caching rather than permanent local storage. So the Google solution is great if you just need a few hundred yard diversion in town, or a couple of miles out of town, but its no good at all when your location hasn't been cached and you're in an area of no coverage, or on a poor data network. Of for that matter, if you're on a restrictive contract or PAYG tariff that means downloading mobile data is something you want to actively avoid.

To an extent, the Maps story suggests Google is quickly becoming the new Microsoft - dominant in a couple of areas, but then failing to listen to customers, with "Our way or no way" offers.

If the very modest improvements described represent "a lot of work", then I can only conclude that Google's staff are exceptionally unproductive, because all of this looks to me like a lukewarm makeover to the existing and inadequate caching solution. But having said that, there are free alternatives that I use when Google is too slothful to do what I want, and my gripe is largely about the unrecognised promise of Google Maps - it could be a world beating app. but by tying it so tightly to high speed mobile data connections, Google choose to cripple it.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Offline functionality...

"This kind of functionality comes for free in Lumia phones "

And Android. Navfree (previously known as Navmii) is free, uses locally stored maps, and has better quality voice than Google Maps' horrible synthesized quacking. The overhead map view isn't as polished as Google Maps, but there's little to choose when actually driving, and I prefer the 3D view of Navfree over Google Maps. Navfree also has a speed limit data and speed limit reminder. In terms of map accuracy I've not seen much difference between the two (ie the odd small error in both). Routing in Google Maps is a touch better, but not enough to make me tolerate the "on-line plus caching" inconveniences.

For Android users looking for an alternative to Google, it's free so what have you got to lose by trying it for a month? I'm not naieve enough to believe that my location data won't be sold on somehow or other, but the app isn't obviously intrusive. And because Maps is a default permanently installed app for Android, but won't by default fill your storage up with map data, you can have both, and use whichever fits the circumstances of the day.

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Vendors pushing fibre on developing countries, says Oz minister

Ledswinger
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"Once upon a time there was two ways to do things - the wrong way, and the great western railway."

Well, seven foot track and a decent loading gauge didn't prevail, more's the pity, so arguably we went the wrong way long before the GWR was finally crushed by the state.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Utter rubbish ...

"Gob-smacked that government (we elect them don't we?)...."

Yes, but they don't represent your interests.

"are not more supportive of public/community owned broadband infrastructure."

They tried publicly owned infrastructure. Almost without exception this stifled all innovation, resulted in high costs and poor customer service. That's why it has no mostly been privatised. if the privatisation isn't doing what you want, then that's not a flaw with the private company - they are supposed to look after their shareholders interests) it is a flaw with the regulation by the government.

When it comes to community owned infrastruture, what can government do? Use taxpayers money to subsidise even more rural broadband?

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Ledswinger
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Re: I'm glad Australia hadn't spread it's gospel before now.

"Australia's communications minister Malcolm Turnbull viewpoint is somewhat skewed - possibly Australia has an interest in copper? Fibre optic has so many long-term benefits that makes anything else ill advised."

Mine production of copper is about a million tonnes a year, making Oz a world top 5 producer. The only country consistently producing more is Chile. Of course, if Australia is adopting fibre, then what to do with the 90 odd million tonnes of copper reserves, particularly if China's crazy investment boom tails off? Sell it to the developing countries, in the belief that they're simple and won't realise they've been had?

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BT fibre 'availability checker' looks into FAR-OFF FUTURE. Again

Ledswinger
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Re: Virgin as well as BT

"Not that I want to stay with them after their take-over by Liberty Global (and previous fattening up) has seen a big rise in the price they charge me."

Same here. But even near doubling of my speed from 60 Mbit to 100 Mbit isn't much use - when will I notice any difference, unless I was wasting my life trying to illegally fileshare every grumble flick ever made? I've got better things to do with my life. What I'd like is the same service I originally signed up for, at a lower price, not a pointless speed upgrade plus a big increase in costs, who's ulterior motive is really just to bolster the bank accounts of a near-death billionaire.

As usual the problem lies with the ineffectual twerps of OFCOM, itself headed up by an unqualified Blair placeman. VM aren't small any more, they don't need protection, and their local loop should be unbundled to let other people use it. Instead of this, OFCOM wank around failing to shove BT into place (much as the ASA have managed nothing in this sector), and my forecast for the near future sees that berk Ed Richards as a probable successor to Chris Patten, as part of the 1%ers merry-go-round of well rewarded sinecures.

Recognising that the apparatus of state doesn't work for me, and that nothing is going to change, yet envious of the well paid and undemanding jobs at the top, can other commentards suggest how I can get on the quango gravy train? I shall happy put my principles in cold storage for the duration of my "public service".

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Solaris deposed as US drone-ware, replaced by Linux administration

Ledswinger
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Re: I've missed something here

"I'm not sure a general purpose OS is suitable for this"

Maybe, but just because they started off with general purpose Linux doesn't mean thats what they'll end up with. From a security point of view any sensible designer is going to strip off all code that isn't needed, and the bit that's left ought to be there only because it is needed.

However, before Linux fans break out the champagne, I'd note that the US have yet to rationalise their many different air forces, armies and drone units (including at least six separate major air operations). The vast amount of overlap, duplication, infighting and waste, when combined with a budget squeeze that has barely started make this consolidation inevitable.

It doesn't follow that the USNAS will be the lead developer for pilotless choppers - could be the marines, could be the air force, could be the army, could be a new combined defence development unit. Until the consolidation has been completed there's no guarantees as to what hardware or software will prevail.

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Yosemite National Park bans drones

Ledswinger
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Re: Bzzzzttt.... Fail

"Won't hold up. Read the language of that CFR - it talks about "delivering or retrieving" something. That doesn't describe what people are doing with their drones, not at least if all they're doing is flying a camera around"

Well, yes I did read the language. And it talks about "delivering or retrieving a person or object". If you want a photo using a drone, you are delivering a camera to the point to take the photo (and then you're retrieving it, unless it's a kamikaze mission that wirelessly transmits the image back).

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Obama: I'm the CTRL-ALT-DEL President

Ledswinger
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Re: Increasingly "The Petulant Clown of White House" @ Big John

"The reason why he has no international political clout is simply due to the fact that the US government as a whole is in an out-of-control deadlock"

Not quite, IMHO, because he doesn't need the support of Congress to declare war (and if he did need it they'd be too worried of NOT voting for war to oppose him).

The real reason that he's got no credibility is in particular the succession of "red lines" that were drawn in the sand, crossed by his opponents, and no consequences ensued, in both Iran and Syria. So his opponents think he personally lacks resolve for overseas military adventures. They also believe that for obvious reasons the US public are war weary, and that Obama is now a lame duck president.

To a large extent, Obama's heart and brain are in the right place: Overseas military intervention has been a costly twelve year disaster in terms of US & allied lives, local lives, money, and respect. Where Obama has come unstuck is that his administration haven't come to terms with the fact that whilst the DoD and the rabidly out of control "national security" sector might still be sniffing the napalm fumes and listening to Ride of the Valkyries, there's few real Americans willing to pay the price that accompanies that sort of foreign policy. As a result US foreign policy is still framed in terms of "do as we say or we kick yo' ass" and is weak on diplomacy, cultural understanding and respect. To be fair this has been recognised, it simply hasn't yet resulted in the changes required, and the whole apparatus of "national security" has become a huge obstacle to the changes that are needed.

This isn't to say that the US needs to walk away from all forms of intervention (and having happily appointed themselves as world policeman, it's a little late to object to others expecting this of them). Walking softly and carrying a big stick has always been a good strategy, but over the past decade the US has been to busy using the stick, not enough time walking softly.

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ARM tests: Intel flops on Android compatibility, Windows power

Ledswinger
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Re: Invisible Precision

" End user perception is the benchmark, if that isn't noticeably improved you're wasting everyone's time and money."

Says who?

There's a whole slice of the market that buy on spec, with little regard for anything else. Think of PC tinkerers, who always need the graphics card with the highest FLOPS benchmark. Think iPhone buyers who upgrade to the new model with Pavlovian reliability. Think camera enthusiasts who buy the latest <insert Nikon name here> because it has a few more pixels or whatever....

In many instances these upgrades have no noticeable effect for end users. But does that matter? Without early adopters there is no market, and despite the fact that they can't see a real difference for the new product, they've got the spec they've just paid for, and they'll believe they can.

I take my hat off to these people. Thank you for helping encourage innovation for the sake of innovation. Thank you for paying extra to reduce the cost of the technology by the time I will buy it. Thank you for taking the risk on new products that simply may not work. Thank you for taking the risk on standards that may never gain market acceptance. Heroes to a man!

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El Reg Quid-A-Day Nosh Posse crawls towards finish line

Ledswinger
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Re: Reading with great interest

Commiserations mate!

Work yer arse off to get back on the merry go round, 'cos in my view financial markets are looking exactly like 2006 all over again, and we all know what happened next. My (then) employers folded in 2007 and I elected to take an immediate job offer on significantly lower pay to stay in employment rather than hold out for the right one, and in hindsight that was a very good choice. YMMV.

Good luck!

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Ledswinger
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Re: Foraging

" it's bearable and at least some food chloroplasts and roughage"

I think with the finish line in sight they'll have decided to try and sleep it out. Anybody who's ever tried eating significantly reduced calories will know how you feel colder, more slothful, and sleepier. And sleep sounds better to me than trying to eat nettles, beetles and the like.

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The verdict is in: Samsung to pay Apple $120m chump change, but gets tiny rebate

Ledswinger
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Re: Wait a minute...

"Is there an unfair disparity in valuation here?"

As others have said, patents of dubious value on both sides, but I think the point is that this is a US court, and the home (corporate) team have to win, regardless of the fairness, significance, or ultimate harm to consumers.

If you want further evidence of this bias, you may recall that Obama intervened to support a ban on import and sale of certain Samsung phones, yet intervened to block a ban on Apple products that had similar legitimacy (or similar lack of, depending on your view).

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Please work for nothing, Mr Dabbs. What can you lose?

Ledswinger
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Re: I could not agree more .....

"I do not think it is a good time to da that shortly before a bubble burst, innit?"

Fastest appreciation is always before the bubble bursts, fill your boots, streets of Shanghai are paved with gold, I tell you.

But as an adviser, what does our friend care if somebody invests £30m in Mythical Dragon Enterprises ten minutes before they go bust? As long as the Western investor is still solvent he can claim his fees.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Harsh!

" Is reading "boring clickbait" in Company Time not a waste of Company Resources?"

No. It's valuable "research and market awareness". Well that's my claim anyway.

"the company you work for may well wish compensation for the time they pay you for you just wasted"

That's possible. But that would be a contractual dispute between me and them, and nothing to do with whether AD owes me money for wasting my time with a duff article. In terms of legal disputes, AD might have a case against you for insinuating that his esteemed output is in fact "boring clickbait".

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Ledswinger
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Harsh!

"You read it for nothing AND get paid to do so AND you want to get paid a second time to celebrate your poor judgement?"

That's a bit harsh. Even though we salarymen are indeed being paid, (a) we aren't being paid by you, (b) even when being paid by a third party, time spent reading still has an opportunity cost to us, and (c) there's a good chance we were duped into it by a juicy headline (so it's YOUR fault).

So if you were to let us down with a rather dull article (admittedly you've done yourself proud this week), then the cost that I'd need to be compensated for is the entertainment, education or work-related utility that I could have found reading other free to web content, and the disappointment that I'd suffered, naturally expecting good stuff from you. Admittedly that's not going to be a very high value, but where this leads me is the important conclusion that the Holy Grail of micro-payments for web content needs to be a two way transaction platform, that facilitates not just small payments and small refunds, but also small compensation.

Would you continue to write without indemnity insurance under this sort of payment structure? A really top notch article should bring in a lot more than the occaisonal duffer costs you, and you'd end up earning more than the peanuts the Reg are chucking you? And the Reg could stop having to prostrate itself to advertisers, and just take a small share of your income stream.

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Serco issues shares to plug finance gap after profit warning

Ledswinger
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Re: Funny how the rules are different?

"Insert (100m) coins to continue"

Well, Serco have been buzzing round government for so long that the culture's rubbed off. So if you don't like the truth, make up the numbers. If you've f**ked up and wasted all the real money, you just print up some more.

Government print money through quantitative easing, companies do this through a just printing up a few more share certificates, and then flogging them. It's a "rights issue" if you think the existing shareholders are stupid enough to pay more for something they already own, and it's a "placement" if the company need to find some new mugs to have their money taken off them. And in both cases investment bankers cream off a big fat slice for doing nothing.

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Creating your GOLDEN statue of NICOLAS CAGE FINALLY possible

Ledswinger
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Re: Cell

"Did I forget to mention just how cheesy this guy is?"

I think you may have covered it.

But why print a statue in gold then, when it would be a lot cheaper to have it 3D printed in cheese?

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Tablet boom quiets down a bit as growth slows

Ledswinger
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Re: On the positive side

"As for the rest, yes, many will get a new tablet resulting in an temporary extension of new sales, but how many of them will insist on a replaceable battery this time round?"

Very few. The people who worry about replaceable batteries (like you and I) are thinking two years ahead, and about keeping kit in operation. Most people don't think like that, and work on the basis that they'll have a new one. Hasn't done Apple any harm to have non user replaceable batteries, and whilst the batteries can be replaced on almost all sealed devices, I'm not convinced that many are.

The other consideration is that the highly streamlined supply chain means new tablet costs are low, whereas the convoluted supply chain for parts, plus the relatively time intensive work to dismantle and reassemble a device often make replacing the battery relatively expensive if you're paying somebody to do it.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Looks like we are seeing slowdowns across the board...

I wouldn't worry too much about the Feds printing press, the slowdown is merely for maintenance to enable it to run faster.

Consider the consequences of a protracted slowdown or even reversal in the money printing. No politician is going to stand up and deliver a balanced budget, since that means a cut in current spending of 17% (or a tax increase of 23% or thereabouts). This is also before the impact of future unfunded liabilities that are estimated at over $1m per taxpayer.

Like the UK and most of Europe, the US is addicted to big state spending, and doing so with borrowed or printed money. As Japan shows, you can get to a point where other countries won't lend to you, but then you just roll the printing presses even faster, and in effect steal from your own citizens (which is how Greece managed before they pulled on the Eurozone straitjacket).

This has to end badly, but how long before it does - could be weeks, could be decades. No politician with any chance of government is proposing to sort the mess out. In the UK opposition politicians are squealing like stuck pigs over "austerity", when the current government is still spending £100bn more each year than it raises in taxes. In the US the military-industrial complex is putting on a good show of the absolute need to continue spending more on "defence" than the next ten largest economies combined, and the Democrats are still wedded to their unfunded healthcare programme. California is the ghost of Christmas future for the wider US - spiralling public spending, with no political responsibility or accountability.

It's enough to make you give up your tablet, buy a rifle and go to a log cabin in the wilderness.

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Quid-a-day Reg nosh posse chap faces starvation diet

Ledswinger
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Re: It's a gas, gas, gas!

Well, a service is something provided to a third party, and I'm not sure that they'd appreciate FaaS. I prefer the "on demand" concept, so FoD.

For the Kickstarter project, I did think that we could harness home PC users for the basic data collection Folding@home style. They could keep scrupulous records of their diet (including timing) and of the subjective quality of their emissions, under the obvious name of Farting@home. Then we have proper boffins with white coats and pointy heads to undertake some scientific and statistical magic.

Obviously we'd need to protect the IP, so that (for example) appropriate mixes could be sold to the highest bidder, and protected against imitations and copy cats. I can feel a whole business model coming on: Company name: Miasma Natural Fragrances Ltd, Fast Food Product lines: "Boffburger", "Kids Party Guff Box", "Quarter Pounder With Attitude", Pre-prepared meals for supermarkets under the MNF Vilest brand: Duckstepper Beans, Braised Lamb Gutrotter, and so on.

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Ledswinger
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Re: It's a gas, gas, gas!

"--> Think gas mask."

Not IME. You get the gas volume from pulses, but you need plenty of spices and ideally some meat to get a good strong aroma. So a bland pulse laden diet gets you noisy cold farts, but if you spice it up and mix in some meat you can produce rewardingly warm, aromatic and often silent trumps.

It really is about time that we had some proper research on what diet produces the fastest, richest, and most reliable flatulence, to bring this everyday pleasure closer to an "on demand" experience, rather than coming as an unplanned delight.

Do you think that Kickstarter could fund the "On Demand" research project?

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Ledswinger
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Re: Healthy body fat percentage@DocJames

"Obesity is a societal issue, with social change required to fix it."

Not in my book. That's a cop out to the overweight who don't want to take responsibility for being lardy. I've dropped a couple of stone and kept it off, but it requires me to take the action.

I'm not sure that you meant it, but for the public health specialists "societal change" seems to involve fat taxes, outlawing large fizzy drinks, regulation of where shops are allowed to put the sweets and other nonsense. As per Fluffy Bunny's excellent post, much of the advice people have been given is wrong, although the reality is they don't even follow that advice. But this wrong advice extends to things like encouraging exercise - most people simply don't do enough to make a difference to the considerable over-eating most of us do of our own free will.

If people are happy being fat, is it society's (or rather government's) job to intervene? And if they aren't happy being fat, isn't it their responsibility to reduce the amount of junk they eat? All very well blaming McDonald's and demanding regulation, but I don't see long queues of people at salad bars, and closing the fast food industry down would have the same effect as the War on Pubs, which has simply meant people drink at home.

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Ledswinger
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Re: you may not starve as much as you think

"900 calories per 100g is uncooked though"

Well, I wasn't suggesting that Lester or the other cooked and ate either themselves or each other. Although if they do could we have pictures? Some readers may recall the tragic tale of Horace, the boy who ate himself (those who don't should google it).

But to our commentard quizzing the high energy content of fat, yes it is (subject to my maths), because biologically that is the very purpose of fat, to form a flexible, compact, energy dense resource that you carry round with you until you need it. In the developed world most people never burn it off, leading to the high incidence of obesity, and resulting health problems.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Bulk buying

"Doesn't a full freezer cost less to run than an empty one as you don't have to keep chilling the warm air that gets in when you open it up?"

In theory yes. But unless you're loading it with pre-frozen goods the marginal air-exchange heat losses of (say) three openings per day become relatively small compared to the energy use in freezing home cooking, even from room temperature, largely because there's three orders of magnitude between the volumetric heat capacity of air and typical solids.

In practical terms the primary inefficiency of an under-utilised freezer is down to the fact that you've got a steep heat gradient across a larger surface area than you need, and you've got continuous heat loss/gain on that unnecessarily larger surface area.

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Ledswinger
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Re: you may not starve as much as you think

"If I ate the whole lot then, I'd be on 2,190 Calories per day, by my new reckoning*. Still not enough to fuel heavy digging."

Of course it is. unless you're already at 15% body fat, and I doubt that many of us are.

A typical "not fat" male still carries around 20% of their body mass as fat. You could burn off down to 15% and still be carrying more than an athlete, and not looking underweight, so that's 5% of say 85 kg, meaning that there's a minimum of 4.25 kg of lard you could force your body to use.

At 900 calories per 100g, that's a built in bum-bag of 38,000 calories just asking to be used. If you're less than svelte then your resources may be far greater.

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Study: Users don't much care about Heartbleed hacking dangers

Ledswinger
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Re: People don't have time to get worried

Never mind giving a ****, there's the problem of what Mr Average can do about this. There's no point changing passwords until all vulnerable servers have been patched. But Mr Average doesn't know whether the servers he logs into were vulnerable in the first place, he doesn't know when or if they're fixed. And if he's got to change all his passwords, they all get saved or written down somewhere.

And even after all that, look at the appalling security that some commercial companies apply to sensitive data. There's been a series of major security breaches that show companies have a cavalier attitude to customer data. So why would an average user worry too much about the remote possibility of being hacked, when the likes of Target, Neiman Marcus, TJX/TKMaxx are so remiss in their responsibilities as data custodians?

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Script fools n00b hackers into hacking themselves

Ledswinger
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Give these people an award!

With all the "bad" hacking going on, the people behind this deserve an award. The unprincipled script kiddies get a cyber-wedgy of their own doing, Farcebook gets more noise, a nice trade in "likes" can be started, which keeps marketing dweebs everywhere happy. And for those of us who don't run scripts we don't understand, and don't give a tinker's cuss about FB, well, it's simple amusement.

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Twitter's got a new UK public policy wonk... 'You are the product' Big Brother Watch bloke!

Ledswinger
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Re: @AC "Oxymoron"

"Although with Stewart Lee, he's probably just thick."

I'm sure you're right.

His ethics are probably negotiable, but I can understand that - from scraping around to make a £50-60k living at BBW, he's suddenly on the Farcebook payroll on a six figure package with a bottomless expense budget and a brand name that people listen to simply because they've heard of it.

In terms of questionable ethics, though, what about Farcebook. I daresay they'd be able to buy (if not already have) a very well paid and very effective Head of Lobbying, Greasing, Free Lunching and General C***ery. So why go for Pickles? Simply to behead an organisation that might be making your life difficult, IMHO.

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BSkyB broadband growth chopped in HALF

Ledswinger
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Re: broadband customer growth halved

"I always find this panic about "less growth" quite ridiculous."

Not so much a panic, but a concern. When a takeover or asset transfer deal is one, the companies agree a valuation based on the customer numbers, projections of churn etc, almost always resulting in a valuation based on a growth scenario. As you say, this can't go on for ever, but the valuation models probably project it forward for a few years, so when the forecast numbers turn out to be optimistic, it means that Sky's shareholders are losing money.

But in the grand scheme of things although everybody knows that most takeovers are bad for customers, and bad for the acquiring company, M&A remains wildly popular in boardrooms up and down the land. It's a useful diversion from the thorny problems like delivering good customer service, good value, and a product that works. Why enter the world of pain that is frontline delivery, when you can w@nk around with investment bankers, spending millions of quid on other people's money so that you can claim on your CV to be the brains behind the "successful acquisition and integration of <insert company name here>". Look at Notsirfred Goodwin - why address pressing problems of culture, performance and risk in your core business, when you can earn a fat bonus by outsourcing and offshoring huge numbers of home market jobs, and big it up acquiring dodgy foreign banks?

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