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* Posts by Ledswinger

2702 posts • joined 1 Jun 2012

REVEALED: The sites blocked by Great Firewall of Iraq

Ledswinger
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Re: God is great and Frank Herbert is his prophet.

"It helps if you bomb flat the vital infrastructure, too. Thus ensuring it's a third world nation."

You can't bomb people back to the stone age if culturally they never left.

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Ledswinger
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"I heard their internet links can be a bit dodgy"

I'm with sjsmoto on this. I'd rather somebody chopped through an undersea cable than my neck. And going from liberal, easy going Sweden to mad as fuck Iraq........what's that about?

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Ledswinger
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Re: God is great and Destroy All Monsters might be his Prophet

"I won't even go into the utterly despicable French/British behaviour post-WWI and Skyes/Pikot, which deserves a separate introduction of the people involved to the Black Box of Pain."

Guilty. M'lud. And of course there was the British government's Balfour Declaration, that through a combination of subsequent Goldman-esque politicing and European guilt over The Austrian's activities eventually led to the formation of Israel and the expulsion of the Palestinians. Factor in French, Russian, British and American interference throughout the Middle East ever since, and "westerners" in the most general sense really have a lot to answer for. If the British civil service (past and present) burn in the fires of hell for this and everything else they've ever done then I'll be happy to get a long stick and bag of marshmallows to share with you. But...

...what about your lot? Would things have panned out better and more peacefully if the Brits and Frogs hadn't darkened your doorsteps? In both Britain and France we had centuries of epic bloodshed and civil war in our transition from wiping our arses on stones and believing the crap spouted by religious leaders, through to having access to quilted labrador pelts on a roll and going shopping on our sabbath. I suspect that even with the efficiency of modern death machines, the same journey will involve less bloodshed (end to end) for the peoples of the Middle East (not that I'm condoning or excusing the Western interference).

But we are where we are. How about the people of the Middle East stop worrying about what their neighbours believe, say or practice in their own minds or homes, put the guns and bombs away, and round up and burn ALL religious books, religious scholars, zealots, religious officials and tribal elders? In the meanwhile the UK's foreign aid budget could buy one hell of a lot of Andrex, and the NATO air forces could deliver that - Hercules drops to metropolitan areas, surgical fast jet deliveries to smaller towns, and drones firing three ply cluster packs or JP233's onto isolated rural targets. Global peace would break out as Middle Eastern men were suddenly able to retire for a comfortable dump with a copy of the Arabic version of Viz.

As softening up work we might have the collected works or Richard Dawkins translated into Arabic and then carpet bomb the whole Middle East with it?

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Ledswinger
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Re: God is great and Frank Herbert is his prophet.

"And the last step; wait for a genuine democracy to break out, stage a coup, put your own dictator in charge and help him kill those democrat terrorists."

That's Ukraine that you're thinking of, where US interference is what toppled the last nationally elected president, leading to instability between factions that might otherwise have been managed.

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Ledswinger
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Re: God is great and Frank Herbert is his prophet.

"Don't forget the first step, Invade and make sure they have nothing resembling a competent government left"

Come off it, they didn't have a competent government to start with. The deservedly dead Gadaffi killed about a million in his hobby war with Iran, and was caught red handed gassing the Kurds, before starting the first Gulf War, killing another 40,000 people. Iraq's people suffered under years of sanctions due to Saddam's misgovernance, and saw none of the wealth from oil or gas.

I grant you he was fairly effective at suppressing the inter-group fighting, but that's hardly a reason to vote for him unless you celebrate the values of brutality, corruption and repression.

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Cybercrooks breed SELF-CLONING MUTANT that STEALS your BANK DETAILS

Ledswinger
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Re: Worm-like information stealing banking Trojan

"If open wasn't the same as execute then email attachments wouldn't be dangerous."

Or if email clients were configured by default to delete all executable/high risk attachments, and to have easily changed rules to adjust that as required.

In a corporate world there's a lot more control of such things, in the personal world email clients have stagnated for years, with rudimentary filtering that is neither enabled by default, not lends itself to managing either attachments or embedded links and objects.

I suppose the lack of investment in email clients is yet another casualty of Microsoft's "give it away free" policies of prior years. The sooner that company curls up and dies the better.

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We need to talk about SPEAKERS: Sorry, 'audiophiles', only IT will break the sound barrier

Ledswinger
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Re: Ancient technology

"The Cambridge psychology department at the time was using Quad electrostatic speakers (which looked confusingly like portable electric heaters)"

"At the time"? I'm outraged. The original ESL 57s are still made new and sold by Quad Deutschland, for about €4k a pop. Or you can buy an original Quad Ltd pair on Ebay for a few hundred quid, and have them refurbed by One Thing Audio for about a grand including new stands, new treble panels, reworked and resprayed grilles and new electricals.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Clearly there's an need for intelligently designed speakers

"Clearly there's an need for intelligently designed speakers. As listened to by God"

Quad electrostatics are the chosen speakers of the almighty, and all those of good taste and discernment. And they even sound fantastic playing MP3's off the phone into the pre-amp.

/smug

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Microsoft thumbs nose at NSA, hardens crypto for Outlook, OneDrive

Ledswinger
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"So moving forward, each session needs to be uniquely attacked and decrypted, regardless of if you know the private key or not."

Only strengthens email against spies who haven't backdoored the software....

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NASA aborts third attempt at finally settling man-made CO2 debate

Ledswinger
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@jhudsy

"CO2 has been pretty much confirmed as the cause of AGW."

Likewise, the world is flat, and the shape of people's heads tells you whether they are criminals.

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GCSE Computing teachers cry victory as board decides NOT to bin tech teens' work

Ledswinger
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Re: Assessment methods

"Picking up on Leadswinger's comment in the original article, how do we all think these skills should be assessed?"

But to turn to the meat of your question, the answer is elements of all four. There's some elements of knowledge that timed tests (=exams) are the most obvious way of testing (spelling, for example...) but all of the mentioned techniques do have a place. My original comment was driven by a personal beef that it is daft to have 80% (frequently 100%) of your performance in one to three year's learning decided by a mere couple of hours at an uncomfortable desk in a sweat-scented sports hall in the height of summer, an exercise that primarily tests rote learning, and in such a short time can't possibly scratch more than the surface of the topics taught. In answer to your "anything else", we could consider oral exams or vivas - the best way to find out what somebody knows is always to talk to them, although there is a risk that the marks end up being too subjective and soft.

Testing across a range of assessment methods would allow people's different skills and attributes to shine, and enable the assessment to cover a wider range of skills and topics. I still think that all marked assessment work should not be marked by the teachers - the assessment process should ensure that their is anonymity between marker and marked, to stop "back scratching" generosity.

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Cambridge Assessment exams CHAOS: Computing students' work may be BINNED

Ledswinger
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Re: @Arnaut the less

"The object of education is not to facilitate your business. "

Well at least it's succeeding in that, then.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Guus Leeuw

"Have you looked at the two course works the article is about?"

Of course I have. Maybe the joys of Dutch (?) academia were similar to your life in coding, in my experience (coding defence systems) I can't think of anything that was similar. It's a bit Godwin-esque to mention Einstein, but I'd point out that school all but wrote him off because he didn't fit the academic model that school used to denote success. If being a good coder is reliant on the programmer remembering what he's done in acute detail, then its not a good omen. Working methodically within a design, keeping track of what you have done and need to do are (in my view) a much better way of working than hoping the coder got high grades in history at school and has a good memory

How would I fix continuous assessment? There's a number of problems but the first and most significant one (in my view) is conflict of interest when teaching and marking are done by the same people. We don't let kids mark their own homework, and so as far as possible we shouldn't let schools do their own marking of any assessed work. They mark somebody else's, so there's no increase in cost or workload (other than some shipping of work around to schools doing the same syllabus). With appropriate technology even the admin of shipping the work around could be automated. Where the work is more applied than written, an external invigilator could supervise, much as happens for some current exams.

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Ledswinger
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"Closed-book too, as it should be."

Of course, because closed book memory tests are sooooo representative of useful skills in the real world. In practice these work strongly in favour of people with good memories for arcane detail who can write quickly. Those two skills are fairly unimportant in my business.

"Continuous assessment is a total joke."

That's a separate (and contentious) point to the merit of closed book exams. I'd rather we fixed the flaws of continuous assessment rather than continued to rely on single chance end of year exams where many talented students don't shine, and where sometimes lazy chancers get lucky and get grades they don't deserve.

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Hey, Marissa Mayer: Flexi working time is now LAW in UK. Yahoo!

Ledswinger
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Re: More "management versus labor" mentality

"traditional job requirements are that you work in the office or store or whatever"

Alan proves that time travel is possible, by posting his comment from the year 1860, when employer and employees knew their rightful positions.

Helpful message to Alan: Don't be on the Lady Elgin crossing Lake Michigan in September of your year - it sinks.

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LG drops G3 quad HD Android mobe with FRIGGIN' LASER camera

Ledswinger
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Re: Interesting phone but not original

"you may be blinded by LG's sparkle, but based on their previous history, this phone will be an orphan very quickly."

But who do you go to that has an unimpeachable track record on supporting devices for even eighteen months after last retail availability? I can't think of anybody in the market that hasn't orphaned a recent handset. Apple appear to have the best track record on that, but there's a heavy price to pay, both in cash, and limitations on device specification.

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What's it like using the LG G smartwatch and Android Wear? Let us tell YOU

Ledswinger
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Re: I'm a bit disappointed in the LG model

"/petulant "I wanted to look like Dick Tracy!" petulant/"

Wear any "smartwatch", and in my humble opinion they'll have granted the first half of your wish.

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Drone's drug airdrop mission ends in failure for Irish prisoners

Ledswinger
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Re: If I may...

"The (US at any rate) military also makes the distinction that drones can operate without a pilot,"

Surely the only distinction is that a drone doesn't carry an onboard pilot?

Manned craft can take off, route and land based on just a flight computer programme, whilst the meat sacks doze and talk about football or whatever (or they can fly by the seat of the pants if they so choose). And a drone needs somebody to take the decisions and programme the route parameters, whilst allowing (usually) full manual control. The only real difference is that the drone operator is remote, and rarely pays for his or the machine's failings with a pound of their own flesh, whereas the on board pilot has (quite literally) skin in the game.

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Ledswinger
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Re: @Rob

"and from what I understand local pilots will handle the take off and landing on the base"

For the air forces, yes. And historically this results in quite a few accidents. The US army on the other hand aren't guided by any stupid ideas of officer pilots existing as superior beings, and their NCO drone controllers routinely allow their drones to take off and land themselves. The RAF has been following the USAF model, unfortunately, so presumably we'll be paying for a few broken Taranis until the RAF wise up to the idea that the whole point of a UAV is the U bit.

My knowledge on this is rusty and dated. Where's Matt Bryant when we need him?

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USB charger is prime suspect in death of Australian woman

Ledswinger
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"The offending one in my case was CE marked, and branded by the major electrical reseller were it was purchased."

Which is a major flaw in the official response. First, most consumers wouldn't know what the vast number of small print hieroglyphics on chargers mean. And second, even if they have some awareness those markings may either mean nothing useful (eg on untested kit), or have been applied fraudulently (eg on equipment the OEM knows is not compliant).

The CE marking shows this only too well. Supposedly meaning that a device conforms to EU standards, but widely understood to stand for "caveat emptor".

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Unexpected Termination Error at Year of Code: Chief dumps venture for other UK.gov riches

Ledswinger
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Re: A Year Of ...

"... would be a much more sensible proposition."

Yes. But let's face it, done well, software coding isn't a good bet for volume jobs. Great for IP owners, certainly, because you can keep selling the same product time and again with a token bit of bug fixing and upgrades, but as a big bet for Britain in the jobs stakes, it's never going to come off.

But I think our digression here misses the real point of the story, which is that government sucks in those with negative talent - from the experience-free hangers on at the bottom (as in this story), right up to the top where gormless, over-privileged, Fluck & Law faced Oxbridge boys bray at each other from both sides of the house, with all the majesty and intellect of howler monkeys. Thinking about this further, I suspect Complete Fucking Idiocy (CFI) is in fact the mysterious dark energy that binds the universe together; knowing that we have a portal (the British government) that sucks CFI in, can we not use this as some form of power generation? Idiots are clearly and unfortunately renewable, but we might as well try and make use of the cretins.

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Home automation while it's hot: Winter warmth for lazy technophiles

Ledswinger
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Re: and your hot water (@ David Pickles

" I'd like to be able to set the hot water according to the use I intend to make of it, and not be forced to store a tankful at a far higher temperature than I would ever need."

See other comments on legionella. A close relative has a usually benign and not uncommon condition that makes them vulnerable to respiratory infections (we all know somebody like this, who gets a cold, and "it always goes on my chest"). By turning the hot water tank down to 40C I might save around £20 a year if it is properly insulated. Is that saving worthwhile when it exposes said relative to legionella?

The reason water is stored at relatively high temperatures in the first place was of course nothing to do with legionella, and everything to do with the fact that unless you were very undemanding, instantaneous heat demand could not be met by combi boilers or electric water heaters. In the summer this is less evident, but for several weeks (sometimes months) each winter your heating system runs very close to full capacity, and there's big downsides to sizing a boiler for both worst case weather, plus maximum instantaneous how water demand.

Regarding your "could it be done" question, the answer depends on how much hot water you want and how fast. Think for starters of an instant electric shower. Tolerable in summer, when you might get 7 litres of warm water a minute out, crap in winter (as the incoming water temp is far lower) when you'd get around 3 litres a minute. If that flow rate is adequate for you then they're cheap as chips to buy and a few hundred quid to have fitted.

Most people want rather more. For illustrative purposes a decent shower is normally considered to be upwards of 10 litres a minute and most power showers will easily deliver over 20. A 7 kW elec shower takes around 30 amps. You could parallel up two of those, and you'd still have a weak 6 l/min flow in winter, but you would be at the limit of the typical domestic supply, usually designed around 100 amps (the balance being needed for other potential elec uses - kettles, TVs, hair dryers, white goods etc). So electricity can't do it unless you've got a fatter pipe coming in than is normal and a new consumer unit - all of which can be done, but it will cost a hell of a lot to do that. By the time you can get (say) 15 litres a minute in winter, you'd be pulling 150 amps just for the shower - it just makes less sense than storage.

Gas combi boilers can work, but only up to a limit - typical largest combi is 30 kW, with up to 25 litres a minute at 30C temperature lift. In practice that's big power shower territory in summer when you could get the full 25 litres a minute. But in winter 30C over 4C means you start tapping it down. Obviously whilst the shower is on the heating is not, but if its a quick shower then thats not a problem. But that's £2k before fitting, £3k when fitted (so double the cost of a normal combi) it's floor standing, so you usually lose a kitchen cupboard, and if you don't already have a combi system it will cost around £1k to modify the house plumbing. At the end of all that you've got a spent £3k on a mongo combi boiler that will be very inefficient for space heating because it is dramatically oversized (an adequately insulated mid sized detached would only need a boiler half that size for space heating).

So in short, you might get what you want, but it'd cost an arm and a leg

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Ledswinger
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Re: and your hot water (that must reach 60C to avoid legionella risks)

" I set my hot water thermostat to 40'C ....no family/friends/relatives have suffered from Legionella... "

If you're healthy and lucky it could pass for a mild case of flu. There's about 350 cases a year in the UK that are detected, or which about 10% are fatal. Half are from foreign travel, and the rest domestic. But, as respiratory infections in the healthy aren't tested for cause, the chances are that the incidence of legionella is much higher - even if you thought you had flu, you might go to the doc for a sick note, but he's very unlikely to swab you and send off the samples.

In large part the domestic risk is a legacy of the Victorian idea of the roof tank - combi boliers and direct hot water systems are far less vulnerable because the water doesn't get partially dechlorinated as it does in the roof tank, and these system tend to be less prone to accumulating dirt. Moreover, in summer, roof tanks can easily reach 30C or more, which is ideal for encouraging any legionella to breed before the water is drawn into the hot water cylinder.

I'd agree its a very small risk. With a direct hot water system you might choose to reduce the tank temperature to 50C and that should stop any legionella breeding (eg if it comes in through mains water supply), although that's below the recommendations of the HSE. Personally I wouldn't go to 40C, because that's within the breeding temperature range.

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Ledswinger
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Re: @Adam T

" I guess this could be partially remediated by having multiple thresholds around the temperate settings so that you delayed the switch on in one room until another room or two also wanted heat, provided the first room didn't breach some second threshold, etc. etc."

Certainly could, but that'd be a marginal benefit because the boiler is sized for peak winter demand, so running two rooms is still almost as bad as running one room.

I must say that if I was looking at the problem, rather than throwing money at trying to ring out 1% of the gas bill, I'd be inclined to look at super-insulating the house including high performance wall insulation (search Register, Aerogel if you missed that article a couple of years back) and paying attention to air tightness, and installing a big heat recovery ventilation system.

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Ledswinger
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"Isn't one of the big savings gained by adjusting the _boiler_ temperature (not the room thermostats) to be as low as practical (at least for condensing boilers) "

Generally no. Optimum thermal efficiency is generally where you have the largest difference between the boiler outlet and return temperatures, not the lowest system temperature, but the benefits of the greatest temp difference is constrained by the design parameters of boiler, system and radiators. When the architect or plumber (a balance of evils there) specified your system, the boiler and rads were sized according to expected heat loss of the room and rated radiator heat output assuming a typical boiler output aimed at 80C, an expected radiator input temp of 75C, and a radiator exit temp of 64C. If you lower the boiler output temperature then you reduce the heat output of the radiators against the design (because the delta T between radiator and room falls). In practice the house and radiators stats should arbitrage all of this away and out of sight so that it seems to be working, but you could actually increase your operating costs if the system efficiency is compromised by too low a boiler exit temperature. Set your primary heat circuit temp too low enough and you'll have a very low temperature differential between heat circuit and your hot water (that must reach 60C to avoid legionella risks), leading to poor efficiency on that side of the system.

Get yourself an infra red laser thermometer (a top gadget, available for about £18), and make sure that the boiler output is about 78C, then go round and with all TRVs turned right up, tighten the lockshield valve (other end of the radiator, usually with a blind cap that you need to remove) to make sure that each radiator is set to see an 11-12C drop between inlet and outlet temperature (the more closed the valve is, the higher the temperature drop, which is initially a bit counter-intuitive). When you've gone round and done that, do it again - the dodgy installation standards invariably mean that messing with some radiators changes the pump pressure arriving at other radiators, so the system setup is an iterative process. That's called balancing the system, and is what plumbers should do - in practice most apply rules of thumb like "turn the lockshield off and open a quarter of a turn", and some just leave the lockshield fully open, meaning the system is unbalanced, average return temperature is too high and you'll get a lot of boiler cycling. The £18 should pay for itself in two months, but I'd expect that you'd need to allow better part of a day to do this properly (oh, and you'll need something like black electrical tape to stick on any chrome fittings you're trying to measure the temperature of - partly because infrared thermometers don't work on reflective surfaces, and because you don't want to bounce the aiming laser in your own face).

Who says you don't learn anything on the Reg?

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Ledswinger
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@Adam T

"What I really want (and what I suspect could really make savings) would be individual control of each room and each radiator."

A lot less than you'd think, because the individual rooms are still within the thermal envelope of the whole house. So even with a radiator off, that room will stabilise at (say) 16 C, sucking the heat through internal walls, floors or via air exchange, and then your temperature gradient to the outside world in the "isolated" room is not actually very much different from other rooms through the critical winter period. It is possible (but uneconomic) to insulate individual rooms and fit seals on the internal doors, but then you've start having condensation and damp problems if the door was opened allowing warm damp air into the now cold room. And there's another consideration, that the more radiators you're NOT using because they've been turned off by timers, the more the boiler will have been over-provisioned, leading to less efficient operation from cycling and flue losses.

Basic thermostatic valves are a credible compromise where you want to gently "top slice" the heat output of a particular radiator, but remote control radiator valves are simply a complicated solution for people living in a house that's too big, or not understanding the basic thermodynamics of the house. And most timer valves have battery operation, so you'd need to factor in a couple of quid for each radiator per year, which makes a further small but regular dent in the savings.

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Google starts selling Glass to Brits – for £1,000 a pop

Ledswinger
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Re: Hmm.

"There are many cheaper ways to look like a complete and utter prick..."

But few come with better anagrams: Lax, gross leper.

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Traffic lights, fridges and how they've all got it in for us

Ledswinger
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" For example, the temperature of the fridge could be monitored allowing an alert to be generated if the temperature goes outside defined limits for a period of time, for example when a toddler (or drunken / sleepy adult) merrily raids the fridge and leaves the door open, ...."

Err, most fridges have crap control of temperature in the first place, so I'd have little confidence that the new web connected models would either be better able to monitor something they currently can't manage. Things are different for well made fridges by reputable makers, but then there's little chance of temperature going out of spec.

As for "door open" alerts, wouldn't it be simpler just to have good basic design that causes the door to close itself? Kitchen draws are expected to shut themselves gently these days, so I'd have thought that getting a fridge to do the same would be a better way of spending any available design money than stuffing it full of electronics to tweet that the door's open, could somebody do something about it?

Admittedly the compressor failure notification would be a new capability, but why spend money to monitor one of the most reliable pieces of equipment in the home? The incremental complexity of the monitoring kit and communications would probably make the new product less reliable than an old dumb fridge.

Which brings me to the root problem of TIOT. The internet of things is shaping up as a riot of technically possible solutions, desperately searching for some problems. On the occasions where a problem can be solved, it often seems an expensive solution for a mildly inconvenient or infrequent occurrence, often with significant additional risks. So TIOT has given rise (for example) to ninety quid fire alarms that require wifi and a user account to activate, and then turn themselves off if waved at. Or you could buy an expensive thermostat that requires professional installation, and then tries to guess your habits - great if you are too dim to programme a simple timer or programmeable thermostat, and you don't mind it telling servers all round the world when you're in or out. And at the end of that, these thermostats still need to be told if you are on holiday, or require heating on and off outside of the normal pattern.

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YouTube in shock indie music nuke: We all feel a little less worthy today

Ledswinger
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Re: Happens everywhere

"The problem is not the polices of Youtube; the problem is its actual existence. If we want diversity, we need new monopolies laws for the Internet age."

I suspect that we don't need new laws, and the existing ones would suffice just fine. On any metric Youtube has a dominant market share, with numbers circulating showing that it played 44% of music videos viewed worldwide even back in 2011. If a print distributor with a 44% market share tried to offer discriminatory terms to smaller publishers, they'd find themselves on the sharp end of a competition investigation in not time at all, and undoubtedly enjoying a draconian fine for abuse of market power.

As far as I can see, you are correct that the problem is one of corporate funding of politics, but the impact of that is not blocking new laws, rather it is ensuring that existing ones do not get applied.

In all of this, it looks to me as though Google are sowing the seeds of their own downfall. They appear to believe that this behaviour is acceptable and legal, and will have no consequences for them. The correct response for music enthusiasts is to try and live a Google free life - different search engine, no Gmail account, make sure your next phone isn't Android, avoid Youtube.

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AMD details aggressive power-efficiency goal: 25X boost by 2020

Ledswinger
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Re: Maybe answering the wrong question@ BlueGreen

"We really need to ask why we need these huge datacentres, why people have to have everything 'on demand' etc."

I have to say, the idea hadn't crossed my mind, so maybe you should repost that, substituting "I" for "we". Unless you're Charleyfarley, and that's the royal "we"?

But it's a fine idea, and it needs somebody to take it forward. Perhaps you could establish a people's soviet committee, who could prepare a list of "approved & permitted" purposes for computing. Anything not on the list would of course be bourgeois profligacy contributing to climate change, and by definition would be unapproved and not permitted.

On second thoughts, no, I don't like that idea. If you were to emigrate to North Korea, you needn't be troubled by the thought of fellow citizens indulging in frivolous use of computing power for trivial self gratification?

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Ministry of Justice IT bods to strike over outsourcing fears

Ledswinger
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Re: Just strike on principle!

"I agree, and I work for an outsourcing company!"

If you're posting under your real name you may have got the tense wrong, I'm afraid.

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US spanks phone-jamming vendor with $34.9 MEEELLION fine

Ledswinger
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Re: China: Figures

"China invented most of the things we use today. Paper, Printing, Gunpowder, the Compass, Alcohol, the Bell, Paper Money, The Blast Furace. "

OK, so what have they invented in the past thousand years?

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HP Enterprise Services staff feel the burn as managers turn off the cash taps

Ledswinger
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Re: Quick Win

For most customers the quickest win is to start planning now to bring their work back in house at the end of the contract.

Our group board signed up with HP a couple of years back and there are no polite words to describe how poor the service has been - but because their sales & legal people spend all day every day writing agreements, they can run rings around our (or any) procurement team who prepare an outsource IT deal either never before, or at most once every five years. As a result we find HP have a cop-out when the frequently don't meet the SLA terms, and it now costs us more for a worse service, getting anything done takes forever, and whenever something needs changing, the only sound is "ker-ching" as HP chalk up another highly profitable variation.

I say a pox on HP's managers and investors. Ideally a really nasty pox like Ebola.

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DON’T add me to your social network, I have NO IDEA who you are

Ledswinger
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Pint

Re: b*stards

"to read my old copy a second time AND for making them write a new comment"

Ahh, that was a fine exchange of views. But at least the Reg republished some good'uns, of yours, meaning that you wouldn't owe us for our wasted time.

But why need I make a NEW comment? What's sauce for the goose, sir! If when the Reg republished your articles, they also reposted all the old comments then they'd save all us commentards no end of time. Employers could then pay you for the improved productivity, and you in turn could let us have a small cut, but this time for our NOT reading of the republished article? Obviously payments would be limited to those who read the original article, but didn't read the republished version - as you can see, this has all been carefully thought through.

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Ledswinger
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Re: b*stards

I'm very, very tempted, but he's only just back from his recent ill health (welcome back, sir! You know the rascals were recycling your old stuff in your absence - did you get paid twice?).

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Today's get-rich-quick scheme: Build your own bank

Ledswinger
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Re: Priced out

"by the same reasoning, wouldn't any overdraft / loan to clients be an asset to the bank?"

Yes. And this is the core of the dark wizardry that banks use to balance their books, because loans the bank makes are an asset on their balance sheet. The problem is that this only works if the bank is prudent in its lending decisions, and the asset is worth its face value. As has been shown time and again, banks behave cyclically, and often the herd stampedes after all and any borrowing, regardless of the risks, resulting in balance sheets stuffed with "assets" that are nothing of the sort. There's one other point, and that is that "assets" are not "reserves" - reserves are any form of ready cash or cash equivalents that are available near instantaneously to honour requests for withdrawals.

If you had a bank that loaned out only the value of depositors cash, then it wouldn't have reserves to cover all of the depositors' money, and you are expecting those customers to trust that the lending is prudent and safe, and the much lower reserves are adequate against expected withdrawals. That's what banks do at the moment, and it is completely at odds with the Worstal Bank model.

I think from your comments that what you're looking for is some halfway house between the reckless casino banking of the majors, and the near-Amish concept of a 100% reserve bank that can't lend. The nearest you'd get to that is probably a prudently run building society that offers retail current account facilities under the more restrictive terms of an FCA desposit taking licence rather than a banking licence, and ideally eschews all forms of commercial lending, but that still exposes creditors to the organisation's decisions on retail lending quality. If that's what you want, then Coventry Building Society will meet your needs, along with a few others.

Note that the Dunfermline Building Society managed to screw it up and had to be acquired by Nationwide (who incidentally have a full banking licence, and are just a big bank unanswerable to shareholders) so the idea that all building societies are low risk is not correct. And that's part of the case for Worstal Bank - if the management can't make loans, they can't make bad loans. And if they can't offer credit, they'd likewise neither need nor be able to trade derivatives, so there's another red hot risk that management can't take with other people's money (incidentally a building society deposit taking licence doesn't permit wholesale involvement in derivatives, commodities or currencies).

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Ledswinger
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Re: Where's the cash again?

" Not exactly going to be handy for small businesses to go there with their end of day takings."

This would be a strictly retail proposition, because business is based on credit. Nobody buys goods for cash, so suppliers need credit from their banks. They need to pay regular bills when income is variable. They need to borrow to finance new assets. They need complex products like credit guarantee insurance that a simple bank wouldn't offer.

The other thing is that to run a bank like this, I can't see that they'd have any physical presence. The only way a normal bank can operate retail branches is by selling products through them, Worstal Bank can't do much of that. A bit of insurance agency maybe, that's about it. Counter services and cash transactions are loss making, so Worstal Bank can't afford those, never mind the buildings, staff and upkeep. Everything therefore needs to be done by electronic transaction and call centre, plus paying other banks for cash services and ATM access, in which case you're paying whatever the banks choose to charge for those.

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Ledswinger
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Re: fractional reserve banking

"Erm, surely they've been into a fractional reserve banking model at least for the last few decades?"

Of course the whole banking system has been doing fractional reserve banking for hundreds of years, but this article was about a hypothetical bank that doesn't do that. My response to James M was that such a bank cannot lend any money to additional creditors (over existing despositors) because then it ceases to have 100% reserves for liabilities to despositors.

Fractional reserve banking works well when banks make good lending decisions. It operates really badly when they make bad lending decisions. So 100% reserving dramatically reduces the risk of banking, simply because the bank is unable to make any lending decisions, good or bad.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Priced out

"As has already been pointed out by another commenter above, "100% reserve" does NOT mean that the bank doesn't lend money out, it means that if the bank has £1mln in deposits, it can only lend out a maximum of £1mln. "

I believe you're wrong, because you've assumed that the "lending" is the only liabilities of the bank. In fact the bank starts off with liabilities to its account holders who are in effect creditors - they give the bank the money, the bank doesn't own the money, it therefore owes it to the creditors. In the case of 100% reserve banking 100% of the cash deposits are held with the BoE to cover liabilities to those creditors. There is nothing left to lend, unless you cease to hold 100% reserves against those creditor liabilities, and then you're into a fractional; reserve banking model.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Perhaps I should also mention

"That I know Matt Ridley. He's had a banking licence in the past so.....ah, no, that won't work, will it?"

Actually, if he's learned anything from the sinking of Northern Rock he would be an ideal person to run Worstal Bank. He's got a wide range of experience (including the better part of twenty years as board member of Northern Rock), he's bright, well educated, and he of all people understands why 100% reserve banking would be robust. Unlike RBS or Lehman, Northern Rock went down because of management error, not wilful recklessness.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Sounds a bit like

"Sounds a bit like National Savings and Investments"

Not quite.

I get a paltry interest rate for savings with NS&I. Given that Worstal Bank will get BoE overnight rates, there will be little or money to offer credit balance interest after bank operating costs, and systems and organisational investment returns to the equity investors. This also has an implication for Worstal Bank, that customers will use it only for transactional activity, and keep their savings elsewhere. Because corporate costs (directors, legal, compliance, and a tiny marketing budget) would swallow up the BoE interest (I just did some fag packet maths to establish that), that in turn means all operating costs need to be recovered from account charges. I'd guess that the costs of operations would be around £15 a month, which over the year is equivalent to 14% of the average balance.

Will there be a long queue for this product?

No risk!

No credit interest!

No overdraft!

And 14% charges for doing a few measily payments!

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Ledswinger
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Re: Im in.

"This is obviously competitive disadvantage, but would it scare customers away? "

Not for a quite exceptionally risk averse subset of customers. With no material income streams other than from base rate and charges, we're talking about a retail-only bank, and one that has to charge for everything. As a consequence bounced payments will have to be charged on top of normal account operation fees, and I don't think chronically risk averse customers will like being hit for bounced payment charges.

If they don't go overdrawn that's not a problem, but the practical way this pans out is that Worstal Bank appeals to an increasingly sub-setted niche of customers: highly risk averse people, sufficiently educated to understand but object to systemic risks in conventional banking, sufficiently liquid to be certain that they will never go overdrawn, willing to pay for basic transactional services (plus bank overheads, marketing etc), but willing to forgo easy access to other retail banking services from their main bank account provider. To an extent Worstal Bank's target market is paranoid well-to-do middle class pensioners. The poor will be excluded because they won't like charges for operation, but often have greater need of credit services.

I'm intrigued why Tim thinks Worstal Bank is a get-rich-quick scheme. I can't see the money myself, because I don't believe there's the customer volume, I don't believe operating costs will be particularly low, and I don't see the investment case as a business.

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Ledswinger
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Re: @Chris Miller

"I haven't had a personal loan for 40 years, and I'd never consider getting a mortgage from a bank"

My point was less about the personal needs of individual customers, than the wider economic impact of not offering any kind of credit. One of mankind's finest inventions was credit, because this enabled society to get richer by using wealth that temporarily was not being used by its owner.

I'd suggest a small fixed charge (a few quid a month) and a few pence per transaction. Sounds a better deal than 'free' banking that bombards you with requests for loans you clearly don't need or want and charges you £25 for a snot-o-gram if you go overdrawn by a few pence.

If you're getting physical spam then presumably you ticked the wrong box, and you struggle to throw the stuff away. Personally I put unwanted financial services post in their own reply paid envelope and let the post office return it to them, but each to their own. As for complaining about £25 for an unauthorised overdraft, how on earth do you think Worstal Bank will cope with payment requests that can't be offered? They won't offer overdrafts, so you can't go overdrawn - but then you'll certainly be clobbered for a bounced cheque or refused debit, and if it's a mortgage or insurance debit then the provider will also probably nail you for late payment (so £50 ish). My banks have always provided large standing overdraft facilities that I rarely use, but means I am only exposed to the interest, and if you're being charged for piffling overdrafts then you need to move to one of the many banks that offer free standing overdrafts.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Im in.

I'm not in.

The economy works on credit. 100% reserve banking means that Worstal Bank plc bank won't do overdrafts, credit cards, mortgages, personal loans. It won't support business through lending, won't do factoring or trade credit, won't run business overdrafts. And with no cross selling income it will struggle to break even without charging customers. All the money on deposit with the BoE is effectively sterilised in terms of wealth creation, which from a national perspective doesn't seem a markedly more responsible position than taking excessive risks.

As this operates to the same level of sophistication as a piggy bank, people can do this today, simply by withdrawing their monthly salary in cash as soon as it is credited, sticking it in the teapot on the mantlepiece, and then paying all ongoing expenses in cash. Only a few hours of bank solvency risk per month, what more could you want? There's a few loons do this, most of us aren't that fussed.

So I think the basic idea is flawed. People accept the FCS deposit guarantee scheme gives them the security most of them need, and the actual risks, costs and complications of legacy systems are probably overplayed (certainly against the non-trivial risks of building a complete new IT infrastructure from scratch). Obviously there's an attractive option of avoiding the casino banking operations that have caused so much grief, but there's a number of banks and building societies who don't engage in investment banking but who do offer retail banking services. And they do offer credit services that the economy relies on.

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Auditors blast Blighty cops over binned multi-million pound IT project

Ledswinger
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"Simply amazed, no clause in the contract that says the police can cancel the contract for convenience"

After eight years I'd guess that all the contracted costs and more were sunk, and plod would be on the hook for those. Termination for convenience only addresses costs not yet incurred.

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Indian DEITY hands down new manufacturing subsidy plan

Ledswinger
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Window dressing

Throwing subsidies at the private sector has been tried the world over with little or no long term success. It just results in subsidy tourism.

India's problems are graft, stifling bureaucracy, and poor infrastructure - subsidising tech manufacturing plants will not address any of those. Moreover, subsidising tech manufacturing doesn't buy high value jobs, it either brings in a big fab that employs relatively few people for its scale, or gets you a phone assembly plant that employs a lot of unskilled labour, but will move on as soon as the subsidy stops.

As usual we see a government that won't do the things that the private sector can't (rule of law, infrastructure planning, lower regulation), but wants to intimately involve itself in private sector activity and decision making. And the, also as usual, it will wonder why the money's been spent, and there's no enduring benefits.

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Google's too-smart-for-own-good Nest Protect alarm is back on sale

Ledswinger
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Re: Always wondered about this.

" I haven't touched it since, bar to change the clock twice a year. Even I'm not f***ing lazy enough to really want something connected so it can do that last bit for me."

That's one of my pet peeves, having to fuck around resetting clocks. The ideal fix would be for gormless politicians to wake up to the fact that the first world war ended the thick end of a hundred years ago, and we can cope without playing silly buggers twice a year for no good reason at all.

The second fix would be idiot appliance designers to build in MSF or DCF receivers so that the appliances sort themselves out (like every alarm in the house, and half of the watches). Internet connectivity seems a very expensive way of fixing that.

But coming back to Google's bloody expensive fire alarm. Who's daft enough to spend £90 on a glorified smoke alarm, when you could buy one for fifteen quid? Can you programme it to auto-tweet that you're on fire, and maybe broadcast live video to Youtube?

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Tesla, Nissan, BMW mull all-for-plug, plug-for-all electrocar charger plan

Ledswinger
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" but how many 120kW outlets can you install without your own sub-station?"

Never mind the sub-station, that's easy and cheap (certainly in the same league of cost as installing a petrol station's tanks). The problem is that the distribution network wasn't designed for this sort of additional load, so you need to reinforce your connection to the transmission system, and that tends to be expensive.

And that assumes you've got the electricity. Once you start using a number of electric cars you run into the problem that the UK grid is built for today's needs, of variable peak demand, winter to summer demand variation of 3x. In gross terms, transport fuels use more 20% final energy than all forms of household energy, and more than twice as much as all industrial demand. If half of all transport were converted to electricity, then your aggregate demand for electric power doubles. But that's aggregate demand over a year. In terms of peak demand you'd be talking of perhaps a four to eight fold increase.

Potentially smart charging could help minimise that, the problem is that minimising it isn't enough - if we have a week long winter high pressure zone sitting over the UK, that guarantees really cold weather, no wind output (and in winter solar output is negligible) then it is only practical to not charge your EV if you don't use it.

If people are happy to put off charging cars for periods of say ten days in winter and walk everywhere, then EV's might work. Urban eco-hipsters may find this acceptable, but they should be using the bus or cycling in the first place.

And there's a slight cost problem. Even with fat subsidies, EV's are more expensive cradle to grave than ICE vehicles. If take up of EV's is significant, then government need to start making up the lost tax revenues, in which case we see universal road tolling, so even for EV users, the costs of their mobility rise

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Stopping IT price gouging would risk SOCIALIST DYSTOPIA!

Ledswinger
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Re: Market prices.

"and FOSS is just as free in Oz as elsewhere"

Yes. But the Australian public sector doesn't have a good track record on procuring even simple software like payroll, does it? And having made a billion dollar pigs ear of the Queensland health payroll system, all concerned were rewarded, instead of being imprisoned forever:

http://www.itnews.com.au/News/353040,the-architects-of-qld-healths-payroll-disaster.aspx

With IT talent like this, imagine the mess the Aussies could make of FOSS.

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How practical is an electric car in London?

Ledswinger
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Re: @Rupert Fiennes

"Yeah, it would be great to see methane produced using technologies unsuitable for electricity generation (eg, wind, solar)."

Volume, mate. That's your problem. Total wind and solar output is around 3 million tonnes of oil equivalent (MTOE) annually. Total transport fuel demand is around 63 MTOE. Factor in the 50% end to end losses of renewable power to transport gas and all the wind and solar energy in the land would meet 2% of your transport demand. How much more of the country do you want coating in PV and wind farms?

From a performance point of view chemical fuels are a far better bet than batteries, so power to gas is a more promising technology, but it relies on huge volumes of electricity to cover an worthwhile fraction of electricity demand. If you electrified most UK transport you'd need about four times the generating capacity we have at present, and the only technology going to deliver that is a vast build out of nuclear.

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