* Posts by Steve Todd

2392 posts • joined 19 Sep 2007

Buried in the hype, one little detail: Amazon's Alexa-on-a-chip could steal smart home market

Steve Todd
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No one here has heard of an ESP32?

It's a twin core, 32 bit micro-controller on a chip with built in RAM, flash ROM, WiFi and Bluetooth. It's cheap ($4 on a module or $2.80 for the chip alone) and can run the Alexa SDK. All Amazon need to do is produce their own native stack for it and the job's done.

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Milton Keynes: Come for roundabouts, stay for near-gigabit broadband

Steve Todd
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Re: Openreach @Keith 20

I have FTTP (new build home, so both Virgin and BT), and opt for 30Mb after trialling the 200Mb service.

Found there is just no need for I don't need so much bandwidth at the moment

FTFY

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Toshiba crams 14TB into another helium drive, this time with SAS boost

Steve Todd
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Very light duty cycle

550TB/year works out to less than 4% of the time spent reading.

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UK getting ready to go it alone on Galileo

Steve Todd
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Re: "they paid a flat $1M for total rights IIRC"

@LDS - The German designs of the time were beyond their metallurgy to build reliably. They needed a full overhaul about every 50 hours. The Whittle type (centrifugal rather than axial compressors) would last 3 times longer.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Is their hardware history better or worse than their software history?

@phuzz - think before then. The original jet engine, patented and developed by Frank Whittle, was basically handed for free to the US (they paid a flat $1M for total rights IIRC).

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Heads up: Fujitsu tips its hand to reveal exascale Arm supercomputer processor – the A64FX

Steve Todd
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Re: So the A64FX is officially at 7nm engraving

To be fair, Intel's 10nm process is about the same size & density that other manufacturers are claiming for their 7nm processes. But yes, they have lost their technological lead in fab processes (there was a time that they were about 1.5 nodes ahead of everyone else).

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iPhone 8 now outsells X, and every other phone

Steve Todd
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Re: BMW should stop selling the 7 series because they sell more 5s and 3s using that logic.

@sabroni - The styling of a BMW doesn't physically change much between years either. The 8 has significant technical improvements over the 7 (faster CPU, faster LTE, bigger flash memory etc). The 7 remains in production, and has been bumped down in the range.

The X was never intended to replace the 7, it was a new high end model, just like BMW added the 9 series above the 7 series.

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Steve Todd
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FAIL

So, the regular run of the mill iPhone 8 ...

Sells better than the premium, much more expensive iPhone X (which is ONLY the third best selling phone in the world), and this proves that Apple have got things badly wrong?

BMW should stop selling the 7 series because they sell more 5s and 3s using that logic. This can only be an Orlowski rant given the level of thought involved.

(No, I don’t own an iPhone X BTW)

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Wires, chips, and LEDs: US trade bigwigs detail Chinese kit that's going to cost a lot more

Steve Todd
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Re: Treasury notes

@TheVogon - and doing that would instantly remove the dollar as the worlds reserve currency and skyrocket the rates the US government has to pay for bonds. There is no simple fix for this, no matter what Trump would have you believe.

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Qualcomm to keep server CPUs but avoids head-on Intel battle

Steve Todd
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ARM not competive with a Xeon?

Depends on which chip you look at. A Cavium ThunderX2 for example provides 80-90% of the performance of a high end Xeon for 1/4 of the price. In some use cases it’s actually faster. THATS what’s causing Intel to panic.

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Hey, Mac fanbois: Got $600,000 burning a hole in your pocket? Splash out on this rare Apple I

Steve Todd
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WTF?

Did the Reg really ...

want to slag off a charity auction?

It’s not something I’d want to buy myself, but there are plenty of folks out there who are prepared to pay vast amounts of money for rare, obsolete technology (old cars for example). If it floats their boat and charity benefits then do we really want to call them names and look down on them?

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US-China trade war is back on: White House repeats threat to tax Middle Kingdom imports

Steve Todd
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Re: I wouldn't trust Trump to make a deal at a car boot sale...

How does anyone make a casino go bankrupt? They finance it with a bond offering an impossibly high interest rate, then threaten any financial analyst with legal action if they try to point out that it can't possibly make money while paying off debt at that rate.

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Openreach consults on shift of 16 MEEELLION phone lines to VoIP by 2025

Steve Todd
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Re: No thanks

@Woodnag. Not in the UK. Offcom mandates battery backup for FTTP systems just like POTS.

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Steve Todd
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Re: No thanks

@Woodnag. There are distribution boxes and grey (well, green in these parts) boxes in the current system. They have their own battery backup or are exchange powered. Why do you think FTTP will be any worse?

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Steve Todd
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Re: No thanks

Erm, so does fibre. It comes with a battery backup system at the client end (I happen to know someone who has FTTP).

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Steve Todd
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Let me guess

BT have been milking the copper network for as long as they can. Offcom have been cutting back on the amount they can charge for it, and they have been allowing it to slowly rot. At this point they say "please sir, if we can charge more money we can roll out this shinny new fibre network (except for the VDSL bits of it we're not going to mention)"?

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Silicon can now reconfigure itself with just a jolt of electricity

Steve Todd
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Re: Or you could

Which will, no doubt, be far faster in operation and quicker to reconfigure, having no mechanical parts to move about. MEMS type hardware is useful for some kinds of work (think display systems, transducers etc), but not so much when it comes to logic gates and pure electronics. You want as small and fast as possible for that most of the time.

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Russians poised to fire intercontinental ballistic missile... into space with Sentinel-3 sat on board

Steve Todd
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Re: Launch partner?

1) Its a German company, launching from a Russian base.

2) The launcher is quite reliable

3) The programming of the 3rd stage has been dodgy in the past. Programming errors are much easier to fix than hardware issues, and 10 successful launches in a row indicate that they have them solved.

4) Its much cheaper than an Ariane launch, and the satellite doesn't need the capacity that Ariane offers.

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SpaceX finally Falcon flings NASA's TESS into orbit

Steve Todd
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If you had the first clue about orbital mechanics you’d realise the above is wrong. The second stage is de-orbited and burns up rather than leaving junk up there. It would be far too expensive in fuel to fling it beyond earth orbit, and there’s far too much junk to allow adding to the pile.

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Pentagon sticks to its guns: Yep, we're going with a single cloud services provider

Steve Todd
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Re: Oracle... don't make me laugh

" the worst vendor in the world from an InfoSec prospective"

Erm, have you forgotten about Adobe?

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Danish Navy expert finds no trace of exhaust gas in private submarine

Steve Todd
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Has he ever come up with a story ...

that hasn't been subsequently been proved wrong, retracted and then an even more implausible one substituted?

Last thing I heard he was claiming that the hatch had accidentally fallen on her head.

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What's silent but violent and costs $250m? Yes, it's Lockheed Martin's super-quiet, supersonic X-plane for NASA

Steve Todd
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Re: Only Mach 1.4?

Compared to a normal cruise of Mach 0.88? That's a 6 hour flight taking only 4, or a 10 hour taking 6:20

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Steve Todd
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Re: SIG!

The US government basically turned their public against supersonic flight by deliberately flying military aircraft at supersonic speed, multiple times per day, across high population areas to see if they would object.

At the kind of level that Concorde cruised (around 55,000 feet) the noise wasn't too bad. While it was subsonic and in/outbound from an airport the noise was much worse (the Olympus turbojet, especially running with reheat, was in no way designed to be quiet).

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Tesla crash investigation causes dip in 'leccycar firm's share price

Steve Todd
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Re: Clickbait headlines... (elsewhere) @dodgy geezer

Tesla are saying that they can’t retrieve the data yet (probably because their cellular link to the car is down), not that the storage media have been destroyed. There looks to have been a serious amount of damage to the car (partial front impact, with the concrete pushing as far back as the passenger cabin).

As to the suggestion that the batteries be moved to the back of the car, other than it messing up the centre of gravity (the weight being low allows it to corner well) what happens if it is struck from behind? The damaged batteries didn’t explode like a petrol fire (nor should they) so it wasn’t a major issue.

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Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, off you go: Snout of UK space forcibly removed from EU satellite trough

Steve Todd
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Re: Why not use the Downunder system?

The difference is that GPS/Galileo broadcast a time and position signature on a defined frequency. Pulsars MAY become useful for space navigation, but you'll never get centimetre level precision from them because the location of the source and the time offset are not as precisely known. If you have centimetre level precision (which GPS, even in Block III form - which currently isn't due to go live until around 2023 - can't match) then you can use the system then you can use it for precision airfield approaches or automated vehicles.

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UK watchdog finally gets search warrant for Cambridge Analytica's totally not empty offices

Steve Todd
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Re: Elvis has left the building

>you can only put just under two million records in excel so that's like 25 worksheets.

Erm, Microsoft make more than one program that can handle sets of data. Access for example lets you have databases up to 2GB in size, or SQL Server, depending on the version chosen, can handle terabytes at a time.

That’s just if you stick with MS. There are plenty of other database systems out there which can handle databases way larger than a puny 50 million records.

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F-35B Block 4 software upgrades will cost Britain £345m

Steve Todd
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HOW many developers are they employing?

I make that around 54,000 man-years, even assuming $200K per man average cost.

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We sent a vulture to find the relaunched Atari box – and all he got was this lousy baseball cap

Steve Todd
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Why on earth do they need a high performance AMD CPU/APU?

An ARM SoC should be more than fast enough for the task, and FAR cheaper.

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IBM claims its machine learning library is 46x faster than TensorFlow

Steve Todd
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Ah, you must be the kind of chap

who, if they need a baby in a month's time, goes out and gets 9 women pregnant.

Not all problems respond to having more resources thrown at them. Those that do rarely scale in a linear fashion. Google used 89 instances to get the performance they achieved with TensorFlow. Even with perfect scaling you'd need another 4005 instances to match the IBM system. Starting to think about the cost yet?

POWER9 is a new platform. IBM will build based on orders. It seems that even Google have ordered them for their data centres, so its likely that you will be able to use them via the cloud also.

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Steve Todd
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Breaking news

Not all programs are available as source code on Github. Many of those that aren’t are leaders in their field.

Searching Google works better if you use real names rather than contractions (“Snap Machine Learning” in this case). New stuff will return less entries than active old stuff.

IBM are saying that they have a new, as yet unreleased system for their Power minicomputers that is significantly faster than TensorFlow. It’s up to buyers to decide if they want to pay for the IBM solution, and accept the supplier lock-in that comes with it. In a commercial environment the speed is often worth it.

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Xilinx to bust ACAP in the dome of data centres all over with uber FPGA

Steve Todd
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Intel/Altera have a year to respond?

I think you'll find that this is a response to Intel's hybrid Xeon/FPGA designs that have been mooted for a while now.

https://www.nextplatform.com/2017/10/02/intel-gears-fpga-push/

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China to offer recoverable satellites-as-a-service

Steve Todd
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Re: Oak heatshields

Wrong war, and wrong reason. They collected peach pits and nut shells during the First World War to make gas masks. Link: http://www.independentri.com/independents/north_east/opinion/article_38bfb054-bcee-59e7-b32e-f56d3f4c88a7.html

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More power to UK, say 'leccy vehicle makers. Seriously, they need it

Steve Todd
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Re: In less than two weeks..

Enjoy the “new” car, but if you think it has:

1) the same performance

And

2) the same reliability

as a modern car then you are dreaming.

It was designed to run on 4* leaded fuel, and the original model was rated at 0-60 in 18 seconds. The newer MK II on unleaded won’t be much quicker then that. You’ll also be lucky to get 32MPG (current, faster, more powerful 1800cc models can reach into the 60’s), and then only on long trips. It’s not in any way aerodynamic in shape, it has an old-fashioned choke and non of the modern ECU systems designed to keep the engine running lean and efficient.

You’ll also find that the service interval is much shorter, the number of parts per service and time needed is higher, that things break more often and that replacements are harder to source.

Classic cars are not motoring nirvana or we’d all be doing it. You may enjoy the car and the extra work you need to put in to keep it running, but it is by no means everybody’s cup of tea.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Its not just manufacturing that needs a solution

@Commswonk, the latest fast chargers are 120kW. A 1/2 hour stop for food and bladder relief should be able to add 180+ miles range, or about another 3 hours of motorway driving (by which time you'll probably be in need of another stop anyway).

MOST charging will happen at a slower rate over night and shouldn't stress out the power network. No, the whole fleet isn't going to migrate overnight, and no, everybody with an EV isn't going to need a full recharge every day, so moderate your numbers. It's more practical than you think.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Its not just manufacturing that needs a solution

It has been thought out, you just haven't been paying attention.

They are fitting fast charging points at service stations, and supermarket car parks are getting charging points also. People who don't have driveways do tend to go shopping. People driving long distances tend to pass service stations. That's most of your objections demolished.

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Ofcom to probe Three and Vodafone over network throttling

Steve Todd
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Sorry Vodaphone

“We developed this in response to customer demand” does not absolve you of breaking rules. Try providing more data as part of your standard packages instead, I think you’ll find that works also.

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Japan's Robo-Bartenders point to a golden future

Steve Todd
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Re: I hope that was an oversized glass

+1 for the Radio 4 quiz show reference

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Bloke sues Microsoft: Give me $600m – or my copy of Windows 7 back

Steve Todd
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Re: *Ducks* @wallmeerkat

I didn’t say never, and it’s recoverable back to the prior version.

You can pretty much guarantee that any OS update will cause problems for some users. The trick is in how gracefully the system can recover if it does hit issues (iOS isn’t pain free here, but it’s not rocket science to put into recovery mode and restore things).

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Steve Todd
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Re: *Ducks* @bigfoot780

You need to do a little research. Automatic updates in iOS is something you can easily turn on or off. It also tends not to brick hardware that it updates (older hardware may run slowly, but it still will run), and it is possible to downgrade to older versions.

The issue here is that Windows auto updated to version 10, without being asked and without the possibilty of reverting to Windows 7. In doing so it bricked the machine.

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Hyperoptic's overkill 10Gbps fibre trial 'more than a clever PR stunt'

Steve Todd
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Re: difficult to find a PC that will be cable of doing over 100Mbps.

My thought also. 1Gb/sec Ethernet works out to be 80-100MB/sec file transfers. A half decent SSD equipped home PC these days can read and write at better than 200MB/sec.

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Vodafone boasts 200Mbps with 4G mini mast in Cornish trial

Steve Todd
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By the look of things

They are using a full 4G base station as the backhaul. It’s more like a range extender for 4G rather than a full base station.

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MY GOD, IT'S FULL OF CARS: SpaceX parks a Tesla in orbit (just don't mention the barge)

Steve Todd
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Re: Orbit / Broadcast Longevity

I'm not sure about his conversion factor either. I make it closer to 60,000 AAA cells. Source: http://www.allaboutbatteries.com/Energy-tables.html

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Long haul flights on a one-aisle plane? Airbus thinks you’re up for it

Steve Todd
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Re: 9h with ScumBag Air seat spacing

Neither Luton nor Leeds have the infrastructure to handle an A380. There are only something like 13 airports in the UK rated for it, Manchester being one. Stanstead and Birmingham are on the list though.

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UK data watchdog whacks £300k fine on biz that made 9 million nuisance calls

Steve Todd
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And the amount they will actually pay?

Probably zero, as the directors leave to form another (remarkably similar) company and this one goes broke.

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Wanna design a chip that talks to silly-fast GDDR6? You'll have to talk to Rambus, too

Steve Todd
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Re: Not really a patent troll

In this case they are licensing a design for GDDR6 usage, to which I say good luck to them.

In the past they were involved in the worst sort of patent trolling, where they were involved in the design of DDR memory standards and failed to disclose patents that the proposed standard infringed, and then after it was ratified they demanded royalties from all manufacturers.

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Death notice: Moore’s Law. 19 April 1965 – 2 January 2018

Steve Todd
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FAIL

You do know that Moore’s law says nothing about speed?

It says that the number of transistors that can be fitted on a silicon chip of a given size will double every 18 months.

Speed improvements slowed or stopped a while back, replaced by improved parallelism. We now have 16 core, 32 thread desktop CPUs. Design changes can fix most of the weaknesses that allow Spectre and Meltdown, but it will take them a while to filter through to live systems. In the mean time the reduction in speed does not mean Moore’s law has ended.

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President Trump turns out the lights on solar panel imports into US

Steve Todd
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That’s just one example

Look at US steel production. The US government slapped a large duty on the import of steel back in 2002. Result: US steel production went down, it increased user costs and unemployment went up in associated industries. It was estimated to have cost 200,000 jobs.

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Apple iPhone X: Two weeks in the life of an anxious user

Steve Todd
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Re: "Like I say, there’s no user guide to tell you what all the icons means."

Alistair, how hard is it to type:

“iphone x user guide”

into google, click on the first link that it provides (https://support.apple.com/en-gb/iphone-x), scroll down to where it says “Learn more” and click on the “iPhone User Guide” link (which gets you to http://help.apple.com/iphone/11/)?

It’s even item number 3 returned if you click on Support and then search using the same phrase on the Apple web site.

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What do Cali, New York, Hawaii, Maine and 18 other US states have in common? Fighting the FCC on net neutrality

Steve Todd
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Re: Net Neutrality is not Net Regulation

“I thought that is was the other way around, that NN would prevent high bandwidth users being charged more”

Nope. Nothing in NN prevents an ISP charging based on available bandwidth and/or data usage. What it prevents is charging differently depending on where the data comes from, or blocking access to services. It even allows throttling of data like bit torrent, providing that it is done to preserve network integrity and it is applied in an even handed manor (e.g. you can throttle streamed video if capacity is getting tight, but you must throttle ALL streamed video, not just that from a competitor).

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