* Posts by Neil Barnes

3220 posts • joined 18 Apr 2007

Within Arm's reach: Chip brains that'll make your 'smart' TV a bit smarter

Neil Barnes
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a camera. There is no escaping this

It'll be interesting to see how well these AI chips cope with tape over the lens, or a screwdriver through the sensor chip.

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Brit ISPs get their marker pens out: Speed advertising's about to change

Neil Barnes
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It's no good BT complaining 'WiFi'

When that's how the majority of the customers connect.

When did you last see a wired mobile phone?

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Boffins bash out bonkers boost for batteries

Neil Barnes
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Re: Diode or Storage

Unobtanium. That's what's missing. And maybe a soupcon of expensivium, too.

What the hell as a diode got to do with a battery (or perhaps a cell)?

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MPs petition for legally binding target of 95% 4G coverage across UK

Neil Barnes
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Imagine

how much simpler life would be if roaming between networks was allowed? Seems to work for other bulk suppliers - water, gas, electricity...

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Apple MacBook butterfly keyboards 'defective', 'prone to fail' – lawsuit

Neil Barnes
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Perhaps clever Apple software

is recognising that the keyboard is wearing out due to being struck too often and throttles it? Purely in the interest of the user experience, of course.

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So when can you get in the first self-driving car? GM says 2019. Mobileye says 2021. Waymo says 2018 – yes, this year

Neil Barnes
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Fortunately

By the time I am old enough to need a self driving car, they probably still won't be available, at least with the ability to do everything I can do now and would therefore need it to do.

Taxi!

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Peak smartphone? Phone fatigue hits Western Europe hard

Neil Barnes
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Re: Oldy but Goody

"don't you find any use for a proper camera"

As above. I have a proper camera; it produces a negative 4 by 5 inches across. The phone is probably the worst possible format for a camera; an ergonomic nightmare.

But of course, others' opinions probably differ.

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Measure for measure: Why network surveys don't count what counts

Neil Barnes
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Re: Try including the "not-spots"

Portree is a *good* spot for my father: from his croft at Struan he can get signal only if he climbs on the roof and hangs on to the chimney. And at pushing ninety, he's a tad old for that... that my parents have to use hand-held radios so one can be informed - if not in the room - that the land line is ringing is rather sad. The only time I can call them on the mobile is when they're in Portree.

I, on the other hand, work five miles from Cambridge - allegedly the technological hub of the country - and I have, er, no signal. Nor much of one all the way down the A428 until I get to the A1.

I don't ask much. Like the bulk of the users questioned in the survey the primary function I want from a phone is the ability to make calls. And that requires some signal. (Which is why, on occasion, I have asked this question after Register phone reviews: how well does it work to make calls?)

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SpaceX Bangabandhu-1 launch held up while Dragon splashes down on time

Neil Barnes
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Alien

It took me three goes to discover that it didn't.

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Astroboffins score a first by spotting traces of helium on an exoplanet

Neil Barnes
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Re: Natural Reactors?

In which case, the inhabitants will not only be superheroes, but they'll all speak in a squeaky voice.

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Firefox to feature sponsored content as of next week

Neil Barnes
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Which reminds me...

I just installed a new Mint complete with FF - I need to work out all over again how to get rid of pocket.

(In case you're worried, ublock origin and noscript are already on there; that's a reflex action).

But on the subject of the subject - I'm not quite sure how FF are planning to show these adverts, but if they do, they won't be showing them to me.

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DRAM makers sued (yet again) for 'fixing prices' (yet again) of chips

Neil Barnes
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Re: Artificially restricting supply to jack up prices

Now if there were a DRAM maker out there who was providing chips with the same perceived 'value improvements' as the high-value car makers you cite - say, diamond encrusted packaging' and a similar premium over the commodity product, your argument might have a point.

As it is, you have utility makers apparently agreeing with each other to keep their prices at Ferrari levels.

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Double double, soil and trouble, fire burn and heat shield bubble: NASA cracks rover, has dirty talk with ESA

Neil Barnes
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Just cracked? I wanted an earth shattering kaboom!

Love,

Marvin.

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Cosmic prang probe: Euro space boffins to smash sats, virtually

Neil Barnes
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Alien

Did they not see that recent documentary on the subject?

I think Sandra Bullock narrated it.

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Good news: AI could solve the pension crisis – by triggering a nuclear apocalypse by 2040

Neil Barnes
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Re: COLOSSUS

I was wondering if anyone had read Colossus. Though I had intended to title my post with 'Are they out of their heads?' you save me the need, and so get an upvote.

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Musk: I want to retrieve rockets with big Falcon party balloons

Neil Barnes
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Re: The most interesting use case

But now Rogallo wings are used by some paraglider fliers as emergency parachutes. Apparently they're a real pain to pack properly (I use a centre-pull round parachute; I can pack that myself).

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NASA's TESS mission in distress, Mars Express restart is a success

Neil Barnes
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Re: As computers shrink...

Well, yes... answers by concensus.

But I have a vague memory of the first(?) space shuttle launch, which sat on the pad for a while as four computers argued with a fifth, built by a different maker. It was right; they were wrong...

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Facebook admits it does track non-users, for their own good

Neil Barnes
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Re: RE: As a never-signed up non member....

>> My last reply to their support-people mentioned the "right to be forgotten" in every way, shape or form. Funnily enough, it's been nearly a week since I've had another response.

That's because they've forgotten your email!

Is that my coat? I can't remember --->

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New Galaxy un-smartphone can’t go online because Samsung's thought of the children

Neil Barnes
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Re: The Sand, the Ocean, and the Damn Phone

Along with the phone.

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Australian Feds cuff woman who used BTC to buy drugs on dark web

Neil Barnes
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I am reminded...

of the classic quote (Ben Franklin?): Two people may keep a secret... if one of them is dead.

It's lovely logical problem: how do you identify yourself as a black hat, to another black hat, without alerting every white hat in the vicinity; and secondarily, how does either black hat prove that they are indeed 'trustworthy' black hats?

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Boffins pull off quantum leap in true random number generation

Neil Barnes
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Boffin

Bother the random numbers

What about the poor cat?

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How life started on Earth: Sulfur dioxide builds up, volcanoes blow, job done – boffins

Neil Barnes
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Headmaster

Curse you, Noah Webster!

Life may have begun with sulfur compounds, but it rapidly evolved to use the far better spelt sulphur compounds instead!

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Virgin spaceplane makes maiden rocket-powered flight

Neil Barnes
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Re: Hoist rocket to altitude, light blue touch paper, retire

I've already been through one playmonaut attempted rescue at sea; I'm not sure I could stand another one!

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Neil Barnes
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Hoist rocket to altitude, light blue touch paper, retire

Isn't that exactly what we (the Special Projects Bureau) were doing with the Lohan mission? It's just a matter of scale...

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Birds can feel Earth's magnetic fields? Yeah, that might fly. Bioboffins find vital sense proteins

Neil Barnes
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Re: Using the Sun to navigate...

I get completely confused about directions when I visit the relatives in Rio; the sun steadfastly refuses to go in the right direction and the night sky is horribly cluttered with stars in the wrong places.

And I recall getting horribly lost on Delhi, years ago, until I discovered that the genius who printed the street plan I was using had thoughtfully placed north off to the side instead of the top of the page...

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Not one, but 20,000 black holes hiding in Milky Way's heart

Neil Barnes
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Re: Too much whining.

Upvoted simply for the historic Yorkshire photography. Kids today don't know they're born!

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Spring is all about new beginnings, but it could already be lights out for Windows' Fluent Design

Neil Barnes
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Re: What's there to like?

I have never understood why anyone, ever, who actually had work to do, wanted semi-transparent/translucent windows. What is the actual benefit of having bleed through of blurry bits of an eclipsed window? All it does is make it harder to find the user interface controls... or worse, makes it more difficult to see the data you're trying to manipulate. You wouldn't accept bleed through on an image editing program; why would you accept it on its borders.

I admit it; I'm old fashioned. That's because I'm old, and I've seen the things that work and a lot of the things that don't - for me. Your mileage may vary... but for me:

- an application is either full screen, or has a hard and visible border around its visible interface.

- user interface elements should be large enough to see and click on (or on a mobile device, poke with a finger). They should probably scale according to display size (not pixel count). They should also be clear and unambiguous.

- text on a flat ground which lights up if you happen to move a pointer over it is not an interface; it is an abomination. If it does something; distinguish it.

- while one can live, in some circumstances, without menus, there is no excuse for a ribbon bar.

Come on, MS, stop messing around with the look and feel and do something useful - like separate foci for mouse and cursor. There's no need for the first click just to set focus before anything else happens...

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Watchdog growls at Tesla for spilling death crash details: 'Autopilot on, hands off wheel'

Neil Barnes
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Re: Walter had complained to his Tesla dealer...

It's certainly going to be interesting when these cars arrive and and have to deal with urban areas that are deliberately bereft of markings, designed to cause fleshy drivers to slow down and think...

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Neil Barnes
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even the locals have issues ffs (Hemel Hempstead)

Only those seeing it for the first time. Once you look at it, it's obvious it's a series of short carriageways joined by roundabouts; two lanes on the anticlockwise direction and one on the clockwise. For every combination of in and out, there's a correct lane to enter, and a correct lane to approach a roundabout to exit.

It's not difficult.

Mind you, where the A404 meets the A1... that's got clearly marked lanes but people seem to be completely incapable of staying within them.

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Neil Barnes
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I like driving myself

But I'm damned if I'm going to pay three grand extra for the privilege.

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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

Neil Barnes
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Happy

Re: Even if it comes to pass..

There was no way that a plane in regular commercial use, that could both outdrag and outlast pretty much every military fighter at the time, was not going to be cool.

It's just that I've never forgiven one of my colleagues who met me in NYC one fine day, having been sent over with something urgent on Concorde - I never got to fly it, to my lasting regret.

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Law's changed, now cough up: Uncle Sam serves Microsoft fresh warrant for Irish emails

Neil Barnes
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Remind me again

Exactly *where* are the US borders?

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Autonomous vehicle claims are just a load of hot air… and here's why

Neil Barnes
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Nothing else. Just a swing seat.

Well, that's essentially how I fly my paraglider. Though I am strapped in.

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Uber self-driving car death riddle: Was LIDAR blind spot to blame?

Neil Barnes
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Re: "...a [Lidar] blind spot low to the ground all around the car."

All these sensors, and yet humans seem able to do this kind of thing quite a lot of the time with just a pair of mark 1 eyeballs and a g-sensor in the seat of the pants... it seems we can do remarkably complicated things with only a handful of sensors.

Though on a more serious note: I have wondered what happens when a lidar system, spitting out a presumably rather bright light (as far as its sensors are concerned) meets another lidar system. Oncoming headlights incorrectly adjusted or left on main beam are bad enough to cope with for a human driver; I'd love to know what an electronic system thinks of them. The same comment applies whether visible, IR, radar or indeed any other active lighting system is used.

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Take the dashboard too literally and your brains might end up all over it

Neil Barnes
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Why do Mazda fake the data?

Because marketing have decided that an oil pressure gauge is required by the 'sporting aspirations' driver at whom their car is aimed.

They have observed that the majority of their owners have no idea what the gauge represents but if the needle is nicely in the middle then the user is happy - until the big red 'oops too late' light comes on...

I have heard of similar tales on the water temperature gauge of certain US cars - they simply switch to 'normal' position after a fixed time and take no account of the actual temperature.

People who actually understand what the gauges are there for, and have the knowledge to interpret the trends they display, are becoming more and more rare.

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Software gremlin robs Formula 1 world champ of season's first win

Neil Barnes
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Uber?

The cars go where they're told by the computer, at the speed they're told by the computer, and occasionally play interesting games with the regulations? Is it Uber that's in charge?

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Prof Stephen Hawking's ashes will be interred alongside Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin

Neil Barnes
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Trollface

Lookalike...

El Reg, I think you might need to rename your icon, or find another one. Compare the header photo and this: ---->

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MIT boffins build rubber robot, invade privacy of unsuspecting sealife

Neil Barnes
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I suppose

that fitting a fish-eye lens was really the only option...

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2 + 2 = 4, er, 4.1, no, 4.3... Nvidia's Titan V GPUs spit out 'wrong answers' in scientific simulations

Neil Barnes
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Re: Shades of the Pentium floating point bug?

Yabbut - at least the Pentium got the same wrong answer every time.

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Seen from spaaaaace: Boffins check world's oceans for plastic

Neil Barnes
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Re: While arguing about our entry into the Anthropocene

I am of a certain age; therefore, you get a like.

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BT: We're shuttering final salary pension scheme

Neil Barnes
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I suspect that there will come a time

when the main aim of a company will not be just the bottom line, but the support of the people whom they employ. The current fashion for zero hour contracts and short-term employment simply isn't stable. A pension fund is a *big* part of an employee's recompense, and changing it at any time should damn well be illegal. *First* the pension fund; *then* the dividends.

Yes, I know a lot of the reasons why a lot of companies were required to take pension fund holidays. Nonetheless, this is not a surprise; longer living pensioners and low interest rates have been predicted/observed for years - so why has nothing been done about it?

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Nest reveals the first truly connected home

Neil Barnes
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Holmes

I've said it before and I'll say it again

Like most of the IoT stuff, it's a solution waiting for a problem. There is a very limited use case where it makes sense, but for the majority of people they *already have* perfectly good mature technology doing most of this.

I can't recall *ever* having had to answer the door when I wasn't in the house... and indeed, I've had *one* break-in in sixty years. The miscreants lifted a paving slab from the street outside, carried it up two flights of external stairs(!), and used it to batter the door down. It's hard to see quite how any of this new technology would have prevented that. As pointed out earlier - a local store of a camera is probably a simpler approach anyway.

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I couldn't give a Greek clock about your IoT fertility tracker

Neil Barnes
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I gloat! Hear me gloat!

Thank you Rudyard Kipling.

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Kepler krunch koming: Super space 'scope's fuel tank almost empty

Neil Barnes
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Alien

Hey, Ksprst!

Can we stick our heads in the end and say 'boo!' now? Please? I'm bored with always having to hide behind it!

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Stephen Hawking dies, aged 76

Neil Barnes
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Re: That's a bummer of a way to start a Wednesday

355/113 - let's have some precision around the place!

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Russian boffins blow up teeny asteroids with tiny laser... to work out how to nuke the real thing

Neil Barnes
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Mushroom

I'm curious...

What's the difference in total kinetic energy delivery between a solid mountain hitting us at orbital speeds, and a mountain full of pebbles hitting us at orbital speeds? The pebbles might not survive to ground level, but they're still going to be dumping all that energy into the atmosphere; there isn't any less of it because the mountain's been blown up.

Seeing it sooner and moving it out of the way seems a more logical course of action.

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Look! Fitbit's made a watch that doesn't suck!

Neil Barnes
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loses its predecessor's GPS chip but retains Wi-Fi and near-field communication (NFC)...

Because even if you're lost, it's important to be able to pay.

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Former Google X bloke's startup unveils 'self flying' electric air taxi

Neil Barnes
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Re: Not again! - Gliders don't fly, they simply fall with style

The trick is just to find places where the air is falling up faster than you are falling down. Style is almost always a good thing in these matters.

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Millionaire-backed science fiction church to launch Scientology TV network

Neil Barnes
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Re: Sounds familiar

And versions suggesting also that it was a bet between Hubbard and Heinlein. Stranger in a Strange Land, anyone?

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Rant launches Eric Raymond's next project: open-source the UPS

Neil Barnes
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A point that occurs to me

There's an awful lot of conversion up and down and up and down in various flavours of AC, DC, switched DC, stepped DC and the like. Seems a terribly inefficient way to go about things... perhaps it would be nice to have a standardised (e.g) 12v LED lighting circuit, powered directly by a lead acid cell (so 11 to 13.8v really), and maybe a 19v dedicated laptop circuit and a 5v usb circuit? Yes, DC resistance losses, but perhaps less than the conversion losses of going up to mains and back at every stage?

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