* Posts by 96percentchimp

44 posts • joined 11 Jan 2012

UK taxman told to chill out 'cos loan charge is whacking tax dodgers and whoopsies alike


This is a perfect example of the sort of simplistic, fatuous, rabble-rousing populism that has led us to the brink of Brexit. Yes, taxation could be more simple, but it can't be THAT simple.

Or as Ben Goldacre likes to say about medicine: "I think you'll find it's more complicated than that."

I was once one of you, F1 star Lewis Hamilton tells delighted IT bods


Re: Some confusion perhaps?

I couldn't care less about grid girls. I could do with fewer celebs clogging up the grid, though, and more overtaking, and a better distribution of the sport's revenues so the mid and lower teams can compete.

And yeah, Hamilton's a bit of a knob, but he's also a fantastic driver. FWIW Schumacher and Vettel were often thoroughly dislikeable. They both developed more personality when they stopped winning as much.

Reverse Ferret! Forget what we told you – the iPad isn't really for work


Get your hot desk...but don't be late

Hot desking is the other reason why bean counters love laptops. You can reduce the desk count and office size, and make your employees pack their desk into a locker every night. A tidy workplace is a productive workplace in the bean counter's mind.

There's a side benefit too: if your team size is slightly larger than the number of desks, then everyone will turn up early (or at least on time) to make sure they're not stuck on the Billy No Mates desk with a different team (the horror! the horror!).

Ensure there's always a slight variation in the number of workers on site at any time, and you have the perfect operant conditioning environment to encourage a hunger for the right desk.

That's my experience as a recent freelance in two large corporates. I'm not sure what problem iPads solve, other than 'not having shiny things'.

The Internet of Flying Thing: Reg man returns with explicit shots


Emirates charges $1 for in-flight internet

It's not fast enough for video calling but you can use email, social media, and Google Docs. IIRC there's a higher-rate for more bandwidth

Google's home tat falls flat as a soufflé – but look out Android makers


You paid £120 for a watch which doesn't know how many days are in a month. And I should take your opinion seriously for what reason?


I hate to break it to you, but most Android manufacturers have been making their batteries inaccessible to users for a few years now, and Apple has never made its batteries replaceable by users.

As for SD card slots, surely that's as much about pushing the cost of storage onto the user as it is denying them the option to personally configure it. I'm pretty sure the 128GB variant of Pixel will be sufficient for most mobile users.

Height of stupidity: Heathrow airliner buzzed by drone at 7,000ft


Re: If they lose an engine, they will land the plane using the other one.

"IF the pilots can't take that in their stride then they go for retraining, and if they still can't do it after that they don't get to fly anymore."

I'm guessing that if they can't land on one engine then they won't be around for retraining. A no-fly ban would be a bit late as well.

BBC will ‘retain your viewing history’


Re: English translation needed

As an outsider who's had meetings at the BBC, I can confirm there is tea and coffee but there are no free pastries and few boozy lunches, mainly because of miserly funts who think that working for any publicly-funded body should be a monastic slog. There might be a subsidised cafe and bar, which is entirely reasonable. The exception is for visiting journalists, politicians and celebs, who are showered with food and booze as they are everywhere, and probably think this applies to everyone else.


Re: It's for marketing...

You're confusing the BBC with BBC Worldwide.

Ofcom must tackle 'monopolistic' provider BT, says shadow digital minister Chi Onwurah


Spin off BT Consumer, not Openreach

The problem isn't with Openreach as such, but with its divided loyalties to BT Retail and its other customers. BT is essentially an infrastructure company, so it makes a lot more sense to spin off BT Consumer (it can still use the brand under licence) so that it truly has to compete on a level playing field with other providers.

Openreach would then be free to meet its customers' needs as a pure infrastructure provider, either choosing to sweat its copper assets or invest in long-term provision, with the risk that BT Consumer could choose to use altnets such as Hyperoptic if it doesn't feel that consumer needs will be met.


Re: FTTP is cheap.

"There's no monopoly in the UK, anyone can set up a network and sell service to the public."

Nonsense, there are huge impediments to anyone wanting to roll out a physical network, whether it's the permission for street works, obtaining wayleaves, or the cost of access to BT's ducts and poles (let alone building your own). BT has significant historic structural and regulatory advantages over any incoming network provider, which is why VM still struggles under the inherited debt burdens of the individual local cable providers from the 80s and 90s, and why altnets face such struggles today.


I'll give you an upvote but I disagree that equivalence of access is an obstacle - it's a major disadvantage to altnets that they can't easily resell their capacity to the likes of Sky and TalkTalk, who will do their marketing by default and can offer value-add services like TV and mobile which will increase take-up.

Sky and TalkTalk already operate as virtual ISPs within BT's FTTC provision (there's no network kit involved in the last mile, just billing arrangements), so it's not even an original idea. Ofcom could do altnets a great favour if it could develop a simple capacity exchange system, with regulation to prevent the larger brands abusing the altnets, while allowing the altnets to white label their broadband to recognised brands.


Re: Competition is great...

If you're going to play the pendantry game...

IMO 'most' people would consider 'most' to refer to a significant majority rather than a simple majority, something like >75% vs >50%. If you're in the region of 43-57%, then 'most' people would call that 'half'.

There are, of course, contexts where this breaks down, such as winning an election, but I think they're exceptions to the general understanding of the term.


Re: Level Playing Field?

The issue in rural areas isn't with Virgin (an urban provider) but with small community initiatives or niche suppliers like Gigaclear, who often find that BT waits until they have proven a local demand for higher speeds, gone fundraising, and even begun their rollouts.

Then BT jumps in and drops an FTTC service which isn't as fast and suffers poor contention ratios, but it's relatively cheap, it's available now, and has a range of competing ISPs like Sky and TalkTalk which can offer value-add services like TV or mobile. The smaller local operator can't compete and loses the critical mass of customers it needs to survive the startup phase.

Thirty Meter Telescope needs to revisit earthly fine print


Re: astronomy as a traditional activity

Although Stonehenge is arguably already an astronomical observatory of some kind. It's just that no-one remembers what it's for.

Watch: SpaceX Dragon capsule breathes fire during crucial hover test


Re: Weight?

> Would a detachable escape rocket + parachute be more efficient?

Only in the short term. Without retro-rockets to enable a soft-landing, you'd have to land at sea Apollo-style, and then you can't re-use the capsule because sea water is so corrosive. (Soyuz uses retro-rockets but the capsule isn't designed for re-use). SpaceX's goal is to have a launch system with re-usable first stage and crew/cargo capsules, which would significantly reduce the cost of getting into space.

UK can finally 'legalise home taping' without bringing in daft new tax


Bloody human rights

"The UK can now bring in the exception by passing the law along with a provision for a small pot of money. This is seems reluctant to do, in contrast to the way it flings the cash at other recipients, such as internet VCs... Global "human rights initiatives" get over £10m a year, to choose an another example at random."

Not, for instance, the "too big to fail" banks? Hang on [checks byline]. Ah, it's Orlowski.

America to ITU: Sort out your spectrum policy


For FCC, read GSMA

Only the USA, Japan and a few client states wanted 600 MHz for mobile thanks to concerted mobile industry lobbying - everyone else threw the question down the road to the 2023 conference because they want to keep the spectrum for terribly-old-fashioned but still-very-popular broadcast TV.

The USA's response? Toys out of pram.

EU mobile roaming rules to save customers billions in bills


Re: The rest of the world

Or there's Three's Feel At Home, which is a bit random but extends your UK allowance to 25 countries around the world, including Spain, the USA and Australia. Although I seem to instinctively only travel to places which aren't included.


Because rates in the EU are subject to both national and European regulation.

Flying cars will take to the skies in 2017, if government allows


What problem does it solve?

A range of 545 miles on the ground but only 435 miles flying, so you can go a shorter distance a little bit faster, but you'll have to drive to a runway first?

NASA greenlights SpaceX and Boeing to carry crew to ISS in 2017


Re: Playing the party line

Don't blame NASA entirely: they spent almost a decade trying to second-guess Dubya and an increasingly anti-science Congress - no-one would give it the resources or long-term security to build a Shuttle replacement, whether it was a heavy-lifter, an Apollo-style crew capsule or the cute little spaceplane that became Dreamchaser (and was cruelly excluded from the final round of potential crew delivery systems).

Coughing for 4G, getting 2G... Networks' penny-pinching SECRETS REVEALED


"Couldn't give a stuff about voice call quality, as long as I can be understood and hear the other party."

Doesn't that mean you could give a stuff about voice call quality?

Open source and the NHS: Two huge disorganised entities without central control


Re: Close all the golf courses.

I wouldn't worry about it. That's the kind of cliched knee-jerk comment that's become common on El Reg as it turns into a tech-savvy Daily Mail.

4K-ing excellent TV is on its way ... in its own sweet time, natch


...and then you show them

Ofcom came to the same conclusion in its (2004?) consultation on the future of Freeview, when they rejected it because people said they weren't interested. The broadcasters objected and Ofcom ran more research when they actually showed them some HD vs SD. Guess what? They wanted it.

Kiwi Rocket Lab to build SUPER-CHEAP sat launchers (anyone know 30 rocket scientists?)


Re: How many orbiting satellites can be put up there?

Geostationary orbits are divided between countries up by international agreement, and usually then leased to commercial operators, but there's no regulation anywhere else, hence the growing clouds of crap filling up LEO.

Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart


It's about real-time pricing, not just turning things off

The benefit of smart meters - combined with other kit like zoned smart heating - is that you should be able to access real-time pricing based on the supply and demand. There are already suppliers in the US offering this by combining (I think) Honeywell's Evohome system with smart meters, so users can heat their water when gas is cheapest - like Economy 7 but smarter.

Electricity - although costing about 3x/kWh than gas - is typically a few per cent of domestic costs compared to gas-powered heating and hot water, which account for 40 per cent or more of the bill.

'This BLACK HOLE just isn't BLACK AT ALL' snarl boffins



Is it possible that gas in the accretion disc reaches the conditions required for fusion to occur: tiny proto-stars bursting into life under the bizarre conditions of extreme gravity and distorted space-time you'd find around a black hole? This might account for the unexpected and variable surplus of energy.

(not a physicist)

UK defamation law reforms take effect from start of 2014


Re: Doesn't seem to be much different

There is a right to free speech under human rights legislation, there is also a responsibility not to abuse it under defamation law, which seems like a reasonable balance for a civilised society to pursue. IMHO, these changes are progress in the right direction. Trolls may disagree.

I, for one, welcome our robotic communist jobless future


Free markets tend towards capitalism

"But we don't have monopoly capitalism: we have capitalism combined with free markets"

What we have (thankfully) are regulated markets where the natural tendency of any free market to concentrate power and wealth is restrained, and mostly what economists do is argue about how much restraint there should be, and how it should be applied.

From launch to orbit: The new commercial space pioneers


Space Expedition Curacao?

XCOR isn't selling seats on its Lynx (actually, it's the Lynx 2). That's handled by Dutch company Space Expedition Curacao, which has contracted XCOR to supply it with Lynx 2's that will fly from Curacao in the Dutch Antilles. They're quite high profile and have signed up plenty of customers already.

You got the price right, but sloppy research otherwise.

Kamikaze Moon mission on track as NASA grips its tumbling LADEE


...or to look on the bright side

"failure would be problematic for many planned probe designs"

I know the Reg doesn't have a half-full glass, only half-empty ones, but the flipside of of the modular approach is that fixing the problems with this unit will mean they don't have to reinvent the (reaction) wheel for the next probe using this modular design.

HDMI 2.0 spec arrives ... 1.0 years late


50/60Hz? That's not high frame rate 4K

A lot of broadcasters are looking at 100/120Hz for 4K because fast pans and sports will look horribly jerky at 50/60Hz.

HDMI 2.0 is overdue and under-specified. Who'd have thought?

Are biofuels Europe's sh*ttiest idea ever?


Chatham House independent?

Chatham House isn't quite the independent think tank it claims to be, and has been criticised both for its cosy links to the energy industry and to some of the world's less pleasant governments: http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2011/12/08/chatham-houses-independent-expert-is-lobbyist/

First generation biofuels produced from food crops are a dead-end (and were abused to subsidise American farming), although second and third-gen biofuels produced from waste and cultured biomass have great potential - but I wouldn't expect anything from Mr Orlowski to be a fair appraisal of renewables technology.

Roomba dust-bust bot bods one step closer to ROBOBUTLERS


Re: (Still) fixing the wrong problem

iRobot also makes military robots. As in, is that a gun or a stick? Or is that man wearing a headscarf? (best shoot him to be sure).

How typical of the Register to miss such an important detail.

BBC: What YOU spent on our lawyers in Secret Climate 28 debacle


Re: fooey

It's called 28Gate because only Orlowski and 27 other frothing right-wing blowhards give a flying fooey (which is now my word of the day).

The BBC decided to move the debate on from "Is there a problem?" to "How big is it?" and "What can/should be done?" The 28 are still stuck on the first question.

Use your loaf, Europe! Eat more fibre - high-speed web lobbyists


If it was that simple...

There are so many gaps in the FTTH Council's argument, you could run a nice bit of fibre through them.

Most notable is that it doesn't have a single ISP member - this is just a kit manufacturers' lobbying company who don't have to worry about the economics of raising the capital for building networks, so long as it's spent on their kit.

For those who point at Asia - in Korea and Japan it's often fibre-to-the-basement where the incoming megabandwidth is then shared between residents at much lower end speeds and contention issues. On top of that, there's often no choice of providers and the services they provide, so no competition. Korea Telecom last year started blocking traffic to Smart TVs because it was in competition to their own subscription IPTV. These countries are also densely populated, which makes it very easy to build FTTP, and have little copper to replace, and the suburbs live under a hideous cats-cradle of telegraph wires.

BT's strategy may be too slow for those who think money grows on trees, but in addition to FTTC they will soon be offering FTTP On Demand - businesses who want it can pay for the FTTP to come to them from the nearest cab, and in many cases this will also create a node from which the neighbours can connect, or they could all club together.


Re: You do have a choice...

There's lots of competition at the exchange level - that's what LLU is all about. It's the last mile between the exchange and customer that's restricted to BT Openreach, but on balance that's a good thing. Can you imagine the disruption if anyone was allowed to start digging the streets for fibre?

'Leccy-starved Reg hack: 'How I survive on 1.5kW'



Don't ask me how, but could you have buffered the 1.5kW supply through some kind of storage device, allowing you to exceed the cap internally while the external supply never draws more than 1.5kW?

Up your wormhole: Star Trek Deep Space 9 turns 20


Wot no Ron Moore?

How could you write a DS9 retrospective without a mention of Ron Moore?

DS9's first and second seasons were pretty dull and often by-the-numbers TNG-era Trek under Bermann, but when Ron Moore took over as showrunner on season three it transformed into something dark and exciting, but often fun, and so inventive. The characters became three-dimensional people you could care about, he took Worf to a new level, and the final season space battles were stunningly choreographed.

Moore went on to create possibly the best TV sci-fi ever with the BSG reboot, and if you look back at DS9 it's like a trial run for some of the themes he explored so well in BSG.

B5 had great spaceship designs, some promising themes and great characters like Londo and G-kar, but it was often pompous, JMS couldn't write dialogue for love nor money ("Get the hell out of my galaxy" has to be one of the worst lines ever televised), and it never delivered on the promise of the first two seasons. He might blame Paramount for nicking the premise, but DS9 delivered the goods under Moore's leadership.

Tiny Brit island stranded after £10m undersea fibre plea sunk


That's just El Reg in 2013

Don't worry about the focus on UK taxpayers, of late the Reg has become editorially dominated on anti-tax free market tub-thumpers of a Tea Partyish bent. Whether it reflects the site's owners' preferences or just a canny editorial policy to troll for traffic, it's definitely dented a previously strong news operation.

I tried to buy a satellite and all I got was this lousy $67,000


You can lose a satellite for millions

I chucked them a tenner because it was such a beautiful idea, even if it had only a slim chance of success.

It's not just the price of satellites, even redundant ones: most satellite launches carry huge insurance, so satellite operators have been known to let satellites launched into the wrong orbit come back down to Earth, even if a rescue plan was possible. The insurance payout makes it easier to wait two years and launch a replacement.

He shouldn't write off crowd-funding another venture, though. After all, Ouya has raised millions for nothing more than an Android games console, and satellite launch costs could drop heavily in the second half of this decade.

LightSquared accuses government of ‘rigged’ interference tests


Good news for ahumanright.org

If Lightsquared goes out of business, maybe ahumanright.org will be able to snap up their satellite and use it for cheap telecoms in the third world, though I suppose the same interference problems will have to be solved wherever the system is operated

Powerline Ethernet group posts 1Gb/s spec


Interference may be less of a problem now

I think the Powerline AV and AV2 specifications include notches which significantly reduce power in bands occupied by other users, such as DAB, aviation and amateur radio. Unfortunately I can't support this with a link, but I do remember it being addressed in a private briefing with Netgear in 2011. It was pretty clear that while they hadn't been openly acknowledged, concerns of other users had been taken up, so your rants may not have been wasted.

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