* Posts by H in The Hague

398 posts • joined 17 Jan 2013


Artificial Intelligence: You know it isn't real, yeah?

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: the error is in call it "AI" !!!

"Whatever happened to the term "expert system"?"

From what I remember an expert system made decisions using rules defined by human subject matter experts. Usually those rules were associated with reasons, so an expert system could not only make a decision but also support that with the underlying reasons.

AI/ML (which I know little about) uses statistical analysis to discover correlations. However, most of us will be aware that correlation <> causation. Hence it might be safest to use AI/ML as a tool to discover interesting associations which can then be considered by humans. Furthermore I get the impression that AI/ML cannot give reasons for the decisions it makes/recommends. In my view that makes it unacceptable as a decision-making tool (though it may be a useful decision-support tool).

Data breach rumours abound as UK Labour Party locks down access to member databases

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Re: They can HAVE my political opinions

Hmm, I rather think that 'scheming' is a bit too intellectually challenging for some of them.

Return of the audio format wars and other money-making scams

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Re: Remember DAT?

Yes! And thank you for the reminder that there are a few tapes I should transfer while one of my two DAT recorders still works.

A good weekend to all Commentards.

Treaty of Roam: No-deal Brexit mobile bill shock

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Re: My money's on Vodafone being the first to start charging

Not necessarily. I've been with Voda NL for ages and, at least for the contract's I've had, I didn't have to pay roaming charges well before the EU ban on them. But your mileage may vary.

(I know it's not cool to defend Voda, but here in NL they provide a perfectly good service at a reasonable price, and local call centres (though I rarely have to contact them).)

Fujitsu pitched stalker-y AI that can read your social media posts as solution to Irish border, apparently

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Re: Completly missing the point

"I needed paperwork (carnet) even for my own tools and test gear."

I keep trying to explain about hassle like that to folk but then I just get branded as an expert who lacks the Dunkirk spirit :(

Civil liberties groups take another swing at Brit snooping regime in Euro human rights court

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Re: Better get Skates on

"voters are questioning the wisdom of letting the EU run everything - the Gillets Jaunes in France are probably the most obvious"

Errmm, as far as I'm aware President Macron was democratically elected, and with a fair margin. However, the Gillets Jaunes are self-appointed activists - i.e. unelected. Furthermore they have been vandalising speed cameras used to enforce road safety legislation put in place through a democratic process. That makes the undemocratic and unaccountable.

Furthermore the EU does not "run everything" and the UK government has form in gold-plating EU legislation.

"the Italians whose DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED government has been told to toe the line by Brussels"

The democratically determined rules of the EU club include not saddling your electorate (present or future) with excessive debt due to unsustainable spending. (Look what that did to Greece.) If they don't like those rules they can try Italexit, but that also means losing the benefits of being a member of that club.

"threw ourselves on the mercy of the Eurocrats."

Presumably that refers to civil servants - who are rather fewer in number in Brussels than in Whitehall.

Thanks for all those data-flow warnings, UK.gov. Now let's talk about your own Brexit prep. Yep, just as we thought

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Re: Won't someone think of the tomatoes?

"And I guess if we're kicked out of the EU's nuke club, we won't have to buy EDF's stonkingly expensive reactor and could look at alternatives, like Japan or Korean designs instead."

I rather think that construction work at the EDF plant at Hinkley is well underway. Trying to get out of that contract now wouldn't exactly improve the UK's standing as a reliable partner.

Oh, and as far as Japanese alternatives are concerned, take a gander at this:


Basically, Hitachi pulled the plug on this GBP 16 million project because it was way too expensive and the British government didn't want to throw even more cash at it. I rather think nuclear has had its day, is now to expensive and too complicated compared with renewables. And that's even without looking at the costs/problems associated nuclear waste disposal and reactor decommissioning (as it happens I've just finished a little project in that area).

Incidentally, the UK isn't being kicked out of Euroatom, it decided to leave the EU and associated institutions, will of the people, etc.

Smaller tech firms just aren't ready for a no-deal Brexit, MPs told

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Re: I hope any fallback systems have been tested for their interconnections ...

"Currently a B2B business doesn't have to charge VAT on intra EU invoices. That will probably change in case of No Deal, I have not found a definitive answer to that yet. Will I need to reopen all contracts to change pricing?"

Just realised VAT is the least of our problems, we're familiar with that and can deal with the changes.

But if you're shipping goods from the UK after a hard Brexit that means importing into the EU and, at best, having to comply with the WTO rules Brexiteers seem so fond of. And figuring out what rules, tariffs and non-tariff measures apply is going to be a bit of a nightmare for a small business not familiar with this stuff:

General info https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tratop_e.htm

Tariffs https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tariffs_e/tariff_data_e.htm

Even just figuring out which Harmonized System code applies to your product is quite a job. It's not just the tariffs as such but also the added hassle.

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: I hope any fallback systems have been tested for their interconnections ...

"Currently a B2B business doesn't have to charge VAT on intra EU invoices. That will probably change in case of No Deal, I have not found a definitive answer to that yet. Will I need to reopen all contracts to change pricing?"

I'm not an expert, but I don't think that's going to lead to any real changes - I think those exports will continue to be outside the scope of the UK VAT system. (You will still have to mention them on your VAT form, but in a different box.) On import the business customer will be charged/charge themselves VAT, and then deduct that as input tax on the next page of their VAT return.

It's more of a problem if you supply goods to consumers in EU countries as they will now have to pay VAT on imports (as they currently do when buying stuff from Canada, China, etc.). So that's going to make you a less attractive supplier to them than one in another EU country. But no doubt this will be easily offset by the increased exports of unicorn jam to keen consumers in Argentina.

However, providers of financial services, such as my professional indemnity insurance, will be totally stuffed. Mine have already informed me they will give me a refund if they can no longer operate under passporting. The one used by some of my colleagues has found a more straightforward solution: they've simply moved these activities from the UK to Germany (so the UK exchequer loses the insurance premium tax + tax levied on the insurance company's profit and their employees' salaries).

Want a bit of privacy? Got a USB stick? Welcome to TAILS 3.12

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Re: ISOs

"If you really want to run without a trace then no writable media is a good starting point."

You could put the files on a CF card, set its switch to read-only, then put it in a USB adapter.

Would that work?

Worried about Brexit food shortages? North Korean haute couture has just the thing

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Import could be tricky

Hmmm, food and textiles tend to be the most difficult items when negotiating trade treaties - and these items come under both categories. Could take a while to sort out. (And under WTO rules if you let stuff in from one country without tariffs/checks then that has to apply to all stuff from all countries. So no control. Admittedly that's somewhat of a simplification of a v complex issue.)

Data hackers are like toilet ninjas. This is not a clean crime, you know

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Re: Most inconsiderate

"Nowadays we've beaten the tobacco smokers, but instead we have those foul wood-burning stoves."

In the late 1970s my gran used to get me copies of Popular Mechanics and Popular Science, the American magazines. I'm pretty sure they used to include articles and ads featuring wood-burning stoves with catalytic converters. A quick web search suggests those are still available, perhaps someone ought to tell Michael Gove. (Incidentally, those magazines also ran interesting articles about solar energy and energy-efficient houses (often earth-sheltered).)

Having to work this weekend on a tender for a SIEM solution so enjoying the banter of commentards for a bit of light relief :)

More nodding dogs green-light terrible UK.gov pr0n age verification plans

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Re: Protection from what?

"Scandinavia ..... They tended to start sexual relationships later than the UK or USA."

Same here in NL (though I haven't come across that much porn in the newsagents here). Teenage pregnancies lowest in the EU, 3.2 per thousand (UK: 14.4). Source: CBS/Statistics Netherlands, 2015 data, quoted in https://www.volkskrant.nl/mensen/aantal-tienermoeders-blijft-dalen-nederlands-percentage-laagste-in-eu~ba6ac1ea/).

I also seem to remember reading an article which indicated that the age at which 50% of the population had had sex was around 18 years which I gather is also relatively late.

Brexit-dodging SCISYS Brits find Galileo joy in Dublin

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Re: != Brexit dodging

"The Commissioners don't pay any tax at all; how is that a defendable position?"

Do you have a source for that?

As far as I'm aware EU employees do pay income tax (to the EU, not to the country where they are based). Not sure if commissioners count as employees.

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Why Dublin?

"But only the UK selected it as its official language."

I actually went to a talk about language and the EU a while ago. A retired EU translator explained that the status of English as an official EU language is actually established by one or two treaties, so not dependent on the UK being a member state. Hence English can continue as the lingua franca of the EU, having replaced French in that role some time ago.

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: != Brexit dodging

"It depends on which bit of the fishing industry. Some catches have a better market in some EU countries than in the UK."


"... But the biggest market for Cornish fishermen is the European Union, with nearly 80% of all catch exported."

And the British-flagged trawlers which land their catch at Scheveningen (harbour on the edge of The Hague) are going to be stuffed too :(

European fibre lobby calls for end to fake fibre broadband ads

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Re: Italy already did it

"Just, with UK exiting EU, why UK telcos are submitting the issue to EU??"

Because the UK is still in the EU :)

And rather a lot of industry bodies want to stay involved to avoid the need for new British regs and duplication of work. BSI for example:


Unfortunately, this does lead to more bureaucracy, not less :(

Interesting quote from the Construction Manager article:

"Over the past 30 years, the identical adoption of European Standards by all members of CEN and CENELEC and the withdrawal of conflicting national standards has reduced the number of national standards across Europe from an estimated 160,000 to around 20,000 European Standards today."

Peers to HMRC: Digital tax reforms 3 days after Brexit? Hold your horses, how 'bout 3 years...

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How they do it in NL

"This will mean – among other things – companies will have to update or buy in new, compatible software."

VAT returns have been digital for yonks here in the Netherlands. If you use an accounting package you can use that. If not, or if you use a homebrewed system you just go to a web form and enter the numbers in a few boxes. Takes about 5 mins (if you're a slow typist) every quarter. Can't fathom why HMRC can't copy that approach. But UK bureaucrats always seem to find ways to make life unneccessarily complicated. (Don't get me started on jobsworth-pseudo-health & safety stuff (in contrast with real health & safety stuff which I'm all in favour of).) Time for a beer to soothy my nerves!

Six critical systems, four months to Brexit – and no completed testing

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Re: Time running out

"... was a definitive outcome guaranteed to be enacted right away (ofc lies again from gov)."

Sorry mate, the government can never guarantee that - in the UK Parliament is sovereign. And as this is a most complex issue, requiring complex arrangements and legislation, Parliament will have to vote on that.

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Re: Time running out

"You might think it would be in their interest to be in possession of all the facts..."

Facts?!? We don't need facts, facts are for experts, you know, those people we despise. The ones who don't pull their weight, keep moaning about practicalities, difficulty of change, etc. Phew - facts have no place in our Glorious British Future (TM).

My hoard of obsolete hardware might be useful… one day

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Re: For old SCSI, find a musician

"The discrete components and hand-wired memory toroids have pretty colours and an aesthetic layout."

Great idea. I always fancied the having the control panel of an IBM System 360 (about the same vintage as me) as a wall decoration, but haven't found one so far. However, I have inherited some of my late father in law's vintage electronic components which are much more photogenic (above-mentioned pretty colours, etc.) than modern ones. Might get the macro lens out one of these days and photograph them.

Clunk, bang, rattle: Is that a ghost inside your machine?

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Possessed CD player

Didn't happen to me, read about this on a theatre sound mailing list:

When the sound operator sat at the sound desk, the CD drawer of the CD player on the other side of the booth would open randomly. If the operator walked to the unit and pressed Close the drawer would stay closed while the operator was by the CD player, but would open again when they walked away from it.

They eventually discovered that on the shelves on the opposite wall a heavy book had fallen on the CD player remote control, pressing the Open button if there was any vibration. However, when the operator was standing in front of the CD player they would interrupt the IR beam, hence the drawer would not open at that time.

FYI: Drone maker DJI's 'Get it on Google Play' website button definitely does not get the app from Google Play...

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Re: Think of it this way

"While DJI do make consumer drones, they're hardly toys anymore, they've made a huge dent in professional markets."

Yup. Currently working with a drone company and learning a lot about this kit. Just over a grand will get you a DJI drone with a pretty good camera. Perfectly good for many photography and video applications, and some surveying jobs.

Also gets you DJI geofencing. Stops you from accidentally flying your done into restricted airspace (potentially saving you thousands in fines, and zillions in damages if you shut down a major airport with a drone incursion). But the geofencing is not perfect. One operator I know is based at a _former_ military aerodrome and for ages the geofencing map wasn't updated and stopped them flying a DJI drone at their home base. Also means that DJI can potentially map your whole country as restricted airspace and shut down your drone operations completely. So perhaps not the best brand to choose for public services applications (go on, call me a cynic).

Here's to a good weekend - may your pints and drones have a safe flight.

Silent running: Computer sounds are so '90s

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Re: I still get wound up...

"Unlike the French system of law, where technically nothing that is not explicitly legislated as being legal is allowed"

Do you have a source for that statement? As far as I'm aware most other European countries also have the principle that "anything that is not specifically disallowed by law is allowed". (But I'm no lawyer.)

Someone's in hot water: Tea party super PAC group 'spilled 500,000+ voters' info' all over web

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Although at first the large number of parties in NL and the fact that you always need a coalition might seem a recipe for chaos, it does seem to work quite well. One of the advantages is that there is more consensus within each party, fringe elements can move to another party.

A few weeks ago Mrs H (recently arrived in NL) and I watched the presentation of the budget. What stuck us is the modesty of the politicians, a welcome absence of selfaggrandisement. Specifically the Minister of Finance started his speech by praising prudence, he then mentioned that the economy is doing well but that this wasn't just due to their hard work but also that of previous governments and the world economy doing better. And it seems that NL is one of the few countries to run a budget surplus and paying off the national debt. Guess Mrs H and I will be staying here for a bit longer.

Convenient switch hides an inconvenient truth

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"The cardboard boxes do the same thing by crumpling the way a car body in a crash would."

And I _think_ that the boxes are strapped together so the crumple rather than scatter.

Icon as it's almost that time of the week.

Attempt to clean up tech area has shocking effect on kit

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Re: Why is it always the cleaners?

"These days Dutch hospitals are designed so that a ward can be pressure washed"

Are you sure about that? Our Elderly Dutch Friend has been been admitted a few times in the last year (now seems to have fully recovered) and although we were impressed by the hospitals (v clear, tidy, efficient and calm) his rooms didn't look suitable for pressure washing. Anyway, pressure washing would probably spread germs everywhere as an aerosol.

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Re: It's not always the cleaners

"Ok, now explain why a surveyor working in the middle of a field has to wear a hard hat, hi-vis vest and steel toe boots. "

They don't. But to avoid arguing it's easier to get people to wear them all the time. And many folk think they know health and safety law but actually only know fragments of it, and many myths - resulting in them focussing on talismanic, visible stuff like hi-vis, but igonoring real safety.

My personal bugbear is pointlessly wearing hi-vis vests when working inside buildings on a site where there are no vehicles operating (inside or outside). But that's mostly a UK thing :) (In NL they wear hi-vis too rarely, which also annoys me - guess I'm easily annoyed.)

Mine's the one with the stack of safety certificates in the pocket.

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Re: C

"So in the UK you have to stand there breathing in the carcinogenic fumes from the evaporating petrol "

No: vapour recovery system, captures those fumes where the dispensing nozzle meets the vehicle.


Sync your teeth into power browser Vivaldi's largest update so far

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E-mail alternative

Like many of you I've been looking for a good e-mail program for a while and I'm happy to pay for it. Have Thunderbird now but not entirely happy with it, find it less convenient than Eudora. A colleague mentioned she uses The Bat and likes it. Have downloaded it myself but not had time to play with it. Are any Commentards using it: good/bad/indifferent?


Costs EUR 40 which I'll happily stump up if it's any good.

US JEDI military cloud network is so high-tech, bidders will have to submit their proposals by hand, on DVD

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Single what?

"Because the Pentagon wants to keep the entire project under the roof of a single provider ..."

At first I read that as "... single point of failure ..." - call me a cynic.

US government use of AI is shoddy and failing citizens – because no one knows how it works

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Re: re. no one knows how it works

"well, I suppose AI does know how it works!"

I don't think it does - that's the crux, it can't explain the reasoning behind decisions. And I get the impression that often there's no reasoning/intelligence, just statistical analysis. That can be a useful tool to make statements about a population, but not for making statements about individuals. Furthermore, using inappropriate training data is a clear example of Garbage in - Garbage out. I thought that most of us would have learned enough at secondary school to appreciate both the statistical and IT flaws but I'm probably naive.

Incidentally, today's populists seem to complain a lot about "unaccountable bureaucrats" (who actually implement rules set by the legislature) but not about "unaccountable AI" (which implements opaque rules, if any). Why?

How an over-zealous yank took down the trading floor of a US bank

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Re: Console? What console..

"Luckly, we transported the inner workings of the ASR35 ..."

Just looked that up - made me feel v sentimental. At school we had occasional access to a PDP12 (I think) with mark-sense card reader and one of those Teletype terminals with tape punch. Regret not keeping a few of those cards and a bit of paper tape - those were the days when you could hold bits and bytes in your hand and look at them.


'I am admin' bug turns WD's My Cloud boxes into Everyone's Cloud

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Repeating myself

Now feeling even better about refusing my supplier's kind offer of a cloudy drive and opting for one with local access only than I did when this issue was first reported on El Reg.

Scrapping UK visa cap on nurses, doctors opened Britain's doors to IT workers

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Re: What's that sound ? Brexiteers expoding.

"I and many like me voted specifically to leave the whites-only immigration club and open up immigration to fellow Commonwealth people."

I'm afraid I don't quite understand that line of reasoning - being a member of the EU does not stop the UK permitting immigration from the Commonwealth, or anywhere else, on whatever terms the UK wants. Or have I misunderstood you?

UK networks have 'no plans' to bring roaming fees back after Brexit

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"I never fucking apologise for anything I write. "

Hmm, interesting. Suggests you're most likely not English, probably not British. So, wherefrom hailst thou?

H in The Hague Silver badge

Interfering with the free market?

"The government would pass legislation to ensure that charges remained capped £45 ..."

Errmm, is that Conservative government proposing to interfere with the free market??? When Labour proposed something similar (price caps for energy) they complained loudly about that being socialist idiocy. Can't see JRM and friends being in favour.

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

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Re: Openreach

"- 640k will be enough!"

Young people - don't know how good they've got it.

When I was a young lad 64 kB was the bees knees!

A boss pinching pennies may have cost his firm many, many pounds

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Re: computer merry-go-round

Ah, you've met my friends' builder! Mind you, his quote came in lowest.

A flash of inspiration sees techie get dirty to fix hospital's woes

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Re: Noisy phone lines in building

"They'd just stuck the welding earth clamp where it was handy and were roaming around welding the joints ..."

A process plant a friend used to work at suffered more serious effects. During a shutdown the welders extended the steelwork and also didn't bother to attach the earth clamp close to where they were welding. The resulting stray currents burned out a rack of instrumentation and the start-up was delayed by a few weeks, at a cost of millions of lost production per day.

H in The Hague Silver badge

Interfering with ceiling tiles can be dangerous

Jason's story reminds me of a tale a colleague once told me (paraphrased as this was a few years ago):

"I got an on-site gig at XXX (sensitive government site). Four of us working in a room meant for twenty, so a bit chilly due to the assertive mechanical ventilation system. Figured I could just go into the corridor, pop up a few ceiling tiles, stick my head up the void/plenum and adjust the damper in the ventilation duct. Then decided against this, might give the security guards patrolling the corridors the wrong idea. I did mention they were assertive, armed security guards, didn't I?"

Time for a G&T or other adult beverage. A good weekend to all Commentards and good luck to all of you on call this weekend (I'm not), may we read about your exploits in these columns.

UK.gov's no-deal plans leave HMRC customs, VAT systems scrambling to keep up

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Re: Annual?

"Currently i work for an EU based company and invoice EU reverse charge VAT. I have no clue how this will work post March 2019 and currently it seems nobody else does either."

If the UK's out of the EU by then you just follow the same procedure as for other exports outside the EU. Simply means entering the amount in a different box. (In NL it would go into section 3a rather than 3b of the VAT declaration form.)


Hello 'WOS': Windows on Arm now has a price

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Re: How much?

"WRT "Always connected" I've been seeing laptops with 3G and LTE connectivity for years. What kills them utterly is the telco fees."

Depends where you live. Here in NL 4G data is very reasonably priced, with roaming throughout the EU. On my Vodafone business contract I get unlimited calls in NL + EU + 15 GB data + 2 extra SIMs (for my laptop and mobile hotspot) for EUR 36 (exc. VAT) per month. Including roaming in Canada and the US would cost me EUR 29 extra. Haven't used WiFi for more than a decade.


There are also consumer contracts for about the same price with unlimited data.

VMware 'pressured' hotel to shut down tech event close to VMworld, IGEL sues resort giant

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Useful info

Now we all know which hotel chain and software vendor to avoid. Foot, meet gun and Streisand effect.

Security MadLibs: Your IoT electrical outlet can now pwn your smart TV

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Re: Some of this IoT Automation does have uses

"X10 kit since the mid 1980s"

Fond memories, though I never used it.

Now using something very similar for where cables are difficult to run: easy to set up, fits into standard Dutch wiring boxes and the Internet gateway is entirely optional.

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Re: I have a "Smart TV"

"I found a "dumb" version of the 4k smart tv I wanted"

Could you let us know the make and model? There might be quite a few of us out here interested in something like that.

Boss regrets pointing finger at chilled out techie who finished upgrade early

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Re: Oh so familiar

"Mythic Beasts. UK based and give excellent service."

Thanks for the tip.

Here's one for the weekend.

Home Office seeks Brexit tech boss – but doesn't splash the cash

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Re: They had hiyigh hopes......

"And if (when) we don't get a deal, they'll be in a lorry parked up in Calais."

Actually, I _think_ that company's printing plant is based in the UK. But where are the paper and ink coming from? Hope they've ordered them early and they get delivered before stuff starts happening.

Phased out: IT architect plugs hole in clean-freak admin's wiring design

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Re: Is that legal now?

"AFCIs are not standard equipment in most of the world"

Actually, they've just been introduced in the 18th edition of BS 7671 (the UK requirements for electrical installations). This is because arcs can have a relatively high impedance, so you can get an arc which causes a fire but does not draw enough current to trip the circuit protection.


"Protection against thermal effects - A new Regulation has been introduced recommending the installation of arc fault detection devices (AFDDs) to mitigate the risk of fire in AC final circuits of a fixed installation due to the effects of arc fault currents."


H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Plot twist? What plot twist?

"Unusual to have 3 phase in domestic premises."

Depends on the country. Here in NL it's usually 3 phases into the consumer unit/distribution board, with single outgoing phases to the house wiring. (Though you could fit a 3-phase breaker if you want to install some nice large machine tools in your home workshop :)

Talking of breaker panels, had a beer a while ago with a chap who refurbished an old house (in the UK I think),he turned the power off at the first fuse box and at the second one. Then started cutting the old cables, cue flash, bang and molten wire cutters. Eventually he found the third fuse box behind some wallpaper.

Here's one for the weekend.


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