* Posts by Mark Ruit

39 publicly visible posts • joined 2 May 2008

UK smart meter rollout years late and less than two thirds complete

Mark Ruit

Re: Still resisting the blandishments

In the UK,all electricity meters used for determining consumption charges require certification: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/electricity-meter-certification

The certification is time limited. The list of certifucation periods is here:


Although some meters have certification lives of 25 years you can see that the majoriy are only 10 years: and the liklihood is that any domestic meter fitted 10 years ago is actually out of, or about to go out of certification. Although suppliers' records for earlier fitting are dire, they are catching up, and I only know of one meter well over its certification.

It used to be that meters (the old rotating-disc ones) were refurbished and re-certified. But not these days: it is an excuse to fit a smart meter.

Mark Ruit

Re: Give us the data

Then you have five years more, at best. The certification on an electicity meters run out after 10 years maximum (a few are shorter), and the supply compny is required by law to replace an out-of-certification meter with a freshsly-certified one. And my supllier's position was "We don't have any dumb meters, no-one is making them any more, nor are the ones we take out being re-certified because no-one is interested in doing that.". Clearly at least to some degree a porky, but it lft me unable to argue.

Up until then I relied on a Geo to check my 'usage now' rate, and a daily read of the supplier's meter to track my overall usage. (The latter initially showed that the Geo (cable-clamp version) was originally way off and had to be adjusted, but at least that facility was there.)

Mark Ruit

Re: I recently did some calculation for someone who is getting an EV

If we are going to be picky, it is actually Vehicle Excise Duty (VED). "Excise" (apparently) because it is a unitised cost - per vehicle - rather than based on a value. UK VED is based - in theory - on emissions.

Don't worry, that system's not actually active – oh, wait …

Mark Ruit

Re: pizza is the perfect food

The actual history of this (in the UK is all I know) was that too may MCBs (of whatever function) were total crap. Too much history of overheating and so being the cause of the fires. Banning the brands concerned (by country of origin) would have been seen as a restraint of trade...

Fisher Price's Bluetooth reboot of pre-school play phone has adult privacy flaw

Mark Ruit

Re: Dial-up

This old git has not only seen Strowger "in the field", but stood there in the room watching it do its stuff. Not to mention watching a Post Office (sic) engineer working on one section and explaining to me the clever tricks which routed the call to an Operator when "0" was dialled or to an Emengey Opertor when "999" was dialled. In those days,any call outside a local area had to be manually routed. (Some of the "local"areas - like the London Director Service) were quite large, but ours was something betwen 10 miles ant the closest and 17 miles at most, IRC.)

But then I am also (just) old enough to rember being in a house where the phone had no dial and all the local connection/routing was done by a human operator in a back room at the local Post Office...

UK promises big data law shake-up... while also keeping the EU happy, of course. What could go wrong?

Mark Ruit


"I've noticed that many of the more reputable websites, on clicking the "customise" option, show essential cookies on (can't change that) and ALL other cookie options default to off."

The goody-two-shoes company John Lewis & Partners is one site which does not act that way. All cookies are on by default. As a result the site has gone from being almost the first place I look for items, to being the last.

Europe considers making it law that your boss can’t bug you outside of office hours

Mark Ruit

Re: In an emergency

Many years ago I worked allegedly standard hours as a support technician for a group which provided 24/7 gatekeeper service to manufacturing. I used to get called in fairly regularly but the group manager denied both payment or TOIL and and even refused recompense of my telephone rental (this was long before mobile telephony). The same manager never took an outside call to my knowledge, but his rental was paid.

Then I moved house, from ~2 miles from the factory to ~25 miles (and we sold our car as part of the financing). I spun the tale (credible in those days) that there was an issue which prevented me taking over the phone contract,. The inevitable crash took about three weeks: the group's set-up (not IT) went out of spec, test results were meaningless, and production shut down on the Saturday night.

Monday morning was interesting. I came out of it with an agreement for time-and-half payment (not TOIL) for call-ins on weekdays and double-time for Sundays (always including travel time), coverage of taxi fares both ways, and my phone rental fully paid. And the boss was moved-on about a year later.

The extra money did help us get on top of our new mortgage a bit quicker...

Squirrel away a little IT budget for likely Brexit uncertainty, CIOs warned

Mark Ruit

Re: 2019?

"As you say, regulations must be passed into domestic law."

WRONG. Regulations are directly acting on Member States, as those in my own industry know well (and relish because they provide certainty, and by preventing the sort of local differences that can add prohibitive costs to doing business in countries that use that technique to favour home suppliers).

'Directives' do have to be transposed into National Law.

For the hard of thinking the clue is in the name.

Article 3 of Regulation (EC) No 2257/94 makes it absolutely clear:

"This Regulation shall be binding in its entirety and directly applicable in all Member States."


What sort of economist doesn't know that distinction?

I used to like Worstall's pieces - he was particularly perceptive on the true effect of economic forces in the Rare Earths market (and I still believe his thinking there to have been accurate). But I gave up when I started seeing the the sort of alternative truth implied here..

Socket to the energy bill: 5-bed home with stupid number of power outlets leaves us asking... why?

Mark Ruit

Re: Show us the circuit breakers!

Fermacell is brilliant. You can screw straight into it as if it were wood, and (allegedly) you can put 60Kg on a sngle fixing. Dunno about that, quite, but out of interest one day I weighed the books/files/2500-sheet box of A4 paper/why in my study and it came to 71Kg . All stored on vertiical (adjustable) rail-mounted shelves, the rails simply screwed to the Fermacell. Wonderful.

Even our floors are Fermacell. In fact there were no wet trades (except tilers - do they count?) inside the house at all.

Rawplugs? Stud locating tool? Masonry bits? Only for exterior work.

Mark Ruit

Re: Show us the circuit breakers!

If the downlighters are the same LED luminaires as I I have, then they pull about 10W each wth PF~0.85. Twenty of them would barely pull 1 amp in the UK. That's a still a fair bit these days, but the room illustrated is large and it would be - to my way of thinking - grossly under-illuminated with less than 300W of Tungsten (pulling 2.7A).

When Tungsten (or fluorescent tubes) was all you could get, my living room (about one-third that size or less) always had a 100W centre and a couple of table lanps.That was 220W (~ 2,400 lumens). My current livng room (probably a bit smaller than the illustration) has 14 downlighters (~6,000 lumens) and needs them all: but they are in 4 zones and not usually all on at once.

Remember the Uber self-driving car that killed a woman crossing the street? The AI had no clue about jaywalkers

Mark Ruit

Re: "However allowing the vehicle to do that would result in a horrendous ride"

If you look carefully at the timeline, you can see that every time the AI's inputs reclassified the object, the Artificial Ignorance dumped the history table of the previous 'classified object'. How the f*** can any program calculate a future path if it only has one point to work on?

IT contractor has £240k bill torn up after IR35 win against UK taxman

Mark Ruit

Re: he probably deserved it

HMRC is simply not fit for purpose.

That said I need to note that HMRC have no part in setting either the threshold nor the rate for inheritance tax That is done by the bunch of shysters now drawing more than £70k pa for the next four weeks and doing SFA for it (I don't count their finagling around to get on the gravy train for another five years).

They are the ones who have done nothing about setting clear boundaries between employments/self-employment. They are the poltroons who won't grasp the nettle of international rules of intenational flows of profit (and capital). The list of what they have not done vastly exceeds the list of what they have done.

Behold the perils of trying to turn the family and friends support line into a sideline

Mark Ruit

Re: F & F ongoing from last week

...and instead of extra <Return> characters for line spacing.


Switch about to get real: Openreach bod on the challenge of shuttering UK's copper phone lines

Mark Ruit

Or the house could be like ours: in the middle of a triangle of rather distant (and topographically-shaded) base stations, such that the signal is poor even outside. Then there is lots of lovely Aluminium foil in the wall insulation with the overall result that there are rooms which never get a signal, while all the others are no better than 'iffy'.

We've tried most of the providers and they are all much-of-a-muchness.

Mobile is simply not a back-up option for us.

That is why we have a conventional wired phone permanently plugged in.

Right-click opens up terrifying vistas of reality and Windows 95 user's frightful position therein

Mark Ruit

Re: And how do you show a space

It is entirely possible to look without seeing: rather more difficult to see without looking.

I could throttle you right about now: US Navy to ditch touchscreens after kit blamed for collision

Mark Ruit

Re: Start Button

A 1936 Austin Seven of my acquaintance had a very lage button with very large cables attached to it. There must have been something like a Bendix gear involved because there was no other physical action involved. In operation the whole thing jangled like a set of crazy church bells - you certainly knew it was working.

One person's harmless japery can be another's night of LaserJet Lego

Mark Ruit


Maybe a few more than countries than three - but 'countries' is not really a helpful measure. I read somewhere that an acedemic had used national GDP as a proxy for printer paper usage and come up with a figure of about 25 percent of world GDP being countries where "letter" sizes were standard: the rest of the world all used 'A' sizes.

My last four printers (all non-US brands) arrived with the tray-stops already set to A4, and the default paper in the firmware also set to A4 (ie overwriting any paper size defined in the print file). Those manufacturers obviously realised on which side their bread was buttered...

(And until today I though PC stood for "Personal Computer" although I worked out the meaning of the message - "load letter" was enough as I had spent 30 years working for a US subsidiary and we always had some copiers running 'letter'-sized paper.)

Off somewhere nice on holibobs? Not if you're flying British Airways: IT 'systems issue' smacks UK airports once again

Mark Ruit

Re: BPO - Managed Service Outsourcing....

Curiously, this is the second recent BA problem where Cruz has been totally absent from the story (the other is the BA pilots' dispute). Walsh appears to be leading on both. Given the way Cruz handled the previous IT cock-up, I suppose that is not illogical.

But is Cruz still alive? Enquiring minds want to know.

Cloudflare punts far-right hate-hole 8chan off the internet after 30 slayed in US mass shootings

Mark Ruit

Re: Guns or the people using them?

Perhaps the Supreme Court might be persuaded that the "Right" was to bear the arms available at the time the Amendment was written: generally single-shot weapons and IIRC muzzle loaders at that. The cylic rate for a well-trainerd operative is no higher than about 3 rounds a minute. For those with a fear of beaing attacked in their own hone - well, they'd better just be very good at target practice.

Idle Computer Science skills are the Devil's playthings

Mark Ruit

Re: Old Git

1963 to 1968...

(Repeats and Sandwich years)

A certain millennial turned 30 recently: Welcome to middle age, Microsoft Excel v2

Mark Ruit

Re: Bankrolling ujpgrades


"Or as long as crap software like Sage keeps insisting on having Excel installed"

We dumped Sage specifically because of that piece of crass stupidity. But Sage's problem as a company is is that it is managed by accountants. not by software specialists: and that shows in a lot of other places in their software too. The most user-hostile pice of software it has ever been my missfortune to use. When we were moving to the cloud Sage One was not even in consideration.

Mark Ruit

Re: Bankrolling ujpgrades


"Or as long as crap software like Sage keeps insisting on having Excel installed"

We dumped Sage specifically because of that piece of crass stupidity. But Sage's problem as a company is is that it is managed by accountants. not by software specialists: and that shows in a lot of other places in their software too. Sage was the most user-hostile pice of software it has ever been my misfortune to use. When we were moving to the cloud Sage One was not even in consideration.

Manchester firm shut down for pretending to be Google

Mark Ruit

Re: The lads from Lagos..

And once disqualified, the crooks can't be a director, can't be involved with forming companies, running them, or undertaking marketing

Which is just what the IS had already done to the 'board' of the first iteration of this business scamshop: all one of him. Barred for 11 years IIRC.

Like WHOIS, Companies House 'tells you more'. In this case, more than appears in the article. That on the BBC had more information!

Banking websites are 'littered with trackers' ogling your credit risk

Mark Ruit

Re: I think we need to know...

Do modern bank sites work at all with scripting turned off?

The on-line banking sites of four different banks work well enough for me. Apart, that is, from a really strange problem with the site one bank, which problem:

a) I could work around and

b) seems now to have gone away.

I get that unspeakable Rapport pop-up as well, every time, for the same reasons, with the same fatuous suggestion from that bank on how to suppress it. Oh for a browser that will let me run in private browsing, but stores just the cookies I choose and refuses/dumps all others...

What makes it worse is that the Rapport pop-up often takes so so long to be served that I am half-way through logging-on, and I have to abort, close the page, and start again...

Microsoft loves Linux so much, its OneDrive web app runs like a dog on Windows OS rivals

Mark Ruit

Re: Loved to Death

Brilliant. Anyone who can work the Donald and Jacob R-M into the same posting deserves an upvote

Uber hands over info on 12m passengers, drivers to US officials, cops

Mark Ruit

Re: Location, Location, Location...

Whilst it is not an insurmountable problem, "40.773006, -73.962301" lends itself much more readily to data-mining than "Corner of East 75th Street and Park Ave" which first has to be parsed to the former format or similar before it can be processed. It is the inevitable error rate in that parsing that is the issue.

Google fastens buy buttons to paid mobile search results – report

Mark Ruit

I can't be sure, but...

I think I saw something like this on my Haemorrhoid fartsmone yesterday - but I canned that search so fast I cannot be sure.

If this is true, the real canning of the phone will be almost as fast as the virtual canning of the search.

Mine's the one with a spare "dumb-phone" in the pocket.

British Pregnancy Advice Service fined £200k for Anon hack, data protection breaches

Mark Ruit

Cui bono?

Slightly odd charity BPAS. It doesn''t (AFAIK) go in for chugging, street-bombing for DDs, or tin-rattling. IIRC it is essentially funded by the private clinics.

That is not any sort of accusation of misfeasance, let alone malfeasance. Their work as a counter to religious zealotry is probably very valuable. (And note that I only 'clause' that because I have no yardstick for it, never having come anywhere near its services.)

But somehow I don't think BPAS is necessarily wanting for competent management or trustees

DP is about atitudes and for too many the attitudes are that it is unimportant.

BTW - if the record was only of those wanting a call-back, and assuning that separate, more secure, systems were in use to hold the data of those who actually became "clients", then the record itself, by its very existence and never mind the lack of security, contravened several of the 'eight principles'.

BT demands end to Ofcom wholesale broadband subsidies for BSkyB, TalkTalk

Mark Ruit

Market distortions

I'm not sure I have this exactly right, but I believe that BT scooped an extra bit of sugar when they got title to all the ducts and cableways. As I understand it, none of that legacy infrastructure is liable for NNDR* on the grounds that it wan't liable for NNDR at the point of acquisition as it had been owned by HMG. That "point of acquisition" was not the privatisation, but a few months before, since BT had to exist before it could be sold.

However new duct/cableway infrastucture installed by a Telco, including anything installed - but not simply repaired/replaced - by BT post-privatisation, is liable.for NNDR as it is physical business real estate. Mobile networks similarly pay NNDR on their mast sites. Athough it may only be pennies per Km of duct or per manhole, it still adds up to a lot. Presumably Virgin are being hit by that.

Anyone know anything about this aspect?

*"National Non Domestic Rates", the business equivalent of Council Tax. It is collected by Local Authoriries but is all paid over to the Treasury.

Dropbox erects sueball shield with new T&C and privacy legalese

Mark Ruit

Splash slurp

The software majors complained (directly to POTUS IIRC) that the NSA was pissing in their soup. Those outside the US would chose non-US hosting, routeing, and software to escape the NSA's polite attention, they said.

This sounds a bit like Dropbox is pissing in its own soup. (Just as GCHQ is pissing in the UK industry's Brown Windsor.)

Java or .NET bod in the Midlands? Congrats - you've got a DOUBLE DIGIT payrise

Mark Ruit

Re: Bah!

Going to the dogs? That must be Crufts then, but the srvice is anything but crufty.

If going to the dogs means timetable speed ups, track and ride improvements, bottleneck reductions and improved on-board faciliries, then perhaps the LIRR needs to go the same way?.

PayPal row heats up as eBay chair calls Icahn claims 'false and misleading'

Mark Ruit

Re: Dear Carl

As an optimist, I would like to think that Icahn has bitten off more tha he can chew with Apple and now eBay/PayPal.

His loudly touted "victory" at Apple gained him only a tiny fraction of what he was asking. Yes that's a well known trick - ask for a lot, settle for a little; but it soon gets callibrated, as then does the response.

Instead of "Icahn", I'm hopeful his nickname may become "Ican't" (or in the context of Apple, perhaos with a different vowel?)

Microsoft teams up with Feds, Europol in ZeroAccess botnet zombie hunt

Mark Ruit

Eggs? Omlettes?

There is always going to be a balnnce between the benefit for the many and the damage to the few in operations such as these. That those adversely affected may themselves be working on the same benefits only makes striking that balance more difficult.

It will always be those who have lost something in that balance who will shout the loudest; and it will always be the less-principled end of the media that finds that take on the story the most newsworthy.

Whether the balance was right this time I don't know, and I suspect never will. No-one will agree where it should be anyway. Only time will eventually provide any sort of perspective.

Chromecast: We get our SWEATY PAWS on Google's tiny telly pipe

Mark Ruit

Re: $35 + Cost of a tablet remote

What's the point of the extra dongle? What's the pint of TV? I've managed withoud that particular opiate for the last 40-odd years...

Danube sludge peril: Brown trouser time or not?

Mark Ruit


Re the Greenpeace "analysis of the analysis",

IIRC a footnote pointed out that the silicon dioxide was "present as complex calcium and sodium aluminium silicates". The former of those is - roughly speaking - clay. My garden is full of it. Round here they dig it up and make it into bricks and tiles. Others turn it into useful items like (serially reusable) plates bowls and cups. Good Greenpeace-lovable stuff in fact. Okay, dried powdered clay is harmful to the lungs in a working or living environment, but only at well-detectable concentrations and over extended periods. Silica it ain't and silicosis it does not cause.

Nil points for the Greenpeace and nil points for the BBC. I am usually sympathetic to the general direction of Greenpeace, but much like my children they piss me off when they do really stupid things. Like that table.

As for neutralisation, there are several options around - what about flue gas desulfurisation? A very long way from being simple, but a local source.

And I am surprised at there being only one person who has asked about the earth dam failure; it looks very like the same mode as the levee failure in New Orleans during Katrina, and that same failure is just waiting to happen in places on the Thames, downstream of the barrier.

Lead in glass? Glass is very stable physically; bury a piece in the ground and it will look identical if you dig it up in 100 years. The aforesaid garden has yielded pieces of glass which seen to be that sort of age (fragments of Cod's bottles, instance). And BTW once-useful pieces of baked clay turn up as well, some datable by their design to ~150 years old.

The chemical stability of glass is another matter - not my field but leaching of lead from old lead glass sounds eminently probable to me.

Mine's the one with the Chemistry degree certificate in the pocket.

Ryanair agrees website clarifications with OFT

Mark Ruit

Civil-itic servants

"The Department for Transport is currently progressing the implementation of the relevant UK legislation, which will introduce sanctions for non compliance but it is unclear when it will come into effect," said the OFT spokesman"

This sort of Regulation doesn't appear from nowhere - the process takes anything up to two years; but like other areas of regulation -- where I work - the idle, secure-job, inept, final-salary-pension, wasters don't even start to think about the enforcing regulations until the Euro Regulationas are a fact.

RottenAir has at least another 18 months to go on scamming then.

A RottenAir ticket isn't even good enough to make a paper aeroplane, and much too scratchy for the only purpose it could be put to.

[Pingu - because like me he doesn't fly either]

MS misses restart button on desktop auto-updates

Mark Ruit

How many?

In crude orders of magnitude, MS are currently holding back updates for about a billion users of Windows, in order to to protect 38,000 installs of their PoS. That's probably fewer than the number of XP/Vista machines running inside MS...

And what fantastic market penetration that PoS has! How many Point-of-Sale systems in small businesses world-wide? 380K? 3.8M? That admission must have hurt.