* Posts by Dave_H

40 publicly visible posts • joined 14 May 2008

BT signs first smart meter deal

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Smart Meter

I've had an Electricity Smart Meter from First:Utility for some time now. I can look at my account on-line and can see my energy usage per 1/2 hour.

Personnaly I love the accuracy of billing and being able to bend the kids ears regarding their proflogate use of the energy. (It's much higher when I'm not following them round turning off lights in room they have left, etc.)

Why on earth does BT eventually catching up with what has been done via SMS so far warrant a news story?

Microsoft justifies lost Office 2010 upgrades


Think of the children

My children go to a Technology College (AKA Comprehensive School)

Much of their homework has to be downloaded from the school servers and the completed work submitted back to the servers.

Of course with the ****** schemes, the schools get the latest software from Microsoft almost immediately and freely. The teachers then save the homework in the latest proprietary format which the children cannot read and then get a fail !!!!

This is the ONLY reason we have a Windows PC in the house and it is loaded with the Student version of Office 2007. - Even then the teachers sometimes use programs that are not in Office e.g. Publisher - The number of times I've had to go to have words with teachers over this, you would think that they would learn!

Anyway, the school will update to the latest Office, and all the parents will have to update their copies. Except that there is no upgrade and we will have to pay full (student) price again. I'm thinking of claiming back the money from the LEA - anybody have experience of this?

New prototype US spy satellite rushed into active use


Caves are easy

Have none of you ever been in a cave?

Have you noticed how cool and humid it is in there (well compared to outside).

Any high resolution temperature sensing satelite could find the cool air bollowing out of the entrance. And there will be a column of negative ions above the entrance as well!

If only I could get hold of the existing data to go virtual cave hunting!

Caver Dave


Tunnels - no problem

Have none of you ever been in a cave?

Even in a hot country it is cooler inside a cave, and that cool air seeps out. Not only will any temperature reading satelite be able to see it, but they give out a column on negative ions to boot.

Mind you, I've never been able to get hold of any detailed temperature data for use in cave prospecting :-(

Caver Dave

MIT boffins on track of portable 60-watt seawater desalinator

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Haiti water

If you look carefully, you'll find that GE has set up at least 5 portable (as in, carry by 2 men before installation) units at water sources in Haiti. These delivery about 5,000l/day from solar energy only.


Avon & Somerset cop computers titsup?


Response time

3-4 weeks to get the visa to allow the Indian's to come over to do the Police work.

So that's bettered the force's average response time!

Unused phone lines to be taxed for rural broadband


Not Scottish Islands

How about in the Midlands (a couple of miles from Althorpe and Northampton to be precise)? Paper sheathed wire in lead pipes on the 2 mile run from the exchange means that we get about 1Mbit when it's been dry for a while and less than 300Kbit when its wet.

We are not scheduled for an upgrade, because BT management say that they don't have any of this very old wiring left!

Very little in the countryside is subsidised, mainly because very little is what we get!

For instance, there are no busses that could get me to and from work on time, so perhaps I could work from home some of the time? Oh no - no broadband means that I have to get into the car to get to work.

Perhaps, I could use online banking, online purchasing, online local government access? Oh no - no broadband means that I have to get into the car to get to the offices/shops.

Forget all the money on fancy environmental quango projects, and give us decent broadband so that we don't have to get in the car all the time. I can guarantee that this reduce carbon emmissions more than any quango can!

British boffins talk up squeeze-to-control 3D mouse tech


And something new?

I made something a little like this in 1986, except that it converted the finger squeezes into speech, rather than mouse movement. Battery, speaker, Z80 processor, memory, speech chip and five touch buttons fitted into a semi-rigid tube, described by some as like sqeezing a toothpaste tube (and not much larger). Nice research toy, but not enough dumb people in the UK (the target market) to make it into production. The battery life was pretty bad as well (about 10 minutes if I remember correctly)

Nice to see the boffins catching up at last!

My coat is the one with a wind up radio in the pocket - 'O' level Craft Design & Technology project 1981

Pitchfork-wielding mobs encircle smart meters

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I like mine

I find my smart meter to be very friendly, allowing me to view my usage at a half hourly resolution. When there is no-one in the house I can even see the hot water pump and fridge/freezer pump turning on and off on the graphs - and the constant drain of the broadband router and TV booster!

I changed to First-Utility to get the benfit of early smart meter instilation, and I've been very happy. Now if only I could be the previous incumbent (nPower) to believe the photographs I have of their terminal meter reading and then refund me the direct debit overpayment!

Windows 7's dirty secrets revealed


Who can't manage large code bases?

WTF - I have 11 million lines of code, spread across 3 products, each with a differing architecture. I have no design documentation, but they were built with good architectural and software principles. I manage to support (and bug fix where required) these by myself because they were properly written. Mind you three years of doing this has screwed my brain a bit!

UK2's email still borked



Hmm.. let me think - help the person who keeps blithering on and sending increasing anoying emails, or help the little people who are supporting us and not moaning.

You get the service you grumble for?

Yes, my email was still not sorted for all of our family accounts last night, but it's quite liberating not having to wade through all the crap every night. When it does come back, I'll just email all the people I want to talk to to let them know of the outage, and to resend their mail, and junk everything else that has come in.

Second problem in 10 years - that's why I moved my domain hosting to them a few months back!

Still getting increasing demands of money for service from FNHosting even though I've emailed and snailmailed a total of 14 times to tell them to close the account as I've transferred.

Now that's what I call bad service!

Dirty, dirty PCs: The X-rated picture guide


Shop soiled

I used to look after the terminals used to record record sales in the UK - when this was still done independently by Gallup.

If a shop reported a problem we sent them a replacement by courier, and asked them to place the 'faulty' one back in the box, for the courier who would wait for it.

I should have been a little curious when one customer broke off from drumming with the barcode wand long enough to ask if he should place the computer in a bag first.

When it got to us it didn't take long to work out that the shop had been flooded when a sewer broke. Although the computer still worked, there was no way we were going to clean that up and send it out again. Urgh!

Google 'experiment' crossbreeds Python with C++


No one worries about compile times?

If my system compile times weren't 1hour and 20 minutes, when would I get time to read The Register?

I remember Turbo Pascal - tiny footprint and fast - where has it all gone wrong since?

Yes - I do still optimise in assembler!

115,000 nabbed for in-car calling



I don't normally drive the motorways in the daytime, but have driven both the M1 and A1M (and A1) in the last few weeks. How many times have I been following someone (on my cruise control so I know that it's not me) to find them suddenly slowing by 10, 20 sometimes 30mph? I've lost count. Invariably they have a phone to their ear when I pass them.

Straw pole from the M1 motorway bridge (my kids are doing statistical analysis at school so it was educational, honest!) on last Saturday afternoon - between 30 and 35% of drivers with a phone in their hands.

We have cameras everywhere - why can't they just devote one days footage over to identifying and fining these b'stards.

To the guys talking about BMW drivers becoming Audi drivers - yes, I heard on a local radio report that an Audi dealer was reporting a rise in sales from people who did not want to be associated with the BMW stereotype any more.

You can identify a BMW owner by looking at their forehead. You'll see the scar from the complimentary lobotomy you get with your first BMW - It's where they remove the 'Cs' compassion, caring, concientiousness, carefulness, etc. and replace it with the 'As' aggression, arogance, etc.

Boffins fawn over dirt cheap server clusters



I've had clusters of Mini-ITX boards doing all sorts of things for years, although more for the distributed nature than raw grunt.

It's not rocket science. Oh no, hang on a moment, that is what I do!

Renault unveils e-car foursome


Not the first electric Kangoo

And I bet that they won't sell this one to Brit's either!

If I'd wanted one of the earlier models, I'd have had to get it from Switzerland and drive back there for the servicing!

I can't fault the specifications, just the availability!

T-Mobile picks Orange for merger


Won't improve service

"The biggest savings will come from dismantling redundant network infrastructure, as Orange and T-Mobile have heavily overlapping networks."

Won't improve the lack of service in my area then! - rural Northamptonshire, bang centre of the country.

Man hooks home into Twitter


He is just so far behind the times

We automated our offices in the early 90’s.

The keyfob for the door, recognized who you were and turned on all the lights on the route to your office if it was dark, or undid the curtains if it was light and your PC was freshly booted by the time you got there. Lights, etc. could all be controlled by voice activation, via your PC or remotely via the ‘phone.

One of the demonstrations that we used to do was take a picture of an office, turn on the lights, open the curtains, etc. take another picture and check that it had occurred via a mobile ‘phone on the other side of the world.

It was neat in the early 90’s, but boring now – has a hack been reading their ‘History of Pervasive Computing’ book again?

Toshiba hopes for 3D flash chip within three years


Natural progression

Back in the 80’s, when memory came in DIL packages, we used to stack these on top of each other, just bending out the chip select pin and wiring this to a little decoder chip on the top of the stack. Eight memory chips plus the decoder was the largest stack I used to make (and sell).

I always wondered why the chip manufacturers didn’t do this themselves.

Oh and don’t say that the [PCB/chip] stacking is too difficult, I’ve been buying 24 layer PCBs for 6 or 7 years now (sequential build, 3 sequences of 8 layers). Mind you, only one lab in Europe could make them successfully!

Mine's the one with the spanner in one pocket and the big 'ammer in the other!

Intel goes to ultraviolet extremes


Am I just being cynical?

In the short term why don’t you use laser interference? Fire one laser, interfere with another one down the same axis and the result is a much smaller spot. Cheap, simple, fast and obvious – i.e. it’s not worth patenting, so nobody is going to persue it!

Look out for the trolls, I just mentioned patents ;-)

Surrey schoolkids whip out 12ft todger


School leavers!

At least some of them can spell - even if it only has 4 letters!

Crew preps for ISS spacewalk


Just familiarising themselves with their new surroundings

At the cost of getting them up (and kkeping them) there I want their noses to the grindstone immediately!

'Cloned' CGI faces mimic people 'better than skilled actors'


Hi Honey

Video phone conversation

"Hi Honey, it's only me. I've forgotten my cards, can you let me have my security details?"

I wonder if this mimicing will work for our friends in Nigeria?

Swimmer's camcorder surfaces

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Nothing new

Try looking at Scan, CPC or probably 100 other places out there!

You'll find similar devices, with larger memory and (sometimes) tiny screens for playback.

Whilst this one is slightly smaller than most, you will miss all the 'proper' camera features that this lacks!

My interest in these small camera's is for caving, but I've yet to find one that will survive a 100m flat out crawl in semi-liquid, gritty mud in my pocket - despite all their claims of waterproof to 50m, rugged, etc.!

Farmers furious at EU's sheep-chip scheme

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Costs more than the sheep is worth

At a cost of €2.25 per sheep that will be most of the miniscule profit gone then. Last time I went to market - the sheep on the hoof (and good ones at that) weren't making much more.

If you went to the supermarket, of course you couldn't buy a Kilo for that price, but then that's another story. Like the wool that has regularly been getting £2 for a fleece, after it costs £3 to shear the sheep!

The sheep have ear tags now which enable easy tracking. Why add something else to do the same job and cost an awful lot more?

Ex-Young Farmers County Chairman, Ex-National Council member, County Vice-President, but working in IT as at least there are regular hours, it's inside and has a half decent wage!

Ofcom gets puffed out over wind turbines


Why not replace with broadband?

Oh yes, let me think...

That's perhaps because a bit of wet string operates better than broadband in most of the countryside where these microwave links are situated.

So yet again the future of this country (this time in energy generation) is shackled by the lack of a proper telecommunications infrastructure. This is what OFCOM should be looking at!

Mathematica man brews 'AI' Google Killer™

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Name for this class of system

If this works as well as we could hope, could I suggest that we coin the phrase "anti-politician” to describe this class of system.


Because it works more than a few minutes at a time, takes time to research its answers, gives answers in plain English, doesn’t take bribes or get involved in nepotism, and most importantly doesn’t lie constantly.

3D laser maths models of women's bodies produced


When it comes to ladies lingerie

these are not the sort of 'nips' I'm usually thinking about!

Slash your way inside Apple's Mac Mini

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Where's the gorilla’s antistatic wrist strap then?

Sonim XP3 Enduro ultra-rugged mobile phone

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You must take it caving

A few years ago I took a group of students caving and had to take the Student Union phone on the activity with me. They did not care that it would only last a few minutes before disintegrating or that there was no signal underground. But boy did they grumble when I returned a very wet bag of broken bits to them a few days later!

Maybe this phone would get over the first problem, but still no lack of signal.

I only use a ‘phone for making calls, so this could be ideal for me.

Brit, French nuke subs collide - fail to 'see' each other


New sensors?

I can think of two easy ways to see if a Frenchie is sneaking along side you:

1) Use a chemical sensor to 'smell' out the cheese

2) Use a camera to look for the large white flag furled up on the conning tower ready for quick deployment

Blizzard of smut cuts off Council websites


No-one in the IT department has noticed

Surely the boss has noticed the long hours the helpdesk are 'suddenly pulling' and the lack of paper tissues in the office!

New Italian Job ending revealed Friday


The simple answer

that the boys at my junior school (yes the film is that old) decided on was...

All move the the front of the bus (drivers area) Then for one person to go towards the rear and throw a bar at a time forwards to be stacked at the front (also initially in the drivers area where there was a bulkhead to stop it slipping backwards again until the bus became level).

I also vaguely remember solving a problem based on this in A level mathematical mechanics.

MSI mobo ditches Bios for EFI

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If you ain't capable of driving a keyboard interface - what do you think you are doing messing with BIOS settings?

BBC: Top Gear Tesla didn't run out of juice


If only

If only we could buy decent leccy cars in the UK - by decent I mean able to keep up on A roads (60-70mph) and able to do a reasonable commute (40 mile round trip)!

Top Gear is a 'lads mag' on the screen anyway, so you should take anything they say or do as a joke anyway!

My name really is Ivan O'Toole, admits Ivan O'Toole



I did some contract work for a German called Dr. A. Kunt, who joked that his brother was an Inspector in the local police.

My father went to school with a James (Jimmy) Riddle.

BT opens wallet to send fibre to the home

Dead Vulture

Life in the country

Well actually in a village.

There is one good (2.7Mb/s) line to our Close, the rest being (1.3Mb/s). Ring and complain to BT about the speed and you get the fast line - until the next person complains. Oh, and half that speed if it has been raining and the cable under the High Street is wet. Fibre to the cabinet won't help us as it's the last few hundred metres that's the problem!

BT think that we don't speak to each other and know what they are doing! Their attitude is "think yourself lucky that you are getting that speed" and "if you want faster move to a town"!

If the government spent as much money on fibre infrastructure (to benefit everyone) as they have on the cross London rail link (to benefit a few thousand people) then we would all have fibre to house!

Then half of us could work from home and the government might meet their CO2 targets with the lack of cars on the road.

Dead duck - because that's more use than any good ideas or connected thinking when the government or one of its monopolies are concerned!

Could pen-sized GPS jammers paralyse UK shipping?

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LORAN = real pain

I’m a member of a UK Cave Rescue Organisation, and we have to use low frequency communications to penetrate through the rock to rescue teams underground. The “galloping horses” interference from LORAN seriously degrades clarity of message reception and is very tiring for an operator to have to listen to. The sooner LORAN goes the better!

New Microgeneration report - what it actually says


Get the scale right

[To summarise]

A small improvement on a large scale i.e the grid, will make a big difference.

A large improvement on a tiny scale i.e. home generation, will make no noticable difference.

I think that the conclusion is a no-brainer!

BTW Half of my village were walking around a local farm at the weekend, when the farmer joked that maybe he ought to apply for a wind farm on his hill. You should have seen the look of shock on his face when we unanimously said we would support it!

Boffin logo, as contrary to what 'they' will tell you, you don't need anything more than common sense to see the answer!

Bell Canada chokes P2P and privacy?


Theft, lies and denial

That's Bell alright! - all the way back to Alexander Graham obtaining the first telephones from Antonio Meucci and trying to claim it as his invention. Bell's patent was annuled on the basis of fraud and misrepresentation!

Mind you, is he any worse than the 'inventor' of the electric light bulb Thomas Edison who copied the British patent of Joseph Swan?