* Posts by Alan Brown

15189 publicly visible posts • joined 8 Feb 2008

UK PM Sunak calls election, leaving Brits cringing over memory of his Musk love-in

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Disappointing

The non-binding referendum was 8 years, 3 general elections and 5 prime ministers ago

Britain has a fine tradition of incoming governments not being bound by their predecessors

It also has a fine tradition of allowing voters to change their minds - something that the Gammonati seem firmly opposed to

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: "If you look at referendum voters who are still alive"

This is why I say that those most affected by Brexit weren't able to vote and will be the ones making end of life care decisions for those who mostly voted for Brexit

Seriously alienating your (grand)children is a bad idea

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Disappointing

History will show that Britain was bad for the EU

It's already becoming obvious that there are a lot of Brexit benefits accruing to various parties - but not to Britain

It'll be a long time before Britain can reenter the EU, even if there was a 100% referendum tomorrow. Copenhagen Criteria are going to be particularly jarring to the establishment - especially the (currently unelected) House of Lords and will take a long time to enact because of the entrenched resistance to change

Chinese electric car brands zapped by price surge as EU cranks tariffs

Alan Brown Silver badge


You've never heard of "Valet mode", have you?

A lot of high powered cars have it - and if you have to ask why, you never watched Ferris Beuller's day off

Alan Brown Silver badge


My 12 year old Imiev actually limits torque - not only to prevent wheelspin but to reduce the risk of snapping a halfshaft

Switch off the nanny and it's capable of fairly spectacular drifting, even though it tops out under 80mph

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Because the last thing we want is the Chinese government subsidising the green transition.

"China is burning more coal than ever"

Except it isn't. It's burning more coal for electricity than ever before but a lot of that generation is replacing smog-generating inefficent coal-fired apartment/household heating systems or car exhausts

The overall carbon equation is a decrease in output and it's clear they've been building their recent coal plants with an eye to alternative heat sources (ie: molten salt nuclear)

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Because the last thing we want is the Chinese government subsidising the green transition.

"If the EU are not serious about the green transition"

I think the EU and others are finding out the hard way that they haven't invested enough into infrastructure upgrades to cope with the added demand of EVs _and_ migrating most domestic/commercial heating systems from gas/oil to electricity

It's not just the distribution grid and local feeders. Net Zero requires 6-8 times more annualised electrical generation than currently exists and those power stations are hellishly expensive no matter what technology is used, whilst dicking around the edges with "small modular nuclear" and other bullshit generation systems(*) is driving up the costs even more

(*) If your thermal sourced generator can't provide at least 1GWe then it's uneconomic. It doesn't matter what the heat source is, this is just simple math on the steam loop side

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Unfair subsidization?

"What are they mining for PV cells/panels"

The OP is referring to China's rare earth mining. They cornered the world market because all the others shut down due to costs of thorium sequestration (thorium is the single largest component of monazite ores, greater than everything else combined)

China's been buying that thorium for the last 20+ years, which greatly reduces the waste processing costs. If thorium powered LFTRs are sucessful (China's pouring billions into researching this, based on US ORNL's MSRE) then rare earth mines become thorium mines with rare earth side gigs - and Chinese LFTRs are likely to become the default power source for 4-6 billion people across the planet

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Unfair subsidization?

"That'll be down to Chinese mining (hideously environmentally-unfriendly) "

Chinese rare earth mining is viable because the Chinese government is buying up the thorium being produced. Elsewhere it's an unwanted slightly radioactive waste product that's EXTREMELY expensive to get rid of

The question is WHY the Chinese government is buying thorium and the short answer is that they're anticipating the TMSR-LF series reactors to be sucessful designs for the 2030s - renewables are many things but capable of driving full net zero they are not - merely an interim step whilst better nuclear power is readied

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Unfair subsidization?

"Net zero ain't popular!"

Anything which adds costs isn't. But there's a social cost for carbon burning which is hard to escape

The methane seeps in the Leptav Sea are a warning sign.

There's ~20GT of methane which _will_ bloop out eventually (9 months of human emissions in an afternoon) and if more than a couple more such methane clathrate beds blow out there's a high risk of repeating the Permian extinction (oxygen levels dropping from 20% down to 11-12%)

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Unfair subsidization?

No surprise there. Follow the money

I was very loudly razzed back a decade or so back when I said that flavoured vapes were being specifically marketed to entice children and recounted encounters with "free samples" being handed out by "big name" brands in UK poor area retailers (Tescos/One Stop) - but not in wealthy area ones

History has a knack of repeating. Flavoured cigarettes were banned in the 50s-60s for exactly trhe same reasons as above. Menthol cigarettes and "rum" tobacco were allowed because those were considered "adult" flavours that wouldn't appeal to children. (Both of these have been banned in the EU as part of encouraging smokers to quit)

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Unfair subsidization?

"I don't understand why disposable vapes are still a legal thing."

In a lot of places, they aren't. They'll become illegal in the UK on 1 April 2025


Tesla self-driving claims parked in court

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Wonder what took so long

"There is a mandatory arbitration clause."

Which isn't legally binding in a lot of jurisdictions, as it breaches unfairs terms in consumer contracts laws

China miffed over electric vehicle tariff tiff with EU

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: "most thin-skinned country on this planet."

"The EU appears (and to some extent is) a squabbling shambles but like most apparently dysfunctional families when push comes to shove they will show a unified resolve in dealing with the adversary."

This is the standard thing about democracies that authoritarians dismiss at their peril.

Putin thought the squabbling would leave the EU paralysed when he moved into Ukraine. What he didn't realise what that the "squabbles" are arguements about the colour of the paint on the walls, not the house which was built already

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: "most thin-skinned country on this planet."

"The upside was the producers were forced to diversify their markets."

Something that USA soybean producers SHOULD have done when China stopped buying their product for NON tariff reasons

The background: China's been fighting the spread of African Swine Flu and culled tens (if not hundreds) of millions of pigs fighting it, putting millions of farmers out of business. Unsurprisingly, farmers don't buy animal food for animals that don't exist and the vast majority of the food they were buying happened to be American soybeans

IOW what was declared to be the trigger for a trade war initiated by Trump, wasn't.

Ironically there was a massive market opportunity for American pork producers (3 times the size of the US domestic market) which would have more than absorbed the excess soybean production which got slammed shut in their faces thanks to Trump. Pork producers in other countries made out like bandits

Alan Brown Silver badge

If it wasn't for Russia's ongoing nuclear threats the fastest/quickest way to end that particular war is to send military units rather than just military hardware

The USA alone could "remove" all the Russians from Ukraine in 24-48 hours. Germany+Poland would take a day or so longer

Alan Brown Silver badge

"despite the lack of infrastructure to support them"

There's precedent for the increase in demand - the widespread adoption of air conditioning.

As long as demand increases no faster than the leccy network can be built out then it will work

UNFORTUNATELY the move away from oil/gas heating has to be factored into it too (nobody will buy reticulated hydrogen - it will be at least twice(*) the price of electricity vs current retictulated natural gas being 1/3-1/5 the price of electricity)

AND even if the distribution network is built out in time at both core and leaf level (street level infrastructure has about 1/3 of the needed capacity right now), there's a hellbent mentality of using "renewables" and resisting nuclear power (in particular, a marked lack of enthusiasm for alternatives to the weapons-derived/weapons-enabling uranium cycle we currently depend on)

Britain _alone_ needs at least 70 new GW-scale power plants for baseload (including replacing the aging out ones). Good luck doing that with wind and solar, no matter how many battery banks are used to balance their generation/non-generation abilities

(*) No matter how expensive electricity may get, "green/blue" hydrogen will always cost more. It's vastly cheaper to generate electricity from the energy sources involved than to make hydrogen. The safety concerns of hydrogen don't overly matter if nobody will buy it on economic grounds

John Deere now considers VMs to be legacy tech, Ethernet and Wi-Fi on the brink

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Singularity from the sidelines

Runaway(1984) - Tom Selleck, Gene Simmons

Ransomware negotiator weighs in on the extortion payment debate with El Reg

Alan Brown Silver badge

"The most common such group is officially designated terrorist organizations, which do not include ransomware groups"


They passed the threshold when they disabled infrastructure and medical facilities

FTX's $24B tax bill written down to just $200M

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Got to hand it to the IRS

As we've already seen in one blackmail case, it's reatively easy to link a wallet to a transation to a person, with authorities sending a 1c transaction and then verifying it shows up in the suspected wallet

Alleged $100M dark-web drug kingpin, 23, arrested

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Legalise it all

More to the point, it takes away the profits of the narcogangs and that's why they're in it.

Money is the root of most crime

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Oxycodone

Let's not forget the Rat Universe experiments. Even "highly addictive" drugs turned out to be fairly easily kicked in a supportive environment

Rats are highly social creatures. Isolating them in cages turns out to be torture. No wonder they prefer the opioids in that environment

Seething CEO shoulder surfed techie after mistaken takedown of production server

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Labelling production

"Until one day the KVM had been left on one of the linux servers, which promptly rebooted itself."

This can be changed or disabled. After the 3rd time a windows "admin" did that to a Linux box I provided, it was altered to respond with "Don't do that"

Spam blocklist SORBS closed by its owner, Proofpoint

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Proofpoint is in decline

Seeling out to "investors" is a standard problem. The first thing most of them want to do is find ways of repaying their purchase price as quickly as possible and this almost invariably results in driving away paying customers

This is why th'Interwebs are littered with corpses of once-useful or popular services

It's a trend that shown no sign of changing over the last 30 years

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Double opt-in demands

"so it goes to a honeypot domain...."

I'm sure you can show the proof that proper opt in mail practices were used

Ohio power plants want special tariffs on datacenters to protect regional grid

Alan Brown Silver badge

harbinger for....

Datacentres kinda pale into insignificance when you factor in the extra demand caused by EV charging requirements

The USA has faced this kind of increase in the past - when Air Conditioning became widely adopted

Mystery miscreant remotely bricked 600,000 SOHO routers with malicious firmware update

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: unhappy security researcher?

Or someone was aiming to hurt a particular telco for commercial advantage

Who's the competition in the area

It looks a lot like VMware just lost a 24,000-VM customer

Alan Brown Silver badge

Yup. As soon as you see that kind of talk you know the socioaths have gained control

55 years ago, Apollo 10's crew turned the airwaves blue

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: In some ways, we haven't progressed much

Today perhaps. People were far less prudish in the 1970s as long as it was after 8pn

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end...

More than that. At least one Gemini crew died before launch, just not in an actual spaceship - in a T38 on the way to inspect the spaceship

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end...

Nixon also killed the ORNL MSR nuclear reactor project and set civil nuclear power back at least 50 years

Starlink suffers 'degraded service' from solar storm but emerges intact

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: War. Famine.

"There is no possible non-military purpose for this"

Apart from on aircraft and other suchlike applications. There are a huge and increasing number of airfields worldwide which are GPS-nav based in their precision approaches

On the other hand, if GPS-hardened military stuff exists and is widely distributed there's vastly less incentive to attempt to knock out/spoof/degrade GNSS systems in the first place

Alan Brown Silver badge

"a lot of satellites have just had a big top up in their rad count so far"

In reality, less than flying through the South Atlantic Anomaly gives them

Starlink birds are very low flying - below a large chunk of the ionosphere - and that gives them a lot more protection than most other devices up there

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: What would it cost ...

I'm surprised that an Ion tug proposal hasn't been put forward. It's been 4 years (and one month) since MEV-1 rescued Intelsat 901

Starlink offers 'unusually hostile environment' to TCP

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: We love it.

Dropped packets is another matter emtirely. Reno really doesn't like that

ECN has been around for a very long time and it surprises me how often it's not enabled or even ends up being filtered at some intermediate point

Brit council fumbles Oracle Fusion launch, leaving SAP to die another day

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Why the upgrade?

4: XYZ software only having a 5 year contract and there being a HUGE cost delta if you stick with 'em, vs incentives to jump ship

The issue of course being that those who sign off on it get congratulated for saving money without really caring if it costs more for those downhill to implement things and by the time things come to a head, they've moved onto new jobs

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Something that bothers me about government contracting...

One of the problems is that there;s a mindset that "if it's expensive it must be better"

That and the Schmoozing that SAP/Oracle/MS/Goo all do has a corrosive effect. Even if XYZ outfit royally fucks up, they seldom find themselves on the "never do business with again" list and the supply contracts never have penalty clauses - something that will bounce back HARD on an overzealous salestwat

Intel drags Xeon Phi Knights Hill chips out back... two shots heard

Alan Brown Silver badge

> It's more likely that the Chinese copy ideas rather than whole designs

Which isn't much different to "rest of world". MIPS and Risc-V both started out life as academic design exercises

UK data watchdog wants six figures from N Ireland cops after 2023 data leak

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: What is the point?

More to the point, why aren't some levels of personal liability being applied?

Silicon Valley roundabout has drivers in a spin

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: No requirements to drive

That goes hand in hand with better public transport - anaethma to legislators who've been paid off by automotive interests for decades (Think: Jaywalking laws and their origins)

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: I live in a city of a little over 100K

"it isn't worth putting in a traffic light"

The town where I was born replaced most traffic lights with roundabouts in the 1980s and crash rates dropped over 90%

Make of that what you will but there's a reason that one of the national laws is that a traffic light intersection reverts to roundabout rules if the lights fail

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: People in the UK may sneer

Rotary = give way to traffic entering

Roundabout = entering traffic gives way

Traffic circle = generic but usually something with lots of entries/exits and varying rules

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: They're more common than you think

Traffic circles used to refer to the older "rotary"(*) style, with yield markings on the circle itself (give way to traffic entering)

These were an utter disaster and are why roundabouts were knee-jerk rejected my american traffic planners for decades

(*) Yes, there's a difference between rotaries and roundabouts

Ex-Space Shuttle boss corrects the record on Hubble upgrade mission

Alan Brown Silver badge

The pressure is usually political - scrubs look bad and the primary purpose of government civilian space programs is "flag waving"

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Obsoleted?

" Airbus, who'd inherited the role as manufacturer, decided to stop supporting the aircraft."

A lot of that decision was lack of spare parts and inability to manufacture them at an economic figure.

Concorde's flight control systems may have been partially computerised but they were at heart powered by 1950s high maintenance V-bomber technology. There comes a time when you have to draw a line under support of hopelessly obsolete technology

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Obsoleted?

"Where StarShip might fall down is that, really, it's only market is SpaceX's StarLink"

I'll guarantee that if cheap payload to orbit is available, the number of takers will expand dramatically - either ridesharing or dedicated large birds.

Right now the limit to GEO is about 8 tons and it's a one way trip. Starship's initial design triples that. (V3 is even bigger) Ion tugs make actually deorbiting failed birds practical - and also enable more stationkeeping fuel to be provided whilst simultaneously potentially increasing payload to GEO into the triple figure range

Cheap payload to orbit will change things in ways that mobile phones changed communications and smartphones changed them again - we can't even envision what 20 years in the future will be like

As something to consider - existing missions are expensive because launches are expensive and one-shots. This means hundreds/thousands of test articles, massive overengineering and a tendency for any given mission to end up hauling along a kitchen sink and marching band as everyone piles their pet project onto the mix

Cheaper launches means more stomach for risk, flight test articles to validate calculations, an acceptance of some failures when riding the ragged edge and willingness to launch fleets of probes. One examble is Beagle. If it had new airbags rather than the heavily patched USED ones it flew with it probably would have been fine. A Dozen Beagles only costs about double one unit and they're cheap enough to be scattered across Mars to give multiple simultaneous monitoring points (we need more seismic monitors, as one example)

Alan Brown Silver badge

Shuttle was the ultimate camel and dangerous by design thanks to the sidesaddle mount

Dreamchaser is more or less the size originally envisioned for STS before the USAF got involved

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: We came that close to not knowing about O-rings.

Careful, you might require sturgery

Alan Brown Silver badge

"Go-itis" strikes again

Pressure to proceed in dodgy situations - maybe ok or maybe disasterous

Is it ok to dice with crews like that?

ASML caves to US pressure to cease servicing some kit used by Chinese customers

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Uncle Sam still rules /s

In a country with the usual demographics and birthrates a surplus of males might well be cannon fodder, however when you have a birthrate below replacement (35 years of one child policy followed by 2 child policy since 2010), all children are precious. It's the same issue Russia faces if they attempt to draft soldiers west of the Urals (east of the Urals they're an occupying force, not a united country)

Historically the societal response to gender imbalances exceeding 1.05:1 in either direction has been polyandry/polygamy

Polyandry has generally been far more historically common and what we regard as "normal" (Monogamy) is relatively unusual in history, with it becoming widespread really only happening in the last 200 years

Interestingly there's a significantly higher level of female vs male emigration from both China and Japan - with those I've spoken to citing the treatment of women as second class citizens or chattels in both societies as a significant reason for bailing out (what we'd regard as 1950s attitudes still prevail)