* Posts by Duncan Macdonald

1091 publicly visible posts • joined 20 Mar 2009


The home Wi-Fi upgrade we never asked for is coming. The one we need is not

Duncan Macdonald

Re: Too pessimistic - Not always

One friend lives in a recently built property with plasterboard internal walls - UNFORTUNATELY this plasterboard and the plasterboard on the external walls has a layer of aluminium foil on the back making internal WiFi problematic and mobile phone calls do not work unless right by a window.

Power grids tremble as electric vehicle growth set to accelerate 19% next year

Duncan Macdonald

Re: If have the extra power to refine more petrol...

Not even close - the majority of the energy used in an oil refinery is thermal energy - and guess what - it is an oil refinery so they get the thermal energy by burning oil.

The push to EVs has the following major problems

1) The cost of EVs is still far higher than the cost of ICE vehicles

2) There is insufficient generation to handle a significant proportion of EVs even in windy periods where wind farms deliver maximum output (and during calm weather wind farms produce zero electricity).

3) Even if by some miracle the electricity generation was available, the distribution system is not sized to handle the additional load. The biggest problem is with local distribution in towns and cities - the cables and transformers are not sized for the additional load. As (in the UK) urban electricity distribution is done with underground cables the majority of urban roads would need to be dug up to replace the cables with bigger ones.

Current UK peak electricity demand is just under 50GW - approximately 0.75kW per person in the UK. Medium rate domestic EV chargers charge at about 7kW. There are over 33 million cars in the UK - if all were EVs charged with domestic chargers overnight the peak electricity demand by the EVs alone would be well over 200GW - over 4 times the current peak demand.

Because wind power is unreliable (the UK does get some calm days most years with very little wind power available) there has to be sufficient conventional generation (coal,oil,gas,nuclear) to cover shortages.

One further note - EV ranges are always quoted for mild conditions when the vehicle is not using heating or cooling - with an ICE vehicle heating is effectively free as it uses the waste heat from the engine - for an EV the power for heating comes directly from the same battery that powers the motor reducing the range considerably.

We all scream for ice cream – so why are McDonald's machines always broken?

Duncan Macdonald

Re: Limiting choice is anticompetitive

Winning a federal election (Congressman, Senator or President) requires the expenditure of far more money in advertising than will ever be paid in salary.

As a result only the very rich or people sponsored by the very rich can be elected and the sponsors expect to get their money back in the form of laws and contracts that favor them.

Therefore a lot of US law favors the rich and big businesses - anything that favors the ordinary people rather than the rich is unlikely to be passed (and if it is passed then it is likely to be delayed for a long time and watered down to have as little impact on the rich as possible).

Icon for what should happen to politicians that abuse the public's trust (95%+ of senior politicians) ========>

Boffins reckon Mars colony could survive with fewer than two dozen people

Duncan Macdonald

Why do people call a small outpost a colony ?

Any settlement can only be considered a colony when it can survive without ongoing resupply. On Earth (with air, water and food available) the minimum number for long term survival seems to be about 2000 - fewer than that and inbreeding becomes a problem (smaller groups have survived when there has been a trickle of new people arriving).

On Mars (or the Moon) the lack of critical resources (air, water, food etc) requires a lot of high tech equipment for survival. This requirement for high tech means that resupply from Earth will be needed until the equipment can be produced locally. The number of people needed to produce such equipment means that the smallest self sustaining colony on Mars would need over a million people. Any smaller group would be doomed to extinction if the supply from Earth was cut off. When it was no longer possible to repair or replace a bit of vital equipment the settlement would start to die.

Let's play... Force off the power to someone else's datacenter systems

Duncan Macdonald

Time for a simple cron job

Turn the data center power off then on again every 30 seconds - and just see how long it takes to REALLY damage the data center equipment. My guess is less than 10 minutes before things break.

Icon for the equipment after 30 minutes of power cycling ===========>

How to get a computer get stuck in a lift? Ask an 'illegal engineer'

Duncan Macdonald

Similar problem

The computer had to be moved from goods in (in the basement) to the 4th floor - unfortunately the goods lift only went up to the 2nd floor so the personnel lift had to be used. The computer itself would not have been a problem (a PDP 11/34 with 2 RK05 disk drives and a CAMAC crate) but it was in a CEGB electronic equipment rack.

The CEGB (UK Central Electricity Generating Board) had had a number of nasty incidents at power stations under construction where racks full of expensive equipment were damaged or destroyed by bad construction drivers. So the CEGB made a requirement for all power station electronic equipment racks that they should be strong enough to protect the equipment if they were rammed by a jeep doing 20mph !!

Needless to say such racks were HEAVY - the lift refused to move with the rack inside!

After removing the front and read access doors the lift would travel to the 4th floor - but it stopped about 6 inches short making it impossible to get the rack out.

After a few curses a hack was tried - the lift was taken back to the basement then taken to the 5th floor then down to the 4th floor and pushed out as soon as the doors started to open - thankfully that worked.

(For any ex-CEGB workers who are interested - this was the Dinorwig development computer system and the incident happened at Laud House in the 1970s.)

Unfortunately there is no heavy weight icon !!!

FBI boss: Congress must renew Section 702 spy powers – that's how we get nearly all our cyber intel

Duncan Macdonald

Section 702 WILL be renewed

By now the various agencies (NSA,FBI,CIA etc) will have so much dirt on US politicians that they will be able to get it renewed.

FBI agent to US Senator "Will you vote to renew Section 702 or will we release the videos of you having underage sex ? "

Given the nature of US politicians, the FBI have probably got potent blackmail material on most of them.

Icon for what should happen to corrupt politicians (well over 90% of them) ============>

Chips ahoy! US and China locked in self-destructive battle of trade restrictions

Duncan Macdonald

Military spending

There are too many US politicians that depend on "lobbying contributions" (aka bribes) from the defense industry. The US spends more on "defense" than the next 12 countries put together. If there US had no perceived conflict then the "defense" spending would drop which would make the executives and shareholders of the defense industry unhappy.

Russia's military power is a small shadow of what the USSR had at its peak and apart from its nukes has no real way to threaten the US. China is so far from the US (7000 miles coast to coast) that the logistics of one of them attacking the other is hopeless. China's navy is so small compared to the US navy that even it trying to invade Taiwan would be difficult and any more distant objectives would be impossible.

If the US reduced its military expenditure to what was actually needed for defense it could probably save over $400 billion per year - but the politicians would no longer get their bribes and the US unemployment would jump as the military would have fewer people and the defense industry would shed jobs.

China has so far made only token responses to the US trying to cripple its high tech industry - my belief is that China is playing the long game - expecting the US economy to collapse under the weight of its debts sometime in the coming decades (to see why - look at the US Debt Clock ( https://www.usdebtclock.org/ ) - the unfunded liabilities are currently over $192 trillion and rising by more than $1 million every 4 seconds and there is a lot of other bad news there).

Suit alleges Oracle oversold and under-delivered on NetSuite software

Duncan Macdonald

Oracle misleading customers ?

Surely you jest - after all Oracle is a fine upright company that would never mislead or sell faulty software!!!


Icon for what should happen to businesses that mislead their customers ========>

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

Duncan Macdonald

Remember - "smart" electricity meters can turn off your supply

All UK "smart" electricity meters have a built in relay that can disconnect the power. The main reason that the government wants "smart" meters is not for benefits for consumers but to ensure that the "unimportant" people can have their electricity turned off leaving enough power for the "important" people anytime that there is an electricity shortage.

The metering function does not require a remote disconnect - it was insisted on by the UK government to ensure that the "important" people never had power outages.

(The smart meter would cost less to make if instead of the relay it just had a wire link so there was no remote disconnect facility.)

Icon for the lying B*S*A*D* who falsely promote "smart" meters ==========>

US senators and spies spar over Section 702 warrantless surveillance

Duncan Macdonald

Do not expect 702 to die

Three letter agency to politician

"If you do not re authorize Section 702 then we will release the videos showing you having under age sex."

Given the apparent total lack of morals in senior politicians, I think it very likely the three letter agencies have serious blackmail data on enough politicians to get Section 702 re authorized.

Icon for what should happen to corrupt politicians (over 90% of then) ========>

The challenges Intel faces to compete with TSMC, Samsung

Duncan Macdonald

Tape out costs

As it takes hundreds of millions of dollars to tape out a complex chip, Intel is unlikely to find many customers until after its new FAB lines have proven themselves (if they ever do). This will add a delay of 6 months to a year (or more) from the 20A FABs coming online to the point of first commercial customers. Unfortunately for Intel - the tape outs are specific to a particular process - one for TSMC 2nm will not work on Intel 20A and vice versa. For a customer the choice is between investing over $500million on a TSMC tape out from a manufacturer with a good success record or over $500million on an Intel tape out from a manufacturer with a poor success record.

Intel will probably have to massively subsidise its first customers - or it will not get any.

Ford in reverse gear over AM radio removal after Congress threatens action

Duncan Macdonald

Re: The only question remaining is ...

Many smartphones have FM reception capability when used with plug in headphones - using the headphone lead as the FM antenna. Unfortunately while the length of a headphone lead is a reasonable match for the FM frequency band it is a very poor match for the AM frequency band. (FM around 100MHz AM around 1MHz). Very good signal processing would be required to get good audio from an AM antenna that was under 1m in length unless very close to the transmitter. The aerials inside a smartphone are so small that they are a VERY BAD match to the AM frequency band which would result in a very weak signal for the electronics.

To quench AI's thirst, the way we build, operate datacenters needs to change

Duncan Macdonald

Look North !!

If the datacenters are located in cold locations (Alaska, North Canada, Iceland etc) then cooling becomes trivial. (Iceland also has the advantage of cheap geothermal electricity.)

(Unfortunately there is no icon for freezing !!!)

Let white-hat hackers stick a probe in those voting machines, say senators

Duncan Macdonald

If you want secure elections

then DO NOT use computers to count the votes.

A manual system (as used in the UK) is inherently immune to computer hacking.

FYI: Intel BootGuard OEM private keys leak from MSI cyber heist

Duncan Macdonald

One good point

For anyone who wants to tinker with the firmware on their own device - if it was one of the affected MSI systems then they can now do so.

India bans open source messaging apps for security reasons. FOSS community says good luck

Duncan Macdonald

Re: We do have rights

Except that very few countries view the UN declaration as anything other than a bit of waste paper.

(examples - the NSA spying on US citizens, the FSB spying on Russian citizens etc)

"Rights" are only meaningful when the governments choose to adhere to them.

Duncan Macdonald

Rights - Peons have no rights !!

As far as governments worldwide are concerned citizens have no rights - they are required to support their governments without protest.

(Can you think of a living politician that you would be happy to leave alone in your house with valuables on display ? Yet they have life and death power over huge numbers.)

Dump these insecure phone adapters because we're not fixing them, says Cisco

Duncan Macdonald

The US government has become less trustworthy than China

All the US politicians are interested in is their own power and fortune - they do not care about anyone who is not at least a multimillionaire. The UK security services examined the source code of many Huawei devices and found many examples of poor coding but no evidence of any deliberate backdoors. (However the UK government still went along with the USA when it exerted pressure to ban Huawei.)

Huawei devices had two major problems as far as the USA was concerned - they were cheaper than the equivalent Cisco devices and they did not have NSA backdoors baked in.

America ain't exactly outlawing gas cars but it's steering hard into EVs

Duncan Macdonald

Not practical

Shutting down carbon based generation (coal/oil/gas) in 15 years is not practical.

To replace the current carbon based power plants would require the building of a huge number of nuclear power plants. With the exception of a few small areas in the world (eg Iceland) the renewable energy sources are either very limited (eg hydro) or not constant (wind/solar/tidal). As people still need electricity on a calm winters night there has to be sufficient conventional (coal/oil/gas/nuclear) generation to cover the load.

There is not the capacity to build the required number of nuclear power stations in 15 years - probably not even in 25 years.

Duncan Macdonald

Re: Current EV battery technology is unsustainable

Garage petrol filler hoses dispense power at around 17 megawatts not just one megawatt (30l/min @ 34MJ/l)

Duncan Macdonald


Many people in the US drive much longer distances than UK drivers. EVs are impractical for a single day drive of 600 miles or more due to both the time taken to recharge and the limited number of fast recharging points. A typical petrol car can be refueled in about 5 minutes and be good for over 400 miles - an EV that uses a rapid charger may manage a full recharge (good for about 200 miles) in about an hour but if only a lower power charger is available then the full recharge time will be several hours.

600 mile journey

Petrol car - driving time + 5 minutes refill time

EV - driving time + 2 hours recharge time (rapid charger)

EV - driving time + 12 hours recharge time (slow charger)

Also the electricity has to come from somewhere - places with charging points that do not have a high power grid connection will need a local generator to be able to run rapid chargers (at over 100kW each). This is almost certain to be a diesel generator producing its own CO2 emissions.

As many US politicians are aware of these facts, I expect the proposed EPA rules to be rejected by Congress.

SHEIN has the look of America's next tech-meets-geopolitics fit-up

Duncan Macdonald

Typical Americans

US firms hate successful competitors - especially from other countries.

I would be willing to bet that most of the firms behind Shut Down SHEIN also get their products made in sweatshop factories in places with very little regulation.

A more accurate complaint from Shut Down SHEIN would be "this foreign company is beating us at our own game so politicians please destroy it".

Critical infrastructure gear is full of flaws, but hey, at least it's certified

Duncan Macdonald

Agreed - AIR GAP is still the best practice - but unfortunately all too often boneheaded senior management insist on remote access even when there is zero need.

Many earlier plant control systems had no internal security - the assumed air gap between the control system and the outside world was their security - then a PHB insists on remote access :-(((

Icon for people who connect an unsecured control system to the internet =====>

Germany clocks that ripping out Huawei, ZTE network kit won't be cheap or easy

Duncan Macdonald

Re: Pots and kettles in dark places

The US had two reasons to try to eliminate Huawei

1) Huawei kit was cheaper than the equivalent Cisco kit and Cisco donated a lot of money to US politicians

2) Huawei did not preinstall the NSA backdoors

Chinese spying was never a reason - just a slightly plausible excuse

Icon for what should happen to politicians that put their bank account over the well being of their country (99+ of all politicians)


It's official: BlackLotus malware can bypass Secure Boot on Windows machines

Duncan Macdonald

Re: Even the manufacturers hate secure boot

Turning Secure Boot off has its advantages - it stops the Windows 11 malware from installing !!

Thunderbird email client is Go for new plumage in July

Duncan Macdonald

Keep the old interface and do NOT get rid of its special features

The current interface is simple to understand (and explain to others).

The main advantages of Thunderbird are :-

1) Local database which allows offline use and no message expiry

2) No automatic opening of remote sites (unlike most email clients) which blocks a lot of crap

3) The ability to view the source of any email (including all its headers) if you are suspicious of the email

4) The interface had remained stable for many years - unlike all too many bits of software whose UI changes almost daily

(I dislike unnecessary UI changes so much the I am sticking to an old version (68) which has a UI that I like.)

Microsoft swears it's not coming for your data with scan for old Office versions

Duncan Macdonald

Re: Strange way to respect user privacy

You probably have about as many Linux users in your company as Windows users - they just do not realize it as all Android devices have a Linux kernel.

Gootloader malware updated with PowerShell, sneaky JavaScript

Duncan Macdonald

Browser code execution

If browsers were just that without the ability to run code then the vast majority of these attacks would not be possible.

Unfortunately advertisers want the ability to execute code on the users computers (where the cost is born by the users) rather than on the servers (where they would have to bear the cost) and also want to be able to extract as much data about the users as possible..

For a safe browsing experience the browser should only execute HTML with no scripting or invoking other programs - however almost all sites now require the browser to support active scripting (shades of Internet Explorer and ActiveX!!). Now often even the website authors do not know what code the users are being asked to execute as their code pulls in code from other libraries which then pulls in further code.

It is getting to the point where the only safe way to run a browser is in a VM with no persistent storage using a Linux live CD (or DVD) image.

Even with Noscript, Spybot S&D and Norton Security (and using Firefox instead of IE or Edge) all too often browsing seems like treading a path through a minefield!!!

Icon for what should happen to the people who insist on browsers having active scripting ============>

Renewables are cheaper than coal in all but one US location

Duncan Macdonald


The Reg should have a way to downvote articles that are so selective in their quoting of "facts" just like comments may be downvoted.

For a level playing field - no subsides for wind or solar and no carbon penalty for coal/oil or gas. If this is done then wind and solar are hopelessly uneconomic except in remote off grid areas.

Also the price paid for wind and solar generation should be penalized due to its unreliable nature (solar is zero at night and low on cloudy days, wind power output varies widely (from zero in calm to a maximum at medium-high wind speeds then dropping to zero when the wind speed is too high for the generators)).

Watch Rocket Lab lift off from US for first time, put radio-sniffing sats into orbit

Duncan Macdonald

Little competition

Given the difference in lifting capacity between the Electron rocket and the Falcon 9 - LITTLE competition is correct.

The Electron rocket can lift 300kg to LEO whereas the Falcon 9 can lift 22,800kg to LEO. (Roughly the difference between a motorbike pizza delivery and a full UPS van.)

Intel chairman exits just ahead of next financial report

Duncan Macdonald

Any tech firm that kills R&D kills itself

Any firm that makes profits by its products being better than those available from its competitors needs to keep ahead of those competitors. If the competitors are doing R&D to improve their products (as AMD did with its CPUs) then the firm also needs to do R&D to keep ahead.

Intel thought that they had effectively killed AMD by having somewhat better products and using some dirty tricks (eg maths libraries that used fast code on Intel CPUs and slow code on all others).

Intel then cut back on R&D and spent the money that could have gone into R&D on shareholder dividends and executive pay. When AMD CPUs became competitive with Intel's then better than Intel's, Intel was left in the position of needing to do a lot of R&D to catch up - unfortunately for them however Intel had got rid of much of its R&D teams.

Expect Intel's net profits to continue to decline for several years unless they bite the bullet and invest a lot in R&D at the cost of immediate shareholder dividends.

Icon for Intel shareholders =========>

Biden seeks out Dutch support for blockade on Chinese chip industry

Duncan Macdonald


The US wants to cripple every possible competitor so they can be the rulers of the world.

The best thing for the Dutch to do would be to remove their EUV export ban - tell the US that they are not the rulers of the world.

Wyoming's would-be ban on sale of electric vehicles veers off road

Duncan Macdonald

Far too little money

The NEVI program is supposed to give under $24 million to Wyoming for EV charging points over 5 years. Fast chargers (Level 3 - 480v DC - 1 hour to full charge for a car) cost around $40,000 per port so the budget would only pay for 600 ports (ie 600 vehicles being charged at once). Even though Wyoming has a low population it would need far more chargers than 600. Slower chargers (Level 2 - 240v AC - 32 miles range per hour of charge) are much cheaper at an average installed cost of $5,500 per port but each vehicle occupies a charging port for much longer (several hours for a full charge). Even only using Level 2 chargers the NEVI budget would only fund 4400 charging ports which is still insufficient for Wyoming (1 charging port per 130 people!!!) .

(Costs are for public charging ports according to Future Energy - https://futureenergy.com/how-much-do-ev-charging-stations-cost/ )

Nice smart device – how long does it get software updates?

Duncan Macdonald

Re: SMart

The big reason that the government promotes "smart" meters - they all can be remotely commanded to turn off the power. In the event of a power shortage (as nearly happened last year) they can ensure that the "important" people still have power while the plebs freeze.

Prior to "smart" meters the remote switching off of consumers could only be done on a fairly large area at a time (as happened in the miners strike). This could leave some "important" people without power.

(Another reason that some people like "smart" meters - if they have a mate with access to the meter data then they can work out which houses are unoccupied - makes stealing much easier.)

Quickest way to save with Oracle? Get off Unlimited Licensing Agreements, says pundit

Duncan Macdonald

Re: 3 Rules

Bit unfair to vampires !!!

Surely you can't be serious: Airbus close to landing fully automated passenger jets

Duncan Macdonald

Re: What I'd like to know is...

100% automated planes have been around for many years - just not used for passengers. (The first was the German V1 in WW2)

Icon for the end of a V1 flight ======>

Duncan Macdonald

Re: Not in a strong wind

Your plane may well have been landed by Autoland - the pilot would be able to override if needed but automatic landings are now so common that no one notices them. (If the weather conditions are too bad for an automatic landing then the pilots are probably thinking of a go around or even a diversion.)

Duncan Macdonald

Automated emergency landing

There is already an automated emergency landing system available for light aircraft - Garmin Autoland. When this system is activated (by a guarded switch on the console) it takes full control of the aircraft - notifies ATC - selects the best available airport and lands the aircraft and stops on the runway with no further human input required. This system is intended to cover the pilot becoming incapacitated on an aircraft with a single pilot.

The current high end Autoland (CAT 111c) systems available for big jets require the pilot to select the runway but can safely land the aircraft even in zero visibility.

The first automatic landing of a commercial jet with passengers aboard was on 10 June 1965 - see the Autoland article on Wikipedia for more details.

Cisco warns it won't fix critical flaw in small business routers despite known exploit

Duncan Macdonald

Cisco :-)

Having used the US government to disable its main competitor (Huawei), it feels that it no longer needs to provide support to its customers.

Meta, Google, TikTok and friends sue California to block kids privacy law

Duncan Macdonald

Re: Hah!....Age Verifiication...And Multiple Other Impossible Things.......

A reasonable (not foolproof) approach would be to require a credit (or debit) card in the name of the user to be counted as an adult by these sites. This would block the majority of people under 16 and many between 16 and 18.

A dip in Alder Lake with an HP Elitebook is spoiled by avoidable mistakes

Duncan Macdonald

Another bad point

This laptop uses a 1280x720 webcam rather than a full HD (1920x1080) or better. As even £60 android phones have a better camera than this, it shows that HP are cutting corners wherever possible.

If they are saving a few pence by using a lower spec webcam - how much have they cheapened on the battery and other parts.

I take the absence of a full HD (or better) webcam as a firm indicator that too much cost cutting has occurred and the laptop should be avoided as it is unlikely to have a long life before repairs are needed.

Icon for the firms that spoil otherwise good designs by penny pinching. ======>

Energy being expensive and trickier to source is good news ... for renewables

Duncan Macdonald

How much electricity ?

How much electricity do renewables provide the UK on a calm winters night ? (Hint wind zero solar zero!!)

The current UK peak electricity demand is around 50GW - hydroelectric generation can provide under 2GW of this demand and biomass can provide just over 4GW. This leaves 44GW of generation needed from other sources. On a calm winters night there is no other renewable power available so conventional generation (nuclear, gas, coal, oil) have to provide the power.

If UK governments were sensible and far sighted (pigs will fly in formation first!!), then the majority of UK generation would now be nuclear. However given the idiots in charge over the last 50 years, the UK needs enough gas fired power station capacity to make up for a worst case shortfall from wind generation. The various "green" incentives (eg the tax on carbon emissions and the preferential pricing given to wind generation) are making gas fired generation less and less profitable. The companies that operate the gas fired power stations will only continue to do so if they make a profit from them. The UK could easily find itself at the mercy of the wind if the "green" incentives make gas fired generation unprofitable.

(A note - assuming no further reductions in greenhouse emissions then by 2100 the sea level may rise by 60cm (2 feet) and the average global temperature may rise by 2C. To lessen this small change which would barely affect the UK, the UK is expected to spend 100s of billions of pounds in the various "green" measures. (The difference between the UK doing nothing and the UK doing its maximum to reduce greenhouse emissions would be less than 0.1C on the global average temperature - the UK only emits 1.1% of the worlds greenhouse gases.))

Sirius XM flaw unlocks so-called smart cars thanks to code flaw

Duncan Macdonald

Re: Different emphasis

Unfortunately the requirements (for almost all software) have changed to "Do the minimum necessary to get paid".

Competent software engineers cost much more than an Indian sweatshop programmer so the beancounters use the cheap labor and do not care about adverse outcomes.

Icon for what should happen to all managers who choose low cost ahead of safety ====>

Massive energy storage system goes online in UK

Duncan Macdonald


I worked on Dinorwig pumped storage power station (near Snowdon in North Wales) - that can store about 9.1GWh - over 46 times as much energy.

A side note - the original computer system monitoring the Dinorwig power station was a PDP 11/34 that handled approximately 5000 plant inputs and drove 3 displays and 6 line printers. Handling all that on a small 1/3 MIP computer with 160kbytes of RAM and 4.8Mbytes of disk storage was an interesting challenge!!!

InSight Mars lander has only 'few weeks' of power left

Duncan Macdonald

Use inclined solar panels

If the solar panels were inclined at 60 degrees to the horizontal then the dust would fall off and the solar panels could work for many years. This would require larger panels with a weight penalty but the longer duration would make that worthwhile.

UK facing electricity supply woes after nuclear power stations shut, MPs told

Duncan Macdonald

Re: Lack of energy policy for 30 years, nuclear costs

The projected costs are stupid because of hopelessly strict radiation guidelines. (No one in the next 10,000 years should be exposed to the same level of radiation that many people experience naturally in Cornwall due to the traces of uranium in the rocks there.)

A much more realistic way of decommissioning nuclear power stations

1) Remove the fuel rods

2) Wait 10 years to allow the short lived (under 1 year) radioisotopes to decay to low levels

3) Fill the reactor core with concrete

4) Surround the reactor core with 20 feet of waterproof concrete (the Roman volcanic ash and seawater mix)

5) Use some bulldozers to create a small artificial hill (50 feet above the reactor core) and make it into a park

This would still meet the requirement of very low exposure risk but would take the cost down to well under £1billion per reactor.

Signs of sediment-rich ocean lend direction to Mars life search

Duncan Macdonald

Life on Mars

Both Mars and Earth have been hit by many meteors big enough to eject rocks from the planet. As there was a period when both Mars and Earth had water and Earth had life it is highly probable that at least some rocks ejected from one planet would have carried bacteria to the other planet infecting it with life.

What is not known and might be very difficult to determine is - did life start on Earth and infect Mars or did it start on Mars and infect Earth ?

Icon seems appropriate ============>

Chip shortages still plague carmakers despite weaker semiconductor demand

Duncan Macdonald

The automakers cut back their orders - now they are reaping the results

Because of Covid most automakers cut back their semiconductor orders and other companies took their place in the manufacturing pipeline. Now the the automakers want to increase production they find themselves behind many others in the queue for fab time. Because the big automakers believe in JIT (Just In Time) they did not keep a good stock of spares - they assumed that the semiconductor parts would be available when wanted. The automakers are learning the hard way that JIT works very well until it fails horribly.

Icon for the shareholders of the big automakers =========>

Why are PC webcams crap? Lenovo says it knows the reason

Duncan Macdonald

Use an Android phone as the webcam

Using the DroidCamX app on an android phone as a HD webcam will give better performance than many dedicated webcams for a much lower price ($5.49).

Given the price of laptops they should include a webcam that is at least the equal of that found on a £60 basic Android phone.

I treat the presence of a 720p (or worse) resolution camera on a laptop as a sign that the manufacturer has cheapened the guts of the laptop to the point where it is unlikely to have a long life. (If they have saved 50 pence by using a low spec webcam then they have probably saved more on the quality of the battery and other components.)

Icon for walking away from a laptop with a low spec camera ========>