* Posts by Andy 18

51 posts • joined 17 Feb 2010


Disengage, disengage! Cali DMV reports show how often human drivers override robot cars

Andy 18

Re: Disparity in distance

From experience in a Tesla Model S this is actually the reverse of where we are now. I'd trust the car completely driving along the M1 in heavy traffic (I drove from Bristol to Sheffield on motorways around Christmas and only intervened to change motorway or go in to the supercharger). B roads just don't have enough information for the car to decide what to do (no lane markings, no edge markings, corners you can't see around, huge puddles, cattle, horses, unexpected stationary farm vehicles and so on).

You know how your energy bills are so much worse than they were?

Andy 18

Nuke the MPs

I still think that nuclear reactor under the house of commons would be a great idea. A huge cellar right below the debating chamber which would fit the nuclear pile and I can't imagine a more secure location (see Guy Fawkes). The waste heat can go into a nice CHP scheme for Westminster and, if not, there is a huge source of cooling water flowing right outside. It would be a great test of exactly how safe the technology really is nowadays. Once that is up and running, the turbine hall at Tate modern doesn't do much apart from collect ceramic beans and Battersea power station is just waiting to be turned into, well, a power station.

The supercomputers LIED: UK rainfall is rising, but won't drown our phones

Andy 18

Not wanting to pour cold water on a good rant....

If I read this correctly, the graphics have nothing to do with rainfall amount (how much water falls on the ground) but are actually a measure of how often it is raining. So, if it rained a bit for 5 hours a day before but now has torrential downpours for 1 hour a day, this data will show a reduction in rainfall.....is that correct?

2013: No sign of flying cars, but Orange mobes will get black ice

Andy 18

Bait and swtich

Darnit, I saw the headline and was intrigued as to how Orange had produced hacker protection that killed people (Black Ice presumably being the cyberpunk reference). This is a complete let down.

HP warns consumers: Don't downgrade Win8 PCs to Win7

Andy 18

General HP problem

We've just had to replace another bit of HP kit (a printer) because they don't support it's drivers any more. A security update from Microsoft meant that using the HP printer drivers for Windows 7 would crash any application that used the font dialog (!?). There will be no fix so the printer had to go in the bin. A similar thing happened with a top of the range HP laptop I had. A security update stopped bluetooth, IR and sound working. No HP support for the drivers as it was more than a couple of years old. As they say fool me two times.... I won't be buying any more HP kit.

New critical Java flaw claimed

Andy 18

Browser Plugin vs. Server

I wish these articles would specify whether the fault is yet another browser plugin loophole or a real server problem. It only takes a few words and would convert the various scare story headlines into something useful.

No-one I know uses the Java browser plugin or ever has (Cisco kit admin is the only reason anyone would install it and it's easier to just use an F5 instead). Like ActiveX, it's a fundamentally dumb idea from a security point of view. However, server side Java is just a big heap of loveliness that has never let me down.

Leeds' amazing cash-slash plan: BYOD and that cloud thing

Andy 18


Presumably the employees receive a payment for doing BYOD so I do hope that will be investigated as a benefit in kind along with all the licensing of the Microsoft software (Office, Visual Studio etc.) provided by the council and deal with Microsoft querying that every six months because you changed your laptop. After all, their son, daughter or spouse might have used it to do their homework, which would break the license Ts&Cs. Plus of course each employee will have to keep full call records for their mobile phone for 7 years and prove exactly how much of each bill is personal and work use. Then they will have to deal with HMRC querying everything you receive even if the cost to the business is exactly zero and somehow prove it wasn't a benefit in kind in the same way as in the real world.

Bitter, me?

Organic food offers basically no health benefit, boffins find

Andy 18

Shock horror!!

This is a research for marketing/lobbying purposes only. Most people buy organic food because it is less likely to have pesticides, herbicides, added hormones, GM residues not because they think it is healthier in itself. My home grown tomatoes are delicious because I pick them 5 minutes before eating but I don't seriously expect them to be different nutritionally from the same seeds grown elsewhere and sprayed every week. I just expect them not to be covered in pesticides and preservatives.

This is a repeat of the GM research that says eating GM versions of food crops isn't bad for you (also done purely to provide marketing sound bites) . Big whoop - we have a couple of million years of evolution to stop us being damaged by odd DNA in food. What people worry about is GM crops that produce dangerous chemicals cross fertilising with food crops or GM plants with pesticide immunity cross fertilising with native weeds.

Climate change behind extreme weather, says NASA

Andy 18


This thread is a perfect example of why I've moved to a house at the top of a hill, installed a hurricane proof roof and bought a shotgun.

Being a skinny is much more unhealthy than being fat – new study

Andy 18


I may be missing the point but it seems like this report saying that people who are starving to death are more likely to die than people who are well fed?

How to screw LIBOR and alienate people

Andy 18
Thumb Up


Enjoyed that - thanks.

Now could you explain why buying corporate debt is better than buying back national debt (as far as QE is concerned).

Minister blows away plans for more turbines

Andy 18

Free contraception?

The biggest factor in increasing consumption is that more people use more electricity. Maybe we should just stop encouraging breeding quite so much.

Make contraceptive dispensers in pub/club/restaurant loos mandatory and free; rescind all maternity/paternity leave allowances; make it legal to promote/pay people who to turn up for work every day and work late when required in preference to those who only turn up for 8 months in two years and have to "pick up their kids" whenever there is a deadline. It might also be an idea to stop pregnancy being covered by the NHS. After all, it's an optional, lifestyle choice. It would save about £30 billion from the NHS budget. Do all those things and the country's carbon emissions would start to fall pretty darn quickly.

Andy 18

Re: 230 million cups of tea per year!

"Suppose I did not want to sit in a yurt drinking tea, but stand in an office looking out of a window at people operating my aluminium smelter?"

Funnily enough, almost every aluminium smelter in the world is run from renewable power. It's the first rule in the "where do I put my aluminium smelter" rulebook. I believe Google also bought an old, out of use plant because it had it's own hydroelectric dam and could power their data centre.

BT fibre-to-the-cabinet rollout penetrates 73 more exchanges

Andy 18


Just had a good check with http://www.superfast-openreach.co.uk/where-and-when/

The entire county of Devon is NC (Not currently in rollout plans) except for Exeter. Looks like BT ran a big cable all the way through Devon to support FTTC in Cornwall without stopping anywhere

The true, tragic cost of British wind power

Andy 18

Re: The anti-nuclear barrier

Couldn't agree more. Build a bunch of nuclear power stations asap. In order to minimise transmission losses and allow easy export of any excess to Europe, bung them in London or the south east.

US entertainment lawyer casts doubt on Megaupload case

Andy 18


In the UK, the legal cases brought by local councils on Sunday trading failed because the supermarkets countered with "You can't shut us down and take us to court unless you can afford the compensation if we are found not guilty". Does the same apply for the US vs. MegaUpload? After all, the US are $15 trillion in debt and are running at a loss.

UK.gov marches on with solar 'leccy cash slash by spring

Andy 18


The big problem with this is not the reduction in FIT, which I think everyone agrees is probably a bit high. The problem is the way it has been done. There is a system in place for annual reductions in FIT rate. The government could easily have said that this years reduction will be larger than previously announced because solar PV FIT is so successful that the price of installs has gone down. Nobody would have complained and it would be a success story. People would decide if it was still worthwhile and not bought solar PV if it wasn't. Instead it appears that the government might reduce the value of these very long term investments on a whim with no notice.

Let's say you are thinking of installing a ground source heat pump say (I was) and relying on the RHI to make it a good/reliable investment rather than a bit of a punt that might lose you your pension (I was). If you think the government is likely to cancel the RHI/FIT in the period between paying for the installation and getting it certified (it takes at least 12 weeks if you need planning) then you just aren't going to bother with the hassle of doing it.

Better to invest in Italian government bonds instead. Much better return at over 7%. After all, if Italy reneges on it's debts it's zombie apocalypse time regardless of my pension plans.

BT biz broadband staggers to its feet after 4-hour titsup

Andy 18

BT message said it only affected static IP address users

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Nuke support in UK hits record high

Andy 18

At the risk of repeating myself...

I'll be happy to go with nuclear power when it's so safe that Battersea power station is converted to nuclear generation.

Plastic semiconductor makes solar cells more efficient

Andy 18

How long does plastic last in the sun?

Not sure why there is an argument about what 50% is. From 20% to 44% is over a 100% increase in efficiency (using newspaper language) or a 24% increase in efficiency to anyone with a brain.

I do wonder what the effect of UV light on pentacene would be. Most plastics left outside barely last 5 years.

Strictly Come Dancing in 3D: the facts

Andy 18

Not a good programme to pick

Strictly already suffers from too many pointless cuts, zooms and general rushing about of cameras. I can't imagine the 3D experience will be too pleasant to watch as it needs a steadier picture for your vision to adjust.

Concerns over plan to boost pharma by releasing NHS data

Andy 18

Show me the money

I've been suggesting this for ages along with asking why the NHS doesn't research and sell it's own drugs. It seems like a fairly reasonable bargain between patient and state to say "We treat you for free but your data is available to research new drugs and treatments to pay for it". Other countries have made substantial amounts of money by allowing access to national health data.

I haven't seen anything on how much we are asking for it though.

Copyright industry opposes ISPs’ proposed regime

Andy 18
Big Brother

Goose, gander

Would it be reasonable for the ISP to apply the 3 strikes principal to the content lawyers i.e. If they falsely accuse someone 3 times then all future requests for information or action will be ignored.

Microsoft to Aussie gov: Privacy rules stifle e-Health

Andy 18
Black Helicopters

Couldn't agree more

The EU has legislation about personal data that say all personal data from or passing through the EU must be handled to the same level of security/privacy as data held in the EU. Almost no US companies (or outsourced call centres for that matter) comply with that one either.

One day an enterprising lawyer will realise and we'll have a nice bonfire of the outsourcers. The NoTW invaded privacy actively, but there isn't much difference in the final result between going through someone's bins for personal information and leaving personal information insufficiently protected on the internet.

Solar-powered data centre won't get IBM very far...

Andy 18
Thumb Up

Seems like a good idea

Presumably as server hardware costs a fraction of the power it takes over the servers lifetime you can do a literal "follow the sun" virtualisation scheme with several data centres around the world. All the racks have to have UPS battery backup anyway so short periods of no sun aren't a problem. Add in a local swimming pool or town to take the heat extracted by the AC systems and you are onto a really good thing. I'm not sure exactly how much heat a fully populated blade enclosure chucks out but I suspect it is enough to supply hot water to several houses.

Greens threaten to sue over solar power cash slash

Andy 18

Wow - biased much?

"market-rigging mechanism" as opposed to incentive is just the start

'Leccy price hike: Greens to blame as well as energy biz

Andy 18

Calculate it for yourself...

I'm amazed how many register readers can't operate a spreadsheet.

A 4kWp solar system (the biggest you can install without reducing your FIT rate or the power company complaining) costs:

- £15,000 if you go for the super fab latest panels

- £12,000 if you go for cheaper ones (but with the same guarantees)

- £9,000 if you install it yourself (admittedly unlikely)

I've ignored the discounts you can get through group buying of up to 20%.

With southern UK solar incident radiation at ground level (someone else posted the EU site for that) I generate roughly 4000 kWh per year (3940 as calculated but everyone I know with a PV system has achieved better than that). Working on the £15k system with no FIT and using all the generated power (i.e. ignoring the export income) and with inflation of 5% a year I will be at payback after 10 years and be better off by £40,000 in 25 years (although I'd expect the panels to continue generating for a while after that).

With the FIT I will be at payback after 5 years and £100,000 better off in 25 years (or £30,000 if you correct for the value of money by allowing for inflation - 340% over 25 years).

In the interest of being fastidiously fair, I'd probably have to replace the £2,000 inverter twice in 25 years (they tend to only last 10 years on average). On the other hand, electricity prices are going up faster than inflation because of all those renewable power installations (!?)

I really can't understand why new houses don't all have solar panels by default. Mine are paying a couple of months of my mortgages each year.


On a much more frivolous and badly researched note, if I used the generated power to charge a Tesla roadster and use it for business travel (no company car tax on electric cars by the way so I can buy the car out of pre-corporation tax profits) I would also get another £4,000 in mileage (10,000 miles at 40p a mile, tax free and I don't need to buy any petrol). That and the FIT would pay for the Tesla and the solar panels after only 11 years.

Google Linux servers hit with $5m patent infringement verdict

Andy 18

Boycott East Texas

Surely it's not beyond the wit of man for Cisco, MS, Google, Redhat and Apple and a couple of others to just exclude east Texas from their terms of use. Add a condition that any patent infringement due to ignoring those terms of use is the users responsibility and you are away. Pretty sure the Texas voters would demand a change pretty quick after that.

Wind power: Even worse than you thought

Andy 18

2 small points

Some interesting points. However:

Wind Power and Solar Power complement each other nicely. When it's not windy, it tends to be sunny and when it's not sunny it tends to be windy. So, if you are looking at the big picture and get the mix right, the variability of output is less of a problem.

Also, the report gives numbers for output to the grid, not for generation. Few installations of wind power are just for power generation for the grid. It actually pays better to generate the power and use it yourself. For example, the 3 big turbines at Bristol docks export very little to the grid. Most of their output goes to power the docks.

Of course, if you are a nuclear power lobbyist (albeit unpaid).....

Microsoft wraps Windows 8 in Ribbon UI?

Andy 18
Gates Horns


Aha - the tried and tested "if you don't like it you must be old and scared of change" gambit. I counter that with the "You are too young to know any better" defence and raise you a "Shiny toys for little boys" taunt.

Personally I find the ribbon UI has all the bad points of that damned paperclip as far as guessing (badly) what I might be trying to do while also taking vast amounts of screen space for no useful reason.

South West Trains puts squeeze on commuters

Andy 18

Under great heat and pressure diamonds are formed (!?)

Personally, I find 1st class seats are too narrow to get comfortable in so this is just insane.

For empirical testing, I just stood next to my training partner after a swimming session. Two slim men with a total shoulder width of 110cm. The person in the middle seat with the remaining 19cm (7.5") to sit in is going to have a really tight time of it. If we attempt to actually do some work or read a paper then we are going to be bumping elbows even if there is no-one in the middle seat.

IDC: Everything but Unix on the rise

Andy 18

Bad stats?

Personally, I find it's often cheaper to buy a Windows server and un-install Windows before popping a Unix OS on there. Probably related to the server distributors receiving a payment for each Windows box they ship. Not sure how that affects the statistics.

NO-SH*T CURE FOR BALDNESS discovered by accident

Andy 18

Side effects

Apologies for the serious comment, but isn't that blocking the same chemical that reinforces memories of bad experiences (i.e. makes you learn from your mistakes). So, we will end up with lots of soldiers/bankers with full heads of hair but no common sense.

Microsoft sends IE9 'do-not-track' tech to W3C

Andy 18

Finally, MS get something right

I think the Firefox approach is much weaker than the MS IE9 one. The Firefox approach is like the UKs telephone exclusion lists (which only stop me getting calls from ethical companies).

Government put brakes on Bribery Act

Andy 18

Policies and procedures

So I send my new employees an email with a link to a folder containing 20,000 pages of policy documents, which no-one actually reads, one of which has a list of crimes I shouldn't commit. By doing that, any offences committed are the fault of the employees and not the business (as per the landmark Tesco case).

Sci/tech doctorate protects you from unemployment – in the US

Andy 18

Unemployed nuclear physicist (will build bombs for food)

I would be more interested if they had broken it down into people doing jobs related to their degree. Is could just be that people with Sci/Tech degrees have no compunction about taking a crappy job if there is nothing else available? Well at least until the next Dictator with big ambitions comes along.

Who will rid me of these obsolete PCs?

Andy 18

WEEE stops the skip approach

I worked with a large company in the UK who had the same problem. Tax compliance and book-keeping effort meant that giving them away or selling them to staff would cost more than the new PCs. Their solution was to recondition the old PCs (make as many working ones as possible out of the pile of parts) and then allow it to become common knowledge that they would be disposing of them in a skip on site on a certain day (a health and safety email to be careful while the PCs were being loaded into the skip was usual). The next day the empty skip would be used to dispose of the non-working PCs and parts.

Unfortunately, this is no longer possible as you have to get an WEEE certificate for every PC you get rid of.

US politician: 'homosexual agenda' behind TSA groin grope

Andy 18

Why do I get the urge to sneak some Viagra into the airport coffee?

Embarrass some law enforcement folks!

Feds seize 70 'filesharing, dodgy goods' sites

Andy 18
Jobs Horns

Legal process is there to avoid cockups

The US government doesn't have a reputation for accuracy or independence so the fact that they are closing down sites makes people think "I'm not doing anything wrong (as far as I am aware) but I could be next because of a typo or a snarky corporate lawyer. Then what would I do?". I doubt many people would object to the seizing of a site proven to be selling unsafe counterfeit electrical goods or insecticide ridden counterfeit clothing but without real information the assumption is "US government starts shutting down sites because big corporation asked them nicely".

Apache threatens Oracle with Java exit

Andy 18

Join the rebel alliance

This C++ and Java coder is more than happy to climb on his Tauntaun and start work on the Blue Mountain VM. Just point me in the direction of a patent problem I can code around.


Much of recent global warming actually caused by Sun

Andy 18


Please get yourself a science reporter with an O level in something other than hyperbole or stop reporting on it.

Provincial outrage over BT's broadband upgrade race

Andy 18

Must reproduce quickly

Unfortunately, our exchange has less than 1000 people so I guess we are doomed. I'm sure they picked that limit to ensure no one really rural had a chance.

I never expect anything good from BT. They have been and continue to be the biggest source of downtime after Incapable and Witless. But what should you expect from an effective monopoly.

How Ellison could fight Google's Android - without lawyers

Andy 18
Thumb Up

Spot on.

I've struggled repeatedly against the quirks of different phone implementations of J2ME and MIDP and eventually given up. When you have code that has a 1000 case switch statements in order to cope with all the different phone models you want your app to run on, you know it is never going to get through testing.

Cinema chain bans laptops, tablets

Andy 18

Vue auto-termination

I regularly go to the cinema with my Android phone. I often take my whole team. We rather enjoy a decent break in the Directors Suite when coding becomes too much or we just need a break from the office to do a time boxed discussing of something with the rather handy deadline of "the film starts in 20 minutes". We have Nagios set up to priority text us (on vibrate) if anything goes squiffy and if it does we can VPN and SSH to any servers we need.

I wouldn't trust a minimum wage hot dog wallah with my sparkly new phone or to fetch me if it received a text and the disturbance if they did would be far worse than me looking at a text message and thinking "not a problem".

If I can't take the phones, we'll have to find the Nerf guns again and just won't go to the cinema.

People have no bloody idea about saving energy

Andy 18

Measure the darn things or you'll never know

I got myself a lovely little power meter (http://www.thegreenstoreonline.co.uk/default.aspx/Page/97/Product/546) that goes in between the socket and the plug. Having tested everything in the house, the biggest electricity users were:

1. Garden lights - these used 200 watts continuously whether they were on or off due to the abysmal design of the transformer. They were plugged in and switched on all the time (with a light meter to actually turn the lights on at dusk for a couple of hours) - 5kWh per day

2. My Old PC - 5 year old box that I use for XP/IE6 testing. This used 400 watts when shutdown and only 50 watts more when in use. Again, horrifically bad PSU design - 10kWh per day

But, by far the worst culprit was my cat, which managed to turn on the immersion heater on our hot water tank. It was on for 6 months before anyone noticed i.e. the electricity board did a real reading rather than estimating. We got a electricity bill for over £1,000 and the cat got spayed for it's trouble - about 70kWh per day

Andy 18

Glass Recycling

Just for interest, one of the reasons recycled glass helps is that some recycled glass added to a new batch of ingredients in a glass furnace acts as a catalyst (sort of) and reduced the heat input required by about 10%. As it takes a huuuge amount of energy to make glass this is actually a large saving.

Ellison wrestles Google to strangle 'unofficial' Java

Andy 18

Waste of space

Presumably, they just reclassify Android phones as desktop Unix boxes (admittedly very small boxes) with a mobile card. I can plug an external monitor, keyboard and mouse into mine, it has a couple of gig of memory, the internal screen is the same resolution as my old desktop and it has a faster processor so I don't really see the difference.

Premium rate rants plummet again

Andy 18

What about 0800/0845

My phone package includes a ridiculous number of all network minutes and I never call premium lines if I can avoid it. So, my biggest gripe is 0800/0845 numbers. They are the only calls I pay extra for. It seems very odd that BT can still call them freephone/local rate numbers.

Government lunatic magnet goes live

Andy 18
Thumb Up

Getting rid of IR35 anyone?


Tesla Motors: Elon Musk's divorce won't sink us

Andy 18

Ah, I see - Lewis Page

I was reading this article thinking "wow - this guy really has some issues with electric cars - did his mother do something unfortunate with the milkman?" - then I realised it was by Lewis "my middle name is Texaco" Page and it all made sense.

Just for information, I drive a Vauxhall Astra with just over 100,000 miles on the clock. Most of the components are on their last legs. The suspension is going. I've already replaced most of the engine and air-con. It spends most of the time with its engine management warning light on, burns nearly as much oil as it does petrol and the likelihood of a winsome young lady asking for a ride in it is practically zero. I would much rather be the owner of a Tesla which might need its battery pack replacing.

Given that I get feed in tariff on all the electricity I use to charge it up (yes, I get paid for filling the tank/battery) and my company can buy me one tax free, I'm just waiting for my solar roof to be installed and the price to come down a bit before I get mine.



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