* Posts by Slx

675 posts • joined 5 Jun 2010

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Ireland warned it could face 'rolling blackouts' if it doesn't address data centres' demand for electricity

Slx

It’s not so much of a tax issue as it is an inability to physically ramp up infrastructure fast enough to meet demand.

There are huge wind power projects in the pipeline but, it’s still an isolated grid in a small country with a population of 4.9 million (or 6.8 million if you include the all island aspect of the grid).

The distribution networks and grid are public utilities, but the generation capacity is provided purely commercially. So any extra power supply has to come from commercial providers in an open market, not the state or public money. The publicly owned ESB still owns a lot of generation capacity, but it operates as a commercial entity, just with public shareholding and there are other purely commercial generators.

The scale of the data centres has a limit and interconnection possibilities are limited by distance. There’s a UK - Irish connector, but the UK system is similarly quite tight for capacity and there’s a french interconnection due on stream in a couple of years.

There’ll have to be a limit on what can be added to the demand side or it will utterly sink the Irish grid and also fail to achieve green energy targets.

We’ve also seen the most inefficient (from a CO2 output and economic point of view) power plants removed from the grid here. So that’s also bringing supply tighter.

Ireland also operates a carbon tax regime, so carbon intensive power is significantly more expensive.

Some of the data centre operators are also directly financing windfarm development, on and off shore, which has a big positive impact, so does the increased demand for green energy as it’s driving up commercial investment in off shore wind which has the upside of driving down overall Irish CO2 emissions.

You also can’t just site data centres anywhere, as the population isn’t uniformly spread, so the grid infrastructure reflects that and there is MASSIVE opposition to new overhead lines in Ireland, so that will probably limit data centres to Dublin, Cork, Shannon Estuary etc.

We saw that happened when Apple tried to develop a large data centre in rural county Galway, it was mired in years of planning objections and they eventually gave up entirely.

So it’s not really just a case of tax / finances or lack of resources. There’s a cost/benefit analysis. A carbon footprint analysis and it’s constrained by Ireland’s isolated grid.

There are limits to what you can do in any grid, but an isolated one like here has a lot of constraints.

The regulator can also simply lodge planning objections to new projects or just refuse connection. If the supply isn’t there, it isn’t there. They’re not going to connect loads that can’t be reasonably supplied.

UK Telecoms Diversification Taskforce says Ofcom should take lead to ensure telcos don't rely on too few suppliers

Slx

We keep going on about 5G networks, but there's so much Huawei in fibre access networks i.e. FTTC (VDSL) and FTTH in the UK, Ireland and many other countries.

You'd just wonder what your traffic is passing through. I'd have doubts that most of the telcos really know what they have in their network other than they're plugging together increasingly complicated 'black boxes' and most of them outsource almost everything to the vendors anyway and have little or no serious skills in-house anymore.

Often entire networks are being delivered as 'turn key' projects.

China has a satellite with an arm – and America worries it could be used to snatch other spacecraft

Slx

There really needs to be some kind of stronger and more enforced international agreements on satellites, particularly about what to do with the junk. We can't really afford to just junk another chunk of environment to the point that it's unusable.

If useful orbits end up full of fragments and broken up satellites, we're going to lose easy access to Space.

We seem to have materialized in a universe in which Barney the Purple Dinosaur is designing iPhones for Apple

Slx

iPadOS certainly has its strong points, but it has a lot of issues that make it quite awkward to work with as a serious computer:

1) The UI is obviously constrained by being a touch interface, which is fantastic for media consumption and manipulation of things on screen for art, music and so on. You can create all sorts of wonderful touch interaction, but it's extremely awkward for multitasking or dealing with any kind of complicated stuff that would usually involve manipulating multiple windows.

2) The lack of proper access to a file system is just annoying beyond belief. It's fine if you want to just treat an iPad as an iPad, but it's not a notebook replacement.

I've brought an iPad pro of a previous generation with me as a work machine and it was frankly like trying to work with one hand tied behind your back for a lot of tasks that would take 2 seconds on a Mac and it's not due to a lack of familiarity - it's just awkward.

If I could plug in the magic keyboard and hey presto! it's a Mac, I'd absolutely buy one. They're a really nice piece of kit.

In the meantime, I'm happy enough to bring a MacBook Pro around with me and really it's not that heavy or bulky either.

I'm looking forward to seeing what they do with the MBP with the M series processors. It could end up being a stunning machine.

Slx

If the iPad could run iPadOS as the full macOS when a trackpad and keyboard are attached, I'd consider it.

Bank of England ponders minting 'Britcoin' to sit alongside the Pound

Slx

Seems everyone is jumping on this bandwagon. Let's hope the wheels don't fall off.

The ECB and the Fed are also pondering Digital Dollars and Digital Euro.

God bless this mess: Study says UK's Christian beliefs had 'important' role in Brexit

Slx

Any chance we could look towards the future?

It's weird, every time there's a big political or economic event, I notice there's usually some obscure, but prominent commentary from the UK that tries to turn it into a debate about protestants and catholics or different types of protestants and different types of catholics.

There are times you'd wonder if a there's a cohort in fixated on the 1500s-1700s who just see everything through some kind of weird sectarian lens.

I remember reading some article on the BBC website at the height of the global financial crisis, which was trying to claim that the European divide on which countries were in debt had something to do with which were mostly catholic and protestant, and obviously there was absolutely no financial crisis in the UK ever and no banks were ever nationalised or bailed out. That was something that only happened in the Eurozone.

Aside from that, many of the most fiscally conservative parts of Europe e.g. Bavaria, Austria etc are historically very Catholic.

I just think though sometimes some of these commentators really need to stop dwelling the distant past. Whatever about Brexit, this regression to some dim and distant past does nobody any good.

The major positive about the EU is that it took a pragmatic view of where Europe was after WWII and looked forward, trying to build a modern Europe based on fundamental rights, interconnectedness, technology and all of those things. It drew a line under the past, centuries of vicious conflict and looked towards a shared future.

All I see coming from a loud wing of UK populist commentary these days is people lost in some kind of bizarre nostalgia that seems to include everything from non-decimal currency, customary illogical units of measure, flags, symbolism, revised history of empire, imagined histories of some kind of good old days that never existed for most people and so on.

At times it feels like Blackadder II is becoming current affairs!

Also, isn't this supposed to be an IT website?! I come here to escape such topics!

3G ain’t totally dead yet: Verizon pushes back cut-off plans to some unspecified future date

Slx

I guess Verizon's in more of a rush than most to kill 3G as theirs is based on a quite proprietary Qualcomm CDMA-2000 technology, which has come to a dead end with their 4G and 5G networks effectively being 3GPP (GSM family) technologies overlaid on top of it. So, for those CDMAOne/2000 operators the need to move on is more urgent.

3GPP's legacy standards i.e. 2G GSM and 3G UMTS can be typically supported on more flexible modern RAN infrastructure minimising or almost entirely eliminating waste of bandwidth and without needing to use separate overlays of modern and legacy infrastructure.

There'll be plenty of 2G hanging on in Europe, particularly for slow M2M communications for things like electricity and gas meters that were kitted out with 2G chipsets.

Amazon's ad-hoc Ring, Echo mesh network can mooch off your neighbors' Wi-Fi if needed – and it's opt-out

Slx

Stop buying your home security from data miners! It's as simple as that.

If it's free or unusually cheap, you're the product.

'Robbery, economic plunder, victim of larcenous cronyism and a heist'

Slx

Ah! The battle of the two great hypocrisies

The problem with this is that China has itself done exactly the same with US, European and other multinational companies who wish to do business in China and countless services are blocked on the basis of either national security or censorship.

However, the US hasn’t just behaved like this in retaliation against China. They’ve beaten up their own allies and friendly neighbours like the EU, UK, Canada etc with ludicrous tariffs and very nasty rhetoric from Trump that even included referring to the EU as an “enemy”.

China’s human rights record is utterly abysmal. It’s an authoritarian state that has little time for democracy or perso al freedoms. However, look at what we’re watching on the news with paramilitary police attacking protesters, detention centres, kids being split up from families, utterly disproportionate use of incarceration by comparison to any other western nation, pursuit of extreme and unusual punishment against those considered traitors for leaking data etc etc Etc and a President rambling on about being unsure of whether he’ll accept the result of an election.

American needs to snap out of its own spiral towards autocracy and descent into madness and fast, or it won’t have much soft power left at all, but we also need to be extremely wary of China in many, many ways too.

Don’t mistake China for some benevolent power just because it’s at odds with a currently very screwed up America. My enemy’s enemy isn’t necessarily my friend.

Sweetheart tax deal appeal: European Commission takes €13bn Apple state aid claim to the EU's highest court

Slx

Well, at least you admitted it before you started!

You’re pretty much missing everything. The Republic of Ireland is *not* part of the United Kingdom, has nothing to do with the Crown and is not part of the Commonwealth.

For the Republic of Ireland, nothing changes after Brexit. It won’t be leaving the EU anymore than France or Belgium will be. It remains a member of the EU and is founder member of the Euro.

Amazon spies on staff, fires them by text for not hitting secretive targets, workers 'feel forced to work through pain, injuries' – report

Slx

It’s “tech washing” the dismantling of the 20th century

There’s a serious problem with a lot of these companies. They basically take work practices that were struggled against in the late 19th and early 20th century, give them a new name, turn them into an app and all of a sudden it seems more palatable.

Most countries were at their peaks when a typical blue collar worker could afford a decent lifestyle and had money to spend on nice things.

We’re rapidly heading back to the 19th century, a world where most people worked very hard for very little money and had no job security.

The problem is that if more and more jobs become like this, ultimately people won’t have the disposable income or time to spend on the products and services that make the economy function and the whole thing will just eat itself as wealth is ever more concentrated at the top.

This isn’t really the modern capitalism that saw a booming US, Europe and elsewhere in the mid and late 20th century. It’s something far more primitive and old fashioned - we are sliding back to the days of oligarchy.

NHS contact tracing app isn't really anonymous, is riddled with bugs, and is open to abuse. Good thing we're not in the middle of a pandemic, eh?

Slx

Now is not the time to reinvent the wheel or pick fights with Google and Apple.

What I don't understand is how this is going to even work at all on iOS. There's no ability to continuously scan Bluetooth, without going through the official Apple APIs and those are extremely restricted, which was one of the major reasons that we had this Apple and Google collaborative effort in the first place.

It looks to me that countries that are going the Apple/Google route e.g. Republic of Ireland, will end up with slick apps that actually work and are built on top of frameworks provided by Apple and Google, working fully with the two OS makers, while those that aren't e.g. UK, Germany and France will probably end up with some kind of unwieldily mess that doesn't work properly at all and seems to be about a data grab in the UK and probably about giving two fingers to US tech companies in France and Germany.

Part of the policy in Germany in particular seems to have been to try and use this to boost German IT sector independence. I don't really think this is the time or the place to be doing that kind of nationalistic push out. If Apple and Google are willing to help, take the damn help and get the system up and running and stop pissing about.

Also if it doesn't work on iOS, it's simply not going to work as a concept as iOS penetration in the UK (in line with the anglophone world generally) is very, very high compared to places like China or even Southern Europe.

While I'm no fan of Google's reach, I could appreciate Apple's concerns about annoymoising data, and it's of particular concern when you consider the history in the UK around data trawls, scandals around things like Cambridge Analytica and so on.

Ofcom measured UK's 5G radiation and found that, no, it won't give you cancer

Slx

5G's great just as long as you don't stand too close to the transmitter with your tinfoil hat on as it tends to spark. Otherwise, no problems :D

How the US-China trade war is felt stateside: Xilinx trims workforce after lucrative Huawei sales pipe blocked

Slx

Re: So who is actually happy?

Finland's not in Scandinavia :) That's only Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Hey GitLab, the 1970s called and want their sexism back: Saleswomen told to wear short skirts, heels and 'step it up'

Slx

The industries you'd think should be the most progressive often are the worst!

It's remarkable how there's endless issues with sexism in tech, when you'd think that it'd be one are that's all shiny and brand new and was initially full of women working in very high end of development, at least until it took a nose dive in the 1970s.

Then take a look at something like creative / broadcast media / film etc which seems to be full of old-school abusive labour practices - back-to-back unpaid internships, bad wages, abusive bosses being accepted.

Academia also seems to have huge issues with sexism, pay equality, hierarchies, failure to pay people living wages, abuse of junior academic / PhD researchers etc. Something you'd never expect, as you'd think it's the ultimate in highbrow and self-aware employers, but nope!

You'd probably find more diversity and a better atmosphere in a stuffy old bank these days than in some of these trendy companies which is an awful reflection on the whole culture within.

Fed-up air safety bods ban A350 pilots from enjoying cockpit coffees

Slx

It's fairly sloppy practice to drink coffee over control surfaces and complicated systems, but in an environment like a cockpit, I would also expect those surfaces, particularly for anything fundamental to be able to survive a scenario like a coffee spill. We're not talking about a production studio where a spill might screw up someone's morning recording session, or a server that takes down the office network, these are life and death systems and should be fully IP rated for the kinds of hazards they're faced with.

Are we really getting to the stage that an aircraft could be crashed by a a cup of coffee or a bottle of water sloshed over the controls ?!!?

BT: UK.gov ruling on Huawei will cost us half a billion pounds over next 5 years

Slx

Re: Interesting in Ireland

What I find odd though is that the policy in the US seems to be genuinely about security (or punishing China for trade reasons) as it is really not benefiting US companies. The dominant players in that sector, other than Huawei are two EU companies : Ericsson and Nokia with South Korea's Samsung also pushing in.

Also Huawei is using a lot of US chipsets e.g. they're a huge purchaser of Broadcom if their DSLAMs are anything to go by. So, they're really cutting off a lot of component and licensed tech sales from a number of US companies to a big supplier.

Slx

Interesting in Ireland

I note in Ireland the three infrastructural networks seem to have rather less spectacularly dropped Huawei.

Vodafone Ireland - All Ericsson.

3 Ireland (bought O2 and merged) - Was assumed to be going with Huawei, now going with Ericsson.

Eir - Ericsson core (they keep stressing this) and Huawei RAN only.

I'm a bit baffled as to why we're fussing over 5G when you consider that in Ireland and Britain Huawei gear is heavily installed, at the very least in access networks for VDSL / FTTC and FTTH. Their equipment was hugely popular with telcos, including the old incumbents, BT in the UK and Eir in Ireland for their FTTx rollouts.

I'm not at all convinced by this hype about Huawei, but surely if there really were an issue the powers that be in the UK would be insisting on stripping out their gear from the fixed line broadband networks too?

What was Boeing through their heads? Emails show staff wouldn't put their families on a 737 Max over safety fears

Slx

This actually makes me nervous about Boeing in general. I mean their *entire business* hinges on being beyond repute when it comes to safety and a culture of safety, yet they did this. They're not making PC or televisions. They're making aircraft that can potentially crash, killing hundreds of people.

I'll be trying to fly on Airbus aircraft until this is fully resolved.

Don't Xiaomi pics of other people's places! Chinese kitmaker fingers dodgy Boxing Day cache update after Google banishes it from Home

Slx

Re: Internet enabled cameras in private areas of your house. What could possibly go wrong?

They were a combined device - a motion detector which took a stream of photos or short video bursts when tripped and when the system was armed. These were uploaded and controlled by the company's monitoring centre, without any transparency on how they were connected or hosted and they were not optional in the upgrade to the system, so they lost my business and I went with another supplier entirely, who didn't insist on such overkill.

Slx

Internet enabled cameras in private areas of your house. What could possibly go wrong?

I don't quite understand the market for some of these things. We lived for millennia without any need to install cameras in the private areas of our homes and all of a sudden we're voluntarily installing devices connected to the world's largest data slurping companies and often made by or connected to a bunch of Chinese manufacturers, who may or may not have connections to one of the most Big Brother authoritarian states to have ever existed and somehow that's all fine.

I would be extremely uncomfortable with CCTV systems inside my home. I don't really have a bit issue with them in public spaces where you don't have an expectation of privacy, but in your home?!

I know my alarm company in Ireland started to offer motion detectors with cameras as standard with their systems and they lost my business after decades of service as I wouldn't have such creepy technology anywhere near the inside of my home.

If you want to mount internet connected, cloud based camera systems onto the interior walls of your home, in my view, you've idiotically torn up any notion of privacy in the home and opened you private life and space to glitches, hacks and malevolent behaviour by all sorts of actors.

Leaked EU doc plots €100bn fund to protect European firms against international tech giants

Slx

I don't really see the big deal when you consider how much US and other fundamental technology has come from vast government funded projects like DARPA.

Brussels changes its mind AGAIN on .EU domains: Euro citizens in post-Brexit Britain can keep them after all

Slx

Oh great!

I come to El Reg to read tech stories and escape toxic UK and US politics and now it's gone all Brexity.

Elon Musk's new idea is to hook your noggin up to an AI – but is he just insane about the brain?

Slx

Re: neurology

I've always maintained a fair bit of interest in this and I think you're right, it's extremely unlikely to be achievable given what we know about the brain.

We're only beginning to scratch the surface of what it does and how. I mean we still don't really understand how it processes information or even something as fundamental as how memory works and how it encodes data. I mean considering that we've only recently discovered dendrites (tiny fibres that link neurones) are actually actively processing data en route shows how little we know

Even assuming that it's doing something similar to a digital computer is probably a huge logical mistake. A lot of the estimates of brain processing power seem to be way, way off as they're basing it on models of a switching computer when it's something very different to that.

We're beginning to be able to see more of what's going on with the advent of improved instrumentation and things like fMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) but, it's still at an incredibly crude level.

I would say we're at the level of a guy from the mid 19th century with a gas lamp and a screw driver trying to decode a microchip, without any understanding of how it works.

There's great scope for improvement obviously, but it's no where near the level where you could interface with a brain directly.

We've had some success though with things like cochlear implants, but that's actually stimulating end points inside your cochlea - they insert a coil with stimulating electrodes along its length into your cochlea (organ of hearing) and it is stimulating various points along that tract, effectively tickling it with electric charges at the point where tiny hairs would normally be picking up particular audio frequencies. It is not a direct interface with your brain.

There's also been some success recently in reading images from your brain with fMRI .. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/425520/brain-imaging-reveals-what-youre-watching/ but again, it's seemingly just reading the pattern of stimulation of neurones form the "camera feed", rather than how they're being processed. It could still be useful for designing ways of getting optical information into your optical nerve in blind people.

2019 set to be the worst year yet for smartphone market as lack of worthy upgrades dents demand

Slx

5G around the corner and nothing very compelling to upgrade to.

I think we're at a juncture where the technology has matured to the point that there's not all that much new to offer. The screens at the high end are all fantastic, the devices more or less the same sensors and the storage capacity is so large you don't really think about it on most phones and the cameras are at the level now that they're so good they're producing results that are up there with some of the best SLRs. I can't even distinguish the improvements with my eyes anymore.

If you go back a few years ago there were big leaps forward in all of those technologies, particularly displays and cameras and that made a huge difference.

The only next obvious killer update is going to have to involve massive improvements to batteries as I can't really see anything else that's going to be so useful that it drives people to shell out a large sum of money and/or enter a contract that's longer than many marriages!

You've also got a lot people holding off until 5G is established before they update. I certainly wouldn't lash out money on a new phone right now as I will probably want a high end 5G device and there's very few of them on the market present.

Boris Johnson's promise of full fibre in the UK by 2025 is pie in the sky

Slx

Depends what they mean by 'fibre'

Well, if it's anything like the definitions of 'fibre' that have been allowed to-date in Britain and Ireland, you could probably spin it to re-define 56k modems as fibre-to-the-exchange FTTE.

To rollout FTTH to every home in the UK by 2025 would be a gargantuan task, that would require huge amounts of state funding to achieve in that time scale.

Not to mention that after Halloween, they'll have no more easy access to pools of fibre technicians, civil engineers and people willing to dig roads and lay ducts, who tend to move from project-to-project around the EU.

Not only that, but how will Hadrian's Firewall / the National Net Nanny cope with the data throughput from tens of millions of FTTH connections?

Trump: Huawei ban will be lifted!
US Commerce Dept.: Yeah, about that…

Slx

The older, established telcos are also notoriously conservative when it comes to choice of vendors, many of them have been buying whatever it is that Ericsson has had in the catalogue since the 1950s and possibly even 1920s. It's the same with the companies that Nokia now owns : remnants of Western Electric/Lucent/Bell Labs, ITT, Alcatel, Siemens Networks and Nokia itself. I remember talking to an engineer in a major Irish telco who considered Cisco a bit of a of an 'upstart'... and this was in the 2000s!

Huawei had established a strong reputation through smaller telcos that had disrupted the market and then the bigger ones eventually started buying their equipment too, but I'd say this move will have driven them back to the safety of the old vendor partnerships.

I'd say this move will really have done them and other Chinese vendors enormous damage and I doubt it was deserved.

The slight irony is that the major vendors in that area aren't American. It will probably drive a lot of infrastructure business back to Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, Fujitsu etc

Stop using that MacBook Pro RIGHT NOW, says Uncle Sam: Loyalists suffer burns, smoke inhalation and worse – those crappy keyboards

Slx

Changed my view of Apple

My MacBook Pro is subject to this recall and I was actually really shocked at the level of bureaucracy. I dropped into my local authorised Apple retailer / repair centre as there's no Apple Stores in the Republic of Ireland (apparently we're only good enough to run a tax shelter in but, bizarrely despite the booming economy and retail sector here, they haven't ever opened a store).

Anyway, I was told I had to go online and book an appointment through Apple.com, despite there being 1 other person in the store. There's some nonsense bureaucracy involved.

I just feel like I'm dealing with Carol Beer in Little Britain, even though the problem is entirely their fault and they should be bending over backwards to facilitate taking machines back in to mitigate a fire risk.

Could well be my last Mac. I'm not impressed.

Slx

Re: Customer service?

I'd an issue with a MacBook Pro a few years ago, GPU failure and Apple did similar.

In general Apple's customer care's fairly good in my experience of it anyway.

I don't think we'll be back to user replaceable batteries again until they stop making batteries out of explodium, I mean lithium ion. The technology's ridiculously dangerous when you think about it.

Nope, we're stuffed, shrieks Apple channel as iPhone shipments enter a double-digit spiral

Slx

I've an iPhone 8 as well as a high end android phone. They're both decent devices, but I am not feeling the urge to update the iPhone as the prices are just way, way too saucy. There's a point at which I will not spend money on a device I will probably drop.

There are things that I like about iOS and Android and things that drive me nuts about both, neither are perfect.

Also FaceID just seems really awkward compared to touchID which I liked.

Apple strips clips of WWDC devs booing that $999 monitor stand from the web using copyright claims. Fear not, you can listen again here...

Slx

Considering Dyson manages to sell €450 magic hairdryers, I'm sure there's probably a market for this.

The majority of these machines are bought by businesses anyway so the cost is written off as a business expense but even so, that pricing is ludicrous.

The only thing I could possibly say is that the device is probably made in low volume.

Any idea where it's being made? I'm just curious if this is the US manufacturing arm?

I say, Eaton boys are flogging spare capacity on data centre UPS systems to keep lights on in Ireland

Slx

There are fairly substantial plans for battery storage in Ireland

Ireland's state owned grid operator, Eirgrid has fairly big plans to use battery storage on a large scale. There are some interesting proposals floating around. The aim, like most countries, is to get to very high levels of renewable energy and that can only be done with storage and large scale pumped storage isn't really all that feasible without high mountains and a willingness to flood vallies.

However, I've never quite understood by countries like Ireland, or the UK for that matter, actively chase data centre investments. Neither of them have very big green electricity production capabilities at present beyond wind power and data centres don't exactly generate big employment or taxable income flows. The biggest chunk of Irish power is currently coming from natural gas (domestically produced and imported). They'd surely be best located in places with tons of hydro power like Norway etc at least until wind and other sources have caught up.

It just seems odd encouraging big power hungry data centres into grids that don't have all that much spare generation capacity and in the Irish case at least, a surging economy and serious difficulties meeting agreed CO2 targets.

Britian seems to be in an even more precarious position with the aging and very low capacity nuclear power fleet and the Tories having largely failed to deliver on any replacement. Projects have been falling through while everyone's distracted by the chaos of Brexit.

However, at least if data centres are helping to balance peaks and troughs in the grid it reduces their impact somewhat and makes them somewhat better energy citizens.

Ultimately using batteries like that also means the whole network benefits from being able to use more wind power although we're probably going to need to see micro battery storage in most commercial premises and even homes to achieve that as well as large scale dedicated storage systems.

Ireland has always used a fair bit of CHP (combined heat and power) buy back from big commercial users, waste to energy, biogas etc etc ... I guess this is really just an extension to the same concept. Smart grids bring in a lot of potential flexible small energy sources to help deal with peaks.

Generally, compared to the US anyway brownouts are unheard of here. The grid and local distribution is very well managed and invested in. I've never really had any concerns about needing to protect equipment from power fluctuations in Ireland, but they were a huge issue in some parts of the US - surge arresters are fairly essential kit. Could also be to so with lots of urban air con inductive loads Vs air con being fairly unnecessary in Ireland beyond large commercial buildings.

I wonder how the Irish and British grids will cope with the rise of large numbers of heat pumps though. Could become interesting!

Essex named sexiest British accent followed closely by, um, Glaswegian

Slx

Re: Your ears / brain needs to be attuned to accents to notice the subtitles.

I wouldn't like to suggest that in a pub in Dublin...

Slx

Your ears / brain needs to be attuned to accents to notice the subtitles.

I don't think you can necessarily include Irish accents as "British" as it's the island next-door to Britain, but since the thread has broadened out into accents in general, I'd just say that the further you get away from your home accent, the more difficult it is to notice the difference between versions of another region / country's accents.

I'm Irish and have a fairly neutral suburban Dublin / "RTE radio" kind of accent. I'll occasionally get assumed to be Canadian or American, including in England on occasion, or you'll get accused of putting on a US accent, which is absolutely not the case.

Some Irish people when they spend a lot of time in the US can tend to have their accents merge into American very quickly - more so than most English people as there are less phonetic differences e.g. the H and R sounds are fairly similar between US and Irish English whereas they're quite different to the non-rhotic parts of the UK.

Ireland has at least 4 base accents that tend to vaguely follow the four traditional Irish provinces:

1) Leinster: Dublin & 'The Pale- Can be fairly neutral with almost a slight mid-atlantic vibe, a bit plummy, or can be classic old-fashioned Dublin (think Ulysses), or you can get into really quite flat accents. Lots of versions: Saorise Ronan, Colin Farrell through to Bono on the mid-Atlantic side of things.

2) Munster: The most notable varieties you'll hear are probably from Cork and Kerry and tend to be very lilting, especially in Cork. It can very from quite posh e.g. Graham Norton, very clear: e.g. Terry Wogan (Limerick), Michael Fassbender (Kerry) to the likes of Dolores O'Riordan (quite definitely Limerick City area), to extreme the guys on Young Offenders (BBC 4) grittier Cork City accent or those Olympic rowers from West Cork who baffled an audience on Graham Norton one night. But, it tends to be the more stereotypical actually south of Ireland accent and it's often fairly musical sounding.

3) Connacht (West of Ireland) - There's a huge Irish language (Gaeilge) influence in this region and it tends to come across in the accent - You'd sort of instantly associate it with trad music and all of that kind of vibe.

4) Ulster - which isn't exclusively Northern Ireland. There's a similarity and a slight twang to the accent up there. It can vary from Enya-like softness in Donegal that sounds so gentle and mellow that it's almost like listening to morning due or something in West of the province in the Republic then as you head further and further east you eventually end up with the hardcore inner city Belfast version. Northern Irish and Belfast accents are not always harsh, they can also be extremely melodic and soft, e.g. very iconic and soft media voices like Gloria Hunniford

You get various versions of all of these and they cross over as people move around / have various influences and there are some counties in the midlands in particular that don't conform completely to any of them.

It's the same in England though, you've enormous variations of accents compared to Australia or the US*

*Notable exceptions in older parts of the US i.e. Boston, NY, New England generally and 'The South'.

How do you like them Apples? Tim Cook's iPhones sitting in the tree, feeling unloved by the Chinese

Slx

Whatever about the iPhone, I bought a current generation MacBook Pro and I've gone back to using my previous one. It has the worst keyboard I've ever used. I literally can't work on the damn machine. It's like typing on a keyboard made entirely of mouse click buttons.

Apple seems to be slipping in terms of innovation and quality control of designs. I don't honestly believe they'd have released machines as flawed as these and it's enough to send me shopping around for a PC.

Techie finds himself telling caller there is no safe depth of water for operating computers

Slx

Re: Header pic

You'd be surprised! Standards fork.

Plenty of countries adopted bits of German DIN standard sockets but not the whole system.

In the Irish context the BS1363 plugs and sockets are absolutely enforced as per the UK, but codified in law as IS 401 (plug) and IS411 (socket). The wiring isn't the same though. For example rings are not recommended for use in kitchens for heavy appliances. There's a concern that having all of the load at one point on a ring creates a potential fire hazard. A ring makes a lot of assumptions about loads being relatively evenly spread and if you concentrate all the loads in the kitchen, which might be close to one end of the ring, it can run a tad warm.

The usual topology here tends to be a 20 amp radial to ever major room, with some shared between smaller rooms / corridors and several radials to the kitchen. They to mad on kitchens - we've about 10 double sockets and most rooms have at least 2 or 3 doubles. There's certainly no skimping on them anyway and this house was built back in 1979.

Rings are allowed but electricians tended to remain fairly conservative and stuck with using more continental style radials.

I recently had an extra double socket installed for a washing machine and dryer moved to a laundry closet we decided to put into a hall and the electrician ran a dedicated 20amp circuit in an RCBO serving one socket only rather than connect to any existing radial, as apparently it's considered safer practice for high load appliances.

Back before the 1960s Ireland used to use Schuko (German style 16amp plugs and sockets). They remain standardised as IS180 with a reference to the most up-to-date CEE 7 standard sheets but they're not normally installed and appliances are required to be sold with

BS1363 plugs.

The only place you'll find Schuko here is is as an extra socket or two in a lot of hotels rooms. The reason for this is a lot of hotels have issues with serious damage to sockets caused by people jamming in 16amp European plugs (with fatter pins than the 2.5amp flat plugs found on mobile chargers etc) and wrecking the contacts on the BS style sockets leaving them loose / dangerous. So it just makes more sense to provide one or two Schuko sockets. The only difference is that you can't legally install sockets without shutters, so they'll be shuttered versions of German sockets.

A lot of our underlying wiring systems though are more like Northern European continental systems - radials and old systems used Diazed / Neozed bottle shaped cartridge fuses defined in DIN standards. We still use a single Neozed combined fuse switch as the main over-current protection on every consumer unit.

There was also much earlier adoption of RCDs on sockets, water heaters and certain fixed as mandatory here in the late 1970s. Although the UK went from not requiring them at all to having them on every circuit, leap frogging us. Irish regs still continued to exempt indoor lighting circuits (other than bathrooms). Thats likely to change this year though.

So even though the plugs and sockets are BS1316 the wiring standards behind them are not identical to UK regs.

Slx

Re: Header pic

I suspect that UK BS1363 sockets may have been adopted but not ring circuits. If you were using UK sockets on normal radial circuits, the fuse wouldn't be any more necessary than it is on Australian, Continental European or North American plugs.

There's a strong argument against using ring circuits, but the UK plug and socket system is pretty good. In Irish residential wiring for example, rings are permitted but most wiring is like continental Europe, with 16 or 20 amp radials feeding sockets. Although, like the UK plug top fuses are mandate if your using those plugs.

It's possible that perhaps Malaysia simply didn't adopt rings at all and thus allows plugs that fit those sockets, but without fuses. Just because they're BS style sockets doesn't mean the whole standard was adopted.

The only thing that makes those fuses necessary is that UK wiring has 32 amp rings connected to those sockets. The fuse is necessary to protect the flex in a fault.

I'm a crime-fighter, says FamilyTreeDNA boss after being caught giving folks' DNA data to FBI

Slx

Re: Shocked

No such database exists, at least according to anything they've release about how TouchID works. The biometric data is stored only on your device, encrypted and can only be used by that specific piece of hardware. Even the OS itself doesn't have direct access to it.

'Year-long' delay to UK 5G if we spike Huawei deals, say telcos

Slx

Re: Marconi

Marconi (and it's predecessors GPT etc) always struck me as a company that was very poor at marketing and ended up with one big customer: BT and even that was only because of the legacy of pre-free market compulsion placed on the GPO to purchase British equipment.

Even going back to the 1980s, they went on huge hype about the old System X switching system used in BT's PSTN and then seem to have achieved almost no exports at all. It seemed to be hyped, expensive and already dated technology that never really grabbed a foothold anywhere other than its home country.

I'm always amazed at that kind of thing in the UK. Companies in tech seem to rise look promising and then either get sold off by short term thinking, greedy shareholders and end up as subsidiaries of multinationals or they just fizzle and die like Marconi and countless others.

There's plenty of tech talent in the UK and some of the world's best known tech universities, yet when it comes to commercialisation, the whole thing seems to fall flat on its rear end with far too few companies making it past SME stage.

Dutch boyband hopes to reverse Brexit through the power of music

Slx

She has enough problems with the right wing Orangemen, particularly that deal with them to prop up her government, despite everybody warning that she'd undermine the Northern Ireland peace process and make it front and centre of Brexiteers by so doing.

Personally, I find the recasting of May as some damsel in distress offensive. She was a very right wing and divisive Home Secretary, who jumped into every anti-immigration and crack down on internet freedom agenda bandwagon you could possibly think of. She's facilitated and kept on the road one of worst governments in modern UK history. They've managed to put a decades old internal Tory conflict over Europe ahead of all other interests and they don't seem to care if they crash the economy in the process, as long as their side wins.

Whatever about Brexit, creating the circumstances where the UK is now a politically unstable mess where there's no certainty about all sorts of fundementals of the economy, flow of goods and services, availability of staff and all sorts of other things is absolutely insane.

She and her Government have prioritised keeping right wing tabloids and their readers happy over all else.

When the economy nosedives, will they be grateful? Or will they just turn on the Tories as their spending power gets seriously undermined?

Windows 10 can carry on slurping even when you're sure you yelled STOP!

Slx

GDPR is going to be expensive

A lot of these companies seem to be accidentally bqueueing up to test the GDPR.

If most punters are unlikely to pay more for 5G, why all the rush?

Slx

It's incremental step forward rather than game changing

In my opinion 3G was utterly game changing, in the sense that you had usable, ubiquitous mobile almost broadband for the first time. Previous technologies like GPRS were barely usable.

Price was also a huge shift. Data became cheap enough for most of us to be able to use without thinking about it.

4G enhanced that and made it genuine broadband service comparable to VDSL and even base level cable modem services and all sorts of interesting possibilities opened. I can comfortably stream music, upload and download to cloud services and use things like VoIP due to relatively low latency.

5G means things get faster but I really don't see it being as game changing as what's gone before it.

Right now, my biggest challenge isn't data speed. It's battery life!

Oh, I wish it could be Black Friday every day-aayyy, when the wallets start jingling but it's still a week till we're paiii-iid

Slx

Amusing trademarks work both ways.

Look up what Pajero means in Spanish. I cannot believe people in the UK and Ireland drive around in cars with it printed on the back.

Let's just say it begins with w and rhymes with banker.

Where to implant my employee microchip? I have the ideal location

Slx

I worked for a large organisation which I will not mention, but they had a very sophisticated RFID tag based security system that required you to tap-in as you moved around the campus and there were tag-operated self-opening/closing security gates at all of the perimeter

It was an extremely comprehensive system that met all of the latest technical requirements for system-security but had one massive flaw; other than these gates, the campus was surrounded by a wall that you could simply step over!!

France: Let's make the internet safer. America, Russia, China: Let's go with 'no' on that

Slx

I'd be all for improving security and having some kind of bar on cyber attacks carried out by states, but I would assume that would be utterly unenforcible.

However, what I would be concerned about is a move like this could simply be a backdoor to censorship, filtering, restricting encryption and more top-down control. Some very well meaning political efforts to make the internet a safer place have tended to go that way.

They also usually tend to think of the internet as if it were the PSTN - a radial network with nodes and lines all managed from the centre and completely fail to comprehend how IP traffic flows and how the internet is a giant organic mesh with very little ability to control anything or why encryption is utterly necessary to allow any of that to work safely.

European Union divided over tax on digital tech giants as some member states refuse free money

Slx

I'd remind you that Northern Ireland is in the UK - and that is where there was political and sectarian conflict, not in the Republic of Ireland. All Ireland's trying to do is avoid a hard border to ensure that the Northern Ireland (again: I stress part of the UK) troubles do not become a live issue again. The status quo of having almost dual identity in Northern Ireland and the border not mattering at all since 1993 played an enormous role in calming that region (of the UK) down.

The Northern Irish conflict occurred in the UK, it is part of the UK and there are no sectarian or terrorist issues in the Republic other than when there was some brief overspill which occurred 44 years ago in 1974 with the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings carried out by the UVF

There are far, far fewer issues with terrorism in the Republic of Ireland than there are in much of continental Europe.

I'd also point out the UK Government is currently propped up by a party that has very close links to all of that conflicted period.

Slx

My question is will we also be taxing Renault, Peugeot-Citroen, Siemens, Lufthansa, Air France, the banks and so on based on their revenues rather than their profits in each EU state too, or just tech firms?

There is genuinely an argument to be made that they do not make profits in the countries they do not operate in. They simply make sales.

I'd rather see the tax loopholes closed, but it's a bit rich saying that you can have a single market, but not when a company wants to base itself in one part of that market and sell across the whole region. You can't on the one hand want a single market and then when it doesn't suit you just try to undermine that concept. It's as cakeist as Brexit.

You're going to end up with some countries, much like some US states, being gateways to the whole EU market and each country already collects rather substantial VAT on sales in their countries.

The stacking tax systems back-to-back to line up the loopholes has to stop, but I don't realistically think that you're going to see a rush of companies trying to relocate to France just because of a tax shift. There are huge problems in the French market with lack of flexibility (which can be overcome in the context of a modern a social democracy type situation as is clearly seen in Scandinavia), and there are huge issues with strikes and disruption and so on.

Realistically the tax avoidance schemes need to be tackled at global / WTO level. In a lot of cases, it would genuinely be a case of the EU tying its own hands behind its back and trying to compete in the global market if it goes too far on this stuff.

I don't agree with the massive tax avoidance, but I just think this is the wrong way to go about tackling it.

I could genuinely see the US jumping on this is a grossly protectionist move too, which it could be interpreted as with counter moves on EU companies in the states.

SCISYS sidesteps Brexit: Proposes Irish listing to keep EU space work rolling in

Slx

Ireland actually has genuinely huge practical advantages for Brexit fleeing UK companies that are of smaller size.

1. Speaks English.

2. Similar common law legal system.

3. Similar business culture.

4. UK citizens, even after Brexit, are considered 'non-aliens' in Ireland and thus can live here without any need for work permits, visas or any of that kind of thing due to the Common Travel Area. That won't be changing as it's not an EU based right. It predates it by a long time.

If they're continuously resident in Ireland for 5 years (which requires no visas/permits for a UK national), then they can apply for Irish citizenship and regain EU status again. Or, if they're married to an Irish citizen, it's reduced to 3 years.

Or, if you've an Irish grandparent or parent, you can apply for citizenship by descent and get a passport without naturalisation.

For the majority of UK SMEs, a move to Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick or anywhere else shouldn't be much different to a move to Edinburgh or Manchester. It's a different country and legal jurisdiction, but it's about as familiar to a UK person as you could possibly get.

Judge: Georgia's e-vote machines are awful – but go ahead and use them

Slx

Have you forgotten how to count?!

In ireland we manage to manually count very complicated proportional representation ballots, where there are up to 5 seats in a constituency and you cast a vote by ranking candidates in order of preference 1,2,3.. and so on.

It takes a couple of days, but it's an epic exercise in sorting, bundling, pigeon holes, rubber bands and it all takes place in public and under the gaze of 'tallymen/women' from various parties and organisations, all scrutinising everything and also trying to predict the outcome.

It's nail biting stuff and is like watching horserace, except that it's already happened and is being decoded two days later. The sheer geekery of it is part of the fun of elections.

All the statisticians, the experts, the pundits, the bookies, the campaign, the raising people shoulder high and giving them the birthday bumps when they get elected - It's what elections are about.

For the sake of a few days of chaos and recounts, I prefer the very verifiable manual count system human touch.

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