* Posts by bonkers

209 publicly visible posts • joined 13 Dec 2011


Massive energy storage system goes online in UK


Re: Powering the grid and providing backup?

I respect Mr. Sod's input, and yes, it will happen.

My point is that it will happen infrequently. Moreover, it will happen anyway, even if you never deplete your reserve. You need 2nd-level strategies, like load-shedding, controlled shutdown, which is a thing datacentres can do pretty well.

Just to run the numbers, the batteries will hold-up for 2-4 hours if fully charged. This only drops 20% if you allow depletion. I'm saying that the probability of a 2.4 hour outage (assuming this is the figure with no depletion) is very close indeed to the probability of a 2.0 hour outage (with depletion).

So, all you need to do, in the worst case, is to run your load-reduction (which you have to do at some point regardless) a little bit earlier.

Taking this observation to its limit, a datacentre only really needs enough battery power to divest itself of [most of] its workload - which might be just a few minutes. It would then run at maybe 5% till power returns - just so that it doesn't drop off the network altogether.

I'm assuming of course that there are other datacentres that do have power, and spare capacity - isn't this the original raison d'etre for DARPANET and the internet in the first place?


Re: Decommissioning?

I was rather hoping that the entire EV battery pack could be re-used – with all its busbars and monitoring electronics intact. This could give the “scrap” battery a real value of maybe 25% of the £10,000 original price.

The alternative, disassembly, is extremely hazardous due to stored energy and all the connections being welded – I can’t see it being done by machine, other than with a month underwater and a big crusher. The Lithium, which we do need to reclaim, is then only worth £500, and that is when fully refined – I don’t see that it covers the costs and risk involved.

Ideally, there would be a standard subset of CAN commands to allow re-use of the whole pack, automotive makers have been quite good about this in the past, particularly when forced. However, it is not absolutely critical – I’m sure that software drivers could be made for each BMS (battery management system) supplier.

Of course, I doubt that datacenter-sized battery farms would want a hotch-potch of different equipment all under one roof, they would be better making their brand-new packs compliant as above, and selling the exhausted packs on.

For £2500, say, versus £10,000, I’m sure that domestic PV enthusiasts would use them, they’re even a reasonable proposition for garage-based electricity resellers, like Tesla’s wallpack thing. Finally, there will be a growing market at recharge sites, like motorway services, garages, where they need more peak power than the grid can provide them - and would greatly benefit from buying cheap-rate versus peak.


Re: Excuse my ignorance.

I hope you don't mind me re-posting my comments above? I think they fit better here:

It's a linear programming problem.

If you build your energy reserve just big enough to cover the specified power-outage duration, it is a lot of cost that sits there doing nothing for nearly all of its life.

If you increase the reserve by just 20%, you can trade power every day, generating an income. You can get the best spot-price of the day, and the wear-out costs for just 20% cycle-depth are minimal. It also keeps the equipment "exercised" at full power, so you can trust it.

You might just choose to decline the peak electricity price and run your datacentre from batteries for an hour a day, using electricity that you've bought at minimum price, minus your electrical losses.

Now run the numbers for [x%] of additional reserve, additional installed cost, and you can see it works better. In fact, for a 20% increase in capacity you'd only be looking at more batteries, the converters would remain the same - so a cost delta of 10% say.

You can even play with the statistics - the power outage duration is a Gaussian, unlikely to coincide (in its worst case) with you being at your minimum of stored power. So, for a small increase in the risk that you won't cover the outage (already a non-zero risk) you can pay back some costs, even with zero increase of your energy reserve.


Re: Powering the grid and providing backup?

It's a linear programming problem.

If you build your energy reserve just big enough to cover the specified power-outage duration, it is a lot of cost that sits there doing nothing for nearly all of its life.

If you increase the reserve by just 20%, you can trade power every day, generating an income. You can get the best spot-price of the day, and the wear-out costs for just 20% cycle-depth are minimal. It also keeps the equipment "exercised" at full power, so you can trust it.

You might just choose to decline the peak electricity price and run your datacentre from batteries for an hour a day, using electricity that you've bought at minimum price, minus your electrical losses.

Now run the numbers for [x%] of additional reserve, additional installed cost, and you can see it works better.

You can even play with the statistics - the power outage duration is a Gaussian, unlikely to coincide (in its worst case) with you being at your minimum of stored power. So, for a small increase in the risk that you won't cover the outage (already a non-zero risk) you can pay back some costs, even with zero increase of your energy reserve.


Re: Decommissioning?

I agree that decommissioning needs to be included in any fair assessment, but it's more complicated than that.

Firstly, I don't believe that Li-Ion batteries are particularly toxic, certainly nothing at all like nuclear, and their reprocessing is already implemented on a large scale.

Secondly, there is a good case for taking "exhausted" car batteries (Li-Ion) that have fallen to 70% capacity, and rather than recycle them, just continue to use them in fixed installations till they drop to 50%. This would easily double their working life.

Thirdly, flow batteries are possibly a better contender for long-term storage, like keeping a weeks worth of power stored.


Re: Dumb question time...

It's not a dumb question, if the complexity of the answer is anything to go by.

With the battery fully charged, the maintaining power for the electronics and any cooling might be a few kW, then there is the self-discharge of the batteries, maybe 10kW? These are just my estimates, the real figures could be higher.

The point is that the system expects to be cycled, and that's where the inefficiencies creep in. There are losses in the power converters, from AC to DC and back again. Power converters at this scale are normally quite "agricultural" - they might use 12-phase thyristor invertors, which involve a fair bit of smashing voltages together. This is what is used for the UK-France DC link, with efficiency of maybe 95%. Then there is the battery coulombic efficiency, which is very high for Li-Ion batteries, at low current - but drops significantly if you run them at C/2 or C/4 rates (i.e. so they charge or discharge in 2 hours or 4 hours respectively).

It is this 2-hour rate and 4-hour rate that gives you their published figures, the overall round-trip efficiency. This includes all the losses described above.

Quoted figures for the Tesla megapack are

2-hour duration:

Power & Energy: 1,927 kW / 3,854 kWh per Megapack

Round Trip Efficiency: 92.0%

4-hour duration:

Power & Energy: 970 kW / 3,878 kWh per Megapack

Round Trip Efficiency: 93.5%

source: https://electrek.co/2022/09/14/tesla-megapack-update-specs-price/

Z-Library operators arrested, charged with criminal copyright infringement


maybe combat the knowledge trolls with a library?

I deeply object to fact that most scientific papers are paywalled.

Invariably they are publicly or charitably funded, to some extent, and therefore should return that investment by being publicly available.

The idea that the public purse should then finance maybe 150 years of free policing and prosecution, to support a few immensely rich knowledge trolls, is absurd.

For that is the deal with regard to copyright. For comparison, patent rights extend for only 17-20 years and do not provide either policing or prosecution.

Copyright is way too generous, especially since being extended to 70 years after the death of the author - a massive windfall, or land-grab if you prefer...

The only benefit to the public of this immense free deal, is that there are lending-library provisions and that the material will ...eventually... become public domain.

### So, could the aims of Zlibrary be met, entirely legally, by using these lending-library provisions? ###

I wouldn't mind, if in order to meet these provisions, it had to be through a pesky online PDF viewer. It would be nice if it allowed screenshots, and/or hyperlinks. It is the difference between listening to a track on youtube, and downloading an MP3.

This should be applicable to scientific papers and books alike.

Do Reg readers have a better-informed opinion on whether this might be possible?

Further comments/opinions would be welcomed.

PS: I'm aware of Unpaywall, which is great, but only works for open documents. Similarly, there is annas-archive.org, the few links i tried didn't work - but given it is serving PDF files, it will always be subject to shutdowns.

UK comms regulator rings death knell for fax machines


Re: Pagers

Pagers are still in regular use at all big hospitals.

They emit no RF, so are safe next to ECG's, EEG's, and they guarantee to cover right into the depths of the building.

By a similar token, faxes are a simple, well-understood backup between pharmacies, hospitals, GP's and the like.

They have an extremely low "attack surface" and do not require schooling in the many risks associated with email and internet.

It pays to have multiple backups, the internet can break, phone systems normally don't.

It wouldn't be beyond wit for the exchange to detect fax tones and act accordingly, whether it's a DSP decode, a higher bandwidth Voip line or whatever.

I see it just as BT looking for cost savings they'll then keep, ta very much - like being allowed to charge line rental in advance, the c***s.

How I made a Chrome extension for converting Reg articles to UK spelling


Glad you liked the post.

I think the point stands, we just need to separate patriotism and royalism.

The English aren't particularly patriotic, compared to the Scots for example, or the Americans. (Both fine, I like them, they're just different in this regard, on the average).

The English don't really adopt any national identity, nor claim any distinguishing features - it is almost as though we see ourselves as a reference, the norm, like BBC "received" pronunciation.

Despite the efforts of our newspapers and institutions, we mostly reject excessive patriotism and royalism, because it is jingoism, most unseemly. Also, we mistrust any appeal to base emotions, we don't like to be "gamed" into mob politics. I accept that we are starting to lose that battle, through laziness, ignorance, and the resources available to social media.

The outrage against the Sex Pistols was whipped-up by the tabloids and BBC, but most saw it as an attack on the Queen, who cannot respond, and therefore a bit unfair. Our sympathies, as ever, for the underdog.

Note that it doesn't preclude other attacks, like Spitting Image, The Royals, perhaps equally savage, but very funny - so that's OK then.


I'll second that - and please read down for the main point, let's keep the cachet of British irony and incorrectness, brother RegTards.

- when I worked in Germany, "proper" native English, with its accent, idioms, vocab and corruptible grammer, was highly valued.

However, what they really loved was our dark humour and irony.

Nationalities, like people, tend to undervalue their best, most effortless skills because they are intrinsic, and because it might be immodest. - Here best explained by Kate Fox, in her book "Watching the English".

The English are not usually given to patriotic boasting – indeed, both patriotism and boasting are regarded as unseemly, so the combination of these two sins is doubly distasteful. But there is one significant exception to this rule, and that is the patriotic pride we take in our sense of humour, particularly in our expert use of irony.

The popular belief is that we have a better, more subtle, more highly developed sense of humour than any other nation, and specifically that other nations are all tediously literal in their thinking and incapable of understanding or appreciating irony. Almost all of the English people I interviewed subscribed to this belief, and many foreigners, rather surprisingly, humbly concurred.

What took more time was introducing humour in meetings and discussions with more than two participants.

By convention in Germany this is strictly verboten. The definite upside being that annoying comic wankers, company clowns, are routinely and deservedly shot.

Downside is that the devices we love to slip in to see who's awake - like veiled insult, wrecking endorsements, blind innuendo, faint praise, helpful but catastrophic suggestions - will just cause confusion, cognitive dissonance. - Are we being clumsy, rude, inept, vicious, stupid or what?

It is of course soon remedied, they get it - it is a question of scope, not of understanding. We've broadened the rulebook and smuggled in a subtle, subversive, perpetual game, and it's a new, toe-curling type of funny.

Again, better explained by Kate Fox:

For those attempting to acclimatize to this atmosphere, the most important ‘rule’ to remember is that irony is endemic: like humour in general, irony is a constant, a given, a normal element of ordinary, everyday conversation. The English may not always be joking, but they are always in a state of readiness for humour. We do not always say the opposite of what we mean, but we are always alert to the possibility of irony. When we ask someone a straightforward question (e.g. ‘How are the children?’), we are equally prepared for either a straightforward response (‘Fine, thanks.’) or an ironic one (‘Oh, they’re delightful – charming, helpful, tidy, studious . . .’ To which the reply is ‘Oh dear. Been one of those days, has it?’).

Seriously though, Reg readers and creators, look at New Scientist - once excellent, British, highly read and enjoyed worldwide. It was taken over and infantilized, then peppered with American token-words: quadrillions, cellphones, holiday season, freedomheit.. to mention just a few.

It is now heavily paywalled and completely worthless.

The Reg, many thanks to Lester Haines originally, has been for years a beacon of quintessential British humour, irreverence, irony and wit.

The straplines alone are an absolute artform, seen here first.

Please don't spoil it by removing the linguistic tokens that identify it as English (UK).

Micro molten salt reactor can fit on a truck, power 1k homes. When it's built


Not sure about that one, they are at least in one way similar - in that the products weigh less than the reactants, as previous post noted.

And in another way, much like chemical reactions, it is the binding energies, not the components themselves, that change.

The binding energies of the daughter nuclei are fractionally higher than the fuel nucleus.

All the particles are conserved*.

So, even nuclear reactors don't exactly "convert matter (or mass) to energy" - as in the annihilation of whole particles, let alone "back to future" direct annihilation of garbage into stupendous energy.

* some of the neutron flux that sustains the chain reaction will NOT be captured in the surrounding materials and will then decay (in ~1/4 hour) into a proton, electron, neutrino - but the "hadron number" - (protons+neutrons) is the same. Think of a neutron as a bound proton+electron that is unstable in "air" - i.e. outside a nucleus.

Further caveats below, more for interest than for proof.

OK, there might be side-reactions where daughter nuclei decay through beta+ process, and the positron will annihilate with a nearby electron - that ## would## be direct conversion of mass to energy.

However, B+ decay is only favourable for neutron-light isotopes, and daughters of fission are naturally neutron-rich. I think that's the right way round, could be wrong.

If you're really picky, or just interested, yes, in beta decay, there is an antineutrino, 0.3eV or less.

It might then annihilate with a "proper" neutrino, making a direct conversion of matter to energy - but this would be in a distant galaxy, due to the vanishingly low "cross sections" - reaction probabilities - of neutrinos generally. Actually, maybe not at all, there are arguments that the neutrino is its own antiparticle, a "Majorana" particle - though this is unproven. It would mean that there is no annihilation.


Re: Mb99 -> Tc99m

Molybdenum is Mo not Mb

China discovers unknown mineral on the moon, names it Changesite-(Y)


Re: Helium-3 vs. Helium-4

Helium-3, being a Fermion, should not exhibit superfluidity, a property of bosonic liquids. Helium-4 refrigeration below 2.17K is difficult because it goes superfluid and gushes through the tiniest of gaps, ask CERN....

<high voice> " we think the Helium is leaking"....

Of course, Fermions can pair-up, Cooper pairs, to make Bosons, and this is why electrons can become superconductors - and why, eventually, He-3 can become superfluid, but at a much lower temperature.

Behind Big Tech's big privacy heist: Deliberate obfuscation


Re: "We value your privacy"

We value your privacy...

It's what we sell.

Banned: The 1,170 words you can't use with GitHub Copilot


Re: Wot, no GOTO?

Brilliant, thank you :)


Re: Wot, no GOTO?

That looks really interesting...

Is it possible to branch it off as a separate thread, or maybe a link to where it is discussed further?

I'd love to know more of the principle by which it works.

many thanks

Richard Branson uses two planes to make 170km round trip


Re: Miserable and small minded

"Towing the line"

That would be the Karman line presumably?

FBI paid renegade developer $180k for backdoored AN0M chat app that brought down drug underworld


Drugs versus Gambling

If law was truly based on reducing social harm then online gambling ought to be just as illegal as drugs, but it's not, and gambling firms make huge amounts of money from promoting addiction.

The war on drugs is a moral crusade - I am not a homosexual therefore all homosexuals are depraved deviants - similarly, drinkers, non-churchgoers, golfers, queen fans, and anyone else indulging in my list of petty hates.

I don't see how taking drugs, consenting adults acting in private, should be a criminal matter - surely criminality has to include intentional or reckless harm to others?

Sure, there would be public health penalties if drugs were legalised, as there are with horse riding, motorbikes, mountain climbing, alcohol, food, and worse of all, gambling.

I don't have an easy answer, legalised consumption but illegal supply chain, as in Portugal, is fundamentally conflicted - and does not take the money out of the criminal empires that kill thousands every year.

I don't see that the current approach will ever succeed, like prohibition you cannot stop people "getting off" on stuff, it is a universal human trait - across all cultures - right down to little children spinning round till they get dizzy and fall over.

MPs slam UK's £22bn Test and Trace programme for failing to provide evidence that it slows COVID pandemic


Re: To put it in context...

To put it in context, our current population is ~66 million.

£22billion is £330 each - a laptop for every man, woman, child and weirdo in the UK

Web prank horror: Man shot dead while pretending to rob someone at knife-point for a YouTube video


Re: Sickening

Which particular views did you find sickening?

Sure, a lot of commentards are agreeing that a harsh justice was served - which is never a good thing generally. Beware of those who seek harsh punishment was a Greek Philosopher's maxim, or Roman, wasn't it?

However, this could have been the beginning of a "London Bridge" type killing spree, indistinguishable. Such cases of legitimate fatal self-defence are rare, and are, like it or not, a fair argument in support of gun carrying - a well-trained, vetted, un-angry citizen protecting his family against immediate lethal threat. It ought to be possible to make gun law in the US so that it is more of this type, with training, licensing, vetting...

So, give the pro-gun lobby their day in the sun, you have to understand their reasonable argument in this case.

I agree with your conclusion that overall, guns are a bad thing, a very bad thing, with vastly more costs than benefits, but I refuse to be sickened by "evidence for" - evidence that runs counter to my conclusion.

This chip lark is child's play: Intel gives us the lowdown on Lakefield in language of Lego


Re: The best chip Intel ever made...

Fascinating link, thanks for that

My favourite of all time is this one:


Its an entire 6202 chip, running code, even your code if you want - with the nets highlighted when logic high, well worth a look. It's all written in Javascript.

On the main article - " a printing process Intel would dearly love to copy" - made me laugh out loud, a bit like going up to Faf de Clerk, the long-haired South African rugby player, built like a brick shithouse - and telling him he looks a bit like a girl.

Watchdog urges Tesla to recall 158,000 Model S, X cars to fix knackered NAND flash that borks safety features


Engineering solutions

There are a number of potential fixes that don't involve a garage visit, it is just an engineering problem.

Firstly, reduce the amount of information you "need" to store to an absolute minumum, this always helps.

If the unit has permanent power, you could keep this in RAM, and only commit to flash if the battery is disconnected, relying on your bulk capacitors. However there are a number of tricky issues involved, many of which could be overcome, but it's all a lot of work. Things like the latency between detecting loss of power - perhaps the unit might be asleep? - and getting on with the write. You may only be able to write a few blocks, depending on the write time and your capacitance.

Best then to have an acceptable "no data saved" backup configuration.

My preferred solution, assuming there is no other easy fix, is to make the nVidia chip so it never writes its flash again - and offload the NVM storage either to another unit on the CAN bus, existing or new, or even, ghastly but cheap, make a device that plugs into the OBD port, and store stuff on there.

CEST la vie: HMRC admits controversial IR35 status checker returns undecided verdict in nearly 20% of cases


Re: C'est la vie.

You must be new here...

It's a pun on CEST, the name of the tool in question.

I'll just stop there, coz i'm nice.

Channel Isles cop sacked after abusing police database to track down women drivers for Instagram 'comic' page


seems to be all down to one bad apple..

> separate figures revealed that one police staffer is disciplined every three days for misusing official IT systems for private purposes.

- so, why don't they sack him?

Microsoft pokes Cortana's corpse to give her telepathic abilities on Windows 10


Re: She’s dead on my systems

Well that's your problem right there... salting down the graves just seems to bring 'em back to life.

Sodding Cortana has arrived from nowhere - you, probably - and now offers "helpful" advice on a daily basis as an email into Outlook.

Useful things like suggesting I might be able to get some work done, sorry, - I might have a "focus opportunity", between the meetings scheduled at 1-2pm and 4pm.

Turns out you can't block sender cortana@microsoft.com, as that would clearly be a typing error, and Outlook fixes it for you.

Why can't they leave stuff the fuck alone? - or at least provide an opt-in-to-whatever-random-bollocks-your-shit-eating-marketroids-pull-out-of-their-arses-next.

Salesforce's Dreamforce shindig hits new levels of nauseating online as... Oh god. Is that James Corden?


Classic, El Reg, just Classic.

I try hard not to dislike overblown unfunny "comedians", glad to see you're struggling with similar - we don't want to be seen as a people held together by what we hate, even if it is the truth.

I had been wondering what to do about the chinese suppliers I bought some LED's and modules off - and who now send me special offers, invariably including "10-speed voice-activated masturbation cup", and similar variants, deviants possibly.

Would make a perfect secret Santa present for "oh God, is that..." - and maybe his only opportunity ever, to actually make me laugh.

'We've heard the feedback...' Microsoft 365 axes per-user productivity monitoring after privacy backlash


Can someone explain?

Basically, Office 365 appears to report every change, every click, every button press on every document.

This was "explained" as a wizzy new featured that allowed it to continue working even whilst being updated - a use case of about 0.0001%.

I can't see how checking for an updated button code "object", halfway through an update, is ever going to work, or even be testable.

In return, you get an exact timeline on every document, that you can't access, but MS can - and can release some/all to management tracking tools.

I think it's a huge security risk - in that it massively increases the value of stolen data.

Imagine a commercial espionage situation; the disk-image data for most companies would run to terabytes, a lot to look through - but the statistics on which documents are in use, being edited or viewed, by whom, is an enormous clue as to what is the important data.

So, as usual, poor privacy has a sting in its tail, with unforeseen security risks waiting to be exploited.

Scotch eggs ascend to the 'substantial meal' pantheon as means to pop to pub for a pint during pernicious pandemic


Re: 11pm and cornflakes

I wonder if a “Vegan Breakfast” would count?

- a cup of coffee and a cigarette…

I did once complain to a Australian colleague – late into a long day meeting abroad – that that was all I’d had so far that day.

…That’s nothing – all I’ve had is a Dingo’s breakfast…

A Dingo’s breakfast?

…Yeah, a scratch, a sniff and a look around…

Massive news, literally: Three super-boffins awarded Nobel Prize in physics for their black-hole breakthroughs


Re: Professor Sir Roger Penrose

@Eclectic Man

I seem to be in agreement with you again.

Penrose is a true genius and richly deserving of a Nobel Prize - the only problem would be which of his many contributions to reward.

The scary aspect you mention is perfectly demonstrated if you look at either of the interviews linked-to.

It's like being a wondrous child again, hearing grown-ups discuss stuff way beyond your reach - yet you make some sense of it.

I know what you mean - he sees your method and conclusion from the moment you set the problem - but in a kind way.

I love it, they're casually describing Riemann space, surfaces, Weyl curvature, negative dimensionality, Penrose's Spinors and Twistor theory, meetings with Dirac - and a few sideways jibes at the popular stuff. - It's neither dark, nor energy, guys ... They simply don't give a shit if you're not keeping up - no soothing music, sunsets, permagrinned oxytocin junkies - they just keep on talking - and it's brilliant.

The interviews are simply lovely, he is such a modest character. Oscar Wilde might quip that he has much to be modest about? - and quite right, he does, about a Nobel Prizes worth.

What a Hancock-up: Excel spreadsheet blunder blamed after England under-reports 16,000 COVID-19 cases


Re: Hmm. 65 000 000 people. 1 000 000 col limit*

"mates boss" - who for purposes of anonymity, we shall refer to as "Matt Hancock"


Re: Hmm. 65 000 000 people. 1 000 000 col limit*

No word of a lie, just a year ago, mates boss sent out a late email saying that he'd had to stop working on the spreadsheet, because the batteries in his calculator had given out.

Seriously! - he was adding-up the figures and typing them in over the formula.

Bill Gates lays out a three-point plan to rid the world of COVID-19 – and anti-vaxxer cranks aren't gonna like it


The origin of conspiracy

Erm , please correct me if i'm wrong, but the back-story to the conspiracy goes like this:

Records of vaccine are hard to access and maintain, particularly in poor countries.

the "BCG" is an easy one, because it leaves a scar, and doctors, A&E can tell immediately.

There was a thought to tattoo the vaccinated, but that is too much like branding cattle.

There was a thought to use a glass transponder - much like with pets and farm animals, they can be read/write and be updated with all vaccinations, allergies, blood group - the stuff you might need in an emergency. It didn't get far, there are nefarious uses, it's a big privacy (whatever that is these days?) problem,

The only real proposal that Bill Gates looked at was a sub-dermal laser barcode, of some sort, invisible, not like branding, and carries only a byte or two of info.

I don't see a problem with that - but sure, if it were a unique barcode per person, that has abuse potential.

This is the "Bill Gates wants to barcode all of humanity for his own evil purposes" conspiracy.

The implantable glass transponder is inevitably viewed as a mind-control device, thanks X-files, darkening the conspiracy further.

Crazy thing is that all the anti-vaxxers are on Facebook, which is an actual mind-control device and is bent on all manner of evil purposes - it does whatever money wants it to do.

Alphabet promises to no longer bung tens of millions of dollars to alleged sex pest execs who quit mid-probe



I've rowed back somewhat (see above) - I take your points also.

I guess it can't be easily codified - which was my point about Bill and Melinda - any hard rules that would catch "monumental shit" above, would catch B+M also.

It's beyond my simple commentard analysis, there are loosely-defined quantities like decorum and professionalism (as mentioned in the piece) at the heart of it..

The truth is, authority and seniority do require you to act appropriately, you are in a position of trust, and the remuneration reflects this.

Here in the UK you can be debarred as a solicitor, or struck-off as a doctor, for a single "driving over the alcohol limit" offence, in your private time.

Probity, they call it, and it covers pretty much anything that might bring the profession into disrepute, even a series of "honest" adulterous affairs - god forbid if they were employees also.

So, two cheers for Google, well done - even if a bit late.

It's all in stark contrast to the recent Facebook whistleblower case, where the rare charge of "bringing the company into repute" was brought...


Re: "How is that similar to the previous example?"

Right... many thanks for the update. It's a tricky one isn't it!

The guy is obviously a monumental shit - and it is a similar case since it relies on elements of "hierarchical coercion" and certainly an unpleasant predatory aspect.

I accept that consent is not an absolute defence, nor complaint a requirement - in fact I utterly disagree with my previous post, which is a bit embarrassing - but hey, that's what incisive journalism can do to you.


I agree, it is not at all the same thing.

The JB case looks like "love affair" - with no hint of coercion or direct (reporting) authority.

OK it was possibly a poor judgement on her part, and immoral on his, but these things happen - and are genuinely consensual - which puts them in quite a different league to the "sex-pest" complaints.

We must be mindful of the fact that 30% (according to google) of relationships start at work - and it would not be fair to break this important process.

Hell, look at Bill Gates as a test case.

So, coercion has to be one of the critical tests, complaint another.

Desperately seeking regolith: NASA seeks proposals for collecting Moon dirt


Done it !

I'm quoting just £10,000, for a 250g moonrock, ready and waiting for the 'in-place' transfer of ownership.

I won't post the co-ordinates just yet - but It's the one just above the Buzz Aldrin footprint in the picture attached.


They can have the bigger one next to it if they'd rather.

Worried about the Andromeda galaxy crashing into our Milky Way in four billion years? Too bad, it's quite possibly already happening


Re: 'Big Dipper'

Erm, it's actually called Ursa Major.

Crack this mystery: Something rotated the ice shell around Jupiter's Europa millions of years ago, fracturing it


Re: Wingnut effect?

By Jove, I think we might have cracked it :)

Presumably, if it has happened once, then there is a good chance it has happened several times.

The mechanism above would expect the now-equatorial polar accretions to melt, and new ones to form at the new poles.

There should be evidence of successive shell-flips. Each one would knock some mountaintops flat, increasing the opportunity for the next.


Wingnut effect?

Could it simply be that the ice shell grew thicker at the poles - as they are likely to be colder for a number of reasons - until the moment of inertia for north-to-south rotation was higher than for regular east-west rotation?

At this point, an effect similar to the Wingnut effect or tennis raquet theorem came into play - forcing the system to rotate about the axis with the highest moment of inertia.

Essentially the previous rotation becomes energetically unstable and the system "flips".

The fact that it was a (large) 70 degree rotation might point to this, one would expect 90 degrees in a textbook situation.

Once considered lost, ESA and NASA's SOHO came back from the brink of death to work even better than it did before



Brilliant article, what a plot!..

Not sure luck had much to do with anything though - its good luck was to have skill, imagination and perseverance (heh) in its ground team.

I would love to have an idea of what resources it had, in terms of CPU, MHz, RAM, FLASH, etc? - just to get some sort of calibration.

Two large flightless birds walk into a bar... The pub's owner was not emused *ba-dum tsh*


Re: Cross-species sentiment detected

the post above reminds me of the American tourist on the Isle of Skye:

Upon seeing two dogs copulating in the street, she assailed the local plod, complaining that it was an affront to dignity.

I'm sorry Madam, what do you suppose I should do about it ?

Can't you stop them? - give them a biscuit or something?

Madam, would you stop? for a biscuit?

We've heard of littering but this is ridiculous: Asteroid dumps up to 50 quadrillion kg of space dirt on Earth, Moon


Re: 50 quadrillion kg...

This is where Reg units come to the fore, rather than gee-whizz quadrilllions, whatever the fuck they are.

It would bury Wales under a kilometer of rock, and no, there isn't that option, it is just informative.

(assumes density 2.5 ton/m3, a reasonable figure = 5 x 10^13 ton, 2 x 10^10 m2)

Three UK: We're sending you this SMS to warn you not to pay attention to unsolicited texts



Smishing = SMS Phishing?

Who on earth comes up with these ghastly smashed-together words.

Some sort of complete Funt, presumably.

No more installing Microsoft's Chromium-centered Edge by hand: Windows 10 will do it for you automatically


Re: are my saved password now property of Updates"R"Us??

Well, no...

I appreciate that it might not be a good idea, but I certainly do not understand the implementation or the mechanisms involved.

Let me elaborate:

I had assumed that the passwords are not in some text file that any new browser can pick-up and incorporate.

The favourites possibly are in just such a file, OK maybe XML, and would be imported only upon my agreement when installing a new browser.

Chrome has me signed into gmail already, and I presume there is a cryptographic protocol, beyond HTTPs, that allows me to download emails only to Chrome that is signed-in, maybe a session key or something.

So, this - or better, another key - should be used for passwords also. They are either sent by google (best) or stored in an encrypted file locally (worst), and only decrypted the moment they are to be used. Only then is the clear text available - and possibly visible to the OS, which could be compromised, or to memory-inspecting malware, or malware that intercepts pre-HTTPS command stream.

These should not be visible to the new browser, to be pasted-in to the relevant fields, other than by following a similar protocol, basically being Chrome in a shiny wrapper.


are my saved password now property of Updates"R"Us??

Please could someone explain how my supposedly secret password list within Chrome, gets carried across to a MS program?

I don't really go for the last word in security, but I would like to keep the OS and its ginormous attack surface, away from passwords and away from gmail. Defence in depth is the idea, though maybe it's more like width, in this case.

The number of updates needed on Windows is witness to the complexity and scale of its attack surface, Chrome is a lot smaller even though it faces the whole internet.

I can't imagine google hands all my passwords over to MS, so, is it that there is google-controlled and secured chrome in a windowsy shitflake-sprinkled wrapper?

Why not just use Chrome then?

Why on earth do MS think that they have some sort of right to even attempt this in the first place?

Automatically installing security updates is bad enough, when it just chucks your work in the bin. It's worse now you get updates on the whim of some bling-obsessed marketroid, to 'get you there' with the latest shit functionality. For instance a snip tool that puts a lovely fucking red border round your screenscrape - and informs you it won't work for long as it's "moving" ?

So, erm, does anyone know how this works and who then I need to trust to keep it secure?


Breaking virus lockdown rules, suing officials, threatening staff, raging on Twitter. Just Elon Musk things


Re: A possible explanation for sudden behaviour change.

Many thanks to Anon, for throwing light on the topic. I'm not sure where to place £lon Musk, (lucky typo there, I'll keep it...) - he's very clever, yes manic, a born maverick, but has a downside also.

I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt - and allow some "artistic license" - as we allow great artists, performers, inventors to be a bit different in their habits, because they are valuable outliers. Talent, is the word, it's rare and never perfect in all regards.

He has a condition, we understand that, and is given to outbursts and petty disputes. I can see that the stress of fatherhood presses against that, it is an open and undefined set of new constraints.

Just coming up with the "name?" has obviously done him in, somewhat.

In another form of judgement, the fact that the balance of genius and maverick has made him very successful puts him on the right side, the market has judged in his favour.

I think it is more contrast, than compare, with Toddler-in-Chief, TICOTUS - who has made millions only by virtue of starting with billions. The market judges that one to be neither use nor ornament.

There is no genius there.

Is there an "understatement of the week" prize?

What do you call megabucks Microsoft? No really, it's not a joke. El Reg needs you


Redmond's besotted tinkerers

"update junkies" "toystore tinkers" "Updates R us"


I'm so angry I can't think

Oh the joy of the challenge, to somehow encapsulate all the frustration, annoyance, anger that MS continues to deliver, into one phrase.

Shitflake sprinklers comes to mind, an unkind reference to the absurd and entirely juvenile re-modelling of Excel and Word, with thousands of choices of "sprinkles" - different styles each more ghastly and lurid - reminiscent of the cultural imposition of chemical flavouring "shots" and said shitflake adornments by the big-name coffee shops.

Perhaps their other superpowers ought to get a mention, "Processor heating engineers", "Renowned cycle stealers" - even as i speak, their "MS Teams" is busy consuming 50% of my 5000 MIPs - testing some poor register bit to beyond death - in order to find out whether I've offered call quality feedback yet, or not. How can starving children program that badly?

Oh, and the whole "you said you didn't want your room tidied, so I did it when you weren't looking, and all your stuff is in the garden" approach to updates - which combines all their previous skills, the fatuous functionality, hogging the processor till you submit to their will, and adds deliberately breaking autosave - which now only works if you store onto MS cloud, rather than disk - and deliberately deleting or hiding documents you were working on.

Maybe "productivity assassins", "teletype tinkerers" - given that most of it is tinkerage now, Excel 2003 was the high point, and the teletype is nearly as old - and it's what they started on.

I don't know, maybe they should also be lambasted for the cringing "world" adverts, making shit office software and pretending it's saving the world? - "Teletype visionaries" - any sort of mash-up of the above?

Have to agree with Reg though, it's best sorted out over a long lunch.

HMRC claims victory in another IR35 dispute to sting Nationwide contractor for nearly £75k in back taxes


Re: Wait? I'm a contractior now?

I'm hoping that the judgement might be challenged by logic, on the basis that "could I just be a highly skilled employee" is a one-way function.

Consultants are human, employees are human, so any position could be filled with either a skilled employee, or a consultant, therefore all consultants are employees. To argue otherwise requires you to be superhuman.

Both sides are wanting a differentiator.

Genuine consultants don't want their honest status to be subverted by artificial avoidance, like the train drivers (no harm to them they were forced into it) - who woke up to find they were independent train driving consultants.

HMRC would find their life a lot easier if they could make a fair differentiation that everyone can accept. We all would - can we define terms that declare with certainty whether one should be taxed by method A or method B?

Germany puts emphasis on working for more than one client within any given year - even if it's only 5% (my supposition). Also not having a fixed desk, a client business card, and a few other distinguishing terms HMRC could look to adopt.

My differentiators would be "cross-pollination" and "short-lived expertise".

Cross-pollination is a critical concept to the "value", in GDP terms, of the consultant/contractor market. Given the relatively slow flow rates of permanent employees between companies, the adoption of "best practice" can be, is, impeded.

Consultants accelerate this process. In my line of work, the rigour of automotive design and production is greatly welcomed in the new medical fields, it's a carry-across of familiar know-how. It's not in any way a "stealing" of one company's IP into anothers.

Conversely, the medical "life and limb" safety requirements and methodologies feed well into automotive ASIL ratings - the approaches, methodologies, burdens of proof.

So, a prototype "cross pollination" metric might ask if you are engaged for your general problem-solving ability, as could be met by a highly skilled employee, or for your experience and know-how.

Note that know-how is the third leg of IP:

Copyright, Patent and Know-how.

Some companies [RR] choose not to patent what they have discovered because patents only last 15-17 years and rely on full disclosure.

Short-term expertise covers the ASIC design phase, most companies that benefit greatly from custom silicon ASIC design, need it only once. The experts involved move on, it is a lesser task to manage the various implementations of the working ASIC.

It is a very much harder task, and therefore more valuable, to make ASICs that work.

If that is your skill, a permanent employment will not exercise it to the full.

By a similar token, contracting allows all highly skilled individuals to focus on their best skills, it is an imperative that one should strive to employ one's finest skills to the greater benefit of commerce and society.

I don't think that booby-trapping the entire workspace with ad-hoc factors and weights, undefined till in court, is any way to proceed with regard to harnessing the innate talent of the British to invent and consolidate said invention.

Google and IBM square off in Schrodinger’s catfight over quantum supremacy


Great Article

Many thanks for this - succinct and uncovering the real significance of the matter at hand.