* Posts by IWVC

61 publicly visible posts • joined 24 Aug 2014


Boris Johnson set to step down with tech legacy in tatters


Re: Yes Prime Minister

@BOFH in training

@Dr Paul Taylor

“Yes Minister” is responsible for the greatest changes in the relationship between politicians and the civil service. The Blair administration of 1997 wanted to change the basis of the civil service from a neutral service to the Crown to a politicised service responsible only to ministers. Blair in effect wanted the US system, whereby the incoming government brings in its own executive. It was very apparent that they had absorbed all the programmes lessons and were terrified of the potential power of the “Sir Humphries”. This was evident by the many rallies held by the incoming ministers of Government Departments for their staff, and their barbed comments about not being outdone by Sir Humphrey. I, and several hundred others, had to suffer John Prescott at the Methodist Central Hall Westminster. The civil service was/is obliged to provide unbiased advice which, in practice, meant that the negative aspects of any policy had to be fully explained. Yes, this could be used to slow down or stop policies, but Ministers had to be made aware of all issues. Obstructionism can be overcome but requires knowledge, skills and management – in Yes Minister, Hacker comes out on top more times than many remember. Blair’s failure to change the remit of the Civil Service had two main consequences. The Cabinet Office was expanded to have tentacles in all other Government departments, and was staffed with more political advisors (political advisors saturated individual departments as well). New posts such as “Chief of staff” appeared. There was an early episode of Yes Prime Minister where Sir Humphrey explains to Hacker that as Prime Minister he no longer has any power to make detailed policy as he no longer runs a department – he has to rely on others. The second change was to make performance related pay compulsory from the top down. This meant that an agreed list of things to be done by set dates had to be met in order to get an annual pay increase. The consequence of that was that you just got on with what you are told and if you realised that the policy you were implementing was faulty, you didn’t stop it because failure to complete the given task resulted in no pay rise. If the outcome was bad, so what, it wasn’t your problem as long as the set task was completed.

In my view, these are the reasons many projects have rumbled on when they should have been abandoned and terminated. Of course, the expanded Cabinet office and performance pay have been inherited, and used, by several governments of both parties since 1997.

Boris is not one to get bothered with detail, but that is no excuse for him being involved with Partygate. As a manager, he should have said something and stopped it. BUT the senior civil servant running the Cabinet Office should also have been held responsible but this individual seems to have got away scot-free.

EU lawmakers vote to ban sales of combustion engine cars from 2035


Re: And the UK ?

@Jellied Eel

Just to add to this, according to BEIS (Dept of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy?) the ANNUAL load factors for offshore wind turbines is about 45% of rated capacity and on shore 25%. This, of course is, the energy output for a full year and varies on a day-to-day basis as anywhere between 0% and 100% of demand. Many periods of high air pressure / low wind speeds occur during winter and summer seasons, meaning demand for heating or fans / air con for cooling cannot be met by wind generated resources because there isn't any. Furthermore, the first wind generation turbines are reaching the end of life and require decommissioning - and it is not easy to recycle composite fibre reinforced blades.

Much of the EU is devoid of suitable offshore areas for turbines - and on shore are far less efficient. Rather than getting worked up about the design of plugs, it is worth asking whether the EU has plans for an EU Grid to distribute this "free low carbon energy" and include hydro schemes from Scandinavian sources.

Finally, a legal point. I'm not sure if this European Parliament declaration is in response to an EU Commission proposal. If it isn't, it has no binding status. The EU can only legislate on the basis of a proposal from the Commission, and the Parliament has no power to tell the Commission to make any specific proposal. So if the Commission doesn't want to action something, it doesn't happen. If it is minded to "do something", its proposals can be radically different to what the Parliament wanted. It's called EU law making.

Secure boot for UK electric car chargers isn't mandatory until 2023 – but why the delay?


Re: Petrol provides more energy per £ than mains electricity

"That's an interesting assertion: you appear to have improved charging and discharging efficiency by at least a good quarter, completely eliminated transmission losses and battery drain while stationary and the use of passive alarms etc which all drain power while the vehicle is stationary."

A common approach, many commentators quote low ICE efficiencies due to "real world conditions" but fail to apply the same constraints when they quote EV statistics.


Re: Petrol provides more energy per £ than mains electricity


As I read this (11:30am UK time 14th January), wind is supplying 2% of demand and Gas 58%. Soon to be decommissioned Nuclear is supplying 13%

Ancient with a dash of modern: We joined the Royal Navy to find there's little new in naval navigation


Re: Thank you

I think that technically they have 4, all in museums. 1 at RAF Museum Cosford under restoration so not on display, and 3 at RAF Museum Hendon where one is undercover and 2 outside gradually crumbling away due to lack of care. The boats were retired into civilian hands for target towing purposes in 1986 and sea rescue taken over completely by helicopters.

Tesla Autopilot is a lot dumber than CEO Musk claims, says Cali DMV after speaking to the software's boss


Re: Is the market voting with its feet?

UK Dept of transport releases accident data regularly. Originally the "Stats 19" forms were filled in by police whenever a personal injury accident occurred and included the location of the accident. Some of the required information was reduced during the 1990s I believe - to reduce police paperwork - but now enhanced datasets are freely available which has location, type of road, junction layout etc.


Quality control, Soviet style: Here's another fine message you've gotten me into


Re: Not a translator

I don’t speak any other language but have been a user of simultaneous translations for many happy hours in meetings of the EU on vehicle construction standards. Up to 6 or more languages could be used in any meeting, so there were a lot of translators waiting for say French to English to then translate from the English to Spanish or whatever. If you have had the benefit of using translation you will know that if you are listening to the speaker’s language all you get is his microphone connected directly to your own headphones. However, one of the industry reps suddenly realised that the voice in his headphones wasn’t his and there was a delay before whatever he said was repeated by someone else. It turned out that his Geordie accent was so strong that the translators had asked for an English translation of his accent before they could translate into their allotted languages. (I was very nervous about the strength of my Welsh accent after that)

On another occasion a French delegate who had the habit of speeding up his speech when exited managed to outrun the translation and all we got was “sorry we can’t keep up and be sure of translating properly”

Lastly (someone else has mentioned this) we had a German translation that had very long pauses that were eventually broken by the translator saying “...just waiting for the verb, just waiting for the verb”

UK Test and Trace chief Dido Harding tries to convince MPs that £14m for canned mobile app was money well spent


Re: Baroness Harding

If we had still been in the EU she would have been "promoted" to be one of the UK supplied Commissioners.

European Commission redacts AstraZeneca vaccine contract – but forgets to wipe the bookmarks tab


Re: And the EU still can't understand why the UK left.

If you can recall far enough back, the whole BREXIT thing started with David Cameron saying he could get the EU to change and not be, for example, "bureaucratic, indecisive a*seholes" but was firmly (and not unexpectedly) told where to get off. He thought that the threat of UK withdrawal would be enough to swing the argument in his favour and was extremely naive to think that it would. The EU on its part never believed that a referendum in the UK would vote for out which showed how remote from public opinion the leaders were - not just in the UK as other political dissatisfaction was building elsewhere - and refused to change. (It became apparent that David Cameron didn't expect a leave result either but having set the ball rolling promptly buggered off and washed his hands of the result).


Re: Clearly states the first batch is manufactured in EU, not UK

An interesting example of how the power is actually divided up in the EU. The Commission are not the “civil service” and are in no way subservient to the Euro Parliament or Council of Ministers (the national governments). They are the only body that can initiate new or changes to legislation or take legislative action. So the Commission was within its remit to action Article 16 without any consultation or instructions from the publicly elected bodies. It seems that there must have been a strong reaction from national governments to make them reverse the decision (they could not be INSTRUCTED to reverse it). Probably more than just the Irish government. Other governments saw it as a bad mistake and the inevitable bad publicity the action would look like globally and applied the “when in a hole stop digging” rule.


The Commission don't have a leg to stand on

The production of the vaccine is complex, such volumes have never been attempted before, throw in the uncertainties of commissioning new production facilities and it is clear that a contract could never say “x” numbers will be delivered in “y” weeks. Hence the use of “Best Reasonable efforts” when describing the output from AZ. 5.2 defines best reasonable effort as the way that a similarly sized and resourced [commercial] company would operate. It seems that the EU Commission officials were naive to expect large deliveries instantaneously after clearing the vaccine for use – as it turns out several months behind the UK.

There are some strange references to the UK being part of the EU, very odd since we’ve clearly left and I suspect that the transition powers were not intended to cover NEW situations, only to clear up existing commitments. However, I can’t see anything that commits AZ to reneging on existing contracts to supply the EU. If it came to court it would be an argument about what was “reasonable” and the commercial context. I don’t think it can be considered reasonable if a supplier cuts deliveries in a running contract to one customer in order to satisfy a larger order. Would you be happy if your appointment to fix your failed gas boiler under a contract with, say for example, British Gas was cancelled at the last minute because they’d decided to switch all their technicians to a new contract with the block of 27 flats down the road?

There may have been a degree of over-optimism (and maybe over selling) by the AZ sales team when negotiating with the EU but that does not entitle anyone to interfere with UK supplies.


Re: Clearly states the first batch is manufactured in EU, not UK

"however AZ are completely let off the hook by section 6.2 which says AZ only have to achieve best endeavours if they already have prior contracts they have to fulfil."

I think you'll find that 6.2 only applies to new contracts with or on behalf of the Commission and does not cover existing contracts such as the UK's. I suspect the clause maybe inserted as AstraZenica are also developing other drugs such as long-acting antibody (AZD7442 or LAAB) combination therapy to provide protection against Covid-19 and production of this for a future contract with the EU may impinge on vaccine production facilities

Thou shalt not hack indiscriminately, High Court of England tells Britain's spy agencies

Thumb Up

Re: Erm

I was just about to say the same thing

Brexit trade deal advises governments to use Netscape Communicator and SHA-1. Why? It's all in the DNA


Re: 20 year old tech...

@graham Dawson

The UK does in fact (or at least did while I was working) have a significant input to UN ECE technical groups, chairing several of them involved with vehicles standards. The EU usually adopted the UN-ECE technical standards, although EU legal provisions and quality control standards had to be incorporated in the final texts. The EU Commission has sole rights to initiate a regulation and has control of developments up to adoption. The EU Council of Ministers or EU Parliament can REQUEST the Commission to make changes but not compel them to. Industry groups can be represented at early Commission working groups while they draft their proposals but have no voting power. However, many of the directives refer to CEN standards which are largely formulated by industry technical working groups. I don't know if the UK (Through BSI) will remain within the CEN system post BREXIT.


Re: 20 year old tech...


"For what little say we had on EU regs we had to apply them domestically as well."

True we had little effect on the form of EU regs. In fact in the bit I was involved with, the UK government reduced the resources that used to be involved in technical discussions “as we had little influence anyway” Also the government reduced or privatised independent UK research establishments, so we became almost totally dependent on others, or industry views for facts to base policy recommendations on. I can only speak for my area but suspect that other Govt departments suffered the same constraints.


Re: Ms paint

I believe said regulation is probably the EU adoption of one of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s standard for vehicle safety. The original working draft was prepared by the UK using our most capable computer, a Pentium 60 running Windows 3.1 for workgroups (this was around 1993 and we had a few PCs networked). We assumed that the United Nations secretariat in Geneva would have the ability to prepare more sophisticated diagrams but they didn’t as MS Paint and Wordperfect 5 were already cutting edge…. The UN-ECE reg was published in 1994 and adopted by the EU in 2002. It was expected that the technical standards would be revised and improved over time but this obviously hasn’t occurred.

UK infoseccer launches petition asking government not to backdoor encryption

Big Brother

What about the future use?

One of the major issues with this and other similar legislation brought in for police / security reasons is what happens when those responsible for bringing it in realise that it has cost a fortune to set up and / or run and is not actually producing anything near the benefits it was claimed to bring. So then the system is opened up for other Government or quasi government organisation to use “to maximise benefits”. So next thing the Tax authorities get permission to use the snooping facility and staff to root out suspected tax dodging builders, plumbers, car mechanics etc. who prefer to deal occasionally in cash and maybe avoid VAT payments (whether they are using encrypted correspondence or not). As a customer on their contact list suddenly all your correspondence is being monitored as well. Think about CCTV as a parallel. They were initially brought in to make people feel secure by acting as a deterrent or means to solve crime. In practice a current part of their use is for catching motorists who commit the cardinal sin of stopping for a few seconds in a prohibited area to drop off or pick up a passenger or goods without causing any delay to other road users or danger to pedestrians and other relatively minor traffic parking offences. These cameras are operated by staff from private companies with little training other than “if you see a car on a yellow line or in a bus or cycle lane report it” and nothing is taken into account of what the actual effects are on other road users or mitigating circumstances. They also have access to DVLA systems to trace vehicles from registration numbers. Other “security” legal provisions such as RIPA have allegedly been used in the past by Councils to inspect domestic waste to ensure it is in the right recycle bin, follow dog walkers to check they are clearing up properly etc. etc. That may have been reeled in somewhat now but officialdom will continue to look for opportunities to make their lives easier. By requesting powers to set up back doors into mainline encrypted services the powers that be are presumably already confident that they have the right to read all other non encrypted stuff. Or are they saying that only criminals and terrorists use encrypted correspondence and therefore need to be monitored? Think on – it is 5 years down the line we basically honest citizens need to be worried about.

Autonomy founder Mike Lynch's US extradition hearing will be in February 2021


When (if?) the dust settles

I wouldn't mind having the film rights to this story. As a comedy thriller it has an amazing plot line.

Hydrogen-powered train tested on Britain's railway tracks as diesel alternative


Whre does the Hydrogen come from?

Hydrogen fuel cells are great items and can work well in transport environments. But where do we get the hydrogen from? Chemical and cracking processes are messy and energy intensive (therefore negating one of the reasons to go hydrogen in the first place). Electrolysis seems promising but those who propose using “spare” wind and tidal generated power need to look at the realities of the present UK generation capacity. Basically there isn’t any, as most of our electricity is provided from gas powered equipment. GB nuclear provides a steady 6GW or so – about 15% of consumption. Wind varies between about 6 and 50% depending on the weather. 6% is NOT unusual and is common when high pressure sits over the UK which can be in both hot and cold seasons. Everyone claims wind power is sufficient to keep the UK going but most of the time we rely on gas and even coal as substantial generation sources. https://gridwatch.co.uk/ gives a comprehensive report on sources. We regularly import about 6% from France – presumably from their nuclear resources. The Green supporters revile nuclear sources and simultaneously want gas powered domestic heating and cooking converted to electricity (as well as all transport, including cars, buses and lorries). No one ever checks on the reality of the situation, and our incompetent politicians go along with the fantasies in the pursuit of votes. If we want electric transport then build nuclear stations everywhere and run overhead-cables for rail and in towns for trams. Just don’t put one in N London where I live…..

Did this airliner land in the North Sea? No. So what happened? El Reg probes flight tracker site oddity


Re: Obviously not GPS jamming

The problem was that the Vulcan's radar emissions could be tracked long before the aircraft itself (which was flying at low level) so the search radar was off. I met one of the navigators that flew on Black Buck missions. They were briefed to switch radar on when passing over the task force fleet to ID themselves, the logic being that the task force were expecting them and the direction of approach would rule out Argentine aircraft. But as the Vulcan approached their warning systems lit up with numerous fire control radars from the fleet and as the navy had a long-established reputation from WW2 to shoot first and ask afterwards, the crew turned their own radar off and hoped they didn't collide with the superstructure of a ship. They had to make landfall at a precise location, hence the need for INS kit as they could only use their own radar NBC system for the actual bomb run.

Later BB mission had Vulcan armed with Shrike (?) missiles to knock out Argentine defence radars and lurked around off the Falklands wanting to be painted by them as Shrike homed in on their emissions.


Re: Obviously not GPS jamming

The V bombers were designed for, and intended to be used over occupied land with known navigational features, not miles of featureless Atlantic Ocean :)


Re: Obviously not GPS jamming

If I remember correctly the RAF fitted two ex BA VC10 INS systems in each of their Vulcans for the Falklands Black Buck missions as there was no other long range navigation systems available. On the first (according to the book Vulcan 607) they drifted and gave different positions. The problem then was which one was correct? Or were they both out? The target was a VERY small spot in a large ocean, and they were coming in at very low level to avoid radar detection. I believe they split the difference and fortunately (as it was a long way back if they missed) that worked.

Dutch spies helped Britain's GCHQ break Argentine crypto during Falklands War


Re: Pilots carrying comprising material

I bow to your greater knowledge but have always been under the impression that pilots would be given target or intercept details but not told that this has been found from intercepts of enemy communications. That would not stop the enemy concluding that the only way that that position could be found was if their communications had been intercepted and decoded. During WW2 great effort was taken to ensure that such conclusions could not be drawn and I understand that often photo reconnaissance flights were made over targets identified through ULTRA so that the enemy thought the target had been discovered by other means. One of the biggest security problems was the US Navy’s indiscriminate use of ULTRA to intercept refuelling U boats and the high risk that the Germans would conclude (rightly) that the large number of appearances of US forces at such remote points was more than coincidence.

On the beer front many years ago I discovered a small cafe bar in Brussels called “The Beer Circus” which served food cooked with some of the hundred or so local beers it stocked (and there are a lot of very good beers in Belgium) including a sort of chocolate mousse made with Trappist beer. I think is was delicious but have very hazy memories of the place……..

I'm still not that Gary, says US email mixup bloke who hasn't even seen Dartford Crossing


Another Dartford crossing complaint...

At the beginning of the year I sold (part exchanged) my car and received confirmation from DVLA that I was no longer the registered keeper of the vehicle. A month or so later I started receiving emails from Dartford Crossing about multiple unpaid crossing fees. I had opened an account with them several years earlier as it was the only way to pay for using the crossing. I only used it twice, once in each direction, and then forgot all about it. In the meantime the credit card I had to use had expired but they were still trying to take money from it. I contacted Dartford Crossing and explained I was no longer the owner or user of the car at the time of the crossings they kept billing me for and if they checked with DVLA this would be confirmed. No dice,the vehicle and your credit card is registered on our system therefore you have to pay. I spoke to several people there, one of which was sympathetic due to the circumstances but I had to "appeal" to Highways England (presumably the English bit left from the Highways Agency after the Welsh and Scottish Highways Agencies had been split off) This then started a merry go round as HE said that I'd have to take it up with DC obviously washing their hands of any complaint. and DC saying that I had to take it up with HE. Being very wary of large organisation's ability to bully through the legal process, I decided to pay the outstanding charges, cancel my dormant D account and just get out of it all.

A spot of after-hours business email does you good, apparently


El Reg has heard of these workaholics but doesn't believe they exist outside Dilbert cartoons.

Sorry to say that many years ago when I had to work for a living I had access to email from home as health circumstances resulted in a deal to work from home 3 or 4 days a week. Working from home was always a problem with domestic interruptions but I eventually cleared a bit of work and emailed it to my boss' email address at about 11pm. Was somewhat surprised to receive a reply at 11.15pm .....

Careful now, UK court ruling says email signature blocks can sign binding contracts


Proper signatures

I think we should go back to proper ink signatures from the contracting parties to avoid any confusion. Much clearer. At least that's what my mate who has spent the last 30 years motorcycle dispatch riding thinks....

I also suspect the land seller will be hiring a new set of lawyers to claim against the set that put the wrong figure in their email ?

We're not going Huawei even if you ban our 5G kit, Chinese firm tells UK


Re: US trade Deal

Yes a point many anti US standards commentators have missed. We may have to accept the stuff but WE DON'T HAVE TO ACTUALLY BUY IT or eat it. Market forces etc.

Transport for London Oyster system pulled offline after credential-stuffing crooks board customers' accounts


Re: Missing the point?

Well said I'm fed up of having to open a account to buy one thing, or get info from a web site / forum or whatever each time having to give email (for the inevitable log in code check) and a password, mothers name inside leg measurement etc etc

Kwik-Fit hit by MOT fail, that's Malware On Target


Re: Can't get better than a Kwik-Fit fitter.

Kwick fit always reminds me of Auntie Wainwrights shop in last of the summer wine. The uninitiated go in for a tyre replacement and come out with 5 new tyres, new discs and pads, a new exhaust and windscreen wipers. Apart from the initial tyre none of the other bits really needed but the fitters must make more on commission than hourly rate. I don't go there normally but a couple of years ago I was forced to get a replacement battery from there and as things were quiet they did a "safety check" (without asking) and informed me my oil level was dangerously low and wanted to put 2 litres in. I then checked the oil level in front of the "Kwik-Fit fitter" using the dipstick which showed it was perfectly OK. Apart from the cost of 2 litres of oil, overfilling to that extent would have damaged the engine. Even if they had a paper system to cover IT failure I wouldn't have much confidence in them working out the price properly

Erm... what did you say again, dear reader?


Re: To be human.

Not so. If you have ever read Hansard, the official publication of Parliamentary business, every "Oh" "erm" "like", "But" etc. is faithfully recorded. In the days before Hansard was published electronically (mid 1980s) I was part of a group of Department of Transport officials being interrogated by a House of Lords Scrutiny Committee. As we were getting up to leave at the end of the session one of their Lordships fired a late question that was directed to me. I wasn't expecting it and my response of "..er um, I think Belgium does it" was duly recorded in the Parliamentary archives.

Don't make us pay compensation for employee data breach, Morrisons begs UK court


What are the legal requirements for data security

I'm with Morrisons on this one - but there again it wasn't my data that was leaked.

Not sure what the legislation requires but if there is an expectation that there must be some level of reasonable provision to prevent unauthorised theft then the legal debate should be interesting

You're burning £1.2bn for what? UK spending watchdog gives digital court plans a kicking


Trial (conviction) by Computer

"It also warned that the controversial "conviction by computer" plans pioneered by HMCTS, in which people accused of crimes will be encouraged to plead guilty from their phones and pay fines online instead of questioning what evidence the State has against them, could have "serious implications"."

This has been happening for years in the UK with vehicle traffic violations caught on camera such as speeding resulting in a computer generated fine and penalty points being sent automatically with no human monitoring. Even worse it is the "registered keeper" of the vehicle that is assumed to be guilty unless he/she can prove - to the satisfaction of the authorities - that they were not the driver at the time. What was that about innocent until proven guilty?

Ex-Rolls-Royce engineer nicked on suspicion of giving F-35 info to China


From what I've read, RR suffered from the disease that affects many companies making profits ( and nationalised / Government run entities who don't make profits...) of the ability to afford to enlarge "middle management" for various reasons (aka Empire building by senior managers). Getting rid of these layers will reduce immediate costs but more importantly allow greater financial resource to the technical problem solvers and a much simpler chain of command between the operators and designers.


Re: 1st Gen Swarm Tech?

Single fighter v fighter combat was outdated in about 1916 when the German airforce realised that such fighting had to be carried out by pairs of aircraft. I think it was Boelcke that initiated it in the newly formed "Jastas" on the Western Front. The RAF didn't really learn from the opposition at the time and even after the Luftwaffe used the "schwarm" 4 aircraft and "rotte" pair successfully in Spain in the late 30s, the RAF didn't catch on until after the Battle of Britain and the large losses suffered. Since then the RAF and Fleet Air Arm has used pairs for fighter to fighter combat up to the Falklands - since then there has been no appreciable fighter to fighter combats as Bosnia, Gulf and Afghanistan did not involve fighter to fighter combats as far as I know.

Britain's new F-35s arrive in UK as US.gov auditor sounds reliability warning klaxon


Re: News to us in the U.S.

An MoD spokesman told The Register: "The F-35 programme remains on track, on time, within costs"

presumably that is the same Government definition of "on time" etc. used to describe the rail franchising system....?

Happy 100th birthday to the Royal Air Force


Re: Marine Craft Section

The MCS was disbanded in 1986 I believe.


Marine Craft Section

The bit of the RAF that is less known is the Marine Craft Section. Formed in 1918 it owed its existence to the RNAS and the support vessels for the float planes and sea planes incorporated into the RAF. The Navy didn't appreciate the "competition" so only transferred clapped out vessels. After witnessing a fatal accident where the cumbersome and slow vessels could not reach a crashed aircraft in time to save the crew, Lawrence of Arabia, who had entered the RAF as Aircraftman Shaw, was heavily involved in the devlopment of high speed launches. However the RAF did not have an organised rescue service for downed pilots until after the Battle of Britain (unlike the Germans who had a very good system in place). By the end of WW2 the RAF MCS had about 600 vessels of various descriptions and a staff of around 6000. During the war the high speed vessels were out in conditions where the navy wouldn't use simlar vessels and carried out wider duties- for example acting as marker boats for the D day landings. Post war they continued search and rescue until superceded by helicopters and carried out target towing and torpedo / sonar bouy recovery as well as periodic dunking if aircrew to keep up ditching survival skills.

UK.gov: Here's £8.8m to plough into hydrogen-powered car tech


Hydrogen safety thoughts.

I went to an ImechE lecture in 1974 titled “Hydrogen – the fuel of the future”. Still waiting for it to happen although (potentially) commercial fuel cells have since arrived on the scene

LPG is not a “clean” fuel. It is a variant of petrol (Butane / Propane end of the paraffin group) and has all the problems associated with petrol emissions. It is less energy dense and more difficult to carry as it needs pressurised containers. The Government of the day was taken in by snake oil salesmen rather than their own in house engineering staff (said salesmen were also selling a largely unwanted by-product at the time) and had information that showed that the LPG conversions of the time took a state of the art “clean” petrol engine and made it several orders worse on HC and CO / CO2 emissions under the standard tests of the day.

Energy density and production costs / efficiencies of Hydrogen is a major issue and will be very difficult to overcome. Safety has its own wide field to consider. Your average common rail diesel runs at about 1700 – 2000 bar at the rail so high pressures and associated fatigue cycles are well known and in use. Tanks are composite materials for lightness and as noted by others are literally bulletproof. However one thing that has not been touched on so far in the comments is the day to day consequences of lots of tanks of Hydrogen in general circulation. Not the Hindenburg type explosion or the exploding cars in collisions featured in so many films but the accumulation of small leaks. When we were looking to authorise the use of Hydrogen Fuel Celled buses in London in the very early 2000s we had to consider the overnight parking and workshop facilities. As many have noted, Hydrogen WILL leak out from just about anything. Putting it under high pressure will of course increase the risk of leakage. Leaked hydrogen will rise. Workshops and garages had to be redesigned to put ventilation in roof spaces to avoid accumulation of hydrogen in such spaces. “Traditional” workshops had ventilation at low level since dangerous gases such as CO and HC collect at low level. Now would you want you Hydrogen powered car stored in your ground level integrated garage? What about multi storey car parks? All the dealerships workshops and MoT centres? All in old tech with no built in high level ventilation. The buses incidentally didn’t have a very long operating range and the tanks were in the roof – in case of leaks and risk of someone having a crafty fag at the back of the bus.

AT teh end of the day (although I wouldn't turn down a personal payment :-) )£8m is nothing in Government spending terms. The governments of the day have spent far more to influence better, safer and cleaner car designs. For example In the 1970s and 80s few vehicle manufacturers were interested in safety until pushed by Government funded NCAP (National Crash Assessment Programme?) and later EuroNCAP forced them into making better vehicles. That was a LOT more than £8m and extremely successful.


Re: The New Hybrid

The main problem with Methanol is that it burns with a colourless flame. If in an accident a puddle of spilt methanol ignited you wouldn't easily notice it until you stepped in said puddle and your foot melted!

Uber breaks self-driving car record: First robo-ride to kill a pedestrian


Re: Didn't see that coming

OK to add another angle to the debate. AI systems will struggle to identify every pedestrian or cyclist likely to do something spontaneously that could cause an accident. In the UK, although not official policy, the driver of a vehicle is assumed to be the person responsible for an accident until proved otherwise. In considering the ability of AI driven vehicles to be safe, perhaps those in government promoting self driving vehicles should consider promoting road safety education for kids more (the old "Tufty Club" and "Green Cross Man" of the 60s and 70s have never been fully replaced) and in particular rethink about age limits and training for cyclists before being allowed out on roads. Autonomous driving or not that should help reduce accidents anyway.

Fancy owning a two-seat Second World War Messerschmitt fighter?


CASA 2.111 engines

We have a static running Merlin at the RAF Museum occasionally. The owner told me that it was originally built in WW2 for a Lancaster or Halifax, post war was fitted in a Hastings transport (derived from Halifax) and was then rebuilt as a Merlin 500 series fitted in a CASA 2.111. Must have been a rare engine to have powered types of the principal bombers of WW2 from both sides. :-)


Some further thoughts

To pick up on a few comments. Around 500 Me109G-12s (the 2 seat version) were built from 1944 all converted from existing G series airframes. They were in response to the loss of trainee pilots especially in take off and landing accidents. The second seat took up most of the original fuel tank so they were very short ranged and used for take off and landing instruction.Few retained armaments.

Bf / Me 109s did not have a successful engine mounted cannon installation until the "F" model - post Battle of Britain. The two guns firing through the prop had a reduced rate of fire due to interruptor gear. Possibly resulting in retaining 3 blade props even with the more powerful DB605. Original 109s had two blade props.

I'm not sure if the one offered for sale is airworthy. There is one other "G12" flying being a conversion of a single seat Buchon in 2013. That one has interchangeable RR Merlin 500 and DB DB605 engines. Most of the flying is likely to be carried out with the Merlin being a lot less rare than the DB605.

The inverted V engine is possibly easier to service as most of the valves etc can be reached by someone standng on the ground whereas Merlin installations required ladders and / or platforms. RR did consider an inverted V for the Merlin but legend has it that such a configuration was considered too Germanic....

BoB film used a B25 Mitchell as a camera platform rather than B17.

As well as Standford Tuck, other RAF pilots contributed including Ginger Lacey and Douglas Bader.

US docs show Daimler may have done a Dieselgate – German press claims


Real life test procedure

Here we go again. What is “real life” testing. Is a cycle developed for real life in, say, the Netherlands where it is almost flat valid for Yorkshire, Wales or Scotland which tend to be very lumpy?

I don’t know about the US test regime but in Europe the test cycle was originally developed in the 1960s as ECE Regulation 15 (Identical to EU Directive 70/220/EEC, the first EC standard on vehicle emissions) with a test cycle that intended to represent urban driving. Hence the cycle had low speeds and low acceleration rates. At some time in the 1980s I think, an additional high speed bit was added for various reasons but essentially to provide enough heat in the exhaust to trigger the then new 3 way catalysts on larger vehicles. Now the problem with a test cycle is that it has to be repeatable, not only between runs but also between test centres so, given the technology of the time, it was quite simple. Again at this time the fuelling systems of vehicle were relatively crude with carburettors and at best open loop fuel injection. So reducing the limit values would almost certainly reduce the emissions across most of the working range of the engine. However two things have changed the emission scenario completely. Political pressure to “reduce the limit values” without fully understanding the limitations of the test procedure and the almost universal adoption of fully electronically controlled injection systems (both petrol and diesel) which can be tuned to change the engine performance at very specific points. The first can be resolved educating politicians about the way vehicles actually produce emissions and maybe accept higher NUMERICAL limit values commensurate with a different test cycle. This is a more difficult task than many will appreciate. The second by developing a new test (assuming some form of pan European “real life” cycle can be negotiated) with so many measured test points that cycle beating is made far more difficult.

FCA 'gold-plates' EU rule, hits BYOD across entire UK finance sector


Re: Pedant here....

2 further points.

1) A Directive is binding on all Member States but has to be implemented by national law. So (before Brexit is completed at least) companies who comply with the Directive but not the stricter UK interpretation could appeal to the EU Courts?

2) Each directive is published in all the 24 official languages of the EU so your interpretation of the phrase needs to be checked in the other 23.....

(not a joke, many years ago I was dealing with directives on vehicle standards and one had different calculations of a critical dimension in the English, French and German translations - they were all different. The Commission's response to my unofficial query was that all languages are equal in the legal sense so you could approve to whichever language text suited you! A correction was later issued.)

Fear not, driverless car devs, UK.gov won't force you to write Trolley Problem solutions


At present the registered keeper of a vehicle is automatically prosecuted if an offence is detected by cameras unless the keeper can prove that he/she wasn't driving. So how can you prove that the computer was in control when the camera was passed?

Smart meters: 'Dog's breakfast' that'll only save you 'a tenner' – report


Re: Benefits - *cough* 1972 *cough*

It's taken a while but I've found a copy of the panorama debate. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zBFh6bpcMo It wasn't 1972 as I originally thought but 1975 when there was a referendum on whether to stay in. I'm not a fan of either politician but the arguments seemed very much the same as the Brexit debate. And even then the political union and sovereignty arguments were brushed under the carpet. Jenkins states about 10 minutes in that the EU Commission were "servants of the council of ministers" This is clearly untrue (although Jenkins probably wanted to believe it) and in the 1990s when I was involved in the agreement of a Directive I was told by staff of our Permanent Representative to the EU that the Council could only REQUEST the Commission to do something (i.e. in that case to bring forward further proposals to resolve deficiencies in the agreement on the table) it had no power to INSTRUCT the Commission to do anything. That in my understanding means that the Commission has the upper hand and is definitely NOT a servant. maybe Jenkins was naive - but he did rise to be head of the Commission from 1977 to 81..... and as such had more power than any of the then 9 member state's Parliaments. Wondered if he remembered the Panorama debate then?


Re: Benefits - *cough* 1972 *cough*

The actual facts were that in 1972 the UK voted to join a European Community whose rules and ambitions were set out in the 1958 (?) Treaty of Rome. That clearly has political union set out in its objectives. The great British Public however, were not told if the wider consequences of "joining the club". There was one BBC Panorama interview between Roy Jenkins and Tony Benn where "Woy" flatly denied Benn's correct assertion that the EU commission were commited to political union and the consequences to UK sovereignty.

USMC: We want more F-35s per year than you Limeys will get in half a decade


Re: Irrational

Well a bit too old to be relevant now but Sharkey Ward's book Sea Harrier over the Falklands has some interesting accounts of operating in bad North sea conditions when the US carriers couldn't launch (Chapter 1) and some exercises with the US using F5s and F15s where they used the Harrier's characteristics to their advantage (Chapter 6). He reckoned you could pull a 2G "stop" at 400 knot by vectoring and used it against F5s.

Having said that he isn't exactly reserved and unbiased in describing the performance of the Sea Harrier :-)

Ex-soldier pleads guilty to terror crime after not revealing iPhone PIN


Re: Right to remain silent

So that included the really bad offences of parking and using a bus lane? Both of which are treated in the same way - the registered keeper of the vehicle is fined unless he/she can prove someone else was in charge at the time??

Demo may have frozen, but narrowband IoT stew is still piping hot


Re: Not really the best use case....

A bit of a digression off the main topic but I would find an empty space app very useful in many of the car parks which charge (via ANPR identification) from the moment you pass the entry barrier rather than from when you actually park and buy a ticket. At Heathrow last week ended up overstaying the 1st half hour rate by about 5 minutes and it cost me an additional £4 or so.... The 5 minutes being roughly the same time as it took to find an empty space in the short term car park from entering the place.