* Posts by jmch

3230 publicly visible posts • joined 6 Mar 2017

Nuclear-powered datacenters: What could go wrong?

jmch Silver badge

"if a commercial generator can't make nuke pay without huge government subsidy; then how can a datacentre?"

Basically, SMRs, exactly because they are smaller and self-contained, presenting a smaller risk than a large plant, are (since a couple of years, and at least in the US) regulated differently than large plants. Since a large chunk of the cost of 'traditional' nuclear power station are due to over-regulation, I could see how it could work commercially to work SMRs over larger reactors

Infosys launches aviation cloud it claims can halve lost luggage

jmch Silver badge


"reduce the number of containers used to load and transport cargo, known as Unit Load Devices (ULDs), and shrink the number that go missing to less than two percent through machine learning-enabled tracking methods. The current industry average of lost ULDs is five percent."

I know luggage going astray happens quite a lot, but 5%??? That on average for every plane with 200 passengers, 10 will end up without luggage?? That's far worse than I ever imagined!!

If I am correctly understanding what ULD refers to, these are huge stonking metal boxes, how does one of those 'go missing'??? I guess it rather means "we took it to the wrong place" and/or "there are thousands of these boxes in the luggage warehouse and we don't know which one is which"

jmch Silver badge

Re: Marketing BS

"... introducing this kind of software system at an airport delivers benefits..."

The software can only deliver benefits if the hardware and wetware allow it. There needs to be the physical infrastructure, and trained and capable human operators in place to deal with taking bags from point A to point B within X minutes. It's great if better software and interfaces (screens, tag scanners etc) can provide simple instructions for the optimal flow of each baggage item, but it also has to be implemented in physical space. The software also needs the capacity to be informed of where a bag *actually* is, rather than where the software has instructed that bag to go, and systems for retrieving misplaced items quickly and efficiently

Israel and Italy have cheapest mobile data out of 237 countries

jmch Silver badge

Re: Market pricing factors

It's not just 4 providers vs 3, it's 4 covering the UK vs 3 covering an area 40X as big, and the increased possibility that in some remote areas there's only 2 or even 1 provider

jmch Silver badge

Re: Market pricing factors

" ...free markets should help determine the prices of services in different countries..."

I think that's mostly reflected in the map. A large part of infrastructure cost is getting people to put everything in place, so costs are going to be highly correlated with both the cost of labour and how much the locals are able to pay. Most of the more expensive countries are, as one would expect, in the US and Western Europe. If one had to make a map of $/GB divided by median earnings I expect that US and Western Europe would have among the cheapest mobile Internet in relation to local purchasing power.

The alternative to stopping climate change is untested carbon capture tech

jmch Silver badge

Re: Carbon sinks

"Food and fodder gets returned really quickly, textiles less so. Structural stuff should last a good while. "

Even if the carbon in structural and textile items would eventually get returned, capturing the carbon for anything between 10-100 years is already helpful now. Anything that can make the hugs changes required more gradual. And yes, food and fodder get returned almost immediately, but it could provide an economic incentive in the case of combined-purpose vegetation.

"There are limits to the rate at which photosynthesis will remove carbon, however"

I think what's important to get a handle on is - how much land, equipment and power does one need in order to remove X kg of carbon from the air per year? And how does that compare to the cost and land requirements of planting enough trees and plants to capture the equivalent amount of carbon? I honestly haven't the faintest clue to an answer, but AFAIK current CCS technology is not very good and extremely expensive.

jmch Silver badge

Re: Carbon sinks

Planting new trees and plants only works as a carbon store if they are allowed to grow and mature and don't die or burn in the meantime. It means you also need extensive land and water resources. So reforestation has to be done with a sensible planned program.

Turning plants and trees into housing, furniture, textiles etc can be useful in this regard, especially with fast-growing plants. Eg hemp is super fast growing, can be used for food, fodder, textiles, and woody part can be compressed into building bricks. Some people also find some use for the buds :)

Why can't datacenter operators stop thinking about atomic power?

jmch Silver badge

Re: France is finding that nuclear power isn’t that reliable either

It's certainly not reliable if you're not allowed to build new ones to new, more efficient, more easily maintainable designs and are forced to keep running the old ones that are optimised for weapons creation rather than energy production.

Twitter, aka X, tops charts for misinformation, EU official says

jmch Silver badge

Too bored with jumping down the rabbit hole on so many topics.... BUT I have to say that AC is spot-on with regard to the Iraq 2 war, where the highest levels of government in US and UK knew the information about WMD they were feeding the press was fake, and the invasion of Iraq was a pre-ordained target that was going to happen, whatever excuse was dreamed up. Also nice of US-government-friendly media to parrot the government line in the aftermath of 9/11 - done by Saudi bombers with Saudi religious fanaticism and Saudi funding, so lets attack Saudi Arabia Afghanistan, and to boot turn up international domestic surveillance and spying by several notches.

jmch Silver badge

"Governments have spent decades weaponising misinformation to the point where no one believes them anymore."

Absolutely true

"The EU is one of the worst offenders. They continually bang on about democracy but are unelected by citizens. "

Difficult to attribute much to "the EU". A lot of EU decision-making is indeed taken through the EU council and commission, which are appointed by the national governments of the respective states. The national governments are themselves some of the worst 'misinformation' offenders, but then they *are* elected by their respective citizens. And also the EU parliament *is* directly elected by citizens, and a lot of the best achievements of the EU in the last years have come from the EU parliament in the years since the EU parliament's powers were extended, and from the unelected (but independent from national governments) constituted bodies like the EU courts. The areas where EU continues to suck are actually the ones that are most directly under control of the elected national governments.

"Now they’re blaming everything on climate change and Russia but continue to burn more coal and buy loads more gas from Russia."

Germany's shitty anti-nuclear (which indirectly is pro-coal) stance is entirely Germany's. And AFAIK, EU is limiting it's purchase of Russian gas (Not sure if at a certain point it was Russia who were banning the sale of gas to the EU??). In any case, Russia is a territorial aggressor and can never be a trusted partner to the EU, yet the EU needs Russian gas to avoid burning even more coal, while the EU is the only party that can buy Russian gas in the volumes required to keep Russia's economy afloat (heaven knows how it's all even working with the sanctions in place). In other words it's a very messy shitty outcome that's the least shitty outcome from a very bad situation, and the sooner the EU weans itself off, the better. But not sure where the disinformation angle fits in, all of this is pretty publically acknowledged by the EU.

jmch Silver badge

Measuring ???

Not that I doubt that Twitter is a cesspit, but how does one measure disinformation on a platform? Is it internal reports? External actors flagging stuff? Fake accounts or short-term accounts that pop up, spout rubbish and disappear? None of this seems very amenable to good measurement.

Not to mention the very basic question of what counts as 'disinformation'

Amazon accused of being a monopolist in FTC lawsuit

jmch Silver badge

Re: Private Jets, that's the problem

Yes, US airlines have, indeed, evolved into banks that also happen to fly planes and pretty much all their value is now tied into their frequent flyer schemes. This has absolutely nothing to do with monopolistic behaviour or antitrust. Each of the 'big 4' has between 15 and 17% market share (https://www.statista.com/statistics/250577/domestic-market-share-of-leading-us-airlines/).

Amazon, on the other hand, have close to 40% of the "online sales" market (https://www.statista.com/statistics/274255/market-share-of-the-leading-retailers-in-us-e-commerce/), with the next closest at just over 6%. Most of the other major "online" vendors are actually online portals of physical shops (Walmart, Target, Costco....) or consolidated verticals (Apple), with the next platform (eBay) having less than a tenth of "online sales". If the category were "online sales platforms", Amazon would probably be around the 70-80% mark.

It's not even remotely comparable.

jmch Silver badge

Re: Private Jets, that's the problem

"What I said is that this is SOP for American business and as businesses go Amazon is actually pretty benign. Its also SOP in the UK. Some companies are honest and call it "surge pricing" or "demand pricing"."

If you RTFA you would realise it has nothing to do with surge pricing. There's many things going on here, but 2 specific ones mentioned in the article: (1) Amazon partners cannot sell an item at a lower price than Amazon itself and (2) Amazon Prime customers can't be offered free shipping by partners unless it's Amazon itself who fulfil the order.

In both cases, Amazon is acting as both the owner of the marketplace AND as a player in the marketplace competing against all the other players, and using one of it's 'branches' to give another of it's 'branches' an unfair competitive advantage. It's no different to MS directing Windows users to use IE/Bing vs any other browser or search engine, or Google rigging ad auctions - It's textbook antitrust behaviour.

jmch Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: It's true

"It's true"

Anyone who has had to deal with Amazon from the backend rather than just as a consumer knows they are an awful monopolist, not sure why it could be surprising to anyone. If there's a surprise it's the time it took to get an antitrust suit againt them going (probbaly related to their lobbying $millions and armies of lawyers)

jmch Silver badge


" ...an Amazon *reigned* in by the FTC..."

That should be "reined in"

California governor vetoes bill requiring human drivers in robo trucks

jmch Silver badge

Re: Now that you mention it

"It's a threat, and the people promoting driverless trucking need to explain how their threat model accommodates it."

Let's start with the obvious, which is that human-driven trucks hardly ever get hijacked, because the value of goods on them usually isn't worth the hassle and the risk. A human driver on minimum wage isn't risking life or limb to protect their employers' cargo, and self-employed truckers have insurance against that sort of thing. Having robo-trucks won't change that calculus significantly from a criminal point of view.

It is also unlikely that high-value cargo would be transported by robo-trucks without additional security layers.

jmch Silver badge

Re: using firearms and explosives to commit hijack and robbery

"I don't give a fuck if autonomous vehicles are hijacked and robbed."

So what is the difference between the above statement and

"I don't give a fuck if a parked vehicle is hijacked and robbed."

or "I don't give a fuck if an ATM is broken into and robbed."

or "I don't give a fuck if a shop is broken into and robbed during the night when there aren't any humans in it"


jmch Silver badge

Re: Now that you mention it

"Thumbs down, without explanation of why that could not physically function in that manner?"

Might not have occurred to you that the thumbs down isn't related to whether it would physically function, but more to the whole "using firearms and explosives to commit hijack and robbery", which is generally frowned upon among civilised people, however 'evil' the target might be.

Mixin suspends deposits and withdrawals after $200m cryptocurrency heist

jmch Silver badge

Re: Insider again?

"How come we don't here about such heists in non crypto banking"

Non-crypto banking has plenty of decades in which to close attack vectors and build up an industry best-practice. And there have been plenty of insider jobs against non-crypto banking in decades past...

Almost all of these involve an insider, whether they were 'in on it' or coerced into participating:


Doom developer John Carmack thinks artificial general intelligence is doable by 2030

jmch Silver badge

Specify the problem

"...thinks artificial general intelligence is doable by 2030"

Let's start by specifying what, exactly, AGI actually is and what we expect it to be able to achieve. Then maybe a sentence like the above could make sense

Car industry pleads for delay to post-Brexit tariffs on EVs

jmch Silver badge

Re: I'll be sticking with petrol (or diesel) for my next car.

"So about 20 chargers for each pump."

Sounds about right, though I would think that you probably don't need *all* the spaces to be electrified because many people will have home chargers and will arrive at the car park with a full-ish battery. So you need maybe 100-150 charging spaces. Clearly 4 charging spaces is ridiculously inadequate. The good thing is, with this model, you don't need these chargers to be 100-200kW+ superchargers, 20-30kW max will be quite sufficient (and also better for the batteries)

jmch Silver badge

Re: I'll be sticking with petrol (or diesel) for my next car.

"It is no use have fast charging 10% to 80% in 15 or even 10 minutes because most people still park then whilst they do something else. ICE refuelling is transient so turnover at the point of dispensing is quick."

I'm not sure this matches the reality on-the-ground. Of course 'at-the-pump' refueling is quicker for ICE than electric, however fast the electric fast charging gets. But for anyone who can charge their car at home, going to an 'external' charger will likely happen once every few weeks or even months. If a car is used for local transport, shopping and commuting within a 100-mile radius, it could go through it's whole usable lifetime without hardly ever needing to be charged anywhere else but home. And if it's happening very occasionally, I doubt people would worry that they have to spend 20-30 minutes at the motorway charging station once every few months, compared to the convenience of never having to visit a petrol station in the 'day-to-day' life.

Now, I'm not sure what percentage of use-cases fall into that category (and it will vary greatly based on location), but I'm willing to bet it's a fairly large chunk in vast swathes of city and suburban living.

And in that case of course there need to be infrastructure upgrades to get all that charging power to people's homes, driveways or streets.

jmch Silver badge

Re: I'll be sticking with petrol (or diesel) for my next car.

40% efficiency for petrol engine is wildly optimistic. That's Formula 1 efficiency including the heat recovery.

Typical road cars are maybe 25% efficiency for petrol and a bit over 30% for diesel.

There are a couple of notable advantages to electric cars, even if grid were 100% fossil fuel

- At least as efficient as ICE, probably more efficient

- Exhaust can be centrally scrubbed, and what can't be scrubbed is not being emitted directly in people's faces

And significant advantages to decarbonise the grid that go beyond climate change, most notably less dependence on states like Russia and Saudi Arabia that I would not consider dependable

jmch Silver badge

Re: I'll be sticking with petrol (or diesel) for my next car.

" I can't imagine it will last past 2035 by which time I'll be looking for a petrol or diesel, unless there are very significant subsidies."

Regardless of subsidies and tariffs, battery costs have been going down and battery longevity, power density and energy density have been going up slowly but steadily. By 2035 you will have another 10 years of research and manufacturing experience, it's highly likely that the cost of an electric car would be the same or less than a diesel equivalent. If you were buying a car now, maybe diesel is still more economical and reliable (or maybe not, depends on your circumstances). And either way, there are many other reasons to buy electric, any of which may or may not affect you. Bottom line, it's a mug's game thinking now of whether it's better diesel or electric in 2025, let alone 2035. These things can change very quickly

Data breach reveals distressing info: People who order pineapple on pizza

jmch Silver badge

Re: I don't understand...

"Proper Brussels friteries have curry ketchup..."

In fact AFAIK the term 'ketchup' derives from the Indonesian 'kecup' (same pronunciation), which was introduced from the former Dutch colony to the Flemish locals. Kecap Asin is more spicy, Kecap manis is sweeter, but still in a more savoury sort of way, so I can see a curry-ketchup mixture working.

My complaint against ketchup is really against the more westernised version, which is far too sweet, and far too little tomato-tasting for my taste

jmch Silver badge

Re: I don't understand...

"So you're Belgian ?"

Hehe!!! No... I was introduced to the delights of vlaamse frites in the Netherlands, and I find mayo makes an excellent condiment for them. Gives some moisture without making them soggy (which vinegar does), and has a savoury taste that complements then rather than drowning it in syrupy sweetness (ketchup). Otherwise better just salted.

jmch Silver badge

Re: I don't understand...

"supporting ketchup & mayonnaise on their chips"

Ketchup is an abomination. Only mayonnaise is a suitable condiment for 'frites'

jmch Silver badge

Re: Having grown up in Hawaii

"Even egg on pizza is better"

You say that as though egg on pizza is disgusting, when in fact a fresh egg broken on the pizza just before it goes into the oven* is one of the best pizza ingredients ever!!

Unless you're talking about slices of boiled egg, in which case, carry on...

*proper oven as per icon >>>>>>>>>>

Authors Guild sues OpenAI for using Game of Thrones and other novels to train ChatGPT

jmch Silver badge

"Then we will see self hosted LLMs"

Yes, and they will know how to spell "losing"!

(sorry, couldn't resist!!)

Uncle Sam names three Amazon execs as Prime suspects in subscription ripoff case

jmch Silver badge

Re: Talking of airlines

"cheap flights end up much more expensive"

The Ryanair model. Your flight is £1*

*£129 including taxes, booking fee, checkin fee, cabin-luggage-bigger-than-a-handbag fee, fee to be in a queue that is moving slightly less slowly than the other queue, choosing a seat with more than 6" legroom. And that'sll be £15 more for an inflight sandwich and coke, thanks!

jmch Silver badge

Re: Dark patterns on-hold

Re Wizzair....

Not sure what you're on about, when Wizzair cancelled my flights last-minute, they rebooked me for free on the next available one*, and also paid me compensation** quite promptly***.

*2 days later

**EU-mandated one, absolutely not voluntary

***only took 14 months from date of flights, a couple of calls, a dozen emails and the intervention of the local aviation regulator.

As TikTok surveils staff's office hours, research indicates WFH is good for planet

jmch Silver badge

Re: Good for the planet?

Natural as well as anthropogenic factors cause warming.

Just muddying the waters. Anthropogenic factors are making a measurable difference in outcome

Warming is slower than predicted, Climate Policy relies on inadequate models.

Yes, the exact prediction is difficult. So let's stick our heads in the sand and not do anything until the models are perfect, yeah???

CO2 is plant food, the basis for all life on Earth.

There is far far more to Earth's ecosystems than 'more plants'. Significantly, the amount of CO2 and related other changes isn't itself the issue, it's how quick it's happening so life can't adapt fast enough.

Global Warming has not increased natural disasters.

Pull the other one

Climate Policy must respect scientific and economic realities.

Absolutely. Current climate policy in theory is a lot of bleating about how much we need to do. In practice, global policy is still far too friendly to fossil fuels, and much care is being taken not to upset too many economic applecarts

'Small monthly payment' only thing that stands between X and bot chaos, says Musk

jmch Silver badge

"he's going to voluntarily kill the goose that is laying the golden eggs"

Given that Twitter was already losing massive amounts of money even before Musk bought it out, more like the goose that was eating the gold coins.

Australia to build six 'cyber shields' to defend its shores

jmch Silver badge

"They’ve millions of the things..."

Sadly, the number of great whites worldwide is estimated to be far less, ranging between thousands to tend of thousands, although it's very difficult to get a good estimate. Probably not that different for other large, apex-predator sharks.

So if you're talking sharks generally, millions might be right, but if you want a shark strategic deterrent, that's not really going to work.

jmch Silver badge

Nice list, one missing

Company directors are personally liable for financial improprieties in their company.

Extend that personal liability from the proper handling and security of money to the proper handling and security of data

World's most powerful free-electron laser upgraded to fire a million X-rays per second

jmch Silver badge


"So we build up a stop-motion movie of how the world around us works at this atomic molecular scale – following a chemical reaction in real time, or watching the emergence of a quantum phenomenon like superconductivity."

Simply amazing!! Pints all round!

Oracle at Europe's largest council didn't foresee bankruptcy

jmch Silver badge

Re: I feel for them

" the consulting company just hired a bunch of people who probably have no business doing this kind of work and tossed them into the meat grinder"

That's what consulting companies do! Win contracts with their top consultants doing the demos, then get the latest green hires to do the work. Plus, people consistently underestimate, by orders of magnitude, the complexity of migrating an ERP system. And the lawyers setting up the contracts often have no idea of all the things that could go wrong to safeguard against in the contracts

jmch Silver badge

Well, 2 main reasons they went bust, the "equal pay" thing (I'm not sure exactly what the details are there), for which they were on the hook for £700+ million, and the Oracle cost overrun at about £80 million more than originally projected. So the article is putting it the wrong way when it says it's because of Oracle with 'another reason' being equal pay. The equal pay bit is the main reason. The Oracle fiasco seems to be, as it were, the straw that broke the camels back. But I understand as an IT site here the focus is on the Oracle thing. And as I said, don't know about whether the council could have done anything regarding equal pay but they certainly could have done something different with ERP. Simply staying with SAP for a start.

Google exec: Microsoft Teams concession 'too little, too late'

jmch Silver badge

Re: Windows Server?

"PostgreSQL does more than MS SQL Server in many ways and has a better dev experience overall"

Native DB functions, maybe, but for me the compelling selling point for MSSQL Server was the BI suite that comes with it. SSIS is far from perfect, but a big step up from coding an Enterprise Data Warehouse ETL with just native SQL. SSAS is equally far from perfect, but the end users love being able to do on-the-fly analysis without having to wait for everything to recalculate. And the suits love that the BI suite comes essentially for free with the SQL Server license (on-premises at least)

jmch Silver badge

Re: Windows Server?

I can't talk so much about Windows in a corporate environment but SQL server delivers the goods

Britcoin or Britcon? Bank of England grilled on Digital Pound privacy concerns

jmch Silver badge

Re: whatever it is that Parliament has decided is the right boundary for privacy

"...stated that using a distributed ledger could "cut costs", when single crypto transactions on blockchains are using insane amounts of energy."

In fact one of the main points of blockchain technology is to make transactions expensive *on purpose* because this forces distribution of control (since no single party can have the power/wealth to unilaterally process transactions). BUT keep in mind that it is unlikely that a Central Bank Digital Currency would have a truly distributed architecture and related increased costs. The central bank / government will want to design a blockchain with central control built-in (which would save costs with respect to distributed control).

jmch Silver badge

"I still fail to understand why we might need a digital pound"

*We* as in, the general public, do not need a digital pound. The government would very much like a digital pound because they won't need to go to a series of banks with a series of warrants in order to check financial records, they will have it all available directly on tap. (And also with the possibility of freezing the assets of undesirables on a whim)

jmch Silver badge

Cart before the horse...

""We haven't got to the point yet where those issues have been raised; we're at the technical design point"

Actually these issues HAVE been raised, repeatedly. So what seems to be happening is doing the technical design BEFORE having the requirements. Or (more likely in my opinion), they are doing the technical design based on hidden requirements because they know that the level of government control in the requirements they are working to would be unacceptable to the public.

Mention AI in earnings calls ... and watch that share price leap

jmch Silver badge

Re: BT for example?

"... a circular-referencing combination of a "smart" (i.e. "not smart") phone system, website FAQs and a chatbot, none of which are capable of solving any real-world problem that you're likely to have..."

Sadly this seems to be the way most corporate "help" systems have gone or are heading

37 Signals says cloud repatriation plan has already saved it $1 million

jmch Silver badge

Re: Is it comparable?

"...it's something C-Suite accountants peddle to move costs from Capex to Opex"

Not sure that's correct.... AFAIK beancounters prefer costs to be in Capex rather than Opex, because the expense can be capitalised and added to the balance sheet right now, while the depreciation on the capital assets goes into future balance accounts. One of the great ills of modern capitalism is the short-termism required in this view, because if the only thing that counts is the current stock price, the effects on the company future are ignored.

Also, with opex not only is the money gone straight away, it also probably has to be listed as a recurring expense rather than a one-off, which C-suits also try to minimise in the accounts. (Recurring vs one-off is the same reason why some companies prefer to hire consultants at double the cost of internal employees - even if the consultants are at the company for years, the expense doesn't have to be classified as 'recurrent')

UK civil servants – hopefully including those spending billions on tech – to skill up in STEM

jmch Silver badge

Re: How about the ministers go next?

"Wasn't Mrs. Thatcher a chemist? With a degree in chemisty-stuff?"

I believe so was Angela Merkel (or something related at least)

jmch Silver badge

Re: How about the ministers go next?

" were written in a way normal mortals could understand."

A lot of laws these days are drafted with the help of lobby groups and small working groups who might or might not be choosing wording specifically to make it unintelligible, the better to hide their built-in loopholes. Most MPs are just presented with a giant pile of paper that they don't even have time to read, let alone understand, before they have to vote for it.

jmch Silver badge

Re: How about the ministers go next?

"I am afraid numerate and scientifically literate people find something more rewarding to do."

It isn't just that they have something more rewarding, it's that they are actually working at jobs that usually require fixed hours working for a nameless corporation, and whose "clients" are mainly internal to the firm, or are other companies. Lawyers who have their own law offices (and also any other professionals in local practice eg doctors or architects) can carve out a more flexible schedule for themselves, and very often their clients and constituents are one and the same. Both those give them a big advantage in campaigning and name recognition when it comes to voting time.

Some legal knowledge is useful when understanding laws, but honestly what is really needed is for parliament to hire lawyers and legal secretaries who can support the parliamentarians, not for the parliamentarians to have to be lawyers. So, absolutely the system would benefit from having more technically-minded MPs, but the selection process is rigged (whether by historical accident or design) in favour of certain professions.

UK judge rates ChatGPT as 'jolly useful' after using it to help write a decision

jmch Silver badge

The correct way to use these tools...

For me, this is the key quote: "All it did was a task which I was about to do and which I knew the answer to and could recognize as being acceptable".

That's no different to asking a junior or an intern to draft you a response. The key is that the judge (a) reviewed the output (b) judged it to be correct and (c) took responsibility for the outcome*. Missing out on any of those steps is what leads to trouble.

*Of course if it's his signature at the bottom, he's responsible for it anyway

Techie labelled 'disgusting filth merchant' by disgusting hypocrite

jmch Silver badge

"Were people really PAYING for low-resolution background images for their phones for "a few years"?"

Not sure about low-resolution background images, but many people were certainly paying for custom ringtones for quite a while