* Posts by rg287

737 posts • joined 13 Apr 2018


Document Foundation starts charging €8.99 for 'free' LibreOffice


Re: LibreOffice Support

Charging for LibreOffice may get the Document Foundation some revenue as long as the money is put back into improving LibreOffice.

It isn't. The Document Foundation hosts the project but they don't fund any development.

Companies toiling away the most on LibreOffice code complain ecosystem is 'beyond utterly broken', El Reg, 2020

Alongside Collabora, there were 15 developers from SUSE, five from Red Hat, one from Canonical, seven from the city of Munich (part of its embrace of open source), and some 40 others from various companies. Many of those have now dropped out, or reduced their commitment, leaving around 40 paid developers in total – of whom Collabora provides 25 and CIB, a Munich-based specialist in document management, seven.

Meeks believes "LibreOffice is at serious risk," though the matter is complex. TDF has around €1.5m in the bank, Meeks said, but something that may surprise outsiders is that the foundation cannot and does not use that money to employ developers.

Thorsten Behrens, IT lead for LibreOffice at CIB, told The Register he was "99 per cent in agreement" with Meeks, adding: "The TDF is a charity; it's not in the business of developing software and actually cannot, because that would put it in competition with the commercial ecosystem," as well as threatening its charitable status.

Most donations go to TDF so if the commercial providers of developers reduce their commitment, TDF remains but the development effort diminishes. This also means that contributing to LibreOffice by paying for support is currently more effective than donating money to TDF.

Ironically, the best way to support Libre Office development is probably to buy the Collabora Office re-skin version from (Cambridge-based) Collabora.


Re: re : Lack of cloudy tie-ins...

And on a company Mac you can keep the security setting of 'Allow apps downloaded from the App store' turned on.

Collabora Office, which is basically just re-skinned LO. As an added bonus, the money actually goes to a key contributor to LO and funds development, not TDF (who don't/can't fund any sort of development).


Re: Any comment from Collabora?

As this appears to create competition for Collabora's offering it would be interesting to get a reaction from them.

Probably less than impressed given that The Document Foundation does not fund any sort of development, and as of 2020, Collabora were providing about 25 of the 40 full-time developers working on LibreOffice and complaining about the difficulties inherent in operating in this ecosystem.

NASA scrubs Artemis SLS Moon rocket launch


Re: 200% trust in congress

SLS (Block 1) is supposed to be able to lift 95t to LEO whereas Falcon Heavey can only lift 63.8t.

This is true. But FH is so much cheaper that you could launch >200t for less money. Unless you have some seriously pressing architectural limitation that makes it impossible to launch the mission in more than one shot and assemble on-orbit (in which case, architect better!).

The more pressing issue with FH (and F9) is the limited fairing volume due to the rocket’s relatively slender diameter. This means you often can’t use the full mass capacity of the rocket unless you intend to launch a literal cube of lead to orbit. This is a side-effect of the incredible efficiency gains they pulled out of the Merlin engine, which ended up being far more powerful than they designed the rest of the rocket for.

Nuclear power is the climate superhero too nervous to wear its cape


you are over a century behind when it comes to technology to store energy big style.

I’m not sure what your definition of “big style” is - maybe pumped hydro providing 1728MW for 4 hours at full chat to cover TV pickups and evening peaks. Those facilities are impressive. Incredible engineering. But they don’t really cover normal usage for a day. The numbers above are from Dinorwig which can run itself dry in about 5hours (9.1GWh, peak output 1.728 GW).

They’re a drop in the ocean compared with a full day’s demand. We can flood a lot of valleys and artificial lakes, store up a good few days requirement. And when the wind goes flat… it still won’t be enough. Not to supply energy dense industry or London.

We have no good ways of storing enough energy to provide many GW of power continuously for 14days if the wind goes flat for a prolonged period. A nuclear plant can produce that much. Easily. That’s what it’s designed for. The storage involved in saving up the equivalent of 10-14days of Hinckley C’s output would involve flooding half of Wales. It’s a mind-blowing amount of energy. And then you need the surplus production to charge that storage whilst also supplying live demand. Battery tech doesn’t even move the needle on those scales. Some of the compressed air stuff is interesting but definitely not mature at those scales yet (albeit there are some pilot plants in production in the UK, and they can go anywhere - not reliant on hilly geography).

Storage is no replacement for reliable generating capacity. Get 10-15GW of nuclear online and we’ll be in a position to mostly shut off gas except maybe in January, and rely on nuclear and renewables - with storage providing a realistic topping-up capability.

Intel, Amazon, and SpaceX asked to tuck into DARPA's Space-BACN


but why would Spacex want to work with other satellite or rocket companies?

One the one hand - as you say - they are the market leader and have little to gain now.

But taking a broader view, OneWeb is going to happen eventually and SpaceX will have competition. If OneWeb (and others) are tied into government/military interconnect nodes then this could exclude SpaceX from hypothetical future contracts.

Looking at fairly recent history, SpaceX will not wish to be the next AOL - a perfectly decent but isolated service. Obviously there are differences - SpaceX aren't creating a walled content environment. They're "just" an ISP.

But if other services are able to mesh directly with orbital nodes (which may then become orbital IXPs, or relays to nodes in orbit around the Mun or other places) then this is going to give them a performance and capability advantage over a provider who is only doing sat-to-sat comms internally and routing traffic down to a ground station to inter-network. It does them no harm to keep their hand in.

Datacenter operator groups pledge to cut water consumption


Re: Build somewhere else?

As it turns out, this is already happening in Denmark and Sweden. In Odense, the Meta DC gets 27C water from its heat exchangers, pumps it up to 70deg and then sends it to a district heating grid.

Local planners should be looking much more critically at whether new housing should be built with district heating or individual boilers, and develop opportunities to match industrial users with such projects.


Re: Build somewhere else?

Unfortunately they won't be able to heat the water enough for this to be useful - data centre cooling is about taking heat away quickly from the hot chips, not letting the water stay there long enough to reach a high temperature.

By low grade heat, I really do mean low-grade - 20-40Celsius. Normal Pool temperatures are ~28C. Underfloor heating wants to be a maximum of 50degrees (unlike radiators which need to be ~60-70).

This isn't about water-cooling or changing anything in the data halls at all - it's a matter of where the heat exchanger pulling heat out of the data hall dumps to (i.e. not the atmosphere please). The DC cooling could either dump to a load directly, or more likely to a big tank of water as a buffer/store, from which a heat-pump on the other side can draw energy as required for district heating or singular loads (like a swimming pool/leisure centre).

The heating demand for a small municipal pool can be 250-300MWh/yr.

A mid-size DC with 1MW IT Load and a PUE of 1.4 can release 3,700MWh thermal per year.

Whilst this might not be practicable for individual DCs, when you consider that they are often clustered (e.g. the multitude of 2-10MW DCs along Buckingham Avenue in Slough), it is both economically and environmentally criminal to be dumping that much heat to atmosphere instead of pooling it into some form of district heating (there's also at least one public sport centre/swimming pool on that trading estate, within half a mile of the DC cluster!).


Re: Build somewhere else?

using the heat for something would make more sense.

Heat pumps to maybe heat homes, power industrial processes etc. hello Samsung ??

With the largest datacentres, it does make you wonder whether they might reasonably be tied into a district heating scheme as a source of low-grade heat. Domestic heat pumps are space-hogs for the postage-stamps that developers call "houses" these days.

If we're moving to heat pumps, it makes more sense for new builds to tie into a single central ground-source (or indeed shallow geothermal) facility for the site, which significant facilities like big datacentres could dump heat into. Some ground-source systems in marginal areas also work better if you can regenerate them during summer, meaning they could pump heat back into the ground and continue to provide cooling in summer (otherwise there would be no demand when domestic heat demand drops off).

Even if full district-heating isn't implemented, there are obvious sinks available - e.g. tying into the swimming pool at local sports centres or schools.

Microsoft thinks there are people on 2G networks who want to use Outlook


Re: "the best Outlook experience"

Doesn't need to be "optimisation".

It's more like "write actual software instead of writing a website and then shipping it with an entire single-purpose browser".

Aside from the crypto, what does WhatsApp do that MSN Messenger didn't? The latter downloaded in about 5MB and comfortably ran on a system with 32MB of RAM... WhatsApp will happily consume >500MB of RAM just sitting in the background.

But you are correct with:

Development time is very expensive.

Getting your web team to sling something into Electron is indeed cheaper than hiring actual desktop/client software developers.


Re: "only 1GB RAM"

If it's designed for devices with 1GB of RAM, presumably the client uses rather less... unless the client is also it's own operating system.

Homes in London under threat as datacenters pull in all the power


Re: I still don't understand

while one apartment building = dozens of families and a tiny (usually already crowded) roof. Not to mention shadowing from neighborhood high rises. Sorry, solar roofs don't work where they would be needed most.

Still quite a large (vertical) surface area though. I wonder what the practicalities of hanging solar panels on the south facing wall of a tower block (e.g. as part of a cladding system) would be. Naturally, they'd lose some efficiency (unless you could tilt them out, giving the building a saw-tooth look), but there's a lot of urban real-estate on a conventional (not all-glass) tower block. Even in urban areas, tall developments could panel the top few floors which get full-sun, even if they just use conventional cladding for lower floors which get shaded. Might reduce solar heating of the building at the same time.

Conventional panels of course are quite heavy, but thin-film systems exist. I'm sure some material-science bods could come up with a way of applying thin-film PV layers to a (non-flammable, ahem) cladding panel. The cladding system itself could then have that saw-tooth shape to angle the PV surface a bit more sky-wards.

What's key with high density housing of course really is to leverage that density into centralised utilities - a central GS heat-pump (or district heating) which supplies every apartment - not individual boilers or anything ridiculous like that.


Re: We all know why

Also, Britain's snoops are in a town called Cheltenham (although I don't discount them having facilities at various key exchanges around the UK - but Jacob Rees-Mogg has most likely seen to it that any government-owned London estate has been sold off to his mates whilst muttering something about "efficiency").

The NSA likewise famously have their big black box in Maryland (by Fort Meade, the Integrated Cyber Centre and Defense Information Systems Agency) along with another DC in Utah.

Whilst those bit barns no doubt have a substantial IT Demand, I doubt that (in the broader scheme of things) either of these are imposing any great demand on the DC power grid.

California state's gun control websites expose personal data


It also happened in the UK, reported here some time back.

Well, yes and no. That was a commercial sales platform which literally anyone could sign up to. Users might own firearms, have sold their firearms, or airguns, or never have owned firearms in the first place. It was bad, but by no means a complete list of firearm owners/users - compared with leaking a list of current permit holders.

This is more comparable to a Police force leaking the National Firearms Licensing Management Database.

Teeth marks yield clue to widespread internet outage in Canada


Re: Emergency credit?

Likewise my UK cards are fully embossed. Issued in 2021.

It's a very random mix of banks. I think Starling were one of the first, along with Monzo (the challenger banks). They were aimed at the yoof who were probably going to shove the details into Apple/Google Pay anyway.

My 2021 credit and debit cards from older banks are both embossed, but I've seen a 2022 HSBC card which is not embossed.

Curiously, the card details are all on the back - the front is just a logo. This means you can capture the name, card number, expiry date and CVV code in a single photograph. This is a bit curious since the entire point of putting the CVV on the back (and not embossing it) was that you were splitting the critical data and seeing/capturing the front face of the card was insufficient to abuse the card.

Presumably HSBC are feeling confident in their real-time fraud detection.

Taser maker offers electric-shock drones to stop school shootings


And if you're going to tell us what assault rifles are and aren't, perhaps don't include medium machine guns?

For anyone reading along:

An assault rifle is a select-fire rifle chambered in an intermediate cartridge.

Select fire meaning it has a switch to go from semi-auto to full-auto (or burst fire). This has nothing to do with "Assault Weapons" which is a term coined especially for the US Federal Assault Weapon Ban and which did not actually affect assault rifles. It only affected semi-automatic rifles with certain (mostly cosmetic) features.

An M16 or an M4 meets that definition (as does an SA80 - for the Brits, though not the version they let cadets shoot). An AR-15 does not meet the definition (the AR stands for "Armalite Rifle", not "Assault Rifle").

It's not splitting hairs, it's actually quite important since most countries prohibit firearms that are capable of firing full-auto, whilst semi-auto-only rifles are permitted (and very rarely seem to be an issue, outside the US).

You're quite right that an M249 is not an assault rifle, as it is not select-fire (full-auto only), and the M60 definitely doesn't count, since it's both full-auto and chambered in a large cartridge (7.62NATO).


They aren't so much rare as EXPENSIVE as there are thousands of them in private hands.

Well yes, but the hands of private collectors with $$$.

When did an NFA firearm last show up in the hands of an angsty 18year old doing a bad thing at their school?

Per the Czech Republic, it doesn't actually seem to matter if you let people own actual machine guns, provided you're not handing them out on street corners.

For anyone wondering, you can even own a fully-functional machine-gun in the UK as a private collector and shoot it. The HBSA hold a machine-gun shoot at Bisley periodically. There are less Section7 guns floating around than NFA firearms in the US and the regulations surrounding them are somewhat stricter - but the point holds - licensing works.


Re: World V USA

America isn't real - it's a scripted reality show shot on a film stage.

Ah, like the Moon Landings! They hired Kubrick to produce it and he insisted on filming on location...

Sort of thing he'd do... spin up an entire actual nation to make his docudrama.


Re: World V USA

The rest of the world should sue America over the trauma of their own mass shootings.

I for one have stopped watching the news due to America’s obsession with mass murder.

We should certainly lobby our local broadcasters to ease the fuck up. I recall during Trump’s Administration you could turn on some UK news channels and the first 15minutes was analysing something Trump had said. Not to do with the UK or Europe or Brexit. Just something generally outrageous and the editors decided this needed to be top of the news and get a full 10-15minute slot.

Turn over to Al Jazeera and there’s been a military coup in Africa which the Beeb (and others) have completely missed or ignored.

Seriously, we get that it’s easier to rehash US news because it’s already in English(ish). But sometimes the breaking news is outside the Anglosphere and you need to just deal with paying a translator to help you report it.


Its not strictly true that "assault rifles" are banned. They're not in most states. In some there are quite a lot of restrictions on them but the Federal ban on them was allowed to expire some years ago…

Assault rifles were banned under the National Firearms Act. That federal law remains very much in force. There are a number of pre-NFA firearms grandfathered in. They’re very rare and very expensive, even before you pay the a Federal Tax Stamp to transfer such a firearm (unlike mos firearms in the US, they’re registered).

What you’re referring to is the Assault Weapon Ban, which was a feel-good ban on assault “weapons” (a term coined specifically for that law, and which has no broader meaning), which are firearms with certain cosmetic features like having a bayonet lug. Which put an end to the spate of school shootings where the perpetrator has err… fixed bayonets….

The problem with domestic abuse cases is that these days an accusation, no matter how vague or how old, is taken as concrete proof.

Citation required methinks. If this were true, there would probably not be quite so many cases involving a dead spouse where the perpetrator had a history of domestic abuse claims made against them.

YMMV of course. Professional Standards Depetments in (some) big cities will do a better job than a small-town PD where the Sheriff and their three top deputies and all related and looking out for one another.

I'm not a great fan of domestic abuse myself

One would hope not…

What's probably a bit more important is that there's a significant cadre of ultra-right wing types in the police force; this combined with activist DAs can lead to all sorts of trouble.

Well yes, right wing extremism is now the largest segment of domestic terrorism in the US. It’s a heady mix when a portion of those individuals are in uniform, plus the DAs and elected sheriffs choosing to pursue law enforcement along party lines. I wouldn’t say either is more important though - they’re both a symptom of individuals with unhealthy power complexes being able to join the Police, behave as they wish (often with “qualified immunity”) and knowing that nobody is watching the watchmen.


You’ll find most of the mass shooting perpetrators are white.

Your algorithm will be firing on many victims.



3) banning pistols, assault rifles and magazines larger than 5 rounds. For everything else, ensuring stringent licenses and controls are in place. You know. Doing what the rest of the developed world (more or less) does.

The developed world? Methinks you’re not terribly familiar with that the rest of the developed world has done.

The US already has banned assault rifles.

As for pistols and magazines over 5 rounds. Only GB has banned pistols (literally just Eng/Sco/Wales - not Northern Ireland, nor the rest of the developed world) and nobody outside the US is pissing around with magazine capacity limits. You’ll be shocked to learn I can stick a 120rd drum mag on my Ruger 10/22 here in the UK if I want to! You’ll probably also be surprised to learn it’s legal to own a .50BMG rifle over here - something that some US states have banned (namely California).

Bans do nothing (otherwise Czechia - where you actually can own proper assault rifles with the right license) would be a bloodbath.

The US needs to license gun ownership, probably institute some form of registration (at least for certain classes of firearm) and also start taking domestic abuse much more seriously, with the suspension of firearm rights for those offenders.

Yes yes, it’s very inconvenient if Police officers become unavailable for duty because their domestic abuse case means their ability to possess or carry a firearm has been suspended, but that’s the way it needs to be.

Starlink's success in Ukraine amplifies interest in anti-satellite weapons


US scientists previously criticized the Chinese government for breaking a de-facto moratorium on anti-satellite weapons that had been in place since 1985 with its 2007 anti-satellite test [PDF]. US pique about the perils posed by the debris proved short-lived: In 2008, the US Navy shot down its own spy satellite with a missile.

Of course, important to note the US ASAT operation was against a failed mil-sat launch that was on the cusp of re-entry and they wanted to ensure it couldn’t be picked over if it landed in China or somewhere equally unfriendly. As a demonstration of capability, it was pretty responsible and the debris burned up within a year.

The Chinese ASAT test was on a target at 800km. The remains are still in orbit and posing a threat to other traffic, including the ISS, which stands between the debris cloud and re-entry.

Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes


Re: Won't somebody think of the data?!

This was my thought. Commercial/enterprise data is of no value - if they need to fall back to the lunar storage, then the organisation probably doesn’t exist anymore.

As an ark for general data (Medicine, engineering, etc) then theoretically yes (but why not a salt mine on earth?). The question is how you get data back post-event. Lone star won’t exist as such. Access would need to be open and independent.

They could sell terminals akin to Starlink’s antennae - private individuals (preppers), municipal civil contingency organisations, governments, etc would procure the antennae in a shielded storage case. If the lunar DC loses contact with Earth for (say) 15days the DC switches from “infrastructure mode” to “arbitrary client mode”. Survivors around the world could then access the data with a terminal and laptop.

Question is, who is going to pay for that sort of data storage? Any government punting money into it would be saying “yes, we think there’s a chance one of our nuclear-armed neighbours is going to do the unthinkable”.

Apple's return-to-office plan savaged by staff


Re: Where are the metrics?

For a lot of businesses, the metrics show that productivity was down. Of course that could be down to the pandemic and most of their clients stopping work, thus projects coming to a halt etc etc.

The latter is important - lots of office-based engineers and designers supporting projects in the real world which stopped. They can work from home perfectly well but there was no work to be done.

Also, one must be wary of lies, damn lies and statistics.

Productivity may have been down “for 2020”, but it’s worth drilling into monthly/quarterly figures. In some companies work will have all but ground to a halt for April/May as IT scrambled to implement remote infrastructure and staff set up at home and adjusted their workflows. But then recovered going forward. It will vary across businesses and sectors or course.

Beware the too-broad average.

SpaceX's Starlink service lands first aviation customer


3000-5000 end users is going to be far more data usage than a single dish is designed to handle, so there will be some level of customisation or line bonding of multiple dishes required.

And likely bonded across Starlink and OneWebT OneWeb is of course ISP-oriented, but a cruise ship is serving more users than a lot of small WISPs and a very worthwhile B2B contract for them. Between say, four antennaes (a Starlink and OneWeb antennae at each end of the ship) you'd likely gain an order of magnitude more bandwidth than your average liner has available at the moment.



“Increasingly stiff competition from Kuiper”?

Is this the same Kuiper which has no satellites and has just signed 80-odd launches on rockets which don’t exist yet?

Maybe Kuiper will “do it second and do it right”, leapfrogging StarLink. But we’ll have to wait till 2024 (at the earliest) to find that out. For the time being they’re no competition, they’re just trolling the regulatory process to piss on SpaceX’s chips.

UK Home Office dangles £20m for national gun licence database system


At least 1 in every 411

Where did you get that figure?

It's more like 1-in-100 (~650k Certificates on issue across 65million people. 130-170k will renew each year).

1% of the population is quite a lot in any sort of social statistics. It's the sort of numbers you start legislating for. Just by way of context, the British Sikh community makes up ~0.5% of the UK population and we have special exceptions in offensive weapon legislation allowing them to carry Kirpans for religious reasons. A few of them shoot as well. Lovely bunch, very strong community spirit.

that's far too common for my liking... Is there really that much sports shooting?

Yes. And it's not that many. It's more like 1-in-20/30 in Germany/France/Italy/Czechia, all of which have similar or better homicide rates than the UK. Gun crime doesn't correlate to prevalence of firearm ownership (you could only reach that conclusion by comparing UK vs. US in isolation, which is clearly statistically invalid). Once you have sensible licensing in place and enforce it, then it doesn't really matter in principle whether gun ownership runs to 1/5/10% because the people involved are all vetted and approved.

We're also quite good at shooting, and it's a growing sport - a World Cup Gold medal was won today in Cyprus, the Target Sprint team won 4 medals in Cairo two weeks ago and more than 300 school children attended the recent School Championship Finals in the West Midlands, with many more having participated in the heat stages.


Re: a "gun incident" in Scotland - WTF?

Every 10 years or so, some nutjob in the UK uses firearms to commit mass murder and the gun laws get tightened up. I'm fine with that - though obviously not the mass killing bit beforehand.

I mean, it'd probably be better if the Government (and Police) did what the experts told them to do instead of just banning something because it made good headlines (Cullen specifically noted that there was no point banning anything post-Dunblane and that this was unlikely to be effective).

That might help avoid the next mass shooting. But I appreciate our politicians like a headline. Things like "You've underfunded the Police for years and not spent any money on back-office or professional services" are a lot less sexy than "We're banning stuff" (from the ever-dwindling pool of things remaining available to be banned).

You shouldn't be fine with government arbitrarily tightening laws (in any area of law). You should be asking "Why the f- didn't you do what the experts told you to do last time?".


yes laws in scotland are different

Not appreciably so though. They're pretty much identical except that the Scottish Government decided they wanted to license airguns and lobbied for the power to do so.

There's no reason why Police Scotland would need to use a different system - they're a Home Office Force who currently used NFLMS like everybody else and use the same paperwork as everyone else - it's just they'd be the only ones ever selecting the menu option of "airgun".


Re: Why bother at all ?

If you can legally own a .50cal sniper rifle then there is only one use for that apart from hunting Elephants which you don't have in the wild in the USA, and that is to kill people or rather obliterate them with a .50 cal round.

Err.... you can legally own an .50cal in the UK - and indeed every single nation in Europe. Funnily enough, you can't in California. Great Britain1 is also the only place in Europe to prohibit target pistols, yet is far from the safest place in Europe. Czechia and Italy both have homicide rates half ours, despite having rates of gun ownership 3-10x higher than GB. The others - France, Germany, etc have 3x higher gun ownership but about the same murder rate.

What guns you let people own is broadly irrelevant if you have a robust licensing regime. European nations do, the US doesn't. But with licensing in place people can own AK47s (per Czechia) at no risk to the public.

The main reason for owning a "Big Fifty" is very-long-range target shooting. You can't play with ballistics shooting .22 at 50metres (which is also perfectly fun - but different) in the same way you can when lobbing 700grain bullets across Wales.

1. I specify Great Britain rather than "UK", because England-Scotland-Wales are the only bit of Europe to prohibit target pistols. Northern Ireland didn't bother, nor did the Channel Islands, Gibraltar nor Isle of Man. Literally just the mainland. Twenty years on, our experiment has objectively shown that we're no safer for it.


Re: How much????

20 million quid for what is a pretty straight forward database application that someone familiar with this type of thing could probably knock up on a couple of months?

On a serious note, there's probably a lot of nuance once you start asking it to interface with PNC/PND, passively provision for interfacing with DVLA & Health records - the paperwork & auditing required to get the necessary approvals and access to such sensitive systems is probably non-trivial.

But yeah, also it'll be outsourced to one of the usual consultancies selling you fresh-faced grads at £800/hr.

High single-digit millions is fair. Twenty... hmmm.


Re: Tracking

but what does it do to stop criminals? or are there other uses?

On a serious note, the main thing it does - more so than registering firearms in-and-of-itself - is to cross-reference with systems like PNC/PND.

One of the major findings in the Cullen Enquiry was that the perpetrator of the Dunblane Shootings was adversely known to local Police, having been subject to a number of complaints regarding his conduct towards young boys during the "Boys Camps" and Gymnastics clubs he ran (he had already been thrown out as a leader by the Scouts).

The Firearms Licensing team however did not know this - because it was on a bit of paper in a filing cabinet in the cellar behind the... you know where this is going.

On the flip side, the community Policing team did not know he was a Firearm Certificate holder because the Licensing system (which may have been locally computerised IIRC) was basically just contained within the Licensing office - you'd need to have a reason to pick up the phone and ask them to run a name for you, which officers didn't bother doing unless there was a salient reason to do so.

It was for this reason that the Cullen Inquiry eviscerated Central Scotland Police for a number of failings and did not recommend the prohibition of target pistols (a move that was described as unnecessary and indeed draconian in Cullen's Report). But by that stage Tony Blair had already made it an election issue so the taxpayer spent a great deal of money buying people's private property - and we got upset at Gove for being "bored of experts"!

In the meantime, Firearms crime rose unabated until Operation Trident started to kick in, circa 2004 - because the Police admitted in 1997 that >98% of firearms crime was committed with firearms that had never been registered ( i.e. not stolen or misused by licensed owners, but smuggled or illicitly manufactured guns), which a prohibition would have absolutely no impact on.


Re: The contract will go to one of the 'usual suspects'

Why bother with anything more complex than a SQL Server DB somewhere and a .Net app knocked up a few days by a couple of interns looking to get some experience?

Nope! Let's spend £10m

I thought an SQL Server DB and a .NET app was all that £10m bought you these days? At least if it's from the usual "expert consultancies".

Coming from the usual consultancies, it will of course be developed by a couple of interns or "junior consultants" fresh off a 6 month java crash course which has taken them from zero coding experience to... whatever experience you have after a 6month course.

Plans for UK rival to Silicon Valley ditched


Re: They've been talking about the varsity line since before I was born...

Manchester - Sheffield

That’d be NPR, which used sections of HS2 and connected people into HS2 stations as well as providing a 200mph West-East link.

That’s been cancelled of course (technically “on” but reduced to a handful of upgrades). The cancellation of HS2 East nixed many of the bits that NPR used.

Worth noting the Trans-Pennine route upgrades are also going ahead. Idea was that route would provide the local stopping service once through-services are taken off by NPR). No point trying to run fast services on a Victorian freight line. Of course without HS2/NPR you don’t get the capacity release from the through-services to make space for local & urban rail.

This “we should spend HS2 on…” is nonsense. Over the HS2 build period Network Rail will spend >£200Bn upgrading the legacy network (I.e. double the HS2 budget). It’s not either/or - there’s money for both.


Re: Does the Tory Government Actually Know What It Is Doing ?

Come to Birmingham (within the Ring Road).

Well there’s the problem. Every German town over 250k people will have a robust urban rail/S-Bahn network. The only places in England making that happen are Birmingham and Manchester - big cities with over a million people who could easily justify their own metro/underground network - not just a glorified tram network (which does NOT constitute a “metro” regardless of how it’s branded).

This leaves… everybody else (Leeds, Bradford, Derby, Stoke on Trent) struggling to convince Treasury that there’s any merit in public transport or that they need things like trams or walkable infrastructure.

There’s an increasing case to be made that national government doesn’t really work. All the important issues are either inter-governmental (climate change, tax avoidance, trade treaties, etc) or local/regional (infrastructure, education, transport - guess why Germany has such good public transport - it’s managed at state/Lander level. Not reliant on begging Berlin for attention once every couple of decades. The decision-makers have skin in the game).

The national government shouldn’t have responsibility for anything beyond defence and handling international treaties & relationships. Let the regions get on with sorting out infrastructure.

Of course this government hates devolution - and not just in the regions. They’ve stripped TfN of their powers but also knee-capped TfL. Local authorities are on their knees after a decade of austerity. They’ve spent the last 5 years trying to centralise power back into Westminster and we’re all going to be poorer for it (unless you’re in a favoured “red wall” constituency, but even those brides will be transitory).

Journalist won't be prosecuted for pressing 'view source'


There is an argument to be made that there was a violation of law. However, upon a review of the case file, the issues at the heart of the investigation have been resolved through non-legal means, As such, it is not in the best interest of Cole County citizens to utilize the significant resources and taxpayer dollars that would be necessary to pursue misdemeanor criminal charges in this case.

There speaks a person who has been heavily pressured to prosecute by their boss (and boss's boss) and is desperately trying to find a way to shelve this without saying "What? Of course that's not a crime you stupid halfwit". So they're playing the resource & taxpayer dollar angle because Missouri is an at-will state and they could probably be fired for no reason (unless they have a contract).

N.B. Of course Missouri also has a protection against firing people because they refused to break the law. Sacking someone for refusing to bring charges in a case where prima facie no law has been broken could be construed to be an unconstitutional abuse of power (Fourth Amendment... no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause).

That'd be a fun case - a sacked Prosecutor bringing a wrongful dismissal case against the AG/Governor for refusing to break the US Constitution with a vexatious prosecution.

Fibre broadband uptake in UK lags behind OECD countries


Re: It's of no interest to me.

I have fibre more for reliability and upload speed. - 10Mbps. The only time I notice the download speed is when software upgrades come along.

Yes, I'd have FTTP like a shot provided that it came with symmetric speeds. 50-100Mbps would be more than sufficient. No need for gigabit (though I wouldn't complain if they were offering it as standard for sensible money per altnet groups like B4RN).

Vermin's obsession with 500Mb/Gig speeds looks a bit ridiculous when you realise you only get ~30Mb up. I rarely challenge my 30Mb VDSL (other than software downloads), but the 10Mb up can be a bit limiting.


Re: " I just switched from bt to ee and halved my monthly bill."

Incidentally when it was switched over the bt router kept working on the ee network, but I swapped it for the ee one as it has better WiFi capabilities.

Yes, it's all interchangeable. When I moved from BT to Plusnet I was offered the same router I already had, but in plusnet branding. I declined and just changed the PPPoE/DSL credentials on the BT router. Less eWaste/junk in my cupboard.


Re: HS2 or WFH

[1] I've just checked, and WCML at Lichfield Trent Valley in the evening peak is a total of 10 services per hour on all four lines, which matches what I used to see when I had a one hour change there after work. One train every 24 minutes on average is congestion? I believe that the fast lines there can work on 4-5 minute headways.

The railway is a network. If you connect a 10Mbps switch to a Gigabit switch you won't see any congestion on the Gigabit port, but anything on the 10Mb switch will be throttled nonetheless.

There are four tracks on the Trent Valley line - only 10 trains-per-hour may stop at peak times, but many others will blow through the middle without stopping.

Where do they go? Further up at Stafford the four lines from Trent Valley meet four lines from Wolverhampton. Yet there are not eight lines going up to Crewe and Stoke-on-Trent - those eight lines from the south condense to four lines north (two to Crewe, two to Stoke). It all bottlenecks. That bottleneck constrains the services running south of Stafford as well (unless they terminated/reversed at Stafford).

HS2 takes those non-stop services, leaving the conventional lines free for frequently-stopping local and regional services. High frequency local services take the pain out of changes as your hour long change becomes a 15minute wait.

The current mixed-traffic operation of our railways is why Stafford station (serving 122,000 people but 8 lines coming in) sees something like 3.5million annual entries/exits whereas Stoke-on-Trent station (serving 350,000 including Newcastle-Under-Lyme but just two lines) sees just 2million entries/exits. Stafford gets some useful services (southbound at least). Stoke just gets national trains to London/Manchester and nothing local because the two tracks are basically dedicated to express services.

For completeness, south of Lichfield, the Trent Valley is nicely quadded all the way to Nuneaton (although there is still the weirdness at Polesworth which gets one northbound train per day - not terribly useful!). At Nuneaton it splits - with the main Trent Valley line continuing as four tracks, but a two track line to Leicester and another to Coventry spurring off - so eight tracks come into Nuneaton from the south with only four going north.

It's not difficult to imagine why eight lines into Nuneaton condensing down to four, and then the same happening at Stafford causes some timetabling problems and makes it difficult to keep all the lines at capacity.

Of course none of this goes away with HS2, but if trains are all travelling at around the same speed and stopping at every (or most) stations such that they don't catch up with one another, that allows you to timetable a hell of a lot more services (like, 3-4x more) than if you're squeezing in local services around the express services - which can blow through in places (where it's quadded) but not in others (when it drops to two/three) lines.


Re: HS2 or FTTP?

Without going into the ins and outs of whether the UK ought to have nuclear weapons or our obligations to NATO etc, the clue is the name. Strategic deterrent.

Well yes, I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek. I'm not entirely against maintaining our deterrent.

My point really is that we can find the money when it suits us and the whole "Why don't we take the HS2 money and spend it on x?" routine is bollocks. Partly because there is no pot of HS2 money (just annual borrowing, as is common for CapEx) and partly because we can comfortably afford to do HS2 and the other thing if we actually wanted.

That's the point of investment. It generates a return.


Re: HS2 or FTTP?

(remember as originally conceived it didn't actually go into London or Birmingham, yet would cut journey times between the two...)

You might have to be more specific. Every document back to the DfT's January 2009 paper and the March 2010 High Speed Rail Strategy has assumed London-Birmingham proper. Perhaps a few people spitballing at party conferences conceived of some weird high-speed bit in the middle, but no serious design work ever proposed such a project.

I suggest the economic and business cases are even more important if only to make it crystal clear what the expectations are.

Well that certainly is a problem. Repeated failures by HS2 Ltd and the DfT to properly model the business case makes the project look weak or marginal. As I say, WebTag is garbage. Politicos and journos like to bang on about "Faster journey times" and "it only saves 5 minutes to Birmingham". Some have even labelled it a "vanity project" (for whom? Gordon Brown? Adonis? Cameron? May?).

The truth is that Capacity has always been the underlying raison d'etre for HS2. Higher speeds (and sensible loading gauges) are just a byproduct of building a new intercity line in the 2020s rather than the 1820s. If there were any sense in the world, the PM of the day would inaugurate HS2 by taking a new local rail service between two reopened stations. But they won't. They'll pop champagne at 200mph on a train to Brum.

From March 2010:


The most significant capacity benefits of this network would be felt on the three principal rail corridors heading north from London, and particularly the critical London-West Midlands corridor, whose rail capacity would be more than trebled. This would address the substantial demand growth expected on these key strategic routes, which serve extensive long distance, commuter and freight markets, as well as providing the foundation for journeys to a wide range of destinations further north, on both sides of the Pennines.

The very high capacity of the new line would be achieved both through its dedicated use for high speed operations, allowing an intensive service pattern, and through the use of longer (and larger) trains of up to 400 metres (compared to the current 207-metre Pendolinos currently in service on the West Coast Main Line).

By transferring long distance services to the high speed line, significant amounts of capacity would also be released on the existing West Coast Main Line for commuter and freight trains, including services to key areas of housing growth around Milton Keynes and Northampton.

A Y-shaped core high speed rail network yields similar increases in capacity on the East Coast and Midland Main Lines. Long-distance services to the East Midlands, South Yorkshire and Leeds would switch to the new network, as well as the southern portion of journeys to Newcastle and Edinburgh. All these lines are expected to experience significant capacity constraints over the next 20 to 30 years.


As far as costs and OpEx go. HS2 will of course be one of the cheapest and most reliable sections of line in the UK. Modern tunnels that do not require periodic manual repointing of Victorian brickwork. Slab track that demands far lower annual maintenance than ballasted sleepers. Segregation from disparate services, reducing the knock-on of other trains arriving late to a platform.


Re: HS2 or FTTP?

Why not both? Ditch Trident (lifetime costs knocking on for £100Bn) instead?

Apparently money isn’t too short for a strategic deterrent we don’t plan to use, but there’s “no business case” for strategic infrastructure (except roads. Always money for new roads).


Re: HS2 or FTTP?

Worth noting that the environmental “impact” is not actually well studied.

The entire point of HS2 is to remove non-stop express services from the mainlines, freeing up space for regional and local stopping services (which can’t currently run because they’d get one of the afore-mentioned express services up their chuff). Near me there are a number of stations on the WCML which closed in 2004 when the Modernisation meant the new spangly 120mph Pendolinos took priority and forced out all the local services. There are also stations which now receive just one train every 60-90minutes.

Reopening those stations (and running more frequent services to the ones which are notionally “open” but barely served) is the entire point of HS2 (along with reducing/obsoleting domestic aviation).

Bizarrely however, all the business and environmental modelling has solely concerned the (intercity) services HS2 will directly replace. They have made no attempt whatsoever to model the economics of car->local rail modal shift (which would be massively environmentally beneficial, as well as socially beneficial- more public transport is a good thing), nor of all the additional trains being run on the main lines (HS2 will enable capacity increases of 250-300%).

Long story short, beware the modelling. Webtag is garbage, the Green Book is flawed. Any impact from HS2 is far smaller than any of RIS2, RIS3 or LTC - all of which are individually more damaging than HS2 but on which HS2’s detractors are universally remarkably quiet.

There’s also a legitimate question about whether saying “the business case is marginal” is a valid statement when made in reference to national strategic infrastructure projects which are supposed to the backbone for a broad range of feeder services (bus, local rail, aviation) and has more second/third-order dependents than can be sensibly modelled.


There are of course a few people who are ill-served by the copper network but unfortunately they are the people who are hardest to serve and the cost of reaching them with fibre ruins what would otherwise be an excellent business case.

It’d be interesting to know just how true that is, and what the typical cost differential is between urban/rural. Most rural properties get their phone line over a couple of miles of pole - as opposed to those in town where it’s buried in the street and either runs direct to each house (per Virgin) or pops up a pole and is fanned out overhead (common for BT).

The major expense in FTTP rollout is digging up the road and installing it to the demarc for each premises. If that’s 99% hard digging then the metres-per-day for a crew will be quite low. Plus all your overheads for arranging road closures, permits, etc.

By contrast, a crew can easily string kilometres of overhead fibre in a day if the poles are in place. The longer distances needn’t be in issue in-and-of themselves. It’s long distance but relatively easy work (in terms of man-hours-per-metre). The cost of the actual fibre of course is basically negligible compared with the daily wages of an install team and associated costs (van, digging/trenching gear, splice kit, etc).

I assume the difficulty comes up in sheer density. A rural cabinet may only end up half-populated. The per-property cost might not be as much higher as you’d think, but they’re simply not going to end up installing to as many properties, so it’s not worth it.

UK.gov threatens to make adults give credit card details for access to Facebook or TikTok


Re: Expert opinion

and have relevant practical experience. I think we can assume that this issue is as safe in their hands.

I'd rather not think about what's in their hands thanks :o

Elbow bumps are probably safer than handshakes. You might "come away" with more than you bargained for...

Fire (for obvious reasons). Sweet cleansing, purifying fire ->


Re: Non-free nation

I'm hereby openly threatening to brand the UK a non-free nation, just like I did with Australia, if they continue on this deranged path of trying to save the childeren from pornography whilst thrashing citizens' privacy and anonymity online.

Authoritarian and corrupt.

It's really astonishing how corrupt the UK is. We like to think we're not because we're not bunging twenties to police officers on the street corner, but higher level corruption is basically endemic in the UK, mostly involving complex finance stuff so boring that everyone (including the regulators) just glazes over.

Whether it's second jobs (Owen Paterson being only the most recent); Matt Hand-in-cock and his brazen dodgy PPE deals; Grayling's ferry contracts to companies with no ferries; or Cameron giving Lex Greensill a desk in No.10 and telling the government's largest contractors that they needed to use Greensill's reverse factoring services. Some (like Carillion) didn't - but thought that shafting their sub-contractors sounded profitable and ran their own schemes. Nonetheless, Greensill managed to tank multiple businesses, crashed GAM before taking British Steel sideways. To say nothing of some seriously dodgy circular accounting for other SoftBank businesses before Credit Suisse finally cottoned on that the whole thing was held together with marketing and duct tape.

But it's okay because Greensill Capital was "a tech company, not a bank". So the regulators don't GAF.

Lex got a CBE of course (for "Services to fucking up the Economy"), and Cameron got his £7m working for Greensill after he left politics. KPMG are being sued by PwC for £1.5Bn because their "audits" basically involved signing off whatever shit the management gave them. PwC were the only viable Big Four administrator for Greensill Capital because KPMG and Deloitte had both been (asleep at the wheel) auditors, whilst E&Y had pocketed £10m as "turnaround consultants" shortly before it all came crashing down. Money well spent!

Meanwhile half of the UK's remaining big contractors and outsourcers have got reverse-factor time-bombs pretending that the company's debt is OpEx.

The whole institution is sadly rotten. We all just need to work out what sort of debt some fuckwit is going to package as a "diversified security" next so that we can short it and retire early.

EU digital sovereignty project Gaia-X hands out ID tech contracts


"EU Project"?

Gaia-X Association was founded last year by 22 French and German companies. It now has 300 members from across Europe including the UK, Switzerland and other non-EU states. There are also members in India, Japan and elsewhere.

Now obviously a bunch of French and German firms piling into a non-profit in Brussels does rather sound like core EU, but the only actual connection to the EU I can see is that Ursula von der Leyen (President of the EC) mentioned Gaia-X in a 2020 speech:

"And it is why we will build a European cloud as part of NextGenerationEU - based on GaiaX."

I've no doubt the EU are keeping an eye on Gaia-X as part of strategic digital sovereignty for Europe. But is it actually correct to describe Gaia-X as an "EU digital sovereignty project"? European perhaps, but EU != Europe.

Privacy is for paedophiles, UK government seems to be saying while spending £500k demonising online chat encryption


Re: Nothing to Hide, Nothing to Fear. Something to Hide, Everything to Fear.

Was it all just a dream or did I read somewhere recently that MP’s have switched to using Telegram [or was it Signal]

I like to imagine there’s a little bell in the Kremlin that rings when one of the err… Honourable Members joins Telegram.

Trebles all round I expect.



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