Saturday, 22 May 2010

Damp squib, with a possible joyful outcome

So 25,000 of us made a huge noise about the Digital Economy Bill - which is now law.

Let's see a summary of what is involved for the protection of copyright.

1. Copyright owners allege abuse and within one month send a copyright infringement report to the ISP.

2. Within another month the ISP has to notify its subscriber, by letter, giving

- the extent of the infringement
- the copyright owners efforts to provide a legal alternative
- the appeal & legal issues

So what?

Well there are some interesting issues here;

How does the copyright owner come to find out about abuse? I guess they try abusing the web themselves and see if they can download copyright material...

What is the extent of the 'legal alternatives' that the copyright owner must provide - I mean is this a valid, legal source of the alleged infringing material. Wow, if it is this is a BIG step. You see the internet is global, but most copyright infringement takes place because music, movies, CDs, DVD, are released in one country before another: a sure way to entice people to file share on the global internet! But now if the copyright owners have to show how anyone can get a legal download, they will have to release their media globally, all at one time. A true revolution and a wonderful breakdown of the use of copyright to control 'distribution right', which is was never intended to do.

Could I be wrong? Yes, probably Ofcom hasn't the guts to write the 'code' this way, but just to insist on listing a few irrelevant legal download sites. Not containing the one thing you wanted.

Added later

Ofcom has issued its code, there is NOTHING in it about the obligation for copyright owners to provide details about how to get legal downloads of the material they claim is infringing...

This is simply not good enough, they have to meet their side of the bargain.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Three things wrong with media industry

Quite simply there are three things wrong with the media industry (Books, Films, Music).

1 They have lots of stuff locked up in their vaults which they hold copyright for, and which people want to purchase, but they do not have open access to it.

2 They impose severe restrictions not on copyright as such (i.e. permission to copy a work), but on the distribution channels, like region codes, DVD vs download, limited release, tim erelated release, etc etc

3 They block users from transcoding purchases (like a valid DVD) to their computers by using encryption/DRM. If material is actually purchased on-line, then this DRM blocks user rights copy for personal use, or re-sell 2nd hand.

This has all to stop. It is unreasonable and simply lead to file sharing.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

I have one!! Faulty 20p piece, £20 anyone?

I have just come across in my pocket one of those faulty 20p pieces, where the lions on the back are stamped offset to one side. News reports say they could be worth £20, but I con't find anyone to buy it!!!

It looks like this

Screen shot 2010-05-18 at 17.21.02.png

I love Apple, but please...

Dear Apple,

Can you sort out your products input/output? For example,

- Apple TV has HDMI audio/video output, MacBooks do not, they have MiniDVI which no one uses and for which you have to buy converters all the time.

- MacBooks have Bluetooth (KB, Audio I/O and networking PAN). iPods/iPads have Bluetooth (audio I/O, but no networking, so you can't sync using Bluetooth)

- MacBooks have Wifi, so do iPods/iPads, but you can't wirelessly sync, why not?.

- iPods and iPads have some sort of USB, but on the multi-pin conector. Why not have a standard USB port? Also used for charging. All mobile phone makers have agreed to have standard USB charging very soon an all products.

What I suggest is:

1 WiFi becomes the main 'port' for all fast communications (audio, HD audio, Video, network, share, sync)
Have a new Apple TV box with WiFi to HDMI/HDCP handling including audio, and audio S/PDIF I/O and audio I/O Also a new Airport Express with the same features of WiFi networking and HDMI/HDCP output and S/PDIF I/O and audio I/O.
2 Bluetooth handles slow IO (low quality audio, KB, mouse)
3 Printing either direct to a WiFi printer, or via MacBooks from other computers or iPad
4 Update Apple TV to have browser for VOD and apps for other internet services
5 Break iTunes up, please, into two parts
- A general sync program, all the current sync - mobiles, iPods, iPads... mobile me.
- A media database, to include documents, music, video, books. And integrate this with the finder

Lastly lets have overnight ipad auto-sync using wifi from MacBook and/or mobile me.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

More discussion about Copyright

"A creator of a work should be able to decide how their work is consumed and used..." or the extension to that ".... and distributed."

Should they? It is a "Copy Right" not a "Consumer Right" or "Use Right" or "Distribution right".

A creator should not be allowed to determine the way in which his work is consumed or used, but only be assured it will not be copied for commercial profit.

The net result of allowing creators to control how a work is consumed and used is DRM. It is forbidding Transcoding to other reproduction systems and Backup.

It is illogical that one can copy old VHS tapes to DVD, but not copy a DVD to your HDD. It is equally illogical that you can copy your CDs into iTunes but not your DVD-Audio or SACD disks.

Copyright is a law for creators, not a law for consumers. It protects the rights of a creator to the sale of his work, not the way the consumer eventually uses them. Except that the consumer if he makes copies does not retain all those copies himself, he is not permitted to pass copies of the work to others.

Creators can gain the benefits of sales conditions, but not the activities of post sale use.

In this age where digital goods sharing is easy and global, creators have to come to some new conclusions about their works and how they distribute them. You cannot for example justify the release of a film in only USA cinemas and expect the rest of the world to wait for it. You cannot either justify the use of "Regional code" on DVDs which prevent, for example, players in Europe playing an American DVD. Users will and do pirate it and put it on the global internet.

You cannot expect users who buy a legitimate DVD not to copy it to their media theatre system for convenience in viewing (of course they cannot then give the original away... but then why distribute it on DVD in the first place?).

The growing idea that creators do not sell their work, but distribute and cover it with a limited use licence to consume it specific way(s) is a total corruption of the intention of copyright law.

The conditions under which a sale of a CD of DVD must be made more clear on the label. For example "You may play this CD but not copy it to your computer" or " This DVD is protected against copying by DRM, to break that protection is illegal" should be in large type. The contract the purchaser is entering into must be clear when he buys the thing. That will clear up that point - and probably stop creators or distributor taking the law into their own hands too, as many would simply not buy the product.

You could also argue that if a creator does want to put some limits on distribution, he now has a duty himself to maintain that distribution channel for as long as the copyright on it is granted - will your CD be available in Death+70 years?

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Follow through? CO2 attack

From the Guardian, 15 Dec 2009.

David Cameron said.

Cameron's plans for a multibillion-pound investment in energy efficiency are part of a strategy to make environmentalism relevant. Companies such as Tesco would lag lofts and insulate walls, then share the resulting savings in electricity bills with householders over a minimum 15-20 years.


The councils that have struck deals with the Tories would not only offer insulation packages, but also identify the streets most in need of help. A household with the most basic package of measures could expect to see savings of £360 a year on its heating bills, with an energy-efficiency provider putting in an initial investment of £1,500. Some of the savings would go towards repaying the upfront costs of the improvements. Households saving £360 a year would need to pay £120 towards the £1,500 investment, but would keep the remaining £240 a year for themselves.

Domestic CO2.png

[Where your CO2 output comes from]

Cameron said: "I want to launch this from day one of a Conservative government, with councils actually going house to house, street to street, to identify the areas, the homes and the people that would most benefit and would get on with doing most quickly."Faced by a mini-revolt from climate change sceptics within his own party, he said: "A very small number of people take a different view on the science, but the policy is driven by me, and that is the way it is going to be."

So follow through.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Voting - a fairer system


So this is it. Just look at the figures of the previous election, and tell me who should have won:

Votes% Seats% MPs

Labour 35.2 55.0 355

Cons 32.4 30.7 198

LibDem 22 9.6 62

The number of seats in no way reflects the number of votes, Labour go only 2.8% votes more than the Conservatives, but a ruling majority of 157 seats!

I am not advocating complete PR, but we do have to bring the gap closer, a party that wins more votes than the others must have more say in the government of our country.


And now in 2010 we have these numbers

Votes% Seats% MPs

Labour 39 40 258

Cons 36.1 47 306

LibDem 23 8.7 57

Lab + LibDem = 48.7%

Cons + LibDem = 55.7%

It is clear who should govern our country, matching as far as possible policies. And abandoning, even high principled, ones that cannot be agreed - Like PR...

Change? Two things have to happen.

1 We have to abandon the Whip system, where MPs do not have a free vote (as campaigned by you and me) but have to vote according to party lines. This is a strangle hold on democracy. We vote for politicians as much as for manifestos.

2 We have to recognise things in common in party's policies and get those things done with priority. Then have open debate about other proposals.

What to do?

In this election there are two things everyone agrees on:

Reduce debt. Both government (Visible + PFI + Pensions) and personal (Mortgage + Credit cards).

Increase civil liberties. Cut CCTV, no to ID cards, severely cut the quangos, reduce interference in our lives. Stop social engineering by law-making.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Who is in debt to whom in the eurozone?

Just one graphic says it all

Screen shot 2010-05-08 at 10.50.31.png

Hope you can read the text, its a bit blurred.

Time for Green - wanted £100B

UK targets for renewables are 15% all energy supplied by 2020 (its 2% today) or up by x7.5. The 2% of energy generated by renewables today has £2.2B turnover and employs 7000 people. Try multiplying that by 7.5 and see what a business opportunity lies await.

At last, good news, there was more renewable energy capacity than fossil built in the EU in 2008/9.

Here's the summary for UK and the outlook


We have along way to go in UK, but we are making a start - see 'Wind farms' below. 6% of our electricity comes from renewables today. This needs to rise to 35% with 40GW of installed capacity by 2020.


On top of that heating (biomass, solar, ground heat pumps etc) from renewables is only 1% today, and this needs to rise to 12% by 2020. The new Renewable Heat Incentive coming from April 2011 will boost this.


The target is 10% of road transport energy from renewables by 2020. The Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation calls for 3.5% of biofuels (many think this is stupid use of food...). But anyway it comes nowhere near the target as the 10% target equates to 14% by volume...

This is a BIG problem. We need to turn fast to both transport-miles reduction and electric vehicles.

Money maker?

£100B will be invested in the next 10 years.

Screen shot 2010-05-08 at 12.20.51.png

Wind farms

Just how many wind farms do we have, and how much electricity do they make? There are four steps along the way:

Planning -> Agreed -> Under Construction -> Operational

When all these are finished for the current projects we will have 19GW of wind power, about half the 2020 target for total renewables. And probably not enough to stop the lights going out in 2015-16 as old power stations are de-commissioned. We need to accelerate even more this investment.


Onshore 250 = 3491MW
Offshore 12 = 1041MW

Total of 4532MW. There are 2896 trubines, enough energy for 2.5M homes. CO2 reduction 5.1Mt/year, SO2 reduction is 0.12Mt/year, NOx redution is 0.036Mt/year

Under construction are

Onshore 24 = 522MW
Offshore 5 = 1452MW

Total of 1975MW

Projects agreed but not started construction

Onshore 186 = 4327MW
Offshore 7 = 2794MW

Total 7121MW

Project in planning

Onshore 255 = 7558MW
Offshore = 5 = 2260MW

Total = 9818MW

Friday, 7 May 2010

Everyone looses

I have lived outside the UK for 30+ years and I am utterly baffled by the election result. It seems clear to me that top down state control by Labour is not what the British people want or deserve.

And yet they continue to vote for Brown, an embodiment of the worst unelected PM we have ever seen, together with his henchmen (/women) who seem to think we can be governed by ever more laws and ever more targets. While running up enormous debts to pay for their indulgences and totally limiting our personal responsibility and freedoms.

I want my country back. I want to have private enterprise (as low as 15% in some areas) bigger than public spending (as high as 70% in some areas), this level of public spending is unsustainable, and thus the debt. Change that and we get what we want, to get rich and have fulfilled lives. Change that and people will have to save, work, and be creative. Change that and we can get the local services we are prepared to pay for locally, not those imposed on us by the state. I want to stop completely living on debt, both public and personal.

So this man should not be entering the famous No 10 tonight.

Screen shot 2010-05-07 at 10.15.16.png

Maybe this guy could do a better job of it?

Screen shot 2010-05-07 at 10.53.13.png

Wednesday, 5 May 2010


These numbers are enough to make me spit (from the Guardian):

1162 total quangos

714,000 people employed

£63.5B budgets, BUT £101.8B actual expense or 38% over budget.

That is NOT a way to run a country, Mr Brown.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Monday, 3 May 2010

Thermodynamics - the formulae

I don't know how useful this may be but I have summarised the formula I found in my son's lecture notes on thermodynamics:

This is a very brief summary of the definitions and formulae for Thermodynamics, Emphasis has been laid on two things, consistent use of symbols for every variable and repeated definition of the SI units of measurement (Pa, kJ, kg, sec, m, mol)

1 The definition of systems

A closed system = flexible + constant mass
An open system = fixed boundary + variable mass (or moving mass)

2 Main new parameters

u = Internal Energy = temperature energy + latent energy + chemical energy + nuclear energy (kJ/kg)
h = Enthalpy = u + pressure energy P*V (kJ/kg)
s = Entropy = thermal disorder (kJ/kg)

3 The dryness factor for mixtures of liquid and vapour phases

x (0-1 or %) = mv/mt = Mass Vapour / Mass total

4 The gas law

A very fundamental relating Pressure and Volume of a gas to constants and temperature

PV = nRoT

P = Pressure (Pa)
V = Volume (m3)
n = Amount of substance (moles)
Ro = Universal gas constant 8.3144472 (J/kmol)
T = Temperature (K)

The Universal gas constant is the same for all gasses, it is related to the Specific gas constant like this

Ro = RM

M = Molar mass, or mass of one mole of the substance
R = Sp gas constant (kJ/kgK)

So, substituting


and this related to the mass by

nM = m

m = mass (kg)

So, in terms of mass

PV = mRT

It is useful also to relate the gas equation to the density

d = m/V

d = Density (kg/m3)


d = P/RT

5 Processes can be

Isochromic P/T = constant, P1/T1 = P2/T2
Isobaric V/T = constant, V1/T1 = V2/T2
Isothermal PV = constant P1V1 = P2V2
Polytropic P1V1n = P2V2n...

6 1st Law of Thermodynamics, two cases

Steady Flow for constant volume and constant pressure systems,

Q - W = m[(u2 - u1) + (P2V2 - P1V1) + (v2^2 - v1^2)/2000) + (g(z2 - z1)/1000)]

Q - W = m[(h2 - h1) + (P2V2 - P1V1) + (v2^2 - v1^2)/2000) + (g(z2 - z1)/1000)]

Energy - Work Done = Internal energy + pressure energy + kinetic energy + potential energy

Q = Heat (kJ)
W = Work (kJ)
v = Velocity (m/s)
g = Acceleration of gravity = 9.81 m/s2
z = height (m)

The third and forth terms are divided by 2000 & 1000 to get the units to kJ/kg


Q - W = m(u2 - u1)

7 Specific Heat C

Constant Volume u2 - u1 = Cv(T2 - T1)
Constant Pressure h2 - h1 = Cp(T2 - T1)

Cv = Specific heat constant volume
Cp = Specific heat constant pressure


Cp - Cv = R

Cv and Cp are used like this

u = Cv * T (kJ/kg)
h = Cp*T + PV (kJ/kg)

8 Conduction

In a solid

Q = kA(T1 - T2)/y,

k = conductivity (W/m2K)
y = thickness
A = area

For a Solid-Fluid interface

Q = hA(T1 - T2)

h = heat transfer coefficient (W/m2K)

9 Radiation of a body (power output)

E = εσA (T1 - T2)^4

E = Energy flux (J/s/m2 or W/m2)
ε = emissivity (black body = 1), but emissivity depends on wavelength
σ = Stefan-Boltzman constant 5.76 x 10^8 (W/m2K)
A = Area (m2)

Take care that the result J is in Joules, not the SI unit of kJ

10 2nd Law of Thermodynamics

Entropy increase dS = ΔQ/T = heat supplied / temperature

For gasses at

Constant volume

S2 - S1 = Cv ln(T2/T1) + R ln (V2/V1)

Constant pressure

S2 - S1 = Cp ln(T2/T1) + R ln(P2/P1)


S2 - S1 = Cp ln(V2/V2) + R ln(P2/P1)

The Digital Economy Bill - step two

The DE Bill was rushed through parliament in the "wash up" before the dissolution and call for elections.


It requires Ofcom to prepare letters to be sent out by IPSs to people suspected, or accused by copyright owners, of infringing (this means both the receiver of a file and the senders, including everyone who uses P2P file sharing and allows others to download from their computer). Current proposals of typical letters drafted by Ofcom show 93% of the content to be railing against file sharing and breaking copyright, but only 7% on how to download a legal copy.

Ofcom has also to report on the levels of unlawful file sharing - I have no idea how, without either trusting the data coming from interested parties, the copyright owners, or by getting the ISPs to spy on your internet access...

The third thing Ofcom have to do is to educate people not to copy illegally and report on the success of the campaign. Again I have no idea how they will measure this... surveys anyone.

Legal alternatives

But one thing Ofcom have to do is to supply the legal alternative source for the files shared. And this is a BIG problem because they do not exist. It is no use accusing someone of downloading a copy of a new film, released in the USA but not in Europe or in cinemas but not on DVD and certainly not on the internet, because there will be no official source. The possibility of finding a legal source today are few and far between for many things that are shared - that's why people do it.

Many films are simply not made available, locally or globally, for legal download. This is because of the industry's old business models of creating shortage to exploit high initial pricing (hard back books versus paperback or ebooks, films in cinemas versus DVDs), or by controlling the delivery chain (CDs versus iTunes).

Need for copyright change, new business model

Now a fundamental change has to happen here if Ofcom have to provide a legal source for every specific file shared on Pirate Bay. And I know what I propose, which is quite radical:

If the media is not available globally for download at the time it is released to cinemas, or in Hardback, or on CD. Then the copyright owner must lose his copyright. Respecting this simple rule will solve all our problems as consumers, we can get what we want, when we want it. It will not kill the cinema, which is a night out. It will not kill the hardback which goes on your library shelf, the CD is dying anyway for different reasons (inconvenience, copying not permitted), it will not kill the DVD (DRM, copying not allowed, cost of film downloads over broadband is still very high).

In other words internet release has to be primary and of first concern, followed by promotion through cinemas, DVDs, CDs, live shows, etc.

It will, hopefully, force a transition to a new business model, which is the flip side of the DE Bill, in favour of consumers.

Will Ofcom squirm out of it?

Of course Ofcom and the industry may try to squirm out of this requirement, by pointing to generic download sites (Amazon, iTunes etc) which do not actually carry the offending items. But what good is that? It that what the law intended?

Summary of the Bill - reminder

1 Holders send copyright infringement report to ISP

2 Within one month ISP must inform subscriber

- education about legal alternatives (see above)
- evidence
- appeals procedure
- legal advice

3 ISP to provide holders with "infringement lists" by users (anonymous)

4 Ofcom to write "obligations code" to deliver 1, 2 & 3 (see above)

5 Ofcom must generate initial content for "infringement list" of alleged infringmenets > 1 year old

6 Ofcom to report (3 & 12 monthly)

- extent of infringement
- if holders are making legal content available
- on the education drive
- volume of infringement

7 Parliament can vote to tell Ofcom to implement sanctions, after consultation on workability. If OK, Ofcom can then tell ISPs to block/limit/slow/suspend connections

8 Appeals can be made to an independent person, costs split (ISP, Holder, Subscriber)

9 If ISP doesn't implement sanctions <= £250,00 fine

10 Holders & ISPs to pay Ofcom costs for implementing technical measures

Web site blocking clause withdrawn, but new one proposed, needs parliament approval.

Dying business models

The internet is taking over. We can all now get the things we want immediately, no waiting, no limit to the supply. Anything digital offered on a web site for download can give us an instant copy. This applies to publishing as it applies to music and films.

Loss of control

In this internet age media companies do not enjoy the same degree of control. They can't create artificial scarcity by with-holding content in one form and making it available later, nor can they dominate the delivery chain releasing CDs before downloads. For example showing films in cinemas 3 months before releasing the DVD, releasing hardback books 12 months before the paper back. Getting CDs in the shops before releasing tracks on iTunes.

And even the trick of releasing a film in USA before Europe, or a track to be played on Top of the Pops radio before it is on iTunes, is being broken down by the internet.

Pirate opportunity

Because when they do this, the file sharers have a field day, releasing the digital media on Pirate Bay. Because there is a demand that cannot otherwise be met. And people want it now.

And what about the price?

This is a problem, but there is another. Digital media pricing has eroded the perceived value of media. A book that sells in the shop in hard back for $35 is downloadable for $9.99, a 70% discount. So the public thinks the work has a value of only $9.99. In the end the publisher and author may make the same amount from the lower price. The same applies to music and films, the middleman, the printer, the CD maker, the retailer..., is cut out.

Bank loans

I take a loan from a bank. They make the judgement if I can have it, and the risk of doing so..

I buy a house at the market rate, I take a risk that the market will not fall.

But it does, and now the value of the asset (belonging to the bank) is less than its value. They tell me I am in negative equity, but it is really the bank that should write down its asset value.


Who takes the risk? As things stand to day I take all the risk. I cannot sell the house at a price to payback the loan. The bank takes no risk as they demand the full payback of the loan, even though they in effect own the house. (Well they do own it, if I default they take it).


So what should happen is that the value of the banks assets should go down with the market so that they take the risk on they asset they own.

Isn't that reasonable?

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Science, but like a story

I found this beautiful description of the Second Law of Thermodynamics - you really need this, don't you?


"If you watched a film forwards and backwards, you would almost certainly be able to tell which way was which because of the way things happen. The film is reversible.

But some things are not,

A pendulum will gradually lose energy and come to a stop, but it doesn't pick up energy spontaneously.

An ice cube melts to form a puddle, but a puddle never spontaneously transforms itself into an ice cube.

A glass falling off a table might shatter when it hits the ground, but the pieces will never spontaneously jump back together to form the glass again.

Many things are irreversible, and any irreversible process increases the level of disorder.

One of the most important implications is that this shows which way time goes. Time naturally flows in a way that increases the disorder of things."

And there is more

"There is a strong connection between probability and disorder.

This applies to tossing coins! If you toss four pennies, the likelihood that all four will land heads up is relatively small.

It is six times more likely that you'll get two heads and two tails.

Two heads plus two tails is the most likely, it shows the most disorder.

Four heads is less likely, and has the most order.

If you tossed more coins, it would be even less likely that they'd all land heads up, and even more likely that you'd end up with close to the same number of heads as tails."

Such is life.