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I don't write much about Brexit. It's not because I don't want to, it's because of the same reason why the value of the Sterling tanked after the referendum, went down a bit more, and then has stayed fairly stable. It's quite simple - nothing has happened.

Oh, sure, a while back we had the great early morning drama where the first round of negotiations were "concluded" with no real agreement on citizen's rights, a sort of agreement on the figure the UK might pay as part of their withdrawal, and the Irish border being a nebulous "something, somewhere". In reality, the EU should not have made any such agreement, but I think everybody on the EU side was getting worried about how long it was taking to sort out three reasonably simple things. Agree to something, anything, and then let's get on with the hard work.

Unfurtunately, the EU probably could not have predicted the very next day, David Davis trying to paint these arrangements as a mere "statement of intent", a gentleman's agreement, if you prefer. And in the days/weeks/months that followed... nothing.

Okay, that's technically untrue. There has been something, just nothing constructive. What has been is that both sides of the Tory party have been suggesting a vote of no confidence in the Maybot. Both sides of the Tory party have been unable to name one single person who would be able to do a better job. The opposition look on with a mixture of amusement and disdain, but in reality they are every bit as paralysed because their leader is also anti-EU. Boris Johnson has repeatedly demonstrated a colonialist view of the world, no doubt having an education that emphasised British exceptionalism - something that ceased to be a long time ago. And as for Jacob Rees-Mogg, just look at some of the names of relatives on his Wiki page and you'll get a clue that he's one of the elites who now thinks he has a real chance at grabbing hold of power. Those two, plus David Davis, are happy to push further and further for the so-called "hard Brexit" pronouncing it (along with their toadies in the Daily Mail and The Telegraph) as "the democratic will of the people", only that is complete bullshit. They went to the polls of a snap election with the idea of a hard Brexit and lost their majority. If it wasn't for throwing an obscene amount of money at a tiny Northern Irish party to buy some favourable votes in one of the uneasiest coalitions in recent British history, there wouldn't even be a Tory party in power right now.
And this is where we come back to the Maybot. She is no longer a functional leader. Too afraid of upsetting this side, or that, she prefers to simply parrot whoever shouted the loudest this week. Which is why Britain somehow seems to think that they can have a "special deal" to trade with the EU while being able to declare that there simply will be no customs union whatsoever. It's a ludicrous idea, and regardless of the many insults published in The Telegraph, it is quite right of Michel Barnier to raise the very question of "if there's going to be no customs union whatsoever, what the hell do you think you're going to do about the Irish border?", only he phrased it more tactfully than that.

The ways things are going, there can only be a cliff-edge Brexit because the EU is losing patience with the constant confusion and backtracking from the UK, plus the paralysis and the supposed leadership bowing to a few hardliners that should have been taken to task a long time ago, instead of bullying their way... It has left the world watching in utter disbelief as the UK creates a rift that will take generations to heal, while the politicians who are supposed to be in control end up making an incomprehensible mess that is befitting a banana republic. Indeed, one is still left with the opinion that this is all still about some infighting as to who will be the big honcho in the Tory party, and that the withdrawal of the UK from the EU is a minor affair, a sort of crutch with which to grandstand all sorts of opinions like "it isn't decades of mismanagement that has destroyed the NHS, it's all this money we throw at the EU wot did it...". Since it is clear that nobody in government is taking Brexit seriously (how long has it been since Article 50?), the only possible outcome is going to be painful. And since the likes of the Mail and Telegraph are quite happy to delude the populace into thinking that the UK is a massively important trading partner and the EU needs the UK. I'm sure big international business on both sides would prefer if things didn't get shaken up too much, but the bottom line of a business is not altruism, it is profit. If it becomes clear that remaining in the UK or with ties to the UK would hurt profitability, they will go. Don't listen to the editorials in the newspapers - use your brains. No customs union, as Maybot has just recently stated, will cause a lot of problems. And the ones who will be making the decisions are international companies. Honda, for instance, makes a huge amount of stuff in Swindon for export all over the EU. If the incompetence of Brexit leads to tariffs on exporting materials from the EU and re-importing goods back to the EU, don't delude yourself that they won't up sticks and go. "Yes! Yes! But we're an important market!", the editorials will proclaim. Sure, you are. But so is the EU (and the EU is very much larger). There will come a time when the costs of remaining operating in the UK will be more than the losses of simply leaving the UK, even if that means the government does something stupid like stick an unfair retaliatory tariff on cars and parts (out of the EU, they make their own rules, and current behaviour suggests they aren't above such things). It's a very simple mathematical equation which has nothing to do with honour, marketing, or political bull. When staying costs more than leaving, the obvious solution is to leave. And this is what one can expect to see if the government is really serious about having no customs union. Because no customs union means exactly that. It does not mean some airy-fairy custom special deal in which we get our own way - that doesn't even make sense.

To be frank, blunt, and honest - the EU needs to draw an immediate halt to all further negotiations, leaving the UK with this simple unambiguous message:

Stop wasting our time.
Come back when you know:
a, What it is that you actually want
(and how do you intend to implement it)
b, Who is actually in charge.



Power line

Last Monday morning at half eight I was out feeding Nou, when Elitel turned up to install our new line. I had been led to understand that we were going to have a step-down transformer on the final pole, with single phase electricity to the house. Instead, they are just running in three phase so everything will be exactly as before. I wonder if that was due to the cost of downgrading all the farmhouses and rural properties that no longer need three phase?
We are not having a Linky fitted... yet... that will come some time in March.

Of course, the reason I was up and about at that time of the morning was because it was a work day. Two of the men were very obliging in allowing mom to drive by to take me to work...

When I got home that evening, I hooked my multimeter to one of the light fittings with accessible terminals. The voltage was a steady 231V (used to be around 218V-225V), and when I turned the kettle on it stayed at 230V (used to drop to 190V-210V). Mom commented that the lights looked brighter. Of course, a side effect of this is that we used to know when the immersion heater had finished heating (about five hours from cold) because the lights suddenly got brighter. It also worked with the kettle so on cold mornings I could put the kettle on, go stand by the heater, and when the lights got brighter I knew it was ready.
Now? Well, for the moment we can look at the spinning disc on the electricity meter. But when the Linky comes, it's all bets off. The bloody thing apparently doesn't have any indication whatsoever (not even a blinking LED or wattage reading on the LCD) of current consumption. So with no change to the lights and no idea of what the consumption is, I'm not sure exactly how we will tell if the water is hot enough. How long it takes varies - as water in the pressure tank in the barn is colder in the winter than in the summer, and then there's the question of heating up lukewarm water. I won't miss the dimming lights, because it got to a point (the 190V point) where the LED bulbs started to struggle. But I do think a meter that fails in its ability to indicate consumption is a big pile of fail. I mean, great, we have the technology that is capable of reporting back to the mothership the very moment you plug in a phone charger, but seems to not be able to report consumption to the user. Oh, and yes, I know there is apparently some sort of box you can buy to read that information from the meter and show it. I just don't happen to think that non-free add on devices ought to be counted as what should by rights be a basic function of the meter.
Well, I let you know more when the thing finally turns up...

But, alas, the story does not end there. You may remember that a tree took out the phone line last March. That wasn't the first tree to fall in that area, and the electricity line was to go alongside the unstable trees. The poles were installed last May. The Mayor came out on the 11th of June to say that the trees were dangerous and needed to come down. The electricity wiring was strung up at the end of July, and the trees remained.
And remained.
And remained.
The Mayor got back on the case and something started happening in December. But it all happened slowly as it seemed to be a bloke with a chainsaw and a younger helper tasked with clearing up the mess. So it probably should not come as any surprise that by Thursday...

Yup. They managed to bring it down on its fourth day of service, and their first day back after a month long hiatus after Christmas. Well done! Slow hand clap!

Thankfully the line itself wasn't damaged, so after mom shouted at the guy (who said "wasn't me, I'm not the boss") and then shouted at the boss when the guy phoned him, things got moving and Elitel came out to hook it back up by that evening.
As for the two people taking the trees down? They haven't been back. There are plenty of precarious trees still there. Oh well, that isn't our problem. The landowner had half a year in which to do something without affecting the electricity supply. Now he'll have to think of something better than a bloke with a chainsaw. Hmmm, sounds a lot like Brexit, doesn't it?


Seen at local supermarkets

Yeah. Now which price would you prefer?


Speaking of pricing fails, here is a product that I quite like:

You can see quite clearly that the price is €2,74.

At the end of the aisle is a double pack. Well, I ought to make some savings buying that, right?

Wait... WHAT?
Even somebody as famously crap at maths as I am knows that two of something less than three shouldn't be more than six.
The correct price for two packs at that retail price is €5,48. There's no indication of the single pack being on any sort of promotion, and indeed, two-and-three-quarter-euros is about the price I usually pay in other supermarkets. So I'm not quite sure where this extra €1,27 comes from. Is the supermarket trying to scam its customers with a "PACK OF 2" offer that is actually rather more expensive? (take a look at the price per KG)


The final picture of the day, and to close this blog article, is this. It's not a bad outfit, considering some of the other stuff I've seen recently. I'm just not sure what sort of girl would choose to dress herself like a trendy waitress...?


One final thing

The geekier ones among you may be aware that Apple's iBoot source code had leaked on GitHub, having been quietly doing the rounds earlier. A simple Google search will find it, and while Apple will be doing the legal whack-a-mole routine, the cat is well and truly out of the bag. It's not large either, estimated as somewhere between three and seven megabytes depending on how it is archived.
It is, as far as I'm aware, part of the secure boot process for several older Apple devices. I think that's the recovery boot mechanism? It's perhaps too early to tell if there are any obvious flaws/exploits lurking within, but for general perusal it could be a fascinating insight into the inner workings of a machine whose behaviour has always been wrapped in secrecy. We'll need to keep our eyes open to see if anybody discovers (and documents) if there's anything interesting to be found in the sources. It is, as I said, only the iBoot code. Not iOS itself or anything like that, so it'll be of rather limited use to anybody. Not to mention that it's all copyright Apple and they are famously protective of their IP.
At any rate, it does raise the small question of how well the company is able to protect its source code (is there other stuff out there that hasn't turned up yet?), but more than that, it demonstrates that one simple leak it all that makes the difference between the integrity of the walled garden, and the gates being wide open.



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Zerosquare, 12th February 2018, 17:01
> I know there is apparently some sort of box you can buy to read that information from the meter and show it. 
You can also do it yourself using a Raspberry Pi and a few components. For example: -votre-compteur-electrique/
Zerosquare, 12th February 2018, 17:03
(an extra space got inserted between "de" and "-", remove it to get a working URL)
Rick, 10th February 2021, 11:44
Just to update, on the Linky given to us (a three phase one), there is a blinking light (though not as immediate as looking at a spinning disc) and if you push the buttons on the front enough, it will show current consumption both in total and per phase. 
The only complication is that the meter registers VA (volt amps) which is not entirely the same as watts. For resistive loads (oven, kettle...) then you can pretty much think of 1VA being the same as 1W. But for reactive loads (switchmode power supplies, LED lights), it is a different proposition.

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