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Jef Lay (JeFurry)
Works at The Open University
Attended Royal Latin School, Buckingham
Lives in Milton Keynes
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Jef Lay

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Exactly. I've beleived it for many years, even before I discovered Robert Michels "Iron law of oligarchy"... 
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Bletchley Park and the Museum of Computing should be ashamed.
 
In light of the past 24 hours, I have resigned as a Bletchley Park volunteer. This is a deeply sad day for me and this is why:
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I just got one of these Grid-It! organiser boards to go in my much-loved ThinkGeek Bag of Holding (which holds an amazing quantity of stuff, but sadly can't magically circumvent gravity), and I’m really pleased with it. If, like me, you carry around a ludicrous amount of technology - or camera stuff, or roleplaying stuff, or anything that involves numerous small pieces - you might be interested in one.

https://www.cocooninnovations.com/cat_info.php?cat_id=61 

Mine was £15.68 from Amazon UK, and it’s the 12”x8” medium size, which fits easily in the BoH's third pocket. There are many sizes, so choose whatever fits your bag. It’s doing a great job of keeping all the small loose items in safely one place without requiring a thousand pockets. The straps are elastic and have non-slip dots on them, which hold slick items like my mouse and backup battery perfectly, even with just one strap each. It takes a good few minutes when you first get the board to figure out the best way to lay out your items efficiently, but once they’re in place, each leaves an obvious gap when used, so you'll always know where to put them back (unless you use nearly everything at once). It also means you’re a bit less likely to lose or forget items, since there’s a noticeable blank space on your board. There's also a small flat pocket on the back, which is enough to stash a couple of emergency installation/recovery DVDs and a few notes.

It's a good product, and suits my carry-everything mentality well.
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Jef Lay
 
Hope you like 'em too. Bags can be quite personal things, depending on your usage, but I reckon this is a pretty flexible combination.
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Fantastic news, for once.
 
Wow! The Obama administration is pushing hard for battery research!
And the money quote! LOL
"For that matter, despite generations of familiarity with modern gasoline gauge technology, running out of gas is still a common occurrence, especially when the price of gasoline rises and drivers try to make a tank last until prices fall again. AAA reported a spike in out-of-gas distress calls back in 2011, when its Texas affiliates alone handled more than 1600 calls a month from members stranded with an empty gas tank."
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It'll change ... Its going to take five -to-ten years for it to build up momentum, but it will change. 
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Jef Lay

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It wouldn't even cost much, once the economies of scale kicked in…
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Cover for your car and free/cheap charging, that'd certainly make things very tempting!
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I'm not a racing fan. No objections to it, just not that motivated, and don't like the noise or smells. However, Formula E is going to be different. This bodes well…
 
I LOVE this sound!
270HP not wasted in noise and heat.

I can't wait to see the first race!
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For once I'm feeling inspired to write a long-form review... something I haven't done since the days of LiveJournal. I wonder how many people will see it here? Let's find out...

I have been reticent about the first few games on the new-generation consoles. I've got some really good games on the PS3 & XBox360, and you know how it is... it's a while before something comes out that stretches the new hardware; they stick with upgraded versions of previous-gen titles for a while, and although they can be good, they're often only ... "okay". This is how I felt about Dead Rising 3 and Killzone: Shadow Fall - both fine, but not amazing. Ditto for "Thief", which I hoped would be the ice-breaker, but it was another average title.

Fortunately, we're now six months into the new generation, and some new titles are appearing that have had a decent amount of time spent on polishing for the new consoles. I spent most of the last weekend player InFAMOUS: Second Son (henceforth ISS - I refuse to count Famous as a separate word, despite the capitalisation). I had the first InFAMOUS title on PS3, and enjoyed it but found it hard - I game quite a bit, but I'm 42, and I'm no longer playing every night, or even every week, my reflexes aren't as fast as they used to be, and it's getting a bit harder to remember every button-mashing combo on top of the day-to-day concerns of life. Fortunately, ISS is designed to give a real feeling of what it's like to have superpowers... to be faster, stronger and tougher than everyone else, to be able to move like lightning, slip through the tiniest hole, and blast explosives, and rays from every finger. To achieve that feeling, it's set up so that the difficulty level, while challenging, is just a tad easier than some other games I could mention (Dark Souls, I'm looking at you - you may look very appealing, but the very ethos of punishing the player isn't what I'm after at all. Pity!). So you get to charge through the city, feeling like a million dollars and royally kicking arse with a vengeance. It's a great feeling.

I can't really comment on the re-creation of downtown Seattle that the game uses as its setting... I've never been to the real place. However, wherever it is, it's beautiful, extremely detailed, and the draw distance is far enough that I can't see it. Climb to the top of a high building (and some are really dizzyingly high, and yes you do need to climb them!) and you can see for miles in every direction, with moving traffic, and the city's monorail still running even in the far distance. It's highly detailed, too - I'm genuinely surprised and impressed at the depth and detail of facial expressions, even down to moving wrinkles around an old lady's eyes and mouth as she speaks, and folds of cloth flexing as people move. It's still quite clearly CGI rather than looking real, but it's well past the point at which we accept a character as being an individual rather than just another computer-operated drone. Even the non-entity passers-by in the street have at least basic expressions, although they show a limited repertoire of speech - you can still tell a key location by the fact that people have a conversation rather than general inane mutterings. Speaking of which, the sound: If you have a decent home cinema setup, like me, I heartily recommend checking out the sound options, which allow you to specify that you have such a system, and alter the sound mix appropriately from its pedestrian default. Precisely what's changed is difficult to identify - it was already 5.1 dolby digital - but the richness and fullness of the surround sound has improved, while the speech is clearer and the sound effects are generally more... soundy? It's as if they've been brought closer to your ears. I hate to use the over-applied term, but it's appropriate: the sound is more immersive. I find this game suits that term in many ways - I haven't found myself immersed in a game for 8-hour stretches since the Mass Effect trilogy, but it's still a joy to find something that draws me in so.

The plot is thin and simplistic, but decent voice acting bolsters it into adequacy. I've heard numerous reviewers describing the main character as unlikeable, and I expected this to be a problem - I don't tend to like cocky, arrogant characters. This kid, though, has his heart in the right place (at least, if you follow the paragon path) and I can only assume that the reason teenagers and impatient caffeine-fuelled twitch-gaming reviewers don't like him is that he develops a conscience and sense of moral responsibility as the game progresses, and while he remains cocky, he takes important things seriously too. I find this a reasonable character arc, given that we all have to grow up sometime... perhaps that's what some people haven't liked.

The game has been fairly criticised for old-school gameplay and scripting, with black-and-white options rather than shades of grey, but actually I find this to be a positive thing (as long as not every game does the same thing, anyway). It's a superhero world, and most superhero comics live in worlds of good and evil. While I'm glad that there are shades of grey in real life, people simplify things into their own personal blacks and whites when making judgements. We all do it to some extent - our brains simply aren't wired to handle a scalar certainty value of every possible variable, because the knock-on effects are incalculable. It's actually liberating to know that there's one right and one wrong, and to have a simple path with a binary choice. There's plenty of choice and variability elsewhere in the game, in that you have freedom to decide how you achieve your goals. It's enough... the game feels limiting only occasionally. There are sometimes surprises... as a long-term gamer, I'm used to spotting how a puzzle is meant to be solved, but occasionally the game needs a bit of lateral thinking, and is solved by an indirect or non-obvious means. Nothing that I couldn't figure out in time, though... and again, the difficulty level is bang-on perfect. It's a pleasure not to have to resort to 'easy' mode for boss battles. I'm not ashamed of playing on 'easy' - I play for the story and the experience, not the challenge (I have more than enough of those in real life, I play for escapism!) but it's a pleasant change not to be labelled as inadequate. As the gaming market ages and matures, I suspect the proportion of players who feel like me will increase, but even if not, ISS can appeal to multiple levels of challenger competence with its difficulty settings. I've already seen one reviewer who insisted that all players should forego the normal difficulty and play on "hard" as the game's too easy, but I disagree, because I'm seeking pleasure, not pain. Still, if it's pain you want, it is but a click away in the game options.

The main mission can probably be completed in ten hours or less for a goal-focussed teenager, but for a completist like me who wants to clean up the city, take every side mission, and take over every district so that I get a nice clean map and a really huge list of powers, it's going to last considerably longer - especially with the (>200MB) Day One patch which adds around 40%-50% more in extra side missions. It's the first game in which I've ever bothered to collect every power shard (the game widgets which, when collected, let you "purchase" and unlock new powers) or equivalent.

All in all, I'm having a whale of a time, and I'd recommend ISS to any PS4-owning middle-aged gamer who likes power fantasies and third-person open-world gaming with a mild sci-fi twist.
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longform review - that's presumably 140 characters where you don't remove all the vowels?
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A smart demonstration.
 
Once it is on the Internet...
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I have grown really tired of repeating the same old debunkings of the same old flawed anti-EV claims. My hat is off to +Robert Llewellyn for his persistence. I've had an EV for two great years; I'm really happy with it; the battery degradation in that time is below the measurement threshold of the equipment; and unless something huge changes, I'll never buy another petrol or diesel engine. EVs don't suit everyone - not yet - but for many (most!) people they're perfect second family cars… and for a lucky and rising percentage of the population they're all we need.

You may not like them, or may not want one. That's fine: have a nice day, forget about them, and don't waste time trolling a pro-EV account for comments/flaming. But you might be missing out on some really great cars if you don't consider EVs an option!
 
Prius talking point and cycling in London
I recently posted a report about how Toyota had sold over 3 million Prius hybrid cars. 
The comments this gathered were fascinating.
For a start, a right wing Christian climate change denying we're all going to heaven so it doesn't matter what we do on earth nutter was very vocal, but that was just comedy.
Far more insidious was the number of comments from the my diesel gets just as good economy as a Prius brigade.
While in terms of simple mpg this may be true, although of course any diesel up against the plug in Prius I drive, (average 98.5 mpg over the last 900 miles) has a tough challenge.
That said, the Prius never has really been about mpg, it's about tailpipe emissions.
Average diesel, 130-150 grams CO2 per km.
Plug in Prius. 49 grams CO2 per km.
I was forcefully reminded of this when I rode a rental bike in London last week, through heavy afternoon traffic on a sunny day.
My conclusion.
Diesel cars stink.
The shit coming from the tailpipe of a diesel is a lethal cocktail of SOX and NOX, carcinogenic micro particles and heavy metals.
Put 50 diesel cars, trucks, busses and taxis in a queue in central London, all engines running but going nowhere and the resulting clouds of 'economically sensible' filth being pumped into the air is repugnant.
Put 50 hybrid cars, buses and trucks in the same queue, none of their engines would be running, the tailpipe emissions when they did move would be minuscule in comparison and the result for the sensible people who aren't driving cars in a big city would be a massive improvement.
The Euston Road in London (pictured) was given the proud accolade in 2007 of being 'the 3rd most polluted inner city road in Europe."
Hooraah!
Apparently there are roads in Athens and Milan which are even worse.
Thankfully stuff is happening to counter this, hybrid busses and 100% electric taxis are slowly being introduced.
The congestion zone has just been changed, what was the 'Greener vehicle' discount meaning cars like the original Prius didn't have to pay has stopped.
Now you can only enter the congestion zone without paying if you drive pure electric or plug in hybrids (Ampera and Plug in Prius etc).
So diesels, while certainly better than they were, arguably the most economic of modern fossil burners are still some of the dirtiest cars on the road.
I know I'm going to receive all manner of arguments to try to counter this, better fuel efficiency, better exhaust systems etc, but I still suggest diesel technology is outdated, noisy and dirty. 
Time to move on.
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Not thinking about it wrong at all. It's just that a full charge doesn't get me to where I need to get to and return on a daily basis. So instead I spend 4 hours a day commuting by train at extortionate costs. I have a car (an old Vauxhall Cavalier) which I could use but don't as train is better for the environment. What I need are more charging points where I can get the car juiced so I could actually use an EV.
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Work
Occupation
IBM Notes/Domino database & web development, and Mac/iOS support.
Employment
  • The Open University
    IBM Notes/Domino programmer, and Mac/iOS support, present
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Currently
Milton Keynes
Previously
- Markyate, Dunstable, Woburn Sands, Leighton Buzzard, Milton Keynes, Buckingham, Huddersfield, Stockton-on-Tees
Story
Tagline
Long haired ex-goth geek. Loves computers, cats, consoles, electric cars, SF&F escapism, and @StephanieLay. Lotus Domino dev & Apple support at @OpenUniversity.
Introduction
Long haired ex-goth geek. Married, no kids. Lives with far too many computers, cats and consoles.

Loves electric vehicles, science fiction & fantasy escapism, horror, and @StephanieLay.

Works at the Open University in the Faculty of Mathematics, Computing and Technology, doing IBM Notes/Domino development and Mac/iOS support.
Bragging rights
Proud owner of a Nissan LEAF electric vehicle.
Education
  • Royal Latin School, Buckingham
    1984 - 1990
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Male
Other names
JeFurry, Jef