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Resolving the energy crisis

So this is it. Liz Truss' great plan is to put a freeze on the energy price cap, something that is expected to cost the taxpayer between £100,000,000 and £150,000,000 in government borrowing. It's an "energy price guarantee" for the next two years. Not an actual cap, nor any sort of fix. And it'll all be funded by the taxpayer, no windfall tax in sight.

But, wait. Truss, as a true blue Tory, has failed to understand that the sharp hike in energy costs is not just because the rise in gas prices as a result of what Russia is doing, it's also a hike because the energy companies want to keep making their profits. This is what it comes down to for private companies. Shareholders, stakeholders, directors... so many snouts in the trough.

What Truss is doing in the biggest financial support package since the 1970s, is making the price to consumers fixed, and the government will pay the difference between that and the wholesale costs.

Or, to put it in much simpler terms, in order to put a (temporary) ceiling on what consumers pay for energy, the government has agreed to pay the energy company's profits.
I bet many pairs of trousers got just a little damp as that hit home. I mean, what a cash cow. It's almost as if prominent Tories were on some of the boards of these companies, isn't it?

The Institute for Fiscal Studies projects that for every extra £1 spent by households, it will cost the taxpayer 75p over the next year. And this in a time of high inflation, looming recession, and gas markets going mad.
Government borrowing is already at a massive high - over two trillion in budget deficit and nearly matching the GDP (which would have been higher, if not for the impact of Brexit). It hasn't been like this since the sixties.
That's not to say that huge borrowing is necessarily bad. France regularly runs a big deficit, as France is known to be good and reliable (something the French might want to consider carefully before electing a government of either extremity). But these sorts of things are highly politicised. It's like money. Money is fiat, it has no value other than what everybody agrees its value is. Well, a country is good for whatever debt everybody else agrees it is good for.

This intervention will have the knock on effect of lowering inflation. The reason for this is the consumer price index won't rise as high because energy bills won't rise as high so inflation won't rise as high. How it all works is rather more complicated, but that's the idea in a single sentence. Assuming it actually works like that, and something else doesn't mess it up.

The problem isn't so much the scope or generosity of the plan, which is a good headline grabber - "New PM sweeps in on a magic broomstick" sort of nonsense - but rather the fact that this promise is essentially unfunded. Well, it is being funded. By the very people that are already having difficulty paying their energy bills. These costs will likely see schools, already stripped to the minimum (unless in an affluent Tory area) facing further cutbacks, lack of investment in public services, and yet more impact to the NHS, policing, etc etc.
Meanwhile it is estimated that the energy companies will coin it in around £170,000,000 in excess profit over the course of the next two years.

Along the way, she ditched the green levy and said that fracking may now resume. So Truss is trying to resolve a fossil fuel problem by throwing more fossil fuels at it, and money into the coffers of fossil fuel companies.

In essence, she's not just kicked the can down the road, she's put a stick of dynamite into the can, lit the fuse, and kicked that down the road.

How long until it's not so much Broken Britain as Bankrupt Britain?


The Queen

Yesterday, Her Majesty, at her summer residence in Balmoral, welcomed the new Prime Minister and went through the official process for inaugerating Truss into her position.

Today, the Queen is in a state of "medical supervision".

Coincidence? Or would the 96 year old monarch, and the last true Queen the United Kingdom will ever know, prefer to pop her clogs rather than watch what is happening to her beloved country?

I mean, a crazy woman was democratically elected by a tiny subset of the population whose views don't represent The People; said crazy woman proceeded to fill her cabinet with a diverse range of people (gender, ethnicity...) and play up her support for diversity, while glossing over the fact that the people she has chosen are so far to the right that the Conservative Party is in danger of mutating into some bizarre form of National Front. Meanwhile people cannot pay their energy bills and while there may be some immediate help on the way, the future looks pretty grim as long as energy companies are happily helping themselves to taxpayer money. Meanwhile Scotland wants out of the Union, it's all too possible that the fragile Irish peace process may suffer the delusion of rampant nationalism, and this government wants to walk away from most of the international accords that it once helped set up. Except, one presumes, the lucrative pork markets of the world. Oh, yes, and a government so utterly corrupt and unethical that there isn't even precedent for this sort of situation.

If you were ancient old, wouldn't that be enough to mess up your ticker?


OvationPro - a message for Mr. Pilling

Recently, David Pilling released OvationPro as free software (from his site or from the Store app).

He has also released the source code to OvationPro, albeit with a slightly more restrictive licence than some of the other software - such as no posting of builds or source code to the internet without my permission.
This is completely understandable, I just thought I'd point it out in case you don't bother reading ReadMe files...

But perhaps the most depressing thing I have read in quite a while (and I read The Guardian's front page daily...) is David's document on the history of OvationPro.

You know, David, life is full of things we may wish we did differently. I, for instance, wish I just talked to mom more at the end, instead of going along with her "it's nothing to worry about, I'm okay" ruse. I wish I had learned Linux when it first popped up on my radar a long time ago. And maybe, just maybe, I wish I'd paid more attention in French class (though, in my defence, I pretty much expected mom to move to Spain so I spoke a little bit of Spanish).

But you should not mourn the time that this project took from your life. Instead, stand up and be proud of your accomplishment. You wanted to make the best DTP program. I cannot answer that as I have next to no experience in professional DTP. The last such software I used was Aldus... FrameMaker? PageMaker? It ran on Windows 3.1 and was a piece of crap.
Plus, I think in terms of proper professional DTP you would have run into loads of problems at OS level (such as lack of colour matching between screen and printer and all that sort of thing).

But you, a single person, created by yourself a software package to easily rival the later incarnations of the Impression family. You also made it multiplatform (which, yes, took even more time).

But let's look at it the other way around. How many people have written a DTP package by themselves?
In fact, how many DTP packages are there? On RISC OS, it's a choice of your offerings or the Impression family. Clares gave up on Tempest before it was even released. And Acorn's own DTP package... simply didn't compare. It was like the difference between Draw and ArtWorks.

Now, having done that, how many people then rolled out a second full DTP package with all the trimmings, a script language, document description, customisable toolbars, buttons, widgets, add-ons and plugins? Whilst, I should add, keeping the same friendliness and ease of use that made the original Ovation stand out for those who actually bothered trying to use it.

Now, having done all that, then went and made it work an an entirely different platform? Yes, sure, multiplatform apps are all the thing these days, but they are written from the ground up to be such, and often use various multiplatform libraries, such as MinGW and the like, to ease the differences between such platforms. You... had none of that. Instead you recreated your XL library for Windows, including - unbelievably - adding in such things as an incarnation of how the Draw module works in order that OvationPro for Windows support DrawFiles (and, of course, Sprites).

By yourself.

So please do not say "The biggest mistake I ever made was not burning all my RISC OS hardware and code on the 1st July 1999.".
I can understand why, but rather than regretting what you did, you should stand up and be proud of it. It is an astonishing body of work for one lone programmer, and honestly the biggest mistake may well have been being involved in RISC OS in the first place, as it's only us few who appreciate your efforts.

But, believe me, for those who use your software and not your still-not-32-bit-all-these-years-later competitor, we do appreciate it. All of it. OvationPro, in either flavour, is simple, to the point, and flexible. It doesn't get in the way of getting stuff done.

"Anyone who has written a 10 line Basic program considers they're a software superman, they can write anything.".
Hehe, anybody who thinks they can write anything based upon a 10 line BASIC program has obviously never tried to write anything. I would love to write a BASIC compiler. But I know that I lack a lot of fundamental knowledge.
As for a desktop publisher? Like a compiler, the principles are simple enough (here's a page, here's some text, make it happen) but the implementation, the making it actually work... even with the source code in front of me, I'm not sure I'll be able to suss it.

"Alas with Ovation Pro I met my match, simply too big and complicated for me. I pushed myself to the limit in the 90s."
For a big and complicated program, I think it turned out really well. Certainly there are always being to be "just one more feature". Even if you were happy with it (because you don't seem happy from what you've written), there will still be "I wish I had added..." because something of that scope is never finished. Look at Microsoft's Word. Or Google's Docs. Both arguably simpler than OvationPro, both on their billionth revision, both supported by teams of programmers. Are you starting to see a pattern here? The popular things, the things people remember, have budgets and project leaders and...
...and you, alone, put together from scratch something just as capable.

"At the end of the day they have not got what they might have wanted."
I cannot speak for everybody, but I think you need to need to make yourself a tea, then take a long walk, and understand that you are bloody awesome.

And, one final thing. I am writing my will-probably-never-be-finished novel using Google Docs. This was done because I started writing it on an Android tablet while mom was having PET scans. I don't have any sort of RISC OS laptop.
I like the fact that I can access the same document from whatever (non RISC OS) device I happen to be using.
But pretty much above and beyond that, I frequently wish it would do things the way OvationPro does them. Not because I'm used to OvationPro, but if you have ever used Docs for a document of any size, you'll understand that the browser based version is pretty impressive for what can be done with a browser, but it has many quirks, and the app version... is a complete embarrassment. How a multibillion dollar company like Google (or Alphabet, these days) manages to have all of these oh-so-clever recruitment tests, yet manages to put out such a steaming turd is astonishing. That amount of money, that calibre of developers, those resources, there's no excuse why Google Docs shouldn't utterly own both Word and Libre Office.
Instead? Instead Google Docs, written by the masterminds at Google, is a reasonably capable word processor.

But it ain't as good as OvationPro. So hold your head up high, dude.



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Rick, 8th September 2022, 23:23
The British are now mourning the loss of a true stateswoman and, for most people, the only monarch they've ever known. 
The new monarch is King Charles III (and it just seems weird to have a "king"). 
Can't help but think... Truss... what the hell did you do!? 
J.G.Harston, 9th September 2022, 00:13
Through a friend of a friend of a friend who works at Balmoral.... HMQ refused to let Boris preside at her funeral.
J.G.Harston, 9th September 2022, 00:19
+1 for David's work. I'm always impressed with stuff people put sych effort into. 
I've been writing PDP11 BBC BASIC since 1989 now, and still am not confident enough to tackle trig and log code. There's loads of stuff I write because, well, it's a byproduct of me being alive, and am always really pleasantly surprised when other people use it, and even contact me to thank me. 
David Pilling, 9th September 2022, 02:21
Thanks Rick... Those limits on the OP source are likely to be relaxed. I'll probably write down how it works. Coming soon, the Win source code.

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