* Posts by Jim Lewis

105 posts • joined 11 Nov 2007

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Sonic BOOM: 10 blast-tastic soundbars

Jim Lewis

The TV manufacturers really have taken us for chumps

How has it come to pass that when spending hundreds on a new TV we have accepted that the sound will be atrocious and require us to make a further purchase of a decent soundbar?

We really have been taken to the cleaners on this.

My £500 plus TV should allow me to hear speech as standard, not strain to distinguish it.

I certainly won't be splashing several more hundred quid on a sound bar. I have an FM transmitter in the headphone socket and tune my stereo into that.

Full stereo sound on hifi speakers, but it is a faff and a fiddle to deliver basic functionality the TV should have included.

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Brit boffins debunk 'magnetic field and cancer' link

Jim Lewis

Eliminating 'their best guess for a candidate' doesn't prove no cause/effect

According to this site:

http://www.albertasurfacerights.com/articles/?id=45

there is plenty of evidence (in scientific literature) that says they do...

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My HOUSE used to be a PUB: How to save the UK high street

Jim Lewis

With you until the last paragraph

That unused retail property could usefully be turned into residential seems obvious and as others have noted already occurs to an extent. The 'logical' view you then state that the reverse should also be true is not so palatable. Just because it makes market sense to start trading from the house next door to mine doesn't mean it will be socially acceptable to do so. Whether it's noise, congestion, parking, delivery vehicles etc. there is a reason that residential areas are designated as such.

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If only 0.006% care about BLOOD-SOAKED METAL ... why are we spending all this cash?

Jim Lewis

Flawed logic

Assessing people's real motivations on how they actually behave instead of how they say they will behave overlooks the extent to which their behaviour is limited by the available options.

If all sugar was produced by slaves, assuming that as everyone bought only slave produced sugar this meant they were fine with that would obviously be wrong.

Nothing would change or improve if the profit making machine wasn't motivated to do so. Sometimes winning market share is enough if more enlightened consumers outnumber those who don't care.

In the many situations where that's not the case legislation is required.

In this particular case was it necessary/efficient, possibly not (on the evidence you present) but it doesn't negate the fact that usually someone has to take a prinicipled stand to change the direction of the money flow in a less exploitative direction.

The mere fact that Fairphone tried and therefore highlighted the issue may in itself force others to change their prcatice and make the consumer more discerning.

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POISON PI sniffs WiFi from your mail room, goes on rampage

Jim Lewis

Would creating a faraday cage around your mail holding room and inspecting all parcels in quaratine prior to distribution not prevent this from working?

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THE DEATH OF ECONOMICS: Aircraft design vs flat-lining financial models

Jim Lewis

Alternate economic strategies have been thoroughly researched and proposed

One example is the Zero Caron Britain report produced by the Centre for Alternative Energy several years ago. Still very viable, but of course entrenched self-interest from those benefitting from the status quo make it difficult to gain traction.

http://zerocarbonbritain.org/

And yes, they do reject nuclear as it is a massive drain on society for decades (tens of decades?) and never delivers the bountiful cheap energy it has always promised is just a few years away.

Back in the 1950s when we needed happy shoppers to drive the economy and deliver us all from grinding poverty and the mess left after the 2nd World War the Marshall plan was a good idea.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_Plan

Particularly as modern agricultural practices and complete ignorance of the danger of carbon emissions meant there seemed to be no downside.

Now we know better. GDP has long been maligned as a v misleading tool for measuring 'progress' a good war does wonders for the GDP. Bobby Kennedy bemoaned its limitations as far back as 1968:

http://www.jfklibrary.org/Research/Research-Aids/Ready-Reference/RFK-Speeches/Remarks-of-Robert-F-Kennedy-at-the-University-of-Kansas-March-18-1968.aspx

"And this is one of the great tasks of leadership for us, as individuals and citizens this year. But even if we act to erase material poverty, there is another greater task, it is to confront the poverty of satisfaction - purpose and dignity - that afflicts us all. Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product - if we judge the United States of America by that - that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans."

So yes, the need for a new system is LONG overdue. Crashes and a general deterioration in living standards for us in the developed world are the new normal. Periods of 'growth' as it used to be understood will become fewer and further between and are not the system returning to normal, but unsustainable attempts by those in power to make us believe that is so.

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Moto 360: Neat gizmo – if you're a rich nerd

Jim Lewis

actual use case

...and while smart watches etc are still novel enough to be unrecognisable to most people I find that using mine to make my phone appear to ring when I realise I want to leave the meeting I am in very valuable!

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Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE

Jim Lewis

Given her breakthrough hit, 'Wuthering Heights' was released in 1978 I think she's much more an eighties artist than a seventies one.

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Japanese artist cuffed for disseminating 3D ladyparts files

Jim Lewis

beauty is in the (Japs) eye of the beholder I suppose

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We need to talk about SPEAKERS: Sorry, 'audiophiles', only IT will break the sound barrier

Jim Lewis

I was thinking of a digital speaker solution only yesterday so this is timely.

Given that the time information is at issue here I was wondering whether dedicated speakers for each instrument might not be more practical. These could be either designed only to reproduce certain instruments (separate designs for violin, cello, guitar etc.) or be modified in their output through software depending on the use case.

Each speaker, (say typically four for a pop band or chamber orchestra) would recieve a digital stream time synced to each of the other streams. As the speakers themselves could be placed as desired the effect for the listener would be much more directional without the need for stereo capture/reproduction.

IE each instrument is recorded as a mono source, but the physical spacing of the individual speakers provides the reproduction of the sound space.

It might be more practical to arrange a number of panel speakers across a wall and assign them as required to allow maximum configurability with minimal physical intrusion.

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Tech that we want (but they never seem to give us)

Jim Lewis

Smart beer

1. Actually does me as clever and attractive as I think I am

2. Actually does make the girl I'm chatting up as attractive as I think she is

3. No loss of, ahem, 'performance'

4. No hangover

5. No beer belly

Come on boffins, pull your fingers out.

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NOT APPY: Black cab drivers enraged by Hailo as taxi tech wars rage on

Jim Lewis

Pot/Kettle?

@ Anonymous.

I'm pretty sure calling all black cab drivers bigots is a fairly bigotted position to take.

But yes, they are dinosaurs. Maybe they should have joined forces with the:

weavers, printers, steel workers, miners, etc etc.

Technology destroys jobs after all...

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True optical zoom coming to HTC smartphone cameras

Jim Lewis

How can this item not make reference to the already available Samsung S4 Zoom (which I own)?

This is essentially a compact camera/smartphone combo which already delivers significanlty superior camera performance in a phone format.

I have no problems using this as my only phone and I'm extremely happy with the photos produced by it as well as all other aspects of the smartphone use.

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Returning a laptop to PC World ruined this bloke's credit score. Today the Supreme Court ended his 15-year nightmare

Jim Lewis

This could so easily have been me. I bought from a retailer (Red Submarine IRC) in a music mag a high spec machine for around £2000 on a credit agreement. The company promptly went bust prior to delivery.

Weeks later I received phone calls from a debt collection agency telling me I was liable for the cost of the machine or I had to prove non-delivery!

I told them where to go and thankfully that was the last of it, but initially at least the credit company regarded me as having defaulted on the agreement.

I've never regarded PC World very highly, but I certainly won't be visiting them again after this nightmare story, jeez, way to honour consumer rights.

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Oxfam, you're full of FAIL. Leave economics to sensible bods

Jim Lewis

Deiberately missing the point???

Your argument is all very well. The proles will have the opportunity to get a council house, get into student debt and possibly, if they're very lucky earn £100,000 or own a business, so far so good.

What they will never do is unseat the landed gentry and prise the majority of those assets out of the hands of the descendants of someone awarded in the dark annals of history for some forgotten act of loyalty.

A neat demonstration of how limited are the 'normal' persons rights is in the new fracking debate.

If you happen to own property the fracking may take place beneath, guess what, it belongs to those families that everything has always belonged to.

No possibility of any redestribution there is there? Hence the political sop of throwing a few coins out of the carriage window to the street urchins whose communities will be blighted.

In the US by contrast you'd be paid a handsome royalty as you own the land and its mineral rights.

(See also wind farm incomes on crown estate, also going to royals etc.)

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IBM nearly HALVES its effective tax rate in 2013 - report

Jim Lewis

It is the duty of a profit making enterprise to minimise tax and maximise profit, any anger directed at the companies involved is misdirected.

It is the duty of Government to structure tax laws such that economic activity benefits the societies in which the companies involved operate.

This is where the ball has been dropped. It is well overdue for a complete overhaul and re-evaluation of the tax rules in Europe which mean companies can turn billions of dollars of profit (in real terms) whilst paying a tiny percentage in tax.

The current situation definitely benefits the elite 1% while penalising and exploiting the 99%.

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Apple and Samsung STILL in bitchfight over banning ancient mobes

Jim Lewis

Detracting from the main issue of ruining a perfectly good language: Colorably???

I think you meant ostensibly. Why can the Americans not just learn to use the existing words instead of making up new ones? If it was something not already covered by an existing word fair enough, but it doesn't even sound like sophisticated legalise.

Let's hope when an artist infringes copyright on a piece of music the Americans don't feel the need to call it soundably the same, (and they'd probably leave the 'u' out of that as well).

FFS!

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Achtung NIMBYs! BT splurges extra £50m on fibre broadband rollout

Jim Lewis

new cabinets double as advertising hoardings

To further rub salt into the wounds of those people whose communities are blighted by the arrival of these unsightly cabinets, BT has begun plastering them with advertising to trumpet the arrival of the fibre service.

This must surely be against local planning rules. No-one else is allowed to just plaster the built environment with adverts in this way.

check out this horrific example:

http://www.v3.co.uk/v3-uk/the-frontline-blog/2223612/bt-s-cornish-superfast-broadband-rollout-in-pictures

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A steam punk VDU ?

Jim Lewis

There are several existing solutions to this.

1. Etch a sketch, pointer is moved on surface on which a powder adheres until displaced.

surface is returned to usable form by shaking in original toy, but could be blown perhaps?

http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_trksid=p2053587.m570.l1313.TR0.TRC0.Xetch+a+sketch&_nkw=etch+a+sketch&_sacat=0&_from=R40

2. Magnetic writing board. Probably easier to use this, see examples here:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/bhp/magnetic-writing-board

3. Or the simplest working principle, where a piece of grey translucent plastic sheet is impressed upon with a backing of a wax coated sheet. Where contact is made a dark colour is seen, Lifting the sheet 'erases' it. Also known as a magic slate.

http://www.ebay.com/bhp/magic-slate

They could all be modified in some way to provide the desired functionality, (perhaps not trivial to do so however!)

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Apple's Hacker Princess really needs to stay away from Idaho cops

Jim Lewis

Hammock compliance officer

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Alarming tales: What goes on INSIDE Reg hack's hi-tech bedroom

Jim Lewis

This is where the oft-maligned Pebble smartwatch can shine.

First, set your mobile to have a black-out period, simple in Android, you can add people like the missus to an exempt list so emergency calls get through.

Second, set your alarm safe in the knowledge that your wrist will vibrate you awake silently at the given hour.

My wife usually doesn't notice me leave first in the morning.

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Printing the Future: See a few of UK’s 6.2 million 3D-printed ‘things’

Jim Lewis

Re: Lost wax?

Indeed it can be and is already by artists exploring its possibilities in this area.

I think UWE do this.

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Jim Lewis

Surely for the people with the most positive outlook on the future and rate of rise of 3D printing the 'hobbyists toy' uppermost in their mind is that of computing, which was initially similarly the reserve of hobbyists.

The computer is now of course ubiquitous, but then it can be turned to such a wide variety of applications.

3D printing can't and while it will have a myriad of as yet unthought of applications, in it's most advanced form it is essentially a quick route to a prototype either allowing bespoke unique designs for one off or a few items or as a precursor to producing the item through other more efficient means.

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Brit inventor Dyson challenges EU ruling on his hoover's energy efficiency ratings

Jim Lewis

Hoovers???

I bet Dyson would be less than pleased to see vacuum cleaners referred to by his competitors trade name.

I thought we'd stopped doing that last century.

As it is a US brand, do you think you could try to support the home grown industry a bit more?

I'm off to do the Dysonning now...

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Oh, shoppin’ HELL: I’m in the supermarket of the DAMNED

Jim Lewis

I can only assume that these machines were designed with input from the till workers union. They certainly seem designed to demonstrate how bad an idea it is for us to check out our own shopping rather than have a human do it for us.

I won't use them and watch with gleeful anticipation when people behind me in the queue ask me if I will and then pass me to attempt to use them.

They're usually experiencing exactly as Alaistair describes long after i've left after being served by a human.

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Chromecast creeps further into living room with Hulu hookup

Jim Lewis

I have the Chromecast and it just works, in a way that so much other stuff just doesn't. I realise readers of El Reg are so tech savvy that wrestling arcane scripts to make tech do what it's supposed to is part of the enjoyment for them, but for the masses this device offers additional functionality at a trivial cost and with ease.

I think Google have stolen a march on their competitors once again, and each additional service offering will merely further bolster this position.

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WIN a RockBLOCK Iridium satellite comms module

Jim Lewis

LUNATIC

LOHAN

Undesired

Near

Approach

Transmitter

Initiated

Cut-Down

'LUNATIC prevents disaster after SPEARS failure'

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Jim Lewis

EROTIC

Emergency

RockBlock

Operated

Transmitter

Inititiated

Cut-Down

'LOHAN near populated area in EROTIC episode'

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LOHAN ideas..

Jim Lewis

Altimeter in shot?

Maybe this has been asked before, but would it be possible to have an indication of height in the video capture? The simplest way would be to put a basic altimeter display in front of the camera.

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Jim Lewis

'Gastric band' pressure switch

Another way to connect balloon burst to electrical switching would be to put a band around the lower part of the balloon containing a pressure switch; closed due to the pressure of the balloon acting on it.

At balloon burst the switch would open, providing the required signal to the electronics to fire.

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Mozilla ponders blinkers for your browser

Jim Lewis

Re: God bless his little Royal Highness!

@obnoxiousGit

Amazingly bad the alternatives may be, but they are at least temporary and not entitled to huge amounts of cash at our expense. You can bow and scrape as much as you want. I'd like to live in a free and fair society where anyone can aspire to the top of the social pyramid.

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Devolo dLAN 500 AV Wireless Plus: Triple-tech connectivity for the home

Jim Lewis

If power switches behind such devices are hard to access (under furniture etc) get yourself a remote controlled socket. Simples!

http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_trksid=p5713.m570.l1313.TR0.TRC0.Xremote+controlled+socket&_nkw=remote+controlled+socket&_sacat=0&_from=R40

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Beijing fanboi in coma after iPhone 4 shock treatment

Jim Lewis

Re: I'm No Fan

There woudl be no point because whatever the European CE mark is changed to the Chinese will simply copy, as they have done with 'China Export'.

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Smartwatch makers: You need apps to beat Apple

Jim Lewis

I'd agree with all others regarding notification functionality, it makes missing texts/calls (something that used to happen frequently) a thing of the past.

In the car it's much safer to glance at your wrist than mess around with your phone.

With Glance I can even respond with preset messages from the watch with a few easily memorised button presses.

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Nokia wrings Lumia bling fling, but feature-mobes ding stings

Jim Lewis

missed opportunity with the strap line?

Disappointing ker-ching lacking zing

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Who should play the next Doctor? Nominations needed!

Jim Lewis

Professor Stephen Hawking

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Motorola shows off tattoo and swallowable password hardware

Jim Lewis

no mention of bar codes?

The check digits on bar codes, (three pairs of thin lines at the beginning, middle and end) are the number 6. IE every item with a bar code has 666 on it.

Google 666 bar codes for more.

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TV gesture patent bombshell: El Reg punts tech into public domain

Jim Lewis

Signal to computer that you're gesturing at it

I think the obvious answer to how will the computer know your waving is intended for it would be to define a clear signal, 'message send'.

Something so unlikely to be within your normal gesture vocabulary that it couldn't be mistaken.

Given the on/off symbol is a circle and a line this seems an obvious choice.

Give the 'OK' diving sign with one hand and hold one finger up on the other, combining both to make a capital phi figure.

Once acknowledged by a lamp switching on, (send message), the next 10 seconds whatever sign you make will be interpreted as an instruction.

Simples.

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The UK's copyright landgrab: The FAQ

Jim Lewis

Case in point. Warner sued over use of Nyan Cat

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-22397446

Why should the originators of what has become a valuable franchisable icon not be protected from being ripped off?

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Master Beats: Why doesn't audio quality matter these days?

Jim Lewis

I wholeheartedly agree. I can't help feeling that the younger generation have been sold a pup on this one.

We are of the age that regarded the pursuit of better and better sound quality a worthwhile thing to do, hence the apogee of CD sample rates.

Once convenience trumped this goal all was lost. 'Look i've got 200 albums on this iPod', 'sure, but the quality is pish'

Can it be coincidence that music today really is shite when what people listen to it on is incapable of revealing that fact? Or indeed that 'lo-fi' became a thing around the same time?

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COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO: NASA rovers scrawl giant willy on Mars

Jim Lewis

Slightly less puerile...

It could also be a picture of a telescope.

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Ready for the car 2.0? Nvidia preps UPGRADABLE car system

Jim Lewis

it would have to be configurable within limits to ensure vital info is always displayed somewhere.

Also, drivers are already dangerously distracted by SatNav/mobile/texting/entertainment etc.

First we need computer driven cars, then more distractions.

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Manual override: Raspberry Pi beginners' books

Jim Lewis
Joke

I think you've alleviated some of the difficulty in making a choice of publication...

In fact i'd say you've given us Manual Relief

(Surprised you didn't use that as the headline in fact!)

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Kissinger and tell: WikiLeaks scrapes 1.7m US diplomatic reports from the '70s

Jim Lewis

Assange can be accused of many things and probably should.However, the 6 finger thing is just lazy slander as far as I can tell. Attack the issues not the man fer chrissakes!

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Bill Gates: Windows Phone strategy was 'a mistake'

Jim Lewis

'Bing, people have seen is a better search product', than what? not searching???

Microsoft must have quietly got ahead of Google Glasses 'cos Gates seems to be viewing the world in a very strange way!

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Tibetan monks lose their TVs as China's censors raid monasteries

Jim Lewis

@ Oh4FS

you sir, are a tool

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Jim Lewis

Please...

...can you try to use English, not Americanisms such as 'gotten'.

got is bad enough, when there are so many other words you could use, but gotten has to be one of the worst words in the English lexicon. It's just ugly and redundant.

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Android users: More of them than fanbois, but they don't use the web

Jim Lewis

1. One of the aspects of iDevices that the fans point to the most is the usability. IE the target market is for the less tech savvy consumer.

2. Less tech savvy people may not regularly use/have access to a PC. I have friends in this category who hadn't sent an email prior to owning an iPhone

3. Given that for such users the iDevice is the only platform available to shop from it's hardly surprising the data reflect this.

4. I use an Android phone, and do use it for browsing, usually via wifi, when i can't be arsed to fire up my PC. However, with a PC in front of me during working hours it is this that I use for the majority of my transactions.

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Just bought an Apple product? Need support NOW? Drop an F-BOMB

Jim Lewis

Worth making sure it's an automated system you're talking to and not just an answering machine.

My local doctors had inadvertently left the answering machine on during office hours meaning that when I called to make an appointment I got a message saying if it's an emergency call this number, otherwise hang up.

I got pretty frustrated and vented, not realising that my invective was played loud and clear to the full waiting room and receptionist. (who was busily trying to switch the thing off).

I received a call from them pretty soon after i'd left my message from an apologetic, but obviously unimpressed receptionist and my welcome was decidedly cool when I went to my appointment!

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Felix Baumgartner sadly turns out to be blinkered FOOL

Jim Lewis

I previously didn't expect to hear anything of much sense from Felix, but now I realise he is in fact a wise and insightful man.

As he has literally benefited from a perspective few other people have I think it is right that he expresses the view that this planet we are currently hell bent on destroying is our only home and will remain so for a very long time.

Hear hear Felix!

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