* Posts by Zog The Undeniable

261 posts • joined 18 Jul 2008

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Hi-res audio folk to introduce new rules and weed out impure noises

Zog The Undeniable

Re: ASA - clearly muppets

There are three types of music:

1. Studio-recorded, multi-tracked, mixed, autotuned, normalised (i.e. compressed dynamic range to make it VERY LOUD) pop. No point in making that hi-res, since it's all been through a load of computers first and bears no resemblance to original vocals or instruments. I remember students preferred the "fizz" of 128k MP3* to the original CD as that was the sound they were used to!

2. Live rock/pop. Few of the pros can sing or play as well as on their records (the X Factor is unmitigated drivel but at least they have to be able to sing live) and you have crowd noise/stage buzzes so no point in hi-res.

3. Classical recordings. There might be a case for hi-res but it's a small market.

*I can hear that 128k MP3 is a bit crackly but 256k or high quality VBR, with any reasonable encoder, is as good as CD for me.

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NatWest IT cock-up sees 600,000 transactions go 'missing'

Zog The Undeniable

The trouble in situations like this is that you can't just try a fix and see if it works, since that might result in duplicated payments, payments going to the wrong accounts etc. It's not like trying to get a Quake II server back online. Any fix has to be extensively tested because, once the money is in an account, it may well be gone for ever, So four days, while not reasonable from the customer's POV, is par for the course.

I'm not making apologies for GnatWest of course; they need to test their changes properly. IT failures are only usually caused by one of two factors:

1. Breakdown of the infrastructure (server goes pop, data centre floods) for which you can and should have contingency, if the application is critical

2. Someone changed something and didn't test it enough.

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Did climate change scare off vegan dinos for millions of years? 'Yes'

Zog The Undeniable

Scientists recently found that Tyrannosaurus Rex had a vegan relative.

Imagine that: you have a vegan cousin and your arms are too short to put your hands over your ears.

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ISS 'naut: How we collect our POO and DROP it FLAMING on hapless Earthlings

Zog The Undeniable

What about those horrific morning-after ones that come out like a flock of seagulls? I suppose you just cut your losses, use the escape pod and tell Houston there was a major hull breach, or you were attacked by a fleet of Vogons.

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WHAT did GOOGLE do SO WRONG to get a slapping from the EU?

Zog The Undeniable

Who uses Google Shopping?

Google's shopping search results have always been hopeless. Too many rubbish eBay items, wrong items or unavailable items from old web pages. On a level playing field, they wouldn't be able to compete at all because they're so laughably bad at "doing" shopping. Hence the Foundem story - if true - is entirely believable.

Google jumped the shark a long time ago, notably when they tried to take on Farcebook in a market where mediocrity, poor usability and privacy concerns are all clearly trumped by critical mass. Not a very intelligent move. The basic search engine is still good, though, and Android is sufferable, so it's not all a disaster.

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Conservative manifesto: 5G, 'near universal' broadband and free mobes for PC Dixon

Zog The Undeniable

5G? Pah.

Can we first have working 2G on the Great Western Main Line, please? It's near-impossible to make a voice call except when you're sat at Reading. And that's not a good trade-off.

Anyway, all manifestos will be ripped up within a few days of the result, since we now know that a coalition means all bets are off and all promises are cancelled (Clegg). This generally means that really nasty stuff can be implemented on a "needs must" basis, when they know they wouldn't have had a hope of getting in , had it been in the manifesto. Clever, eh?

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Honda CR-V: SUV-lite that’s also light on the pocket

Zog The Undeniable

It's a bit of a swamp donkey, isn't it?

It's also huge for the amout of interior space you get - has anyone noticed how you can't walk between cars in car parks any more, because they';ve become too wide for the spaces? It's basically a hatchback for someone who wants a higher/more dominating car.

Anyway, I wouldn't buy one because I live where they're made and every Honda "associate" of more than two years' standing (they don't seem to have "employees" any more) gets to drive one for £99 a month, so the town is infested with them.

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The coming of DAB+: Stereo eluded the radio star

Zog The Undeniable
Thumb Down

This is what happens when you let the market run things

My DAB radio lives on FM because the same stations (Radio 4 and Classic FM) just sound better on FM than on DAB. In the living room there's a 20 year old Sony tuner with a proper roof aerial. 70dB SNR on Classic FM, no hiss. Yeah, I know FM (apart from tedious Radio 3, which must be the most expensive radio station per live human listener, anywhere) is subject to dynamic compression by the broadcaster so isn't actually hi-fi, but it still kicks DAB into touch.

I bet DAB+ will just be used as an excuse to cram in more bland or duplicate mono stations and drop the bitrate even further. As Bobbi Flekman says in "This Is Spinal Tap", money talks and bullshit walks.

To add insult to injury, many Pure radios are DAB+ capable only if you pay Pure an unspecified fee for a firmware "upgrade", or rather a "reversal of deliberate crippling". It's like the old Intel 486SX processor, which was a lobotomised 486DX.

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Ford: Our latest car gizmo will CHOKE OFF your FUEL if you're speeding

Zog The Undeniable

I see an increasing number of cars driving around in total darkness with no lights at all, not even sidelights. I blame (a) dash lighting linked to the ignition, rather than to the lights and (b) people thinking all cars now have automatic headlights.

A black car being driven through town at night with no lights is a scary prospect. I've seen it (only just, though).

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Tastier Lollipops for chosen few as Google releases Android 5.1

Zog The Undeniable

MY EYES!

Has 5.1 allowed us to get the black background back for texts etc? That was the worst thing about 5.0 - forcing a WHITE background which is just horrid to use at night, Oh, and removing the usual way to put the phone on silent or not-silent. And there's nothing new in 5.0 that I actually wanted.

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Paul Allen hunts down sunken Japanese WWII super-battleship

Zog The Undeniable
Mushroom

The guns aren't (just) for firing at other ships

Well, yer big naval guns weren't just designed for firing at other battleships (torpedoes are better for actually sinking ships anyway, unless you get lucky with your shells and hit something vital or explosive) Big 16" and 18" guns are also for coastal bombardment; you can pulverise defences or level a city many miles away, without having to risk bombers (which may, in any case, not be able to get there if we're talking about an enemy on the other side of the Pacific and you haven't captured a few convenient airstrip islands yet). And a battleship could lob shells at a target day and night, whereas bombers only get a few minutes over the target.

There's a very good Wikipedia photo of USS Iowa firing a broadside. You might not want to be on the receiving end of that.

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Ford to save you from BIKE FITNESS HORROR

Zog The Undeniable
FAIL

The problem with electric bicycles

is that they still have the two biggest disadvantages of a normal bicycle, viz. exposure to the elements (so you still have to face 5 miles into a headwind with sleet, as I did this Monday) and the danger of sharing the roads with people in fast armoured motor vehicles. The effort involved in pedalling a conventional bike is really not even a tiny part of the problem, and at least it keeps you fit. Cycle paths? Nice in principle, if only they were swept of broken glass, salted in winter and somehow kept free of uncontrolled dogs.

Of course, popular perception is that we don't pay "road tax" and all of us jump red lights and knock over old grannies when we take a short cut on the pavement, so this post was probably a waste of time.

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Official: Single people need to LOWER their EXPECTATIONS

Zog The Undeniable

No, absolutely not

Speaking from personal experience, if you "settle for" someone, it won't last and you won't enjoy it. You'll both always be looking around and wondering what might have been, and after 10 years it will eat away at your soul. Luckily my ex and me both agreed on this, it was amicable (even if it meant I needed to get a mortgage again after paying off the first one, the financial split could have been a whole lot worse) and everyone is much happier. Better to stick to people seemingly out of your league (in looks, educational attainment, general social capital, whatever)...you'll get knocked back almost all the time but it's awesome if it works. And I still don't know what she sees in me.

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Helium HDD prices rise way above air-filled spinning rust

Zog The Undeniable

How do they keep the helium in?

Two problems spring to mind:

1. HDDs usually have a filtered breather hole to cope with the innards heating up during use. So this one must be built to cope with pressure changes.

2. According to a former student colleague who has worked at BOC these last 25 years, helium is notoriously hard to contain (unlike hydrogen, it's a single-atom molecule and can squeeze through the smallest gap). So even a "hermetically sealed" (see 1 above) drive casing is hard to design as you need special helium-proof gaskets where the case is screwed together, unless they are literally welding it shut.

Get the above wrong and it reverts to an air-filled enclosure (or a partial vacuum when cold, as the heated helium escapes) fairly quickly. Must be a real design headache.

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Uber isn't limited by the taxi market: It's limited by the Electronic Thumb market

Zog The Undeniable

Tragedy of the commons

Of course, any massive expansion in Uber cars at the expense of public transport will cause more congestion on the roads - a shared public resource - and then none of Uber's services, or those of the black cabs, will work well. So there's another limit to the size of the market, unless we want to build twelve-lane expressways through London. And that investment in the public resource is a lot more expensive (leaving aside its unacceptability to residents) than paying a little extra to get in a car instead of on a bus because you feel richer.

You already see this in city centres where deregulated bus services have resulted in a logjam of half-empty buses in different colours, trying to compete for the same lucrative routes. Obviously you can't get a bus at all on the less lucrative routes any more because even the councils have given up subsidising them. Mind you, you can't get a black cab to take you sarf of the river after chucking-out time, either.

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Then there were 3: Another UK mobile network borged ...

Zog The Undeniable

I remember when Racal Vodafone was a little company in the centre of Newbury. Now Vodafone owns Newbury to the extent that it tells the local council what it wants, and they have to do it. Mind you, I also remember when Orange had really good customer service and you could get through to a helpful person in the call centre after just one or two rings.

BT Cellnet was for the suits.

/nostalgia

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EE data network goes TITSUP* after mystery firewall problem

Zog The Undeniable

The flipside of competition

is the race to the bottom. If all your competitors are cutting services and increasing prices, so can you. Look at per-second charging of calls (quietly dropped ages ago by most operators), charging a king's ransom for Freefone 0800 numbers, connection fees, mid-contract price rises (what - you can't even set a flat price for TWO miserable years?), hopeless call centre queues etc. Sometimes the industry acts as a virtual cartel, knowing that anything Ofcom says will be like being savaged by a dead sheep.

Worstall should do an article on that. I'd like to read it.

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Tat bazaar eBay confirms: THOUSANDS of workers will be AXED

Zog The Undeniable

They have a licence to print money

An effective monopoly position in most English-speaking countries, double-dipping on fees, and yet it still doesn't make a profit. Stunning incompetence. The average corner shop proprietor could probably do a better job of running it.

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Pull up the Windows 10 duvet and pretend Win8 and Vista were BAD DREAMS

Zog The Undeniable

Windows 8, and 8.1, sucked. I'd rather use Linux Mint and do on the desktop PC but, in the case of my HP Pavilion laptop, Linux support for the wireless interface is a bit iffy (drops WiFi regularly) so i ended up paying for Windows 7. Oh, and I also ended up paying for a dual-boot copy of Windows 7 for the desktop because I needed to drive a Reflecta film scanner with no Linux support. So MS have done pretty well out of me; the Windows 8 tax and then a copy of Windows 7. Maybe it's a strategy to release a rubbish product every other version, and benefit from the downgrade market.

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German iron meets Monaco's highlands: Audi A1 review

Zog The Undeniable
Thumb Down

It's a useless car for a family of any size

Booked a test drive of the 5 door. Never got it out of the showroom in the end. My 11-year old would never have been able to sit in the back with the seat adjusted for me (and I'm under six feet); the legroom and headroom are non-existent. Buy a Fiesta or something; the A1 is just a fashion accessory for couples.

Also, unless they've added balancer shafts to the VW 3-cylinder engine, it's as rough as a buzzard's crutch. I've tried it in a Skoda Citigo and, while that is an otherwise excellent little car (much better packaged than the A1), the engine stopped me from buying one. It felt as if it would shake itself apart within a few thousand miles.

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Ghosts of Christmas Past: The long-ago geek gifts that made us what we are

Zog The Undeniable

The Mamod steam engine always seemed terribly weak to me; the steam pressure is very low and it can barely move itself on level ground. Unlike Stephenson's Rocket, it doesn't use a multi-tube boiler, nor does it use the exhaust steam to create draught for the fire. The most annoying thing was that you couldn't top up the boiler without allowing it all to go cold first, although if you were a bit adventurous you could get two fills of meths to every fill of the boiler. It would run at impressively high speeds with the drive band disconnected, though; probably 1000 rpm or so (the cylinder was a blur).

When I got a bit older and wanted to know how big steam locomotives worked, the Mamod was no use at all. Oscillating cylinder (which covers and uncovers the steam and exhaust ports without the need for valves), no crosshead, no smokebox, no superheater, no reversing gear, no regulator...pfft.

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Lonely this Xmas? Nerds, n00bs and no-hopers' guide to dating apps, Pt.1

Zog The Undeniable

As it's Christmas, here's the secret

Grow a beard for your photo. Of the top 20 rated men on Guardian Soulmates, 19 have full beards. It works for me - about 5 times the messages. Maybe only relevant to a leftie intellectual market, but hey.

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Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers

Zog The Undeniable

Oh, lovely cherry-picking on the death figures. How many premature deaths do you think Chernobyl is going to cause? Thousands? Tens of thousands? And a large area of Ukraine is uninhabitable for decades. Imagine that in an economically productive area of the UK, for instance.

I'm actually a fan of nuclear power but the safety standards have been shown time and time again to be not only necessary, but probably insufficient, and certainly flouted by the monkeys running the facilities. Some of the things that went on at Dounreay were appalling and the clean-up is seriously expensive and difficult. The real answer is to use reactor technologies that create less waste and are inmherently safer to operate. Maybe not fusion, but thorium.

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Blackpool hotel 'fines' couple £100 for crap TripAdvisor review

Zog The Undeniable

Streisand Effect

So they're trying to suppress bad reviews? What's the betting that they will now get an avalanche of negative reviews from people who have never been to Blackpool, less stayed in that particular hotel?

They're going to have to change the name of the business, and quickly.

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Chinese coder's got 99 problems and getting hitched is one: Huge iPhone woo plot FAILS

Zog The Undeniable

Re: he just had to gimp on the last one, didnt he

"IIRC 99 is a special number in china for love... can't remember why at the moment..."

You can't ever have seen the Cadbury's Flake advert with the girl in the overflowing bathtub, then.

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First space Hasselblad goes under the hammer

Zog The Undeniable

Looks like JJ Abrams was behind the camera for at least one of those shots.

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MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer

Zog The Undeniable

Statistically, back door love is far more common among hetero couples (which makes a mockery of all those homophobes who are horrified that those on the other bus might be doing it up the bonus tunnel). I suppose women can't get prostate cancer, though.

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Apple Watch buyers will feel 'different' after being 'serviced' in spring 2015

Zog The Undeniable

"To symbolise the ephemeral and shallow nature of our love, I've bought you this overpriced Chinese-made gizmo that that will be unsupported and worthless in three years' time, at which point it will be traded for a new model. Happy Valentines' Day!"

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Pro-ISIS script kiddies deface West Yorkshire egg-chasers' site

Zog The Undeniable

There's a marvellously inappropriate ad with the slogan "Heads will roll" (with animation) on this page when I see it. Dontcha just love keyword-based ads? ISIS = beheading. No-one would ever be offended by that.

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Pixel mania: Apple 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display

Zog The Undeniable

Re: Value for money?

Well, the 3 year old Skoda we had was still worth 50% of RRP (BMW would be about 55%) but the Skoda cost about 2/3 of the price when new. You do the maths and work out how much more the BMW cost over that period.

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EE launches 150Mbps '4G+' in the heart of London

Zog The Undeniable

Re: FUCKIN LONDON AGAIN!

Acksherley...3G was first tried on the Isle of Man. I had the opportunity to play with one of the NEC prototype phones over there.

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Samsung turns off lights on LEDs worldwide – except in South Korea

Zog The Undeniable
Unhappy

This is sad to hear, because the cheap commodity Chinese LEDs from fleaBay can last a matter of days (the record was half a day, maybe half an hour of actual use) before they fail. They are total rubbish. I have never had a Philips one fail and I'm very happy with the light output and quality.

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Bash bug: Shellshocked yet? You will be ... when this goes WORM

Zog The Undeniable
Happy

My netbook running Linux Mint got a bash patch delivered to it yesterday. I only noticed because it came on its own, without updates to any other system software.

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4K-ing excellent TV is on its way ... in its own sweet time, natch

Zog The Undeniable

I have Blu-Rays and DVDs, and also a 46" HDTV. I can't tell the difference between the formats AT ALL from where I sit about 3 metres away. If I had a massive screen or sat really close to it, maybe I could, but that would mean the living room was utterly dominated by a big 2001-style black monolith, and I don't want that.

So no, 4K is of zero interest to me.

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TV transport tech, part 2: From sofa to server at the touch of a button

Zog The Undeniable

I've got 13 channels of...on the TV to choose from

The big problem is that there's nothing on worth watching. Sometimes my TV doesn't even get turned on for a week, apart from maybe to watch a DVD. Programming seems to be wall-to-wall reality pap and soaps, with desperately unfunny comedy like Miranda. Used to have Sky but the frequency and length of advert breaks (on pay TV!) drove me up the wall, aside from the rapacious cost.

I could happily live without a licence, if it weren't for my kids visiting.

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Steve Jobs had BETTER BALLS than Atari, says Apple mouse designer

Zog The Undeniable

As a left-handed mouse user (no left-handed surfing jokes...it's due to RSI in my preferred right arm years ago) all this talk of left-clicking and right-clicking is highly confusing. When swapping from right to left hands you generally reverse the buttons so you can still use your forefinger for a primary click - which is now a right click, not a left click.

I'm not sure what "real" left-handed people do, since they were all burnt as witches when i was younger.

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Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid: The plug-in for plutocrats

Zog The Undeniable

(Shamelessly stolen from Jack Dee)

Dentists are failed doctors. They dropped out of med school and kept the page on teeth.

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Climate: 'An excuse for tax hikes', scientists 'don't know what they're talking about'

Zog The Undeniable
Black Helicopters

I don't know if CO2 causes global warming but I don't think increasing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere by 20% in 50 years is a very good idea; it's bound to do *something* to the balance of plants and animals on the planet. Nor is it a great idea to waste fossil fuels - although I accept it makes no real difference to the atmosphere whether we do it all next week or eke it out over 100 years - until we have a suitable, economic alternative for uses like transport and chemical feedstocks.

However, some people will always see an international Communist conspiracy behind anything that threatens to affect their high-polluting lifestyle, the like of which most people in the world copuld never dream of.

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BMW i8 plug-in hybrid: It's a supercar, Jim, but not as we know it

Zog The Undeniable

Re: 231BHP from 1.5l

A 3-cyl engine has rather poor balance (rocking couple) and needs balance shafts. VW didn't bother with the little 1 litre engine in the Citigo, which is why it feels as if it's going to shake itself apart (and why I didn't buy one after test driving it). Ford economised on their EcoBoost 3-cyl engine by using an unbalanced flywheel to compensate, whcih is a bodge first tried years ago.

I suspect BMW did it properly and used balance shafts in this one, especially as the capacity is too large just to try and ignore the problem, as is tempting with a 1 litre or smaller.

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Zog The Undeniable

49g/km

This shows how stupid the NEDC test is, and how good manufacturers have become at "gaming" it for low taxation. This now happens with all new cars but it's ridiculous in the case of hybrids.

All the car's CO2 comes from burning fuel in the engine, therefore fuel consumption in litres/100km must be proportional to g/km if the two are measured under the same conditions. But it never is these days, not in the official figures. A 32mpg car actually emits over 200g/km (you can do the maths if you like) and should be liable for fairly hefty VED, not a free tax disc.

There are now millions of cars on the roads, mainly turbo models and hybrids, which are paying very low rates of VED yet producing just as much CO2 as older or more conventional cars which are taxed more heavily. And the direct injection petrol turbos have atrocious PM10 emissions too, so they're giving your kids asthma and cancer.

It's all gone mad.

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

Zog The Undeniable

Good point about loudspeaker and amp designers working separately

The no.1 rule when buying either is to listen to them together. Some amps sound dull and too bassy with some speakers, some sound too bright and thin. Getting speakers that sound good with your amp is far more important than getting components that are theoretically brilliant on their own. You could spend £500 and get great sound, or spend £5,000 and get atrocious sound.

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Zog The Undeniable

The human ear does not have a flat response, either. All that external funny-looking cartilage gubbins (the pinna) has evolved to boost voice frequencies (around 1kHz) and attenuate others. So it's a clever transducer, but you wouldn't copy it for hi-fi, where what comes out is supposed to be more or less what goes in.

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Zog The Undeniable
Holmes

Actually, it's irrelevant for 90% of recorded music

Because it is either:

1. synthesised using electronic instruments

2. subjected to autotune for vocals

3. deliberately manipulated for effect (many modern pop vocals sound like they're been stretched to make them extra trebly and reedy)

4. subject to massive dynamic compression to make it sound louder

5. mucked about with on a mixing desk, overdubbed, artificial chorus effects added etc

Only some carefully-recorded classical music on CD (not radio) might benefit from real high fidelity. Or maybe live pop, but in most cases the performers aren't all that hot without the studio trickery. For everything else, if it sounds good, it is good.

11
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Gid E-Up? Vulture's claw presses pedal to metal on VW's 'leccy motor

Zog The Undeniable

Re: "If the battery is fully charged, no regenerative braking occurs."

They're not offered to us - although we can have any diesel VW in the range - probably because the battery capacity makes it impossible to use one on company business. One of our main sites is 80 miles from head office, the other is 90 miles. You couldn't get there and back in a day unless they fitted a load of rapid DC chargers and dedicated bays at each site.

So you'd need to persuade the company to let you have one as a second car and use a private dino-fuelled car for longer business trips, which would probably make the fleet manager's head explode. Good luck getting that 0% BIK.

1
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Feds crack down harder on 'lasing'. Yep, aircraft laser zapping... Really

Zog The Undeniable
Black Helicopters

I have a 5mW green laser pointer; legal to own in the UK but (I think) illegal to sell. Anyway, catch the beam in the eye (if it gets reflected in a mirror, for example) and I can report that you have a black spot in your vision for about 10 minutes afterwards. I can see why the Feds take this seriously.

3
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The fresh Mint of dwell there: This is a story all about how 17 is here for a while

Zog The Undeniable
FAIL

I'm desperate to get Windows 8 expunged from my HP Envy ultrabook, but neither Mint 16 nor the Mint 17 release candidate can make the ClickPad work properly. The pointer stops responding intermittently - as in, for a few seconds EVERY few seconds - which makes it totally unusable. I know ClickPads suck a very large one compared to a touchpad with real buttons but at least it nearly works in Windows 8.

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EBAY... You keep using that word 'ENCRYPTION' – it does not mean what you think it means

Zog The Undeniable

Re: It looks password lenght is limited...

Oh yes...remember Windows LanMan hashes and the 7 character problem? Despite this, many organisations insisted on 8 character passwords and left LanMan compatibility on, which made them much easier to break.

1
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EBay, you keep using the word 'SECURITY'. I do not think it means what you think it means

Zog The Undeniable

Won't happen

eBay is awful, incompetent and customer-hostile but I still use it reluctantly; it achieved critical mass many years ago so is the only significant marketplace for stuff you need to sell, or secondhand stuff you can't find anywhere else. They have a monopoly and they know it.

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Zog The Undeniable

The Lads from Lagos will be all over this like a rash

Dear valued eBay customer,

As you may have seen in the news, we have experienced a a minor security breach in which none of your credit card or other financial data were stolen. However, eBay recommends that you reset your password by clicking on this link and entering your social security number, PIN and bank card details to validate yourself:

eBay password reset

Yours in God,

Ologugu Ungobungo

Vice President Customer Services

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Star Wars movie to start shooting in UK this summer

Zog The Undeniable

You forgot the biggest Hollywood racial stereotype of all: the English as the antagonists.

In the original trilogy the whole Galactic Empire had English accents except for Darth Vader, and he was only dubbed because a Bristol accent isn't gert menacing, my lover.

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