* Posts by J.G.Harston

937 posts • joined 4 Mar 2009

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How much of ONE YEAR's Californian energy use would WIPE OUT the DROUGHT?

J.G.Harston
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California has all that seawater - and it's tidal! Use the tidal energy to desalinate the sea water.

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Think beyond the Beeb: Gov consultation is crucial for free telly

J.G.Harston
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Re: The simplest solution would be abolish license fee monopoly

The BBC isn't state-owned. Don't mix up receives-state-mandated-funding-from-the-public with state-owned, otherwise we'll have to declare Virgin Rail state-owned.

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J.G.Harston
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What if I'm on cable? If BBC News goes to online-only, can't my CableCo hook up a feed from it and still pipe it down my wires?

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Hurrah! Uber does work (in the broadest sense of the word) after all

J.G.Harston
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Re: @ J.G.Harston

Good point. Off the top of my head I don't know why dispatchers are regulated. Vehicles and drivers are regulated to protect the public. I'm not sure what public safety threat dispatchers have that isn't covered by normal law, eg discrimination law preventing the dispatcher refusing to employ certain categories of person whereit is not relevant to their job.

(We had to repeatedly advise one start-up who wanted to do women-only taxis that they would be breaking the law if they refused to employ a man who applied for a job with them, or pick up a passenger, because he was a man. We advised them their route was to target their advertising, not make breaking the sex discrimination laws the core of their business).

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J.G.Harston
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"but is taxi despatching what has the licence? Or is it the individual drivers?"

All three. My experience is outside London, but London is gradually converging with non-London taxi law.

In UK law:

a taxi dispatcher needs a taxi dispatcher's license, issued from the taxi licensing authority for the taxi licensing area they wish to dispatch taxis from. They need a physical address in the taxi licensing area they wish to operate in.

a taxi vehicle needs a taxi vehicle license. The vehicle has to pass an enhanced MOT test and has to comply with any additional rules the licensing authority sets. For example, we required all vehicles need to be no more than three years old on first licensing, and no more than 15 years old on renewal, certain size of driver ID plates, certain minimum number of seats. If the vehicle falls outside these you had the opportunity to go to the board and explain why a deviation was appropriate. For example, we had some sui generis stuff like fire engines and vintage buses. Once a vehicle is licensied it can be used in the area it is licensed in.

a driver needs a taxi driver's license. The driver needs to pass a medical and knowledge test and we advised applicants to complete the local college's taxi driver's course. We added to those requirements by specifying a driver had to be 21+ years old and have 3+ years driving experience. Again, if the applicant falls outside these requirements they have the opportunity to go to the board and explain in person why policy should be deviated from. For example, we had a 20-year-old applicant with five years' driving experience come to board. A driver is licensed either as a private hire driver, and can only take pre-booked fares, or a hackney driver, and can ply for hire and take pre-booked fares. Once licensed, a driver can use a vehicle licensed in the licensing area to trade in the licensing area. A driver is allowed to pick up in the licensed area, but drop off anywhere.

the driver does not have to be the vehicle owner. There is no problem with a single vehicle being used by multiple drivers, as long as the vehicle is licensed, and the drivers are licensed.

the licensing board has the ability to set a ceiling on fares. Any taxi is completely free to charge absolutely anything up to, but no more than, that fare ceiling. If the fare ceiling is £1.50 a mile, there is absolutely nothing stopping the driver chargeing £1 a mile. Fares are regulated on hackney (ply for hire) taxis, but in my city the private hire used the same rates. A journey that crosses a boundary is not regulated and is subject to negotiation before the journey starts or is booked.

The smallest licensing area is a single district council. Licensing areas are free to amalgamate their licensed areas so a license is usable in a larger area, and the SecOfState has the power to forcable amalgamate areas. Greater London is an amalgamated area. In my opinion, Greater Manchester should also be an amalgamated area.

the law requires vehicles to be licensed, and the law requires vehicles used for business purposes to be insured for business purposes, so a vehicle used as a taxi is required to be insured for use as a taxi. Operating a taxi without a taxi license or vehicle license invalidates your insurance, so we would always bring a "driving without insurance" prosecution as well as a "taxi without a license" prosecution.

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J.G.Harston
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Re: Actually works

"would that mean I need a taxi license for that city?"

Yes, because you're operating as a taxi dispatcher. You're matching up customers with drivers. That's "taxi dispatcher". I think that probably the only change in the licensing regs that would be useful to update really is the requirement for a taxi dispatcher's physical address to be in the licensing area. That could be more flexible to address modern realities.

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J.G.Harston
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"The interesting question for me is what, if anything, Uber ... really does differently at a business level that means it should be exempt from existing taxi regulation"

Absolutely nothing. Zilch. Nada. Zero. Maru. Nill. They are a taxi dispatch service, just like any other taxi dispatch service. The fact they are using online electronic means to do so, just like my city's taxi firms were doing more than seven years ago, is irrelevent.

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J.G.Harston
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Hold on, you're saying that in New York you buy the right to operate a taxi from a private individual? Here in the UK you ""buy"" that right from the local authority taxi licensing board, by paying about £150 and the driver and the vehicle passing the required tests.

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UK.gov wants to stop teenagers looking at tits online. No, really

J.G.Harston
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And exactly /how/ is David Cameron going to shut down that p0rn server in Khablikistan?

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Your voter-trolling autodialer is illegal: The cringey moment the FCC spanks a congresscritter

J.G.Harston
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So, these robo-callers are systems that automatically dial a number, then play a recorded message saying "have you considered voting for the Cornish Independence Party?", like the recorded calls I get from Disney Holidays? Not systems where a human being clicks on "next elector" and the system automatically dials a number, then the human being says "have you considered voting for the Cornish Independence Party?" which is what UK pols do. Of couse, claiming they don't need to abide by the Telephone Preference Scheme opt-out as they aren't selling anything, they're "gathering information".

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Automattic says spooks asked for something it can't reveal

J.G.Harston
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Clarity through obsfucation

"We received between 1 and 250 requests. We're not saying we received between 171 and 173 requests."

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YOU! DEGRASSE! It's time to make Pluto a proper planet again, says NASA boffin

J.G.Harston
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Re: Nomen est omen

"Vegetable" is a culinary term, not a botanical term, so it can overlap with several botanical terms.

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Boffins go to FUNGI town: Riddle of 100-year-old HAIRY, ICY dead wood finally cracked

J.G.Harston
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Coat

The pun would be "you're a fungi" not "you're a fungi guy".

Mine's the one with Roger's Mushrooms in the pocket.

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US State of Georgia sues 'terrorist' for publishing its own laws ... on the internet

J.G.Harston
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Re: Major change needed

There's a difference between "in the public domain" and "is public domain". "In the public domain" means that the public know about it. The documentation that documents the fact that Harry Potter is a wizard is in the public domain, but not is public domain.

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HP slaps dress code on R&D geeks: Bin that T-shirt, put on this tie

J.G.Harston
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What are customers doing wandering around R&D? Somebody fire that security guard!

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Spanish judge dodges the ultimate question – is Uber a taxi company?

J.G.Harston
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Yes, the drivers are taxi drivers, and need to be licensed as taxi drivers, which entails passing the vetting the taxi licensing regime has in place, and the vehicle they drive needs to be licensed as a taxi, which entails passing the vehicle vetting the vehicle licensing regime has in place and having the vehicle insured for being used as a taxi.

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J.G.Harston
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It's not a taxi company, it's a taxi dispatcher, just like any other taxi dispatcher, and needs a taxi dispatcher/operator's license in juristictions where a taxi dispatcher needs a license. The drivers need a driver's license, and the vehicle need a vehicle license, in juristictions where a license is needed.

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Being common is tragic, but the tragedy of the commons is still true

J.G.Harston
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Re: 5000 years

Perzacktly, The Mongolian steppes looks like that precisely because they have been denuded by the human population. As the steppe was denuded too much to support the human population, the human population died off, allowing the food resources (the steppe) to recover, allowing the resourse exploiter population. (the humans) to recover. Classic foxes'n'rabbits ecological dynamic balance. It's just, to paraphrase Tim, nowadays people tend to frown upon starvation as a means of limiting resource use.

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Free internet for kids! Obama's offering free internet to kids! (Yes, there's a catch)

J.G.Harston
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So, you get a government internet connection. Do you get a free computer with that, one that's not just going to be swapped for food stamps or worse?

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Surviving Hurricane Katrina: A sysadmin's epic DR (as in Didn't Realise) odyssey

J.G.Harston
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Ten years ago my local town had the worst flooding in more than a century. Just after the civil disasters control centre had moved to brand new offices - by the river.

Kudos to my ISP at the time, though. They spent most of the day moving servers onto stacked tables to keep them out of the water.

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Uber to drivers: You make a ton of dosh for us – but that doesn't make you employees

J.G.Harston
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Re: Uber v's Addisson Lee

They probably do have an unassailable right to use bus lanes. In my city all but three bus gates are "BUS TAXI CYCLE" lanes.

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J.G.Harston
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"Uber is a taxi operator, and needs a taxi operator's license."

"Doesn't have one"

So they should be kicked into prison so hard their teeth fall out.

"The drivers are self-employed taxi drivers, who need a taxi driver's license, driving their own vehicle, which needs a taxi vehicle license,"

"Uber don't check that they do, in fact they positively avoids doing so"

So they should be kicked into prison so hard their teeth fall out.

"Just like any other non-employee taxi operator."

"Er, no. A local firm isn't allowed to trade without the correct licenses"

So they should be kicked into prison so hard their teeth fall out.

"Just another remote taxi booking service."

"Er, again no. Uber's massive mistake is to not understand what a license does and means."

Yes it is. It's Just A Taxi Dispatcher. If you take bookings from customers looking for a taxi and pass them on to a taxi driver, you are a taxi dispatcher. They have been around for probably 200 years. Just because they actively refuse to understand the law and actively refuse to comply with the law does not make them not a taxi dispatcher. If you sell groceries, you are a grocer. If you ride horses you are a horse rider.

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J.G.Harston
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Re: Not that this will make using Uber safer

Nothing wrong with using a rental car, a lot of our drivers rent their cars here (non-London UK). Makes sense for three people to pool to use one car continuously over three 8-hour shifts.

As long as the car has a taxi vehicle license, the driver has a taxi driver's license, his insurance covers him for operating as a taxi driver, and his dispatcher has a taxi operator's license, then everything is covered.

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J.G.Harston
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Correct, Uber drivers are not employees of Uber. Uber is a taxi operator, and needs a taxi operator's license. The drivers are self-employed taxi drivers, who need a taxi driver's license, driving their own vehicle, which needs a taxi vehicle license, purchasing access to the Uber taxi operator. Just like any other non-employee taxi operator. Nothing new here. Just another remote taxi booking service. They've existed since the messenger boy was invented.

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What do you MEAN, 'Click on the thing which looks like a Mondrian?'

J.G.Harston
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That's (some of) the reasons why minicabs were made illegal outside London in 1976, and - bizzarely, people seem to have not noticed this - made illegal in London in 1999, and Private Hire licensing introduced. If that driver had come to me for a Private Hire license I'd have kicked him out of the licensing office so hard he wouldn't have needed to drive home.

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China wants to build a 200km-long undersea tunnel to America

J.G.Harston
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Osbo PRINTS first Tory budget in 19 years with his BARE HANDS

J.G.Harston
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Re: It's like the sixth form common room

"The minimum wage is about to become £6.70 per hour. Coming out at £27,872,"

Yer wot? Only if you work 80 hours a week. £6.70/hr is £12k for a 35-hour week. Simple rule of thumb: double the pounds per hour to get the grands per year.

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'The server broke and so did my back on the flight to fix it'

J.G.Harston
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Re: That is a really idiotic design choice.

Exactly. When you press a button you are issuing a command, the button should must be labeled with the command it initiates. That's such basic basic user interface design it predates feudalism.

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J.G.Harston
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Using a noun instead of a verb - that should have got him fired on day one.

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It's all Uber! France ends its love affair with ride-sharing app

J.G.Harston
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Re: Does Uber have something that...

Perzactly! Uber is just another remote taxi booking service, the logical progression from waving your hand in the street, to messenger boy, to telegraph, to telephone, to email, to text message, to web site. It's nothing new, it's just another remote booking service. All the taxi firms in my UK city did email/web/mobile booking years ago.

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J.G.Harston
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Re: Correction, here ...

Ok: In UK taxi law, the taxi licensing authority may chose to regulate taxi fares by setting a ceiling to fares. The taxi meter is calibrated by the local authority and sealed. Any taxi is perfectly free to charge anything up to that ceiling.

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J.G.Harston
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They want unregulated, unlicensed, uninsured taxis. The state does not allow it.

There, fixed that for you. Personally, I beleive that the state should not allow you that particular consumer choice.

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J.G.Harston
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Re: Correction, here ...

"Of course, Uber can have prices totally lower than taxis due to lacking this huge racket/tax, so we have unfair competition, here."

ANY taxi can have their prices lower than the competition. Regulated taxi fares are a CEILING not a floor.

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J.G.Harston
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Re: Worried about their safety !!!!!

It's irrelevant whether Uber require their drivers to be licensed or not, THE LAW requires their drivers to be licenced.

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BBC veterans require skilled hands to massage their innards

J.G.Harston
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Re: Parts

So many of them were made, you don't need to rebuild replacement hardware, you just cannibalise existing spare machines.

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Teaching people to speak English? You just need Chatroulette without the dick pics

J.G.Harston
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You don't teach literacy in this way by making it a chore that you get rewards for. You make it something that you need to obtain so that you can access something you desire. "If I learn to read English I can read Heat Magazine and find out what Haley Mills is doing and chat with all my friends about it" not "If I learn to read English I'll get a voucher that lets me buy a copy of Heat Magazine".

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We forget NOTHING, the Beeb thunders at Europe

J.G.Harston
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For right to be forgotten to work there needs to be massive recruitment of people to go through archives cutting out offending content. Theres 400 years of newspapers in my local central library. Where are these job vacancies? It's just another lie, just like the jobs doing Cameron's web censoring never materialised. If you're serious about it ADVERTISE AND RECRUIT THE BLOODY JOBS!!!!

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Britain beats back Argies over Falklands online land grab

J.G.Harston
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Re: Rolling back to 1830

If we roll back to 1830 then Wales gets Patagonia *and* the Falklands. Back then Argentina didn't extend any further south than the Salado River. Argentina didn't occupy any territory anywhere near the Falklands until the Conquest Of The Desert in the 1880s.

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J.G.Harston
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Re: Outer Manchuria before the Falklands

Maybe a campaign for Texas to be returned to Mexico. I mean, you can't just go and settle in some foreign province and then demand that that province be annexed to the mother country, do svedanya?

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BT: Let us scrap ordinary phone lines. You've all got great internet, right?

J.G.Harston
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Having exchanges capable of supplying POTS isn't overly onerous. I'd LOVE to be able to buy internet without having to fork out 15 quid a month for a landline I never use.

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What is this river nonsense? Give .amazon to Bezos, says US Congress

J.G.Harston
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This is what happens when morons who wouldn't recognise a hierarchial naming structure if it recursed them in the backside have any power over naming systems. I bet they all dump all their files on their desktop as well. Subdirectories? What's that? Force the bloody lot of them to use DOS 1.0.

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Hey, Sand Hill Exchange. Shouting 'blockchain!' won't stop the Feds

J.G.Harston
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Re: Regulations. . .

"I think Sand Hill's approach was much like Uber et al.: try something new, ignore relevant regulations by claiming they don’t apply to what you're doing"

When I was dealing with taxi licensing we tried to encourage innovationm but the trade tended to kill it. Example: somebody said rickshaw taxis might be a good idea, we said: they're people-powered so we can set up a fast-track vehicle safety inspection that skips all the internal combusion engine stuff, etc., but the response of potential rickshaw taxi drivers was "we don't need to comply with no steeeking license!" so the innovation died. We tried to encourage the trade to set up a coordinated remote pre-booking system, but they wouldn't stop their pissing contests to realise what advantages it would have, until Uber was on the horizon, and overnight the trade set up a coordinated remote booking system, along with a splurge of mergers and rationalisations that's killed off a lot of the internal cat fighting.

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This whopping 16-bit computer processor is being built by hand, transistor by transistor

J.G.Harston
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Re: Ladybird?

Project Books published by the Dairy Industry Council.

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Why is it that women are consistently paid less than men?

J.G.Harston
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When I worked in local government for a decade I observed that the male head of planning was paid the same as the female head of planning, the male head of education was paid the same as the female head of education, the male chief executive was paid the same as the female chief executive, the male bin lorry drivers were paid the same as the (few) female bin lorry drivers, the male head of year four in school X was paid the same as the female head of year four in school Y.

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J.G.Harston
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Re: Politically incorrect

You probably earn more than Harriet Harman and most ofther MPs, you're just /paid/ less than her.

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MILLIONS of broadband punters aren't getting it fast enough – Which?

J.G.Harston
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Your total speed will be the speed of the slowest part of your connecttion. If you have a 20Mbps connection to "the internet", but the server you're accessing only has a 4Mbps connection to "the internet", guess how fast your connection to that server is going to be.

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MOUNTAIN of unsold retail PCs piling up in Blighty: Situation 'serious'

J.G.Harston
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"Suppliers are sitting on a huge stock of unsold computers"

I've already got a computer, I don't need to buy another one.

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It's OK – this was an entirely NEW type of cockup, says RBS

J.G.Harston
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'cos they have to squeeze in that data into overnight transaction windows that will also have that day's data to process as well.

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Teaching kids to code is self-defence, not a vocational skill

J.G.Harston
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Re: Making "coding" a priority is a big mistake...

"Look at the complete waste of time that is domestic science (aka cookery):"

Eh? *Everybody* /NEEDS/ to eat, without eating you die. Not everybody /needs/ to be able to code.

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J.G.Harston
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Re: Making "coding" a priority is a big mistake...

"Don't worry about languages falling out of favour. Thinking about how to programming is a skill that transfers between them."

Tell that to the recruiters. If you're not currently right now being paid to program using whatever today's language de jour is, you're immediately binned.

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