* Posts by Number6

1880 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Cheap virtual box hosters – Amazon's Lightsail is out to destroy you (yes, you, Digital Ocean)

Number6
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Re: What is the point ?

I find it useful because it's got a static IP address, I can use it for VPN services and as an endpoint for my mail server (which redirects to my home system via other means where the ISP blocks port 25). It's a convenient remote web host, too, and a useful launch point for when I want to poke my own system from the outside. I used to host my websites with a provider who gave me an ssh shell as part of the package. With the VPS I get the whole machine to do what I want and host as many websites and back-end databases as I want.

However, it does mean you're responsible for your own security, so a bit of care in setting it up is required.

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Jersey sore: Anchor rips into island's undersea cables, sinks net access

Number6
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The King Arthur

Was it captained by a J Arthur?

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Soon only Ticketmaster will rip you off: Concert scalper bots face US ban

Number6
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My solution is to avoid buying tickets through Ticket Master (or a tout). If that means I don't go then think of all the money I've saved. These people can only get away with what they do because the tickets get bought despite the gouging.

In the US you get companies trying it on offering the chance to pay on-line by credit or debit card but imposing a convenience fee of several dollars. I always wonder whose convenience they're thinking about, because to me, writing a cheque and putting it in an envelope is far cheaper and more convenient than paying the fee. I wonder which one costs them more to process?

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Renewed calls for Tesla to scrap Autopilot after number of crashes

Number6
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Darwin

Why does this remind me of the old Darwin Awards myth about the Winnebago and cruise control?

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Congrats America, you can now safely slag off who you like online

Number6
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I'm sure Trump will try to revoke it next year if enough people give him and his businesses bad reviews.

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Loyalty card? Really? Why data-slurping store cards need a reboot

Number6
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The best way to use loyalty cards is simply to take advantage of the offers. Not every store has everything we like so we have no brand loyalty as such, general groceries come from whichever one happens to be visited next for their few unique items.

As for using an app on the phone, given the way apps seem to try to grab as many permissions as possible, usually including your phone address book, I'd refuse to have the app on my phone (I am very picky about this sort of thing now) and would much prefer a separate card. In the US they will often key the data to your phone number - I have no problem with giving them the house phone number for that, can't spam it with texts and the answering machine deals with calls from unknown numbers (many of which then get blocked).

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BOFH: The Hypochondriac Boss and the non-random sample

Number6
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Re: "IT skillset of a potato"

There wouldn't be IT if it wasn't for chips. Which are made from potatoes.

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Reg man 0: Japanese electronic toilet 1

Number6
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Re: We have one

We bought a house that had one fitted (the pump recently failed, without which it won't even flush, $500 later...) There's a pressure sensor in the seat somewhere so that getting up seems to cut off all water spraying activity so it's clearly better behaved than some models.

It can be very useful the day after a really good curry.

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LAKE OF frozen WATER THE SIZE OF NEW MEXICO FOUND ON MARS – NASA

Number6
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I hope they are careful when filtering that water for human consumption, ask the Doctor what happens if they don't...

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Inside our three-month effort to attend Apple's iPhone 7 launch party

Number6
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More Entertaining

I find Kieran's trolling of the Apple PR team to be far more entertaining than any Apple news conference. Unless someone can come up with the equivalent of the Gates W98 BSOD of course, just to show that even the mighty can trip over their shoelaces occasionally.

Mind you, they get several tech points deducted for having their email software configured to send read receipts, one would have thought they'd be a bit more secure than that.

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Barnet Council: Outsourcing deal with Capita has 'performance issues'

Number6
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Re: It's Barnet council that has "performnace issues"

If you ask questions that can't be answered (it'd require someone to do work) you'll be regarded as an awkward bastard and the contract will go elsewhere.

This is where a lot of the problem lies, it needs someone to ask those questions and have them answered. Perhaps if someone actually had to do the work up-front then the magnitude of the screw-up would be significantly reduced.

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Number6
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Re: translation of strategy into delivery

By definition, what the customer wants is what it states in the contract. However, that may not be what the customer needs. This is why sometimes it's well worth paying for a study contract to properly define the requirements so that what's in the contract is closer to the actual needs.

There's still plenty of scope for an awesome fuck-up though.

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Number6
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Re: It's Barnet council that has "performnace issues"

Why is it only government customers of Crapita who see to think this is normal? Have Crapita ever successfully completed a project on time and to budget?

You're not looking at it like a consultant. Chances are they were given a spec full of holes and ambiguities and quoted a reasonable price and timescale based on that. Then someone on the government side says "Oops! We forgot this, please add it in" so the cost goes up to pay for the extra work, which of course takes longer.

There are two sides to any large IT cock-up and while Crapita get most of the blame, it's not entirely their fault - someone needs to point a finger at the government procurement people too. As a responsible consultant, you should be looking at the RFQ and highlighting areas where you think they may be deficient, and clarifying anything you think is ambiguous so that both sides agree what it means, all before providing the price and timescale quote. Of course, this takes up more of your time and probably results in a more expensive quote than the competitor who didn't do due diligence, but I'm sure if it was done properly the overall outcome would be cheaper, or at least generate less bad publicity.

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British banks chuck smartphone apps out of Windows

Number6
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I wouldn't touch WP even if I had a bargepole, but then I choose not to use my phone for banking anyway. That is preferably done on the home machine which is unlikely to be dropped out of my pocket or otherwise lost or stolen. There's always a tradeoff between security and convenience and for me the line in this case favours security.

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Microsoft just got its Linux Foundation platinum card, becomes top level member

Number6
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Re: Linux Desktops

Have you tried Windows 10? I put it on a VM here and after trying it out, only fire it up when I really have to. The Win7 VM gets way more use, and the Linux host way more than that.

The only thing stopping Linux from really making inroads is the poor support from providers of commercial software (and hardware - lack of decent drivers). If they produced Linux versions of their products then I suspect quite a few people would switch from Win7 to Linux once they'd experienced Win10.

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Post-outage King's College London orders staff to never make their own backups

Number6
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Re: Backup on 'New Technology'

I meant in addition to the regular backups. Most backup tapes get cycled through multiple erase/write operations, so something from a year ago might not exist in the current backup set, but an archive of what the system was like at regular intervals can be useful if something is deleted as 'not needed' but some months later it suddenly is required. Of course, with the penchant in the US to demand data dumps for litigation purposes, perhaps it's less desirable to maintain history if it might be incriminating.

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Number6
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Re: My company has axed all backups...

The way to demonstrate cloud storage as a bad idea is a common-mode JCB fault on the internet feed to the site. All of a sudden, none of it is accessible unless people have taken copies. If they're shared files, you then get the chaos as multiple people work on it and there's merge conflicts when they all try to sync back to the cloud when the fault is fixed.

How about the example where someone quit his job and, like a good ex-employee, wiped all of the company content from the Dropbox folder on his personal machine... Except he'd forgotten to disable the work account first so it deleted the cloud stuff too. Oops.

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Number6
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Re: Levels of backup

Yes, I'm thinking in the context of "proper backups are also being done". You'd be really unlucky if you managed to lose all your lab machines and the IT backup at the same time, although it could happen. I have been in the situation where the backup really is the only copy in existence and that's a bit nerve-wracking until it's fully restored.

In the days when my data would fit on a DAT tape, I kept one in a locked drawer at the office that got swapped out every couple of weeks and also had one at my parents' house (a couple of hundred miles away) that I swapped out when I went to visit. Not 100% coverage but better than losing it all. I managed that once, along with probably many readers here, and am doing my best not to do it again.

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Number6
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Levels of backup

I'm afraid if I worked there I'd be backing up my own data. It might just be sharing it between a couple of machines in the lab/office but I'd have more than one copy I could get my hands on without having to deal with the IT department. It also avoids embarrassment when you've accidentally deleted a file and would otherwise have to go ask them to restore it from the last backup (always a fun exercise, especially if it turns out they can't).

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Number6
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Re: Backup on 'New Technology'

In a place like that I would be using both. The purpose of the RAID array is to try to avoid any downtime due to hardware failures, the purpose of the tape is to provide an archive (chuck a tape set in the fire safe every so often) and a last-resort to recover as much of the data as possible should the RAID array go down irretrievably. I run a lot of my home stuff on a basic RAID1 system but I still rsync important stuff to a separate drive on another machine every night. I'd like to be able to afford a tape backup to go with it, but that's too much £££ to get a useful capacity now for home use so I rely on multiple hard drives on different machines. In the days of DAT tape capacities being bigger than hard drives I had a very good backup scheme that even managed a successful restore a couple of times after hard drive failures.

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McDonald's sues Italian city for $20m after being burger-blocked

Number6
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Re: I don't get it!

In the same way that there are certain types of Brit who, on arriving in a foreign city, will immediately search out a fish & chip shop and an "English", or at least "Irish" pub...

I wouldn't say "immediately", but if I'm in the area for several days, it's always interesting to see what the locals think fish and chips should be, and whether they manage to capture the pub atmosphere. That in itself is instructive, we're there looking at them, it gives some insight into what they think of us.

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No spin zone: Samsung recalls 3M EXPLODING washing machines

Number6
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Devil

In Other News

Samsung sales to the Middle East have picked up recently.

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Run a JSON file through multiple parsers and you'll get different results every time

Number6
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Happy

Re: not parse JSON documents that I hadn't created myself

... a single JSON document gets parsed by two different engines. For example the JSON parses correctly in the bank's deposit-into-my-current-account function, but throws an exception in the corresponding deduct-from-my-savings-account function

Can I have a copy of that document please? I might have a use for it...

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Smart Meter rollout delayed again. Cost us £11bn, eh?

Number6
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Not Late Yet

The text suggests that BEIS said it would be ready by the end of September, but did they say which September?

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Boffins predict web scams with domain registration data

Number6
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Depending on what sort of hosting service you are, you might be able to aggregate a bunch of new customers into such a thing, where you charge them the 'standard' rate for their individual domains but make a profit because you're being charged the discount rate.

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Number6
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We need something similar to the RBL lookups used for IP addresses. Something that would tell you how long a domain has been registered, even if it's just <30, <60, <90, <180, <365 or older, so that when my scanner looks through an email, it can quickly and easily do a lookup and score shiny new domains accordingly. Doing a whois on all domains and parsing for the creation date is not trivial and probably violates the terms of service of the whois providers, given the volume of lookups.

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Today the web was broken by countless hacked devices – your 60-second summary

Number6
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What would help is for ISPs to cooperate and shut down customers who are clearly participating in the attack. Route 'harmless' http requests to a default web page explaining why they've been taken offline and what to do about it.

I know such a feature could be abused, but I'm sure there would be a way round that with checks and balances and a proper procedure (yeah, right...)

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Donald Trump running insecure email servers

Number6
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Re: Thar she blows!

He's much more of a mundane Republican than he's made out to be.

In which case he needs to fire his entire PR team because they have failed to get that image across.

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Red Hat eye from the Ubuntu guy: Fedora – how you doin'?

Number6
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I used to use Fedora, but then got fed up of having to upgrade a bunch of machines at regular intervals, back in the day when an in-place upgrade wasn't advised. Then I discovered Mint and switched to that instead of installing the latest Fedora. Now I stick to the LTS versions, currently a mix of Mint 13 and 17. It took a bit of getting used to the slightly different way of configuring stuff, the files aren't in the same directories, but it was useful because now I can cope with either. I'm not a fan of Mate and Cinnamon, it's either KDE or LXDE/XFCE depending on the grunt rating of the machine in question.

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Number6
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Re: Why oh why would you use Ubuntu

unfornately it's decided to upgrade itself without warning and informs me not to power off.

When that happens to me, I accidentally lean on the power button for too long and it stops the upgrade somewhat abruptly. Probably not recommended, but I've gotten away with it so far.

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US reactor breaks fusion record – then runs out of cash and shuts down

Number6
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Joke

Good job they managed to shut it down before the money ran out, otherwise it would still be running.

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BOFH: The Idiot-ware Project and the Meaningless Acronym

Number6
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No, I think he left them together in the box with the drum of calcium chloride.

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Google 'screwed over' its non-millennials – now they can all fight back

Number6
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The balance is being steadily redressed (I see quite a few younger female engineers now), but in the group of engineers with lots of visible grey hair, women are still a small minority.

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Number6
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You need at least one grey-haired engineer on the staff, it's cheaper than gaining the equivalent experience by making the same mistakes he did when he was your age. He might not have all the answers, but you can be sure he knows a lot of the right questions to ask.

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Citizens don't trust UK.GOV with their data

Number6
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Re: Freedom

Isn't that the difference between external control and self-control?

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Psst. Need some spy-on-employees tech? Ask Oriium

Number6
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Re: The usual "credit card" string

No idea how well the security measures work against it, but the VM with the VPN works quite nicely. It also helps that if you want to go browsing patents or competition websites, it's not immediately obviously your employer's IP address, which can be enough to trigger a lawsuit if they've got a trigger-happy lawyer in need of a new yacht.

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Number6
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Before installing any employer-related app on my phone I read the Ts&Cs. The Outlook app requires permission to do a factory wipe on the phone, and even though I was assured by the employer at the time that they'd never do that, I refused to install it on my personal phone. OK, I lose some functionality (although it turned out that I could have IMAP access to my email without any strings) but if it's important then they can provide the phone.

My device, my rules. If you want your rules then supply the device.

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My Nest smoke alarm was great … right up to the point it went nuts

Number6
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I've had the 3am awakening with no prior low-battery chirps. It is not fun to be dragged out of deep sleep to the sound of a frantic smoke alarm.

Does your house get cold at night? My theory at the time was that the battery was getting old, but not enough to initiate the sporadic chirp at comfortable room temperature, then the temperature dropped overnight because I'd set the thermostat to be really low while I was asleep, and as the temperature went down, so did the battery volts.

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Source code unleashed for junk-blasting Internet of Things botnet

Number6
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Re: Routers anyone?

That's one of the first things I disable whatever the product. Anything wants a special accommodation on my network, it can ask nicely. Or just refuse to work and I'll figure out what needs to be done and decide whether I'm going to allow it.

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Blighty's telly, radio watchdog Ofcom does a swear

Number6
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Re: Bah!

I tend to agree, use of swear words in sketches rarely improves them. I think people laugh out of embarrassment. Look at comedians such as Les Dawson, capable of being offensively funny without actually saying anything, just leading the audience along and letting them complete it in their own minds.

Then there was the Two Ronnies: "Your nuts, milord, your sweet, milady" and all of that, leaving the audience to insert apostrophes where appropriate.

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Number6
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I just sent the link to my teenage son and recommended he read it thoroughly. That should put him off ever clicking on the link.

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Samsung: And for my next trick – exploding WASHING MACHINES

Number6
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Is it controlled by an old MC6800 CPU? that even had an opcode for HCF.

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US govt pleads: What's it gonna take to get you people using IPv6?

Number6
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You lot are hopeless. Clearly IPv42 is the ultimate answer to the internet.

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Number6
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Re: Article needs puppy dog face

That's where the UK scores, I guess. The US seems to have a near-monopoly situation, whereas the UK government did at least force BT to sell access to others so they could provide alternatives. However, BT's original network was built with public money, I'm assuming that wasn't the case in the US so the government has less moral right to force things. Although with the recent TW-Comcast merger talks, perhaps they could have allowed it but required some degree of unbundling so you could have a pipe from your cable company to your ISP of choice with a different mix of value-added services.

Comcast does IPv6 (possibly not everywhere), although they occasionally change the assigned /64 prefix which is irritating, and yes, they're expensive. While it works it's generally OK though, but that's true of any large organisation, things only get bad when you have to interact with their customer service department after something's gone wrong.

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Number6
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Re: we are forced to have ipv6 internally so we have it 'on'

Surely the default firewall just doesn't pass anything initiating from the outside, so the basic IPv6 router is roughly equivalent to the NAT router with no port forwarding.

Then you allow specific IP/port combos through, with the advantage that if you want two web servers on different devices(for example), they can both use port 80 without conflict bceause they'll have different IPv6 addresses.

I have two Linux boxes on the network here. I've given them fixed IPv6 addresses from the private address space (FD00) so they can talk even when IT or the DHCP server decides to do something silly with the IPv4 space.

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Number6
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Re: Article needs puppy dog face

I think there are some home routers that understand IPv6. If not, there's always OpenWRT, which is fairly easy to install (and should default to 'safe')

As for the ISP, I deliberately switched to one that did support IPv6 - perhaps if people started voting with their routers (see above) then more ISPs would need to take it seriously.

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Number6
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Re: the Register ... no IPv6

I was wondering the same thing. I'd be asking the BBC some questions too. And the UK government.

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That's cold: This is how our boss told us our jobs are at risk, staffers claim

Number6
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Re: When it comes to cold goodbyes...

It happens in the US. I was once in the lab talking to a couple of people. The manager of one of them came in and asked if he could have a few words and the two of them walked out. I said in jest to the other chap, "Do you think we'll see him again?" Well, I did, but he was on his way out carrying his box of personal belongings. Several others made the walk that day and it took me several more days to realise that the guy sitting in reception all day was a security guard hired for the week just in case there was a problem. My UK colleagues (who'd been given the consultation period spiel) thought this was somewhat funny. I guess attitudes (and the availability of guns) is a bit different.

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Turing, Hauser, Sinclair – haunt computing's Cambridge A-team stamping ground

Number6
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Re: Don't forget the bikes

Watch out because whether a road is two-way for bikes or not, expect to see bikes travelling in both directions. Also don't assume that all bikes stop at red lights, not even pedestrian crossings.

(Note to the cycling lobby - I once almost got mown down by a van going the wrong way on a one-way street, but that wasn't in Cambridge.)

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Dutch bicycle company pretends to be television company

Number6
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Ditch bicycle company

Interesting typo there. Opposite of a mountain bike?

For airline transport it works the other way - when shipping a bike to the US (for free, thanks Virgin Atlantic) I bought a transparent bike bag for it. The theory is that if it's clearly a bike the baggage handlers will treat it a bit better than if it's an anonymous cardboard box. It worked for me, the bike arrived at San Francisco intact. I did discover that if you put it crosswise on a baggage cart then it won't go through the customs channel, nor the exit door from the international terminal.

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