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* Posts by deshepherd

209 posts • joined 11 Jun 2009

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Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade

deshepherd

Re: firefox ESR updated too

Hadn't heard of ESR before so looked it up. Seems like they are about to switch the ESR base version from v24 to v31 so when main version gets to v33 the ESR version will switch to the new UI ... prepare to be assimilated!

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Google wearables: A solution looking for a rich nerd

deshepherd

Re: What's the big deal with charging every day?

Is charging every day really a deal breaker?

Depends how its done ... if you have to flick a rubber cover off a microUSB port and then plug in a connector (having remembered which way up to do it) etc then its a bit of a pain. If its just a matter of putting the device down on a wireless recharging pad overnight then its not. I've had a Nexus 5 since a few weeks after launch and I bought a Qi charging pad very quickly - sits by my bed and stick N5 on it each night and the full charge in the morning lasts me all the next day. I'm sure for a watch it will be simple to come up with a simple wireless charging device that you place the watch on every night. So in reality charging every day is probably not an issue - in reality if it last more than a day then its got to last almost indefinitely to avoid the unexpeted "out of power" events.

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BuzzGasm: 9 Incredible Things You Never Knew About PLIERS!

deshepherd

No mention of the "Giant flying pliers" that "menace West Bromwich" (hint, it's in the register)

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Why can’t I walk past Maplin without buying stuff I don’t need?

deshepherd

Re: Two way adapters

What- you don't get "I haven't touched it." Even if if you saw her with it?

I just get the oh-so-helpful "well, I haven't thrown it out so it will be in the house somewhere"

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deshepherd

There's a Simpsons quote for this

Homer: We'll search out every place a sick twisted solitary misfit might run to.

Lisa: I'll start with Radio Shack.

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Massive new AIRSHIP to enter commercial service at British dirigible base

deshepherd

Had an item about this on R4 Today program last week. The person reporting it tried to describe the shape and how and how it didn't look like an old style "zeppelin" airship - he then interviewed Bruce Dickinson and Bruce started off pointing out that the best way to describe the shape to "someone of my age is that its basically Thunderbird 2"!

Nb discovered a few years ago that I was at school with Bruce Dickinson ... I studied hard and now work in electronics ... he got expelled so I assume he never achieved much!

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Sandisk breaks 128GB barrier with new $199 MICROSD card

deshepherd

Re: Is it just me?

It is ever the case that the newest and biggest initially commands a premium price. There are those that just have to have it (or convince themselves that they do) and it is only after this market starts dying down that the price adjusts down to mass market levels.

Yes ... I bought a 16GB and then a 32GB uSD card at the point I felt they were "affordable" when they'd come down to the ~£30 mark since I felt I needed the extra space each time (alternatively since I couldn't be bothered to sort out what I could delete from my previous smaller uSD card!) but I did so knowing that a few months later that £30 uSD card would be ~£15 and some more months down the line it would be a £10 commodity item.

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Micro Men: The story of the syntax era

deshepherd

Re: Thank you, El Reg

PPS. Only criticism for me is the knowing lines in the script, eg.

Hermann Hauser: “We all want to go with the 6502 processor.”

Nick Toop: “Of course. It’s the only choice.”

Roger/Sophie Wilson: “For the moment...”

,,, well, they were looking at 68000 around that time as a "co-processor" hanging off the tube interface

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deshepherd

First the Corporation, then the Government: Kenneth Baker backs the Acorn BBC Micro

They did the "official launch" scene completely wrong as the demo software did a lot more than continuously print "hello, I am a BBC micro" ... I spent 6 months between Oxbridge exams and going to Oxford at Acorn and one thing I did was to hack together a series of programs into a demo loop - think I inadvertently irritated the BBC by adding an acorn logo to some of the displays! Also, to be fully accurate they could have shown that at the launch the "micro" was an empty box with a keyboard connected to a cable that went through the table to the wire wrap protoype board that was the only "BBC micro" in existence ... and even that wasn't complete as it relied on switching memory access between the "BBC micro" and an Acorn System 3 to load programs! They then started taking orders at this stage ... and as BBC demanded that inital production run was limited to something like 10k units with not further production until all those had been sold (BBC thought they might be left with loads of unsold stock) then the massive initial orders caused serious backlog issues (RaspberryPi managed to repeat the BBCmicro experience here!) so loads of disgruntled people kept phoning the phone number that had appeared on all the old Acorn publicity .... sadly all the sales/marketing/management people had moved to new offices leaving this phone in the room where I was - got very used to saying "you have to talk to the BBC - they are handling all the order we can't do anything about it"!

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Let Google's tentacles fondle your mobile's web downloads and Chrome will put the data on a diet

deshepherd

Re: <cough>Copycats</cough>

Opera Mini has been providing data-compressed web browsing since 2006.

Seem to recall there were services that provided compression (or at least claimed to) on internet connections way back in the modem days of the 90s

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Bloke hews plywood Raspberry Pi tablet

deshepherd

Re: "it needed to be sufficiently innocuous for in-flight use"

The highly skilled and extremely motivated folks at the TSA are all fully aware that *any* bomb has curly wires leading to the explosives and a red LED count-down display.

Along with, as we were informed by Sherlock, the all important off switch (which seemed to be a vital could not be omitted part of a bomb that is detonated by remote control but which curiously still had a 2 minute red LED countdown before exploding)

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You're fired: Lord Sugar offloads faded PC builder Viglen to XMA

deshepherd

Bought a floppy disk drive for my BBC micro in the early 80s (massive 100kB per floppy with read/write speeds zillions of times faster than cassette!) from Viglen ... saw an ad in PCW and went to their address to buy one - when I got there it was clear that at that stage Viglen were a plastic box manufacturing outfit who'd just discovered that if you cut rectangular holes in the front of plastic boxes and pushed a FDD into the gap then you get a vastly improved margin over the original plastic box!

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Ten classic electronic calculators from the 1970s and 1980s

deshepherd

Re: Casio CM-100 Programmer's Calculator

Had one of those .... solar power idea was great ... until I needed to work for a few days in the "layout office" which was a windowless room only lit by the glow from the (at that time) huge 20" monitors - clearly this was way before the "VDU working environment" directives!

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Mexican Cobalt-60 robbers are DEAD MEN, say authorities

deshepherd

Darius Jedburgh anyone?

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Bitcoin mining rig firm claims $3m revenue in just FOUR DAYS

deshepherd

Suddenly my 3 spare HP Proliants are looking quite attractive.

Probably not ... there was an article in Toms Hardware a few months back that went into the economies of bitcoin mining and the conclusion was that the days of making money using GPUs was well over. FPGAs at that stage were still viable but likely to become obsolete as the next generation of bitcoin ASIC mining rigs came out.

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The micro YOU used in school: The story of the Research Machines 380Z

deshepherd

To put this into perspective, the 380Z and 480Z ran WordStar, the early CP/M based word processor, in less than 48Kb memory

To put it more into perspective ... when we first used 380Z's the RM screen editor TXED was considered to be an insanely enourmous program because its image was something like 12kB!

However, even that was somewhat bloated ... there was an idea at school to start teaching pascal and there was a pascal system for 380Z (Transam Pascal I think) but its main blocking point was that to input programs you had to use an EDLIN style line editor which was horible. Somehow we found out the as far as the rest of the pascal system was concerned the "editor" was used a piece of code that sat in a 2kB block of the RAM which was called and edit test in another defined block of memory - so anything that was 2kB or less could be used as the editor if it was patched into the image. We suggested to RM that a cut down TXED with be great but they said that wasn't possible but after a bit of cajolling they handed us the source code and said we should do it ourselves if we thought it was possible ... so I got to take a 380Z home with me over the summer holidays along with the TXED source code (all Z80 assembler) and by a process of removing editor commands that weren't needed and eliminating all the now redundanty code I eventually managed to get a fully function screen editor that was slightly under 2kB in size!

Via school contacts I almost got to work for RM duing my post-Oxbridge/pre-University "year" (we did post-A level Oxbridge so you ended with Jan-Sep to fill before University started) but that coincided with the Small/Fischer falling out so the school contacts managed to get me an alternative at Acorn during the build up to the BBC micro launch

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Your kids' chances of becoming programmers? ZERO

deshepherd

Re: Sir

Oh my, that screenshot of the startrek game sent a shiver down my spine

When I was at school we had what I think was one of the first 6800 micros in the country in our electronics lab and there was great excitement when the code for StarTrek obtained (possibly from somewhere lik Dr Dobbs) ... only problem was it was such a massive program that it wouldn't fit in the 1kB RAM we had so there was a mad rush to get a 4kB memory expansion *card* put together ... which included some searching through TTL databooks to find ways of replicating the function of a couple of devices that weren't immediately to hand out of ones that were.

As for ASR-33's ... started off on those ... somehow I've always respect them as being a computer input device that could stand up for itself ... if you hit it in a fit of anger at a program not doing what you intend the it would cause far more damage to you than you woudl cause to it! Modern keyboards just don't fight back!

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PC addict RM finally quits its building habit, plans to axe 300 jobs

deshepherd

Re: Maybe they could learn something from the Raspberry Pi back-to-basics approach

480Z? Back to basics would be 280Z's with the 380Z luxury option reserved for those who wanted a floppy disk drive!

Anyway, I can see I'm now doomed to an afternoon of reminiscing to myself of the good old days when we programmed in assembler and 12kB program was massive!

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Price rises and power cuts by 2016? Thank the EU's energy policy

deshepherd

Re: A British thing?

Tony Blair signed Kyoto on our behalf.

Also, I think from subsequent reports when they signed up to the emission reduction targets they only considered electricity and signed up on basis that 20% electricity from renewables was "doable" and only afterwards realized they'd signed up to 20% of all energy from renewables and since in UK the vast majority of heating is gas where there is no option to switch to a "renewable" source then to meet targets we need to switch 50-60% of electricity to renewable sources.

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Brit boson boffin Higgs bags Nobel with eponymous deiton

deshepherd

While talking about "second nobel prizes", Peter Higgs is the second person from Cotham School in Bristol to have won the Nobel Prize for Physics ... Paul Dirac was the first.

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The Vulture 2: What paintjob should we put on our soaraway spaceplane?

deshepherd

British Rocket? Needs to have a blue streak somewhere!

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Bill Gates: Yes, Ctrl-Alt-Del salute was a MISTAKE

deshepherd

Re: "Oops. Did hitting that mess something up for you?"

And I would like to add that asking for a single dedicated "BORK YOUR COMPUTER" key on a computer keyboard may be the single stupidest thing I have ever heard a multizillionaire brag about.

Around the time MS-DOS was appearing there were computers with single key "resets" - e.g. the BBC Micro had the "Break" button which was "conveniently" sitting at the top right of the keyboard right next to keys that you would use in normal usage. This meant it was quite possible to press it by mistake .... think as a result a market developed for plastic covers which sat over the break key preventing it being pressed.

I always though that having to press 3 keys (and 3 keys that needed both hands on most keyboards) was an eminently sensible idea to make it clear you were really meaning to reset the PC. Later when C-A-D became the way to bring up the login menu in later versions of windows was probaly more problematic as (a) you wanted to login in - what else where you going to do at that point and (b) using a key combination that was (at least subconciously) associated with "help, my PC has gone wrong" with an action that said "I've just turned my PC on, lets get started" seemed counter intuitive.

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BlackBerry inks deal to go private for $4.7bn

deshepherd

Fairfax bids to buy Blackberry

That was the title in the article about this on Yahoo! I wonder if I was the person who intiially scanned this as "Filofax bids to buy Blackberry"!

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Hardbitten NYC cops: Sir, I'm gonna need you to, er, upgrade to iOS 7

deshepherd

Re: Somewhat pointless?

Since when did the Police bother to follow up on petty theft?

Well, it seems they do in the UK ... see this story

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18739151

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In pictures: El Reg hooks up with rain-lashed Spanish rocketeers

deshepherd
Thumb Up

Re: magnificent water contraption

Ah, brings back memories of Blue Peter, a Fairy liquid bottle, and a bicycle pump!

yes, they are also a scout camp staple

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Headmaster calls cops, tries to dash pupil's uni dreams - over a BLOG

deshepherd

Re: Twas ever thus

Vocational courses and apprenticeships are for people who are unable to enter University as they lack the required mental capacity.

Rubbish .... take a look at "higher apprenticeships" from engineering firms like Rolls-Royce etc which combine work based training with part-time study leading to degree qualifications. Plus many accountancy firms take on people after A-level and they effectively get the same accountancy training/qualifications as graduates without the need to spend 3 years at university accumulating debts.

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Give us a break: Next Android version to be called 'KitKat'

deshepherd

Re: The Nestle Kit-Kat Chocolate is far too sweet

I know someone who imports Cadbury's into North America and makes a pretty penny doing it.

Target started to sell Cadbury's Creme Eggs just before we returned to the UK in 2000 - recall buying several dozens of them

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deshepherd

Re: I would have been very surprised if either company had objected.

"In the US, however, KitKat is manufactured and sold by the Hershey Company"

I've lived in Silicon Valley for a few years and had the misfortune of buying a KitKat there and being unaware of the Hershey connection ... until I started to eat it and discovered it tasted DISGUSTING as it was covered in Hershey's "chocolate". In contrast when I had to fly to Vancouver to get my visa renewed (has to be done outside the US) it was a delight to find that they had KitKats there imported from the UK!

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Apple erects measures to stop app-happy kids splurging parents' dosh

deshepherd
Trollface

Re: Strange

How many young goats can actually afford an iThing in the first place?

Maybe they get them from trolls!

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Sergey Brin's 'test-tube burger' cooked, eaten, declared meat-like

deshepherd

Sounded fine to me ... until they mentioned use of beetroot to provide colour and I'm afraid for me that is a step too far out of the realms of edible food!

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Voyager 1 'close' to breaking through to DEEP SPACE - boffins

deshepherd

Re: It's all fun & games until

Or alternative Terry Gilliam style would be for it to hit an invisible barrier a la Time Bandits ("oh, that's what an invisble barriier looks like - I always wondered")

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deshepherd

Re: Are we close to losing radio contact

Once looked up about the error correcting methods they use to encode the signals and think they've changed the method once or twice as it got further away to take account of greate error rate. Anyway, when I did my maths degree *30* years ago I did a final year option on error-correcting codes and the lecturer even then said it was amazing that NASA were able to get signals from what amounted to a 60W light bulb somwhere near the outer planets ... even more amazing they are still in contact when it must be 4-5x further away!

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Report: Android malware up 614% as smartphone scams go industrial

deshepherd

Even Facebook's app wants to be able to dial the phone "stuff that costs you money". Why?

Probably to allow the app to start a call with someone direct from your facebook "friends list" - I don't use facebook but from what I read about it trying to import as many address books as it can see then it probably stores phone numbers and as they want you to stay in their app they are probably going to have a method to find someone in the contacts list in the app and call them rather than leaving the app an going to the android contacts or having to write the number down and dial it manually.

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Young blokes blinded by video-game addiction: THE FACTS

deshepherd

Re: @Menelaus-uk (was: Actually ...)

Nothing replaces actual track time. Absolutely nothing.

Jeremy Clarkson tried this on Top Gear a few years ago after all the reports of F1 drivers learning tracks from "simulators" (though I think the F1 team's simulators are a bit more sophisticated than video games) so he "learnt" a track from something like GT and then went to drive on it - and discovered how very different it was.

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deshepherd

Re: Actually ...

Why? Simple answer: There is no possibility of saving, and then restarting the game from where you left off in RealLife[tm]

I remember a VW advert when I was in the US in late 90s which promtoed both the "fun" and "safety" features of one of their model and had the tag line "because in real life there is no reset button"

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Thirty-five years ago today: Space Invaders conquer the Earth

deshepherd

Re: Doesn't time fly

I remember being intrigued by this when I saw a machine in the student common room at college

We had one in our school computer lab to show that computing wasn't just BASIC programs on 380Z's! Also, got the school model railway club to set up a layout using the then "state of the art" Hornby computer controlled system.

I was too mean to spend my meagre beer tokens on playing it though

Aha, someone discovered that it you rocked the whole machine from side to side at the right speed something would flip in the coin mechanism and you'd suddenly have 99 credits!

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It's a fiddle! Funnyman's Irish tax flashmob floods Apple flagship store

deshepherd

Re: $100Bn cash pile

The problem Apple have is that they've parked their cash in a location where no tax is paid - US considers it to be in Ireland so they won't tax it until it comes back into the US while Ireland consider it to be "stateless" so isn't taxed in Ireland. Basically to use the money Apple will need to pay the normal tax on it except they seem to be holding out for the US treasury to annouce a special amnesty to all US companies to repatriate overseas captial without having to pay (the full) tax .... probably wrapped up as a "helping US companies bring overseas money back to invest in US jobs" measure or something like that -- they did this once before so everyone like Apple etc is assuming they'll do it again. And in the meantime they can use the cash pile as collateral to raise enourmous money on bonds at low interest (because if necessary they could redeem all the bonds with the 70% of the Irish cash pile that would be left if they pulled it back to the US and paid tax)

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Tea, Earl Grey, hot! NASA blows $125k on Star Trek 3D FOOD PRINTER

deshepherd

Re: Primitive Food Replicator

Can see problems coming (or should that be brewing) when they send the UK astronaut to the ISS in a couple of years time and he asks for a cup of burnt leaves in hot water!

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Star Trek: The original computer game

deshepherd

Hex code? - thee were lucky!

When I was at school we had to enter the bootstrap loader for the PDP-8/e using the toggle switches on the front.

Don't worry, been there, done that (was a time at school when I knew the DG Nova bootstrap code from memory). And on a few occasions reinstalled RDOS starting with bootstrap load on swicthes followed by binary loader followed by several dozen boxes of fanfold tape and a chance to practice the skill of catching the tape coming through the tape reader (immensely high speed of 300bytes/sec!) so it re-fan-folded itself.

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deshepherd

Remember this well from school days ... must have had the BASIC version on the school's Data General mini computer (someone had the Dave Ahl 101 Basic Games book and I certainly spent many hours either dictating or type these into a teletype!) but also remember when someone published a version that would run on our new fangled 6800 micro system in the electronics lab. This needed to be typed in as hex code to get it into the system and being a humungeously large program it wouldn't fit in the 1kB RAM on the processor eurocard so was a big rush to build a 4kB memort expansion eurocard to add to it!

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Google adds Atari Easter Egg for Breakout's birthday

deshepherd

Re: Addiction broken

We had an Apple ][ in the school computer lab .... main machines were RM-380Z's. From recollection the only use for the Apple ][ was playing "little brickout" (and for serious gaming we had a space invaders machine!)

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Drone to deliver beer-as-a-service

deshepherd

Re: As a guy who once was paid good money to jump out of perfectly good airplanes ...

Air currents don't cooperate with pin-point accuracy. Even with a human at the controls.

Need to develop "smart cans" that can guide themselves to the target on descent then!

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M&S shoppers make quarter of a million NFC payments a WEEK

deshepherd

Re: M & S considered "posh" and "high end"?

Higher quality than WHAT, exactly? I've shopped at M&S in the UK, and at *-mart here in the US. They are pretty much identical, on a world stage.

I've shopped in US "chain supermarkets" and on the whole anything in the UK is higher quality for food (meat and especially chicken in particular). On clothing side I seem to think I considered M&S to probably above Sears level and approaching Macy's. I definitely not put them in the same level as Wallmart.

That said, M&S can be a bit delusional at time. Remember after returning to the UK read an article about how M&S had sent a team out to look at US supermarkets and there were gushing comments about the amazing standards and varieties available in the US store they had just visited .... however, they'd chosen to go to Draegers in Los Altos (chain of 2 stores in top-end Silicon valley settings ... so had $200 bottles of olive oil on the shelf etc when we occassionally visited) ... rather like someone from the US commenting on the food stores in the UK on the basis of visiting Fortnum and Masons!

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CLIMATE CHANGE forces women into PROSTITUTION - US politicians

deshepherd

Re: Gender sensitive framework

Think you'll find we already have somthing similar in the UK where councils have to consider the affects of various policies on different groups. A few months ago Bristol council launched proposals to roll out 20mph limits on residential streets citywide over the next 2 or 3 years ... I downloaded the paper that described the proposal to get more details and was "amused" to find that at the end there were a series of appendices which judged the impact of this proposal on women, gay and lesbian people, transgenedered people, black people and ethnic minorities - with the same conclusion in every case of no impact more than on the general population and effects were probably considered to be beneficial.

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Quid-a-day nosh challenge hack in bullet-hard chickpea drama

deshepherd

Re: University weeks...

Seem to recall our college hall could serve mince all week for lunch and call it something different depending on what it was served with

mince + mash on top == cottage pie

mince + spaghetti == spaghetti bolognese

mince + red kidney beans + rice == chillie con carne

mince + flat pasta + cheese == lasagna

mince + red peppter + rice == savoury mince

mince + potatoes == mince & potatoes

etc

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Google Now lands on iOS

deshepherd

Re: Linguistics

The Google test-to-voice system in navigation app on android regularily gives utterly weird pronunciations. On a recent trip in Bristol to pick up something from a ship I'd never been to before it was managing qiute happily with "Stapleton Road" until we got to Staple Hill - which it transformed into the much more interesting sounding "Stap Le Hill".

Anyway, its probably just American-ised pronunciatiation that produces Glow-sester-shire and War-sester-shire (though quite how they get Jag-war is beyond me!). Remember once being on a tube train in London where someone was trying to persuade a group of Americans that the station they wanted was really called Totnam Court Road and not Tote-en-ham Court Road!

Best American pronunication came when I was at a conference in Glasgow and went out with a group of other attendees for a meal one night and an American who'd been recommended the restaurant told use to drive along the road and turn right at "Soo-see-hal" ... took bit of time to realize he meant Socky-hall (or even Sauciehall) Street

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Ten ancestors of the netbook

deshepherd

Re: Zenith Minisport

Remember those ... seem to recall they were in the category of things that I saw in the Morgan Computers adverts at a price that seemed a bargain for what they were at the time (probably £199) but sadly at that time a bit above my "frivolous spending" level so never got one!

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Mosaic turns 20: Let's fire up the old girl, show her the web today

deshepherd

Must be almost 20 years since I started using the Web then! I was working using a system which had 3 or 4 large ring binders of documentation on all the commands when one day a message on the users email list (remember the days of email list and digests!) came from someone in a US university to say that he'd found this new program called Mosaic and he'd converted all the documentation into HTML so that by going to a web page on a server he'd set up at his university you could type in a command name and it would display the documentation for that command ... it seemed amazing that it was quicker to get info from a computer in Idaho than it was to pull a ring binder off the shelf above my desk!

Also, back in those days to help you navigate around the "web" the NCSA web site helpfully included a "new websites of the month" page ... later that became "new websites of the week" before disappearing. And true to rule on the development of new technologies one of the early sites list was from a Dutch University CS dept which among other contents proudly advertised that it considered it had the largest online collection of pr0n in Europe!

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Bogus gov online test tells people on dole they're just SO employable

deshepherd

Re: Have you put in the FOI request yet?

My older son did one of those Connexions tests ... think his answers gave the impression that he liked to tell people what to do as his suggested careers had Army Officer, Navy Officer, RAF Officer near the top of the list!

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