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* Posts by deshepherd

212 posts • joined 11 Jun 2009

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Virgin Media finally turns an annual profit

deshepherd

TiVo users

Its actually 273,000 *new* TiVo users last quarter with total up at 432,000 (12% of all their TV subscribers) .... I checked this in the VM press release when I saw different figures from yours in the Guardian

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Doctors sick of anonymous-coward NHS feedback commentards

deshepherd

Item on the R5 business program last night was talking about "reputation management". One of the contributers said that businesses always had to treat negative comments more seriously than positive ones since the rule when he started 20-30 years ago was that a happy customer told 2 or 3 people about theie good experience while an unhappy customer told around 10 - but the change was now via the internet an unhappy customer now tells thousands.

As for saying "My doctor was wonderful, listened to me, and was very helpful" - that's what I said a few years ago to someone I know who's a GP when I was impressed that having gone in to get a prescription of hay fever treatement the doctor I'd seen had had a short chat with me about my general health, what exercise I did and then checked my blook pressure ... however this positive illusion was quickly dispersed when the GP I knew explained "that's just because he would have needed to do that to meet a target for the practice bonus"

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Update Facebook by thrusting your hips to, er ... 'Like' things

deshepherd
Coat

"is that an NFC buckle on your belt ... our do you just like me?"

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IPTV UK: what's on tonight?

deshepherd

Re: IPTV, the downside

Yes ... advertisers guessing what you are interested in from past history can be very irritating ... after buying a birthday present for a friends young daught I had months of emails from Amazon telling me "as someone who's bought Sylvanian Families in the past you may be interested in ..." - eventually I investigated and found out how you can click on a link to tell Amazon to ignore the history that is leading to this.

Then recently having upgraded my phone to something that can display flash adverts and not having AdBlockPlus available in default browser (hmm maybe time to switch!) I'm seeing ads ... was quite interesting to realize after researching electric guitars for son's Christmas present that I was suddenly getting ads for the shop I'd bought it from all over the place .... but now, as a result of looking for info on how to fix a leaking toilet, I'm being bombarded with ads for flush mechanisms!

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Formula 1 revs engines through Virgin Media

deshepherd
FAIL

No deal

Just had a look and from what I can see on the VM website then to get SkySportsF1 I'll need to buy the SkySports1+2+3+4 package @ £22.50/month ... or £29.50/month if I want the HD version. So that will be a no then!

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Virgin Media takes itself in hand after punter-package tickle whoopsie

deshepherd

30MB is the same price level as 20Mb ... in fact 20Mb is "obsolete" and only exists for people (like me) who were at the 20Mb and declined to have a "free" update to 30Mb which (still) requires "buying" a superhub (originally for £75 but now, I think, just £30 "activation"). As you were upgrading from 10Mb then you jump direct to the 30Mb level and get a free superhub as part of the upgrade. Its the usual Telewest/VM story of new/upgrade users getting something that long standing existing users cannot get. At least it appears with the 20/30Mbs->60Mbs I'll get a free superhub as I assume they are wanting to free up all the bandwidth allocated to DOCSIS2.

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deshepherd

I got it twice as well ... but check the email "To:" addresses ... one set was direct to my "blueyonder.co.uk" address and the second to the email contact address I set up on my account which use my own domain name but is forwarded into my "blueyonder.co.uk" address. Hence they sent it to two distinct addresses which happen to end up in the same mail box.

N.b. like someone else I spotted the "as you are already on the fastest package" line in the erroneous mailing I too immediately assumed they'd made a simple error. I also got at almost the same time another email saying that my current 20Mbs service would be increasing to 60Mbs.

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deshepherd

"So the upgrade to 60Mbs will apply when, 1) they've upgraded your line and 2) you've upgraded to the DOCSIS 3 superhub."

From what I read of the offer then they'll upgrade you to the superhub for free as part of this change. I've never moved up to 30Mb from 20Mbs as initially, I think, you needed to pay something like £75 for the superhub .... I think that's come down to £30 "activation" fee now. Plus, the initial reports of the Superhub were not particularily positive and it originally could not be used purely as a modem so I gave it a pass as I've already got my router/firewall etc set up and just want a modem feed into it. Since then I gather you can now configure the superhub to act just as a modem so that will suit me fine when they come to upgrade me.

N.b. another reason not to upgrade originally was it seemed obvious at some point VM would want to turn off the DOCSIS2 and switch everyone to DOCSIS3 so looked inevitable that at somepoint they'd have to do free upgrades and, to be honest, 20Mb seems perfectly adequate for our needs so allure of 30Mbs wasn't great

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Amazon welcomes Microsoft files into Kindle cloud

deshepherd

Why to the cloud ... because (unless you tell Amazon otherwise via the "manage my kindle" web pages) all PDFs that you email to your kindle are now stored by Amazon in your account. Perhaps useful if you want to be able to access the files from a Kindle app on your phone as well as on your kindle but also, I'd assume, a reason that corporate IT depts will be rapidly working out how to roll out a path to disable this feature on all their PCs. N.b. going via "the cloud" rather than via USB does have definite advantages that you don't need to have the device connected directly to the PC to send the data (or even turned on at the right moment)

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Top techs preview CES 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017...

deshepherd

"Jet Packs, Hover Boards, Skyways, and robot butlers of course! (for the consumer, not just proof of concepts)"

But this conference was only predicting out to CES 2018 ... as anyone from the "Tommow's World" generation knows the items mentioned above will all be available in "about 10 yeas time"

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Neighbours not Liking Facebook's new campus

deshepherd

I knew someone who used to work for Sun and was based there .... and the best thing he said was when he was allowed to "hot desk" at another Sun office closer to his home instead of having to go into his "proper" office (after all, the network is the computer, or was that vice versa).

I assume it a case of wanting a big building on the bay shore line so that they can be just like Google.

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E-book reader sales to boom as prices plunge

deshepherd
Stop

Re: $79 / £89 for the Kindle?

The $79/£89 comparison is not really valid since the $79 US version is the version that displays ads and special offers on the screen savers etc ... the version which doesn't (and thus is equivalent to the UK version) is $109 - which is £70 at todays exchange rate ... add on 20% VAT and you get £84 so then its pretty close to the UK price.

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Regulator reckons telly advert caps are just peachy

deshepherd

Re: That little? Seems like more

Probably does seem like more since the 15-30secs at either end of the ad break where there's a "sponsors message" (e.g. sport on ITV brought to you by KIA, Home and garden brought to you by B&Q etc) don't count towards the advert quota. That said ... the new VM TIVo has a "skip forward 30secs" and you can keep pressing to increase the skip in 30sec increments - I find that Ch4 breaks are invariably 4 mins (8 skip button presses) long and with 4 breaks per hout that seems like 16mins to me!

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2011's Best... DVRs and Media Streamers

deshepherd

TiVo catchup services

VM have just rolled out a software update to the TiVo and one of the changes is that there is a better integration between iPlayer and the backwards EPG ... you can now select a BBC program from the backwards EPG and it takes you direct to that programs iPlayer page and with another button press you can start playing it. I think they couldn't do the more intuitive method of starting to play when you select from the backwards EPG since the BBC insist that everything is (seen to be) done through iPlayer thus effectively offering a link direct to the releavant iPlayer "page" is the best they can do.

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Huge PDP-11 in a lorry: How I drove computers into schools

deshepherd
Happy

Re: Oh wow, nostalgia ...

Well, I remember around that time (late 70s) as a sixth former being able to bootstrap a Data General Nova from front panel switches then install its OS to disk (a single platter 12 or 15" solid disk that probably had capacity measured in kBs) from dozens of trays of fanfold paper tape!

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Voyager 2 finally agrees to a long hard thrust

deshepherd

Wow indeed

Almost 30 years ago I did a course on Error Correcting Codes as part of my Maths degree and sure I recall the lecturer talking about communications with the Voyager probes (which were then in between Saturn and Uranus) as being an example of how communications were being pushed to their limits - a tranmission of less power than a dim light bulb from millions of miles away.... and to think they are still in contact when Voyage is ~4x further away is amazing!

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A pint a day keeps the doctor away - scientific FACT

deshepherd
Pint

English pint

An "English Pint" is a weird hybrid measure as it is 20 US fl oz's ... thus is marginally larger than a Imperial Pint! (as 1 US fl oz is marginally bigger than 1 Imperial fl oz)

At least its not as bad as the "ye olde englishe pubbe" style of American drinking establishment that maintain that the true english measure for ale is the yard!

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UK.gov threatens to 'pull plug' on smart meter rollout

deshepherd

@Herby

But assuming PG&E have not changed in the 12 years since I was in California then before "smart meters" you would have had accurate bills because they come round to read your meter *EVERY* month (seemed to be no concept of an "estimated" bill) .... side effect of this was in the house we rent was that we had to leave the side gate to the house unlocked at all times to ensure PG&E had access to the meters ... fortunately this didn't matter as in Cupertino crime seemed non-existant (well, apart from one armed robbery at the bank at the end of our road!)

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Amazon Kindle 4

deshepherd

Re: Poor product design?

Haven't used the K4 so can't tell how different the page turn buttons are ... on the K3 they are very easy to use ... but this also means I quite frequently press them by mistake!

Loss of keyboard is no big deal for me - I think I'd see it as an improvement. The number of times I use the keyboard on my K3 is minimal - and if I am using it I tend to need the symbols as well which is a on screen select by arrow keys affair and in any case the keyboard isn't suitable for any serious typing.

Not getting an AC adapter - hmm, my Kindle charger is now my micro-USB charger of choice as its (a) very small (basically a 13amp plug with a USB socket) and (b) is a different colour (white) from all the other chargers I need to take anywhere so its easy to find in the "charger bag"!

That said, there's no need to "upgrade" from my K3 to a K4 ... but if the Kfire arrives, that might be different.

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Orange and T-Mobile join hands with 3G coverage

deshepherd

Data as well?

Lets hope that they fix the current "glitch" in 2G sharing where if you roam onto an Orange signal from TMobile (probably vice versa as well I'd assume) then everything is ok for voice and text but to use the signal for data then in Android you have to enable "international data roaming" (there is a "national data roaming" option as well but you have to enable the international one for it to work).

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Android malware under blog control says Trend Micro

deshepherd

Problem is that some seemingly "safe" apps ask for the same wide permissions ... I'm fairly sure that Google Tracks or Maps asks for similar - I was certainly surprised that one of the Google apps was asking for permission to make calls but its possible that that may be to enable you to find a location (e.g. a restaurant) on a map and phone it directly. As a result its sometimes difficult to work out why an app is requesting certain permissions.

Possibly a solution would be to require apps to state the reasons why they need each of the permissions which you could browse before deciding to accept/decline the install ... clearly this is not 100% foolproof but migh give some guidance.

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Amazon to whup Apple rivals when Kindle Fire hits UK

deshepherd

What I think the implication is that the "tipping" point in the UK for people to buy a tablet is £250, however if Amazon maintain the same price point for the Fire relative to the iPad then that yields a UK price of around £130 ... also using price ratio from e-ink kindles to fire in the US yields price of around £150/160. I.e looks likely that Kindle Fire will launch at well below the price people seriously consider buying a tablet so sales could be huge.

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Amazon intros $199 movie Kindle

deshepherd

Of course, Amazon may be ruling out Oxford students and graduates from their customer base since to get a Bodlean library card we have to swear an oath in which we undertake not "kindle flame or fire"!

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deshepherd

Entry level

Never mind if £89 = $79 or $109, I like the look of the new entry level Kindle as a pure ebook. I've got the current v3 Kindle and the keyboard is just an annoyance ... takes up space that you use perhaps once every week or two ... and even when you do since it has no numbers or symbols you still end up using arrow keys to find the symbol you need on a pop-up menu. That said, I'm definitely looking forward to seeing the Fire arrive in the UK, hopefully at a "sensible" price ... given $->£ conversion on the current 3G Kindle then I'd assume something around £150-160 seems to be what to expect.

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Oz Territory terrorized by MUTANT CANE TOADS!

deshepherd
WTF?

Sure thius isn't just product placement for

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1568924/

??

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Missing moon rock found among Clinton's knickknacks

deshepherd

When I was at school 30-ish years ago we had a visit from one of the Astronauts who'd been to the moon who gave a lecture about his experiences. In questions afterwards someone asked him if he'd brought any moon rock as a souvenier for himself and he said no that hadn't been allowed and in any case "moon rock just looks like rock ... I show you a piece of rock I said I brought from the moon but you couldn't tell whether that was true or whether I'd just picked it up out of my garden as it would look the same"

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F1 2011

deshepherd

Kick-ins

"Imagine if FIFA suddenly deemed that football’s throw-ins were to become kick-ins"

They actually did ... well, they thought it might improve the game and ran a trial for a season in 2 or 3 different leagues - think the "Conference" (i.e. whats now the BlueSquare Premiership) was one of the leagues that ran the trial. Result wasn't what they expected - think they thought kick in would result in quick short passes to bring ball back into play but instead, I assume, resulted in large numbers of throw-ins turning into slightly different versions of corners with long flighted crosses and lots of delay and barging around in the penalty area before it was taken. So the result of the trial was that the idea was dropped.

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Why do these traders get billions to play with, unchecked?

deshepherd

Back office to front office

"if you came to trading from the back office, where those systems exist and are devised, you may well know how to beat those systems. As Leeson did."

Think the same applies to the current case and the one in France last year as well ... person responsible for the fraud had moved from back office to front office and thus probably understood what would and would not be spotted by the back office checks

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deshepherd

There was an item on the R5 "wake up to money" program last week (n.b. I listen to the podcast - I'm not awake at that time of day!) about a company that was laying a new dedicated cable across the atlantic for a finance company ... by having their own direct transatlantic connection they reckoned that they'd get data between NY and London 10ms faster than at present and that for every ms gained they thought they'd get a return of something like $100million. So speed definitely is important!

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Google reveals 'leap smear' NTP technique

deshepherd
WTF?

So basically sounds like they use the unix adjtime command

int adjtime(const struct timeval *delta, struct timeval *olddelta);

Description

The adjtime() function gradually adjusts the system clock (as returned by gettimeofday()). The amount of time by which the clock is to be adjusted is specified in the structure pointed to by delta.

Only potential "novelty" seems to be from the description that rather than starting to adjust the time from the point where adjtime is executed they instead specify an future time point at which the adjustment is to be completed.

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Schoolkids learn coding at GCSE level in curriculum trial

deshepherd

@Aboute bleeding time

>Back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, it was part of the O-level.

>Bloody stupid it was ever stopped.

Quite agree ... bloody stupid that they stopped O-levels

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Bike Hub

deshepherd
Thumb Down

@The CycleStreets web site

Not such a good result for me ... its suggestion for the "quiet" route home for me goes via the Cribbs Causeway shopping centre and associated M5 junction! Admittedly the route is still described as "quite busy" whereas the route which mostly follows the route I take down the A38 is described as "very hostile"! Especially strange as the "quiet" route takes you down a section of 50mph dual carriage way while the "very hostile" A38 is 40mph with a bike lane!

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Defendant presents Playmobil rendering of court in court

deshepherd

@Recursive modelling

Same at Bourton-on-the-water. There's a model of the the village, and in that there's a model of the model village which in turn contains a model of the modle of the model village ... again they give up after 3 levels of recursion(plus last one isn't particularily accurate!)

Though, of more interest to my then 4-ish year-old son when we went there was the motor museum around the corner which is the home of "Brum"

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Virgin Media finally offers network options on SuperHub

deshepherd

Having lived for a few years in California and then back in the UK struggled to get wifi to work in an old Victorian house I've always taken the view that the people who design wifi hardware think all houses are like the (admitedly good for earthquakes) houses in Silcon Valley which are basically a single story wood frame divided up by plasterboard walls... so issues over penetrating brick/stone walls ceilings, floors etc had never occurred to them.

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ISS 'naut shoots first ever 3D footage in space

deshepherd
Meh

Not the first 3D film in space

definitely saw an IMAX-3D film about the space station probably 7 or 8 years ago so its not the first 3D film in space

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0290296/

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UCAS website collapses - on results day

deshepherd

4x load?

Well, there's someone bleating on the Guardian forums that they can't get through even though they've had all 4 members of their family on different computers trying to connect all morning!

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Hobbyist killed by home-made hovercraft

deshepherd

its a hovercraft

If you go to the original NZ articles then it seems clear it is a hovercraft ... mentions of him test hovering it at home, comments on building hovercraft kits from person from NZ hovercraft club. Also the article suggests that the accident was caused by a failure on the bolts that held the frame containing the propulsion fan to the body of the hovercraft ... assume if this happend when fan was running then the frame would have moved forward at speed (propelled by the fan) hitting the unfortunate pilot standing/sitting in front - probably was killed by the frame etc hitting him rather than the fan itself.

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RFID drives the self-service pub

deshepherd
Pint

Pints

> Imperial Pint = 20 Imperial Fluid Ounces.

> US Pint = 16 US Fluid Ounces.

And then there's the additional measure found in US bars (especially those frequented by ex-pats): "English pint" = 20 US Fluid Ounces

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Pick a winner: The Sarah Hunter Google competition

deshepherd

WOM datasheet

Have a look at

http://www.national.com/rap/files/datasheet.pdf

and the background in

http://www.national.com/rap/Story/WOMorigin.html

... and yes, it did really appear in their published catalog

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Boffins brew up formula for consummate cuppa

deshepherd

Milk?

"I'd leave out the milk"

Yes but the hint is in "research - funded by dairy Cravendale Milk" .... missing out the milk would get the same reaction as I had couple weeks ago at the Bath&West show when I asked for a black coffee at what I hadn't realized was the Jersey GoldTop drinks bar!

"One thing they did get right, at least is the need for English tea to be brewed with boiling water,"#

As opposed to a cafe in Portugal which responded to my wife's request for "tea with milk" (in our best approximation of portugese) which arrived as a tea bag floating in a cup of hot milk!

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Virgin Media TV Powered by TiVo

deshepherd

Great with a few niggles

I was a long time TiVo user and also already on VM XL TV so as far as I'm concerned the VM-TiVo is well worth the £149 install (intro deal for existing TiVo owners) and £3/month. From my perspective its very similar to the old TiVo in usage and as it has its own tuners there's no longer the issue of an IR blaster in front of the STB to do the channel changes which seemed to have a ~5% failure rate!

Couple of niggles which I hope will get sorted out in upfates

- would be really helpful to have a "global padding" option so that the default recording options could be "start 1 minute early, end 3 minutes late" to cope with the vagueries of BBC schedulung where early start/overrun is often "intentional".

- parental control system is, I think, designed for the US situation where broadcasters are, I believe, legally required to provide age ratings for everything so in the UK when it probably gets no age ratings it falls back to a default "after 10pm could be rated 18 so assume that it is" setting.

Anyway, should succeed in the UK this time ... TiVo haven't made the mistake this time of partnering with a company that's about to bring out a competitor (the original TiVo was marketted by Sky and came out about 6 months before Sky introduced Sky+)

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My Tracks travel tracker

deshepherd

Great app

I've used this on an occasional basis for most of the year or so I've had and android phone. Most amusing use was when I recorded a track when we did the hedge maze at Longleat .... looked at the track when we reached the centre to find quite how lost we'd been trying to get there ... seem to have managed to cover most of the area of the maze while searching!

I've been slightly suspicious of the distance it records when walking at times .... especially as (doubtless due to GPS inaccuracies) often see a very zig-zag track when walking in straightline down a road but other than its great.

Only caveat is that when you install you have to agree to a huge list of things to allow (including, IIRC, the ability to make phone calls - why?) ... I suspect that many of these may be for features I'll never use and I suppose its from a "reputable source"!

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Alpha.gov.uk – it's nearly a beta

deshepherd

Mission statement

Given the way Government departments, Local Government areas etc all now seem to have to attach some pseudo-babble "mission statement"/"corporate branding" to their name (my favourite from a few years ago was "Mid Beds District Council - striving for unitary status") then a first glance at this website might seem to reveal the new UK Government branding of

"UK.gov - there may be errors, inconsistencies and inaccuracies"

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Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars

deshepherd

2-player mode

My 11-yr-old son has the PS3 version and he and his 15-yr-old brother have been playing it in two player mode ... I think there's a major upgrade here in that unlike the previous versions where the two characters could not move off the same screen (or, worse, one character could cause screen to scroll and other character would get pushed in same direction by opposite screen edge and as a result fall off a ledge - cue major inter-sibbling squabble) now it seems to cope with split screen + its a dynamic split screen which can rotate from left/right through above/below to right/left as the two characters move there relative posiitons around - looked quite clever the way it worked + the way the split moves was also very reminiscent of the scene cuts in the original SW films!

N.b. I suspect that if (like my son) you've seen every episode of SW:TCW several times then the game may make a lot more sense!

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Osborne urged to end islands VAT-holiday by small-biz group

deshepherd

@Tim Worstal

Was about to say the same myself!

However, tjhere is, I gather, another provision which allows a country to apply to the EU abolish this relief for specific types of goods from a specific location if it can be shown that goods being routed this way are distorting the market ... apparently Denmark have already invoked this provision in the past to close a VAT loophole where magazines were being imported via the Aland islands to avoid Danish VAT.

I suspect what will happen is reduction of exemption rate down to the lowest value (i.e. around £8.50-9.00) along with an intention to seek an exemption for LCVR being applied to the Channel Islands for items not produced their (i.e. to avoid affecting the dairy and flower trade which is why the channel islands exemption was initially set up) if these imports get any bigger.

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Endeavour crawls to Kennedy launch pad

deshepherd

365 days

> NASA enthuses that the spectrometer will run "24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year"

so that will be one day of downtime in the next 366 days then?

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Gmail auto sorts bulk mail, notifications, forum messages

deshepherd

@Mike007

"So to answer your question yes you can opt out, by NOT going in to the settings and enabling experimental features then turning on smart tabs..."

... I expect google will still be scanning all your emails (isn't that the deal for getting the "free" service) and the choice you have is to enable the "look what we've found" option.

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Samsung UE55D8000 55in net-connected LED TV

deshepherd

@TheFirstChoice

We used to have a Samsung as our main TV where you pressed the "input" button on the remote and it cycles through the different sources. We then got a newer one last year and on that when you press the "input" button you just get a menu and you have then got to select from that. (Worse, we've just acquired a VM TiVo box and its remote can control the TV - including the "input" button signal - but while this brings up the menu you can't actuallty select anything from the menu or even dismiss the menu without the Samsung controller)

I wish Samsung would do a firmware update to bring back the "cycle through the inputs" behaviour!

Moral of the story: you can't please all the people all the time!

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Sheila's Fails? The statistics of biological risk

deshepherd

@bluesxman

"Allegedly men tend to do more miles on average.

More miles = more exposure to other road users = greater chance of an accident."

Quite probably correct ... that's one of the reasons why some of the coverage yesterday was suggesting we'd have to answer a lot more questions on the sort and amount of driving we do before we'll get a quote.

BTW, someone else mentioned Sheila's Wheels being discrimantory - actually I think that they will quote for men and in any case most articles I've seen about them indicate that women can normally get a better deal elsewhere! It probably relies on female customers assuming that it is (a) only insuring women and as a result (b) must be giving them a better deal!

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Portsmouth redefines the Olympic-sized swimming pool

deshepherd

Beijing

"Having said that, I'm sure I read somewhere that designers of competition sports venues deliberately try and 'tweak' the design within the rules in order to maximise the possibility of records being broken at that venue, as this attracts more media attention and revenue."

Quite true ... remember at time of Beijing Olympics there were some articles on the design of its swimming pool. They'd used several new techniques to try to eliminate the waves generated by the swimmers from reflecting back into their paths. Pool was, I think, a bit deeper than normal race pool to delay the effect of any pressure wave which bounced off the bottom, lane dividers consisted of lots of discs that would absorb the wave rather than floats that reflected it and as well as the empty lane on either side the water level was flush to the side of the pool so a wave would simply go over the edge into drainage rather than relect. Apparently any distubance on the surface of the water makes some difference to the times so all these effects gave the conditions (along with the advances in swimsuit technology) for super fast times.

I think there were similar considerations to the athletics track. Seem to recall that Usain Bolt saying in the 200m he didn't slow down to celebrate like he did in the 100m as he realized that the track was so fast that he had the opportunity to better Michael Johnson's world record which had stood for years and some people thought to stand for many more.

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