* Posts by deshepherd

219 posts • joined 11 Jun 2009

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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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'Tree Octopus' proves journos no smarter than 13-year-old Americans

deshepherd

Double bluff

> However, link #3 is Wikipedia page which in the summary you can see from the google search results (i.e. you don't even need to follow the link) includes the word Hoax.

... but then my son's schools have started to teach children to employ a degree of scepticism over Wikipedia articles (due to the number of well known hoaxes there) and as a result the fact that Wikipedia says this is a hoax might actually make them believe the story to be true!

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DEC founder Ken Olsen is dead

deshepherd

@In memoriam

> A sad day for those of us who cut our teeth on the PDP.

while not a PDP, I started off in that era when we had a Data General minicomputer at school and I used to be able to program in the initial bootstrap via the front panel switches from memory - and it wasn't just the "green screens" that you used to access them ... there were teletypes as well!

I also rember, probably 20 years ago, listening to a radio program featuring DEC and Ken Olsen where one of the things I remember was Ken's (at least initial) insistence that his sales force were paid a standard salary and not commission on the basis that he wanted them to sell what was going to be best for the customer and not oversell to inflate the salespersons commission.

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Robot naval stealth fighter takes to the air

deshepherd

@Bad code

reminds me of an entry in the comp.risks newsletter years ago of how on one of the first generation computer controlled jets a test pilot decided to see what would happen if he selected "raise undercarriage" while stationary on the ground ... needless to say the next generation of software added an "if (undercarriage_loaded) ignore_command();" clause to the relevant routine.

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Amazon to sell Kindle through Currys, PC World

deshepherd

Already doing it

Seen Kindles in PC Worlds for the past month or so (though it was only yesterday that they sent me an spam-mail announcing this).

Dixons taxfree at Heathrow were slightly undercutting the Amazon price ... thouhg only by ~£5 so its not the VAT-free price!

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Video games go off quicker than tomatoes

deshepherd

not just second hand games

Prices for new games (apart from a few top titles) also drop fast .... my son want Fallout NewVegas on PC for Christmas so I ordered it for what seemed like a reasonable price of £25 in november ... by mid december I could have got it for £15 and its just £13 now.

I wonder if Which? compared 2nd hand price versus the "current" new price rather than initial RRP.

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PHP apps plagued by Mark of the Beast bug

deshepherd
Coat

@Other side of the decimal point

Pedant alert:

Correctly

> Zero:

> 0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

should be +Zero as opposed to

-Zero:

1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

I'll get my coat - its the one with a copy of IEEE754 in the pocket

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Blighty's kids nosedive down global reading, maths rankings

deshepherd

@No surprise here

Nor here either. My elder son has just started GCSE's this year (and so we we've discovered the world of bite-size units, continual project work, controlled assesments, regular exams etc). I happened to pickup his physics revision notes book the other night and was somewhat surprised to find that major topics in GCSE Physics topics now are Plate Techntonics (wasn't that Geography) and Astronomy (and in attempt to "keep dwn wiv da yoof" each page has a jokey line at the bottom like "the milky way ... its not just a chocolate bar")

The final straw came when I looked for anything about maths that might be relevant for GCSE physics (n.b. Newton's laws didn't qualify for a name check in the index ... possibly dead white guy syndrome) and found a small section which said (and I think this is a pretty accurate recollection of what it said) "you may need to use some maths in paper 3 where the questions tend to be more physicsy (sic)".

At least in the mock exam he's just taken he's being assessed as A* potential ... not sure wether this says more about him or the exam!

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Virgin unwraps three-tuner über set-top

deshepherd

3 tuners

The Virgin V+ box already has 3 tuners ... all they are doing is ensuring that this new box matches this on spec.

Also, the monthly cost for XL package with TiVo is only £3 above the normal XL price so in effect its £3/month to get the TiVo features.

As a VM (XL TV) user and someone whose had TiVo for ~10 years then I can't wait to get one of these! Only possible issue is whether the 2 vs 3 tuner deal is due to hardware or software restictions - i.e. is the "3 tuners coming in new year" just the result of a software uprade or is it really a new rev of the box hardware

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Android Market shows hand at 100k Apps

deshepherd

100k apps

Remember back in BBC micro days buying an adventure game that boasted that it was the biggest game of its type with "over 9000 rooms" .... turned out it was set on a space shiip which had 10 storage segments, each segment had 10 floors, each floor had 10 sectors and each sector contained 9 rooms - and each set of 9 rooms was identical to every other apart from, I think, 2 - the one you woke up in (think its was transporting cryogenically frozen people) and another you eventually followed clues to which had another dying person who gave another clue before expiring - then there were a few dozen other rooms at the control end of the ship where all the real action happened. So ... it had over 9000 rooms, though 8982 of them were utterly irrelevant

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Twittering MP escapes with caution

deshepherd

postal votes

1>. Why are candidates (and their reps) allowed to even see any votes before they have all been cast?

Technically the postal votes they saw already had been cast. Candidates/agents get to see/monitor the counting of all votes to enable the process to be considered fair - so if postal votes start to be counted early then they need to be able to observe this.

2>. Why are postal votes even opened before the ballot is complete?

Becuase in the UK we still have this idea that we want the election to be determined as soon as possible - we expect to know the new PM on the next day and this time having to wait 4 or 5 days was seen to be quite a problem - there were real concerns over how markets might react when there was no decision by monday morning.

3>. Why do postal votes even exist if we cant verify the eligibility of the voter?

Postal votes have always existed and the verification techniques now, I think, are a lot more robust than they used to be (e.g. a signature that can be matched to the application is required). They are much more widespread now because it was seen as a way to get many more people voting. N.b. "in person" votes used to be pretty insecure - just turn up at 8am at a poling station with a name and address from the electoral roll and you'd get a ballot with no need to prove identity - not sure if its still the same as I've voted by post for the last several years!

Again, because we want the result "quickly" we need to have a system that allows postal votes to be "verified" quickly ... there is provision to challenge a result later in the courts but that only overturns a result at a later date.

The alternative is exemplified by an exchange during the 2000 US election between a BBC reporter and a UK representative of one of the US parties. As the result became so close in Florida (and before the "hanging chad" issue had been raised) the US person commented that the result might have to wait until the "absentee ballots" were certified - the BBC person asked how long that would take clearly expecting an answer along the lines of "by lunchtime" and was stunned to be told "in 21 days time" ... because under Florida election law the parties had 21 days to challenge any postal votes and the result was not finalised until that time was over - normally the number of postal votes would be less than the victory margin so it wasn't an issue but in this case it was (and, I think , this also contributed to the courts ruling out the hanging chad debate on the basis that a decision had to be ratified after 21 days).

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Google Android chief smacks Steve Jobs with Linux speak

deshepherd

@app stores

> I'm sure we will eventually see the emergence of a 3rd party app store

... haven't Amazon already said they're doing one?

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Raptor over Blighty: Watch the stealth fighter in infrared

deshepherd

Clearly more stealthy than you realize

> (F-22) previously seen publicly in the UK for just one brief Monday display at Farnborough '08

Not quite ... it was at the RIAT at Fairford last weekend. And while the F-22 may have stealth features there was nothing stealthy about the commentary during the display on its capabilities given by someone from the USAF with volume and enthusiasm turned up way past 11 (sounded like he was auditioning for the ring announcers job at the next Boxing Heavyweight Worldchamps bout!)

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Xmas kicks off on 2 August

deshepherd

One plus when living in the US ...

.... was that they have a very established sequence of seasons in shops there so you they don't start selling Christmas stuff until after Thanksgiving (and in turn Thanksgiving stuff doesn't go on sale until after Halloween etc).

On the downside Christmas ends on Boxing day so the local garbage company christmas tree collection service was no good for those of us who thought the tree had to stay up until twelth night!

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One-time UK PC giant takes on iPad

deshepherd
Alert

£120?

So they are selling for £120 a device that Elonex describe in a press release as the UKs first "sub 100 ebook reader" (ok, there's no indication of what the 100 is of -- but "£" is the most obvious unit!)

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Cable lays plan for graduate tax

deshepherd

not graduating for tax reasons

Not sure about how it works at other Universities but at Oxford you do not graduate and get your degreee until you attended (in person or in absentia) a degree ceremony. So they probably need to draft the law carefully to avoid the situation of people saying "my finals resutls from Oxford would give me a first but I've decided not to officially graduate for tax reasons" !

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Euro mobile data best buys

deshepherd

Tmobile

I'll endorse the comments on the good value of Tmobile's euro internet boosters. 2 £5 boosters gave me the bandwidth needed to find out what was happening to my travel prospects when stranded by the ash cloud in Portugal earlier this year ... plus an extra £1 on the last day came in very handy to find where the Avis office in Santander was as discoverd that it had moved since my SatNav maps were done! This combined with the 6 months "unlimited" internet for £20 in the UK (plus if you time your top-ups right another 2 months free from putting the £20 on your account) means its a pretty good deal if, like me, you predominatly use your phone for data rather than calls!

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Administrator access: Right or privilege?

deshepherd

not just administrators

I once ran into a script which was designed to package up parts of our design into the delivery format ... as part of this it worked out where to place the package and if the dir already existed did an "cd <delivery-dir>; rm -rf *" first to start from a clean slate. Only problem (and I found it the hard way) was that the mechanism used to find where to put the delivery had the property that if things weren't setup correctly then it would end up saying that the delivery should go into you home dir ... which it then procede to clean out.. Side-effect was I learnt the benefits of a IT setup that maintains hourly snapshots of the file system!

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Mozilla pegs worldwide Firefox share at 30%

deshepherd

Antarctica

Reminds me of 20-ish years ago when I first encountered the internet and the then big thing which was usenet ... remember posting a question about (I think) Ami Pro (Lotus word processing program) in one of the groups and being amazed that the reply I got was from someone based in Antarctica!

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Vast 'Cloud 9' sky-wedding balloon destroyed in Vegas prang

deshepherd

High winds in Vegas

Only been to Vegas once and just before we left went up the "half scale version" of the Eiffel Tower at Paris hotel (amazingly, something in Vegas that is smaller than the real thing - though on the way up they pointed out the accomodation block which they proudly announced was "an exact copy of the Hotel de Ville in Paris ... except in Paris it is only 3 storeys high while ours has 20"!).

When we got the top it was pretty windy ... someone commented to the attendant there that the wind was a bit unnerving but that they must be used to it and got the reassuring reply of "we only opened 2 weeks ago and this is the first time the wind has been this strong"!

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LibDems score copyright coup

deshepherd

Previous precedents

Examples quoted above of legitimate websites etc getting blocked because they share the same IP address as someone allegedly breaching copyright is probably quite likely. Wasn't all that long ago that all uses of Telewest Blueyonder internet found that their email was being bounced by various mail systems because some people had set up there own email servers and had failed to secure them properly and thus were running open relays which were spamming from blueyonder.co.uk addresses ... this got blueyonder on to a spammers list and for a bit all blueyonder users were unable to email to a variety of other ISPs.

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Music biz unites to save 6Music

deshepherd

R6 to FM

This may happen ... but not as a straight move. One of the recent reports on the BBC output, I think, said that R2 needs to become "more distinctive" from commercial stations ... and as, from what I've read, R6 is actually run out of the R2 organisation then maybe they'll spin this as a move of the "distinctive R6 programming" into the R2 FM mainstream ... I suspect they'll then get an even bigger backlash from the increasingly alienated "Terry Wogan brigade" asking for their old R2 back!

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Eurocrats mandate maximum charge for data roaming

deshepherd

Unforseen consequences

Suspect (as some articles on new roaming rates here already suggest) that the result will be that mobile networks will implement this by setting the cut-off at £0 and offer to sell you access at at a "per day/week" rate with a bundled data allowance. So, if you away for a week and wanted to be able to occasionally lookup something on a website then you may end up having to spend £30 on a 7-day 30MB bundle when in reality you only wanted to be able to download a few 100k on 2 or 3 days during the week.

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US unveils planet-hugging London embassy

deshepherd

Never mind the VAT

Is it inside the congestion charge region! (as currently the US Embassy are somewhat reluctant to pay CC)

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Hubble peers closely at Pluto

deshepherd
Stop

Planetary Objects

Under the IAU ruling Pluto is now a "dwarf planet" so is still a planetary object.

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Brits to get 3G iPad early - and at a reduced price?

deshepherd

Low cost 3G

The US 3G packages didn't seem low cost to me ... I'm getting "unlimitted" internet (ok, there is a 40MB/day fair usage "limit" - but there's no extra charges for exceeding - just a warnign of potential stroppy warnings and possible access restrictions for persistent excesses) and I'm only paying £20 for 6 months on my PAYG android phone.

Of course, iPad requires a micro-SIM which may enable telco's to restrict it to specific iPad orientated plans (and doubtless these can be made appealing to the standard iPad user by being reassuringly expensive)

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Steve Jobs uncloaks the 'iPad'

deshepherd

@Network meltdown

250MB/month for $15 and "unlimited" fo $30 .... well, on Tmob here I'm getting 1.2GB/month for £20/6months (technically its unlimited but regular excursions over 40MB/day are agains "fair use" and Tmob reserve right to send stroppy notes or slow down connection).... and if I used the phone and used a £10 top-up per month that would be free.

So doesn't look like much of a "breakthrough" deal to me.

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AMD adds Black Edition to Phenom range

deshepherd

Black Edition

In AMD processor terms "Black Edition" has a clear meaning (and has for several years) .. it means it comes with an unlocked multiplier. There' have been BE Phenom's for ages and its to AMDs credit that they are putting BE versions in all the processor combos (X2, X3 and X4) rather than reserving it as a special ultra high price version that no sane person would ever buy

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Galaxy Portal joins Samsung's Android gang

deshepherd

Layar

Don't think Layar is specific to this phone .... its an Android app available in the "marketplace" that can run on any Android phone.

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NASA pegs Noughties as hottest decade on record

deshepherd

Obvious explanation

> NASA said the figures show a "clear warming trend" on record,

> though there was a "leveling off" between the 1940s and 1970s.

I assume that was due to the Cold War

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Google suggests Islam is nothing

deshepherd

burritos

To get back to an IT related angle ... 10 years ago I worked in Silicon Valley and we could use the canteen at a neighbouring companhy for lunch where the main cook was called Jesus (actually a not uncommon name in the Hispanic community) and on Fridays he made quite excellent burritos which were most definitely not microwaved!

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Oz bank thinks it's 2016

deshepherd

COBOL?

has someone has forgotten about binary coded decimal?

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LHC knocked out by ANOTHER power failure

deshepherd
Joke

the real reason?

Scientists took all the webservers etc off-line while they worked out how to explain to the world that the LHC computer analysis had just reported:

"Yes, I can decice whether the Higgs-Boson exists .... but its going to take me seven million years"

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PC World punts Windows 7 £100 trade-in promotion

deshepherd

@PC World need something going their way!

My local PCWorld seemed very full when I went there a week or so ago ... though that's mainly because as the other DSGi brand "Currys" is upgrading its store on the other side of the car park then a significant portion of PCWorld is currently full of fridges and washing machines!

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deshepherd

"upto" £100

Here are the details

<<<

The deal, announced at an embargoed briefing in London, was also published on DSGi's site. DSGi is offering users up to £100 if they bring an old laptop to the shop, although the actual figure will depend on the quality and viability of the laptop.

Laptops will have to be capable of being switched on, although they don't necessarily have to be fully operational said Jeremy Fennell, Category Director for PC World. They'll also be graded for physical quality to create a second-hand value, of up to £100.

>>>

... so that old laptop that you stopped using 5 years ago isn't going to get £100

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Beeb gets grief for Humpty Dumpty rewrite

deshepherd

How things change

back in the "good old days" (aka "about 10 years ago") Teletubbies used to feature in their "tubby-tv" segments a Jazz group playing versions of nursery rhymes ... one of them was humpty dumpty which ended with something along the lines of "someone go get a pan ... he's all scrambled eggs now man!"

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Amazon goes Kozmo in US

deshepherd

not quite same day

but I remmeber when I was in California 10 years ago ordering a laptop from an East Coast shop at 8:55pm PST (just before the next day delivery on orders before midnight EST deadline) on a Friday assuming that at best next day would mean monday and was stunned to get back from a shopping trip just after midday on the next day (Saturday) to find a note that a delivery had been left with my neighbours. Admittedly when I looked at the paperwork the laptop hadn't come all the way from the East coast ... it had merely been airfreighted from Indiana!

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iPhone saves woman from bear

deshepherd

Following the correct advice

Seem to recall from visits to Yosemite and similar places in the past the park authorities give guidance on what to do if approached by bears/mountain lions etc ... of course, the primary advice is to keep your distance but if they are approaching then the advice is not to run away but instead "act agressively" and throwing things at them is recommended (though, when I was last there 10 years ago the idea of throwing iPhones was not considered and instead stones were suggested)

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Data watchdog jacks up charges

deshepherd
Happy

Yahoo link hover text

I have the reg headlines as an item on my Yahoo home page - when you hover over link you get a text "summary" which appears to be derived from the title, first line and it appears the final link to a white paper or ad. Rather amusingly for this artiicle this appears as:

Privacy costs after all From today large companies that collect or process personal data must pay £500 to register with the Information Commissioner's Office .... What's your recession sales strategy?

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Palm Pre backs away from Apple iTunes

deshepherd
Joke

Hokey Cokey

First syncing was in, then it was out. Then in. Then out ... at which point Palm stopped as they'd forgotten to implement the Ipod Nano "shake it all about" shuffle feature

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Microsoft apes Google with chillerless* data center

deshepherd

@Water cooled air

Sounds exactly like the system used at Sydney Opera House that was on Engineering Connections a couple of weeks ago.

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Apple gives Palm the boot - again

deshepherd

@Seems real simple to me

So if its just a software program design to be used with the iPod then why does Apple attempt to get me (or anyone else who doesn't own an iPod) to download and install it when I want to install quicktime?

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Bloke decapitates horse with chainsaw

deshepherd

@Cute story

Yup, people have a very cute/non-cute distinction over what is edible. About 10 years ago I was in San Francisco zoo with a crowd watching a zoo person feeding the otters there. Someone asked her what they fed the otters on and she replied "well, they basically eat anything so it depends what's available - today's a lucky day for them and they are having the same as the big cats - horse meat" ... cue 10 year-old girl in crowrd to scream "that's gross" and run off crying.

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Crystal ball torches woman's flat

deshepherd

similar happenings

remember reading of a similar incident before ... and with google to the rescue found it

How one sunbeam turned a tycoon's mansion to ashes

A BLAZE that caused millions of pounds damage to a tycoon's mansion was started by a freak accident involving a towel and a shaving mirror. The unique chain of events that devastated the eight-bedroom home of Sir Peter Michael, chairman of Classic FM radio, was explained by an expert.

The concave mirror acted as a magnifying glass, concentrating the sun's rays into a single point, said Berkshire's fire brigade safety officer Greg Boys. At that point, the temperature rose to 200C, causing the towel to burst into flames. Mr Boys said four factors had to combine to start the fire at the Grade 11 listed building near Hungerford.

Firstly, the sun would have to be low enough to shine directly on the bathroom mirror. Then the mirror would have to be in exactly the right position to direct the magnified rays on to the towel. Also, the towel would have to he at the precise spot where the rays converged. Finally, there would have to be material nearby for the fire to take hold. "A centimetre out in any of the first three factors could well have prevented the fire from ever taking place," said Mr Boys. "It was a chance in a million."

Firemen hit on the mirror theory while investigating the blaze. Mr Boys added: "We had to wait for ideal conditions so we could test that theory out. "Eventually, they all came together and we dashed over to the house, set up the mirror and towel and waited to see what happened. "What we saw confirmed the theory. The sun hit the mirror, converging on the towel, which was ablaze within minutes."

Sir Peter, 58, said: "It just makes you think how unfair life can be."

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