* Posts by Tanuki

353 posts • joined 8 Sep 2006

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Marconi: The West of England's very own Italian wireless pioneer

Tanuki
Happy

Sir Oliver Lodge

Marconi was a pioneer, sure, but the widespread adoption of his discoveries also depended on the work of Sir Oliver Lodge - who invented the idea of tuning [he referred to it as 'syntony'] which allowed the RF energy from the transmitter to be radiated predominantly on one frequency, and for a receiver to be able to separate wanted and unwanted signals.

Without this, radio would have been just so much interference.

[I'm a great lobbyist for Lodge, if only because he went to the same school as I did]

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Over 50? Out of work? Watch out because IT is about to EAT ITSELF

Tanuki
Devil

Blended business and tech.

The big issue I've found (which AI etc is unlikely to ever address) when recruiting is to find people who know the techie stuff but also understand (and can explain in terms that management will understand) the impact of the technology on the business side of things.

Combine the two though and you've got it made - however old you are. Techies who don't understand the legal/audit/compliance implications of what they're doing, or auditors who don't understand the technology - well, I've had to deal with the rather-expensive aftermaths of both.

"Do it your way and we both go to jail; do it my way and only you go to jail. Guess what - we're going to do it my way" as I recently had to say to someone who was supposedly skilled in safety-critical systems design.

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Tiger Moth: Old school flying without all those pesky flaps, brakes and instruments

Tanuki
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Some years back I was at ICAO:EGBP on business when one of the people I was working with discovered I was a licenced radio amateur and as a result I got invited for a flight in his Tiger Moth in the hope that I could help him track down the cause of intermittent catastrophic radio-interference on his "clip-it-to-the-instrument-panel" Icom air-band comms radio.

There's something slightly disconcerting about taking-off into the wind and realising you've just got airborne at barely above walking-pace.

I didn't get much 'proper' work done that afternoon but we did identify the problem with the magneto wiring.

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Powering the Internet of Stuff – by sucking electricity from TREES

Tanuki

Re: whatever happened to

Wasn't there also some cosmetic surgeon in the 'states who fueled his car on recycled human-fat from his liposuction practice?

Now that's *real* power.

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German iron meets Monaco's highlands: Audi A1 review

Tanuki
WTF?

I wonder how easy it would be to hack all the torque-vectoring/stability-control-program stuff so you could instead dial in some of that wonderful lift-off-oversteer effect that made the Peugeot 205 about the only decent handling FWD car of the last century?

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It's 4K-ing big right now, but it's NOT going to save TV

Tanuki

My only real use for a TV is to display home-generated static photos which I load from a 32Gb USB memory-stick. Someday we might get manufacturers producing "TVs" that can do display- justice to the image quality of Mr. Canon's DSLRs and a Sigma prime lens.

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Erik Meijer: AGILE must be destroyed, once and for all

Tanuki
WTF?

How can you code until you've understood the objectives?

IMHO coding is one of the _last_ steps of a successful project.

(by "successful" I mean 'meeting the originally specified requirements' and "being maintainable in a cost-effective way for as long as the product is required in-service" and "providing for an ordered shutdown of the service/withdrawal of the product").

I've seen far too many projects run by superannuated geeks on the "We'll all start our coding in a variety of languages and platforms - meantime can someone go and find out what the client wants!" basis. Coupled with a client who doesn't really know what he/she wants and even if he/she did know he wouldn't be able to adequately express it - the result is chaos.

The other big issue I've had is when projects escape from development and slide into production without a proper clean demarcation between the two. ITIL, PRINCE, Agile etc are useful toolboxes but shouldn't be religions.

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Users shun UK.gov flagship digital service

Tanuki

Having recently had to be a party to a LPA, the idea of "just filling in some form or other online" without legal advice being on hand would have been utter madness.

[It may be OK in the simplest of cases but as soon as the LPAing individual is a landlord, trustee, member of a LLP or similar it gets very fun very fast]

Best bit about .gov.uk is the ability to pay VED online. Though it doesn't make the pain of coughing-up the readies for a "Band M" vehicle any less painful.

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Police radios will be KILLED soon – yet no one dares say 'Huawei'

Tanuki

Re: Why not...

Better Off With Map And Nokia.

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Tanuki

Re: Motorola

Or the old MetPol Storno-500 series (which I spent quite a bit of time in the 1980s repairing)

http://www.flickriver.com/photos/josh47788/5180926722/

Nice heavy diecast case and big battery-pack. Robust enough that you could use it to render a mugger unconscious and it'd still work well enough to let you call for backup.

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I'm sooooo green: The Beginner's Guide to Krautrock

Tanuki

Popol Vuh.

Can I put in a vote for this band? Their soundtrack to the wonderfully-bizarre Herzog/Kinski movie "Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes" is truly brilliant for late-night listening.

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Pond, rocks or quicksand in your 1km garden? Get a rugged DECT phone

Tanuki

Re: Separate base-station?

I'd be more minded to breach the EU Terminal Directive and bolt a N-socket on to the back of the base-station then attach a nice chunky length of coax for an external antenna. I only did the ethernet-to-2.4GHz thing because I could use PoE.

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Tanuki

Separate base-station?

This would be useful for me but only if the 'base station' DECT transmitter is separate from the handset's charging cradle.

[Tanuki Towers has walls over a foot thick - solid early-Victorian masonry - which block RF rather well. I'd want to put the base-station transmitter in a waterproof box mounted high up on the exterior to the house just like I've had to do with the Ethernet-to-2.4GHz adapter to get coverage down into the woods]

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Norks' internet goes TITSUP in possible DDoS attack

Tanuki
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I'm suspecting that the Norks have foolishly decided to change broadband-provider in the run-up to Christmas.

Either that or they've already got TalkTalk as their broadband-provider.

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EU law bods: New eCall crash system WON'T TRACK YOU. Really

Tanuki

False triggering.

I wonder how long someone will work out where the "sweet spot" is for the trigger? And parked cars are suddenly calling the emergency-swervices.

I'm reminded of a certain car of a few years back where there was an impact-sensor fitted somewhere up behind the front bumper: giving the right area a thwack with a suitably heavy tool caused the central-locking to unlock (because, obviously, if you've been in a crash the last thing you want is for the doors to stay locked...)

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Hi-torque tank engines: EXTREME car hacking with The Register

Tanuki

Re: Excellent article

Don't mention loco engines - or he'll be doing a Bentley Deltic next.

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Tanuki
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I like it! Running up your engine in the back of a Sankey trailer is an 'interesting' way to get first-smoke.

On a much-more-micro scale I once conspired with the owner of a Heinkel bubble-car to replace the seized single-cylinder sub-200cc engine with a 3-cylinder Klockner-Humbolt-Deutz marine Diesel engine of about 1.5 Litres, and a centrifugal clutch. The usable rev-ranges of the two engines didn't coincide too well so some obscure shaft was turned-round in the gearbox. The KHD had so much torque a gearbox was unnecessary except for starting on the steepest of (Dutch) hills. 0-135KM/h in 2nd gear was fun. Eventually it caught fire catastrophically while stuck in a traffic-jam somewhere between Breda and Doordrecht.

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Pre-digital computer 'cranks out' Fourier Transforms

Tanuki
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Isn't this somewhat like the Doodson-Lege tidal-prediction engine?

http://www.ntslf.org/about-tides/doodson-machine

[I have seen this particular machine in action. All things considered, it's surprisingly silent!]

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Could YOU identify these 10 cool vintage mobile phones?

Tanuki
FAIL

Vintage?

I don't really class any of them as ~Vintage~ they've all got LCD screens!

[My first cellular mobile-phone was a "BT Steel" with a big carrier/recharger frame which bolted to the car transmission-tunnel. Before that, we had Pye Westminsters on the old BT System-4 VHF mobile network. ]

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ICO to fine UNBIDDEN MARKETEERS who cause 'ANXIETY'

Tanuki
FAIL

Oh look! A squadron of pigs just flew by.....

I'll believe it when it happens. Rather than the ICO/DCMS pocketing the cash I think the fines levied should be distributed amongst the complainants - to me that's "restorative justice" and if people realised nuisance-calls could be converted into a steady stream of additional income it might cause more people to complain aggressively/take legal action against the nuisance callers.

Me? I have been known to reply to nuisance-callers by breathing heavily and asking them what colour bra and panties they are wearing today. This tends to shut them up quickly, specially the male ones.

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Radiohead(ache): BBC wants dead duck tech in sexy new mobes

Tanuki
FAIL

DAB, whether in a phone or not, is intrinsically power-inefficient: to receive a single stream you still have to receive the entire MUX and decode the 1536 subcarriers [oh, all those lovely compute-intensive FFTs!] - only to then throw away the vast majority of the recovered bits because they're not part of the stream you want to listen to.

The continued obsession by the Beeb/Ofcom with forcing DAB upon an unwilling public is nothing short of criminal abuse-of-power.

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Four caged in UK after cyber-heist swipes €7m in EU carbon credits

Tanuki

The only real heist is the one perpetrated against the-rest-of-us who are expected to fund this whole racket in 'carbon credits' through higher prices and higher taxes.

The very idea is akin to the Papal Indulgences that were traded in the middle-ages: someone in power invents a sin, while at the same time selling doctrinally-approved permits-to-sin and pocketing the cash.

What we have with 'carbon credits' is, so to speak, a "Sin of Emission".

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Heatmiser digital thermostat users: For pity's sake, DON'T SWITCH ON the WI-FI

Tanuki

Re: Not just once @Stoneshop

Agreed: there's a lot to be said for thermal-inertia once you get your house temperature up to the desired set-point: even if I let the woodstove go out there's still enough heat stored in a couple of hundred Kg of cast-iron-and-firebrick to keep the house warm for a day or so. [foot-thick internal masonry-walls help a bit too].

I defy anyone to successfully hack my stove via WiFi.

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Quit drooling, fanbois - haven't you SEEN what the iPhone 6 costs?

Tanuki

Re: OnePlus One

The FM radio uses the headphone-wire as the antenna.

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Video: Dyson unveils ROBOTIC TANK that hoovers while you're out

Tanuki

Re: Still missing critical feature

Here at Scrotum Towers cleaning duties are performed by a German-made "Sebo". It was bought after a quick chat with my machine-room contract-cleaning provider-of-the-month. I weorked on the basis that if you're paid a fixed amount to do a job you'll want tools that let you complete it in the shortest-possible time so you can pay your minimum-wage cleandroids the least-possible.

So far the Sebo's been brilliant.

[His other cleaner suggestion was a Nilfisk-Advance - which I have to admit looked truly impressive in a kind of Android-brothel-meets-LEXX-shiny-stainless-steel-machine-porn-fantasy-sense but I just couldn't justify spending £1500 on something that would spend 99% of its life unseen and shut away in the cellar].

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Tanuki

I wonder if it's smart enough to survive an attack from a sexually-frustrated Jack Russell Terrier?

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Don't buy that phone! It ATTRACTS CRIMINALS, UK.gov will tell people

Tanuki

Re: nokia carriers...

And with a Nokia it'll still be working well enough to let you call the Fuzz to report the crime after you've used it to beat the mugger unconscious.

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We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie

Tanuki

Re: Get your own toys

Aren't the EU trying to do it with their "Galileo" GPS-alike, which project seems to be going oh-so-well?

[I guess their satellites just want to break free?]

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LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio

Tanuki

ISM band allocation.

I do hope that Ozzie 900MHz radio is actually type-approved for use in ITU "Region 1" [Europe, Africa, the Middle East west of the Persian Gulf including Iraq, the former Soviet Union and Mongolia].

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Gartner's Special Report: Should you believe the hype?

Tanuki

Hype-cycles.

I remember some years ago being at a Gartner presentation where the guy said, in essence " any business that doesn't have a high-profile presence on Second Life is doomed to irrelevance in the next year "

I think we can all name a few businesses who took this advice to little benefit, and likewise plenty of businesses who didn't hear the message but for whom the Gartner-predicted doom is somehow taking longer to materialise than first predicted.

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World's only flyable WWII Lancaster bombers meet in Lincs

Tanuki

Re: Not only on planes

And there was the Meteor - basically a poorer-production-quality version of the Merlin, minus the superchargers and with a lower compression-ratio so it would run OK on commercial-grade petrol rather than AVGAS - which was used in quite a few WWII-era tanks.

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Nuts to your poncey hipster coffees, I want a TESLA ELECTRO-CAFE

Tanuki
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Civilisation.

One of the benefits of living somewhere distinctly non-Inner-City is the ease-of-access to a rather conveniently civilised place calling itself 'Waitrose', and their free-coffee-for-regular-customers.

[Claims that their car-parking spaces are also larger than Lidl's/Aldi's - to better accomodate clients' Range-Rovers - are unsubstantiated].

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Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart

Tanuki
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Why bother?

At the beginning of this year I borrowed a set of energy-meters from a client for a weekend. Stuck them on pretty much every appliance in the house, gathered the data into a spreadsheet... and discovered that I was spending something like £3 a day on electricity. Part of which was a standing-charge.

Remember - this was in winter. In summer it's probably half that (though the dehumidifier occasionally gets intensive use).

Honestly, even if through the use of a 'smart' meter I cut my electricity utilisation to *zero* then the saving is well down in the noise - there's at least three times that amount of daily variance in the cost of my wine-consumption.

Fretting about whether your fridge is costing you 20p or 22p a day to run - well, get over it and get a life.

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Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE

Tanuki
FAIL

Forget this whole idea of a "TV" whether 'smart' or dumb - what I would love is a decently-priced mid-size (28-inch max) 4K *monitor* that I could then connect to the local content-source of my choice (which will rarely-if-ever include 'broadcast media').

Personally, I don't want big screens - they're obtrusive and take up space which some of us would rather have occupied by that rather-more-traditional viewing technology known as "windows" - through which I can watch the outdoor-wildlife in real-time without any cheesy soundtack or narration.

[Last night there were three fox-cubs playing who-dares-get-closest-to-the-hose].

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Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends

Tanuki
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Bet you could have made some serious chicken-nuggets out of that !

[I, for one, welcome our new feathery-lizard overlords.]

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Who has your credit card data? 1 million HOLIDAY-MAKERS' RECORDS exposed

Tanuki
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I'm continually narked by travel-companies who seem to want a whole slew of irrelevant data about you (name, address, date-of-birth, height, weight, brother's inside-leg measurement, pet's star-sign and the colour of the last car you bought) before they will even *try* to give you a price for a flight/ticket/holiday.

[I've taken to giving them the cat's name, age, inside-leg measurement and height/weight just to confuse them]

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Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol

Tanuki
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Double-strength Placebo™

Essentially, Paracetamol _is_ being used as a placebo in this case. Same goes for that other dish-it-out-to-get-the-patient-out-of-the-surgery-when-you-dont-know-whats-wrong-with-them offering, Ibuprofen.

Given the state of the pharmaceutical industry I wonder how long it will be before someone brings out "Placebo Extra™" - the proven power of Placebo™ you know and trust, now in a new double-strength formula. Available in easy-to-swallow caplets, suppositories*, or soluble formula.

*For all the good they'll do you you might as well shove them up your...

Placebo™ - so effective all other drugs are tested against it!

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Barclays Bank counter staff to become iPad-toting 'community bankers'

Tanuki
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They moved to this in the Swindon branch a few months back. Allegedly.

It must be about a year since I went into a physical bank-branch of any flavour. IMHO the whole idea of high-street-type bank branches is today dead on its feet - they're never open when you need them for a start. Let them - along with post-offices - go the same way as yellow-pages, fax-machines and red telephone-kiosks: quaint reminders of slower, kinder, gentler times but totally irrelevant to the current millennium.

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Beer in SPAAAACE! London Pride soars to 28,000m

Tanuki
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Ferrets In Spaaaaaace!

There's a part of me who's now pondering the extent to which the reduced-atmospheric-pressure-induced 'boiling' would have selectively distilled-off the alcohol from the beer, and what effect the lower temperature would have had on the relative vapour-pressures of alcohol vs water.

Hmmmm.. I would suugest that your research-team seeks liquid sponsorship from breweries for a future re-run or twenty, if only to ensure that the experimental results are repeatable and statistically-significant.

My suggestion would be to send aloft some Fursty Ferret or maybe some Dog's Bollocks.

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Say goodbye to the noughties: Yesterday’s hi-fi biz is BUSTED, bro

Tanuki
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They sell this as an improvement?

I think I'll be sticking with my late-1970s homebrewed four push-pull ultralinear KT66s feeding similar-era battered-but-heavy homebrewed speakers made from inch-thick MDF [I hand-wound the coils in the crossovers, measuring and matching the resultant inductances and capacitances to within 0.1% in the University physics lab], and my mid-1990s Philips CD-player, if you don't mind.

No "oxygen-free copper, directioonal" speaker-cables for me either - I find 4mm twin&earth mains-cable works just fine.

[Now, if someone could find me a pair of Quad electrostatics at a sane price....]

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Home automation while it's hot: Winter warmth for lazy technophiles

Tanuki

I wonder how these things will deal with a "call-for-heat" being issued somewhere but the stove's already consumed all the last fill of logs?

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Who needs a ride-on mower when a ROBOT will cut your grass

Tanuki
Devil

What we need is for someone to develop a Robotic Allen-Scythe!

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Tanuki
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Sheep?

It sounds horribly expensive and over-complicated: I have a vision of it toppling over and rolling down one of my 45-degree grassy slopes, to lie distressed at the bottom like an upturned turtle - or it fighting a losing battle with a coil of garden hose, or drowning itself in the pond.

Far better (and cheaper) to get an orphan spring lamb from the local farmer to crop your grass - this also has the advantage that at the end of the season you have something to go in the freezer.

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Internet of Things fridges? Pfft. So how does my milk carton know when it's empty?

Tanuki
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Tags?

So, this "Smart Fridge" will expect me to attach a food-specific tag to the unused bits of the lettuce I plucked from the kitchen-garden, the fresh haunch of Venison acquired from a friend, the wedge of Stilton or the Gloucester-Old-Spots-and-Bramley-Apple Sausages from the farmer's market before I put them in the aforementioned sapient appliance?

Sounds a hell of a lot of trouble to go to if you ask me.

And even if said fridge were to become conscious of the fact that I'm running dangerously low on Cucumbers, how will it know whether there are any available in the market (whether for ready money or not)? I guess I'll just have to risk offending Lady Bracknell.

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Remember Control Data? The Living Computer Museum wants YOU

Tanuki

Memories...

First serious computer I ever programmed (batch FORTRAN) was the UMRCC CDC7600, with an ICL1906 (under GEORGE3) as the RJE terminal. As others have mentioned, it used 60-bit words - meaning if you used BCD encoding you could store ten characters per word and then do some evil masking/bit-shuffling.

I developed a hate/hate relationship with the method the thing used to request tape-mounts: often it took rather longer for the ops to retrieve and mount a tape than the OS was prepared to wait before timing out and killing the requesting job. I got used to programming save/restore points throughout large runs.

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I am NOT a PC repair man. I will NOT get your iPad working

Tanuki
FAIL

I find it useful to deploy phrases like:

"Tell me the contract details of your support-partner and I'll raise a service-call with them for you"

or

"You need to speak to one of my consultants - let me have your phone number and I'll get them to call you to arrange an appointment. You *are* VAT-registered, aren't you?"

or

"Would you ask the chief-executive of British Aerospace to book you a package-holiday? No - so why are you asking me about your iToy?"

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Readers' choice: What every small-business sysadmin needs

Tanuki

Cattle-prods, rubber hoses and Etherkillers are occasionally useful but when called in to do things at short notice I also like the magic piece of paper bearing the text which reads:

" I [legal owner of business X] hereby absolve [Y] from all legal liability for actions he/she undertakes while working on computer hardware/software located at premises [Z] and operated or owned by business [X]".

You get the business-owner to sign this before you start work, in order to prevent subsequent nastiness.

Only once have I needed to use my other line: "If we do this the way you want and we're caught then both of us could go to jail; do it my way and if caught only you go to jail. I think we're going to do it my way".

There is, alas, no convenient piece of paper that can get a small [or large for that matter] business out of an Anton Piller order at short notice.

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BuzzGasm: Cloud Internet Of Stuff As-A-Service!

Tanuki
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I think you need a "Made from Badger's Paws and Silly String" in there somewhere.

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Urinating teen polluted 57 Olympic-sized swimming pools - cops

Tanuki
Go

W.C.Fields.

W.C. Fields got it right:

"I never drink water: Fish fornicate in it".

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Feature-phones aren't dead, Moto – oldsters still need them

Tanuki
Thumb Up

It's not just the oldies who like this sort of thing.

A feature-phone with seriously-long battery-life coupled with buttons that are large enough to still let you use the thing while wearing gloves is just what some of us outdoorsy-types like.

Ever tried using a touchscreen outdoors in the middle of a hailstorm, or while riding a horse?

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