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* Posts by Dr Paul Taylor

86 posts • joined 15 Jul 2009

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NORKS hacker corps reaches 5,900 sworn cyber soldiers - report

Dr Paul Taylor

Evolutionarily good

One might hope that this will result in some toughening up of operating systems and improved virus detection software from South Korean sources.

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If Google remembers whom it has forgotten, has it complied with the ECJ judgment?

Dr Paul Taylor

Google isn't the Web

We all know about the common confusion of the Internet with the World Wide Web. There seems to be another one between the WWW and Google underlying this. I don't particularly want to defend Google, but there it is. I am already concerned that their searches show me what they think I want to see or what they want me to see or what the Govt wants me to see, instead of what's actually there.

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How to catch a fraudster – using 'top cop' Benford and the power of maths

Dr Paul Taylor

Scale independence

At this point you might be wondering if this is to do with the units in which you choose to measure, but no, this phenomenon is unit-independent.

It's exactly because it is unit- or more accurately scale-independent that it works. I am a little surprised not to have seen the word "logarithm" in the article.

Scale issues make me a little sceptical of its value for fraud detection: I would imagine that credit limits and common denominations of payments would obscure the distribution.

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The amazing .uk domain: Less .co and loads more whalesong

Dr Paul Taylor
Thumb Down

the intermediate level is useful

In British system the usage is clear, for example www.birmingham.ac,uk and www.birmingham.gov.uk. Without the intermediate level you have to express the same information in an ad hoc way, for example

www.tu-darmstadt.de and however they name their local authorities.

It would be much better if we introduced new intermediate level domain names for each of the things for which there is some regulatory authority, eg lloyds.bank.uk or smithbrown.law.uk, to go with .ac.uk .gov.uk .nhs.uk .sch.uk etc.

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A scanner, darkly: Master data-miner Google tweaks terms of service

Dr Paul Taylor

your own email

Nowadays I am not aware of a hosting provider that doesn't use Microsoft or Google services for email.

I have been a satisfied customer of primexeon.com for several years now. No, they haven't paid me to say that.

They use cpanel and various standard LAMP tools under that. Frankly the cpanel interface is a pile of ****, but the freedom it gives me is far preferable to the home-grown ones that other web companies provide. In particular, I can write my own code for my webpages and email as I wish.

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Boffins devise world's HARDEST tongue-twister

Dr Paul Taylor
Headmaster

muddled history

whilst the rest of Europe was enjoying the Rennaisance the Brits were in the sway of the Puritans ...

The Rennaisance was well out of nappies and on its way to school by the time of the Puritans. Might be a good idea to look at some dates.

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Late with your ransom payment? Never mind, CryptoLocker crooks will, er, give you a break

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: amazing

and conversely.

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Techies with Asperger's? Yes, we are a little different...

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: Pperhaps the start of a series...

I've known bipolar people and haven't a clue how you deal with them. They can be very scary when they're at the wrong pole and no amount of telling them that you want to be their friend seems to help matters. Surely interacting with a colleague or friend with Asberger's is a doddle compared to dealing with bipolar people.

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Dr Paul Taylor

Acceptable discrimination

So what if someone has Aspergers. Other people have a squint.

Other people are female, gay, of other ethnicities, physically disabled, etc.

However, in all of these things it is no longer acceptable to discriminate, and more or less everybody now knows that. The problem is that autistic spectrum behaviour --- which many of us here do not regard as a "disability" --- remains a perfectly acceptable reason for discrimination.

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Dr Paul Taylor

Re: Noise pollution

Totally agree on the noise pollution thing. (Classical) music is fine, so I listen to Radio 3, but that all too frequently degenerates into airheaded chat from conceited arts graduates - the "opera" from the Met, for example, seems to be ?50% chat. "Just play the f**king music!", I frequently yell at it.

Altogether an excellent piece, as I see many other Reggistas also consider. However, the only events that I could find on the website autism.org.uk were lectures, not self-help groups.

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Dubya: I introduced PRISM and I think it's pretty swell

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: Mañana

My friend bought a fridge in Spain. The guy in the shop said it would be delivered "mañana mañana" and it duly turned up at 10am. Better service than Currys or Comet.

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SAP in search of autistic software engineers who 'think different'

Dr Paul Taylor
Flame

Evidently you understand the condition, so you should be capable of making allowances for it, particularly given the link between Asberger's and technical competence. We're not talking about someone with a mental illness that might suddenly make them violent. Nor is it dementia.

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Congress: It's not the Glass that's scary - It's the GOOGLE

Dr Paul Taylor
Black Helicopters

Re: Google Analytics

But there are also googleapis and googlemaps and ...

Increasingly, you cannot opt out of Google without opting out of the Web altogether.

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Hunt: I'll barcode sick Brits and rip up NHS's paper prescriptions

Dr Paul Taylor
FAIL

Sounds like another ID card.

Please just let me email my repeat prescription requests to my GP's surgery, instead of making me go there one day with a note and two days later to collect the prescription. Then let me take it to whichever pharmacy I feel like on the day. The existing and proposed systems for involving pharmacies in obtaining repeat prescriptions just add to the time and the complication.

Also, I should be able to get my complete medical records by turning up at the surgery with a USB stick and my passport.

My way of doing it would take next to no additional IT. Any proposals from computer-illiterate politicians are likely to be expensive failures.

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Virgin Media: SO SORRY we fined your dead dad £10 for unpaid bill

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: I can't afford to die.

If possible, especially if the amounts of money are small, it is easier just to pretend to be the person or say that you are doing things on their behalf than to tell bureaucrats that someone had died or that they have Alzheimers and you have lasting power of attorney for them. If you tell them that there is some legal piece of paper they will stop doing anything until they have the original. Spoken from experience.

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Smug Red Hat buoyed by UK gov's open-source three-line-whip

Dr Paul Taylor

Lost for Words

Does this mean that I can now refuse to read Word documents from people in the public sector?

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Remember Streetmap? It's suing Google in a UK court

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: Streetmap is superior

Where can you get any idea on how to get from A to B on streetmap?

When I went to school there were lessons called "Geography" that, amongst other things, taught how to read a map.

My street shares its name with a much bigger one on the other side of London, so sometimes I get misdirected mail. One day I had a misdirected person: someone who had typed the street name into Google Maps and then blindly did as he was told, despite obviously being in the wrong part of the city.

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Dr Paul Taylor

Streetmap is superior

Google seems to think that the only way from A to B is by car, so pedestrian areas simply do not exist, as far as it is concerned.

Streetmap appears to be based on the Ordnance Survey.

I would appreciate recommendations for services that are as good as Streetmap but for other countries.

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MISSING LINK between HUMANS and MONKEYS FOUND

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: Missing Windows 8 User

The immediate successor of Peter as Pope was called Linus.

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Publishing ANYTHING on .uk? From now, Big Library gets copies

Dr Paul Taylor

practicalities

This is a Good Thing.

However, this is not really the same as the BL getting a copy of every book that is published, because before a book is published it is put in a form that the author and publisher regard as "finished".

Websites are never "finished". (Once upon a time it was de rigeur to have an "under construction" logo on one's site.)

So it would be nice to know more about the practicalities of this, so that the owners of websites who would like to regard their content as permanent can contribute in the most effective way to the national archive.

I couldn't find anything about this in my quick perusal of the relevant webpage.

http://pressandpolicy.bl.uk/Press-Releases/Click-to-save-the-nation-s-digital-memory-61b.aspx

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Model S 'leccycar selling better than expected, says Tesla

Dr Paul Taylor

units

22 gigawatts of electricity per hour

This is one of the things that makes me stop reading something in mid-sentence. If the author cannot get this right then nothing else is to be trusted.

BTW why are errors with units almost always in the time factor?

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Merde! Dummkopf! Google Translate used as spam cloak

Dr Paul Taylor

If we all went back to plain text email ... The problem is that nobody wants to do this

I do.

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ICO clamps down on nuisance calls, slaps £90k fine on Glasgow firm

Dr Paul Taylor
Flame

The fault is that caller ID is useless

(1) The "message that this sends" to such companies is that they should not provide caller ID and so get caught. The telephone system is technologically so primitive that it is (the telcos claim) impossible to trace calls. Even when caller ID is provided it can easily be spoofed, because the spec is primitive.

(2) Many organisations (eg the NHS) withhold caller ID as a matter of policy "for security". That is, they consider that it is more secure to get someone involved in a possibly sensitive conversation if they can't distinguish the caller from a complete stranger. So blocking anonymous calls also blocks the important ones.

(3) As I remarked a few weeks go with lots of upvotes, many organisations (eg banks) go to great lengths to mimick the behaviour of criminals, eg by asking for security information in calls that they have initiated.

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Chinese Army: US hacks us so much, I'm amazed you can read this

Dr Paul Taylor

Probably evolutionarily beneficial

A lot better than the US and China lobbing nukes at each other.

Presumably there's quite a lot of skill on both sides going in to this game.

It might spin off some better cybersecurity for the rest of us.

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Amazon, eBay, banks snub anti-fraud DNS tech, sniff securo bods

Dr Paul Taylor
Flame

Clueless banks

It would be nice if banks even understood the basic idea of the hierarchical domain name system, ie using subdomains such as online.bank.co.uk instead of www.bank.co.uk, bankonline.co.uk, bankgizmos.co.uk, ukbank.com and a dozen other things.

It would be nice if banks did not send emails that seem to be designed to look as much like phishing as possible.

It would be nice if, having warned people not to hand over their passwords when asked in emails (which El Reg readers at least know how to trace), they did not then phone customers, withholding even (the easily spoofed) caller ID, and ask for their security information.

It would be nice if banks did not use obvious man-in-the-middle systems like Verified by Visa.

Complaining that the don't use DNSSEC seems rather irrelevant in this context.

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Wikipedia's Gibraltar 'moratorium' - how's it going?

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: Interesting...

That's not fair. It is well worth a day trip and way more interesting than La Linea de la Concepcion. It's also interesting to note how much it suits the Spanish to have it there, as a source of employment and cheap petrol. But there are plenty of other interesting places in the world, so it does not deserve as much plugging on a global website as is alleged in the article.

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BT copper-cable choppers cop 16 months in the cooler

Dr Paul Taylor
Joke

grammar

"to totally ignore the subjunctive is equally as silly"

"I'd be very worried if someone was sentenced,,,"

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Meet قلب, the programming language that uses Arabic script

Dr Paul Taylor
Thumb Down

historical ignorance

I suggest that you read the excellent book Pathfinders: The Golden Age of Arabic Science by Jim Al-Khalili.

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Fans of dead data 'liberator' Swartz press Obama to sack prosecutor

Dr Paul Taylor
Flame

Re: Copyright law needs fixing

Whilst I have upvoted this post, I should point out in the context of this and the following comments that the analogy with the entertainment industry is false.

I don't have any sympathy with the music distributors, but the fact is that the purpose and funding of pop music are achieved through those companies.

In the case of academic research, on the other hand, the purpose is other academic research and the funding is largely from the public purse. The distributors (publishers) used to facilitate this process, but nowadays they contribute NOTHING at all. Academics continue to use them because they are forced to do by by their universities and governments.

The whole business of commercial academic publishing is armed robbery of intellectual property.

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Nuisance calls DOUBLE, Ofcom vows to hunt down offenders

Dr Paul Taylor

Real calls indistinguishable from spam

The phone or the telco can block calls without caller ID. However, this does not solve the problem, because there are legitimate calls without it too, and not just international or Skype calls. It seems that hospitals and banks have a policy of withholding this information. Banks seem to be very keen on mimicking phishers. If you have two parents with dementia or some other reason to expect calls from hospitals and social services then you have no choice but to answer all calls. So the other side of the coin is to overturn this misguided notion of "security" and require all non-residential callers to provide caller ID.

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Al Jazeera buys Al Gore's Current TV news network

Dr Paul Taylor
Thumb Up

Re: Good "news", pardon the pun

I started reading Al Jazeera when Zimbabwe was a big news topic, because I got sick of hearing that "the BBC is not allowed in Zimbabwe", so I thought it might be nice to hear from a news agency that actually had some reporters there. I read about the Arab Spring and Libyan war there too.

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Phone-hack saga: Police cuff man in southwest London

Dr Paul Taylor

PM in SW London

But the postcode of 10 Downing St is SW1A 2AA. SW = South West London, n'est ce pas?

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Police use 24/7 power grid recordings to spot doctored audio

Dr Paul Taylor
Black Helicopters

fm

I share the skepticism, bit there is a difference between this and dendrochronology. Whereas there is no control over the climate vaiation that leads different tree rings, Plod could be getting the National Grid to introduce coded signals into the mains hum.

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It pays to study the habits of your email users

Dr Paul Taylor
Linux

piling and filing software

I notice from reading through these comments that everyone seems to have an ad hoc home grown solution to managing their email. Nobody has recommended a piece of software (of any religious affiliation - see on the left for mine) to do it.

I would like to have my email in both directions filed by (year and) the name of the other person, so that I can see a coherent account of my conversation with them.

I have my own code to do this, but don't trust it, despite years of development. I have tried searching for other people's (open source) software to do it but have drawn a blank. Any recommendations?

Recoll is the only useful thing that I have found.

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Revealed: Google's manual for its unseen humans who rate the web

Dr Paul Taylor

My own private Google

The thing that bothers me every time I read a story about how clever (or otherwise) Google's algorithms are is the thought that it is telling me what it thinks I want or ought to hear, rather than the way it is, even in response to non-commercial queries.

For example, presumably it already tells Chinese users that nothing newsworthy happened on 4 June 1989. Does it also only connect Texans with sites that say that the World was created 6000 years ago, that Climate Change is a fraud and that they will be Raptured anytime soon?

Suppose I search for something that is related to what I myself do. Someone in business would do this regularly to find out about their competition. When Google shows me my own pages and those of my immediate colleagues near the top of the list, is this because they are genuinely the important ones, or because it thinks that I will like that?

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Girlfriend 'tried to MURDER ME with her AMPLE BREASTS'

Dr Paul Taylor
Coat

Please, there are respectable gays and women who read El Reg! By all means put "ample breasts" in the headline as bait for the hetero boys, but not in the graphics for the lead story!

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Glorious silicon globes could hold key to elusive PERFECT kilogram

Dr Paul Taylor

Abolish Leap Seconds

Greenwich mean time is so called because it's averaged over the year. There is a difference of up to a quarrter of an hour (called the equation of time) from the actual movement of the Sun.

We generally have hourly time zones, so there's another 30 mins difference, but for political reasons some countries are far from their time zones. Then there's Daylight Saving.

Leap Seconds are trivial in comparison. In the year 5000, we can make a political decision to move UK to what is now Central European Time and the rest of western Europe can move to the next time zone, etc.

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Dr Paul Taylor
Boffin

Units of Planck's constant

Joules multiplied by seconds, not Joules per second. In terms of basic units, this is kg m^2/s.

In Heisenberg's Uncertainly Law, the uncertainty in Energy (Joules) multiplied by that in time (seconds) must be at least Planck's constant. Likewise, the uncertainty in momentum (kg m/s) multiplied by that in position (metres).

Given that the article is about units, this is a rather fundamental error, but otherwise it's a good article.

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Power to the people - if you can find a spare socket

Dr Paul Taylor

Compatible sockets in continental Europe?

Not Italy. In one hotel room in Genoa where I once stayed, there were seven different electrical sockets, in none of which could I insert the (European standard) power plug for my laptop. Then there was the flat in which there was a (shaver's?) switch in the bathroom that turned off everything in the flat.

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Finally - a solution to let people make money online WITHOUT ads?

Dr Paul Taylor
Flame

Academics don't get anything from the existing system

It's likely to annoy bureaucrats and taxpayer-funded academics who have carved out a niche turning copyright into a regulatory boondoggle.

Why was it necessary to make this uninformed side-swipe at academics?

Those who publish their papers in expensive commercial journals do so because the universities that employ them and the agencies through which they get their funding force them to do so, following the instructions of taxpayer-elected governments.

Whatever kind of journal they use, academics do all the work (research, typesetting, refereeing) but receive no royalties for publication of papers. The royalties on research-level books usually amount to pocket money.

Get your facts right, please.

Besides, it would also be useful if you could tell us how the proposed system would work.

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Quite contrary Somerville: Behind the Ada Lovelace legend

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: Grace Hopper

I hadn't heard of Grace Hopper (1906-92) before, so thank you for bringing her to our attention.

However, I would point out that she had two circumstantial advantages over Ada Lovelace (1815-52): She lived a full life during an age when computing technology of sorts had become available. Ada could only speculate about the possibilities of a machine that was never realised and was cut off in the prime of life by cancer.

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Skydiver Baumgartner in 128,000ft plunge from brink of space

Dr Paul Taylor
Thumb Up

Re: the FT index broke the 6000 "barrier"

The reason for asking this question was that I thought that the speed of sound would vary a lot with height. However, the table that Chris 48 helpfully linked shows that it is greatest (340m/s) at ground level, decreases or increases with height in the various layers of the atmosphere and is least (274m/s) at 90km.

psychological support/resistance levels/barriers are confined to the realms of the imagination and the financial press

That's exactly what I meant. Numbers ending in 000 are not barriers.

Equally, the speed of sound at ground level is not relevant to someone a long way up.

However, we have established that he broke the sound barrier, even though it is not clear at what altitude or speed this was. It will be interesting to discover whether this had any physiological effect when the data have been studied.

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Dr Paul Taylor
Boffin

Sound barrier?

The daredevil will break the sound barrier at 1,110 km/h (690mph) during his descent

This is the speed of sound at 0C. It varies with temperature and therefore altitude:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_of_sound

#Altitude_variation_and_implications_for_atmospheric_acoustics

So by "sound barrier" do you mean journalese sloppiness like "the FT index broke the 6000 barrier" or do you actually mean that he will encounter the aeronautic effects of passing through the air that surrounds him faster than sound does?

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Register SPB hacks mull chopping off feet

Dr Paul Taylor
Coat

penalty for non-compliance

Metric martyrs should be made to sit Victorian applied maths exams, with poundals and bushels and British Thermal Units and all the other ridiculous ones that I can't remember. Compulsory resits until they agree to go on telly to say how much easier SI is.

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GCHQ boss: Crypto-genius Turing brought tech to British spooks

Dr Paul Taylor

what Turing would be doing now

Why on Earth do you suppose that Turing would have continued to be a spook if he were still alive today?

His 132 academic descendants are doing plenty of other things:

genealogy.math.ndsu.nodak.edu/id.php?id=8014

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Global action takes down tech support scam

Dr Paul Taylor

Nuisance calls in general

This is good news, though, like pulling up weeds, there will be new ones tomorrow.

However, the underlying problem with scams like this and other nuisance callers is that there is apparently no way of tracing telephone calls. When I tried complaining to BT or C+W they said they couldn't do anything about it but I didn't believe them. After BT demonstrated their inability to fix a simple exchange fault, I joined ICUK and am on first-name terms with them. They too say that there is nothing they can do and are pestered by the same things themselves. Presumably they're just too small to have the clout to do anything about it. On the other hand, I am quite sure that the Police would be able to trace the calls, if they wanted to.

Yet it seems to have been accepted that "email is not secure" (although El Reg readers know how to trace it) but phones are. So we have banks phoning customers, without even caller ID, and asking them their "security questions", whilst telling people not to do exactly that with email.

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Euro watchdog to charge Microsoft on web browser choice boob

Dr Paul Taylor
Linux

split the browser business off

Wasn't that exactly the objective of the legal process against M$ in the dying days of the Clinton administration that was killed off by Bush?

More fundamentally, making the Web browser the same as the file browser was pretty stupid in the first place. Recently, I copied some files (photos of my dad, whom I mentioned the other day) to a computer that used to have Internet access but no longer has (belonging to his schoolmate). When I had done so, it was impossible to open the folder because Internet Explorer wanted to explore the Internet but couldn't.

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Politico's locked room mystery Linux install crime solved

Dr Paul Taylor

pun

This seems to be the nearest that El Reg commentards have got so far to the obvious pun on "breaking Office Windows".

As for Linux installation "deleting all my files", I for one have been pretty pissed off when Ubuntu trashes /usr /etc, especially when it ends up screwing up initramfs so that that machine ends up being unbootable.

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Analogue TV snuffs it tonight on UK mainland

Dr Paul Taylor
Unhappy

more like fifty

My father Cedric (Ced) Taylor was involved in the development of PAL colour television receivers at Ekco in Southend from 1962 to 1967 and then at GEC Hitachi in Slough from 1967 to 1986. He died in February this year, two months before his TV signal did.

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