* Posts by AndrueC

2511 posts • joined 6 Aug 2009

Landlines: The tech that just won't die

AndrueC
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Re: Cheaper alternative to truecall

CPR call blocker worked fairly well for me but it doesn't have the screening ability. For me that's the big draw with TC. With CPR I'd have had to block all anonymous callers and that was a step too far. With TC they get screened and so far I've not had any marketing types bother to even leave a message. As noted previously my GP's surgery did though.

But CPR is definitely a more affordable alternative.

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AndrueC
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Meh

Ah, so you've had some bad experiences. Can't say I ever have. There was once the time that an insurer double charged me but I just called my bank (Barclays) and they refunded the money by next working day. I have heard that some banks can be a pain when it comes to the DD guarantee but my single experience of Barclays suggested that it worked really well.

Hmmm. I - almost - complement Barclays and BT in one post. That's a bit disturbing :)

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AndrueC
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I haven't paid my line rental to BT for many years.

..snip..

I 'foolishly' allow New Call Telecom to 'raid' my bank account for £10.09

Ah so New Call Telecom pay BT for you. You can run and you can hide but as long as you're jiggling electrons on BT's local loop they will get their two kilogrammes of flesh :)

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AndrueC
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Stop

Re: Call filtering

How is it acceptable that, as policy, their outgoing phone calls look like scams?

I think it's mainly to protect patient privacy. Not everyone wants their partner or family to know that they are awaiting the results of a test especially since the only reason ours calls is if the test shows a problem. Some people might not even want family to know they've been to the GP recently.

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AndrueC
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Re: Call filtering

and another that slips my mind at them moment.

GP's surgery perhaps? A lot of them withhold their number. Mine does although the receptionist apparently hasn't grasped the basic principals of why it seems. She left a message on my answering machine saying asking so-and-so to call the Dr's surgery to discuss the results of their test. It was a wrong number.

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AndrueC
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WTF?

Even if you're foolish enough to allow a direct debit

What the hell is that supposed to mean? Why is it foolish to allow direct debits? I'd say that not paying bills through DD is foolish unless you have an unreliable income.

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Secret Service on alert after drone CRASHES into White House

AndrueC
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Joke

Re: There has been mention before

Lets face it, you need a news outlet to report a scare and not actually bother to check the source or facts first.

In the UK that probably means having the Daily Mail on speed dial. Hell they'd write up the story even if it never happened.

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'Linus Torvalds is UNFIT for the WORKPLACE!' And you've given the world what, exactly?

AndrueC
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Boffin

Re: How bad is Torvalds?

And there's still the unanswered chicken-and-egg issue of consumer-oriented non-mobile-friendly software.

Yes but I think the poster was addressing the statement that:

Actually, IIRC, MS-DOS doesn't like modern hardware.

I suppose it depends what is meant by 'doesn't like' as I dare say there are any number of peripherals for which MSDOS device drivers don't exist. MSDOS v7 supports FAT32 and LBA so that means they can handle filesystems up to 16TB so would be fine with most HDDs. If by some miracle/perversion someone(*) is still using MSDOS for something I'd be pretty confident that a brand new off the shelf PC would still do what they want.

It makes me cringe a bit to think of someone doing that but I'm pretty sure all PCs are still compatible with MSDOS.

(*)Actually I do know someone still using it. They use it in a forensic/data recovery environment. That's because it gives better control over the hardware. There's no 'interfering' kernel to get in the way.

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Is it humanly possible to watch Gigli and Battlefield Earth back-to-back?

AndrueC
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Meh

Re: BE

The book is bad

I haven't read it in a while (I bought it in my last year at school more or less when it was first published) but from what I remember the first hundred pages were okay. I mean it's not literary brilliance but it was interesting and fun which is more than most 'post human civilisation' novels are. For me it all started to go downhill shortly after Jonnie began planning the revolution and the after they nuke Psycho it goes downhill fast. Entire chapters devoted to reverse engineering then redesigning the teleporter. And as for all that financial crap when he manages to find a way to avoid the foreclosure on Earth. Yuk.

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AndrueC
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Meh

I didn't think BE was all that bad. I think it's just one of those films that for some reason people took too seriously. I've read the book and I thought it was a pretty good adaptation. BE never was high science fiction. It's a ludicrously long comic book without any pictures. I am glad that they didn't bother with the sequel though. The second half of the book is a test of endurance with little to nothing to show for it when you do struggle through.

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Your anonymous code contributions probably aren't: boffins

AndrueC
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Re: @Dan 55 (was: C++ ...)

FWIW I believe that the Windows kernel is also written in C but its data structures are objects so in that sense it is object orientated.

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AndrueC
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The mainstream idea is that better programmers write shorter and cleaner code which contradicts with line of code statistics

It depends what is meant by 'cleaner' in this instance. Introducing an unneeded variable might be considered 'unclean' but it could improve readability and any half way decent compiler will optimise it out. In my experience short and concise code is harder to read and by trying to be too clever people are more prone to making mistakes.

Unless you're doing embedded coding you can pretty much rely on the compiler to generate better code anyway (especially with languages like C# and Java) so clarity of source is more important than keeping things short.

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NASA probe snaps increasingly detailed shots of MOIST DWARF goddess

AndrueC
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Continuing a theme: Maybe it's the Gateway asteroid. Now there's a challenge. I've always wondered if that was one teat I was willing to squeeze :)

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Give ALL the EU access to Netflix, says Vince Cable

AndrueC
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Re: TV Rights

Yeah, I don't know why I even mentioned Ireland. Maybe I meant to type 'Northern Ireland' (but that's probably an insult so let's assume not). Anyway it gave you a good reason to explain an even more stupid situation so that's good :)

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AndrueC
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Re: TV Rights

There's also the issue of 'FTA' v. 'FTV' that impacts satellite broadcasters. If I'm a UK channel and I want to broadcast the latest blockbuster I don't want to have to pay for the rights to broadcast it EU-wide. Unfortunately if my channel is being broadcast from Eutelsat 28A that's exactly what I'm going to be doing. An unencrypted channel is 'FTA' (Free To Air) and from that satellite anyone of over 300 million people can watch my output. The only workaround if I'm using this satellite would be to encrypt the channel and require viewers to have an appropriate decoding card. If I don't charge more than a handling fee for the card it becomes 'FTV' (Free to View). I can satisfy the rights holders by ensuring that the cards can only be sent to UK addresses.

The better solution would be to broadcast from a transponder that, nominally at least, only covered the UK and Ireland. Unfortunately until recently the only satellite that could do this (Astra 2A) was pretty much full. The refusal to support encryption is why Freesat doesn't carry all the free channels that Sky does. It was also the cause of the delay in getting 5 HD to air. In the end they reached an agreement with someone else (the BBC I think) to sublet space on Astra 2A.

Hopefully now that there's a new bird up there some channels might migrate over but it depends how long their current contracts run although (for better or for worse) it seems like 5 are not interested in going FTA at the moment. They may have an arrangement with Sky which is more lucrative.

One issue around regional rights that might be relevant here is translation. Anything that has to be translated needs to either wait for all translations to be complete or else chances are it'll have been seen by everyone before the translation is complete which lowers the value/revenue from translation.

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AndrueC
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Joke

Re: Cable and streaming

@Big_Ted: I think Timmay is trying to make a pun.

Vince Cable v. Virgin Cable

;)

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DVRs at the ready tonight: El Reg's motor Vulture is on the tellybox

AndrueC
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WTF?

Not that long ago (fewer than 10 years) I was helping my Dad sort stuff out after my Mum died and was surprised to find he was renting his telly.

Apparently some people still rent their telephones from BT.

"For example if you are older, disabled or vulnerable you may find it preferable to rent a telephone so that BT will be able to maintain the phone for you".

'maintain the phone for you'. Um..whut? You mean like come out and give it a wipe down once a week?

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AndrueC
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Boffin

Re: Freesat

Sky customers may be able to get it too?

I think it's around there in the Sky EPG as well. Even if not you only need the frequency/symbol rate/polarity and you can manually tune it in.

Edit: Looks like it might be channel 963. That's BBC One South East.

Alternatively unless you live in the provinces (Scotland or NI) BBC HD will be BBC London. They can't afford to carry as many different HD streams so they aren't very regionalised.

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Hollywood vs hackers: Vulture cracks Tinseltown keyboard cornballs

AndrueC
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FAIL

Re: @AndrueC

it's a ploy to keep the un-enlightened on the phone for a critical 59-seconds in the hopes that they can get a local patrol car to the location

That's a pet hate of mine with a lot of cop shows. In the closing scenes when they've worked out where the bad guys are it's usually the main characters who have to get up from their desks, jump into their cars then drive out and storm the premises to make the arrest. In most cases it's going to be quicker to just alert nearby patrols who are probably far closer.

And even worse (Criminal Minds is a big culprit here, along with later CSI seasons) who the hell decides to send expensively trained and educated investigative officers into a probable firefight? You send in the relatively cheap and expendable grunts first not the poindexters!

Bah. I'm definitely sounding like I watch too much TV now.

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AndrueC
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What a terrible show NCIS is

It was okay for the first couple of seasons when it was just a variant of the old cop show format. I mean it was nothing stellar but it entertained. But then they began to develop weird, long running story arcs where they take on the world's most evil people and save western civilisation as we know it all the while trampling over the rights of the general public.

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AndrueC
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Re: "it's a Unix system, I know this"

And I find it odd that you haven't included Jurassic Park.

Or one of the other novels he wrote, Sphere. There's a couple of classics in that. While investigating the strange signals they are getting they refer to them as being the 'Askey' code. Good ol' Arthur :)

Then later on there's a page of digits (and no letters). One of the characters says it's a hex dump (er..no way to know that given that there's no letters) then makes the comment that it can't be from a 68000 processor because they don't work in hex.

The mind boggles :)

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AndrueC
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Re: CSI?

For CSI whenever they do a fingerprint search I have to resist the temptation to tell them it would be quicker if it didn't waste time rendering the image on the screen :D

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AndrueC
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Happy

I thought this was to prevent suggestible loonies actually trying to connect to that fictional IP address. If it's in a movie it must be real, right?

I suppose it could be,actually, although using one of the private ranges would be pretty good.

Similar to the non-existent 555 exchange or area code used in telephone numbers.

Yeah. I think the UK system is better. It makes it harder to spot a fictitious number. Oh and I always rewind to take a quick look at the source code. It seems to nearly always be C.

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AndrueC
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Happy

Ah, Hollywood and IT. So much unintended humour.

Like IPv4 addresses where one or more octects is often greater than 255.

Or locating someone using the IP address of an email.

Or referring to a GPS device as a 'tracker'. In one example they chose a GPS device because the vehicle was going where there would be no cell phone coverage.

To say nothing of the infinitely zoomable digital image.

NCIS had in intriguing one last week. A laptop that they plugged a USB stick into which managed to infect their network through the power cable. My first reaction was to laugh.

Why would the technician allow the USB device to infect the laptop in the first place? But it's possible to imagine that as the only way to see what it did (a VM might be a better idea but it depends how good the sandboxing is). And she did put the laptop into a Farraday cage to prevent the infection spreading over the wifi network (and a clever virus could switch the wifi on so that was sensible). So that just left the question of an infection spreading through a power cable. Stupid? Maybe not. Perhaps all their laptops come with power-line networking support. Not completely impossible for a covert agency. But frankly I just ended up laughing..which annoyed the other person who was avidly watching it.

But for me the big annoyance is the way Hollywood still insists on having people stay on the line for at least half a minute so that the call can be traced. I don't think that's been needed in the Western world since before the turn of the century.

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What will happen to the oil price? Look to the PC for clues

AndrueC
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Re: Get hungry, not starve...

If I follow one of the many rivers then I won't even get thirsty.

You might get very sick though, unless you boil or filter it. How good are you at fire lighting?

:D

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AndrueC
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Re: Transport counting as survival

Last time I looked, the total human food supply was more than enough to feed everyone but there are still people starving

That's true but there's also a lot of wastage in the system. And I define 'wastage' as being food thrown away and also food being eaten by people that don't need it.

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Professor's BEAGLE lost for 10 years FOUND ON MARS

AndrueC
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former spacecraft like Beagle 2

That made me smile a bit. Yes. After smashing into the surface of Mars it is no longer a spacecraft.

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DAMN YOU! Microsoft blasts Google over zero-day blabgasm

AndrueC
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Meh

This does seem like Google being unnecessarily intransigent. The problem is that agreeing to defer the release could be the start of a slippery slope. It's not like Google have sprung this on MS - they've known it was coming for 90 days. And one advantage of Google doing this is that now MS know that when Google says 90 days they mean 90 days.

Speaking personally I can only applaud that particular view. I'm a very punctual person and when I say "I'll be there in five minutes" I mean 300 seconds not some arbitrary and variable time in the future.

I think this is relevant here. The software industry has a bad rep for meeting deadlines already.

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Tax Systems: The good, the bad and the completely toot toot ding-dong loopy

AndrueC
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Unhappy

Re: I wonder - North London commuters

Wouldn't buying a few more coaches for the commuter trains be a bit cheaper?

Figuring out how to save them having to make the journey would be even better. I have to travel 60 miles to get to work (albeit the hour on the train is actually quite pleasant thanks to Chiltern). Yet I have everything I need at home. Okay not everyone does but how about investing in local rentable offices for all major towns. It seems silly to me that any office worker has to travel more than five miles to get to a desk they can use.

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An e-reader you HAVEN'T heard of: Cybook Ocean 8"

AndrueC
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Meh

I don't agree about the swipe action being a good thing. I much prefer to have a button under my thumbs that I can just press. That's why I've stuck with my 4th gen Kindle for so long.

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Saudi Arabia to flog man 1,000 times for insulting religion on Facebook

AndrueC
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Happy

How ironic that the deified prophet Muhommed is so thin-skinned and fragile that he must rely on these barbaric thugs and atrocities to defend him.

Most of these deities seem pretty weak right from the off. The Christian God (who might well be the same as the Muslim God) apparently gets so lonely that he requires you to talk to him every day. Several times a day if possible. Mind you on the other hand He must be very tolerant because if I had to listen to the moans, whines and pleadings of several billion human beings I'd get out my smiting stick.

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AndrueC
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Unhappy

Re: Stupid Human Tricks

It boggles my mind that most humans still have yet to figure out that religion is completely made up bullshit

Part of it I think is that everyone wants to understand the universe they were born into - they need to understand the world so that they can function in it. Science explains the universe in great detail which can be very difficult to understand and as new discoveries are made it keeps changing its explanation. Religion has the fall back phrase 'Because God made it that way' to avoid complications and because it's mostly the product of imagination it doesn't have to change unless someone wants it to (and look how much trouble it causes when it does schism).

This all means that it's easier to rely on religion to explain your place in the universe so a lot of people do. Relying on science means accepting that we know very little about anything that happens outside of our own minds and for most people that's unsettling.

Up to this point it all just looks like a psychological crutch and if that's what people need to get through their life then fair enough. The problem is that some people have worked out that if you are responsible for explaining another person's view of 'the universe and their place in it' then you have very effective control over that person. It's all downhill from there.

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Frontier wipes credit of Elite: Dangerous 'billionaire' badboys

AndrueC
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Meh

Re: A correct decision at the end

CCP's mods might not be the best choice. Their process for deciding to ban players is both opaque, and inconsistent,

It also deliberately tough. Eve has always prided itself on being vicious or to be nice about it they expect players to take responsibility for their own actions. If you fly a Bestower (cheap and cheerful freighter) around with a hold full of Zydrine (usually the most expensive mineral) and get ganked at a gate don't bother crying to the mods. They'll tell you it's your own damn fault for not using any of various alternative game mechanics to transport valuable cargo.

You have to really push the boundaries before the mods will crack down on you. Even camping at a gate and ganking anyone and everyone that comes through is considered acceptable game play. If you complain about it they'll just tell you to find a better route or organise a group of players to take down the gankers.

Mind you toward the end of my time in Eve I used to seek out gankers and fly my Nighthawk back and forth through the gate. A well defended Nighthawk can (could back then) survive almost any practical gate camp and give them a bloody nose while sailing happily toward the gate. I couldn't destroy them but I could waste their ammo and irritate them :D

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AndrueC
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Re: Mostly Penniless.

The Spectrum version of the original Elite had a really simple bug. Launch the game, then immediately save the commander. The result was a much improved commander. But then again hacking the save file was easy enough. I remember that you could give yourself 25.5 light-years of fuel ;)

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

AndrueC
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My recollection is it mostly involves going nowhere at loggerheads, and kicking each other in the shins.

With your hands or even your head jammed between another player's thighs. I think we've all been to meetings like that.

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Alien Earths are out there: Our home is not 'unique'

AndrueC
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Although by the sound of it, any super-intelligent hive mind civilisation, collection of beings of pure light or similar that might have the astro kitchen to actually follow this recipe might not bother.

I think that any super advanced civilisation will build its own space habitats and largely ignore worlds with natural ecosystems. The damn' things are so fragile and getting goods up from the bottom of a gravity well is such a drag. Far better to build an orbital. You control the thermostat if you want to leave it you just walk off the edge.

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It's 2015 and ATMs don't know when a daughterboard is breaking them

AndrueC
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Re: First rule

Mostly because it's a waste of everyone's time

I agree but I've taken that a bit further and hardly ever use cash(*). At a guess I have to get some twice or maybe three times a year. Even then I usually get it from colleagues by offering to put the Friday lunch bill on my plastic if they give me their paper :)

(*)That was a problem for a while because I almost completely ran out of coins to put in parking meters but then someone invented pay by phone and now that doesn't matter(**).

(**)Although I wish they'd agree on a single app for all car parks to use and there is small additional charge for the service.

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Renault Captur: Nobody who knows about cars will buy this

AndrueC
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my Wifes Megane 1.5 replacing the headlight bulbs entails jacking up the car

My Honda Jazz is similar but apparently if you turn the wheels, have thin hands and can work blind you can skip the jack and wheel removal.

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The weirdly-synched life of the Google Nest household

AndrueC
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Re: Smart Thermostats

Are there any that can just learn how long your home takes to warm up and have a facility so you can tell it "Don't come on this evening, I'm off to the pub instead"?

The former, yes - just search for Optimum Start. I bought my Honeywell CM67 over ten years ago. There's no specific function for 'don't bother this evening' but I can tell it I'm on holiday until tomorrow which should have the same effect.

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AndrueC
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How can you do this if it has no remote control. You are on business, you then find you are going to be away a couple of extra days

Sorry, I misread what you wrote(*). Obviously that wouldn't be possible. As I wrote a bit later on remote control could occasionally be useful. What I'm taking issue with is the idea of it turning my heating on based solely on a location change (or lack thereof). In most cases that would be too late to do anything. I have a 90 minute commute but during winter that often wouldn't be long enough for it start the heating. If I had a more typical half hour commute that'd further reduce the usefulness of the feature.

(*)Distracted by work. I seem to have broken something this morning :-/

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AndrueC
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Meh

you are going to be away on business for a couple of extra days with the house empty you can just let your thermostat know to remain on a low setting for a few more days

Which mine can also do. I can also tell it that I'm going to be at home tomorrow so use the Sunday program. Or I can tell it I'm having friends over so run the Sunday program for the next few hours. The only thing I can't do is remotely control it although apparently there was once a telephone remote control module you could buy for it.

My main issue really is with the heuristic guessing logic and the much vaunted 'just in time heating' which was what I was complaining about here. It's a bit like cooking dinner for your partner. If they say they are going to be an hour late that's fine. But if they say 'I'll be a bit late' it throws everything into question. It'll be a sad day for humanity when your thermostat responds to a command by asking 'Yes, but how late is late exactly?'.

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AndrueC
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Facepalm

change your thermostat settings when you arrive (warm the house up)

Which at this time of year means that the house should be nicely up to temperature a few hours later. Just in time for me to go to bed. This idea of the heating going on and off with my movements seem to completely ignore the inherent latency in most heating systems. My heating manages to raise temperature at 2 degrees an hour during winter, sometimes less on a really cold day. At this time of year my heating needs more of a head start than 'oh look, he's putting his keys in the front door'.

Luckily I have a thermostat with optimum start that I bought over a decade ago. It's not connected to the cloud but it does know how long it takes my heating to do things so it ensures that the house at the temperature I want when I need it.

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UKIP website TAKES A KIP, but for why?

AndrueC
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Joke

Damned web browsers. Coming over to our server and taking all the data. We'll put a stop to that!

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Beyond the genome: YOU'VE BEEN DECODED, again

AndrueC
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Re: @Trevor

I care not what role mosquitoes serve.

On that subject there's a curious (and quite readable) book by Amitov Ghosh.

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AndrueC
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Re: Odd statement

iI'd like to know which species tried and failed to decode their own genomes.

Melopsittacus Undulatus. The project was going really well at first but then one of them invented the mirror and funds were immediately diverted into finding out who was doing all the cloning.

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Healthcare: Look anywhere you like for answers, just not the US

AndrueC
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Re: I don't get the mentality of the US healthcare consumers.

From memory, so don't take this as gospel, NHS spending per head of population is some $3,500 a year. So $7,000 vfor a couple ain't that different really.

That was more or less the conclusion me and my ex-US colleagues came to when we compared life on both sides of the Atlantic. From a purely financial point of view it seemed about equal. There seemed to be only three significant differences:

* A lot of what they bought was bigger or 'better' in some other way. Housing being an obvious example although I was told that on the Eastern seaboard the difference isn't quite as extreme with land scarcity being an issue there.

* They get more choice. They don't have to lose a chunk of their income to pay for health care if they don't want. Possibly it's a Hosbon's choice but choice is usually a Good Thing(TM).

* In the UK if you're one of life's losers life is a bit naff but you're usually healthy and can get by. In the US if you're one of life's losers life is hell. We reckoned that it was a lot easier to become a loser in the US if things went wrong. That is to say that the my US colleagues were a lot more scared about how they'd cope if they lost their jobs than we were.

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AndrueC
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Meh

Re: Thoughts

The big problem for the NHS is mainly inefficiency on the clerical side.

A couple of years back my optician referred me to my GP and I spent two years having regular appointments to see a specialist for monitoring. The appointments consisted of half an hour for an eye test and half an hour to discuss the results. So they'd book me in for an hour. When the confirmation came (and the reminder nearer the time) I'd get two letters, one for the first half hour, another for the second half hour. Something of a waste of postage methinks :-/

Thankfully nothing was found to be wrong. Well..sorta. I still didn't do very well on their visual field test but the consultant's view was that since the machines claimed I was half blind and couldn't read and since we spent ten minutes comparing golf stories he thought the machines were wrong. His parting comment was "If it's not bothering you, it doesn't bother me."

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This one shall pass! Not even a flesh wound from ‘Monty Python’ SPACE ROCK

AndrueC
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Joke

An asteroid. An. Asteroid.

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30 years ago today, the first commercial UK 'mobile' phone call was made

AndrueC
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Happy

Re: Meanwhile back in the early 70s

Cannon used to have one in his car as well.

Mind you that was a dangerous car. It seemed like every time he got into it someone hit him on the head and kidnapped him.

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