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* Posts by Kubla Cant

1172 posts • joined 28 Jun 2010

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BBC: We're going to slip CODING into kids' TV

Kubla Cant
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Re: Foundations

we were always taught to plan all the stuff out first before going near a computer, and it generally worked much better that way than freeform typing

I'm sorry, I have to disagree. I suspect that the whole "turn off the screen and get out a pencil and paper" method was originally advocated before IDEs which allowed rapid exploration and experimentation. I'm sure most kids would find it a turn-off. What are they going to put on the paper? UML?

That's not to suggest that the paper approach isn't valid in professional development (though in 30 years' experience, I've seen little of it going on). But interest has to come first - discipline can follow.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: The kid I saw on the BBC News this morning...

...html. Maybe useful, but hardly "coding"

I know what you mean, but HTML counts as getting a computer to do stuff and trying to understand why it's not doing what you expected, which is an important first step. Declarative programming, rather than procedural, but not inadmissable on that basis.

The danger is that HTML takes over and the whole project becomes as vacuous as the MS Office based curriculum of the past.

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'I think photographers get TOO MUCH copyright for their work'

Kubla Cant
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Re: I'm already in range

@ST7 Can you point me to any evidence that patents/copyright promotes invention/artistic achievement rather than stifling it.

Prior to the introduction of copyright in the 18th century, artists such as Hogarth suffered serious diminution of earnings because their engravings were pirated almost as oon as they were published. This at a time when the copying process was far more labour-intensive than it is today.

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Virgin Media blocks 'wankers' from permissible passwords

Kubla Cant
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Re: Optimisation missing

BT Internet seems to store plaintext passwords, too, to judge from a conversation I recently had with a support drone.

@AC Thanks for that inciteful advice *facepalm*

Do you mean "insightful"? Or perhaps "incisive"? You can't have both at once. Perhaps if you took your palm away from your face you could see what you're typing.

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Finally, a practical use for 3D printing: Helping surgeons rehearse

Kubla Cant
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Re: Useful stuff

Interestingly, last night's TV showed 3d printing used to create the "scaffolding" on which body parts can be grown from stem cells. I suspect it isn't yet happening in reality, but the potential is obvious.

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Bright lights, affordable motor: Ford puts LED headlights onto Mondeo

Kubla Cant
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Mushroom

Re: Daytime running lights

@Lars the condescending twat

Jamie Jones is right, except that the mention of seatbelts is very relevant. It's fairly well known that the introduction of seatbelts reduced death and injury among car occupants, while increasing death and injury among other road users. Car drivers, feeling safer, tended to drive less carefully.

The view that making cars more visible is an important contribution to road safety is based on the view that "it's everybody else's responsibility to get out of my way if they know what's good for them" (the Toad of Toad Hall philosophy).

From the perspective of pedestrians and cyclists, being seen is at least as important as seeing motor vehicles. In a world where something has to be lit up like a Christmas tree, road users with limited or no lighting are more at risk.

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The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal

Kubla Cant
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Re: The "LAW"

"dangerous acceleration" and "not stopping at a give way sign". I'm guessing that your car has something about it that attracts attention.

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Sin COS to tan Windows? Chinese operating system to debut in autumn – report

Kubla Cant
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Unhappy

Confused

China has more than a dozen mobile OS developers with no independent intellectual property rights because their research is based on Android.

I know that great operating systems are created by small teams, sometimes by individuals, but "more than a dozen" developers dosn't sound very world-changing.

Also, how is this project going to rectify the "no independent intellectual property rights" problem? If they're just building another Linux distro, then their IP will be very, very dependent. If, on the other hand, they are building a new proprietary OS (hello, 1970, nice to see you again) then the copyright in their work will almost certainly belong to their employer.

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Detroit losing MILLIONS because it buys CHEAP BATTERIES – report

Kubla Cant
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Re: sell by?

In my experience, the function of the expiry date on batteries is to convince you that it's now time to throw away the remaining eight batteries in the packet of ten that seemed good value in the supermarket ten years ago.

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Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4: 4G Android tablet is easy to swallow

Kubla Cant
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Re: Storage costs aren't always commutable @ Kubla Cant

@plrndl

I dare say that my Mint system will mount my Android 4.4.4 phone too, once I've set aside the time to upgrade to the latest Mint version. But all I wanted to do was copy a few new music files to the phone, not perform major system maintenance.

@phen

No such settings - you must be imagining it (or perhaps we have different phones).

@everybody else

Yes, yes, yes. I know there are solutions. I even know what some of the solutions are. I'm just irked to encounter a further example of ill-defined indirection layers on top of well-understood computer features. The incomprehensible "Libraries" in Windows 7 are another.

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Kubla Cant
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Mushroom

Re: Storage costs aren't always commutable

I recently discovered another good reason for removable storage. Until the last Android update I could connect my phone by USB to my Linux computer and mount the storage as a disk device. Now it's something called a media device, the contents of which are inaccessible from my oldish Linux. The only solution, incredibly, seems to be to remove the memory card from the phone and mount it via a USB card adapter.

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Govt control? Hah! It's IMPOSSIBLE to have a successful command economy

Kubla Cant
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Re: yeah but what about the jobs...?

In that condition, the notion of an economy is absurd.

Marx anticipated "the withering-away of the state" when Communism was completely implemented. It sounds like Tim anticipates the withering-away of the economy when robot automation is complete.

Both cases suffer from the reductionist fallacy of assuming that anything in the real world will reach its logical conclusion. To put it crudely, in a world where all desires are met, human ingenuity will invent new desires.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: "Mega Corp" proves command and control can work!

I think you'll find that the internal organisation of a Mega Corp has more in common with a market economy than a commnd economy. It depends, to some extent, on the diversity of their activities. A tightly-focussed company like Ford can probably be relatively dirigiste.

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Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes

Kubla Cant
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Re: Direct debit

PayPal can take money from your account via direct debit

Not from mine, they can't. A few years ago I made quite a lot of purchases on EBay, so I had to pay via PayPal, whom I in turn paid by credit card. After a few weeks I got an email from PayPal saying "You've spent over x. If you want to continue using PayPal you will have to let us suck money directly from your bank account via Direct Debit", possibly the only case I've encountered where a good customer gets a worse deal.

Naturally I declined, and ever since then I've been unable to use PayPal for purchases. Occasionally they even refuse my credit card when they're just acting as a card handler (in the same way as WorldPay, for example).

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Chomp that sausage: Brits just LOVE scoffing a Full Monty

Kubla Cant
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What about

Kippers? Kedgeree? Devilled kidneys? Anything else that begins with 'k'?

TBH kippers is the only one I regularly breakfast on. Kedgeree is mainly a dish for impressing weekend guests with my ability to cook on Sunday morning after a bibulous Saturday dinner, and I can't remember ever having devilled a kidney.

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Ancient pager tech SMS: It works, it's fab, but wow, get a load of that incoming SPAM

Kubla Cant
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Re: Can you turn it off?

>> Grown-ups use email

>Grown-ups use TELEX.

Real grown-ups send messages in cleft sticks. (See Evelyn Waugh's Scoop for details.)

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Amazon smacks back at Hachette in e-book pricing battle: We're doing it for the readers

Kubla Cant
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Re: Not for readers

@Michael Hawkes Amazon's doing it for profit, not for readers. I think they don't care whether people read books or not, as long as they keep buying them.

Whereas Waterstone's, Blackwell's, Foyle's and the independent bookshop in town would be happy to sell books at a loss as long as people keep reading them.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: We all moved to sharepoint.

@Buck Futter The paperback may have proved to be a financial success, yes, but as Woolf and Joyce feared, it has lowered the quality of writing.

Where's the evidence for this? What unit is quality of writing measured in, and who measured the pre-paperback score?

The difference in price between paperbacks and hardbacks these days is quite small. I suspect it's more a matter of market segmentation than production cost. The printed pages are identical, and binding is probably done by machine for both formats - few hardbacks seem to be stitched. Most of the hard cover edition is probably produced for libraries.

Being a bit of a book-fetishist, I like to buy hard cover books. Interestingly, they are much easier to find on Amazon than in bookshops.

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Americans to be guinea pigs in vast chip-and-PIN security experiment

Kubla Cant
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Why so many keys?

1-2-3-4-Enter.

Maybe 1-2-4-Erase-3-4-Enter.

Occasionally 1-9-0-3-Clear-1-2-3-4-Enter.

That's a maximum of 13 keys. So what are all the other keys on chip & pin terminals for? Especially the ones in supermarkets. With one on every checkout in the country, and, I should imagine, a pretty short life before replacement, there can't be economies of scale in using generic terminals. But they often seem to have function keys and other extra keys. Do the checkout staff play games on them when business is slack?

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Wait, an actual QR code use case? TGI Friday's builds techno-restaurant

Kubla Cant
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Windows

...only really suits regular customers...

TGI Friday has regular customers? People who, having made the mistake of going there once, decide to return?

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Tiny transforming bots: Meet these self-assembling 'thoughtful' droids

Kubla Cant
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The flattened ‘bot transforms itself into a functional machine

So what function does it perform? I suppose walking away is a sort of function, but it's not a very useful one.

I, for one, am happy to wave goodbye to our robotic flat-pack overlords...

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

Kubla Cant
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Scarcely relevant musing

Does anyone know why 99% of the UK population pronounce latte as "lah-tay"? In Italian, the "a" is short. In English, most words containing "att" have a short "a" (hatter, batter, latter...).

I can only assume that they think it's obligatory to pronounce foreign words in a special, non-English way. I believe people also say "basmah-tay" when talking about rice, though oddly I've never heard of anyone spreading "pah-tay" on toast.

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Kubla Cant
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WTF?

Re: Move to the US

The US? The country that gave the world Starbucks?

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Espresso

Not to mention the poncey lightweight coffee nonsense.

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Microsoft throws old versions of Internet Explorer under the bus

Kubla Cant
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Unhappy

Re: I only wish....

mandate to support IE9 and later

IE9? Luxury!

I'm working on a project where the "corporate standard" is IE8. Even if you install IE10, there's a setting in Group Policy that makes it pretend to be IE8, and naturally only a BOFH can change that.

Users are constantly complaining about the slow performance of the web UI. It's fine on IE10, but it runs like cold molasses on IE8.

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Plane grounded so cops can cuff semi-legless passenger

Kubla Cant
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Thumb Down

Re: Thompson ...

@AC As a booster for Thomson you presumably have an excuse for their obnoxious and unhelpful attitude, as well.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Thompson ...

Who he? The airline and holiday company are called "Thomson", after media mogul Roy Thomson.

You're right about the poor service, though. Last Christmas we flew with Thomson on a week's family holday to Austria. When we reached the departure gate, Thomson Airlines announce that my wife's 19-year-old, UK resident, son would not be allowed on the flight because his US passport had only a month of validity, and the Austrians might refuse him entry. So he had to take his case off the plane and go home. Merry Christmas from Thomson!

On arrival at Innsbruck we spoke to the border police, who expressed astonishment at our story, and said "We decide who is allowed in, not the airline". So we had to arrange another flight, which wasn't easy when communicating by mobile phone from Austria. I spoke to Thomson and suggested they might help us make the arrangements, and they basically replied "We were following procedures, so you can piss off".

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Stalwart hatchback gets a plug-in: Volkswagen e-Golf

Kubla Cant
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Re: We are all going to love...

If you're referring to Audi, that'd be four rings. Or would every E-Golf be tailgated by the International Olympic Committee?

If you get Olympic-ring dents in the back of your car, it's only a matter of time before the IOC sends round the trade-mark enforcers to nail your head to the floor.

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BT FON fail: Telco CHARGES customers for FREE Wi-Fi usage

Kubla Cant
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Interesting to see your recommendation for the Asus RT-N66U. In view of the Reg review of 802.11ac routers, does anyone know if the RT-AC68U will replace a BT Homehub?

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Nice computers don’t need to go to the toilet, says Barclays

Kubla Cant
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IME, you only have to write the amount once for each cheque, and the total is written in the box on the front.

It's been a while since I had to do it, but I seem to recall, when paying in a single cheque:

- payer name + amount on the back of the slip

- total amount (i.e. the same again) at the bottom of the amount column on the back

- same amount next to the "total of cheques" label at the front

- same amount again for the total of cheques and cash

Perhaps I could skip one of these totals, but I'm afraid I won't get the money unless I complete the entire ritual.

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Kubla Cant
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Anyone know why paying in slips require you to fill in the amount at least twice and write the name of the cheque signatory in a strip about 2 cm wide? They seem curiously at odds with modern banking. It's like they had 200 years supply of the things printed in 1950 and they have to use them all up.

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Google's 'right to be forgotten': One rule for celebs, another for plebs

Kubla Cant
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Slebometer

If display of the disclaimer depends on fame, Google presumably has some kind of slebometer to decide who's famous and who isn't. You can tell your public profile's slipping when the disclaimer starts to appear.

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Factory-fresh delivery: Get your OpenSUSE fix daily

Kubla Cant
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Not exactly

It also has a commercial version, SUSE Linux Enterprise – along the lines of Red Hat’s Fedora.

I should have thought Fedora was the equivalent of OpenSuSE*. The commercial, enterprise Red Hat is Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The clue's in the name.

* Or is it OpenSUSE?

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SOULLESS machine-intelligence ROBOT cars to hit Blighty in 2015

Kubla Cant
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Meh

What?

already testing driverless cars in Milton Keynes

Driver or no driver, they'll still get lost.

Science minister Greg Clark added: “...our strengths in cars, satellites, big data..."

Is there any aspect of human life that isn't enhanced by "big data"? My impression is that 90% of IT job ads now require "big data" skills, and I wonder how many of the advertisers have a clue what they are.

The Transport Catapult, a government-funded organisation dedicated to devising new ways of getting us moving

Who chose that name? It sounds like they plan to get us moving by firing us into the air with strong elastic.

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NSA man: 'Tell me about your Turkish connections'

Kubla Cant
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Tell me about your Turkish connections

I flew to Istanbul then I changed to a flight to Ankara. From there it was a bus ride. ..

Shall I go on?

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Reg Latin scholars scrap over LOHAN's stirring motto

Kubla Cant
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Re: Splorf

Upvoted for serious erudition. What other techie forum includes posts that cite Horace and Cicero?

As you can probably tell, my Latin grammar was handed in half a century ago, and it wasn't overused even then.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Splorf

I agree that "Navis volitans mea plena anguillarum est" is a winner.

I think repleta is the word for "filled up with", as plena seems to mean full in the sense of complete, or even plump. And I'm not sure about the genitive case; "full of" has the feel of an English idiom, but I can't think of a more appropriate case. Possible alternatives:

Navis volitans mea subter anguillis repleta est (Filled under eels? Nah.)

Navis volitans mea per | propter anguillas repleta est (Filled by, or on account of eels.)

Navem volitantem meam anguillae replent (Seems to imply that the eels did the filling.)

Where is John Cleese when you need him?

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Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid: The plug-in for plutocrats

Kubla Cant
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Radar?

I'd always assumed that parking sensors use Sonar. Am I mistaken?

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Top ten car gadgets: Get your motor running with new shiny-shiny

Kubla Cant
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What's inside?

The EE Buzzard looks like a monstrous thing. Why does it need to be the size of a drinks can when it offers a small part of the functionality you get from the smartphone that fits in your pocket? Especially as most of the components seem to be on the outside of the can.

And why is it such a vile colour? I could understand if it was disguised as a drinks can, thereby avoiding the attention of thieves, but this seems designed to attract their attention.

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Start packing your bags for a Windows Server 2003 migration

Kubla Cant
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I recently spent 6 months migrating legacy applications off WS2003. The main reason it took so long was the lamentable state of the deployment documentation. But I have to wonder what the company was supposed to gain from the upgrade. Retirement of unreliable old boxes? Maybe, but you don't have to install a new OS for that. As it is, the company is 26 * my weekly rate poorer with no measurable benefit to show for it.

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'Our entire corporation cannot send or receive emails from Outlook'

Kubla Cant
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Using random spin glass instances as a benchmark, we find no evidence of quantum speedup when the entire data set is considered, and obtain inconclusive results when comparing subsets of instances on an instance-by-instance basis.

That's the way it is with quantum computers. You either know where they are or how fast they compute, but not both. If you don't watch them they're really fast, but as soon as you try to measure the results they're no better than ordinary computers.

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Devs: Fancy a job teaching Siri to speak the Queen's English?

Kubla Cant
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Re: "this writer's Apple Map app has started giving directions in a Welsh accent"

I've had difficulty with anglophone satnavs - both Android and Garmin - when driving in Italy. All the names get an English pronunciation. "Viale Doglie", for example came out more like "vile doglead". Some of the more polysyllabic Italian names required so much re-interpretation that I missed the turning.

It must be much worse in languages with more complicated pronunciation rules than Italian. If I go to Belgium, I wonder if it will give me directions to Wipers?

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Microsoft compliance police to NHS: We want your money

Kubla Cant
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Re: ..service disruption..staff being unable or unwilling to adapt..

retraining from XP/Office 2003 to Linux/OpenOffice would be about as disruptive as changing to Win 7/Office 2010

Less disruptive, given that all developments in MS Office seem to aim to make the UI as unlike the previous version as possible. Libre/Open Office have a straightforward interface that's just like earlier versions of Office. No ribbons in sight.

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You need a list of specific unknowns we may encounter? Huh?

Kubla Cant
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Familiar story

They tell you they need a contractor in place ASAP, so you beg your previous client to let you off a few days early. There then follows a three-week process of reference-check timewasting*. When you arrive on site it's apparently a complete surprise to everybody: there's nothing for you to do**, and you idle around reading documentation while they think something up.

* I recently had to prove my address for the past five years, so I sent a copy of my mortgage confirmation from 11 years ago, together with the confirmation that I'd just paid it off. Not good enough. I had to supply five years of utility bills to prove that I hadn't moved out and back in.

** Which is just as well, because there are no resources to do it with. In my latest (very highly-paid) contract, it took over a month before I got a desk and a computer.

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BOFH: You can take our lives, but you'll never take OUR MACROS

Kubla Cant
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Re: Access

To repurpose a joke about regular expressions*: you have a problem. You decide to solve it with Access. Now you have two problems.

*as far as I know this is actually the only joke about regular expressions.

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Spanish struggle to control spelling of 'WhatsApp'

Kubla Cant
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Re: Not the best ever Friday article

Maybe not, but how many include the phrase "metonymic gender assignment"?

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DINOSAUR BLOOD: JUST RIGHT, as Goldilocks might say, if drinking it

Kubla Cant
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Re: Bumble bees

What's more, bumble bees have an 11-metre wingspan!

That proves everything!

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DAMN you El Reg, CALL ME A BOFFIN, demands enraged boffin

Kubla Cant
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Re: Why is The Reg hostile to psychologists?

I'm fairly sure that the term "trick-cyclists" was coined to refer to psychiatrists, rather than psychologists.

At the time when I studied psychology* it was trying very hard to be a serious science**. The result was an immense dose of very boring stuff about rats and herring gulls, and lots of statistics.

* I wouldn't have the nerve to call myself a psychologist.

** According to Rutherford "All science is either physics or stamp collecting", so only physicists have a right to sneer at this.

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UK govt preps World War 2 energy rationing to keep the lights on

Kubla Cant
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Re: Actual preparation for the future

shift water from where there's lots of it (I'm thinking of you, Manchester)

It's a long time since I lived near Manchester, but in those days it got most of its water from the Lake District. It may have a reputation for rain, but that doesn't make it a source of water. Have they discovered massive aquifers beneath the city?

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Kubla Cant
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Windows

Re: What to do with the waste

One person's life time's lifetime supply of long term nuclear waste if using 100% nuclear power fits in a dinner plate.

Well, that solves the disposal problem. We can just eat the nuclear waste.

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