* Posts by Kubla Cant

1847 posts • joined 28 Jun 2010

Excel hell messes up ~20 per cent of genetic science papers

Kubla Cant
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“Automatic conversion of gene symbols to dates and floating-point numbers is a problematic feature of Excel software,” wrote Mark Ziemann, Yotam Eren and Assam El-OstaEma

At the risk of appearing xenophobic, I have to ask whether the authors munged their own names through Excel?

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Windows Update borks PowerShell – Microsoft won't fix it for a week

Kubla Cant
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Re: bash/dash borked, won't fix it for a week...

But Linux shells are just shells. Microsoft's shell is a PowerShell.

Have they ever heard of hubris?

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Embarrassing

If you were asked to deploy a Linux desktop across your enterprise, would you run for the hills? I would.

This is certainly the conventional wisdom. But people are more adaptable than you think. During my too-long career in office environments, I've seen the non-technical staff learn to use MS-DOS, Windows 3.1, 95, 98, NT 3.5, NT 4.0, XP, Windows 7, to say nothing of the disruptive changes to Microsoft Orifice.

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Das ist empörend: Microsoft slams umlaut for email depth charge

Kubla Cant
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Re: English is wonderful

a German umlaut can be replaced with an "e" after the other letter

This can be quite annoying. If you're searching for, say, hotels in Rösenheim, you also have to check Roesenheim and Rosenheim. If you're searching a sorted list, will it be near the start of "Ro-" or near the end, or wherever "Rö-" collates?

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Five-storey Blue Screen Of Death spotted in Thailand

Kubla Cant
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Re: Stanstead Airport

Stanstead had a fish pond projected onto the floor in Arrivals that rippled as you wanked across it.

Bit public for that, isn't it?

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Kubla Cant
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Re: It sucks when it's your bank's ATM...

I once had a very excited woman ring me up from that bank and tell me I had too much in my currant account and the bank would give me 1.25 percent interest if I put it into a savings account.

At least she gave you a raisin for using the savings account.

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Password strength meters promote piss-poor paswords

Kubla Cant
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@AC Password strength meters should work like this:

"Well, your password is WEAK, so we won't allow it until you bring it up to standard."

Instead of:

"Well, your password is WEAK, but okay..."

Since the article points out that password-strength meters are useless, this seems like a pointless suggestion.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Passwords need to be rethought

Thumbs up to the initial letters method.

I favour lines, couplets, or even stanzas from poems or Shakespeare plays. You can include punctuation, it's far more memorable than horses, batteries and staples, and it's moderately incomprehensible to anyone who doesn't know the source quotation. If numerics are required, it's easy to add a bit of 1337 substitution.

For example: Nadwh,nafn,4hcttrwh - long and obscure, yet absurdly easy to remember when you know the secret. You can probably guess it, but it may take a while.

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Ad-blocking ‘plateaus’, claims hopeful ad industry

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: Ad-blocking 'plateaus'

Using nouns as verbs is a legitimate feature of English.

The use of "plateau" as a verb is common enough that it's questionable whether it's even an example of verbing. Would you raise a similar objection to "Ad-blocking peaks"?

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London cops waste £2.1m on thought crime unit – and they want volunteer informers

Kubla Cant
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Re: No evidence necessary

"Good morning, Miss Jones. You certainly look nice today!" is an indefensible punishable offense of sexual harassment if Miss Jones perceives it to be!

It's worse than that. The guidelines say "perception of the victim, or any other person". Even if Miss Jones likes the compliment, even if she blushes and says "Thank you kindly, Sir. Fancy a quickie in the stationery cupboard?", it's open season for anyone within earshot to get the Police round and have you cuffed before you've finished that second cup of coffee.

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Kubla Cant
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No evidence necessary

An interesting article in The Spectator (paywall, probably - extract below) recently pointed out that "Hate Crime" is unique in requiring no evidence. So how come it costs £2.1m to investigate?

The police’s ‘Hate Crime Operational Guidance’ now stresses that the victim’s perception is the deciding factor in whether something is measured as a hate crime. No evidence is required. ‘Evidence of… hostility is not required for an incident or crime to be recorded as a hate crime or hate incident,’ the guidance says. ‘[The] perception of the victim, or any other person, is the defining factor… the victim does not have to justify or provide evidence of their belief, and police officers or staff should not directly challenge this perception.’ So you don’t need actual evidence to prove hate crime, just a feeling. The police are discouraged from asking for evidence.

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Baffled Scots cops call in priest to deal with unruly spirits

Kubla Cant
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Amorth

Am I the only one to think "Amorth" sounds like one of the entities an exorcist is supposed to get rid of?

Is there a mole in the Vatican?

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Adblock Plus blocks Facebook block of Adblock Plus block of Facebook block of Adblock Plus block of Facebook ads

Kubla Cant
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Re: I find the best way to avoid adverts on Farcebook...

I find that if I want to leave a forum comment, but have to have a Facebook login to leave one, then what I wanted to say was probably 1) not worth saying 2) to the wrong audience.

A site that uses Oauth to have logins processed by other sites such as Farcebook isn't necessarily endorsing Farcebook or subscribing to Farcebook's standards. It's not uncommon to offer several proxy authentication routes.

Having said that, I dislike Oauth because it's such a pain to code with, and I'm suspicious of the way it provides a single point of security failure.

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The curious case of a wearables cynic and his enduring fat bastardry

Kubla Cant
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Re: Remotes

My old Sony audio centre has a remote control that allows you to open the CD drawer without leaving your chair. Even after 20 years I have a low success rate throwing CDs across the room and into the drawer, and there seems to be no way to get them out remotely. I suppose a remote-control vacuum cleaner would be useful for that.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Fat chance

...I'm highly unlikely to actually find anything with a 30" waist...

But try buying casual shirts, and you won't find anything that isn't slim-fit. Most shirts cling like a corset, and are quite uncomfortable to wear for a day. I confess wear 32" trousers, but I don't think I'm very fat. I can only assume the fat bastards are also pigeon-chested.

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Italian MP threatens parents forcing veggie diets on kids with jail

Kubla Cant
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Vegans are all pale, scrawny and weak - look at Venus Williams, for example.

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'Nigerian scammer' busted after he infected himself with malware

Kubla Cant
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The headline started an interesting train of thought about the more traditional Nigerian-style email scammers.

Do these scammers have rock-solid malware protection? I've seen sites devoted to stories of stringing these guys along, and sometimes even getting money out of them. It would be so much better to disable the systems they work on by replying to them with infected attachments.

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The developer died 14 years ago, here's a print out of his source code

Kubla Cant
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Re: E.E. "Doc" Smith

settled down to read "The Silmarillion" again

Impressive. Most people (including LOTR enthusiasts) can't get through it once.

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Kubla Cant
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Holmes

Re: Portrayal of computer tech guys in films/tv.

The very best USB device was in a preposterous TV series called London Spy.

When the gay spy was murdered in the attic, his boyfriend found a USB stick hidden inside a laptop*. But the USB stick was locked! You could tell it was locked because it was contained inside a shiny combination lock barrel**. He took it to a locksmith, who told him he couldn't open it without the combination***. Eventually he guessed that it was 0001 because of something the late spy had said.

* Laptop computers always have plenty of empty space inside.

** I remember those locks from my schooldays. Kids used to secure their bikes with them, but anyone could open them by feeling for the notches in the mechanism.

*** See icon.

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Violence, vandals and vomit: London's naughtiest tech Tube stations revealed

Kubla Cant
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Re: The Taking Of Pelham 123....NOT!

The original wasn't a bad film. But I've always wondered if the concept was a Springtime for Hitler plan. "This is a hijack! Take this tube train to Mogadishu!" has an air of implausibility, even if you substitute Cockfosters.

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West country cops ponder appearance of 40 dead pigeons on A35

Kubla Cant
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Pigeon flash mobs

There seems to be a time of year, or perhaps a type of weather, that prompts pigeons to stand around in the road, sometimes in crowds. They seem reluctant to move, and if you're driving at any speed you're highly likely to hit one or two. This year I noticed it about three weeks ago.

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You think Donald Trump is insecure? Check out his online store

Kubla Cant
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Re: "Foopah"

I think you missed a few [sic]s: that cover's [sic] they're [sic] whole entire [sic] groin area.

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What's long, hard and full of seamen? The USS Harvey Milk

Kubla Cant
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Re: Missing info

the USNS Harvey Milk is the second ship in the John Lewis class

Good quality ships, tasteful, if a bit dull. And never knowingly undersold.

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Windows 10 still free, even the Anniversary Update, if you're crass

Kubla Cant
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FAIL

Re: tried to upgrade

I thought MS was desperate to get everyone to install Windows 10, but to judge from my experience, they aren't. I decided to give Windows 10 a spin, so I imaged my W7 disk and burned a W10 install CD (not enough space to upgrade).

Problem 1: no sticker on the laptop, so I have to download a 3rd party tool to read the licence key.

Problem 2: MS doesn't accept the licence key (from a Samsung laptop running OEM Windows 7) so I delete some files and try an upgrade installation.

Problem 3: Upgrade fails because Windows 10 does not support my graphics adapter. FFS, it's Intel integrated graphics on a 4-year old machine! On this basis, Windows 10 won't install on 80% of home computers.

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The dev-astating truth: What's left to develop? Send in the machines

Kubla Cant
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Strange article

I've been a software developer for over 30 years, and I've worked in agile* development for at least the past 5 years. So this article should be about stuff I'm very familiar with, but that's not how it reads. It's like when you're questioned about development skills and practices by recruitment agents - they talk the talk, but there's something funny about their gait.

* Or should that be Agile?

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The return of (drone) robot wars: Beware of low-flying freezers

Kubla Cant
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Re: Ah Amazon!

The other day I ordered a phone battery from Amazon. The battery fits inside my phone and that fits in my pocket, so there should have been no problem getting it through the letterbox. But in the event I had to waste Saturday morning travelling to a depot to collect a 6in x 8in box.

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Plenty of fish in the C, IEEE finds in language popularity contest

Kubla Cant
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Re: Clearly bollocks.

SQL below Assembly! Seriously?

Maybe the scoring method involves counting lines of code.

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Captain Piccard's planet-orbiting solar aircraft in warped drive drama

Kubla Cant
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Lighter than air?

I can see that it will be difficult to scale a solar-electric heavier-than-air plane up to anything useful. But I wonder if it makes more sense for airship-like craft such as this. It seems to have a very big upper surface, and the battery weight is less of an issue.

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Free Windows 10 upgrade: Time is running out – should you do it?

Kubla Cant
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What I think I'll do

I have a laptop that's running Windows 7, and I've been wondering what to do. I don't especially like Windows, but it's occasionally a nuisance not to have a copy. Here's my plan:

Boot off a Linux USB and take an image backup of the Windows 7 disk.

Upgrade to Windows 10.

Take another backup of the disk.

Install Mint.

Create VMs of Windows 7 and 10.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Just like to say . . . .

Windows 10. Because you're worth it.

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She wants it. She needs it. Shall I give it to her or keep doing it by myself?

Kubla Cant
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Re: Drag and drop between windows

why does no FS by default keep all versions of all the files

You mean like VMS did 30 years ago?

I believe you can get similar safety feature on modern journalling filesystems, but I think you have to be using Linux.

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HMRC research finds 'resistance' to proposals to shift contractor tax compliance burden

Kubla Cant
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A bit of history

Back in the day, there was a good deal of dismay in the contractor community when Red Dawn Primarolo introduced IR35. I initially shared that dismay, until I read an article by an employment lawyer that described the history of attempts by Inland Revenue (HMRC's predecessor) to prove employment status. Mostly they were trying to prove that somebody was an employee, but occasionally they were trying the opposite. Either way, they lost just about every case. Even with IR35, I don't think they've enjoyed much success since then.

Unsurprisingly, HMRC's preference is for a system where they decide who pays tax as an employee, without reference to any pesky rules.

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Microsoft to rip up P2P Skype, killing native Mac, Linux apps

Kubla Cant
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Skype spam

The only reason I have Skype is that I seem to work in a lot of offices with WiFi but no mobile signal. I can rent a landline number that I can give to people who might want to call me. If anyone can suggest a good alternative, I'd be interested.

But I'm heartily sick of Skype spam. I get numerous contact requests and even (unanswered) calls from exotically-named women that I've never heard of. What's the business model here? I can understand email spam - it's as easy to send a million messages as one, so the infinitesimal response rate is still profitable. But phone call spam sounds much more time-consuming, and where's the payoff?

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Correction: There was no hangman's noose, claims Hyperloop countersuit ... it was a cowboy's lasso

Kubla Cant
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Re: I'm sorry...

I know the proper term is portmanteau word

Even portmanteau words aren't usually camel-case.

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Blighty's Coastguard goes into battle against waterborne Pokemon

Kubla Cant
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Re: New Brighton Marine Lake

Was it too much trouble to create a channel from the lake to the ocean, so that boaters could explore beyond the rather limited boundaries of the lake?

Tides present a problem. Also, these lakes tend to be used by fairly young children. With all due respect to Arthur Ransome, I don't suppose many parents want their kids to set sail for Ireland in a 10-foot rowing boat.

And, if the lake was built with public money (not clear from the linked article), why are people prohibited from using it in a way which doesn't interfere with any boating activity?

Jobsworths. Local council mentality: everything that is not compulsory is prohibited.

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Cycling paramedics in epic rush to save patient who ate stale sandwich

Kubla Cant
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Re: Swiss Mountain Patrol

Driving down the Swiss side of the St Bernard Pass (IIRC) a few years ago, we met the cycling Swiss soldiers coming up. I was stunned with admiration.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Excellent job folks

how do they balance a stretcher on a bike?

There's obviously no room on the carrier with those monster panniers, so presumably the patient rides on the crossbar, or perhaps the handlebars.

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Wannabe Prime Minister Andrea Leadsom thinks all websites should be rated – just like movies

Kubla Cant
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yet another politician trying to regulate something they have zero understanding of

How can you say such a thing. Just look at her CV. Andrea Leadsom will have learned everything there is to know about IT during the time she was a Director in charge of thousands of employees and billions of pounds.

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The Great Brain Scan Scandal: It isn’t just boffins who should be ashamed

Kubla Cant
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“Philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge,” boasted Professor Stephen Hawking at the start of his bestseller The Grand Design.

I don't think Professor Hawking actually knows what philosophy is for. It's not a quest for knowledge so much as a quest for meta-knowledge.

The brain-scanning fad always looked to me like phrenology with the skull removed. I'm glad to find my prejudice confirmed.

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Bloke 'lobbed molotov cocktails' at Street View car because Google was 'watching him'

Kubla Cant
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Re: yep

When I recently installed Pale Moon I found that Duckduckgo is the default search engine. Seemed promising, until I searched for Cambridge restaurants and got a lot of results for some foreign country that's copied the name.

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Just the facts, STT-MRAM: Your DRAM replacement's on its way

Kubla Cant
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Re: Call me jaded...

Sounds a lot like all the new battery technologies that fuel dissertations...

Isn't fuel dissertation one of the new battery technologies?

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Get ready for mandatory porn site age checks, Brits. You read that right

Kubla Cant
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Re: Thank you, Sir

and Slough

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ZTE Axon 7: A surprise flagship contender

Kubla Cant
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A question of balance

it's tall but well balanced

What does this mean? Do you make a habit of standing your phone on end?

To judge from what I've seen inside most smartphones, I'd be surprised if they don't all have a similar centre of gravity.

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Last panel in place, China ready to boot up giant telescope

Kubla Cant
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Igor?

Not that I don't recognise the allusion, but is Igor a common name in China?

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Kubla Cant
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Re: size conversions

To quote a brilliant mind of of our age, the great Aleister Dabbs

I think the spelling "Aleister" is more usually found in Aleister Crowley, The Wickedest Man in the World (TM).

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Isis crisis: Facebook makes Bristol lass an unperson

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: Isis

I've never heard of Isis Academy, but Oxford has had a magazine called Isis since 1892, and an eponymous river (aka Thames) for rather longer.

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Bacon is not my vodka friend

Kubla Cant
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It's OK in other states

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo

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You can be my wingman any time! RaspBerry Pi AI waxes Air Force top gun's tail in dogfights

Kubla Cant
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Re: Is that my flying car I hear approaching.....?

@LDS All good points. It sounds like what we need is a lighter-than-air flying car, but I suppose there are problems, such as size and slowness, with that.

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This local council paid HOW MUCH for an SD card?!

Kubla Cant
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Re: Procurement always works this wonder

The expensive supplier is often chosen because it delivers on account and invoices.

It might be cheaper and quicker to pop out to Maplin, but it creates issues like "Why isn't X at his desk?" and then there's the faff of drawing petty cash or paying with your own money and claiming on expenses. The solution is a company charge card, but the PHB doesn't like allowing minions to spend company money.

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My plan to heal this BROKEN, BREXITED BRITAIN

Kubla Cant
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Re: Order and decency can only be restored by reversing the First Referendum vote

That would be the Scotland one, then.

Tick, tock...

The First Referendum was on 5 June 1975. Reverse the result of that and we've been out of the Common Market European Economic Community European Union for 41 years.

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